Saturday, December 27, 2008

Everybody Knows Your Name

Being in Facebook is not without risk.

A girl I went to first grade with invited me to be her friend. In Facebook, you don't accept friendship, you confirm it. So I confirmed friendship with this girl.

When I did that, all her friends and all my friends were notified. And I was reminded again that, when you do anything in Facebook, everybody gets notified. Now, I don't care who gets notified about me. They can talk about me plenty when I'm gone.

But I was raised on the need to know basis. My father told me never to tell anybody anything about myself. Back then, I didn't care. I told everybody everything. Now that I'm in Facebook, I can see what my father was talking about.

I want a system that knows who I am, keeps track of all my worldly commerce, and let's me decide who gets notified about what. Like E-Mail.

I noticed that my schoolmate has recently become friends with Nancy Pelosi. I like Nancy Pelosi. I think she's really cute. But I don't want to become her friend. Not on Facebook.

Monday, December 22, 2008

FAQ

Q: Mr. Blumen, why don't you write something every day? It seems as if you run hot and cold for days at a time. Why is that?

A: I don't think of something worth writing every day. I have to be in the mood, and sometimes I go for days on end without being in the mood. You might say, I run hot and cold.

Q: I did say that.

A: Well that cinches it. It's been my unstated policy to refrain from posting anything that's not worth writing or reading. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Sometimes there's a fine line between sparkling words and self-humiliation.

Q: So how do you tell the difference?

A: I don't know.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let Us Now Praise Peter Schiff

You know this guy - he's appeared on the Stock Channel regularly in the past few years. All during the boomtime, he was slouching toward Armageddon.

There were a few others - Kass, Roubini, Gary Shilling - who saw the trouble coming, but Schiff was different. His smooth demeanor never flickered. The shape of his little smile never moved a fraction of a degree from its designated arc. He did not respond to logic that was outside his syllogism.

Now, he's right as rain. And now, when Kass and the rest are beginning to look at the next turn in the road, Schiff continues to peer into the abyss.

I looked him up and found that his father was Irwin Schiff, the famous tax protester. That explains everything.

Woody Allen had a problem with authority. I have a problem with impenetrable minds. I shouldn't let Peter Schiff get to me.

We shouldn't be encouraging him. In the fulness of time, we'll see that, even when he was right, he was wrong.


I know it's Sunday. I'm sorry.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Real Good for Free

A few years ago, I found myself in an Embassy Suites Hotel in Orlando. The good thing about an Embassy Suites is that they provide breakfast, every morning, for free. Not the mini-me-muffins and Raisin Bran that you get everywhere else. This is a real breakfast with eggs and bacon and sausage, cooked to order by real chefs. They always drew a crowd.

The time I'm thinking about, there were three chefs, all with vague European accents, maybe brothers, moving around like tummlers and working the crowd while producing breakfast out of smoke and fire.

They shouted: "Whatever you want! You got it! It's America! Everything free in America!"

It brought a tear to my eye.

That's what I like about Google. Everything's free. They let me write this blog and publish it myself. For nothing. They handle everything. I just have to come up with the words.

I'm nobody special. They don't even get any revenue from me. But I have the same rights as important people like Paula Abdul.

And when I write my blog, I get a good feeling, like I'm out on the street with a clarinet and I know how to play it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dreams where the umbrella is folded

A while back, I thought I wanted to start a blog about Bob Dylan, and I did start one. I posted one item - a review of "Modern Times" - and then never came back to it.

And yet, this blog, ostensibly about Google, is shot through with Dylan. Maybe I will just sneak a Dylan post in, now and then, and nobody will care.

Right now, "Bob Dylan the bootleg series, volume 3" is on the Bose and it's set to repeat the last track until I turn it off. The last track is "Series of Dreams". I have on my Quiet Comfort headphones and I have listened to "Series of Dreams" all the way through about four or five times, now.

When I haven't listened to "Series of Dreams" for a while, it always makes me cry. Always at the same line. But after listening to it five times through, I don't hear it anymore. Because I anticipate everything. I will stay refractory, like this, for maybe a year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Like Muley

I used to tell myself that I was lookin' out for things, so that when the money come back everything'd be all right. But I know'd it wasn't true. That money ain't coming back. It ain't never coming back! And me, I'm just an old graveyard ghost.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thus Spake Larry and Sergey

In my youth, I read a lot of Nietzsche and I thought we would be beyond good and evil by now.

Tonight, I tuned in to the middle of a radio program which featured a debate among several professors and other well-known people on the proposition that, despite its motto, Google has done evil on several occasions.

A survey, taken before the show, showed that most people in the audience didn't care about this, one way or the other.

One guy, against the proposition and for Google, said Google did good when it came out with its motto and got everybody thinking about being good. Good point.

But Esther Dyson, also against the proposition, and arguably the smartest person in the room, gave the best brief in Google's defense. She said Google does good by providing people with services they want, and it does good by increasing the flow of information everywhere, making it tough on tyrants.

Those for the proposition were pitiful and shrill. Militant idealists. They said that good is good and evil is evil and black is black and there's no room for Mr. In-Between. Google, in their estimation, was evil when it acquiesced in keeping Chinese people from seeing YouTube, and there's no chance for redemption. Censorship is evil, Google did it, and that was good enough for them.

Well, censorship is not evil. It's unconstitutional, and then only if the Government does it.

Google's a corporation and it's run by a couple of guys who knew exactly what they were saying, but probably didn't realize how it would be taken. You can throw it in the same bucket with John Lennon's comparison of the Beatles to "Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing..."

Of course, Lennon was evil.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hallelujah, I'm a bum!

I believe in owning up to the things you've done.

So I sent an E-Mail, today, to my financial advisor. I informed him that everything he told me would happen, happened. I said that, if I had taken his advice, I would be a richer man, today. And then I told him that I would be looking for another financial advisor in the coming year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

To Have and Hold

Today, on TSC, Rev Shark and Rothbort were pissing at each other in the Columnist Conversation. The topic for debate was "Should people buy-and-hold, or not?" Both gentlemen brought their grandchildren into the fray. It was not pretty.

My opinion is that we all buy and hold. The difference is in the way you qualify the hold part.

Minnie Pearl told the story about the old boy who wandered into the blacksmith's barn and picked up a horseshoe, still warm from the forge. Well, he laid it back down in a hurry.

The blacksmith laughed and said, "Burned your fool hand, didn't it?"

And the old boy said, "Naw, it just don't take me long to look at a horseshoe."

By this exemplar, I argue that Rev Shark, himself, buys and holds. He just doesn't hold it long.

Myself, I'm a little bit country and a little bit Rock'N'Roll. I do a little of both, which has been my undoing on several occasions this year.

I have bought and sold GOOG repeatedly. I won't tell you where that's gotten me. I'll just say that I would be far better off if I had never sold a single share of it.

During the 2000 crash, I never sold anything and lost 40%, but by 2004, I had made it back. Without doing anything.

This year, I have been selling with a vengeance. Lately, at the wrong times. Even though I have held substantial amounts of cash this year, I'm still down 35%, with no confidence that I'm going to ride it back up again.

The worst thing is, my financial advisor was right. He told me this would happen.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More from the Bottom

This time of year, when the chilly winds start to blow and the day gives up early for the night, every rat starts thinking of his hole and what he's got to eat and where he'll lay his head down tonight.

The rascally days of summer are fading in the distance. The pig is spare. The bull lies down with the bear. No more fear. No greed. No happiness.

No joy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thoughts from the Bottom

As I reflect on the year, it seems to me a cascade of small epiphanies, giving way to bigger ones, each one more horrific than the last, as we try to grasp the size of the thing.

I've been beating myself up for continually going back in too soon, but it's not just me. Nobody saw this coming. Everybody's beating up on themselves for not seeing how big it was. We still don't know how big it is.

I'm reminded of a short story I read as a kid about a young couple who found a great apartment in a nice building for half the normal rent. It had a creepy janitor, but everything else was just what they wanted.

They moved in and everything was fine for several weeks, except sometimes at night, they could feel and hear a low, rumbling hum and vibration that seemed to come from everywhere in the building. They went out in the hall and downstairs, but they could still hear and feel it. It seemed to come from the walls and the floors themselves. Once, they went down in the basement and discovered some huge, shiny metal engines that seemed to be attached to the building itself.

They went back to their rooms and went to bed.

The next morning, the man said to his wife: "I think that this building is some kind of spaceship."

She looked at him and said, "The whole building?"

"Yes."

They didn't talk anymore about it, but one night, when they were in bed, the hum and vibration started up again, but this time it was louder than ever before and the floor and the walls were shaking.

The young couple woke up in alarm and decided that they should get out of the building as soon as possible. They ran downstairs and out into the street. But the vibration and hum was still there. It was coming from the sidewalks and the other buildings.

The man looked at his wife and said, "My God! It's the whole block!"


That story was written in the fifties. We're way past the whole block stage, now. Yahweh, himself, may have to underwrite this deal. God help us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Year of Living Dangerously

Money can't buy everything,
That is true


In the summer of 1975, I was detailed by the Federal Government to Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, to take a turn at overseeing the medical surveillance system that had been set up there to process Vietnamese refugees into this country.

Every refugee had to be tested for every disease known to man and given all manner of shots and other injections, plus physical examinations by military doctors. Everything had to be documented, which meant, in those days, recorded on paper. I was in charge of a huge paper mill.

Everything revolved around a xerox machine which copied out a set of medical forms for every refugee who came through. With forms in hand, these hapless exiles were directed through a gauntlet of medical stations where they were abused by modern medical practice. At each station, one form was selected from their handful, and written upon and then placed in a hopper. An army of summer college students - boys and girls - had been hired to run around to all the stations, collect the forms and deliver them back to the Xerox machine where countless copies were made of everything, and sorted and filed, or delivered to some other place.

