Thursday, November 30, 2006

Another Quick Update

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) came out with disappointing SSS numbers, and the stock dipped as a result. I went ahead and relieved myself of the position, dumping shares at 67.30 for a modest gain of 4.7%. Turns out that I would have been better off just holding onto American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) instead of partially swapping. I think it is pretty clear that AEOS is still growing strongly, despite missing the consensus estimates on its own November SSS numbers. So, I will continue to hold that position.

I think it's about time for me to reshape the portfolio a bit. I have been looking to consolidate the portfolio for some time now. Basically, trim the number of different positions and increase the average position size. It's just very time consuming keeping up to speed with everything. I think tomorrow, North Fork Bancorp (NFB) will be no more, as the Capital One Financial (COF) merger completes then. At least, that's what I read.

That said, I really want to buy more Coventry Health Care (CVH), but it jumped a bit today. I might add to Montpelier Re (MRH)... I think any price under $19 is a good one. I still like Lifetime Brands (LCUT), but would much prefer a price near $19. I think Constellation Brands (STZ) is underappreciated by the market, but it's already a #5 holding, so I'll probably hold off on adding there.

Well, when I figure out what I'm going to do, I'll post it up. Today's been a good day... go market, go!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quick Update

Got nervous on the Amazon (AMZN) short, and covered at 41.05. Good for a $1.05 gain, but not quite what I had initially thought would be my exit point. I will definitely re-short this if it moves to the upside. The GDP data today really pushed the markets higher, and sentiment has swung back to being quite positive.

*** Edit #1 ***

First, let me kick myself a little bit for covering the AMZN at an intraday top. Doh!

Second, I went ahead and initiated a position in Coventry Health Care (CVH) at 46.68. This is just a start, as I intend to add to this position.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Don't Sit Up -- Relax Your Back

Some researchers have given strong evidence that sitting up straight is not only unnatural, but could cause you back problems down the line. They presented their findings at the RSNA Conference yesterday in a talk titled The Way You Sit Will Never Be the Same! Alterations of Lumbosacral Curvature and Intervertebral Disc Morphology in Normal Subjects in Variable Sitting Positions Using Whole-body Positional MRI.

A quick summary can be found here. Or, if you prefer a news article... try this link instead.

Anyway, kick back and live better.

Another Bidder for HET

So, I'm on my way back to work from KFC (gotta love that Corn + Mashed Potatoes + Chicken + Cheese Famous bowl)... anyway, on CNBC (yay, for satellite radio), they talked about Harrah's (HET) getting a new bidder.

We know that the special committee formed by Harrah's and its advisers have already turned down the $83.50 offer. So, I'm definitely curious to see how much higher we can get. Hopefully, it's around $90. I think at that price management might cave and take it, which I wouldn't be all that opposed to, really.

In other news... I didn't get any Coventry Health Care (CVH) despite having a couple of orders in. Will wait for it to come in for me, but it's close to my buy price so there's a good chance for the order to fill soon. FormFactor (FORM) got taken off of Goldman's Conviction Buy list, which was probably part of the reason for the sell-off today. And, Eastman Kodak (EK) tanked today. I really hope it's not some bad juju coming out of the RSNA conference being held in Chicago right now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Contrarian Stock Pick

So, I've been looking at a few companies recently. I still think that it's worthwhile to take a look at Texas Roadhouse (TXRH), and McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurants (MSSR) maybe worth a look also. Wet Seal (WTSLA) kind of ran up a bit, and I do hope it pulls back some time, because I think the turnaround play still exists.

But, none of those companies I really want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about Coventry Health Care (CVH). Unless you're on the East coast or in the Midwest, you probably haven't heard of them. Anyway, they are a national managed healthcare company based out in Maryland. They compete with big firms like Wellpoint (WLP), Aetna (AET), and United Health (UNH).

Compared to those three, Coventry is pretty small. At current prices, the company is trading at a 7.5B market cap. For comparison, Aetna has a 21.5B market capitalization, Wellpoint is worth 44B, and United Health is a behemoth with a 62B market cap. Despite being smaller than these bigger peers, it is run well. The company has been able to produce a strong return on its equity, and its operating margins are pretty good for the sector.

