Haven't posted in awhile...

...thought I would chime in with a couple of thoughts. Despite thoughts to the contrary I think the market is acting scared right now, it may be appropriately fragile but I am unsure. I think solid value investing of solid straight forward companies with large cash savings are the way to go. ABB and PM come to mind. VTI has almost recovered my Roth completely and I think proven that is the "safest" place for money, so props to Bogleheads.

As for me, I am still unemployed. Manufacturing in KC is down, and engineering jobs are then. I don't plan on moving and I don't see a turnaround here coming soon. Thus, I am working towards opening my own bike store, hopefully can put something together by February. In other words, when times are tough, I am going to invest in myself.

Good luck out there, more to come when I feel like it. Happy holidays...


From Sinfest...

Great little comic called Sinfest can open your eyes at time...


Beware the 4th quarter...

I have been around some cable TV as of late (not mine), and have been noticing everyone saying that they should be prepared for the sky to fall. While I do think that some pullback is inevitable soon, I don't know if it will be drastic.

What I do suggest you look out for is fourth quarter earnings which in the coming months will be reported for a great deal of business. Despite what you believe about how truthful the first three quarterly reports are, I will tell you that typically the fourth quarter is as legit as it will get. This is due to companies having to report the official earnings to the government. They scrutize themselves thoroughly at this time and you will often find that major adjustments to the other quarters. I've seen GM and Goldman Sach's do this just this past year.

If you are a long term investor, often times you will follow stocks over a longer period. Notice the companies that do and do not have major adjustments after each report. Those that do not swing numbers around wildly likely chance of having both a straight forward business structure and more importantly honest business practices. I can think of a few examples, Trane before it was acquired by Ingersoll-Rand and while it was under American Standard's portfolio was extremely well honest with its practices, and has Baldor over the past 4 years or so (that I have seen).

So be careful and keep a watchful eye on your stocks, the fourth quarter is coming...



Maybe you shouldn't speak up about the government or speak at all or move to California.

Healthcare Question:

Do you feel like the govenment is tackling the second greatest issue with healthcare instead of the first? Am I the only one that thinks that tort reform would be the single greatest affect on the healthcare system? Don't you think if we could streamline and better manage health related court costs, then insurance, doctor's well being, patient care, and overall outrageous costs associated with the system could be eliminated. Seems to me we are saying that is too hard, and instead let's give healthcare for all, creating a massive government insurance company that will then find the need to push tort reform.

Whereas, tort reform could be pushed first and thus private insurance could be reachable for all. If not private insurance then at least paying for the procedures would be in a more realistic price range and then government insurance plans would become more economical for the nation.

Why am I seeing it this way?


What's Happening With MJ

MJ's been kind of "hush hush" about his job situation. But, that's only online. He has no problem sharing his stories with his friends and colleagues in person, especially when he's out partying. So to keep everyone updated to his situation, I videotaped his last night out with his friends before he went on vacation.


New Healthcare Bill...

I am still out traveling the Rockies, but I think healthcare reform is important and will end up affecting us all.

So before everyone makes an opinion about some heresay on this or that try checking out PolitiFact.com website. It is a sight that is supposed to be non-partisan and show the real truth to rumors making the rounds.

Click here to check out the healthcare section of Politifact.


Hitting the road for awhile...

...I am going on the road for a couple of weeks. If anyone is interested in following my travels click here.

Have a good couple of weeks. Below is a picture of where I am headed. (Hint: It rhymes with lacier ational ark)



Now Monday is really going to suck.


Where I want the whole bike shop thing to go...

Sometimes people who get their bike repaired by me or stop by to look at parts wonder where I would like to go with this, really I am not sure but every once in a while I get a little bit of a dream going. One of my favorite cycling blogs Copenhagenize visited a place in London that is similar to what I would like to do here in Mission.

Take a look here. Mission is one of the areas in the city that could easily become a more mobile bike community. Everything from restaurants to grocery stores to hardware stores are less than a mile a way from a large residential and rental areas. It just seems like it would be a prime place for something such as this. Maybe I will step forward, don't know yet, it is nice to dream about it.


