Sunday, February 28, 2010

Key Note

As many of you know, I am areligious (pronounced "ay-religious", not "a religious") to say the least.  I don't bother you about your religion, so don't bother me about mine (or the lack thereof - see my profile at right).  And several times this year I've used the term "thank Buddha" instead of "thank God", etc.  Imagine my surprise when my wife and I checked into our Key West hotel room, and "The Teachings of Buddha" was the only religious tome therein.  No Book of Mormon, no King James Bible, no invitation to speak in tongues at the local gymnasium on Saturday night!  Just Buddha.  Coincidence or something more?

Curl Me Some Ice! (GROJOE Revisited)

I'm not too proud to admit when I'm wrong, and I was wrong about allowing curling into the Olympics.  I've long advocated that the IOC should "get rid of judged olympic events" (GROJOE), and get back to "higher, faster, stronger" - not "judged to be the winner".  And, of course, curling fulfills my basic requirement in that regard.  However, I also don't think that contests which can be played while you drink and smoke are really "sports", and I suspect your local curling club allows one or both of the aforesaid vices.  (Man, I myself must be "as pure as the driven snow", eh?)  At any rate, I have become mesmerized by Olympic curling these past two weeks, and I don't believe these teams could have performed as they did "under the influence", as we say.  Sure it's slow, safe and sedentary but I like curling in the Olympics.  Just don't make me wear those Norwegian togs!  Any curling fans out there?

Pets on Airplanes

Give me a break!  About a year ago a subtle change in airline regulations was noted by your humble scribe, namely the admission of dogs and cats to the cabins of regularly-scheduled airline flights.  Not only does this show the continued degeneration of man's courtesy to his fellow man (not to mention issues of hygiene and stench) but presents a very real health issue for some.  Serious allergic reactions can occur.  I, for one, am slightly allergic to cats, and I'll be damned if I'll sit within 30 feet of a caged feline in an airline cabin.  What will it take for the authorities to ban animals in the cabin?  The death of an innocent child with serious allergies?  Is the life of a child worth risking so some deranged traveller doesn't have to be separated from her lapthing?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Word For The Day: fundagelical

fundagelical - noun. fun-duh-jell-iccle; 1. born-again religious wacko:  "Like all the other sheeple in my neighbourhood, I became a fundagelical after seeing you-know-who's face in my oatmeal one morning.  Eventually I put it on Ebay."  Etymology: Cranbrookian; southern British Columbia.  Other contextual examples invited.

Word For The Day: conniption

conniption - noun. ka-nipp-shun; 1. a fit or tantrum of rage, hysteria or alarm: "He had a conniption when the beer froze in his fridge and the beer store was closed."  Etymology: pseudo-Latin; U.S. or Canadian slang.  Other contextual examples invited.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Key West Thought

Your intrepid reporter is in Key West, FL, for a few days of R and R - sorry for the gap in writing (blogap?).  I was thinking the other day (while wandering on the harbour front where shark fishing is heavily advertised) that ... what if I were on a lazy sailboat on the Carribean somewhere and spied a single four or five foot shark swimming lazily alongside the boat?  No other sharks anywhere around.  Being 6 foot something and about 240 lbs, let's say I jump the shark and take a bite out of its back?  Would that be called a human attack?  Would the word spread throughout sharkdom to beware of huimans?  Hmmm...one too many Margaritas perhaps?  Any shark experts out there?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Best and Worst of the 2010 Opening Ceremonies

Whaddya think of the Opening Ceremonies?  From my perspective the three high points were:
1.  Sarah MacLachlan
2.  Parade of Athletes
3.  Wayne Gretzky lighting the Olympic cauldron after a ten minute Government Motors pickup truck ride in the rain via an obviously inadequately unsecured route past the downtown bars.
The three low points (sorry, but one must be brutally honest) were:
1.  The indoor torch lighting ceremony equipment malfunction.  No back-up system to raise that thing in place?  (Lucky the gas was turned off when that torch strut didn't emerge from the depths below or things could have ended badly right there!)
2.  That ridiculous segment with the jean-clad guy running (flying, being dragged?) across special effects patches of wheat fields.  Must have been a low budget item.  W.O. Mitchell deserves better!
3.  Wayne Gretzky lighting the Olympic cauldron after a ten minute Government Motors pickup truck ride in the rain via an obviously inadequately unsecured route past the downtown bars.
Can't wait for the Closing Ceremonies!  What did you think of the Opening Ceremonies?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Word For The Day: verbose

verbose - adj. vurr-boas; 1. containing more words than necessary; wordy: "a verbose reply", also: impaired by wordiness: "a verbose style".  2. given to wordiness: "a verbose orator".  Etymology: Latin "verbosus", from verbum.  (others: verbosely, verboseness, verbosity).  Alternate contextual examples invited.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Top 10 Reflections on 59

I can't believe I've survived and thrived this long.
1. The main reason is my best friend, my wonderful wife.
2. C.I.B.
3. K.A.T.
4. L.E.B.
5. Extended family is great.
6. Some very nice friends too.
7. Living in Canada helps.
8. Living out here is the best.
9. A fertile (some might say aberrant) mind doesn't hurt.
10. I've been as lucky as I have been unlucky.
The secret to surviving and thriving?  See #1 above.  The single most important decision you will ever make is who you marry.  Whaddya think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who's the Packrat?

