Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Real life matrix

I'm going to be away for several days, but had this video in reserve. I'll try to post something meatier at some point soon.

This is a creative performance called "Why is my girlfriend mad?". I've never seen anything quite like this.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Clown face generator

This is fun. Try out this Evil clown generator at scottsmind.com.

Here's a sample of some of the fun you can have.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Favorite painters on ebay

Last year I went through a stage of looking extensively through paintings on ebay and happened upon artist Zora Kader. While there are many painters on ebay that I like, Zora is probably my favorite.

I'm cheap, so most of the auctions of Zora's paintings end up a tad out of my price range (I have bid on several but the really good stuff tends to get quickly bid up), but if you're looking for some original art and like this style I encourage you to check out the auctions on ebay. Here's an image of one of my favorite Zora Kader paintings - "The Sound of Music" - to whet your appetite.

The style of the paintings evolves a little bit over time. Currently the paintings use less of the really bright colors like the sample above in favor of more primary colors, but the themes of mother and child, musicians, horse riding, and angels seem to be consistent.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stock update

Welp, just checked my portfolios and I got 3 of the 4 stocks that I placed orders on.

My orders for Lifecell (LIFC), Palomar (PMTI), and Tradestation (TRAD) were filled. Unfortunately I didn't get Google (GOOG), it bounced up at open and closed a good bit higher for the day. How's that Meatloaf song go? 3 out of 4 ain't bad?

Those buys lessened my cash position, but still sitting with around 45% cash in my trading accounts. I guess a little less bearish than I used to be.

For my next investments I've been thinking of just buying a big tank and filling it up with gasoline. The way it's going up it might be a top performer.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Placed some buy orders tonight

Well, I've been sitting on my butt for several months waiting on the market to pull back and figure maybe it's not going to happen.

I placed some buy orders for Google, Lifecell, Palomar Medical Tech, and Tradestation (GOOG, LIFC, PMTI, and TRAD). I'm not intentionally targeting tech-ish companies - it's just that these look appealing right now as I've posted before.

All were limit orders placed below today's close, so I'll have to see if I've actually bought anything when I get home from work tomorrow.

As far as contrary indicators go, me placing buys probably means the market is at a top, so this might be a good time to sell - and I'm only half kidding...

Are intellectual property (IP) rights too strong?

Intellectual property rights have been in the news recently. A recent supreme court case made it more difficult to obtain and defend patents. The court felt too many patents were being given for marginal improvements that would occur in the natural course of business, saying patents are to be reserved for true innovation of the "non-obvious" type. Here's a more detailed article from the Economist.

I was peaked to write this post when I stumbled upon this academic paper that talks about how James Watt's steam engine patent obtained in 1768 seemed to retard industrial developement for years until it finally expired in 1800 immediately allowing far superior engines to come on the market. The first 4 pages of the paper discuss the story of the steam engine so you don't have to read the whole thing. Here's the link to the whole paper if you like.

The general idea is that having intellectual property rights that are too strong retards economic growth and stifles innovation rather than encouraging it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More comic book advertisements

An earlier post looked at some comic book ads from when I was a kid. Several comments mentioned some other memorable ads and I've included some of those below...

I couldn't find the Charles Atlas ad with the kid getting sand kicked on him, but this one was close... What little kid didn't want gigantic muscles? And these guys are "small" by today's body building standards.

And then you have the famous X-Ray glasses for only $1.25. What a deal!

We also see some ads related to buying stamps and foreign currencies that were also mentioned in another comment. (click on the images to enlarge to read)

And then finally we we see below the ads that were designed to allow kids to take jobs to sell stuff to win rewards that let them buy toys. I remember thinking winning the remote controlled race cars and airplanes would be cool, but it seems I was generally more into the "winning" side of things than the part where you have to "sell" stuff to get there... (All seriousness aside, all kids should have to sell stuff. I wish they'd knock on my door everyday to sell me something! NOT!)

