Friday, December 28, 2007

Best Picture Quest

Some friend and I are on a quest to watch all the Best Picture Academy Award winners. There are 80 in total. Looks like I have 51 movies to watch. My current checklist is below. There are a few movies that I didn't check off, because I wasn't really all that sure I actually watched the movie from start to finish. And, there are some flicks that most people would have expected me to have seen by now, such as Rain Man.

Year Title

2006 The Departed (2006)
X 2005 Crash (2005)
X 2004 Million Dollar Baby (2004)
X 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

2002 Chicago (2002)
X 2001 A Beautiful Mind (2001)
X 2000 Gladiator (2000)
X 1999 American Beauty (1999)

1998 Shakespeare In Love (1998)
X 1997 Titanic (1997)

1996 The English Patient (1996)
X 1995 Braveheart (1995)
X 1994 Forrest Gump (1994)
X 1993 Schindler's List (1993)
X 1992 Unforgiven (1992)
X 1991 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
X 1990 Dances With Wolves (1990)

1989 Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

1988 Rain Man (1988)
X 1987 The Last Emperor (1987)
X 1986 Platoon (1986)
X 1985 Out of Africa (1985)
X 1984 Amadeus (1984)

1983 Terms of Endearment (1983)

1982 Gandhi (1982)

1981 Chariots of Fire (1981)

1980 Ordinary People (1980)
X 1979 Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

1978 The Deer Hunter (1978)

1977 Annie Hall (1977)
X 1976 Rocky (1976)

1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
X 1974 The Godfather, Part II (1974)
X 1973 The Sting (1973)
X 1972 The Godfather (1972)
X 1971 The French Connection (1971)

1970 Patton (1970)

1969 Midnight Cowboy (1969)

1968 Oliver! (1968)

1967 In the Heat of the Night (1967)

1966 A Man For All Seasons (1966)
X 1965 The Sound of Music (1965)
X 1964 My Fair Lady (1964)

1963 Tom Jones (1963)

1962 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
X 1961 West Side Story (1961)

1960 The Apartment (1960)

1959 Ben-Hur (1959)

1958 Gigi (1958)

1957 The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957)

1956 Around the World In 80 Days (1956)

1955 Marty (1955)

1954 On the Waterfront (1954)

1953 From Here To Eternity (1953)

1952 The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)

1951 An American In Paris (1951)

1950 All About Eve (1950)

1949 All the King's Men (1949)

1948 Hamlet (1948)

1947 Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

1946 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

1945 The Lost Weekend (1945)

1944 Going My Way (1944)
X 1943 Casablanca (1942)

1942 Mrs. Miniver (1942)

1941 How Green Was My Valley (1941)

1940 Rebecca (1940)
X 1939 Gone With the Wind (1939)

1938 You Can't Take It With You (1938)

1937 The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

1936 The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

1935 Mutiny On the Bounty (1935)

1934 It Happened One Night (1934)

1932-33 Cavalcade (1933)

1931-32 Grand Hotel (1932)

1930-31 Cimarron (1931)

1929-30 All Quiet On the Western Front (1930)

1928-29 The Broadway Melody (1929)

1927-28 Sunrise (1927)

1927-28 Wings (1927)

Bull Spread Gamble

Today, I decided to gamble... I haven't really made any gambles in a while. In any case, I've been keeping my eye on SanDisk (SNDK), and I believe that while there are clearly reasons to be concerned about the flash memory pricing environment, the company is starting to trade at a price that warrants some attention.

Yes, I know the stock is making new lows, and that's what really makes all of this a bit of a gamble. It's not a big gamble size-wise, but it'll allow me to scratch my market gambling itch and also to put money where my mouth is. Details of my bet follow.

Options Spread

Long Jan 32.50 Calls (SWQAZ) @ 1.95
Short Jan 37.50 Calls (SWQAU) @ 0.30

Net Debit: 1.65

Basically, transaction fees aside, I stand to lose a maximum of $165 per contract, and I stand to gain a maximum of $335 per contract. Upon expiration, the break-even point is SNDK trading at 34.15, and I lose the maximum when SNDK trades at or below 32.50, and gain the maxium when it trades at or above 37.50. My net gain/loss in between is purely linear.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quick Update

I am still underwater on the Wet Seal (WTSLA) position. I sold March 2.50 calls at 0.30 covering 40% of the position today to ease the pain a little bit. At the time of the sale, shares were trading at 2.48. I figure this gives me a little bit of cushion without substantially crippling any upside the shares might provide. Effective cost basis on the entire position now sits at 2.86 with 60% of the shares really working for me.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Frustrating Parking Game

So, I just wasted a good amount of time playing this online game called Parking Perfection 3. There are only 5 levels, but it was not all that easy. I played a total of 55 games before I finally beat the five levels in one go.