I remember it being hot that summer. The Pennsylvania outback had the feel of a tropical outpost, like San Juan or Rio. Everybody was running around in shorts. I confess I didn't have much to do. The operation had been set up before I arrived and was running smoothly. The kids did everything. I spent a lot of time in my motel room, catching up on my reading.

I didn't make any money that year, but it was a good year, nevertheless. The IMSAI computer was first introduced in August. And Larry and Sergey were running around in their nappies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Snappy Story

Larry and Sergey were walking down the street one day and they ran into Eric Schmidt.

Larry said, "Hey, Bubba! What's happening?"

Schmidt: "I've been looking for you guys. I have a question for you."

Sergey: "Great - we love questions."

Schmidt: "How much money would we make if we had everything?"

Larry: "Aw, we figured that out the first day."

Sergey: "Yeah, including Mars."

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Case of Nerves

I watch a lot of TV, so I happened to see that photo op of Obama, meeting with his Technology Advisors. I saw it three times. They were all sitting around a table, with Obama in the middle, the convergence of everyone's attention, including mine.

But on the third viewing, my interest began to shift to the Captains of Industry assembled. A motley group in expensive suits. And in the middle, right across from Obama, was our Googlemeister Schmidt. He's the one, rocking back and forth in his chair, with the loopy grin on his face.

There was no sound so you couldn't tell what was happening, but I figured he was either having a really good time, or he was really nervous.

Then they showed Obama, speaking to the group, and he seemed nervous.

Then I got nervous.

I was already nervous because, last Friday, I bought some SPY and VTI, after I had decided not to. All weekend, I plotted the means to escape from this wily predicament. But then I got lucky - the futures were up big, this morning. I put in orders for the open at the market price, and escaped by the skin of a small profit.

Now, all I have to worry about is, what was making Schmidt so nervous?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama Eve

I'm sitting here, watching and waiting, as though the result meant anything to me personally. Actually, it does.

Somebody said, this election would be a rout, if Obama weren't black. I said, Obama's not black, and we're not white. Not anymore.

So, it really doesn't matter how it turns out. Except, one way we'll see the hand of Yahweh, making a rare appearance in human affairs, and the other way, we'll just have to keep muddling through by ourselves.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On Leaf Blowing

Outside my window, the subdivision landscaping crew is blowing leaves down the street.

Who told them to do that?

I like leaves, outside my window. They look nice, in keeping with the season. I think those leaves belong to me. I had plans for those leaves.

Who wants a neighborhood with no leaves?

What kind of country am I living in?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I shun the In Crowd

Apple gets better press than Google. Cramer's girls don't gush over Google.

Last night, Cramer said that Apple was the key to the universe. And then he said it again, and again. And again. At the end, he said, "Oh - Google's good, too".

So today, AAPL goes up and GOOG goes down. It's a law of nature.

Great.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Google Opinion

Let's pretend that I'm a knowledgeable person.

I might think to myself, "What is it with GOOG, then?"

I think very much about GOOG. Quarter before last, wise persons were saying that GOOG had saturated the market for clicks. Henry Blodget was running up and down, screaming, "The GOOG has fallen! And it can't get up!"

What happened then was, the Short Squeeze Heard 'Round the World. The earnings were up. Way up. New reserves of clicks were being found every day. In the time it took me to go to the bathroom, GOOG was up a hunnert. Which sent me back to the bathroom, for I had nothing in the game. In a moment of terror, I had sold everything.

I asked myself, what would Cramer do? So I bought it all back, paying up. Way up. I told people I had missed a $30,000 opportunity. Since then, Yahweh has shorted GOOG all the way down to 300. My squandered $30,000 opportunity quickly became a real $50,000 loss.

This quarter, GOOG was due for a big one. And they got it. But the response was tepid. Probably because nobody was short this time. Perhaps, I thought, Yahweh has relented.

So now I am at peace with GOOG in the middle 300's. Probably, GOOG will always be undervalued.

I mean, traders know about charts and balance sheets, but they don't understand software. They don't understand what Google is trying to do and they don't appreciate how well they have been executing. Plus, most traders accept the principle that the World should not be ruled by two young, goofy-looking guys.

But GOOG will get there. My feeling is that next Quarter GOOG's earnings will defy gravity. A perfect storm of everything, kicking in at the same time - mobile, display, YouTube, and several things we don't know about, yet. Overcoming the long, withdrawing tide.


I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Plastics?

No...

Scale.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Love in the Time of Diminished Expectations

"Are we still going to get rich?"

"I don't know. Possibly."

"Possibly?"

"If we live long enough."

"Oh."

"We might not be able to get into the nursing home of our dreams."

"I wouldn't mind that, as long as we could be together."

"Definitely. In the same room."

"Definitely."

"I might have to grease the guards."

"Oh."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

There is a Yahweh

Or maybe there isn't. There was none of that trickster stuff this time. A clean beat.

But the rush for the ticket line was orderly. GOOG just ambled up 50 points. We'll look back on this one.

Cramer posted: "...Google is a general unto itself. That's why it is good. Because everything else is bad. So enjoy the gap up. Treasure it, even."

Ay, Cramer is Cramer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Google Eve

It's Google Eve and the world is filled with exuberant pessimism. I'm strangely cheered, however. What more can they do to me? What fresh humiliation can they visit upon my corpus delicti? Whatever happens - blowout? blowup? - GOOG goes lower.

Is Fred Hickey to be vindicated, at last?

Well, then, I'll stand in line to give him his due, saying, "Fred, my boy, you're a better man than I am!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Off the Golden Gate Bridge into China Bay

Cramer says, in 2000, technology stocks all fell off a steep cliff and then kept on falling off other, steeper cliffs. Message: Cramer is through calling bottoms. He has reformed. He must be in therapy somewhere.

But I can relate, having bought JDSU all the way down, congratulating myself at the bottom for reducing my cost basis to $60. I rode MSFT from a double at $58 to despair at $15.

But I think Cramer is wrong to say, as he did, that it could happen again to the same bunch of tech stocks plus GOOG. I don't think so, and everybody is entitled to an opinion.

Back then, the tech stocks were way inflated by the Internet mania and Y2K. PE's were astronomical. I rememember hearing somebody on the Stock Channel say, "Maybe Microsoft deserves to have a PE of a hundred because of its Internet Division." Back then, these stocks needed to be taken down. But not now. There's no air in any of them, now.

If you want air, we've got it. This time around, its the financials who've been letting out the funk of 40,000 years. The most unusual suspects - Bear Stearns, Merrill, Goldman, AIG. And the poster child for geometric compression, Lehman, doing the honors from 66 to nothing. So we're seeing the horror, but it's not tech.

Last time, a lot of companies came through OK. Bloody, but unbowed. Tech will get its lumps, this time, like everybody else, but it won't be singled out for execution.

But I wish Cramer would stop talking about it. He's giving me the willies.

Are you ready, brother?

Rev Shark and Doug Kass are both saying that the bottom is nigh. Cramer is screaming, sell everything! Surely, these are the last days. Forget the bottom. I suspect that the Rapture is imminent. I'm giving all my worldly possessions to those who are short and needier than I. I'm getting ready.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Homily

Forbear ebullience. I read that somewhere, today.

It's no longer an economic problem. It's religious. Boom and bust, ordained by God. And we must all forbear ebullience or we will fall like the high and mighty.

Shoot. It's not religion. It's an engineering problem. The fastest way to get the dang machine going again.

Aldrin was asked what he would do on the moon if the LEM rocket motor didn't fire. He said he'd start learning everything there was to know about that motor.

Markets have failed. Now, astronauts everywhere are studying that motor. A great global buzz is going up. If the Internet is ever going to get its chops as an empowering device, now is the time.

I feel better already. Hallelujah.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

tremulous cadence slow

Son, this ain't a dream no more
It's the real thing.


Capitulation is near. I can feel it in the air, tonight. Dover Beach, ringing in my ears. The tide goes out, but it doesn't come back for a long time. I'm ready. Hand me my confession. Tell me where to sign.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lost in the After Hours

The Dow was up a couple a hunnert today, but it didn't feel good. Nothing feels good anymore. We're all just waiting for Godawful.

GOOG was up a half a buck at the close, but then gave it all back plus change when RIMM went over the edge. And then, Heebner. Well. Heebner is Heebner. Beware Heebner. My mind wanders....

I wandered into Coney Island and read a thing about singers covering songs recorded by other singers. How great or terrible they are. I looked at the comments. All the comments had little cartoon pictures on them. I should have known.

The commenters were all disputing everybody else's faves. I decided to add a comment of my own. I wrote:

"My favorite cover is Bob Dylan's version of 'Precious Memories', on the 'Knocked Out Loaded' album."

That should lift the level of discussion, I thought. I looked for my prose in the list. There were 17 pages of comments, each one saying how many minutes ago it was posted.

I went to the end of the list, but didn't see my stuff. Then I saw it wasn't the end of the list anymore. The end was now page 21. I was standing on a moving sidewalk!

I decided to catch up to the end page. But, no matter how fast I clicked, I kept losing ground. The comments were saying "Posted 1 minute ago," when I realized that I had posted my comment over 5 minutes ago.

I was going in the wrong direction. I backed up to page 10 where the comments were posted 6 minutes ago. This was the right strategy, I figured: get out in front of it and run it down. But I didn't see it anywhere. I must have underestimated how long ago I'd posted. I started out in the other direction. I skipped around. At some point, I realized that I would never see my words in print.

I looked in amazement at the other comments. There were people having conversations in there! How did they do that?

I thought about a dream I had, years ago, where I got lost in a cemetery. It was the night before my father died.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

He Ain't the Only One

This got my attention today:

"Heebner pukes his positions!"

A gripping read. Thousands have wondered what Heebner was up to at any given time and now this guy has devised a simple heuristic, that even I can understand, for making an educated guess.

