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!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Quick Update

I sold off Student Loan (STU), a long-time holding, today at 156.27. I will find a better place for those funds. The Citi mess doesn't really help anything. What's done is now done, and I can't really complain, as the stock has done reasonably well for me despite the liquidation good ways below its high.

I'd like to possibly add more to Mattel (MAT), but if I do so, I'll wait for today's Barron's blip to pass.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Baby Creation

So, there's a pretty fun Baby Creator application on the website promoting that Knocked Up movie that came out a few months ago.

Here's the baby face that they formed from my face and QB's.

And, here's the product of Elisha Cuthbert and me.

Both are pretty cute kids, but Elisha's baby looks a bit mean. So, I guess if push came to shove, I'd have to turn Elisha down and go with QB.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Spookless Night

Halloween is one of my favorite nights of the year. But, this year it really sucked. Because of all that happened recently at my place, and all the energy I expended to deal with it, I wasn't in the mood to get a costume, let alone make one. I figured at the very least I could enjoy the evening at the house and pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Well, that didn't work out so well. I got zero trick-or-treaters last night. I was so bummed. I guess living in a slightly more isolated cul-de-sac has its disadvantages when it is (foot) traffic that you desire. Anyway, I guess there's always next year.