If anyone enjoys getting frustrated, give the game a try. Despite all the difficulty I had playing, I found the game to be somewhat addictive.

Here are my stats.

Wii Remote Head Tracking

This is a really sweet demo. A friend of mine was so enthralled by it that he bought some stuff so he can experience it at home.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Linguist in the Family

So, I have a cousin, Josh. I'd say that he's well-studied in linguistics; he holds a degree in that subject. Anyway, we recently got talking a bit via Facebook of all places despite us living relatively close to each other.

He checked out a few of my older posts and made a key correction and had a nice follow-up to another.

First the correction... check out this old post of mine regarding a non-sensical sentence. Well, the error lies not in the syntax, but in the semantics. As Josh says, the sentence is completely acceptable syntactically. And, he's right.

And, then there's the old post about the hierarchy of words and how capitalization is an indicator of status. Anyway, here's an interesting follow-up that he put up on his blog: De-capitalization and De-lexication.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Four Day Weekend

I guess this is first day of my four day weekend. I've got nothing to do really, so I look forward to a week of relaxation and possible boredom. Last night I went to a couple neighborhood bars to play have some beer and play some word games (to cover the cost of the beer).

I've only got two things to report. The bars were packed, and my score in the word game tournament is still holding up as the #1 score to beat... top prize is around $700, and the contest ends the first week of January. If I end up winning it, that money will go towards a new TV. I really need to upgrade from the old one I got shortly after I graduated.

Anyway, after I sobered up, I played some poker over at Garden City. It was a really short session, but managed to win a rack. I was on the lucky end of a sick hand... an absolute cooler for my opponent. I get 55 and limp after a couple of limpers, and the button raises. We get to see the flop 6 ways... T55 with two spades. Okay, we get to the turn 3 ways. It comes a K of spades. I go ahead and lead out, a guy calls, and the button makes it two bets. I make it three, and the other guy drops out. We end up getting in 7 bets on the turn, and one more on the river. I turn over my flopped quads, and he laughs and shows his flopped full house with TT.

That's pretty much it... okay, time to continue my relaxation therapy consisting of doing nothing, nothing at all (well, I might squeeze in some time to create shitty grade-school art).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Show Off Your Vocabulary And Give Rice

Crestfallen put this up on her blog, and I think it's fun (and helpful).

Check out: Free Rice. It's a site that tests your vocabulary and donates rice to the United Nations World Food Program in the process. There are 50 levels of difficulty, and the site claims that very, very few ever get past 48. I peaked out at level 42, but I can only consistently reach level 40.

So, all you logophiles out there... give it a try!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Art

I know there are a bunch of you that check this blog of mine to read up about random crap in my life or perhaps to see me give losing stock picks. Unfortunately, you've caught me in the middle of my art obsession.

Two more works from the same series... here are Life As A Door and Life As A Diamond.

I'm not too bored with this newfound hobby yet. So, those of you that hate this childish art might be suffering for a good while longer.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Life As... Art

I got fairly positive reviews of my kindergarten-style artwork. Although it is highly likely that my friends are just placating my ego, I'll pretend not to notice or to care.

So, here are the next two pieces in the "Life As..." series. I present to you: Life As A Drill and Life As A Horn.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life As... Art

I am now going to show off my kindergarten art skills. Here are the first two pictures in my "Life As..." series, which are appropriately titled Life As Dog Shit and Life As A Shovel. Enjoy my creativity!

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License

Daft Punk Video

Pretty cool video... and, it definitely doesn't hurt that the performers have nice bodies.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting More Nervous

Not sure what to think at this point in light of the inflation data. If the economy is really headed towards a recession, then the Fed might have its work cut out for it. I would think that it wouldn't be so easy for them to stimulate growth if inflation lurks.

I'm not planning on making any large moves as a result of my nervosity, however. I suppose it might change how I deploy fresh funds for the retirement accounts in the upcoming year. What fun we are all having.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Funny Stuff

Today, I found a new daily comic that I liked... maybe it's popular, maybe it's not. I have no idea. Anyway, it's called Toothpaste For Dinner.