But why would anyone care what Heebner is doing behind the curtain? I just want to know how much I lost every day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

Both Microsoft and Google have a view of the heavens. Microsoft is Ptolemaic and Google is post-Copernican.

I looked at Chrome. But it's not about building a better browser. The thing is not to use a browser at all.

Click on Chrome and get taken immediately into full-screen, streaming, bit-torrent live video, 24-7, with a non-windows interface superimposed over your cockpit window. You're in a video game and, around every corner, there's a wall with ads all over it. All the things you want.

And if you want to know how it used to be - down at the bottom of the wall, there's a little Windows icon you can click.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Is that you, Mac?

Wouldn't it be great if we could handle all our affairs on the internet?

You don't think so?

The reason you think that way is because the internet, right now, is a bar where nobody knows your name. That's got to go. When we get rid of anonymity as a principle of the 'net, everything's gonna get better. And we'll be able to handle all our affairs in the cloud. It'll be the next best thing to Hallelujah Land itself.

I wrote a whole blog on this subject once, in blog-poetic style. I got my wife to read some of it.

She said, "I feel so sorry for you."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boring, Boring, Boring

GOOG is boring. Heebner is boring. Cash is boring. I've been in this funk now for a couple of weeks.

I'm way past reading TSC.com for information. I read it because there's nothing else to read.

It takes me 39 seconds to go through the Barrons that comes to my driveway every Saturday morning. I look at the Market Laboratory. The short interest is not interesting.

By accident, I tuned into the Stock Channel the day Eric Schmidt came on Cramer's afternoon show. It was boring. Cramer asked him all the stupid questions that we would have asked if we'd been on.

Schmidt's answers were boring. But Cramer hung on every word like he was Moses, getting it straight from Yahweh.

It didn't have to be boring. It could have been interesting....

Cramer: "Why don't you split the stupid stock?"

Schmidt: "Why?"

Cramer: "Well - you know, man!"

Schmidt: "Wouldn't it be evil?"

Cramer: "No! It's evil if you don't split it!"

Schmidt: "I never thought about it that way."

Cramer: "It would be great, man!"

Schmidt (getting out his Blackberry): "OK. I'll call Larry and Sergey right now. How about 500 to 1? That way, we could be a penny stock. We'll have it out in Beta by tomorrow noon."

Cramer pops a vessel and faints on national TV. Medics are called. The Stock Channel switches fast to Becky Quick, interviewing Warren....



What can I say?

It's Sunday.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

E Pluribus Heebner

I got out my pencil a while ago. You know what that means.

Yesterday, we were down 3 cents. Today, we're up 4 cents. So, between yesterday and today, I figure I'm up a penny on Heebner.

If I put that penny together with the 49 cents that Larry and Sergey sent me, I'll be able to buy half of anything at the Dollar Store.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Enough about Heebner

I'm sure he's unhappy with the situation himself.

I'm down 19.5% so far. But that's nothing, compared to what happened in late December last. Right after Christmas, there were two bumps down from 63.55 to 45.08. Almost 30%. Glad I wasn't aboard then. I wouldn't be enjoying this nearly as much.

It's bad luck to buy high. It puts you in the position of becoming a long-term investor or a momentum player, depending on which way it breaks.

I'm now looking through my long glass at the far horizon. My White Whale is swimming in another ocean, on another side of the world. It'll be new moon in April before we meet up again. har.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Devil and Ken Heebner

I don't buy the theory that, just because I bought the fund, Heebner is going to lose his touch. The universe I believe in doesn't work that way.

But I could be unlucky. Or I could have some character flaw that makes me always late to the dance. These are imponderables.

The last couple of days, he was down less than a dollar each. Today, down 88 cents. A few cents here, a few cents, there. Pretty soon, we're going to be talking about real money.

I dreamed that Heebner met the Devil, at the corner of Wall and Broad, twenty years ago, and he bought a license to be the best fund manager alive for the next twenty years. And so it came to pass. But now the license has expired.

"For a sign," said the Devil, "look for a time when Blumen buys in. Then you'll know you've had it."

I don't believe that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Once and Future Heebner

Every time I look up CGMFX's closing price in Yahoo! Finance, I see the same old stories from last month:

Heebner's CGM Continues Winning Ways; Holdings Beat Market Handily in Q2
Ken Heebner: Best Fund Manager Alive?

I'm tired of reading these stories. I'd like to read what Heebner is doing now. So, this evening, I was pleased to see this new post, datelined today:

What's Next for Ken Heebner and CGM?

Wherein, alas, the question is asked, but not answered. Of course, nobody knows what Heebner is up to. But whatever it is, he did it back in June. Probably when we were all sleeping.

All I know is, I bought the fund a few weeks ago at 58.50, watched it flutter briefly up to 61, and then drop like a rock to 48. There was one day when it was down 3.56. But now, it seems to have found purchase somewhere because it's just going down pennies a day.

I figure he's out of that hot commodities trade he was in, since they're still going down and he's not. Something slapped him the day he was down 3.56, but he landed on his feet and appears now to be looking for a place to dig in his heels.

Monday, July 28, 2008

T. Boone

It's no secret that The Stock Channel loves T. Boone Pickens. When he comes on in the mornings, Kernen and company shut up and listen. Not so much for what he says. They just like to hear him talk.

Of course, they listen to what he says, too. A couple of years ago, he came on and said, "Fifty dollar oil." They were on the floor. All of them.

I like Boone. He's made a good commercial, not being an adman all his life. He comes across well. Very believable. He has a plan which will be good for the country. And good for Boone.

I don't have a problem with that. I know he has windmills installed over half of Texas. Good for him.

Boone's plan doesn't call for him to be in charge of anything. He doesn't want that. That's what I like about him. He wants to be the thinker-upper. Doesn't want to be the decider. Anybody can be a decider.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Google's Quarterly Earnings Problem

I've given this a lot of thought and I think I have the solution for Google's quarterly earnings problem.

Seriously.

Google offers no guidance with its earnings releases. I don't know why. Maybe they have a really smart reason, such as: Giving guidance is stupid. Or something like that. Maybe Google wants to be a company of mystery.

Personally, I admire Google's stand. I never give guidance about myself to anybody. Still, it's a problem for Google because analysts don't like it when you expect them to guess your earnings, without getting any hints. This produces unintended consequences. Like today.

Anyway, I said I had a solution to the problem, and I do. I have made an analysis of Google's earnings for the past four quarters in relation to analysts' estimates and the surprising differences between them. And I have found that Google has a negative surprise every other quarter, and it is these negative surprises that cause all the trouble.

With this in mind, I propose, for consideration at the next shareholder meeting, that Google, henceforth, release its earnings twice a year, instead of four times. In this way, Google's earnings would be rendered entirely free of negative surprises.

This is no silly statistician's trick. Every company has its own particular rhythm and Google's is decidedly semiannual.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Don't mess with Larry, tonight

First of all, Heebner is down $2.75, today. That's after being down $1.35, yesterday. I know, they told me there'd be days like this with Heebner. I'd buy some more, except I'm afraid he'll have an up 6 day, tomorrow.

And what's more, Google embarrassed all the GOOG analysts today. That's got me pretty choked up. I'm worried about these guys. They've all got families. What are they going to do?

The fact that I'm down 8% is purely incidental. My puny problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Not when you think about the two guys the Stock Channel had on the air when the news came out. They were devastated. They fell all over themselves, trying to see who could praise Google the most. One of them got so energized, his rug almost came off.

The only thing I remember that he said was that Google's prospects, going forward, were "saturnine and dyspeptic."

I looked up "saturnine" and it means "suffering from lead poisoning". That's kinda the way I feel, tonight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Google Eve

I'm getting in that Dover Beach mood, again. My plain is darkling o'er. I'm living on Google Earth, under a black Google Sky. Background radiation from last quarter's restaging of Krakatoa still licking around the fringes.

The analysts are saying good things about Google's chances this time. These guys are not as stupid as they used to be. The fact that they can guess Google's earnings to within a penny is remarkable.

Still, a tiny fear grips my bowel. At my back, I hear the whispered mantra of the picadillied short seller: "Gap gap gap..."

Yahweh or the Highway

I was wrong: the broad market did not rally yesterday. On the other hand, the bottom did drop out of Heebner - down $2.28.

I don't mean to be disrespectful of a deity who has a way of dropping in around mealtime, but I had to laugh. With one hand waving free. There must be some distinction in being targeted for divine intervention by someone who doesn't work for the government.

But this is not cause for despair. There is, after all, a natural hedge for omnipotent foofaraw - time. In time, the squiggles of Yahweh's little giggles will be made smooth and the chart will show more of the hand of Heebner than that of His almightiness.

Of course, eventually, the Old Bugger will yank that rug out from under us, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hee Haw

There's something I don't understand. Everywhere I look, there's another story about Ken Heebner being the hottest fund manager in the universe and his Focus Fund being the next best thing to Hallelujah Land itself. Even Cramer likes him.

What I don't understand is, ordinarily I would not be allowed to get in on such a good thing. I'm usually ineligible for success. Luck is not one of my talents.

I know it's a stupid attitude to take. Why shouldn't I get lucky, now and then? Well. I don't know. It's like I sense the hand of God in my investments.

The God I'm talking about is like Yahweh - omnipotent, wrathful, and something of a trickster, but not necessarily with my best interests at heart.

I'll try to explain. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a little Heebner. It went up, so I bought a little more. It kept going up for several days. I was happy, but I knew it could turn south at any time. So, I decided, when it did, I would buy more, but would stand pat while it was rising. It was a plan.

Almost immediately, it dropped $3.56 in one day. The next day, it declined again, but not so much. I was in the hole, just enough to get my attention, but I looked on it as a bargain in the making. In this market, I reasoned, everything is tanking. So I laid low, and waited.