A particularly bad habit of mine: Article of the week

Swearing, unfortunately I do it often. I have sweared in the most inappropriate of times, in front of my parents, in front of children, churches, etc. I am not proud of it, but man is it easier to get your frustration out. Now science (or is it just psychology) has proven me right. Read on:

Swearing Makes Pain More Tolerable



Hammer Time


Busy at Home

So a few ads on craigslist and a website later and I am making some pocket money. I am busy, so busy in fact that I haven't posted anything here. It is hard for me to give financial advice when I myself don't really have the money to invest. Not that I don't have money (Thank you Missouri and craigslist), I just don't have anything extra. Nothing is tapped out or in despair, but nothing is gaining so to speak.

If I had money, I would be watching ABB. If the the green boom is really going to occur this company is going to make lots of money. They make electic motors, PLC controls, robots, and most importantly transmission lines. If the US is going to go green, the power grid (ie transmission lines) is going to be overhauled. ABB has some promising technology that will likely make it happen. Last time I looked the stock was around $15 but I think it will go a little lower again. Long term, it looks fabulous.

If this whole bike thing continues at a steady pace and the current economic situation remains dire, I may make a bike store here in KC. I just don't know, maybe I am just cheap labor and have basically no overhead. But I have been pulling a small but decent amount of cash from the work, so if that was added with sales it may be okay, I just don't know.

Anyway, all is well. Sorry to all that have followed wondering what is going on, inspiration and time just isn't here right now. I will continue to post but it just may be in spurts for forseen future.

Appropriate for BBQ town USA


9 Days of Green: Borrow, Share, and Be Neighborly

The hardest concept for new America to grasp I think is the idea that we don't need everything. I have to fight it myself a lot. It comes from my mother, she is somewhat of an artist, but she is even better at preparing to be an artist. Whenever she starts a new project she becomes a collector of all the stuff needed to make that project happen. She was into making her own soap for a while, but I think she collected enough forms, molds, and equipment to give Dial a run for there money. When she was younger, she had all of the supplies to be a great painter, tool leather, and die shirts. For me, I gathered every tool I ever need to fix bikes, string lacrosse sticks, and work wood. Reality is that not everyone of us is Norm Abrams and we don't need everything for everything. Know what you like and then be able to share and borrow with others.

For instance, snow blowers are not a necessity here in KC but can be real nice to have every 3 years or so. So if you have one great, but don't be afraid to let someone borrow it or if you are that afraid of someone hurting themselves then do it yourself. I borrowed my neighbor's non-working mini-tiller for a week while I redid my side yard, I fixed it and returned it in better order than it came to me in.

Both of these examples are good to point out how it is good to be neighborly as well. Sure you may not get along with everyone and that is fine, but you would be amazed at how cool it is to find out about the people around you, share desserts and vegetables from gardens. Call it living the Golden Rule or just call it being nice, it can save you a lot of money and increase your self worth significantly. So share what you have, borrow what you can, and always be nice to your neighbors.

Here's a clip of my neighbor recorded yesterday:

Yes, this is actually what my neighbor sounds like. The "two chicks at the same time" guy is his name in our household.


Looking to Save Money

MJ has been working hard with his new business, so he hasn't really had the time to focus on ways to save more money and share with us. But luckily, his girlfriend has been working on finding ways to reduce household costs with her friends, and has unveiled her own stimulus plan.

Nation's Girlfriends Unveil New Economic Plan: 'Let's Move In Together'

However, I'm not too sure that MJ is fully behind her plan.


Slacking pretty bad...

Will have some updates this weekend. Sorry, sorry, sorry, it's been a busy week.


9 Days of Green: Repair & Maintain

"They don't make them like they used to."

How many times have you heard this phrase, let along said it. I tend to think a lot of my green ideas are abstract and this one is no different. If something is broke fix it.