Here's one that is awesome if it reminds you of people you know. Man, it really cracks me up.

And, here are a couple that fall into the generally funny (at least to me) category.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Clandestine Countdown

Revisiting Lobsters and Indians

Okay, so you might recall the lobsters and indians bet from Thanksgiving that I mentioned a while back.

Anyway, Tiff showed me the weirdest thing today related to that phrase. Let's recap... before November of 2007, there was not a single instance of the exact phrase "lobsters and indians" on any page that Google indexed. That is quite some time before that void was filled by both Tiff and myself.

Now, look at the search... Google search for "lobsters and indians." Seriously, WTF. How is it that some random Russian independently creates a page with that never-been-indexed-before word triplet within weeks of Tiff, Rowr, and I coming up with it? I mean, this is beyond mere coincidence. The Russians are obviously tapping into our collective wisdom. This is intellectual espionage. I just might have to write my congresswoman about this.

On a serious note... W T F? That's really got to be up there with respect to weirdness level. Okay, I'm going to bed now... hopefully, I won't have any nightmares about this.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Italy Trip Report: Florence

I was not really in the mood to put up the rest of the Italy trip report due to recent life events. But, for the sake of completeness, I felt obligated. Maybe that's a sign of OCD.

So where were we? Here are the past installments to get you caught up in case you forgot:

1) Rome
2) Naples and Pompeii
3) Siena

Now, we are in Florence. We arrived at the train station fairly late, so we didn't have the luxury of speaking to the tourist information folks; their office was closed. We ended up in an internet access joint right at the station to figure out the best way to get to our hotel, Hotel Giada. Turns out it was easily walkable from where we were, so we get there by foot. It wasn't easy to find, and many of the shopkeepers nearby were not familiar with the hotel, so it took us a while.

The hotel is not much to write home about, but the staff was friendly, the room was clean, and the location was decent. It had more of a hostel feel than anything else, but it was definitely a hotel. We couldn't really go much nicer on hotels in Florence, because the prices were really sky high. But, I thought it was good value for our money.

One of the first things we saw was the controversial Fountain of Neptune located at the Piazza della Signoria. Apparently this is an inferior work of art. I guess you need to have a trained set of eyes, because I have no idea how they figure this.

The inferior Fountain of Neptune

Next, we checked out Palazzo Vecchio. This grand palace was once the home of the Medici family. Here are a couple snaps of art inside the palace.

We tried out an authentic (but, touristy) neighborhood restaurant called Buca dell'Orafo when we were out there. We had the stracotto e fagioli, which is a dish of beef braised in vegetables and red wine with beans in tomato sauce. And, one of my favorite dishes from the trip was the Florentine tripe. Despite the visual similarity. I recall it having a much lighter taste than the Roman-style tripe. I really miss that dish. I know I've said this before, but if you like tripe, you have absolutely got to try it the way it's prepared in Italy.

stracotto e fagioli

Florentine Tripe

Here is a shot of Ponte Vecchio where you can find a ton of merchants selling all sorts of gold and jewelry.

Here is Giotto's Bell Tower, which we climbed. It was a hell of a workout.

The view from the top was worth the climb, as you can see here...

We also visited the Uffizi Gallery. It was really an impressive museum with a ton of awesome art inside. What's crazy is I saw the GZA's sister there, but I wasn't 100% sure it was her. So, I didn't say hi. I felt that if it was a case of mistaken identity, it would have been really odd for me to bother her and her companion while they were viewing art. The GZA then confirmed upon my return that it was in fact his sister. Such a small world we live in.

They had a special chess exhibit during our visit. Here's a snap of an old book talking about some chess strategy.

We took a side trip to Pisa. We tried out one of those walking tours, and afterwards we felt strongly that we could have had more fun for a lot less. So, if you do go travel, I would recommend you just do side trips on your own. It's more flexible and also cheaper.

Piazza del Duomo in Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pulpit inside Pisa Duomo

The pulpit is neat, as it has columns made of different materials. The materials were imported from various regions, and if I recall, it was to show the powerful reach and influence of Pisa. If you look closely at the columns of the Pisa Duomo, you'll notice there's a column made of an entirely different material. Legend says that by staring at this column, you can help protect yourself from your spouse's infidelity for some limited time.

I have a close-up for all of you to see here...

While Pisa provided a few nice photo opportunities, I don't think it's really worth the time. It's definitely not a must-see in my book.