Immediately, or so it seemed, it went up for a couple of days, so - at $56.42 - I wasn't in as big a hole as I had been in. Not wanting to squander my opportunity, I put in an order today to buy some more. Today, it closed up $2.08. My purchase was recorded at two cents under my cost basis. I'm basically flat on my whole stash of Heebner.

Now, I'm waiting for the other boot to drop. Tomorrow, the broad market rallies, and the bottom falls out of Heebner. It's a dumb joke, but I never said Yahweh was smart.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dear Landlord

So I was talking to my Financial Advisor the other day, and he showed me this chart that proved, over a period of forty years, I could pile up a ton of money. I told him I didn't have forty years.

He said, you have a thirty-year mortgage, don't you?

I said, indeed I do.

He said, well then.

I said, what.

He said, does it bother you that you might not be around to pay off that mortgage?

I said, frankly, yes. But I depend on the future kindness of some stranger to take over the payments, preferably when I'm dead.

He said, of course.

All in all, a very constructive conversation. We agreed to do it again. Someday, I'm going to do something he tells me to do.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nothing Happening Here

Can you tell me what we're
waiting for, Senor?


I saw a commercial on TV, the other day, which showed a couple of people, dropping like rocks down this big hole, and the people were screaming, "We're still falling!"

I thought I had somehow been switched to the Stock Channel. But no. It was just another hard-luck story that you're gonna hear.

In the real world, nothing's going on. We've stopped going down, but we're not going up yet. We're stuck.

Everybody's waiting for the big whoosh. Until we see that big whoosh, we can't start moving up again. The big whoosh is the all-clear Klaxon we've heard tell about.

You can't make a big whoosh just by putting your lips together. It has to happen. There has to be pain and weeping of teeth.

But all the pain and weeping has been packaged and sold, and there's none left in the body economic.

Other times have seen the big whoosh. And it always cleared the air and set off the damndest stampede to the Pari-Mutuel window you ever saw.

Why can't we get our big whoosh? We, whom it would do the most good. When are we gonna get ours?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

After Hours

I got up this morning to the news from the Wall Street Journal that Google was mighty disappointed with the production of YouTube so far. Great, I figured. Now it will tank at the open and we'll have to deal with that for a while.

But it didn't tank. It dithered around, but held its ground all morning. And in the afternoon too, until the market went nuts to the downside. Only then, did it give up 13 points. Hardly seems fair.

But then, just now, I checked the price again and bedamned if isn't up 13 points in the after hours. For half a second, I had the mad thought that Yahoo! had sabotaged its own Finance System, making it work wrong so that Microshaft couldn't use it. But then I regained my balances and decided, of course, you can't keep a Joad in jail, and you can't keep a good GOOG down.

Bless the after hours! In celebration, I put a little Erskine Hawkins on the old YouTube. It's playing now, and it's taking me back to a time when "after hours" was a whole different thing.

Wake me up when it's time to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just Don't Focus

This was a day when Helene Meisler said that stocks have been going down lately because people have been selling. Doug Kass, a charmer from way back, called her "The Divine Miss M".

What else went on, today?

Actually, that's not exactly what she said. But if I told you what she really said, it would be merely interesting, and not funny. My aim is not to educate you. I just want to make you laugh.

GOOG has been quietly levitating, lately. Not drawing too much attention to itself. That's good. Not a short in sight.

CGM Focus is down a buck-eighty. And I sold the rest of my NUE and bought some more of a Vanguard fund that I own.

Did I say that CGM Focus is down a buck-eighty? I'm trying not to focus on that. I'm trying not think about Bill Miller.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just Askin'

Everything today: do you really want to know?


Yesterday, I told you about all the good things that happened to me in the market. Would you like to hear about my day, today?







I didn't think so.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Big LeGOOGski

GOOG today: Back to where it once belonged.


I'm not ashamed to say it. I bought back the GOOG that I sold yesterday. I decided that I wanted the full position, after all.

I got up this morning and found the futures in the toilet and GOOG down around 519. Good. I thought I would let it soak, down to the vicinity of 500. But then it started going back up and I, impulsively as always, put an order in to buy at 525. And got it. And then it kept going up, almost to where I'd sold it yesterday.

The other thing that happened today is that I bought some more Golar LNG. This is the stock that Karen Finerman likes. I bought some a while back a few points higher, and yesterday, I wanted to buy some more. I put in an order for 15.40 and came up empty. I checked it again this morning and it was available at 15.91. I took another batch. And then it kept going up the rest of the day.

It's amazing. I'm motivated by greed to sell and fear to buy. I trade in the moment. There's no science or art in it at all. And yet, today, I made a little money.

I'm beginning to look forward to Google Eve in three weeks. The charthuggers are saying that the Gap must be filled. I'm not so sure. The Gap was all short-covering, in my opinion. The shorts got no skin in the game anymore. I think they're gonna stay home, this time.

Meanwhile, I'm studying my trading skills. I'm working on getting scared sooner.

Monday, June 30, 2008

GOOG the Eskimo

GOOG Today: down $1.65 to $526.42



Full disclosure: I sold half my GOOG today. In the name of capital preservation and sleep preservation, I did it, but only if I could get my cost out at $535. So I put the order in yesterday and got it today. At close of business, I declared napalm.

Then, on Fast Money tonight, this guy from UBS comes on and says Google is going to be the big story of the second half. And their channel checks showed the mighty GOOG sucking in dough at a prodigious rate. GOOG makes the buck-sixty-five back in about two minutes. The outlook is bright.


Everybody's in despair
Every girl and boy

Friday, June 27, 2008

There Must Be Some Way Out of Here

When I need inspiration, or just want to feel dirty all over, I check out the Google Message Board.

The Google Message Board is a real place to me. It's like Casablanca, if Casablanca had been an Indiana Jones movie. Bizarro market place, filled with sub-terrestrial creatures, and camels. Everybody selling, nobody buying. Much confusion, no relief. Give me your sick, your slimy, your depraved of heart. That's the Google Message Board. To me.

Every time I go there, at first, I'm offended and put off, not by the sub-animal obscenity, but by the stupidity displayed. Then, after a while, I want to wallow in it, and I start firing off posts, replying to those most in need of one.

My aim, to be not subtle, but plain-spoken. To say things that can have more than one meaning. To play the fool in earnest.

I might say, "The offal is awful in here, don't you think?"

Or I might not.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is Everybody Happy?

In my neighborhood, all us neighbors are good neighbors. We accomplish this by never going outside our houses, except in a car.

But, once in a while, something happens which, at least, raises the possibility of direct, neighborly interaction. So it happened, last Thursday night, I was reading TSC.com and my Internet went out.

I looked at my broadband modem and it looked dead. Two steady, unblinking lights, replacing the animated flickering it had when alive. I tried various ways of resetting or recycling the beast, but it was beyond recovery.

Meanwhile, I was thinking. That morning, there had been some kind of cable truck next door, for half the day, and now there's an orange cable running from the box out at the street into my neighbor's house.

My first thought was, a fly-by-night cable guy has diverted my broadband connection into my neighbor's house. But, seized with neighborly thoughts, I decided that an accident had more likely happened, which was not the fault of anyone, and which might have caused me some piddling inconvenience.

So, I called Comcast and initiated a process by which Comcast employees vied among themselves to see which one would actually try to help me.

But I am happy to say that, tonight, one week later, my service has been restored. Thanks to all who had a hand in it.

Now. What's been going on? I've been out of touch... OK, I know. We're going over the falls.

But I don't care. I got my new best friend - the Focus Fund. Monday, it went up $2.08. The next day, it went down $1.29. Meanwhile, the broader market was breaking down. Yesterday, it went down a nickel. Today, it went down $0.15. A quarter of one percent.

Let the chilly winds blow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And it comes out here

When I think of all the things that Google will bring us in the future, I think of a thundo tag on the stock. Maybe, two. Is that asking too much?

Of course, there's all these other things that Google's gonna bring us, too. Like, everything we're doing now on our computers and the Internet will be buggywhipped in the future. It'll be gone.

All we'll need is a browser. And they'll be everywhere. Universal Gateway to the Internet appliances.

And the Internet itself. It'll be like a vast... mainframe.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Against the Wind

Wish I didn't know now
What I didn't know then

When I was young, I was ignorant about investing. By accident and happenstance, I made money. Now, I know too much. I have access to learned opinions of all kinds, but they are putting me off my game, which is "Making Money Through Neglect of Your Circumstances."

I tried paying no attention, but that didn't work. I thought about turning in my TSC subscription, but that would be too radical a move.

I think I'm stuck. The old days are gone. I'll never achieve that level of ignorance again.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Heebner

I have owned Ken Heebner's Focus fund for about a week now. Time enough to see some results, I'm thinking.

This is not as easy as it may seem. The fund doesn't release its closing price every evening until the next morning. So, when I bought my first batch, I didn't find out till the next day that I'd paid up from the previous close though, by that time, it was already down again, which I didn't find out until the next day. Heebner is a wily cuss, I'm thinking.

Anyway, I figured, if it went down, I would buy another batch. By Wednesday, it was down a buck-fifty from where I bought it. That wasn't much of a decline, but I was itching to buy another piece. So I placed an order mid-afternoon Wednesday, thinking I'd get the closing price of $56.30.

The next day, everything went nuts to the upside. CGMFX, as it is known in the trade, achieved a price of $58.94, which was better than $56.30 by $2.34. I rejoiced. Hallelujah Land seemed right around the corner.

Then I found out that the cutoff period for buying the fund, each day, is 11:45 AM. In the morning. I'd placed my order in the afternoon. So, the price I got was $58.94 which was worse than $56.30 by $2.34. And I was thinking that Ken Heebner, when he was a kid, probably hiked his britches up too high. I thought about it some more, and and then I got over it.

It was, I told myself, the spirit of performance yet to come. The future was bright. Friday, everything went nuts to the downside. All my Vanguard funds were down 2 1/2 to 3 %.