These are good things for a company, but there's something else going for CVH. As the industry consolidates, it will surely be considered as a takeover target. Now, I don't mean to say it's going to get bought out any time soon. But, in the next couple of years, it certainly wouldn't be out of the question. This story isn't all that different than the Oxford Health Plans story from a few years back. It was an unloved industry back then, and OHP was working on making a comeback. Then, United Health bought them out. Will history repeat itself? I really don't know, but I wouldn't bet heavily against it.

While most everything else is near a high, CVH is near its 52-week low right now. Currently, the S&P has it rated 5 stars, but Goldman Sachs and most other brokerages have a Neutral rating on the shares. I'd categorize this as a contrarian pick.

After running a few DCF scenarios ranging from bearish to bullish on CVH, I am getting a downside risk of roughly $5 and an upside potential of about $15 based on its current price of $46.79. Sounds good to me. Who wants to take a bite of this? I assure you it's not poisoned... it might be spoiled, but at least it won't kill you.

Market Dump and Black Friday

Here's today's pop quiz.

Q: When can I be pleased watching the Long-Term Portfolio lose nearly 1%?

A: When the major averages are down quite a bit more.

So, we took a beating today... a continuation of last week's sell-off. We see the Nasdaq fall 2.2%, and both the S&P and Dow down about 1.3%. The dollar is weakening, oil prices are being pushed higher after an attack of an oil facility, and Black Friday sales didn't bring all that much cheer.

What saved the port somewhat today is the (AMZN) short position and also the favorable Supreme Court ruling in the Price case (better known as the 'lights' case) for Altria (MO). While the ruling didn't push MO up today, it definitely played a role in keeping it at an even keel on a strong down day.

Enough of the market talk... so, I went to Circuit City at 5am on Black Friday. I wasn't there for any of the big ticket items, so there wasn't any need for me to stand out in the cold. I picked up a few XBox360 games for $18, some DVDs for $3-4, and also a couple of DVD Box Sets for $13.

I got Season One sets for House and Monk. Both are great shows that I only get to catch once in a while. Anyway, QB and I spent a ton of hours this weekend watching House. I think we have another 8 episodes to finish off the season. If you've never seen it, check it out.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quick Update

Initiated a position in Montpelier Re (MRH) at 18.54 for the Long-Term Portfolio. It looks cheap, and it also has the support of Tom Brown, who I feel is a bad ass when it comes to this stuff.

Hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Quick Update

Shorted Amazon (AMZN) for the third and final time at 43.23, increasing the short position by 25%. Current cost basis of the short now sits at 42.10. This means the position is currently underwater 2.8%. I'm willing to take an 8% loss or so on this trade, so, if shares manage to rally strongly to the 45.50 range, I'll go ahead and cry a bit, and take my loss.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Quick Update

Well, I just got home, and I'm really tired. It's been a long day.

Anyway, before I went to the airport this morning, I put in an order to sell my Equity Office Properties (EOP) shares at $48. I just checked, and shares closed slightly above that, and my sell order was filled. Time to figure out what is next... but, that is a task for another day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Another One Bites The Dust

Equity Office Properties (EOP), a REIT in the Long-Term Portfolio, has agreed to a cash buyout by Blackstone Real Estate Partners at $48.50 per share. I will be selling my shares as soon as I am able to do so. I'm going to be totally offline tomorrow due to some offsite meetings, so I figure it won't be until Tuesday when I dump my shares.

I bought EOP on August 16, 2002 at $26.80... mostly, because I had read so much about Sam Zell and how much of a bad ass he was in real estate. Anyway, from that day up until today, a total of $8 per share has been paid out in the form of dividends, most of which were re-invested. Assuming no re-investment, you can view this as if we are finally selling out at $56.50, which would represent over 110% return over just over 4 years... this is roughly an annualized rate of 20%. Even better given that most of the dividends were re-invested. Of course, I won't actually be able to get the full $48.50 selling out early. Nonetheless... a winning investment, indeed!

I will take a close look at some other REITS, as I do want some exposure to the commercial real estate market. In my retirement accounts, I currently hold HRPT Properties (HRP). Perhaps, that might be a worthwhile candidate.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Poker and Stocks

Been incredibly busy all day... no time to post anything.