Another great dish I had while in Florence was this stew. I don't know what they called it, but it was really good. I loved it. I have a shot of the stew itself, and also a picture of one of its components.

On one of the nights, we hit up this really chill lounge called the May Day Club. I liked it a lot, and they served a wide variety of drinks. They even had this one Kiwi Vodka cocktail that was really refreshing. The place had all these old radios as decoration, too, which definitely added to its charm, I say.

Inside May Day Club

Amazing Kiwi Vodka Cocktail

Here is a picture of part of a golden door of the Baptistry in Florence.

Okay, that's it for Florence. Next stop... Bologna.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Sick Session

So, I just got back from playing some cards... I sat in an 8/16 with half-kill. Anyway, I think I just experienced the most disgusting live poker session I've ever had. I mean, seriously, it was so sick that it was starting to get funny. If you don't want to hear me whine, stop reading now. Otherwise, relish in my misery, and think about this session of mine the next time you are running badly.

Tonight, I played for roughly 4 1/2 hours. I won 4 pots. Yes, that's right... 4 pots. On average the game was 7-8 handed, and I would think close to 25-30 hands were dealt each hour. That means I was winning around 3-4% of the hands. I surely don't expect to win 1 out of 7 or 8 hands, mostly because I play a lot tighter than the rest of the players. But, I definitely don't like it when I win less than one pot per hour.

Gross. Final tally was -50 bets. In reality it was a little less due to the kill, but normalizing for that doesn't change the amount I lost in absolute terms. I guess I'll give you some highlights, because I have nothing better to do right now. What sucks is that I've been playing well and running OK lately too... what a brick wall I hit tonight. It's like the punch you don't see coming. That's the one that really hurts you the most.

Anyway, I had a total of 11 good draws (8 or more outs) that missed... I hit none of them. I started counting them after I missed the first 4. Of the 11 draws I missed, 4 of them were to the nuts, and as far as I know only one flush draw was actually drawing dead (QTs vs K9s on a spade draw flop). I had to pay off two missed draws (one straight and one flush), because I hit my overcard on the river. Both times this happened, I lost. Once to an overpair, and another time to two pairs.

I had KK, QQ, and JJ once each. In the QQ hand, an Ace flopped, but my hand held up. The JJ hand, a K flopped, and the KK hand, an Ace flopped. I paid off the JJ, but let the KK go on the turn. My hand was not good both times.

I had AK once, AQ twice, and AT once. AK flopped A 9 3. A 2 came on the turn, and the river came a 5. No bets went in after the turn, and the big blind showed down 23o for the win. One AQ hit nothing and I gave it up on a K high flop after there was action. The other time I had AQ I gave it up on the turn after I c-bet and got everyone to call me. AT hit with a T98 flop. I raised the flop, bet the turn, and the river went check-check. A guy with 89s took that one.

I suppose I should also mention that I had at least 10 small pocket pairs (22-77). I never did flop a set. Not that unusual, but you would think I deserve to hit a few seeing how badly I was brutalized.

Okay, enough about the losing hands... here are only other winning hands in addition to the QQ hand I mentioned above.

JQs flops Ts 9x 4s. Checks to me, I bet the flop and get a single caller. The turn brings a T, I bet and take down a small pot.

J5d in the BB. I call a raise getting 7 to 1. Flop comes 5 4 2 with 1 diamond. The raiser bets, and I am the only one to call. The turn brings an offsuit 7. I don't exactly put him on a pair, so I go ahead and check-call. If he has one, good for him. The river is a 9, and I have to make the call. He shows ATo and I win.

A8s in the big blind. I flop top two pairs. I check-raise the flop. There are two callers. Turn puts out three clubs, I bet and there's one caller. River is a blank. I bet, and she folds. And, that was the last time I had chips pushed my way.

What a brutal night. To make it even worse, I won the first two pots in the first half hour or so, which means I won 2 pots in the next 4 hours. There were probably a few bad calls on my part, but thinking about it a bit now... nothing really stupid. Oh well. There is always next time.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wet Seal SSS

Sometimes it's nice to get a dose of good news. This is especially true when you have been getting beaten up. Same store sales numbers for Wet Seal (WTSLA) came in at -1.7%, which was quite a bit better than the consensus estimate of -5.3%. Overall sales increased by over 15% from $46MM to $53MM.