I had to wait until Saturday to get the news on CGMFX. I braced myself. I figured it would be worse than Vanguard. I looked it up in Barron's and didn't believe what I saw - it was down 31 cents. After being up $2.34, it was down 31 cents. Half of one-percent. I checked it several times on the Internet to be sure it was right. It was right.

And I'm thinking Ken Heebner can wear his britches any way he wants to.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Maxim and Counter-Maxim

Another of Cramer's principles that sticks in my craw is the one that says your money is gone, really gone, if your stock goes down, but if it goes up, your gain doesn't exist unless you sell your shares.

Any fifth grader can see a violation of parity, here. If your stock moves, up or down, then the money is either there or it's not, and the direction of the move shouldn't have anything to do with it. Goose and Gander.

But that's an academic objection. In the real world, anybody who rode JDSU into the ground knows what Cramer's maxim means. It means, the money is gone and it's not coming back.

I call that Post-Bubble Wisdom. A cautionary principle. But it's not very true. Most stocks that go down come back up again. And many stocks go up and come down and then go up again, higher than before. Over time, stocks in general go up.

So I was pleased to read a post on Real Money, last week, pointing out that a stock's price is only what some fool is willing to pay for it, at the moment. Everybody knows that, but saying it brings a little common sense into the situation. Sitting on a loss is not such a bad thing when you look at it that way. I always found it edifying.

If I believe in my investment choices, and they are not invalidated by the day's news, then I will benignly neglect them, confident that they will find their true level by the time that I need the money.

This applies to all stocks except old Just-Didn't-Stay-Up.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Forbes. Good.

I read a Forbes column last night that was really good. Actually, 19 articles by a dozen people I never heard of who are evidently well-known in the business. The Idea-Quotient was way over what we're used to.

I found myself thinking thoughts like, "To beat Google, Microsoft will have to give up Windows, and it won't."

I'm not one of these You-should-read-it people, but you should read it.

http://www.forbes.com/technology/2008/06/02/google-microsoft-showdown-tech-enter-cx_ec_0602msftgoog_land.html

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Potato Man

Today, I read the distilled wisdom of J. R. Simplot, posted by Esquire, along with his picture. He's an old man. Made his money in potatoes.

He said,

"I got no religion in me. I could never see through it. Basically, I'm a facts man; if I can't see through it, I say it's not possible."

More importantly, he said,

"You want a potato big enough to get a long fry."

Useful information. And then, this nugget:

"Put bets down on the right people and give them responsibility."

The other thing I read today is a piece about Ken Heebner. Good thing, because I just established a position in his CGM Focus fund, last week. The first time in years that I've bought a fund that wasn't Vanguard. I'm betting Heebner is the right person, and I'm making him responsible for a piece of my money.

OK, I know that hot hands can get cold. My Vanguard Financial Advisor pointed that out to me. Several times. Better, he implied, to buy something that you know is cold. That way, you won't be disappointed.

I'm betting on Heebner. When CGMFX goes down, I'll buy more. And I'll never sell any of it. Until I need potatoes.



http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/ESQ0201-FEB_WIL

http://cnnmoney.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=America%27s+hottest+investor%3A+mutual+fund+manager+Ken+Heebner+-+May.+27%2C+2008&expire=-1&urlID=28758331&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmoney.cnn.com%2F2008%2F05%2F23%2Fmagazines%2Ffortune%2Fbirger_americas_hottest_investor.fortune%2Findex.htm%3Fpostversion%3D2008052706&partnerID=2200

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Critique of Pure Cramer

I have said that I like Cramer. In 2004, he bullied me, through his columns, into buying GOOG. Besides that, he lets you into his trading head. He shows you the good, bad and ugly about himself. You can learn more from all that than from all the advice he hands out.

It's the advice that I have a problem with. It's all good advice, to be sure, but there's no way anybody's going to do all that stuff. Not us shlubs who listen to him.

He says, do your homework. Do an hour a week on each stock you own. What is he talking about? I could read balance sheets all day long and I still wouldn't know how to pick stocks.

But I'm sure thousands put in their hours religiously in the vain hope that success will be theirs. Cramer has told them so.

The central fallacy in his whole message is that ordinary people can get rich by doing what he did. As example, he maintains a model portfolio for all paying customers to see. What it shows is that not even he can do what he did.

But I admire and respect him, and I like him. I like his Pennsylvania, aw shucks act. They say he grew up in Wyndmoor, but he's got a South Philly swagger.

I like the way he enjoys everybody calling him moron, and how he calls 'em moron right back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Restraint of Trade

Market down big, today. GOOG down big. OK. That's great. It doesn't matter to me, now. I have my long-term outlook back. Ask not what the next two days might bring. Ask what three years might do.

Yesterday, the market cracked, for all to see. The day before that, I was buying a couple of mutual funds. My Guinness World Record in Unfortunate Moves continues unblemished by success. But it's not a problem. Three years from now, it's going to look like, genius.

If I can just keep from selling anything.

Monday, May 19, 2008

An Exercise in Boredom

GOOG Today: (YAWN)


Question: How long can GOOG go sideways? Answer: 3 months.

Three months is a long time. Last week, I was out of town for a couple of days, and I toyed with the idea of not checking GOOG for the whole time I was gone. Two days. The malaise that came over me at the thought of not knowing the price of GOOG for that length of time convinced me that my trading motives are not pure.

I didn't even consider the ultimate scenario: five years. Total ban on GOOG. Take my stake out in stock certificates and put them in the safety deposit box. Put a filter on my computer to suppress any page that has the word "GOOG" in it. That should do it.

It's absurd, of course. To be able to go that long with no news of GOOG, I would have to be in constant communication with the Dalai Lama.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Avoiding the Plunge

I talked to a Vanguard Financial Advisor last week. That's what you do when you decide to stop your running around, get married, settle down, have kids and grow old.

Inside, I raged, raged. Outside, I tried to speak intelligently. The Vanguard Financial Advisor recommended that I put half of my investable funds into bonds. I thought, bonds are for old men! But I didn't say it. I knew he was telling me the right thing to do.

"Vanguard recommends that you sell your Google."

(My Google?)

"er, what about half?"

"Half would be fine."

(None!)

"ok."

(Never!)

And I'm not going to buy any bonds, either.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Gentlemen of the Realm

Every day, I have to look at GOOG's closing price in Yahoo! Finance. Then I check out the news items that seem interesting. Today, I clicked on a thing called, "Google Confirms Plans to Put Display ADs on Google.com."

Nothing really new.

But there were several comments, all from people who thought Google's use of display ads would betray its covenant with the universe. I know these guys. They're the same ones who used to dump on Microsoft for being evil. Then they wanted the Internet to be reserved for noble purposes. They stand for Purity. They express indignation. Display ads offend their nostrils.

In good fellowship, they exchange nostrums for warding off the evildoers. One said he had DoubleClick blocked by Mozilla Ad Blocker Plus. Another gave a link for a toolbar that enabled him to switch quickly to another search engine, without having to retype his query, if he suddenly discovered a display ad on his page.




http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/16358/Google-Confirms-Plans-to-Put-Display-Ads-on-Google.com

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If p then q, or a consideration of causality

Instead of drinking Red Bull, I watch Fast Money.

And lately, I have observed, among several of the Fast Money traders, an opinion of Google that would appear interesting to anyone who puts out a blog called, "The Google Opinion". The feeling is that the Google brothers are nouveau riche flakes whose zany projects, like going to the moon, infect the whole organization with zaniness not to be tolerated by acceptable corporate governance.

Macke and that grinning snake, Tim Seymore, are the main miscreants who take this line. Ratigan doesn't care, of course, but if asked would probably say that he likes Google. Finerman would say that she would like Google, but it's not on her list. Adami looks at the camera in wonderment. But Najarian openly admits that he likes Google and will give you fifty reasons why. Bless his big bald head, he gets it.

Macke doesn't understand what Google is all about. He doesn't realize that all the cockamamie activities are directed toward one objective: capturing eyeballs, and charging advertisers for them. It's all about the buzz.

Macke frets because Google doesn't really make anything, like an IPhone. Seymore is contemptuous because Google doesn't sell something it dug out of the earth, like potash. To them, Google lacks manliness.

And that's why shlubs like you and me can still get into GOOG at decent prices.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The race is on, and it looks like heartache

GOOG today: 574.29 up 15.82


GOOG, the Heartbreak Kid, is coming from behind. AAPL, RIMM, BIDU and the other horses in the race all fell back, today. That's the news from Track Wobegon.

And good news it is. But what a strange race. There's no finish line. It's never over. Just a lot of relative moving ahead and falling back. You switch from horse to horse, hoping to stay ahead; or you pick one nag to leave the rest in his dust. And you can stay at the track until you have to go home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Helpless, Helpless, Helpless

Misinformation followed us
Like a plague

Going to cash, last year, felt good. I hadn't done that since 1998, and back then I was too ignorant to get nervous about it.

Getting out of cash, on the other hand, is turning out to be messy. The cacophany of Klaxons is overwhelming. And they're all sounding different tunes. Between Jeremy Grantham and good old Grandpa Vince Farrell, I change my plan every five minutes. Somebody's fooling somebody somewhere.

It's gotten so bad that, last week, I called Vanguard and asked them for financial services.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Lesson to Me

I've been beating myself up, lately, thinking that I'd mishandled my GOOG holdings to the tune of a $30K missed opportunity. That's the kind of opportunity you hate to miss.

But then I went over the sequence of events and my actions, and I think a case can be made that I acted rationally, for the most part.

First of all, I considered that I incurred additional risk by putting 20% of my resources into a single stock. But I believed that I understood the premise of the company behind the secular growth story, and I believed that it was worth making a big bet.

I wanted to be a long-term holder of GOOG shares. I thought that was the way to increase my wealth significantly. I still do.