Anyway, the quick news on the Long-Term Portfolio today is that Altria Group (MO) benefitted from the issuance of a formal stay on the Schwab (Light Cigarettes) class-action suit. Also, Form Factor (FORM) will not be called away as it fell enough today to close below the $40 strike price. I will probably sell another round of the $40 calls for December, but I'm not 100% on that yet. In the Trading Portfolio, Broadcom (BRCM) will get called away, and so I should have a large infusion of cash that will need a home come Monday.

Well, last night I gave the $5-200 spread-limit game another try. It was a bit of a roller coaster, but it worked out well. I'll talk about a few of the bigger hands that took place.

Early on I lost my initial $200 buy-in with 99 vs TT. By the turn, the board was Q high with 3 undercards to my pair. I read him correctly as not having the queen and made a largish all-in bet on the turn. This was probably a real amateur mistake... I'm really still learning this game, and I am definitely feeling my way around right now. He thinks for a bit, and he really looks ready to muck. But, at the last minute, he says, "OK, let's just do it." He makes the call, and I'm drawing to two outs, which I miss. I rebuy and tell myself that I will try not to do stupid things like that going forward.

Then, after a few hours of what I felt was pretty solid play on my part, I slowly worked up to a profit of a few hundred dollars. Things were looking good, and I was feeling quite a bit better about my play. Anyway, after stagnating for a couple more hours, I get totally outplayed on a hand.

So, I've got AK on the button, and I smooth-call a $25 raise pre-flop. Anyway a few of us see the flop come Ad Kd X. The raiser bets out $50, I make it $150 and after he makes the call, it is heads-up. The turn brings another diamond, and he checks. I go ahead and bet another $100, and again he calls. The river brings a low diamond, and I'm defintely not liking it. He bets $200 straight, and I think about it a bit, and I can't justify a call. Anyway, after I muck, he shows his AK for the same hand. Played like a fiddle.

So, that knocked me back down into slightly negative territory. I get KdQx in late position, and we see a flop 6-handed for $15 apiece. The flop comes J T 9, all diamonds. Some kid bets out $50, another guy calls the $50. I go ahead and raise it enough to get both of them all in (each of them had roughly the inital max buy-in of $200). They both call, and I'm up against JTo and 8d9x. I'm in pretty good shape, and the turn and river were bricks, and I scoop up the pot.

After building up a bit more with routine play, I hit a biggie with QQ. I flop QJT and get two others to go all-in with me after a series of raises. The turn is an Ace, and my heart sinks. I'm pretty sure I'm dead. Anyway, the river doesn't pair the board, and to my amazement, I'm up against JTs and some other hand I never got to see (but, a hand that I beat). That was a big pot and from there after a little more build-up, I leave a solid winner. Yay, for being a luckbox.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quick Update

Altria (MO) increased its earnings forecast by roughly 2.7% due to a reorganization of its business in the Dominican Republic. Shares are up nearly 2% on this news. They also reaffirmed their committment to give details of their Kraft spin-off plans at the end of January. Go MO!

Home Depot (HD) boosted its dividend by 50%. Shares are now yielding 2.4%. This is the second time this year that it has done so. As I've said in the past, I strongly believe that a firm's ability to continually increase its dividends over long periods of time is indicative of its earnings strength and quality. I know many of you hate HD, but I believe this stock is worth a fair amount more than its current market price.

I might end up picking up that last position in HD after all. Recall that I had originally wanted to buy in 3 chunks. I was able to get a good price on the first two purchases, but then the stock ran up outside my buying price range, so I passed on the last batch.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another Quick Update

Increased the (AMZN) short position by a third at 42.88. Average cost basis on the short is now 41.82. I might have it in me to short a third round, but if it moves another 3-4% against me I'll take my lumps and cover.

Altria Group (MO) made a nice move today after Goldman upgraded it. Here's a short blip coming from Goldman:

We are adding Altria to Americas Buy/ Conviction Buy List from Neutral as we expect the potential Kraft spin-off and an improvement in international tobacco trends to drive the stock towards our new 12-month target price of $96 (representing 19% upside from current levels). While management indicated that it intends to announce on 1/31/07 the details of the Kraft spin-off, the stock continues to trade at a significant discount to its sum-of-the-parts value. We see several catalysts in the near term that could alleviate investors lingering skepticism about the timing of the Kraft spin-off and concern over weak international tobacco trends.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) selling off today after yesterday's earnings release. The numbers themselves were quite good actually, but guidance was neutral to slightly negative and analysts fear tough comps going forward.