The position is still underwater by a lot, but let me tell you... down 20% is a hell of a lot better than being down 30+%. I'm still optimistic and I still believe that the company is worth a lot more than it is currently trading at.

Anyway, I do know that a few of you bought in... for those that bought in around the time that I did, you're stuck like a pig. But, I do know at least one of you scooped up some shares in the 2.0x range. So far, so good. Just don't forget to buy me lunch next time I see you. Haha.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quick Update

Sold off the last of my shares of First Marblehead (FMD) at 22 and change. It has sold off even more after my sale. Brutal drop.

Not sure what to do with the funds, probably nothing for now. I'm satisfied with the sizes of all my other positions at the moment.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Wet Seal Analyst and Investor Day

I did listen to the replay of the Analyst and Investor meeting over the weekend. It was a lengthy presentation and Q&A session, and it went over a lot of material. While there were many areas where details were light, the bottom line is that there is a lot of low-hanging fruit to be picked with respect to improving the company's profitability and margins.

I think that despite the near-term pummeling that I've received, I still feel good about the prospects. In my opinion, the plan, as it was laid out, has a real chance to make a difference. To me, their analysis of the weaknesses of the current business was good... maybe not great, but the new CEO has been in charge for less than 2 months. This turnaround plan sounds a hell of a lot better than the one that Hot Topic proposed in the past.

I'll be holding all my shares... good luck to me.


This is merely a congratulatory post to recognize someone on the team that helped get the Vivendi-Activision deal done. Congratulations... you know who you are!

Friday, November 30, 2007

A License To Thrill

On my recent trip down the LA for the Thanksgiving weekend, we managed to take a picture of the most awesome license plate... it's pretty much an inside joke of sorts, so this post is really meant for those who really know the ridiculous awesomeness contained in this photo.

So awesome that I even added a frame.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Schism of 2007

Well, it's been two weeks since this post. Most of you know the scoop already. For those who were still in the dark, this post is for you.

Cruise and Kidman
Bananas and Ice Cream
Ma Bell
This Movie

If you still don't know what happened, then you're probably in worse shape than me and don't need to hear anything sad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wet Seal Update

I would be lying if I said that I'm not sitting on pins and needles right now regarding Wet Seal (WTSLA). I think what comes out of the company over the next two days will be significant. Tomorrow, the company announces its earnings, and the following day, they are hosting an Analyst and Investor's Day event.

A few weeks ago, the company said that they expected to lose 4-5 cents in the quarter (2-3 cents if you exclude one-time items). I hope to hear positive things come out of the new CEO regarding their inventory and their view of the holiday shopping season that is now upon us. It will also be nice to see what they have to say about their Arden B stores that are struggling even more than the Wet Seal stores. Maybe he will be able to instill some semblance of confidence in the minds of those that judge him and his management team.

And, it is not all that comforting to know that the shorts have upped their bets against the company. Here are the latest short interest figures from September up to now.

November Mid Month 2007 --- 8,777,091 / +12.85%
October End Month 2007 --- 7,777,405 / -1.64%
October Mid Month 2007 --- 7,906,827 / +0.32%
September End Month 2007 --- 7,881,500 / +2.05%
September Mid Month 2007 --- 7,723,125 / -5.29%

Average volume as of late is around 1.6MM shares, so we're looking at around a 5.5 short ratio.

On a positive note, however, Brean Murray came out with a research note today reiterating their Buy rating on shares. Their covering analyst believes that earnings should come in stronger than what others expect, and he gives the shares target of $4.50. When I ran my own numbers, I figured that $4 would be a rather conservative estimate of fair value. And, I really though loading up at the sub-$3 mark was a good idea. So far, it's been a really bad one.

In any case, there's nothing to be done now... it's simply time to just wait and see how the next two days unfold. It's a damn shame I'm going to be really busy working during the call, but I guess checking the stock price every so often should hopefully give me an idea of how the call is going. Tomorrow could really get bloody for me if the sky really does fall.

Omahahaha... Telemarketers

So, last year I ordered some meat from Omaha Steaks as a gift. Well, the food was fine, but here's why I will never order anything from them ever again. They basically start hounding you with a ton of phone calls. For a while, I couldn't figure out who was calling me from the 402 area code. Then one day I searched, and I learned it was a number from Omaha Steaks.

The telemarketers they hire never leave any voice mail. They definitely wait to get you on the phone, and then they try to sell you stuff. I guess that's how that whole industry works, so it's probably totally standard. Anyway, I finally picked up when they called today, and I told them politely to take me off whatever list it was that I was on. We'll see if they honor that.