This opinion was developed over my time as a manufacturing engineer and as a amateur bicycle mechanic. Repair stuff that is broken and maintain what is not. You want some of your home bills to stay down, maintain you HVAC system. Old or new these systems run more efficiently with clean filters, fans, and sensors. Have an old car that runs well, try adding synthetic motor oil with the next oil change, you may be surprised what your gas mileage is afterward. Bicycles can run and run as long as they are cleaned every year. Heck your home has probably needed an update here or there, did you throw your home away or did you get that new roof, added insulation, or paved driveway.

It is really simple and probably an afterthought that we need to repair things when they break down. I know that after moving into this house my washing machine and garage door opener failed on me. Myself or my girlfriend was ready to purchase something new, thankfully we didn't because a couple of trips to the parts center and some elbow grease later, we had everything up and working. By keeping what we have running, working, and used, it is one less thing to throw away fill up a landfill, or use energy to melt down, not to mention all of the resources and energy to produce a new product.

Electronics are probably my most hated product in terms of maintenance and repair. Most electronics are not very repairable, can require a significant understanding of circuits, can become obsolete rather quickly, and may have the worst warranties in the business. I wouldn't know what to tell you to do with them other than use them as long as you can before your needs change or the machine dies. I know a lot of people know how to repair old radio tuners and kitchen electronics, but the ratio of those compared to the number of tossed equipment definitely isn't favorable.

When faced with the dreaded repair versus buy new arguments, think of it this way. First, what will the life of my product be if I do this repair? Second, what will be the total cost of purchasing and using the new equipment? Then, compare the results. My dad kept cars way past their prime, his reasoning was sure this repair costs a lot but it is cheaper than car payment. I always thought that was a good argument. Realize too that simply maintaining equipment constantly will keep things running longer than you would ever think is really possible. Whether it is a repair or simple maintenance, continued usage of your old stuff can keep numerous other materials and resources safe from harming the environment.


9 Days of Green Extended to June 7th

Well I have missed a few days here in the 9 Days of Green so I am going to extend it through June 7th, because I have had a busy week of bike selling, bike repairing, GF B-Day, and today I had a long interview (yay). So I will still have the 9 Days of Green (meaning 9 blog posts - 2 down, 7 to go), but just spread it out over the next two weeks to get things done.

So post in the comments over at Grant's Corner Office Blog and/or here until June 7th and win some some swag.

The Management


9 Days of Green: Simplify

(Day 2 of the ReJAVAnate Bag contest, comment to enter. Don't forget to visit Grant at the Corner Office Blog as well and enjoy your weekend!)

"Simplify, Simplify, Simplify"

It was my mantra a year ago after we had moved into our new home. All of our belongings fit in a 10' deep x 10' tall x 20' wide storage room and yet when we brought everything to the new house we filled the entire house up. It was baffling but we had too much for there to be a spot for everything. So my GF and I did what we have always said that we would eventually do, "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify." Out went what we didn't need, out went what we had too many of, out went the clothes that didn't fit, out went the TV's we didn't need, out went a lot of things. Mind you that these were not trashed but garage sale'd and eventually donated to the thrift stores.

The point though was that we wanted to not have what we really didn't need. You know simplify. For years we collected items for 'that house we would get' and just stored those items away, only to realize that we had way more than what we ever needed.

So, what do we really need in life? When you think about it all we really need is food (and the stuff to prepare and eat it) and a roof over our head (and the stuff to support that). Maybe that is way oversimplifying the idea, but it is a good place to start.

I think it is common in Americana to dream about the stuff you always want when you are young: favorite car or truck, the perfect home theatre, the ultimate bed, the pottery barn living room, the perfect house, etc. Then when we finally find a job and begin earning real money, we try to buy all of those things, which is great for a while. Then you have a child or you just grow up a little and realize, "Hey, it's great that I finally made my 4X4 truck that I dreamed about, but I never drive it, and we really could use a family vehicle." There just isn't anything that is really that important.

My brother who spent years not making much finally completed is training and began making real money, bought a lot of stuff he thought he really wanted. Today, most of it sits unwatched, unused, and gathering dust. He constantly talks about that what he thought mattered just doesn't. He now lives a fairly bohemian life with his family and he truly believes that the only things that are actually important are his family and getting to travel.