Global Warming

Will Ferrell as President Bush on Global Warming

More on the falling dollar

For those of you interested in the value of the dollar, here's a good post on the Big Picture blog. I find the continuing fall of the dollar a very interesting story and relevant to long term investing. Problem is I really don't know what to do about it other than invest in export oriented companies, international companies/stocks, or actually convert dollar denominated cash into other currencies. There are some currency ETFs out there also (here's a good story with links), but I'd rather get my assets into productive assets/equities rather than buy into the increasing spread between the dollar and other world currencies.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Solar System orbits Milky Way at sharp angle

A short while back I posted about the moon not orbiting around the earth in the same plane as the solar system.

Well it turns out this scientist thinks our solar system orbits our Milky Way galaxy at a 60-90 degree angle to the plane of the Milky Way's rotation.

blurbs from the article:

"our solar system is pitched at a sharp angle and not oriented parallel to the plane of the Milky Way as previously thought."

"An analogy is a bullet hurtling through the air with its nose turned toward the ground."

It seems things out there aren't nearly as orderly as we might expect.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Somebody as lazy as me

While I'm watching my robot mow my lawn, I can also lay on the couch while another robot serves me Diet Dews.

Thanks to Steph from Boise for pointing out this humorous clip.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stocks I like - May

Welp, I try to keep an eye on my stocks and potential stocks and went through and looked at everything again this weekend.

Overall I'm still bearish on the market, but there still seem to be some good buys out there.

My holdings include (from largest to smallest)

CRDN - Ceradyne - ceramic body armor
CTSH - Cognizant Technologies - information tech
GRMN - Garmin - GPS systems
HANS - Hansen Natural - energy/health drinks
INFY - Infosys - information tech (India)
NGPS - Novatel - GPS components
NTES - Netease - internet gaming (China)
CKFR - Checkfree - electronic billpay

For additional buys: I'm really liking the way GRMN looks right now, and think CTSH is attractive for additional buys at this point also. As for Garmin, I talked to lady at the Hertz rental counter and she says they still don't have enough GPS systems in their cars and that demand is high. Seems there's still a long GPS buildout to go.

Of recent buys: I recently added to HANS and NTES and probably am not looking to add to any of those positions in the near term. I like HANS quite a bit but wish they'd get their backlog of SEC filings taken care of.

Recent sells: I got rid of ASVI for about a 50% loss. It was the worst % loss I have made in a long time. ASVI makes track loaders used by landscapers. The housing market slowdown is hurting their business badly. Lesson learned: to keep cyclicality in mind, even if the company itself looks like a growth company.

Stocks I don't own that I'm considering for additions.
This list is probably similar to last month's list, but here goes:
GOOG - Google. Anyway I slice it this stock looks inexpensive to me given its growth rate and profit levels. It's a megacap stock which I rarely find attractive, but it's very interesting still.
NTRI - Nutrisystems - weight loss
LIFC - Lifecell - tissue regeneration
PRAA - Portfolio Recovery - debt collections
PMTI - Palomar Tech - cosmetic lasers
TRAD - Tradestation group - online broker and automated software

I'm going to list a couple disk drive players here too. Tech can be boom/bust, but these have seemed awefully cheap to me since they showed up on my screens earlier this year.
WDC - Western Digital
KOMG - Komag

I haven't decided if I'm going to make any buys/sells this month, but if I buy it'll probably come from some of the stocks above. I'm really not inclined to make any sells of existing positions based on valuation currently.

Well, that about does it for ideas for this month. I'll post if I add anything.

Willie Parker

Willie Parker is a running back for the Steelers, who also happened to be the top running back on my fantasy football team last year. So I was a little confused when I saw the following ad show up at the bottom of a story I was reading

I first thought "Free Willie Parker?" His name is "Fast Willie Parker." And then I thought, well did he get arrested and is there a campaign to get him out? I was pretty confused for a second until I realized the ad was for a Willie Parker jersey that was "free"

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Secret Code

Olny toshe who konw the screet ceod wlil be albe to raed tihs psot.

My wfie saw a dog tinakg a dmup in the mdlide of our fonrt yrad taody. She ran odistue, irutpnteerd his bisunses, and sweehd him aawy. But it was too ltae. I’m gald I dno’t hvae to mow the lawn tdaoy busecae taht wulod be nsaty. Pehw!

In ohetr nwes we patlend our graedn lsat week and tignhs seem to be giwnrog wlel so far. Wr’ee gwronig tighns in ptos on our bcak prcoh. Totemoaes, cubemcurs, sasquh, banes, oinnos are the mian vatebglees, but wr’ee aslo tyinrg ltutece and risadehs.

