Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tuesday Stuff (Market, Singing Rats, TV)

  • I miss the Quizno's singing rats.  I know.  It was one of the most bizarre advertising campaigns ever, but I'm still singing those songs whenever I see a Quizno's.  Oh, I had a Quizno's sub for lunch, btw.
  • Yesterday was "Money Making Monday" with Lenny Dykstra on Jim Cramer's Realmoney radio show.  He had to field a few questions on how those deep-in-the-money calls on NBR are doing.   (Check an NBR chart to help you find an answer).
  • "24" was on last night, while we in Sacramento were facing some rain and thunderstorms.  So my cable company was showing their Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) flash flood alerts.  While the alerts are supposed to be centralized on one channel, they mistakenly blanketed ALL channels with the warning.  And they kept trying to fix it, but the warning kept popping up.  The first 30 minutes of "24" was extremely frustrating to watch.
  • "They have a pepper bar."

  • "You're a rat, for goodness sakes.  A rat can't be the next American Idol.  Frankly, it doesn't really matter how well you sing or how much of an entertainer you are.  There are other people in this competition who are just plain better than you are.  To be honest, I've seen this kind of performance from rats on cruise ships before."  (SLUG!  From Paula.)  
  • I had to record The Donald's The Apprentice last night.  I opted for "24."  I've already found out what happens, but I'm going to have to watch it tonight.  Well, whatever the EBS didn't mess up anyways.  At least I can fast forward through that stuff...
  • Tonight?  The Amazing Race debuts!  Of course, it'll be up against American Idol.   That means I'll have to fire up the DVR again.  Probably for The Amazing Race.
  • Market thoughts...  Google hammered the market with a warning.  Once that happened, the market tanked and then flatlined.  There were also some economic numbers out that showed some decline in consumer confidence.  That indicator kind of blows around like the wind, and I don't put much stock into it.  Housing sales continued to slow, but I think we already knew that was coming.  I wonder if these are the sort of numbers Fed Dude Ben Bernanke will be looking at when the Fed makes their next decision on interest rates?  I'd think the market would be happier if the Fed was going to stop with the hikes...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Quick Hits (Dennis Weaver, Market Stuff)

  • Dennis Weaver died.

  • The market? Well, month-end strength arriving on cue. March tends to be pretty good, at least the first few weeks. I think we're going to see sentiment change in March from bearish to bullish. I wonder how many folks who have been leaning the wrong way in this market are getting sick and tired of not participating in the rally? The SP500 is at 5-year highs, for goodness sakes. If this happens, I think we could see a few big up days. Especially since we've broken some downtrend lines. That usually gets the Technical Analysis folks excited.

  • Back at the Fun Factory today. Feeling much better after the cold/flu. Those aren't much fun. Just sayin'...

  • Drew Lachey won Dancing with the Stars last night. In a shocker, the final two were Drew vs. Jerry Rice. I was kind of pulling for Jerry, but he wasn't the best. I thought Stacy Keibler was the best, but Drew seemed to have to work harder at it. I actually enjoyed that show. How crazy is that?

  • Tonight? The Donald! Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" comes back. Of course, 24 is also on tonight, so I may have to fire up the DVR and record something. Not sure yet. It'll all be obvious later when I'm looking at the TV schedule.

  • Is Cramer's Mad Money back on today during after hours? Lets see how that goes!

  • When do you know that a mania has run its course? Well, when I saw "fat free" on a bag of jelly beans, I knew it was over. And on my pack of sugar-free cough drops, it says "No carbs!"

  • Barry Ritholz is still wearing his inflation beer goggles. FWIW, while I have turned down my thermostat this winter, I did just buy some nice summer shorts for $9.99. I also had to drive around the parking lot of the local mall for about 40 minutes looking for a spot, then waited 50 minutes in line at Best Buy.

  • Do you get the feeling Mark Cuban feels a little rivalry going on with Donald Trump? Oh, read this. Of course, being the fun loving guy that I am, and as someone who is always trying to look out for the best interests of Donald Trump, I have decided to make an open offer to Howie Mandel. Howie, if you can get Mr Trump to pull a rubber glove completely over his head and blow it up on your show, not only will I watch it, I will donate 1 million dollars to the charity of your choice.

  • Gotta love Mark Cuban's blog, Blog Maverick.

  • Remember the other day when I was wondering if Apple would make their ipods wireless phones? Somebody else thinks so, too.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Quick Hits (Don Knotts, Market Stuff)

  • Don Knotts passed away.  I'm sure the town of Mayberry has the flags flying at half-mast, Deputy Fife.  May you rest in peace. 
  • Mark Cuban wrote that The Stock Market is for Suckers back in January.  Just spotted it.  Read it for his take, but one of the issues I have with it regards discipline, risk taking and diversification.  He argues that

"You can have as long a term horizon as you want, but like most other long term plans we have, most peoples lives dont match up to their 'horizons'. Its amazing how life intervenes." 

True enough.  But that's where the discipline, risk taking and diversification are so important.  Historically, stocks have outperformed every investment class over the longterm.   He does make some good points about how tough it is to beat the market, though.  But you can own the market in an index fund, and not try to beat it.

  • I mentioned Evergreen Solar (ESLR) earlier today, and how folks on Fox seem to love it.  Which made me edgey about it.  Here's another on Be Cautious on Alternative Energy.  An interesting comment here is

"It was only three years ago that President Bush used his State of the Union to call for more investment in hydrogen fuel-cell research. Many of usual suspects that rallied last month also shot higher back then as the president pledged "a new national commitment" to take fuel-cell powered cars "from laboratory to showrooms" within 20 years."

Check the charts as to what happened next....


  • The Bull Trader says don't fight the trend in Starbucks.  I don't own any SBUX and rarely go since I quit caffeine.  But I did drive by one today around 4pm, and the place was packed to the rafters.  This generation is addicted to coffee drinks the way the previous generation was addicted to soda drinks.  Maybe that's why Coke and Pepsi can't grow anymore.  Just a thought.
  • Bear market blog goes long on Apple?  Huh?  Well, I wouldn't want to roll the dice either way on a new product launch either.  But I always wonder how much of this is priced into the stock, and whether the actual news will create a sell the news kind of event.   I don't know.   (Don't own any AAPL myself...)
  • More weekend links from Adam over at the Daily Options Report.

  • I finaly feel as if this cold/flu is on the way out.  Feeling much better tonight.  Thank goodness.  Went for a walk today, and was a little weak still but made it through.  Then I ran out to the store and did some other errands before huddling down in front of the Olympics.  (Yeah, saw Bode Miller miss his 5th chance...)
  • Calculated Risk on Cancelled Orders for New Homes.  Check out the reasons why.  The good news is that "job loss" isn't topping the list.  I'd think that'd be the catalyst for a dramatic fall in home prices.  As long as folks can keep their jobs and make monthly payments, then I'd think there'd be a floor under  home prices.
  • Hey, I was quoted over at CNET on the Blackberry comment.
  • No SNL tonight, so I think I'll call it a day...