Despite the ANF drop and the AMZN move against me, things are looking damn good for the portfolios. I might begin to trim a few positions, and I've also thought a bit about consolidating the portfolio so that I don't have as many holdings.

Also, come Friday, the Broadcom (BRCM) position will be called away at $30 for a decent profit. Could have made a lot more had I not sold the calls, but I'm not complaining. And, the Form Factor (FORM) position could get called away at $40 if it does not trade lower in the next couple of days. If these positions get called, I'll have a lot more ammo to make a few moves.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Out of Africa

Okay, this is pretty f'ing cool. Check this link out: Link to Live Webcam of a Watering Hole in Africa.

*** Edit #1 ***

So after watching some stupid bird do nothing for a while... a warthog makes his way to the watering hole.

Okay, the lazy warthog got up...

*** Edit #2 ***

I'm still hooked on this thing... it's night time now in Africa, and look what shows up at the watering hole. A RHINO! This cam is way too cool.

Quick Update

Just about to head to lunch, but wanted to toss out this quick update.

Shorted a small (AMZN) position at 41.47. I don't believe it can be worth this much. But, if it moves strongly against me, I'll take a loss. No reason to fight the strong market uptrend, even if I feel valuation is currently lofty.

American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) kicked some butt and announced solid numbers. The company beat both top and bottom line estimates. Also, they announced a 3 for 2 stock split.

Home Depot (HD) announced numbers that came in a bit lighter than expected. They also their lowered earnings forecasts. I wasn't too impressed with their quarter, but the stock is trading up now after starting off the day on a dour note.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) announce their numbers today after the market closes. Hopefully, the AEOS numbers are a good indicator of what to expect here.

2-7 Triple Draw

Okay, after a decent online session I decided to give 2-7 Triple Draw a try on PokerStars. And, I must say that the game's a lot of fun. It's really subtle, and it's plenty different than any poker game, even Razz. Anyway, I donked it up playing the $0.50/$1 limit. And, I lost a few bets (meaning $5). Give it a try if you get bored of the other games.

*** Edit ***

Okay, I'm kind of hooked on this new game. So, I went back to play some more at the same tiny limits. I can now say that I am officially ahead in 2-7 Triple Draw for my lifetime (a whopping $4). I guess I am officially ahead lifetime in Let It Ride also. However, unlike Let It Ride, I suspect I will play more Triple Draw in the near future.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Night Out in the City

Yesterday afternoon, QB and I headed out to the new Westfield shopping centre in San Francisco. I mostly wanted to check out the Martin and Osa store, because of my position in American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS). The store was decorated nicely and it looked great. It was sort of a cross between Banana Republic and Abercrombie and Fitch. Unfortunately, there wasn't much of a line at the register. There were definitely people inside shopping, but I didn't see much buying. I asked the saleslady about it, and she said things were actually okay, and that its always tough for new brands as they first start out.

At least American Eagle was bustling and full of happy shoppers. Also, I did check out Wet Seal (WTSLA), and the place had a constant line going at the register counter. I think that Wet Seal might be a good turnaround play in retail, but I'm not yet ready to commit any funds to buying any yet.

Later on, QB and I headed out for a night out with some of her friends and ex-coworkers. The night started out at Citizen Thai and the Monkey on Grant Ave. It was a really good Thai restaurant. We really liked the food. I had their special of the night... Scallops and Prawns in Green Coconut Curry. Delicious! We had been to another similar-tasting Thai restaurant before called Koh Samui and the Monkey, and after speaking with the hostess there, I learned that the restaurants had the same owner.

After the meal, we took a couple of limos over to the Grandviews Restaurant atop the Hyatt. Luckily, the night was clear. What a view from up there!

Anyway, after our desserts. We went to watch the Beach Blanket Babylon show over at the Fugazi Theatre. It's really a fun show, and its content is updated constantly. I had seen the show once before maybe four years ago. The show is full of political and pop cultural humor. They really had a lot of fun with the recent election results and even Kevin Federline wasn't able to escape.