But the size of the bet made me acutely sensitive to the stock's fluctuations. They made my bottom line tremble.

Right after I made the bet, a year ago today, the stock took off and ran to 750. When it started faltering, I was unconcerned. I had my eye on where it would be in 2014.

When it fell through 500, I became concerned. When it hit my cost basis at 489, the talk was that it would end up at 350. I decided, because so much money was involved, I should protect my original investment from a significant drawdown. So I sold the lot.

It started out well at first. I bought it back at 447 and 425, and it moved back up to 450. But the talk was that this was still one sick puppy. Josh Hayes said that he was going to short it.

So, I got scared again. This was when the buzz was that Google had run out of paid clicks and and the recession was going to cause everybody to watch television all the time instead of being on their computers. In his videos, Blodgett chortled.

I feared going into Google's next earnings with the number of shares that I owned. It seemed foolhardy. I reduced my stake. Then I decided that owning any shares at all seemed foolhardy, so I sold my remaining shares. I felt shaken.

But the worst was yet to come. The earnings release was a thunderclap. I know a lot of short money got lost that evening. I didn't actually lose anything. I just failed to gain $30K. I had to buy it all back, up a hunnert.

That was the cost of insurance for my investment, given that it was a time of great turmoil. In retrospect, I should never have sold it the first time, or if I did sell it the first time, I should never have sold it the second time. I should have just held it and let the drawdown draw down.

But, at the time, I believe, my actions were rational. To do anything else would have been to ignore the increased and substantial risk of loss. I preserved my capital, but it cost me.

You don't tug on Superman's cape. If I had, I'd be ahead of where I am right now. I should have no regrets, but it feels like a loss. Where do I put that on my tax return?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meaningness

I was reading Cramer, a few minutes ago.

I like Cramer. Not because he's arguably a great stock picker, but because he tells the truth about himself. That makes him my role model. I want to be like that, in public.

So I was reading this end-of-the-day piece in TSC, today, where he was saying how tech was too hard, right now. Not following the script.

At the end, he said:

"... it's just too reactive, because it's pro-active to nothingness on the part of hedge funds that simply can't resist playing no matter what."

What is this? I like the way it sounds, but I don't know what it means. What do I buy? What do I sell?

Monday, April 21, 2008

What Am I Bid for this KeyWord?

These days, it's hard to escape the fact that I'm not the guy in the Schwab commercial who smiles modestly and says, "I do OK."

So it was, this morning, that I found myself in a glum mood and in need of a little ego salve. More in idleness than in earnest, I went to the GOOG message board and searched for "The Google Opinion."

A bunch of references came back and among them was a post, asking if there were "any blogs for Google like MacRumors or AppleInsider for Apple?" And there was a reply from google1000orbust who said, "Larry Blumen has the google opinion."

I thought that was nice. I could use a few more like that. As it turned out, most of the references were my own posts, advertising this blog.

I decided to broaden the search by putting in just "Blumen".

At the top of the list that came back was, "BLUMEN is a moron."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday is for Summing Up

Reading Warren Buffett's homespun homilies* concentrates my mind as I try to crystallize what, if anything, I've learned since last year.

I've learned that it's easy to go completely to cash, but hard to capitalize on it.

I've learned that it's possible to time markets and stocks, but it takes more time than I have to spend. Also, I may not be emotionally disciplined enough to bring it off, although I thought I was.

Short term trading seems de rigueur these days, but I've made most of my money when I held things for a long time. And I was more successful when I was less intelligent about what was going on.

So what'll I do now, my brown-eyed self?

I've got three stocks (GOOG, AEO and TEX). I'm going to try to stop worrying about their rips and dips. A little benign neglect is in order, if I can muster it.

I'm going to re-establish a position of mutual funds. But I'm moving away from index funds and toward actively managed value funds.

I'm going to remain cautious, keeping 35-50% in cash, but be ready to add to my existing positions as conditions improve.

And I'm going to keep my day job as long as I can.



*
(http://money.cnn.com/2008/04/11/news/newsmakers/varchaver_buffett.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2008041410)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

GOOG Again

Here's what happened.

Thursday night, my wife and I were going to hear Temple Grandin speak downtown. We had to leave at four-thirty to get there at six, and GOOG's earnings came out at four.

At four, I was glued to the Stock Channel. They had two guys there. One was a nice looking suit, who said his firm was advising their clients to buy this amazing money machine prior to the earnings release. The other guy was a smirking little jerk who said that Google had saturated its market and would soon go out of business. I hated being on that schmuck's side.

Then Jim Goldman came on with the news in his patented peppy style and I sat there stunned, thinking God really does have it in for me. I just sat there, watching a world-class short squeeze unfolding. I had no game plan.

I went to my wife and said, "Google. Earnings. Stupendous."

She said, "Why don't you buy it back?"

That was the last thing I was going to do. Before that, I would quit my job and become a priest. But then I remembered that Cramer was in this fix once and he bought it all back. Suddenly, I realized that I would have no chance to get rich if I didn't buy it all back.

It made perfect sense. When GOOG was down, I made a few bucks trading it between 425 and 450. So, now, at 505, I quickly figured that I could get back in, even, with the proceeds.

It was four-twenty-five and my wife was saying, "Are you ready to go?"

I said, "I'll be right there," but raced upstairs, turned the computer on, and went into my after-hours trading place. By the time I put my order in at 505, it was up to 509. I didn't have time to dick around, but Cramer says only chumps put in market orders, so I put in 510, thinking that would get it, and then I had to leave. I couldn't stay to see what happened.

Temple Grandin was great. The smartest, most successful and funniest autistic person on the planet. I forgot about what did or didn't happen back home.

We got back about ten. I checked the computer and the order had expired unexecuted. Of course.

But, after giving it up, I had seen GOOG again in my future. I knew what I was going to do. The next morning, before the market opened, GOOG was at 528 and still climbing. At work, I put in an order to buy 200. At the market. I got 535. It kept going up to 547, proving there are greater fools than I.

It settled back to 539 at the close. Next week, it will probably correct. I don't care.

The dream is back. Schrodinger's Cat lives.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Back in the High Life Again

Wednesday night and all day yesterday, I moved around like the dead. I lived in a world where ignorant hedge funds clash by night. A world now cracked open, with me on one side and GOOG irretrievably on the other.

Last night, I watched it soar to 500 and beyond. As it rose, my spirit sank. I knew that I would never own GOOG again. I had bad dreams all night.

This morning, in the office, by ten o'clock, I owned 200 new shares of GOOG. The price was exorbitant. I was wild with irrational exuberance. My life again has meaning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Google Eve

My first Google Eve, since 2005, with no GOOG beneath my feet. You'd think I'd feel nothing for the game, but of course I do. What an exquisite moment in time.

I feel like Dover Beach tonight. The moon, the night, the coast, the salt spray.

My feeling is, I'm done with GOOG. Fairy tales, after all, don't really come true. Unless they do. Schrodinger's Cat curls up in the corner of my ceiling and draws its last, and future, breath.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What a Revoltin' Development This Is

It's always been my nature to take chances,
My right hand drawing back while my left hand advances



Why am I in cash at this late date? I, who was buying with abandon on January 23rd. And selling with abandon on January 24th. Have I abandoned my mind?

I should be buying now. In truth, I was buying, but it wasn't working for me. So I'm trying something else.

The situation is either clearing up or it's just getting started. One way, I'm hosed. The other way, I'm bound for glory.

But why can't I go halfies and hedge my bet? Because there's nothing worse than being hosed in Hallelujah Land.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Free At Last

Compulsive buyer and compulsive seller in the same cranium. I wonder if the New England Journal of Medicine would be interested in my case. Probably not.

But that's OK. Today, I cured myself. I sold everything for cash. I understand that I have done this before. It's true, but I always held something back. This time, I sold everything, including GOOG. I got a margin call on my sanity. I had no choice.

But it worked. In the past, when I went to cash, I was thinking all the time about when I would be going back in at a great advantage. Hence, the twin obsessions. Early anticipation, followed by early disappointment and eventual panic.

I'm different now. Like most people, I would like to have a lot of money. Great wealth has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I'm going to grow my wealth the old-fashioned way, by saving it. And collecting my 2 percent. The predictable result will be to increase my coffers by 8% per annum over the next few years. That projection compares favorably with my not too shabby performance over the past three difficult years, of 6% per annum. From what I'm reading these days, the next few years will be even more difficult.

But I don't worry about that, now. I am at peace with myself. I can hear the birdies singing. And I can smell the bees.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If you see St. Annie, please tell her thanks a lot

Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go?
And still get the feeling that you wanted to stay?

Last fall, when I went to cash, I thought I would wait until the Klaxon sounded and then traipse back into the market without a bruise. What they don't tell you is, there's not just one Klaxon. There's lots of them and, right now, about half of them are making a fearful noise, while the other half sit mute.

This is stupid. Somebody ought to know what's going to happen and let everybody know. Well, at least, the paying customers. But nobody seems to know. Or everybody does. It's pretty confusing.

Since the beginning of the year, I have bought and sold AEO three times, and I've bought and sold MSFT twice. Just today I sold VTI and SPY. It seems to me that I sold both of them a few weeks ago. When did I buy them back?

I have become completely risk averse. At the same time, I'm continually seized by an uncontrollable urge to buy something. So I buy something, and then I get an uncontrollable urge to sell it. My fingers are all in a knot.

I'm driving myself crazy, even though I'm only down about 6% from my all-time high on 11/5/2007, when GOOG closed at 741. What would I be like if I were down big?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nate's Way

I'm thinking about my friend, Nate, tonight. He and I worked in the same outfit for a while.

Nate understood that the Man wasn't going to hand him anything, so he had to look after himself. He started laying up every buck he could find, and fifteen years later, he said, "I've got over a million put away." I asked where, and he said, "All mutual funds."