Too bad they happened to catch me at a busy time, so I didn't get to try the Telemarketing Counter Script. If anyone does try it, please let me know about your experience. Here it is below... I stole the image below from some page called EGBG.

I am putting an image of it here (click to enlarge).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Quick Update

Sold two-thirds of the First Marblehead (FMD) position at 27.18.

Added 25% to Mattel (MAT) at 20.98.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving was pretty good all things considered... I drove down to L.A. the morning of Thanksgiving Day, and made it down there by 2 in the afternoon. I met my nephew for the first time, and I think he's a real good looking baby. He was pretty chill most of the time, and every once in a while he would have this awesome pose where he looked like the Godfather, Don Corleone. Dinner was good too. I was pretty stuffed, but not so stuffed that I slipped into a food coma.

On Friday, I hung out with Rowr and Tiff. I'd never really met Tiff before... like, we went to the same school and all, but our paths never crossed. It was good to learn that she's got a healthy dose of funny in her (not to mention the alien baby in her). Anyway, the three of us were the comedy troupe for an un-boll weevil-ble night of comedy.

We started off at this ramen place in Gardena. I don't really have ramen noodles that often, but I'd say that this place was really good. It had this long Japanese name that I won't really ever remember, so I'll have to put it on this blog for future reference... Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen Restaurant. It's just good, so if ramen is your thing and you're in that neck of the woods, go get some.

After ramen and Asahi, we headed over to BevMo to get our nighttime drinks. We got a bottle of the Balvenie 12 y.o. Doublewood, some Vodka, and some strongish (~10%) Trappist Ale. And, I also got an early Christmas gift from Rowr... a Macallan gift box (woot!). Once we had all that we needed we dropped by the grocery to get some ice and other food for late night snacking. The three of us were really prepared... we figured that we would drink a bit then head off to some bar.

But, plans changed, and we ended up just staying in and indulging in what we had bought. There might have been some overindulgence, but it wasn't ridiculous or anything. We played a lot of random games including Chinese Poker, Indian Leg Wrestling, and some word games on that World Winner website. In Chinese Poker, Tiff and I both lost money to Rowr, who is apparently a natural at the game. But, I was the victor at the leg wrestling probably due to my size advantage.

We also made several random bets... one of the more interesting ones involved the number of hits Google would return when "Lobsters and Indians" was the search string. I set the over/under line at 315, and they both took the over. We were all surprised to learn that searching for that exact phrase resulted in ZERO hits. And, now we have an outstanding bet on how long it will be before Google picks up a page that Tiff created which contains that string.

Oh, and if you are not sober and want to watch something hilarious(?), check out Penelope: Princess of Pets. I am pretty sure that it's only really funny when you're a bit inebriated. It's pretty random, so don't say I didn't warn you.

The next day was kind of brutal... the hangover was not so fun. The three of us went and got some Korean food, and I tried the ice cold noodle dish for the first time. It was alright, but I think I'd enjoy it a ton more had I not been hungover and it was summer. After that, the three of us pretty much parted ways, and I went to hang out with my sister and Duke mostly playing Guitar Hero and DDR. Even after some practice, I can say with confidence that I still suck royally at both games.

Finally on Sunday, my sister, Duke, and I met up with one of my good friends from high school, Cam Man. We got some pho noodles over at Pho Thanh Lich in Little Saigon. Delicious. This was followed with drinks over at The District Lounge over in Newport Beach. After that, we grabbed some appetizers and another round over at the Yard House nearby.

And, that's pretty much it. I wish I had more time... there were more people I wanted to see, but that's almost always the case. It was a good weekend nonetheless.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Arachnid Feeding Time

Just got back from picking up crickets at the pet store. I put one of the crickets into the little traveler terrarium, and Morgan (the spider... ya, I named him after the actor Morgan Freeman) immediately goes on the attack. First, paralyzing the cricket, and then picking it up and now doing whatever it is that he's doing during the eating process.

Here are a couple of pictures of Morgan with the cricket in the fangs.

Guitar Loser

So, there I was... at my sister's place playing some Guitar Hero for the first time ever. And, well, I sucked so badly. On the Easy setting, only three of the fret buttons are used. This makes for much easier patterns. Despite this simplified setting, I managed to only hit 80% of the notes the first time through. The song sounded horrible, as you could hear my mess-ups all over the place.