When the show was over we went to Harry's Bar on Fillmore to get a quick round of drinks, and then it was time to head home. It was a fun night to be sure.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Quick Trade Update

Just for fun, I'm in on a piece of NVDIA (NVDA) at 34.75. Their earnings were good and they are trading lower today after spiking up in the afterhours yesterday. Part of this might have to do with some cautious comments and a downgrade by a smaller firm (Stifel). ThinkEquity also had negative things to say about NVDA. This is balanced out by positive comments coming from CIBC and Thomas Weisel. Maybe part of this sell-off could be due to profit-taking after a heated run-up. And, then again, there's always the chance that I don't know what I've gotten myself into. Hah.

Anyway, this is mostly a fun trade following a decent night of poker. So, I will probably go ahead and close this trade out before the day is over. Also, wanted to note that some analysts believe NVDA is eating AMD's lunch (recall that AMD bought ATI Technologies), which isn't too good for my current AMD trading position.

*** Edit #1 ***

Well, since I decided not to go back to bed right away I might as well give some quick updates on the Long-Term Portfolio holdings.

First Marblehead (FMD) declared a 3 for 2 stock split. Doesn't really mean too much to me other than a potential blip (stock split effect). For companies with small floats, stock splits do matter in the sense that it improves trading liquidity. Sometimes that's an issue for larger firms to get into a stock. For companies like FMD, stock split really doesn't mean much. Along with the stock-split announcement, they also announced a 20% increase in the dividend. Previous quarterly dividend was 0.15, and the new dividend on a post-split share basis is 0.12. Good stuff.

Kongzhong (KONG) was downgraded by Susquehanna from Positive to Neutral. They believe that the recent better than expected earnings was due to overly conservative guidance, and not any true improvement in the fundamentals of the company.

*** Edit #2 ***

Took the loss on the NVDA daytrade at 34.20. Smallish position so the 1.6% loss isn't horrible. But, it probably means I won't eat anything too nice for lunch today... did somebody say McDonald's?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vegas and Lots of Food Pictures

Okay, here's my Vegas post. I'll break it up into sections so you can skip around if it gets a bit long and boring.

Introduction / Lodging

So, six of us met up in Vegas... Rowr, PetDander, Barber, E-Lankan, QB, and me. Since hotel rates were simply outrageous last weekend, we all stayed in different places. Not really much of an issue, but it is what it is. All of us stayed off the strip. Rowr and PetDander end up at the La Quinta, just down the street from where QB and I stayed at the Tuscany Suites. Barber and the E-Lankan stayed over at the newly renovated Hilton.

Lance Burton: Master Magician

QB and I were a bit rushed upon arrival, since we had to tickets to the Lance Burton magic show over at the Monte Carlo. We made it to the show without any problems despite the ridiculously bad traffic. This particular weekend was horrible. Apparently, it was sandwiched by two major conventions, and there was a major boxing match scheduled, along with a professional bull riding rodeo in town. Okay, so we get to the show.

Lance Burton is amazing. He's quite the showman, and he's simply amazing. Like, when you see a magic trick, you usually can take a guess as to how it's done. Whether you're right or not, or even close isn't all that important. The point is that you usually can come up with some crazy scheme as to how a trick was done. Well, I'd say that there were quite a few tricks that he pulled off that I can't even try to make a guess about. It was really an awesome show. If you're ever in Vegas, and you are sick of the Cirque du Soleil shows and don't feel like watching topless showgirls dance, then go and check out Lance. It's a very kid-friendly show also, so it's a great choice for a family.

Pokering at the Monte Carlo

After the show, QB and I met up with PetDander and Rowr over at the Monte Carlo. We were immediately seated in a new low-limit $4/8 game, and we were on our way to do some heavy drinking and late-night pokering. Since QB doesn't really like poker, she sat behind me for a little while, then got bored and took off to play other games and check out the gift shops.

So, it was Rowr on my left and PetDander on my right. I think that was the best seat order for all of us. Rowr is fairly new, and so she gets a nice early warning to get the hell out of the pot if either PD or I raise it up (unless of course she has a big hand). You can read more about the early warning system by following this link. PD probably likes me on his left because he's so much more aggressive and can usually fold me out more easily if he acts before me. And, I much prefer to get out of his way than to get trapped in a hand due to a raise coming in from behind.