After we made the choice to simplify, I can tell you that it is both uplifting and annoying at times. Uplifting because everything has a place, clutter is more easily eliminated, and costs go down because less is bought, maintained, and used. Annoying because you will constantly ask yourself if you really need something and while that is extremely helpful, it can get old. It is almost like religion, when you violate the lifestyle, that guilty pleasure can turn into just plain guilt.

All that being said, no one simplifies completely but utilizing it as a mantra will no doubt save you money and skip that regret that we all get from poor purchasing decisions. It helps too when it is time to make big home decisions like thinking that you need a bigger home when maybe you have too much stuff or when it is time to clear out the garage. It's a big step but I am telling you it can be a freeing feeling when you finally decide to simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pictures of the Prize

I wanted to add some pictures of what you are working for:

(Click on the pictures for high resolution)

I also wanted to add some more information about the Arc Organization whom sponsors the makers of this bag, from their website:

"The Arc is the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals and includes over 140,000 members affiliated through more than 780 state and local chapters across the nation. The Arc is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Local chapters of The Arc come in every shape, form and size – from small voluntary groups to large and sophisticated multi-million dollar organizations. To maintain a strong and cohesive movement, The Arc’s network of chapters share a common thread – our core values. We invite you to get to know The Arc by meeting a chapter near you (click here for our chapter locater)

The Arc’s vision is that every individual and family affected by intellectual disability in the United States has access to the information, advocacy, and skills they need to participate as active citizens of our democracy and active members of their community. We work to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the supports they need to live an ordinary, decent American life:

* People with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families are valued, respected and included in all communities.
* People with intellectual and developmental disabilities direct their own lives. People choose their services and supports from many available sources.
* People are empowered through nonprofit advocacy. State and federal governments administer programs and set budgets that meet everyone’s needs.

The Arc is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors."


9 Days of Green: Reuse 2.0

(Day one of the ReJAVAnate Bag contest, first topic is a new old one of mine here at Dyslexic Research, Reuse. Comment to enter. Everyone but Grant and myself are eligible.)

While waiting in Manila for a flight to Dumaguete, I flipped through a current Dwell Magazine. This issue was about the popular topic of green building / sustainability and one article in particular sparked my thoughts about what is the most green thing one can do with building or buying anything. The article was about someone’s modern expansion and makeover of a home with new green, recycled, processed, and organic materials and its design process. It’s a very beautiful home but I can’t help think about all of the energy used to make these new recycled panels, parts, and materials, not to mention of the fuel needed to power the equipment used to build the house. Sure they utilized biodiesel fueled trucks, processed hay, denim insulation, special insulating windows, solar panels, and low-VOC paint but what if first they took a trip down to the local recycled materials store (KC Restore, etc) first for windows, doors, sinks, wood, flooring, and tubs.

Reusing what isn’t “new” is the best way to keep trash out of dumps and not use time, money, and energy to produce a product. This obsession with “new” is what is truly wrong with the American lifestyle. We all are obsessed with “new”, you suffer from it, and I suffer from it. If we all just stopped at the thrift store first for some clothes, not all, but some, it would reduce some of that time, money, and energy needed to produce new clothes. Just being satisfied with the furniture we have or with the current layout of our kitchen, should be considered just as green, if not more so than some LEED’s certified property built from the ground up. Okay truly if we have to build something new, then using and investing in these new recyclable or more sustainable materials is great and needed, but not reusing older, perfectly fine materials and goods is just reckless, snobby, and wasteful.

Go back just 100 to 200 years ago to America and farmers would use as much wood as they could from the old barn to build the new barn, the old bath tub in the old house would get transferred over the to the new house, the old sink was the new sink, and on and on. The products were typically more robust then, usually made to last a little better than our current throw away society.
Somewhere in Americana, we all started to want “new” and more “new”, and in order to afford the variety of more “new”, we needed cheaper and cheaper stuff. First came the old Sears and Roebucks and then came out Wal-Marts, providing us with all of the crap we wanted as cheap as it can get. At one time the little closets in the old houses Americans owned fit all of the clothes that a person held, all of them. Now we need so much stuff that huge closets and rooms are needed to pack all that crap in. More stuff, more crap, more space, and it all has to be “new”, that is the problem (somewhere I hope George Carlin is smiling). Enjoying what we have, or reusing someone else’s perfectly good stuff, is the best, most green solution. Magazines may never write about it, media may never promote it, but there really is just no better thing to help the green movement than to reuse.