I tried a few songs at the Medium setting, where four of the five fret buttons are in play, and let me just say that I am a Guitar Loser. A true hero doesn't get booed off the stage before the song is even done playing. I'll have to try playing it a few more times to see if I can at least get past a Medium level song.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Along Came A Spider

Last night, I caught another large wolf spider. I found it walking around in my garage. At first, I thought it was bigger than the one I had caught previously, but now that I get a much better look at it, I no longer think that's true. Anyway, I went and got a cheap plastic terrarium for it today on my lunch break. I set it up tonight with some soil and bark and a cap off of a juice container for water.

I'll take pictures of it at some point with some frame of reference so that you can tell its size. Oh ya, I fed it a cricket already, and it pretty much ate it. Pretty cool. I guess I get a second chance at keeping a wolf spider as a pet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Desperately Seeking Nepenthe

I sought her in the form of Vegas, and it was nice. I did have a good time in Vegas, all things considered. I played a good amount of $1/2 blinds, No Limit poker, which I more or less sucked at. The game is so very different than limit, and I managed to walk away from two lengthy sessions losing only $16.

I lost with top set of flopped queens again... and I basically lost my entire stack when a flush rivered. The sad part was that I had bet quite large on the turn, and I was forced to make a crying all-in call with the pot laying me almost 10 to 1. In poker, as in life, you don't always win.

There was a fair amount of drinking on Friday night, and some random -EV gambling where I lost a small amount. However, Patron shots were $13 at the bar, but I managed to get quite a few of them at the craps table, so it was probably a lot closer to a wash.

In what form will Nepenthe take next time? I don't know, but I really need to find her.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Cookie Crumbles -- World of Hurt

Well, I'm in a world of hurt right now (nothing related to finance). Some of you know what's up, others can speculate, and frankly, I don't even know why I'm writing this. I guess this is some sort of release... I really don't know. I am reminded of those Southwest commercials that say... "Wanna Get Away?" And, I really do want to get away, but it's not like it's gonna dull the pain or anything.

I might head to Vegas this weekend. I'm not sure yet, but I need to get away for a couple of days. If I don't do Vegas, maybe I'll just head to Tahoe. I don't know any more... my life simply got turned upside down.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Three Sets: A Tale of Sorrow

Well, just when I thought I was in the clear and ready to resume my poker uptrend, I got hurt. Dropped my session limit of 50 bets tonight, which pretty much sucked. But, what really kills me is flopping exactly 3 sets, and losing with all of them in fairly brutal fashion. Of course there were other beats, and a few hands where I actually won decent pots, but the trio of losing sets takes the cake.

Set #1
A good player raises and there are 3 cold callers, I 3-bet with QQ, the small blind calls all the bets cold, and the raiser now caps it up. We see the beautiful rainbow flop of Q73 six handed. The raiser bets out, and there is one caller. Now, here's probably where I made a mistake. I pretty much don't slow play anything, but I took a chance on this really safe looking flop. I smooth call with my top set here. And, the small blind calls closing the action.

The turn brings a J, putting two clubs on the board. The raiser bets, the caller calls, and I pop it. The small blind thinks a bit and calls 2 bets cold. The raiser now 3-bets, and the caller puts in two more bets. I cap it up with the current nut hand. Small blind also calls. The pot is just huge now.

The river brings an offsuit K, and the small blind bets out. The initial raiser guy calls, the other caller folds, and I make the crying call... T9 is about the only hand I could think of, and sure enough, the guy that called 3-bets cold pre-flop tables T9 offsuit to scoop the largest pot of the night.

Set #2
I raise a couple of limpers with AA, and an aggressive player 3-bets right after me. Some old guy calls 3-bets cold, and others follow his lead. I cap it up, and we see the flop 6 ways again. The flop comes As Ks 4x. I lead and get 3 callers. The turn brings another spade... I can't really check this, so I bet out. The aggressive guy calls, and then the old guy raises. The others fold, and I call. Aggro guy folds. The river doesn't pair the board, and I'm shown Q6s for the nut flush. I guess this one wasn't that brutal, but it's just a bit nutty with Q6s calling 3 bets cold.

Set #3
A prop player raises his button after a couple limpers. I'm sitting in the BB with 33. I go ahead and call. The flop is nice... K 5 3 with 2 hearts. I check-raise the prop, the others fold, and he calls. The turn brings a T of hearts. I bet, and the prop pumps it up. I only call here... if he's got the flush or the bigger set, so be it. The river brings a small heart, and I check and make the crying call. I suppose I could fold here, but it's only one more bet for some peace of mind. He shows AK with the Ace of hearts for the winner. Pretty demoralizing.