The next to last time I saw him was the year after 9-11 and he said, "I lost over 300 thousand dollars!"

The last time I saw him was the year after that. He anticipated my question with, "It's all fine, now!"

Sometimes, it was hard to tell what Nate was really saying.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Crying Time

So they gave Dylan a Pulitzer Prize.

For his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

Well, I guess.

If I was giving him a prize, I would say it was for the most glorious fade-out in the history of musical performance. At the end of the third track on Empire Burlesque, after he takes leave of his "dear, sweet friend," in "I'll Remember You," the instruments take over for one more time through, and then they go into the fadeout.

To appreciate it fully, you have to listen to it in a good set of earphones. Try not to anticipate anything. After the last verse, when the instruments start in, you might think that's the beginning of the fadeout, but it isn't. You'll know when the fadeout begins. There won't be any doubt in your mind.

Let the waves wash over you as it slowly fades. It'll make you cry.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Larry's Little GOOG

Today, the market was beneath contempt. I will not dignify the action, today, by discussing it.

Instead, I will ruminate on one of my financial whimseys, a GOOG version of God's Little Acre, which was not a particular plot of ground, but one that moved around so as always to be beneath the feet of a particular someone, in need of God's constant reflection.

Larry's Little GOOG is a hundred shares of Google stock that I have owned and sold and owned again, and sold again, through the years, and into the future. It's always the same hundred shares. Even though I may buy and sell many other shares of GOOG, I can always trace the purchases and sales of that original lot.

I first acquired Larry's Little GOOG in late 2004, in three separate purchases, and sold it a few weeks later, along with another, undocumented lot for a $200 profit.

I guess I couldn't stand not having it around any more, because I bought the lot back a month later and kept it close for over a year. By then, it had grown to 350. When it got to 366, I sold half of it. I didn't want to, but Cramer said I was a schmuck if I didn't, so I did. I regretted it immediately.

Then, in April, 2007, I bought those 50 prodigals back. They were included with a bunch of other GOOG shares that I got. The price was a lot higher, but it was good to have the whole hundred in one place again.

I determined to keep them together through thick and thin, but I didn't realize how thin it was going to get. This past January, I pawned them again - the whole lot, this time. For a couple of months I was totally without GOOG shares, with no prospect of ever seeing any of them again.

Nevertheless, through the kindness of strangers, I was offered my original shares back at a cheaper price. Actually, for a while, they were included in a batch of over 300 shares, but I soon pared them down, closer to the essentials.

Now, I have Larry's Little Goog back, plus 17 shares that I am holding for Somebody Else's Little GOOG. It's called Grid Investing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A day for being bored

Sunday

For text, this day, I choose the place in Kierkegaard where, to satisfy the custom of his time, he begins with a principle, that all men are bores.

From this incontrovertible beginning, he proves that boredom, not idleness, is the Devil's domain and the root of all evil. And then he proceeds to distinguish two kinds of bored men: those who bore themselves and those who bore others. Those who bore themselves are the few, and they are highly entertaining to others, whereas those who bore others are the herd, and they are continuously entertained by the morose few.

I read these lines as a lad in school. I underlined many passages, using a straight edge for neatness. Beside one sentence, I wrote "Oh?" in the margin. By another, I wrote "Ha-Ha."

I'm different, now. I would not write "Ha-Ha" in the margin of anything today. I would not underline at all. And I wouldn't keep the book for forty years.

The difference is slim. Back then, I was not really interested in joining the ranks of the few, unless it was free. Today, I'm happy to be swept along with the herd.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dogwood Afternoon

At the time, I didn't know much about Martin Luther King. I knew who he was. I liked his name. I guess I knew his story, but not in a way that drew me in.

I missed the March on Washington. I wasn't a marcher. But I didn't even see it on the news. I was out on the west coast, going to school, and a guy I knew who was from Michigan and who probably had never been in the south in his life, told me, the next day, that he had really been stirred by King's speech at the march. Later, I saw re-runs of the speech on television and I saw what he meant.

That was when I first took note of the man. As a speaker, he was clearly in the spirit, which is not something you can say about many preachers. But, clearly, King was. An American saint, right up there with Lincoln.

The night he died, my wife and I had been invited by a guy we knew, and his wife, to go to the Playboy Club in downtown Atlanta for a meal and some middle class titillation. As we were driving home, we heard the news on the car radio. We talked about it for a while.

Five days later, I stood in the crowd that watched the mule-drawn wagon pass by with his mortal remains. Back then, I worked in downtown Atlanta, two blocks from the procession route, so I brought my camera to the office that day and went out at the appointed time to see what I could see.

For a while there was nothing. The procession was late. Crowds of people lined the street on both sides, waiting restlessly. Then, before we saw anything, we heard it - a kind of far off hubbub. And then we saw it, coming toward us like a floodtide, held in its course only by the banks of spectators, on both sides of the street - a river of people.

The street full of people moved by us at a stately pace for a long time before we saw the wagon with the coffin, in the middle of the river, swept along in the flood, like some mournful Call me Ishmael on the bounding main.

When the tide had passed, I stood around looking for something to take a picture of. I saw some young black guys standing in the shade of a dogwood tree in full bloom. I took one picture.

It became one of my favorite pictures, although I wonder if I would have felt the same way if it had been a bunch of white guys, standing there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I thought I was losing my religion

April Fool's Day, two years ago, I turned on my computer and watched it self-destruct. I called the Geek Squad and a guy came right out. I asked him what kind of words he could say. He said it's a bad day. Comes only once a year.

I asked him, could he fix it. He said, well, yes. I said, how much will it cost. He said, not much. I said, what about my data. He said, that's a bit more.

I seen he had me.

We made a deal and he went to work. He took out my hard drive and stomped that sucker flat. Then he put the windows back in and started to go. I said, thanks for nothing. He said, you'll never know.

Now every year, on April Fool's, I'm afraid to turn my computer on. So I don't. It's a religious holiday for me. Like Yom Kippur, except you can eat.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Secret of my Success

I am my own contrarian indicator.

Whatever conclusion I draw, I invariably do the opposite. I do it consciously with the conviction that anything I would think is so correlated with the herd that it has to be disastrously wrongheaded.

So I'm loaded up with stocks and mutual funds. Because I decided that staying in cash is what everybody is doing, so I'll do the opposite. So if that's what I do, how right could it be?

The real secret of my success is patience and time. I stick with my mistakes until they pay off.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't Mess with Mr. In-Between

I'm terrified of becoming Rev Shark's poster child for losers. Every day - and I mean, every day - he says anybody who buys stock right now is a sorry sap whose money will go bye-bye in a hurry.

I read him every day and I believe what he says. The problem is, I'm also reading these other smart guys, like Dick Arms in Barron's today, saying that this is the exquisite moment, the inflectional cusp, on the crest of which all my dreams will come true. If I'm in.

I'm in.

Somehow, I have managed to commit half of my available funds to stocks and mutual funds, and they are now going down.

I was early getting out, last year, and now I'm early getting back in. Years ago, when I used to hang out at the Merrill Lynch office, I heard an old trader say that, when a stock doubled, he didn't care about getting the first 25 percent or the last 25 percent. He was happy to get the 50 percent in between.

I took that for wisdom. In my case, right now, I'm getting the 2 percent in between.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Big Ledownsky

GOOG today: TGIF


I took the advice of a commenter and didn't sell all my GOOG this time. Now, whatever happens, I'll have something to feel bad about.

Since I sold, GOOG seemed to get tired of going down. At this rate, I can't see 350, or even 400. I know what's going to happen. I'll talk myself into buying it all back, down ten, just in time for the big down hundo.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kudzu Blues

I'm worn out from managing my money.

I never used to think about it. I put money in mutual funds and checked it once a month. Now, I'm a lot smarter than I used to be, I get tons of information about the state of everything, I make decisions left and right, and I'm a little better off than I used to be. But I'm worn out.

Last night, the kudzu had my pasture again. In dreams, I saw Cramer, speculating about GOOG's multiple, saying, "20, 25...", over and over. I'm not stupid. Even in my dreams, I can multiply. I got up, went to work and sold 2/3 of my GOOG. I didn't want to go into the next earnings report with all those shares.

I got 445.29 and made $3,900 on the deal. But I blew out the dream again.

I don't know what's going on with Google's clicks. I read all this stuff and I decided that I didn't care about Google's clicks. I don't want to have to keep thinking about it all the time.

I don't even want to think about how to get out of this piece. I'm tired. I said, tard.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Google Hell

Yesterday, GOOG went down ten. This morning, it went up ten and then, at midday, went down ten, and then closed, up seven. Which is almost ten.

Now, after hours, it's down 15 and I'm wondering, what happened? The news was all about Google, kicking butt again in the click share business. That wouldn't make it go down. It had to be something like Congress makes Google illegal. The news didn't have anything like that.

So I made the mistake of going to the Google Message Board to see what was going on. Now, I'm really shook. I gotta stop going there.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In my room, quiet, with spreadsheets

I'm still here.

I've been spending a little more time than usual in my little room upstairs. Figuring on my spreadsheets. A quiet time for me. My wife understands.

I enter data, make formulas, draw conclusions on the wall. A hundred different ways of asking the same question: how'm I doing?

So far, in 2008, I have a net profit from all my stock sales of $17,140.56. That wouldn't make Josh Hayes happy, but it's not bad, considering that the year, so far, has been a bitch.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Diary of a Madman

I bought my first GOOG on November 5, 2004, at the lowest prices I have ever paid for GOOG.

In the morning, I bought 25 shares for 181.98. In the afternoon, I bought another 25 shares for 172.03. On January 12, 2005, growing bolder by leaps and bounds, I bought 50 more shares to bring my total to an even 100. The next day, I bought another 100. Exactly one week after that, I sold all 200 shares, booking a profit of $227.40.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Epiphany or Doubt's End

Every now and then, I venture an opinion about the market, as though I know something.