  • Hedge Fund blog makes fun of the Nobel Prize in Economics.  With rare exceptions, economics prizes have been awarded for either being completely wrong or stating the blindingly obvious and then having your buddies say how clever you are.  (Isn't that true of most recognition awards????)
  • Army Knife to include an MP3 player.  s.beat!
  • Still under the weather, but hanging on and doing better.  I don't like to take cold medicine because it makes me feel cruddy, but the symptoms of a cold/flu are bad too.
  • After watching the Fox Business Block this morning, I have to wonder if everyone loves Evergreen Solar (ESLR) at this point.  I'm going to start tracking it in the Black Box.
  • I need to get outside and see if the sun is still there.
  • Oh, finished Firefly and watched Serenity.  Very good, for that kind of sci-fi stuff.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Linkfest

  • Tickersense reviews the history of Friedman Billings  on calling the moves in INTC.  Yet another real eye opener...
  • What would you think about Google Finance competing with Yahoo's version?
  • Asset Allocator posted yesterday about the inverted yield curve.
  • Money on the Run, from Bill Cara.  A rather pessimistic view of where the US dollar is headed.
  • More on trading Intel from Stephen over at Alchemy of Trading.  This of course interests me, because I follow INTC and the semis rather closely.
  • Found this video of an Austistic Basketball Player from the Daily Options Report.  What a great video.
  • I knew this was going to happen.  I have the Canada vs Finland gold medal game, and my coworker (from Canada) calls me and spoils the ending.  I won't, in case you're watching, eh ya hoser?

Friday's Quick Hits

  • The news is out on Blackberry (RIMM), causing shares to surge almost 10% on the news.  Sliding a bit after that, but probably good news for those folks who love their crackberry.  I don't own RIMM, and don't have much interest.  I'm a bigger fan of the Treo (but don't own Palm).  I like all-in-one devices.  From what I hear/read, folks who use the Treo after using a Blackberry, are converted pretty easily.  And this isn't to say that another company won't come out with something better.  Heck, imagine if Apple puts a phone in their iPods...
  • Steve Francis to the Knicks.  Hmm.
  • Oil is down, but it is February.  My guess (and that's all it is), is that as the weather warms up in Spring, the demand for gasoline will increase.

  • A failed terrorist attack on Saudi Arabian oil fields, and Nigerian militants threatening their oil production...  President Bush is right.  We need to figure out how to get off of oil.  And natural gas, too.
  • We're in the last hour of trading, and the market seems to want to close up today.
  • I'm feeling better as the day goes on.  Thank goodness. 
  • Netflix flicks for the weekend...  The final disc of the series Firefly, followed up by the movie Serenity (which was the movie made after the series was cancelled).
  • I missed the first half of the season of Lost, so when ABC was showing the first episode the other night I wanted to watch it.  But I only watched during the commercials of American Idol.  Why would I want to miss Bobby Bennett singing Copacabana?

TGIF! (Home Sick Again)

  • At the Copa, Copacabana.... Bobby Bennett gets voted off the American Idol island!  I was wondering if we'd see folks gaming the system and voting for Bobby.  Didn't happen.   He sung it for Grams.  He was so animated, it just was hillarious.  Not only did he sing Copacabana, in his interview (at the website link above), he says his favorite singer is Barry Manilow. 
  • Well, I decided to stay home sick again today.  But I think the worst of it is behind me at this point.
  • Stocks?  Well, ran the Black Box and I'm not seeing any changes.  I think the market will continue to trend up.  We're ending the post-options week, and next week we should see month-end stuff as 401k contributions hit and folks who dollar cost average in provide some support to the market.
  • It's kind of boring being home sick.  I'm sleeping a lot.
  • "Hello, Bobby.  Lemme say something, Dah-link.  I know that Simon didn't like your Barry.  And Barry is one of the all-time greats, truly he is.  But this is something that I want you to know that comes from my heart.  You know that this song that you sung by Barry was one of his great songs, this Copacabana.  And I just wanted to say to you that it doesn't matter how you sound but how you look. And you looked mahvelous out there, you really did."
  • To be honest, I was flipping around the dial last night between American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.  Regards to the latter?  Well, I've kind of been "all Stacy Keibler all the time" in my thoughts about who would win this thing.  She's a great dancer.  But Drew seems to work a little harder at it.  He probably has to.  Might be a close vote.  Sorry, Jerry Rice!
  • Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Thursday - Home Sick (Again)!

  • Here's an article saying that potato lovers have a higher risk of diabetes. Then, the pic in the article is about french fries. Hello? Those are mostly fat calories. And at McDonalds, we hear they add wheat and dairy. So, blame the potato? Blame the high fat? I think the latter. A potato by itself has 200 calories (10 oz.). By comparison, McDonald's fries have 540 calories (6.2 oz).
  • Home sick again today. Felt horrible early in the morning, so ended up going back to bed and sleeping until 11am. Feeling better now, as some of the most brutal symptoms are subsiding. Head feels like a curling stone, though.
  • The market? I ran the black box last night before going to bed. Without today's results... The market seems to be in the middle of the range, so I think we're trending higher still.  I'm watching MSFT because it looks to be close to a buy signal according to my indicators. SMH is looking interesting, too. I'm still long, so not doing anything. As I mentioned yesterday, lots of bearishness out here...
  • Outsourcing the port management to the UAE seems like a bad idea. Almost on cue, Democrat Senators are using the camera time to hammer the Bush administration. And of course, they'd hammer him no matter what he did. The midterm elections might be interesting. If it weren't for gerrymandering...
  • Cody Williard on the web content revolution, and he says it's more than just porn! (Check that video out).
  • I've got the gold medal match between Switzerland and Sweden on. Pretty fun.
  • Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Wednesday - Home Sick!

    • "Muckdog, you bring it everyday.  The more I read your blog, the more I'm falling in love with you.  Your spirit shines through with every blog, every post, and every comment.  I cherish the moment when my RSS aggregator notifies me that you have posted a new entry.  You're just fantastic."

    • The market today?  Holy smokes!  You know, another bull-bear survey came out showing that bearishness is increasing.  Yes, here we are right at the highs of the bull market, and folks are pessimistic.  I think that's one of the reasons the bears can't take this thing down.  You wonder if all they can do is cover their shorts or buy at this point.  It is still February which is normally down.  This is the week they should drive it down.  Post-options and before 401k hits at month end.  And they haven't done it yet.
    • A few of those women on American Idol last night can really sing.  Some aren't so great, though.

    • "Yo, yo, yo, how's it going, Muckdawg?  You know you're my dawg, right?  Ye-ahh.  Look, dude, I'm just not feeling it tonight.  Recently you start off good, and then fade in the middle.  I was like counting ceiling tiles in the middle.  Maybe bloggin' ain't your thang, dude.  You need to bring it home.  I'm just not feeling it."

    • I'm home sick today.  I know.  It sucks.  But I actually went into the Fun Factory for most of the day because I have so much work.  I could only handle it just past lunch.  The good news was that I got home in time to catch the USA vs Canada in curling.   Slept through some of it, but it was a pretty tight match (despite the blowout at the end).