Now, you've got a pretty good idea of how my night went. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Finally, a bounce... and Wet Seal

Market finally put in a big up day today... I needed it. It's been a painful couple weeks. I'm still sitting far below my peak, but I don't mind it so much if my portfolio is gyrating along with the market. Okay... onto Wet Seal, is it a steal?

A fair number of you know that I recently picked up a large (very large by my standards) position in Wet Seal (WTSLA). I had a much smaller trading position, which I added to heavily. I'm currently underwater by a fair bit... my cost basis sits just below $3. I don't understand how the shares can be trading below $3, let alone in the 2.30's. Unfortunately, I can't add any more, as I am tapped out, and I still want to get more Mattel (MAT) at some point. But, property taxes (ah, the joy of home ownership) have another thing in mind for my money.

Anyway, the company sits on roughly $1 in cash and bonds, and it is not in any real danger of bankruptcy at this point... not in my view anyway. It sure does seem to be trading as if it is going to crash and burn. The company also recently brought back Edmond Thomas as the CEO. He was the President and COO of Wet Seal back in the 1990's. Maybe he is able to bring about change. Even without him, I think the price is more than right on WTSLA shares.

I know this isn't the best time for retail, but I will stick with my guns and keep the money where my mouth is. I suppose there's a chance that the company could get scooped up at these prices, which given my position, wouldn't be all that unwelcome. Anyway, just wanted to let that out. I guess we'll see if my move was astute or foolish some time next year.

I'm rambling now... I better stop. But, before I end this, I guess I should also mention that I've been a bit negligent in reporting on one of my trading positions. I sold Compucredit (CCRT) in the low 20's for a sizeable loss. Looking at the shares now, I suppose I did the right thing to get the hell out of Dodge.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Quick Poker Update and a Couple Hands

Well, I've been playing a lot of cards lately... and, I'm happy to report that I'm more or less back on the winning track again. 7 wins in the last 8 sessions. Last night was one of the better wins (> 50 bets, woohoo!). The tables are still great over at Garden City, and one of the recent sessions I hit up my old room, Bay 101.

One last thing to mention. The Chicken Marsala at GC is really quite good. I'm definitely up for some more of that the next time I play. Their Spaghetti Bolognese isn't so bad either.

Here are a couple of interesting (?) hands from last night.

The first one is where I paid off like a slot machine... so, I have black KK, and I 3-bet a guy that raised a few limpers pre-flop. BB calls 2 bets cold, and everyone else calls. Flop comes 3 low clubs... how did I know that I was drawing razor thin to a running boat? I was up against a flopped flush and a guy holding AQ with the big club. 4 bets on the flop, a bet on the turn, and I make the crying call on the river unimproved. I suppose I could have saved a bet there, but what can I say... I'm a loose slot [insert Beavis and Butthead joke here].

The other one was just really odd, and I never felt good about my hand really. So, there's this super-aggro guy that raises a ton of stuff pre-flop... borderline maniac. Anyway, everyone folds to him in MP, and he raises. I 3-bet him with AQs, and the button calls 3 bets cold. BB calls 2 bets, and super-aggro caps it up. We all call, and see a flop QT7 with 2 diamonds and a spade.

BB is a thinker. He plays pretty well from what I could tell, and he hasn't gotten that much out of line. Sure he takes the occasional shot at a pot, but what good player doesn't? Anyway, he bets out and super-aggro raises. I 3-bet my TPTK, and the button calls 3 bets cold again. What in the heck? BB now thinks a bit and he's obviously pained to be facing a 3-bet. He lays his hand down, and now super-aggro caps it up. We both call.

The turn is a harmless offsuit 4. Super-aggro bets, and I call. The button calls. The river is another brick... an offsuit deuce. Aggro guy now checks, and I'm thinking I've got a good chance to be good now, but I really have no idea what the button has here. I don't push my luck, and check. The button bets, and my stomach drops just a little bit. Ugh, nothing I can do but pay this guy off. Anyway, the aggro guy claims he missed a big draw and folds. I make the automatic call, not really expecting to win.

Lucky for me, the guy's post-flop skills need some work. He tables JJ and is somewhat surprised that his hand isn't good, and I scoop. Yay!