When I went to cash in September, last year, I was thinking that a crash was coming and it would be nasty, brutish and long. I had been through two of these things before, so I had an idea of what it might be like.

I don't remember much of the pain from the seventies, even though I was there. I rode out the millenium crash, every bump down. Still, I wasn't making any decisions back then, so my gut didn't learn anything.

I figured, this time, I would stay in cash for a year or more, while the market fell off a series of increasingly big cliffs. Finally, when it was exhausted, there would be plenty of time to go around picking up Apple for 7 and Google for 85.

So far, for all the sturm und drang, we've fallen off one puny little cliff. Somehow, it doesn't seem enough. In the back of my mind, Dundee is grinning and saying, "That's not a crash!"

But I allowed myself to be swayed by the learned opinions that I heard on the Stock Channel. Unpleasantness in the first half, they said, and gangbusters from there on. The crash would somehow fit itself into those parameters. I took on a trading mentality. Every day, I decided which way to lean.

I went nowhere, fast. I'm flat on the year, but that's a consequence of going to cash last September. Nothing I've been doing lately has affected my bottom line, one way or the other.

This week, I took a step back. I decided that I didn't have to buy low and then sell high, the next day. I kicked back. I chilled. I read Rev Shark's TSC postings over and over again.

I'm beginning to understand, now, how long it's going to take. I'm beginning to believe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Faithful Companion

Today had a strange feel for me. I sat out the rally. Normally, I would have been buying on Monday. Selling today. But that little play was getting too hard. I became averse.

Kass is downright giddy, these days, but I'm a believer in Rev Shark, now. It ain't over until the Klaxon sounds.

But I'm not totally bereft. My C Fund caught the thermal, like a Rocky Mountain High. And I have now re-established most of my full position in GOOG, reducing my cost basis by 11.5%. The rest of my money just sits there like a good dog.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The great white bird into heaven

I don't care what his religion is, or what his politics are, Cat Stevens has the spirit in him. He always has.

Anyone who could sing, out of his original mind,

"They will vanish away like your daddy's best jeans,
Denim blue fading up to the sky..."

has the spirit in him. Like Dylan. In the sixties, everybody had the spirit. The music was tremendous. It's all gone, now.

Once, for about a year, all my thoughts took a poetic form. Iambic pentameter in my sleep. I wrote everything down in a journal. I'm afraid to look at it, now. Either it's gone, or I am.

Why am I going into this?

It's Sunday, Jake.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oh, the humanity

I read the news today oh boy.

Crash and burn. The great men of finance, hanging out the discount window until they can't hang anymore. It's better not to look. But we can't help looking.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where's the Grief?

The TSC traders were in a grouchy mood, this morning. The Fast Money traders, except Karen, were downright indignant, this evening. Their numbers were legion. Nattering nabobs of negativism, as far as the eye could see.

They couldn't find yesterday on their charts. They wanted capitulation and they hadn't gotten any. They wanted everybody, except themselves, to be really sorry that they'd lost all their money. And they wanted to buy up everything for practically nothing. It didn't happen and they were petulant about it.

Just a short squeeze, they said. And they were probably right: if yesterday was all short covering, then the only sellers were the shorts, themselves. Out in Lukenbach, Texas, ain't nobody feelin' no pain.

I consider my position. They might be right. Might not.

Tomorrow, I might sell my SPY. Might not.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Dragged a Comb Across My Head

This morning, I found my way downstairs and drank a cup, and looking up, I noticed...

... Steve Liesman, on the Stock Channel. He was in Washington, with news. The fact that they sent him all the way to Washington to pick up this news got my attention.

I figured out, right away, this must be a turning point, so I went back upstairs and committed a portion of cash to the market for the open. The usual suspects: SPY, VTI and, of course, a little GOOG.

Then, for most of the morning, I felt like an idiot - schlemiel and schlamazel, at the same time. But, by mid-afternoon, I was a mensch.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Say Hayes

Joshua Hayes is a new scribe at TSC. He is an engineer of trading.

His theme is, "Through technical analysis, you, too, can find happiness by getting rich, like me."

By all indications, including his picture at the top of his posts, he is a happy man. I enjoy reading him because his strategies unfold with mathematical precision. Nothing is left to chance.

I favor a more tortured approach. The essential ingredient of my method is madness. It works for me. I am happy for Mr. Hayes, but, on the whole, I'd rather have my face.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Undercharged again, at the QuikTrip

Do right to me, baby
And I'll do right to you, too

The time change threw me off, this morning, and I was late getting to the QuikTrip for gas and my New York Times. Even when I'm not late, I often get the last copy, so I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd sold out.

There was one copy left. So I was happy when I came up to the counter to pay. The clerk looked at the paper and said, "Two bucks."

I reminded him that it was five bucks. He took another look and saw I was right.

He said, "A lot of people wouldn't have said anything."

I told him it was Sunday. I don't want to cheat nobody. Don't want to be cheated.

Altucher is Trouble

I never intended to buy back GOOG so soon.

But I watched a TSC video with Altucher on. In the beginning, he was hitting on Farnoosh Torabi pretty good, but she used first person plural on him and that kept him from touching her.

Then he started talking about GOOG and that got him even more excited. He said that GOOG was a short term buy. The way he said it sounded like he didn't like it for the long term, but he likes it long term, too.

Anyway, he got me excited and I bought the GOOG, even though my published objective was to buy it back much lower.

I like Altucher. He responded to my Facebook poke at him. And he's always right - two years later.

I'm still waiting on Dow 16,000 that he promised last year.

China Shop Research

Everybody wants to know when the bull is coming back. Me, too. So I checked out the local China Shop.

I didn't see any bull in there, but the bear was tearing up the joint.

Good times or bad, sell the China Shop.

Friday, March 7, 2008

They said it was a bad day

When the night comes falling
From the sky

63 thousand hedge fund managers lost their jobs, last month. Joe Kernan and the boys, and the girl, were all over it. They had guests on who were prepared to certify that the economy is now going to hell, but they didn't need guests. Kernan kept shouting while they were trying to speak. For a while, everybody was yelling at once. It was pretty scary.

I say it's a good thing Santelli is in Chicago. He wanted to fight somebody.

The market itself, when it came on, did a pretty good rendition of "Up a Lazy River, by the Old Millstream."

Yesterday, I bought some GOOG for 447. It closed around 432. I needed another falling knife. Now, I have a full set.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"He breaches!"

For the past year, Rev Shark has been writing amazing stuff, every day, directed, not at professional traders, but at shlubs like me, repeating the same message again and again - stay the course, be patient, the time will be long in coming, wait, wait...

We need this guy. These are perilous times. He reminds me of Ahab's First Mate, Starbuck, in the long boat with his men, waiting for the whale to breach, saying "Steady... Steady... Steady..."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blumen notices a bird, outdoors

I'm in cash. 100%. I don't have to read Cramer or Rev Shark, anymore. I don't have to look at the Stock Channel. I don't have to buy the Wall Street Journal when I have lunch at Panera's.

Today, I noticed a redbird in a bare tree. He looked down at me and cocked his head. I got the feeling he was in cash, too.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Slow Boat to Hallelujah Land

I was doing so well.

Mostly in CASH and GOOG since the fall of last year, I converted the GOOG to cash this month. In my Thrift Fund, I stayed in C for a little hedge against good times.

And I did a little trading, mostly in SPY. I bought the dips and sold the rips, several times, and made money each time. Not a lot, but not bad when everything was down from day one of this year.

Then, in the past week or two, things firmed up. I started paying more attention to guys on TSC who were saying that happy days were possibly in the offing. Even Kass was buying at one point.

I let my guard down. Last week, I bought a rip with the intention of letting it ride until the good times arrived. Even though the charts were still screaming that it wasn't going to happen, I doubled up.

Friday wiped out half of my accomplishment in 2008, so far. This market clearly has further work to do in the down department. My usual suspection, at a time like this, is that it is too late to get out. But the thought of riding it out fills me with dread.

Monday morning, I aim to go completely to cash. I will collect my 2% a year and throw in as much free cash flow as I can squeeze out of my day job.

I can't imagine why anyone would be interested in hearing about this, except, possibly, my heirs. I wouldn't be going into it at all, if it weren't Sunday.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Diminished Thing

I still have no GOOG. It's been 22 days. I go to bed, I sleep. I eat, the food goes down. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.

MSFT is now below where I sold it in order to buy GOOG. I bought it all back, today. How've you been?

Everything I sold to buy GOOG has gone down. So what am I getting so upset about? My decision last year to put 20% of my money in GOOG and then sell it ten months later for no gain was a brilliant move on my part. Zip-A-Dee-A.

I see GOOG receding in my rear view mirror. It's the fifth line down on my eye chart, now.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My own private briar patch

GOOG: the lower forty.


Today, my challenge to the god of GOOG was undone. The boast, that the marker of my sale at 489 would not be penetrated, has been exposed for the cheap ploy that it was - a crass and self-serving attempt to provoke fate into proving me wrong. And so it did.

I said I would be loading up the Honda when it got to 450. I never thought it would actually get there. Now, I'm not so sure. The view is different, down here. Maybe if it goes to 400.

Ya hear that, GOOG?

Monday, February 25, 2008

From the Journal of Improbable Events

GOOG Today: 486.44 After hours: 484.00


In 1716, it snowed all summer in New England. In 1871, Chicago, Illinois, and Peshtigo, Wisconsin, both burned to the ground on the same day. And on February, 25, 2008, GOOG dropped below 489.

None of these things should have happened. But they did. Now, it is up to those who ponder strange events to see what can be made of it.

I make this: if you find yourself hoping that the stock you just sold goes down 20 points, wish for 200 points, instead. And then, wait for it to happen. It will.