    • I wonder what the Olympics coverage on CNBC will do to the Cramer Mad Money effect on stocks.  When Cramer is back on during afterhours, will he have the same effect? 

    • "Look.  You're playing it very safe.  You talk about trends before options week, during options week, after options week, and then month-end strength.  Give us something different.  Take some risks.  It's all very bland.  Where is that Muckdog who used to have cartoons and captions?  That's the Muckdog America wants to see."

    • This was going to be the year that I did my taxes early.  Have I done them yet?  Uh....

    • It's been 26 years since the US won the gold in Hockey.  Speaking of, did you catch the Kurt Russell movie on the 1980 Hockey team?  "Miracle."  Good movie.

    • Final stock thoughts...  Market looks good.  I think the pessimism pushes it up slowly.  Whenever the bears capitulate, you'll know it...

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Tuesday Quick Hits

    • The nice thing about 3-day weekends, is the 4-day work week that follows.

    • The market drifting lower today. As you know, the week after options expiration tends to move in the opposite direction of options week. This week could see some selling. But February tends to be weak, and we're almost done with this month. Next week we will see the end of the month, 401k contributions, and we're into March.

    • On 24 last night... Eh, it was kind of dull. The President continued to be a weasel, as did Manager Hobbit.

    • American Idol tonight! The 12 women compete and we get to phone in and vote! By the way, American Idol trounced the Olympics last week. I suspect a repeat of that tonight

    • The Netflix flicks over the weekend were Firefly (disc 3) and Detroit Rock City. I'm getting into Firefly, but the sad news is that I only have one more disc of episodes and then the movie Serenity. That's it. Detroit Rock City was dumb, but KISS was a big thing in the 70's and seeing the culture was kind of fun. I have to say that I liked the movie.

    • You know, for the amount of cable TV I watch, I should re-evaluate my subscription package. I watch network TV, ESPN, FOX, and CNBC. Oh, can't forget Sci-Fi for Battlestar Galactica. Then again, I suppose I could just Netflix the series later...

    • Oh, speaking of... Did you see that picture of the 33 pound cat that eats 6 pounds of chicken a day? It. Was. Huge. Lots of belly-scratching area when it rolls over.

    • Lots of bearishness and pessimism in the markets.

    • Well Jared, I had a Subway veggie sandwich for lunch.

    • Back in the 70's, folks were playing records backwards looking for Satanic messages and KISS = Knights in Satan's Service, etc. I don't hear much of that anymore, but that was a big thing. Remember Fleetwood Mac's song "Second Hand News?" If you slowed down the vinyl album, you could hear them really saying "take your pants down."

    • Sigh. Is it the weekend yet?

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Sunday Thoughts...

    "It seems to me that french fries are just some potatoes that are fried.  All you had to do is keep it simple.  Whose idea was this?  George, have you ever heard of somebody putting wheat and dairy in french fries?  Me neither.  This was a complete disaster.  I'm really disappointed in you, so you're fired."

    • Speaking of the NBA, I think Nate deserved the slam-dunk competition over Iggy.  But it took him FOREVER to make that one shot.  Maybe that should've been a disqualification.

    • Carrie Underwood singing at halftime.  Can I get a "Whoa, Nellie?"

    • Did you ever watch MTV's The Real World?  I haven't recently, but I was a big fan for many years.  The Seattle edition featured a cutie named Janet Choi.  And as I was stumbling through LA news sites, I noticed that she now works at KTLA.  Hey, there is a real world after The Real World!

    • This bull market is now 40-months old.  Who was in charge of getting the cake?  C'mon.  One troubling sign is that I'm reading some positive comments around the web.  Geez, just last weekend these columns were in complete panic mode.

    • Tomorrow is President's Day.  Gotta love three-day weekends.

    • Some Brokeback Mountain jokes here on the halftime show.  I think Kenny said something about Beyonce, "She's so pretty, why would you want to go to Brokeback Mountain?"  (I'm probably blowing the direct quote, but you get the idea.)

    • Time to read some other bloggies.  Cheers!

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Quick Hits

    • With XM and SIRI struggling to make money, I just wonder if satellite radio is doomed.  Much like Globalstar and satellite phones.  Is distributing music by satellite cost effective?  We have wireless technology and speed improving.  I think eventually, Ipods and cellphones will be able to get the music and programming without having to have a clear view of the sky.
    • I told my coworker (who is from Canada) that I liked Curling.  So now he's forwarding me links and such.  I guess he played in his younger days and religiously follows it.  So I'm learning all about it. Kind of cool.
    • A buddy is vacationing in Thailand.  Ahem.  Yeah.  Disneyland for guys.
    • It's cold here in Sac.  They say it might snow.  HUH?  Yeah, snow.  It won't stick or anything, but it's kind of cool to see when it happens.  Just stay off the roads, because nobody here can drive when it rains; I can't imagine the problems if the white stuff is falling!
    • Ran the Black Box.  No buys or sells, just continuing to trend from the last buy.  Status quo.  Long and strong.  I added a bunch of the Powershares ETFs to follow and backtest and see how they do with the indicators I use.


    • I get to the Fun Factory, pop on my headphones and the first song on the random shuffle is "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC. Now if that doesn't blow away the cobwebs, what does?

    • Well, the markets are down a bit as I'm typing. I've heard it said that all the volatility during options week tends to happen prior to friday, and the fridays are usually flat. Also, whenever stocks have made a move during a week, fridays tend to move in the opposite direction as traders book profits. We've had a strong week, so folks might be selling ahead of the three-day weekend. Also, if options weeks are positive, normally the week following is negative. And we're still in February, which is usually a weak month. But I've noticed that bearishness seems rather high considering we're at the highs of this bull market. I'm not doing much here except staying long.

    • I'm pretty hypnotized with Olympic curling. I think it's a great game. There's a Canadian website that has tons of info on the sport and Olympic coverage.

    • Lunch... Hmm. I'm thinking maybe a burrito.

    • I had a tough time waking up today. When the alarm went off I turned on CNBC, but I was sleeping right through it. Finaly, I realized "I better get up." But I think I could've easily slept another couple hours.

    • Back from lunch, burrito it was. Not that great.

    • Markets waning into the close. I think folks are making it a long weekend...

    • Is there Fantasy Curling?

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Read Receipts

    I have "read receipts" on all the mail I send out. I just like to know that the folks I'm sending mail to actually read the email. But I'm a little taken back when I get a receipt that says Not Read. Huh? No doubt these folks will be the people who later ask me about the thing I clearly detailed in the email!

    "Oh, I'll just resend you the email."


    As Thursday Races By...

    • France accuses Iran of having secret nuclear program. This may drag on awhile, and I'm hoping for a peaceful resolution. But I have a feeling that's not the way it will go. Hopefully, the US won't stick our necks out all alone on this one and let Inspector Clouseau and Co. lead the way.