I got pretty unlucky in a couple of hands where my opponents caught their two-outers to spike their sets on the turn. But, in a rare act of equalization, I caught a one-outer to win a large pot. I had Q7s in the big blind. There was a limper and PD (in the small blind) raised. We see the flop 3-handed for two bets apiece. The flop comes T 7 7. PD bets out, I raise, and a weak-tight guy 3-bets. I honestly think I'm outkicked here, and I put him on A9s. PD folds, and I call with the intention of just check-calling the guy... maybe I'm the weak-tighty. The turn is a 7, and I go ahead bet out. The bet - raise - 3-bet line seems so much better than the check-raise line. So, things go as planned, I bet, he raises, and I 3-bet. He calls me down and flips over pocket Tens. Whew!

Oh ya, I should mention that Rowr is up against me lifetime at a live poker table. There was a hand where I betting with middle pair, but she had top pair (and rivered a two pair for the overkill). We're all pretty drunk by the time we get the call from Barber that says he and E-Lankan are on the way over to meet us. We had been ordering drinks non-stop, since it's just a lot more fun to get free drinks than having to pay for them. Ha ha.

Drinking and Gambling at the Monte Carlo

So, Barber and E-Lankan get there, and we all do some gambling on our own. I can't even remember exactly who did what. I think PetDander and Barber went to play some poker at some point and I think E-Lankan played some blackjack. QB and Rowr drank some for free at the Video Poker machine also, I believe.

Well, at some point we all end up at the Houdini Lounge in the middle of the hotel and continue to get the drink on. I think we started out with a round of shots followed up with more drinks and more beer. There's a lot of random conversation, and I'm my usual loud and obnoxious self. Eventually, it's time to crash, and we all head back to our respective hotels.

Pokering at the Wynn

The next day, PetDander, Rowr, QB, and I make it over to the Wynn to do some pokering again. We played a pretty short session. Rowr and I sat in the lowly 4/8 game, and PetDander played a little higher at the 8/16. Not sure if he played any 15/30 or not, but anyway, the table Rowr and I were at was not so good. Players were mostly tight and aggressive... definitely not the type of table you want to be at for the purpose of money-making.

PetDander decided his game was a bit too good to leave, so he decided to skip out on dinner and continue to rake in the bucks. So, QB, and I headed out to meet up with Barber and E-Lankan at the Mandalay Bay. Our dinner reservations at Aureole were for 7:45pm, so we had to hurry, especially with the horrendous traffic crippling the city.


QB and I met up with Barber and E-L at the Island Lounge at the Mandalay Bay. After a quick drink, we made our way to the restaurant. We hung out at the restaurant lounge area for a bit as Rowr was having major problems finding a parking spot... after all, it was fight night. She gave us a call and told us to go ahead and get seated. So, we did just that. Not long after, she made it. Yay!

Well, this post is already pretty long, so let me just throw out a few highlights and then put up pictures of the food. Four of us decided to go with the Chef's Tasting Menu. Rowr isn't a big seafood fan, so she went with the foie gras and the roasted pork loin.

The food was absolutely fabulous. Words, especially those coming from me, cannot do it justice. The meal was very well balanced overall, and portions were generous considering we had so many dishes to try.

On top of the great food, the service was really awesome. As each dish came out, there was usually two servers standing by to give us a description of what we were about to eat and also to answer any questions we had. Drinks were always re-filled before glasses were empty, and they even had this metal cover that they put on QB's food to keep it warm when she went to the bathroom. I've never experienced that before... pretty funny.

Oh ya... I should mention that I was completely fooled by a rasberry sauce stained plate. So, we're on our first dish which was served on this fancy glass plate. QB then says to me, "Make sure to try the raspberry sauce, it's incredibly tasty." So, I start jabbing my ahi tuna into the 'sauce' on the plate, only to see that I wasn't getting any sauce. I press the fish harder and harder onto the plate before I realize I've been fooled. Doh!

The meal lasted over three-and-a-half hours. And, there was a ton of food. We were all pretty stuffed afterwards. Okay, no more wasting your time. Here are some pics of the food that was served to each of us during the tasting. Enjoy.