How wrods are slelped denos’t ralely mteatr. As lnog as all the lteerts are tehre, and the fsirt and lsat lteter of the wrdos are in the rhigt pclae, msot polepe can friuge out waht yor’ue saniyg radsegrles of the oderr of etveirynhg esle.

Hvae a ncie day!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Comic book advertisements

I was looking through some old comic books from when I was a kid and realized the advertisements are now more interesting than the comics.

Sea Monkeys - this is probably the classic advertisement all kids remember. (click on images to enlarge)

And does anybody remember the "Hubba Bubba" western duels on Saturday morning cartoons with the sheriff and the bad guy seeing who could blow the biggest bubble? Some kids at school would put a whole pack in their mouth to try to blow giant bubbles.

Here's a Spiderman toy I remember my brother had. It had a little pulley in it and Spidey could pull himself up with his web.

Looking through the comics it's clear that me and my brother were into comics with alot of fighting, and most of the ads reflect toys aimed at kids into fighting. I actually think we might've ordered these Roman soldier toys (I vaguely remember the catapults).

Here are some other cool little kid toys. Here are the Revolutionary War variety.

And the World War II variety

I thought this Battlestar Galactica ad for the "gold, not silver" Cylon was cool too. Check out Commander Adama in the background.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ping Pong

This ping pong video is worth watching. I wonder how many takes it took to do alot of these.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Too many houses, not enough people

Check out another of Bill Connerly's excellent posts on the housing glut.

Obviously housing markets are local, and these are nationwide stats, so some markets will be less impacted than others, but as an asset class housing seems in a huge bubble right now.

I don't particularly want to be a renter, but the case for expecting appreciation in home prices right now is not strong.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Lazy thought of the day

I've been known to mow the grass (and weeds) in my yard occassionally. Sometimes weedeat too. And while I'm mowing my thoughts have been known to take up pressing societal needs. To that end, I propose immediate and massive research to develope a type of grass that grows to be about 4 inches tall. And then stops.

I'm talking a Manhatten project for fescue with the end goal being a "no mow lawn."

Sure, we could spend that money pursuing a moon base - that certainly sounds like a nice and worthy goal - but will it really make us as happy as coming home to a perfect low-maintenance lawn each day?

Certainly if we can figure out how to grow a 286 pound watermelon,... if french fries can come covered in cheese, chili, and bacon... and if I can get 6000 miles per oil change... then I don't see why I can't have a lawn that will behave itself without constant intervention.

At least until I can buy me a robot to mow the lawn for me.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

I saw reports of Kurt Vonnegut's death last month and realized I'd not read any of his books. I guess I felt any wanna-be semi-educated heathen like myself ought to read something by the man many consider to be the greatest American novelist of his time. So in the spirit of things I checked out a Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" from the library.

I'm generally not much of a fan of fiction, and I've been known to stop reading 30-50 pages in if a book doesn't catch my attention quickly - so completion of the book was not a given - but I made it through and actually enjoyed "the read."

First off: I couldn't summarize the meaning of the book if I tried so I won't other than to say it's a humorous story about how the bumbling humans bring about their own apocalypse.

Probably the highlight of the book for me was a poem of the Last Rites being given to the dying dictator of a tropical island. The verses from the island's Bokonism religion are read and are then repeated back by the dying person - sortof like wedding vows ;-). Anyhow this poem lept off the page.

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait...
- Kurt Vonnegut from Cat's Cradle

(Thanks to this website for archiving the text)

I (we?) tend to make things too complicated and miss the fun of just being here. Count me as glad to be "sitting-up mud."

Ice Nine: In the book Ice Nine is a molecular "seed" that causes water to freeze at temperatures far above 32F. I first heard of Ice Nine back in high school through my favorite guitarist of the time, Joe Satriani. One of Satch's instrumentals was named Ice Nine. Now 20 years later I understand the reference.

Maybe at some point I'll similarly name a song for a Vonnegut reference. Could you hum "Sitting-up Mud"?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Peyton Manning on SNL

Peyton Manning was on Saturday Night Live recently. A friend a work pointed these clips out. I was literally crying watching this...