    • Seems like we're getting our options week rally after all. I remain long diversified ETFs and funds. Not doing anything fancy here. The total market and Nasdaq are closing on previous 52-wk highs and the DOW is at new highs. It's not often that the DOW leads the rally, and generally not as healthy. Seems like the normal course is that the Nasdaq leads, followed by the SP500 and DOW. I've been mentioning how weird it is to see such bearishness and pessimism with the market near the highs. I think that's a good thing for the market going higher.

    • On Lost last night, the story was about a captured Other and some history regarding Saiyd. During his Iraqi war days. Kind of interesting.

    • On Day 2, Bernanke says that financial literacy needs to be stressed in order to teach children to save when they are younger. (Hallelujah, somebody is finaly saying it!)

    • We're down to the final 24 on American Idol! Let the toll-free calling begin!

    • Dancing with the Stars tonight! Tia and George have been voted off the island since I last watched. Hard not to cheer on Stacy. Not that I'll watch tonight, but I just might. We'll see. I do favor the Olympics over the dancing.

    • Is it just me, or is February racing by?

    • Some printer hog here at the Fun Factory is leveling a forest today. Good grief.

    • Bryant Gumbel said the winter Olympics is like a GOP Convention. Do a google search for his comments on the Olympics. Good grief.

    • Vice President Dick Cheney shoots somebody by accident, and the loyal opposition shoots themselves in foot over politicizing the event. Saying it wasn't an accident, or he was impared, or whatever. Good grief.

    • I started writing this around 7:30am, and it's now 4:45pm. I guess I got a little busy. Good grief!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    More Quck Hits!!!

    Bernanke on my DVR!

    • In the Money notes a Positive Hump Day, but would like to see some consolidation.  I don' t know, when we get up here near the top of the trading range, I hate to meander for too long.  I'd like to see us break out and crush the bears.  Sentiment is down, so lets put this game away instead of fritter away the lead.  (I love sports analogies!)

    • Have we had enough of Suze Orman yet?  I catch her while flipping channels on the weekend, and it seems it's always one of those "My husband left me, and I have $50,000 in credit card debt and the trailor is breaking down.  I need to do some repairs, so I was thinking about marrying this guy who says he has a sick uncle that's going to leave him a big inheritance.  He says it's enough to pay off his credit debt he ran up collecting guns, pay off his gambling debts, and then help me with my financial issues.  What do you think?"  (OK, I'm stretching it a little, but you get the idea...)

    • My Black Box did get a sell signal on the Malaysian ETF.  I don't own any, but have been adding foreign ETFs to track to see if the Black Box works with them.

    • You want a Larry Kudlow link?  Too bad, you're getting one!  KLo talks about the Senate voting to extend the Bush tax cuts.  Sounds like Larry got  his Valentines Day happy ending, eh?  In a 53-47 vote, the Senate has signaled clear support of a two-year extension of President Bush’s 15 percent rates on cap gains and dividends.  There was another vote by same margin to patch up the AMT. This is very bullish, and investors everywhere should take notice.

    • Some of the Fed commentaries have claimed Helicopter Ben was hawkish.  Others have claimed he was less hawkish than feared.  Just like everything else, people seem to have heard what they wanted to hear.  I think Bernanke did a pretty good job of fence sitting today.  On the one hand, the economy is growing, we're at full employment, and wage pressures are increasing.  On the otherhand, higher energy prices, health care costs, and declining real estate threaten to slow down consumer spending.

    • Kim Snider on Data Provides False Sense of Comfort for Baby BoomersA cursory look at data from the Survey of Consumer Finances might lead us to conclude that Baby Boomers are doing okay with regard to saving for retirement. According to a new brief from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College that conclusion would be false (see link for more!).  Yeah, I think it's going to be a problem.   Especially if we're in one of those longer-term secular bear markets.

    • Ever since I started Empire of Debt, I added The Daily Reckoning to my bloglines feed.  Here there are with more gloom, Nasty Dollar: Unfavorable Balances.  They may be right, but the problem I see with taking a "We're all doomed" position 24x7 is that you can't be flexible enough to make any money.  The Empire will fall whenever the Empire will fall, but we all have our lives to live in the meantime. (Of course, bulls and bears can both make money on the various gyrations from day to day).

    • There are so many feeds, but so little time.  Tons of good stuff out there daily by some pretty bright folks.  Check out the links to my left (your right) for more...

    Wednesday's Quick Hits

    • Bernanke made his first official comments as Fed today, and seemed to indicate more rate hikes are coming. Link. On questioning, he seemed rather optimistic but was concerned about the deficit and the rising costs of health care. He recommended that Congress address the health care problem soon. No shortage of Fed commentary out there if you look for it...

    • I've been in not so fun meetings here at the Fun Factory most of the day. If everybody hates meetings so, why do they continue to schedule them?

    • Market finished nicely after Bernanke's talk. I commented recently that bearishness seemed high with the markets near their rally high. The Investors Intelligence numbers came out and confirmed that. If we're at a top, I'd really expect more bullishness out there.

    • How'd you fare on Valentines Day? Happy ending?

    • The Rolling Stones used to be good you know. At least they're still out there playing.

    • I recently added The Daily Options Report to the links on my left (your right). Check it out. Yeah, money stuff but Adam's pretty funny.

    • Are you going to see Steve Martin in The Pink Panther? I am. I'm such a fan of the way Peter Sellers played the roll. I'm a little worried that Steve Martin is too much the clown to play it straight. But I'm going to give it a try.

    • I looked at my Fantasy Basketball team as it slips into the abyss and saw no games this weekend. HUH? Oh... All-star break. I like the 3-ball and the dunk competitions, but I never watch the game itself.

    Dick Cheney Jokes

    As you know, there are tons of "Deadeye" Dick Cheney jokes going around because the Vice President shot someone while hunting. FWIW... Here are some:

    • Somebody here at the Fun Factory: "Now, does anyone else have any questions about the Domestic Spying issue?"

    • Leno: "When the ambulance got there, out of force of habit they put Cheney on the stretcher. ... When people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity is now at 92 percent."

    • Jon Stewart urged viewers never to let their children go on hunting trips with the vice president. "I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land, or energy regulation they're trying to get lifted. It's just not worth it."

    • Rush Limbaugh: "Would you rather go hunting with Dick Cheney or riding in a car over a bridge with Ted Kennedy?" (The punch line: At least Cheney takes you to the hospital.)

    • Sydney Morning Herald: "Cheney hunts quail and everyone else ducks."

    • David Letterman: "Good news, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction: it's Dick Cheney."

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Black Box Thoughts

    One of the frustrating things with the Black Box that I use to time stocks and ETFs, is that it generates intermediate signals. That means that it can go for weeks without giving any signals at all on the ETFs I follow. Patience is the key for me. I don't like to trade individual stocks when we're near the top of the trading range, because they tend to have more "beta" than an ETF. So I passed on GE and C last week when the Black Box said buy, though they would've been good ones. Not that C or GE are high beta stocks, but they will move more than an ETF when we're trending. I like to follow C, GE and MSFT because these are stocks that do well represent their particular sectors. (GE representing the market in general, really!) Some folks don't like MSFT anymore, but it is about 14% of the NDX, so when it trends I think it's a good bet that the NDX will go in the same direction.

