Friday, May 29, 2009

Rappelling, anyone?

GOOG: 417.23

Wait a minute. We've been here before. Except the roof is now where the floor used to be. But we went through it today like poor insulation. Goog has now re-achieved a promontory from which we used to peer into the abyss. Only we didn't believe it was really an abyss, back then.

We'd look down and say, "It might go to 410, but if it does, it'll surely bounce. But if 410 doesn't hold, 400 is a big round number that will be all but impossible to penetrate." It was beyond our imagination then to be worried about 300. Or worse. Sufficient to the day was the magnitude of our concern.

We've reached a level now where I begin to tap into my inner Cramer, thinking that I should schnitzel a few shares and lock in a profit. But, in the past, I've always gotten in trouble when I sold GOOG. Schnitzeling doesn't become me.

Besides, the Fast Money crew, without Macke, was uncharacteristically kind to GOOG today. A guest came on - I think it was Mahaney - saying GOOG looked good over the summer.

The bearish case is that, Sunday, Schmidt is going to be on Meet the Press.

Against advice, I'm going to hold. But if it gets close to 500, before its time, I'll do something. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life in the Comfort Zone

Tonight, my wife said, "When was it that we got 16 percent on our money market?"

We were taking out the garbage.

I said, "Sometime in the early eighties."

Later on, we were looking for something to watch on TV.

She said, "When do you think it'll get that high again?"

I had to be reminded of what we were talking about.

I said, "I don't know."

She said, "If it gets that high again, we'll be doing well."

I said, "You don't understand about money."

I told her we would be worse off.

She said, "If I'm getting 16 percent, I don't care."

And so to bed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My New Financial Advisor

The period of the last 18 months, like all of Joyce, has been a series of epiphanies. I won't dissemble - I have not experienced all the epiphanies in Joyce. But I know they're there.

What I have experienced is the epiphanies of the last 18 months. The true nature of the investing game has been made plain to me. Some say trading stocks is gambling. And the way I do it, it is. I can see that now. And I'm over it.

The need to buy and sell stocks is killed in me now. I may buy and sell stocks in the future, but I'll never need to again.

Right now, I'm sitting comfortably on the sidewalk, with 70% cash and 30% Google, watching the rally go by. I could do this from now on.

It's time to listen to the flowers and smell the birds.

Accordingly, I have selected a new financial advisor. One who is in tune with my new-found understanding.

My wife.

She is conservative by nature, but not afraid of extreme positions. Her advice for the last 25 years has been unvarying: 100% cash, all the time. Kept at interest where it will be safe as houses. Still, her philosophy allows for a small portion to be set aside for the occasional high-flyer that might hit it big.

Last week, she was thrilled watching Rachel Alexandra win the Preakness. Especially at $5.60.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grinners and non-Grinners

When I was late in school, I distinguished all the types of people in the world by their general manner and aspect of behavior. That is to say, I studied Psychology.

And I propounded theories. One of my theories divided all people into two groups, grinners and non-grinners. Regardless of language or culture, if you look at a grinner, he or she will always grin. They grin all the time, at everything. Even when nothing is funny. Non-grinners never grin. Even when something is really funny.

It's not hereditary. Both my parents were grinners, but I am not. My wife is not a grinner, either. Only after a moment of sober and strategic reflection, will we react to your entreaty.

In this way, you can evaluate the people you meet.

Katie Couric is a grinner. Bernanke is not. And so on.

I'm working on an application for the G-Phone. You hold the phone up to somebody and it will tell you if they're a grinner or a non-grinner.

It should come in handy.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Deuces and Treys

My father never had any money. He grew up in the streets on the wrong side of town. In his younger days, he was a Blackjack dealer in roadhouses. He liked to say, "I never gambled. I worked for the house."

But he didn't want that kind of life for his kids. He said to me, "Go to college, become an engineer and make five thousand a year."

But when the time came to go, there was a question of some up-front money that was needed. Tuition at Vanderbilt University in 1957 was $600 a year. It was in this connection that I found myself on campus, with my father, in the office of James Buford, the Registrar of the University. We sat across a large desk from him. My father seemed a little uncomfortable. For once in his life, he was on the wrong side of the table.

But he started out talking about what a good student I was and how I carried a paper route too, morning and afternoon. Buford listened politely with a pleasant smile, and when the subject of possible scholarships came up, he leaned forward and said to me, "Son, I think you'd better hang on to that paper route."

We thanked him for his time and left. I wondered what my father would say, but he didn't say anything. Not then, or on the way home.

So I kept my paper route and paid my bills. The tuition went up every year I was there. When I graduated, it was $900. All I did, the whole time, was study and throw papers. When I came out, I had over a thousand saved up.

Then I got married, had children and, for the next 40 years, I didn't save a nickel. But it was fine. I got as much money as I needed.

Now, for the past five years, I've been retired, but still working full-time. We're saving a lot of money now. Look at the chart. That's me.

I figured out, the other day, that I have made no money at all from my investments over the past five years. What I have is entirely from savings. I'd have been better off buying five-year CD's.

I don't know what my father would think about all this. He's no longer available for comment.

But I do know one thing: if there's a Heaven, then James Buford is in it, sitting at a Blackjack table, while my father deals him deuces and treys all day.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

One Man's Tweet

I saw George Harrison on TV once. The interviewer asked him about his experience with LSD. Harrison said, "I only needed to do it once." The interviewer leaned forward and said, "You only did LSD one time?" And Harrison said, "No, I did it many times. But I only needed to do it once."

That's the way I feel about Twitter and I've only done it once.

I like the idea of followers. But I don't like the message length. Haiku is not my literary form of choice. Facebook has the same thing and I don't like it there either. I don't want to operate at that speed.

Tweeting may be all right for the young, but it feeds too fast for us old folks.