Duo of Ahi Tuna: Tartare and Tataki

Three Cheese Ravioli topped with Dungeness Crab

Grilled Escolar

Sonoma Squab with Foie Gras

Beef Duo: Filet Mignon and Shepard's Pie

Three American Cheeses (Blue, Bucheret, and Cheddar) and Cinnamon Brioche

Pear Tart with Chocolate Fondue and Gelato

Petit Fours and Chocolates

Variety of Fruit Sorbet

Rowr has a lot of pictures of her food too. I'm sure you will be able to see them on her blog at some point.

And, that's all, folks!

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

Three, Four... Knock On The Door
Five, Six... Pick Up Sticks
. . .
Propositions 86, 87... Go To Heaven

Since neither proposition passed no harm was done, and so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and sent them up and not down.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that both of these were shot down. Californians get it right once in a while. Who would have guessed that given the piss poor state of our public education system.

Missouri also had a tobacco tax hike proposition that got shot down. However, a few other states passed similar hikes, but luckily those states represent much smaller volumes.

Go Altria (MO)! Go Chevron (CVX)!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kong Add-On

I've had a small (and, losing) position in Kongzhong (KONG) in the Long-Term Portfolio. Today, I doubled up on the position at 8.70. Gaamblor has been pretty big on it, and I've felt for a while that KONG has a real chance of making it big one day, otherwise I would have already sold it off.

Even after doubling up on it, it's a small position. That's the way I like it when it comes to speculative positions.

Original cost basis: $12.90
New cost basis: $10.80

In the previous day's comments section, I wrote briefly about this move. So, anyway here we are.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Back From Vegas... and Market Talk

Well, I'm back. Had a blast. Will give details (and pictures) from the trip in a future post.

For now, let's talk briefly about the explosive day in the market. Market breadth was excellent. It's so nice to see such a strong broad-based rally. It's not often that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the holdings in both the long-term and trading portfolios closed up on the day.

The M&A activity really spurred some strong buying interest. Gotta love it all.

Caterpillar (CAT) fell today and is slowly approaching my buying range.

International Game Technology (IGT) got a nice boost today and closed at a 52-week high. Next week is the Global Gaming Expo. Hopefully, we'll hear about some good things coming out of the trade show.

Chevron (CVX) also closed at its 52-week high.

All in all, it was a monster day today. I'm so very tired today having flown back in from Vegas this morning and going straight to work... but, nothing perks me up better than a sick move in the markets.

Don't forget that elections are tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll get into some sort of gridlock situation. I think there's little chance that the Republicans remain in control of the Congress.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vegas, Baby!

Well, not much to really report... yesterday was a brutal day for the portfolios and markets in general, and today the portfolios recovered about 25% of yesterday's losses in the face of a flat market. So, that was good.

Been reading up a bit about and researching Montpelier Re Holdings (MRH). After a quick first pass through the numbers, it looks cheap. Planning on digging into it a bit more and taking a closer look at its peers as well. No plans on buying any yet, but that might change soon. They say never to take insurance in Blackjack (if you're not counting), but maybe re-insurance is a good bet.

By tomorrow afternoon, I'll be in Vegas! So, no stock research for a few days at least. I'll definitely be checking quotes when I'm out there, but outside of that, stocks will probably not be on my mind. I plan on donking it up at some drunken low-limit poker table with PetDander, Barber, and Rowr. Should be a fun time.

Anyway, go have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween and Tires

Well, last night was pretty awesome up until I hit some metal crap on the freeway on the drive home. QB and I basically partied with a few friends over in Moutain View. Everything was great and everyone had a good time. The Holy Shit costume was a hit. While last year's tree costume got a good reception, this year's costume drew quite a few women that wanted to have their pictures taken, etc. I'll probably share a few pictures later on... maybe even the one with the lady wearing nothing but fishnet for a top... well, I take that back I suppose there was some dark tape covering her nipples. Ha ha.

Anyway, tires are expensive. The metal stuff I hit did a good amount of tire damage, wiping out both tires on the driver's side. I had to wait for quite a while in the middle of the night to get towed. At least the tow was covered by insurance. So that's pretty much how my Halloween night went from great to ugh.