    I'm not seeing any buy signals on what I follow. QQQQ and MSFT look like they could generate buys at any point, but no need to guess. And sometimes the Black Box just doesn't catch all the gyrations.

    I was looking at the oil and energy ETFs, OIH and XLE. No signals yet, but they've been free falling. If they start to consolidate, then I could get some green arrows (buy). Of course, I think folks will be quick to buy into and then sell a bounce in those things.

    Just random Black Box thoughts. I remain 100% invested at this time. Rightly or wrongly!

    Helicopter Ben Bernanke could throw a wrench into the Black Box tomorrow when he pontificates his views. Should be interesting.

    Quick Hits (Cramer, Dolphins, Housing)

    • I mentioned around Christmas that my Dad had sent me a Miami Dolphins 2006 calendar for Christmas. Nothing says "I love you" like a Dolphins calendar, right? Anyways, February's trivia question is: Who is the only quarterback in Dolphins' history to run for more than 100 yards in his postseason career? (Answer below).

    • Yesterday I commented that Jim Cramer and his Mad Money show didn't produce the bump in the "tout of the day" segment. But on further review by the replay official, I noticed that his show was pre-empted for Olympics coverage! I think CNBC is showing Mad Money later in the day. Or something like that. I don't know for sure.

    • Barry Ritholtz (from The Big Picture) on What I learned over the past few weeks. Great read...

    • Yesterday on one of the news shows, they were covering the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model edition. You might not be surprised to know that even with what's available on the web these days, it's still a big-big seller. Whoa, Nellie!

    • Angry Bear on what would happen if the real estate bubble bursts. They're kind of gloomy and doomy for me, but they never miss an opportunity to call out for a national health care system, do they? That seems to be their answer for everything. More taxes. More health care. More government intervention and programs. Just saying.

    • I don't like to wax too political, but I think we really need to whack our social and military spending. Mostly the former, but the latter as far as intervening in the business of foreign countries.

    • Boston Gal's Open Wallet on Virtual Scratch Tickets. Are state lotteries going online?

    • Who is David Woodley (1980-83), Alex. If you recall, the Dolphins got hot-waxed by the Redskins in the Super Bowl during the "WoodStrock" year. Named so, because Woodley would play the first half, and then backup QB Don Strock would come in during the 2nd half and orchestrate a comeback. Didn't help against John Riggins and crew, though...

    Valentines Day!

    • If the market were selling today, I'd think the contrarian play would be to buy ahead of any positive comments from Helicopter Ben this week. But since we're rallying today, I think this idea has been embraced by traders and is being priced in.. These folks might sell quickly on any bump from Helicopter Ben. I don't think I'm going to try and game this. I'm just remaining long at this point.

    • On 24, Jack gets captured and escapes more in a 24-hour period more than most folks do in a lifetime!

    • If you haven't read Empire of Debt, you might want to take a look. Doesn't paint a pretty picture of the American Empire. And both major political parties have embraced the path that we're on. I remember in high school, reading some book about the evolution of nations. It told about how nations rise and fall. We're going down that same road.

    • How about the US women in the half-pipe? Well done!

    • Hey, Happy Valentines Day! Any plans?

    • I like those little candy hearts with messages on them. "Be mine." Etc. They don't taste that great, but maybe remind me of those younger care-free days of school handing out and receiving valentines cards with those candies in them. They still do that at schools, or is it not politically correct anymore?

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    More Thoughts (Stocks, Curling, Cramer, Cheney)

    • The market went down!  We're still in February, which historically is the 2nd worst month of the year and certainly seems to be playing out that way.  Still, the market (SP500) isn't too far off from the highs and sentiment seems to be very pessimistic.  I think new Fed dude Helicopter Ben Bernanke is speaking this week, and this could give us a catalyst if he tips his hand.

    • I watched curling today.  CNBC was showing the USA-Finland match.  That's such a cool game.  "Chess on ice."  It'd be a lousy bar "beer drinking" game, though.

    • I did the system restore this morning (as mentioned below), and no freezing so far.  Interesting.

    • Poor Abraham Lincoln kind of got side-stepped in the holiday game.  I know that Presidents Day is all-inclusive now.  So that means we celebrate all of them instead of just one or two.  But I remember back in school, this week would've been spent talking about Honest Abe.  Do they still do that?

    • Jim Cramer's Mad Money show is on talking about weight loss.  ARNA is the stock tout, and it doesn't seem to have moved much in afterhours today.  You think folks are tired of playing the Cramer shouts game?  Interesting.

    • The Apprentice doesn't start until after the Olympics, so no reason to panic tonight about missing it.  I think the next Amazing Race is starting up soon, too.  But tonight, you want to watch 24!

    • With Valentines Day tomorrow, remember to make that box of chocolates dark chocolates!  They say they're healthier...

    • Note to self:  Decline that hunting trip invite from the Vice President. 

    • The bike ride today was better than yesterday's.  Three days in a row!

    • Just ran the Black Box, and it's not giving out any secrets for the days ahead.  Status quo for me.  100% long, a little (but not much) QQQQ for beta.

    Quick Hits (Google, Eva Longoria, Windows)

    Isn't GOOG your homepage, Muck?

    • Sell orders hitting the market today as we kick off options expiration week.  The TV talking clowns are blaming the Barron's GOOG piece.

    • Microsoft entering the mobile phone biz?  Hmm.  Well, I'm all for the smart phone.  I have a Treo and would like the Windows Treo next. 

    • I'm working from home today.  Really.  Although I am going to go for a bike ride sometime this afternoon.  Yes, that will be three days in a row!  The weather here has been around 70, but it's supposed to cool off later this week.

    • I did watch my first Olympics last night.  The half-pipe and the downhill.  Of course, when Desperate Housewives came on I was flipping back and forth.  I did get to see the Eva Longoria in panties seen.  Holy smokes.  I think (other than that), the show is kind of losing it's luster.  Kind of getting boring.

    • Hey, how come in Star Trek the tricorder and the communicator were multiple devices?  Where was the smart communicator that had all the features?

    • Speaking of Microsoft, I did a system restore back into early December.  Sometime in mid-December, my PC started freezing.  Every 60 seconds, the PC would freeze for 10 seconds.  It wouldn't happen all the time, so I'd just reboot-reboot-reboot as long as it took for it to stop happening.  (Usually 3-4 times).   The two things I installed in December was an external drive for backups including the backup software, and installing an older (licensed) version of Word over my trial version of Office 2003.   I uninstalled the backup software, and I did the restore this morning, and so far no freezing.  We shall see.

    • The Apprentice starts tonight!  I think that's good news, anyways.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Sunday's Random Thoughts

    Keep one ear up, Muck!