I've been doing a little renovating in the basement, and suddenly realized WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!  (As a friend of ours says, "We in North America really have everything we need, yet every weekend we go to the mall and load up with more stuff".)  Luckily for us, the nearest mall is 75 miles away.  To be fair (ie. to rationalize) a few years ago we sold our place in the city and tried to put two houses' worth of stuff into one (albeit big) house.  Since then we've tried to unload stuff on our kids, sell stuff at garage sales, haul stuff to the dump, etc., but we still have too much stuff.  (What a great word that is, "stuff".)  We have three storage rooms, a garage and a storage shed full of it.  The shed was added ostensibly to protect my John Deere from the elements, but in reality it will allow me to move some stuff from the garage (we have a two-car garage that you can only fit one car in at present because of stuff). Then I can move some stuff out of the basement into the garage and ... you get the picture.  And the answer to the question first above?  Both my wife and I.  Any other PR's out there?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Gift I'm Sure You Will Appreciate

Those who know me well are aware that I rise early every morning and start crunching numbers on my investments at 4 am.  I'm up anyway, and the peace and quiet let me think at my own speed (slow).  There's always lots of interesting material to go through on Bloomberg, CNBC, and the market letters I subscribe to before I revise my spreadsheets, make my investment decisions, and settle in with BNN before the open whereupon I begin to look for day trades on my trading platform.  What I've tried to do on this blog in the past is give you a two minute distillation of those market sources.  My gift to you today, dear reader, is freedom from such blather.  It appears in the link to the right to the StockScores website.  It will take you to a YouTube presentation by Tyler Bollhorn, who is infinitely more in tune with the market than I am.  I will still, from time to time, comment on the market or a particular stock, but for overall market direction click on the orange bar on the StockScores site which says "Weekly Market Minutes".  Believe me, you'll thank me (this guy is uncannily accurate) except, of course, that now I'll have more time to write about other stuff!  Who is your favorite market guru?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Can You Feel The Tension?

Between the buyers (optimists) and sellers (pessimists) on Wall/bay Street, that is.  Another arm-wrestle is between governments who would like a little inflation because it's easier to control but economies flirting with deflation.  So, looks to me like we're into a sideways trading pattern for awhile.  I suspect the strength in the U.S. dollar last week was just due to Euro weakness, which continues.  Gold bugs are itching to buy but everyone else is holding back.  Lots of talk about pivot (inflection) points.  The only thing I feel the least bit certain about is volatility, which means active traders should be buying (and selling) the VXX.  Remember, read YDHIFM (below).  Do your own due diligence.  Can you feel the tension?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Does Age Make You More Grey or Black-and-White?

Although still a spring chicken in my own mind, the damage of decades past on my body belies my chronological age.  The weird thing is that I find myself becoming greyer (grayer in the U.S.) not only in hair color but also in my opinions.  (Permit me to digress here a minute.  The medical melodrama Grey's Anatomy, a work of fleeting and questionable societal value, is derived from the name of a famous human anatomy textbook of illustrations called Gray's Anatomy- a classic work which has withstood the test of time, thus illuminating the importance of a single letter in spelling stuff.  Gray's saved my bacon in university, and I am forever indebted.)  People my age are supposed to become more dogmatic, more black-and-white, as time marches on.  On some issues, child pornography comes to mind, I'm sure that I will still want perpetrators of the same to be boiled in oil decades from now - no change likely there.  However, I find myself more willing all the time, for instance, to give people who've wronged me in the past a second chance.  And I am more tolerant of others' views in general.  In other words, I find myself mellowing.  Help!  Is this happening to you?

The Thing About Tattoos

Can't say I'm a fan of the tattoo craze.  Don't get me wrong, tattoo artists do (mostly) beautiful work, and I'm sure the disease concerns of their armamentarium have been addressed long ago otherwise we would hear a loud and incessant cry from the medical profession.  (The last thing I read from the AMA on this topic was that the removal of tattoos is a booming business even though the number of visits, cost and pain are at least quintuple those of getting a tattoo in the first place.)  I suspect that the three major objectives of getting a tattoo are because they enhance (perceived) beauty, make some sort of statement, or will help you stand out among your peer group.  But why put these (mostly) beautiful works on skin?  If you get tired of an artwork in your house you can change it.  If your political (or other) views change over time that's fine - as long as they haven't been indelibly inscribed on your forehead.  (The other disadvantages of skin as a medium are that it ages, wrinkles, stretches, sags, and - well, you get the picture, the picture changes!)  And if you're getting a tattoo (or a body piercing, man-earring, etc.) to show your individualism, take a look around - you're a little late.  Real individuals identify themselves through deeds, not gimmicks.  I'm not a fanatic on this; I've seen some tiny, dainty, even meaningful tattoos - but not many.  Too bad I didn't think about all this before that heart with "Mom" in it!  Any other tattoo critics out there?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Obvious Short Termers