    • I had a plan to buy some way out of the money puts on Google once I had a sell signal on the market.  If the market was going to head into the next bear phase, my plan was to watch that GOOG PE multiple compress and swing for the fences with some long-dated puts.  Unfortunately, my Black Box hasn't generated a sell on the market just yet and GOOG seems to be crumbling a bit too early for me to employ this strategery.  In fact, this weekend's Barrons has an article on GOOG that could initiate further selling this week.  Okay, so now I need a Plan B.  I need to find another frothy "can't go wrong" stock.  I may need a Plan C and D, too...

    • Michelle Kwan calling it quits.  She's 25.  How ridiculous is that?  To be washed-up at 25!

    • OK, so I did go for another bike ride today.   It wasn't easy.  I was sore where no heterosexual man should be sore.   I started off and sitting on the bike seat initially was a religious experience.  Holy guacamole!  I almost turned back to wait another day.  Nah, tough it out, dude.  My legs were a little fatigued, too.  I started off a little slower, thinking I'd just cruise and enjoy the ride.  But after a couple miles I was pushing it.  No pain, no gain.

    • Transporter 1 vs. Transporter 2:  I liked the first one better.  I thought the story was a bit better.  Both watchable, though. 

    • I think the reason Firefly didn't make it, is because it's slowwww.  It's watchable, and I'll go through the other discs and eventually Serenity in the weeks ahead.   But the country western theme in outer space seems a little... off.

    • Netflix catching some flack for "throttling" frequent renters.  That is, rumor says that once a subscriber has gone over a predetermined threshold, Netflix then gives priority on new movie releases to less-frequent subscribers and turnaround time slows down.   I haven't noticed this (as a subscriber).   I rent a ton of movies via NFLX, and am very happy with their service.  The thing I like the best is shopping online.  I used to wander around a video store for 30 minutes, and struggle to find something.  Oh, and re-renting movies I had already seen. NFLX makes it easy.  I have a big queue of movies. No worries!

    • Barry Ritholz (The Big Picture blog) links to a story about how the rich are getting richer.  The story seems to suggest that raising the minimum wage (or creating a "living wage") would somehow help.  But I had to think a bit on this.  This is often a Republican vs. Democrate argument, and I'm neither.  Raising the minimum wage pushes all wages higher.  In cities that have living wages, isn't the cost of living higher?  Maybe that's because people make more money.  Plus, aren't the majority of minimum wage workers part-time workers?  Often, these are teens and college students.  And I recall some story about how these are normally kids from middle-class and rich homes.  So, creating a "living wage" would only help out a very small percentage of folks for a very short time, until other wages were pushed up and the cost of living increased.  Then they'd be in the same boat they are now.  Just thinking out loud here!

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y, Night! (Stocks, Glactica, Biking)

    • I ran my Black Box scans tonight, and the buy I received on Citigroup last week seems to be playing out.  I didn't buy it, but I like to see it moving up because it normally bodes well for the market.  I also had one on GE that I didn't mention (and don't own) last week, and that one seems to be playing out.  Another good sign for the market.  I normally don't buy individual stocks unless we've had a dramatic correction and the Black Box generates a buy signal.  I'm still fully invested and do own some QQQQ.  Speaking of, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Black Box generate a buy on those in the days ahead, but no need to guess.  And none of this is a recommendation of course.

    • I spent a bunch of time at the Fun Factory this saturday.  But I escaped in time to log the first bike ride of 2006.  The way things work here, is that we get a Spring tease in February.  Trying to make the most of it, but I realize we still have a ways to go before dependable sunshine sets in.  The first bike ride is the toughest one.  I took it easy, but I'm going to feel like I was mountain biking on Brokeback Mountain come tomorrow.  Ouch.

    • Battlestar Galactica last night was about some hostage taking on Cloud 9.  The folks were demanding that Sharon (the cylon) be turned over to them.  I won't spoil it for those who DVRed it, are waiting for reruns, or are planning on downloading via iTunes.  But I have to wonder if the plan for her character is to be in the brig for the duration of the series!

    • I'm putting the flag graphic up to show my Olympic spirit, even though I'm not watching (yet).  GO USA!

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Quick Hits (Stocks, Olympics, TGIF!)

    • The market sure has been whippy. Yesterday we went up, then came down. Today we went down, then came up. Pre-options week stuff? One interesting thing to note is that despite the melancholy attitude (aka pessimism) about how horrible the President polls, war with Iraq, threats from Iran, years of natural disasters, mining accidents, political scandals, and high energy costs, the bears can't seem to catch a break. The market remains near the rally highs, and bad news seems to create choppiness at best. I think this sets up a scenario where good news could lead to a big rally. How? What if Helicopter Ben takes the Fed's foot from the brake? Just a thought...

    • OK, so it's a day late but if you caught Lost on wednesday night you saw an interesting story line on Sawyer, the con-man. That show has a ton of freedom to go anywhere with those characters. I thought the show started off a little slow but then finished strong.

    • I missed all TV on thursday night. HUH? Yeah, I know. But I DVRed the important things. That doesn't include Dancing with the Stars, btw. I'll have to do a Google search to find out what's going on there.

    • You know about Fantasy Football, Baseball and Basketball. Now? Fantasy Olympics! That's right! It comes in multiple flavors, including just picking 5 countries from the planet and awarding points on a sliding scale for gold, silver, and bronze medals. For the tie-breaker, each player picks the number of gold medals the US will receive. There you go. Make it interesting!

    • If the economy were going into a recession, I ask you why in the heck are semiconductor stocks rallying? These things are cyclical. If a recession was coming, there is no way that they'd be rallying like they are. Remember, stocks predict the economy 6-12 months in advance. The stock market collapse in 2000 predicted the 2001 recession. The 2002 stock bottom and subsequent rally predicted strong GDP growth in the future. So while stocks have mostly been moving sideways since 2004, they have actually been consolidating their gains and letting earnings catch up with valuations. (aka, PE multiples). We could soon see a new leg up in the market if the PE multiple expanded. Just thinking out loud.

    • "He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood. He's the one that makes you feel alright!" - Motley Crue.

    • How about Wayne Gretzky's wife? Haha.

    • One reason the market may have rallied near the end today is shorts cashing in. You know the drill. Fridays tend to move opposite of the weekly trend, as traders book profits before the weekend. And they'll need the cash, because Valentine's Day is coming up quick!

    • Nah, I probably won't watch much of the Olympics.

    • Netflix flicks... Firefly disc 2 and Transporter 2.

    • Time to tune-up the bike. Weather has been in the 70's here this week, and hopefully will hold up for the weekend. Time to gear up for some patella tendinitis! Woohoo!

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Weird Wacky Wednesday

    • Yesterday, I blogged about Weird Wacky Wednesday, where we tend to get some sort of move beginning later in the week preceding options week expiration. Some may call this the "wed-wed" rally. It seems to happen whenever we've had a bout of pessimism in the days/weeks prior to options expiration. We get a big rally. Was today the start of that, or just a one hit wonder?

    • "Oooh, doing that thing you do." - The Wonders.

    • Last night on American Idol, that dude that "sounded like Cher" really creeped me out. What was that? And then he wanted to sing some Judy Garland? C'mon. I'm surprised they let him prattle on for so long before booting him off.

    • Oh, speaking of today's rally... Did you see some of the buying in the big caps? Folks have been predicting a comeback by big cap for a long time. Eventually, they'll be right. Maybe now? QQQQ looked nice today. And despite the February selling, semiconductors have held up well.

    • Have you checked out the ETF offerings by Powershares? A few have my attention for some sort of portfolio rebalancing down the road. I'd like to see the daily volume pick up on some of those. As you know, I like to adjust my beta during times of strength and weakness. But I value "value" in some of my core holdings. I like stocks (and ETFs) that pay dividends for long-term. I like value investing for long-term positions more than growth. But I do use growth when I crank up the beta from time to time.

    • There are now more ETFs than you can shake a stick at!

    • Tonight... Wednesday... New episode of LOST! (I'm lost without Lost.) Also, American Idol and Veronica Mars are on. So have your DVR at the ready!

    • I don't know about this friday night, but next friday night the Battlestar Galactica will have to decide what to do with Boomer's half-cylon baby. According to TV Guide. Not that you care, but that's a pretty good Sci Fi drama.

    • The market has cycles. So does my weight. Football season is bad. 7 pounds bad this year. But it is fun hanging out with your buddies on the weekends watching football, drinking beer, and eating chips. With 72-degree weather hitting the Sacramento valley and the weekends freed up, now comes the bicycling season for me. Note to self: Get rid of those chips! Yeesh.

    • Fun Factory? Presentations most of the day. I only had a few questions asked, so I don't think folks were even paying attention. Remember the tip to get over nerves is to imagine folks sitting around in their underwear? (Is that from the Brady Bunch?) Anyways, I just imagine that folks are sitting there ignoring me, staring at their watches, and daydreaming about being out in the 72-degree weather. I think that's about right anyways. "Nobody's listening to you anyways. Onward, Muck."

    • I haven't followed politics. My reaction to Bush's State of the Union was "Pffft. Yeah, right." And then there's the Iran mess, which I think will continue on for a long while. I don't know much about the spying or the other political crop circles out there. I just don't find following it to enhance my day to day life experience.

    • Al Michaels is leaving ABC for possibly NBC, as John Madden did. Maybe those two will pair up for Sunday Night Football. The NFL is getting crazy with the scheduling for next year. Stay tuned.

    • Yes, Seattle got jobbed in the Super Bowl. But Pittsburgh did make the big plays that Seattle didn't. I like the joke going around that the Steelers had a victory parade. In the first car was Coach Cowher. In the second car was Jerome Bettis. And in the third car, were the NFL referees...

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Random Thoughts

    • I've heard somebody call the wednesday prior to options expiration week "Weird Wacky Wednesday" or some such thing. I think the thought is that if the market is selling ahead of options week, then there might be some sort of game playing done starting later in the week to establish positions for expiration. Just thinking to myself.

    • My Fantasy Basketball team is mired in 4th place. I can see realistically moving up to 2nd over the next few weeks, but injuries have been slowing my team down. Just when one guy gets healthy (enough to shoot 2-11 for a week), another guy goes down. Kind of frustrating.

    • My monitor was green yesterday. I didn't think video card, because that usually gets quirky rather than blanking out a color. Color problems are usually a monitor or connection problem. So I could see a valid test pattern on the monitor. I tried unplugging everything and reconnecting. Still green. Finaly I noticed that the connection at the monitor was loose. How in the heck did that happen?

    • I was watching a recent Saturday Night Live spoof on Steve Jobs and Apple. He (the actor playing Jobs) was on introducing the new Apple iPod. After every few sentences, he'd say "It's now obsolete" and reach in his pocket and bring out yet a smaller version of the newest iPod. Darn, if that wasn't accurate. It seems like every few minutes, a new version is released. And I still don't own one!

    • My buddy just IMed me and asked me if I was going to watch Cramer's Mad Money this afternoon and try to flip the stock he touts. Uh, no. Never have. Have I thought about it? Of course. I get IMs from my buddy almost daily about how he made 7% and got out. I don't know if this is true or not, but he's hooked on that show. Fer sure, fer sure.

    • The PDA and smartphone combos are getting better. I love my Palm Treo. I still have slow data service and it's running Palm OS. I'd like to upgrade to the Windows version when my current contract is up... in 2007. yeesh! But these things are cool. No, they're double cool!

    • I bought a pair of in-style sunglasses once. About 12 years ago. I still wear the same pair. Now they're retro. I should upgrade one of these days, but I can't see why.

    • I have 5000 songs on my Creative Nomad Jukebox (speaking of something that was in-style long ago). Anyways, about 50 of those songs are AC/DC songs. My random play has now picked an AC/DC song 3 times in a row. No foolin'... Jaillllllllbreak.....

    Quick Hits (Stocks, Super Bowl, TV)

    • Stocks? Yeah, here we are in February and the market is swooning. Have you seen the selling in Google? Oh my goodness! So, I've been watching the Black Box and don't have buy signals yet, although I did get one on Citigroup. The last time I had a buy signal on C was back in September. I generally track ETFs and then a few major stocks to get a feel for where we're headed. I don't think it'd take much for the market to rally. Everyone seems to be rather pessimistic.

    • If you're reading the Health news out, more good news for those of you who eat a high-fiber diet.

    • I think the Seahawks outplayed the Steelers, but the Steelers outscored 'em. Of course, the refs help out Pittsburgh quite a bit with some bizarre calls. From what I'm reading around the web, folks seem pretty upset with the officiating. But the Steelers made the big plays and won. That's the bottom line. You have to rise above the officiating and take the game. Seattle didn't do that.

    • The folks who sang the national anthem and the halftime show with the Rolling Stones? HORRRRRIBLE! Note to self: Next time, order the Lingerie Bowl for halftime! Or even Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl II (with the kitty halftime show) might've been better...

    • Commercials were pretty lousy, too. Go Daddy was a disappointment, despite my previous blog entry about it. I haven't checked out all their ads that were rejected yet.

    • One other thing about the market, is that next week is options expiration. I've noticed that sometimes if we'd had a round of selling before options week, then options week can provide quite a bounce. Just thinking out loud.

    • Former "Xena: Warrior Princess" star Lucy Lawless has signed on for a 10-episode story arc on Sci Fi Channel's red-hot "Battlestar Galactica."

    • Speaking of Sci Fi, I made it through the first disc of Sci Fi's cancelled show Firefly over the weekend. A little slow to start out with, and nowhere near as good as Battlestar Galactica. But somewhat entertaining. I'll Netflix the rest of the season 1 discs over the next month and follow up with the movie Serenity. Why not?

    • "24" last night? It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for smart people to hack through computer security systems. Some guy at a remote site with a PC, clicking his way easily through the most sophisticated security system on the planet. Uh huh. It always seems to take them about 2-3 minutes, too. But, I watch anyways and ignore these kinds of things.