Trades that is.  I expect stock market indices to take weeks to recover from this mess, so stash your cash and wait.  Short term I like the U.S. dollar index (UUP) and love the volatility index (VXX).  Read You Didn't Hear It From Me (YDHIFM) below.  Got any other good short-term stock ideas?

You Didn't Hear It From Me (YDHIFM)

Apparently the title of this post sufficeth not if anyone reading my stock market blather actually loses money on an investment I mention here, so read this:  "Investing is risky.  The author of Out Here will not be held responsible for any loss or gain of any person as a result of their reliance on the advice offered on this blog.  Readers should always do their own due diligence on any equity they intend to trade, and should never risk capital they cannot afford to lose completely.  By reading this blog you agree to hold the author blameless should you lose money following any advice presented herein.  If you do not agree to be bound by the foregoing, leave now and please do not read this blog."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whither the Markets?

American markets are headed down after the predicted dead cat bounce.  Canadian markets are hanging in there but we are commodity driven so be cautious.  Oil and gold look to be tanking.  Best to be in cash and spending your time analyzing what you want to buy and at what price it will look cheap.  The ironic thing is that the U.S. dollar is strengthening even though the printing presses are running overtime.  Why?  By default.  The Euro is threatened by sovereign debt issues, the Yen is a deflationary, scandal-plagued currency, and the Canadian & Aussie bucks are commodity-based.  Thank Buddha for inverse ETF's and VXX or I'd have nothing to do but plague my readers by blogging all day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

GPS (Guy's Perfect Soulmate?)

It seems that everyone these days drives with their GPS on, whether they need it for directions or not.  We bought one a few years ago, manufactured by Magellan.  We didn't need it much, but the few times we did use it the pleasant female voice telling us where to turn led us eventually to nickname the device "Maggie".  The funny thing is, it seems that a lot of the people I see driving around with their GPS on are male, alone, and don't really look like they're lost.  It makes me wonder if the very fact that they can drive around and listen to a woman's voice is why they have it at all.  If so, I find it a sad commentary on our society that actual back seat drivers have been replaced by electronic ones (although they can be muted with a mere touch on the screen).  My wife, of course, thinks it's because we men are so used to being told what to do by women that we can't function without them anymore.  Anyway, there's some sort of interesting psycho-something going on here.  I guess I'll know I'm in trouble when my wife downloads a male's voice to our machine, and starts going for long drives.  On the other hand, Magellan was a guy after all!  Any of you noticed this trend?

We Seek Safe Harbor

Ever read this at the end of a company statement, and wondered what it means?  Investopedia says that, under SEC rules, safe harbor provisions protect management from liability regarding financial projections and forecasts made in good faith.  Thus the analogy to the literal meaning of the phrase, which relates to a ship's crew looking for the safety of a harbor against such unpredictable adverse events as bad weather or pirates.  And here's something I didn't know; in U.S. broadcasting "safe harbor" refers to the hours between 10 pm and 6 am - the period during which the FCC allows broadcasters to transmit material deemed indecent for children!  Hey, what about us insomniacs and early risers, where's the protection for us?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pssst! Don't Tell Anyone!

When someone tells you a secret, how long do you keep it?  Ten minutes?  Ten Days?  Ten years?  I suppose it depends to an extent on the secret which is being kept; if it is silly, frivolous, or minor in nature then who really cares?  (And some might say, what good is a secret if it can't be shared?  After all there is, of course, a perverse potential gain in the stature of the one "in the know" which is only realized when they deign to enlighten the otherwise ignorant.)  On the other hand, what about the serious secret?  Whether confided or stumbled upon, serious secrets such as a person's medical history, banking details, passwords, etc. are - most would argue - secrets never to be revealed except on a strict "need to know" basis.  The safeguarding of such details is one of the true marks of a professional.  The next time you are privy to a secret, think carefully before revealing it.  "Pssst!  Did you know his favorite band is Asleep At The Wheel?"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dead Cat Bounce

Are markets going to drop further immediately or will we see a "dead cat bounce" first?  I think the latter.  There seems to be some evidence that the U.S. government is manipulating stock market futures by bidding them up through intermediaries in the after-hours market, so don't be surprised if the markets habitually open higher and then fade.  (This is apparently legal, but worrying to me.)  And beware of the DCB which may last a few days before hitting the pavement.  A note regarding my earlier call on QTWW: it's a BUY at any price less than a buck, but remember - you didn't hear it from me.