    • I'm in a burrito kind of lunchtime mood...

    • "Battlestar Galactica" begins production in April in Vancouver (for season #4).

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Go Daddy!

    You want to see the Go Daddy commercials that were not approved for the Super Bowl?

    Of course you do!

    GoDaddy.com, baby. They give you a chronological history of their efforts in getting an ad approved for the Super Bowl. Quite interesting. Ahem!

    GoDaddy didn't get their ad approved until February 2nd, according to their blog. And of course they promise an uncensored ad that will be available at their website...

    Thoughts on Bulls vs. Bears

    I know there are some Booyah Bulls out there, but there is also this underlying theme of pessimism that seems to be around individual investors. Nobody likes the President, and he's spying on folks. His State of the Union speech was largely forgettable. There is corruption in Congress and the Senate. The Right Wing took over the Court without a fight. Nobody wants to fight the war anymore, and Iran is on the horizon as the next war. Energy bills have gone up, so folks have cut back spending on other things over the winter. Adjustable rate financing has taken money out of pocketbooks, so that's more money folks can't spend.

    There's your fear. There's your "panic." Things seem dire, outside of an hour long CNBC show of shouts and touts. But taking a look at the stock market, isn't everything but the 20% Booyah moves priced in already? The market has been basically flat for a long time now, which actually has allowed earnings to catch up with valuations and could lead to a strong rally should investors feel good about themselves again.

    And after Friday's fears that wage pressures will keep the Fed hiking rates, imagine what would happen to stocks if Bernanke indicated otherwise? Especially with the GDP clocking in at 1.1% last quarter, he might want to take a pause just to see how the current string of rate hikes impact numbers going forward rather than risk going too far with rate hikes. (Which may or may not be the case... We'll know soon enough!)

    JMHO, of course.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    TGIF! Markets and Football Stuff

    • Today was one of those days in the markets where I feel compelled to buy something aggressive.  As I've noted the past few days, I've been a little worried about the bullishness (ie, Mad Money touts) heading into February which has been historically a weak month for the markets.  We had the jobs numbers today come out strong, but not as strong as expected.  We got a little over 190K, when folks were expecting 250K.  That last number was crazy because of the GDP slowdown in the last quarter.  IMHO, anyways.  But the big scare today was the increase in the wage numbers combined with the drop in the unemployment rate down to 4.7%.  I think this is another talking point in the argument of the economy being at full employment.  In addition, yesterday the productivity numbers fell.  So all of this is making folks wonder if the Fed is indeed done raising rates, or will they continue to hike away willy-nilly?

    • Just to clarify yesterday's comments about me not liking cooked raisins.  I don't like warm, hot, steaming raisins.  But cooled off in an oatmeal cookie is another way God intended raisins to be eaten.  That, and straight out of the box they come in! 

    • Batter up!  I picked up Empire of Debt last night during Dancing with the Stars.  Read through a few chapters.  Hoo, now there's a pessimistic view of where we (America) are.  It goes along the lines of how nations become empires and the sociological changes in the mindset of the population.  (Booyah!)

    • Stacy Keibler?  Any relations to those elves who bake cookies in a tree?  She's doing really well in this dance competition.  For some strange reason I can't explain, blondes don't do much for me.  Regarding the competition, I think the next folks to be voted off the dance floor should be George Hamilton and Tia Carrere.  Although, I'd miss Tia.

    • I think raisins are kind of weird in salads, too.  "Crunch.  Crunch.  Crunch.  Squish."  You know?

    • Superbowl pick?  I put some down on the Seattle Seahawks in September to win it all.  It pays 20-1.  You know who I'm pulling for.  It won't be easy.  I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are a better defensive team, and that's who usually comes out ahead in these things.  It seems as if the crowd is piling on the Steelers.  So, I'd lean the other way if I were making any new bets.  But, I think the Steelers will win, too.  So I may be caught up in the emotional thing, too.  Whatever.   Go Seahawks!

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Thursday's Quick Hits

    • Ah, here's the February we know and love. I mentioned before that February is historically the 2nd weakest month of the year, and almost on queue... There is lots of fear out there. Check out the put/call ratio. But on the otherhand, Amazon reported today and YIKES! I hope folks learned their lesson this quarter about guessing ahead of the internet earnings numbers.

    • Are you watching Beauty and the Geek? I wasn't, but with Lost a rerun last night I decided to tune in. It was hillarious. The Geeks had to decorate a room. The Beauties had to put together a computer, then download and burn an MP3. Silly but fun.

    • I've had enough of the American Idol auditions. Pretty good this year, but now it's time for the real thang...

    • One more reality show comment... I've had Dancing with the Stars on. I'm usually reading while it's on, but do watch the pre-dance and post-dance back and forth. I never watch the results show that comes on fridays. So the challenge for me on thursdays is to try to figure out which couple was eliminated.

    • Speaking of books, I did finish Jeremy Siegal's Future for Investors. It was pretty good. Basically, stocks that pay good dividends with dividends reinvested beat the index over the long term. He had a bunch of strategies towards the end of the book that may be worth paying attention to. There are some ETFs and maybe some closed-end funds that one can use to mimic that strategy. If one wanted to. Not me, though. On the bookshelf on-deck circle, Empire of Debt...

    • President Bush's push for alternative fuels and to get America off of Middle East oil was probably a non-event. According to scientists, we're years away from a realistic alternative energy strategy. And just try to get a nuclear power plant built anywhere or drill in ANWR. Ain't gonna happen. So, learn to love high energy prices until the stuff runs out I guess. Good planning would be to move closer to your job or find a job where you can work at home. Something to get the fuel usage down. Maybe look into whole house fans and pellet stoves for seasonal extremes. Just thinking outloud. Just because energy prices are high, doesn't mean you have to pay them. Reduce usage!

    • Did you notice that new Supreme Court judge Sam Alito voted against the conservatives in his first vote? Hmm... I be that was unanticipated.

    • I haven't done much trading lately. Still long, and watching my Black Box. Which isn't right all the time, unfortunately. Sometimes, if it gives a signal on a stock, I'll check the other stocks or ETF in the sector. Samething if it gives a signal on an ETF, I look at stocks in the sector. For example, a recent buy on SGP was crazy-whack-funky when I looked at sells on PPH and drug stocks.

    • What do you think about raisins? I don't know. Sometimes they taste good. Sometimes I think "Why am I bothering with these darn things?" I know I don't like them cooked, though. If I'm going to eat raisins, it'll be the way God intended it: Straight out of the box they come in!

    • Work. Work. Work.

    • Lining up The Transporter and Firefly for Netflix flicks.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Question for the Bears

    Let me get this straight. Greenspan raised rates yesterday and didn't say market friendly things. Google blew up on earnings after hours. The President didn't say anything last night.

    The market was up today.

    Yo, Bears... Is this the best you can do?

    As a note to myself, I realize we're not that far from the highs and the last thing I want to do is be too emotional about the market. We are in the 2nd weakest month of the year (historically). It'll be interesting to see what happens after the monthly strength period ends.