ReJAVAnate Bag Contest!!!

With my massive Internet influence that span tens and tens of people, I have been able to finagle some free stuff for the viewers of not only this blog but those of The Corner Office Blog run by my old college bud Grant. So what is the prize? Two super nice ReJAVAnate grocery bags are up for grabs. Yup, I gracefully asked ReJAVAnate to donate a couple of bags for me to review and then offer up to the commenting public. I can't believe it either. (Quick note: Actual pictures of bags to come tomorrow)

From this Saturday the 23rd of May to Sunday the 31st of May I am going to run 9 Days of Dyslexic Research's Guide to Green. I missed Earth Day, sure but I plan on 9 days of topics that should help inform the everyday person of real, green ways to live your life, with no hype. Believe me these will not only be green ideas but also ways to save you money. With day 9 devoted to my final informed review on the ReJAVAnate bags. The Corner Office Blog will do whatever Grant wants to do.

So to enter the contest simply comment here at Dyslexic Research or over at The Corner Office Blog between May 23 to 31. You get one entry per blog post per day either here or there. So a commenter that commented 8 times on my post one day would get only one entry, but if that commenter posted 8 comments on eight different posts he/she would get 8 entries. Or if they posted a comment on each of our blogs on the same day they would receive 2 entries that day. It will probably take a couple of days after the 31st, but I will put all of the comment entries together and pick a winner the following week.

So how nice are the bags? Well ReJAVAnate sent me two of there Large Grower Bags that are lined with recycled canvas for extra sturdiness, an $18 value. I should add that these bags were sent to me in an old phone box to 'shamelessly' reuse packaging (hey that's their own words). These bags are roughly 15" wide by 15" tall and look to hold at least two gallons of milk per bag with room to spare for a lot more tasty groceries. If books were your thing, between the two of them I think you could clear a shelf of paperbacks. Stitching looks to be top notch, especially when you compare this to one of those $.99 bags from the store. Unlike those flimsy bags made in China of polypropylene, these bags are made to last. So far they incorporate everything green thing that I believe in: quality product, long-lasting looks, reused materials, and a good cause. Not bad.

Also cool is the grower's logo on the burlap of each bag. So cool in fact that guys can carry these things around and not feel like a tool with some flowered or pastel thing slung over your shoulder. No, these bags look like souvenirs from your trip to Columbia after helping farmers carry coffee beans over the mountain cliffs avoiding various jungle guerrillas or whatever. In reality your helping both workers with disabilities have real work with real value and recycle burlap and canvas keeping these materials out of landfills. Still pretty cool.

So tune in here or over at Grant's blog and comment and enter to win!

More Info on ReJAVAnate (from their website):

"ReJAVAnate - making a difference one bag at a time! This is a great story.
These bags address three important issues:
1). They reduce a significant
source of landfill waste - burlap from coffee
2). They provide jobs to those
that often have difficulty finding jobs - The

3). They provide a good way to reduce our paper and plastic bag

The ReJAVAnate story is one of the most compelling sustainability stories
you will find - our material, who makes the bags, where they are made and that
the bags are completely biodegradable. Much better than the usual reusable bags
made from nonwoven polypropylene in China!

Did you know:
- Coffee is the second largest commodity in the world
- 800,000 tons of burlap are put into landfills every year
- The ARC
helps 140,000 people find housing and employment
- US consumes over 380
billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps
- 14 million trees were cut to produce
10 billion paper bags for grocery stores in the US"


This Week: Making Something Out of Nothing

This week I learned a lot about type of people here in Kansas City, and I have nothing but good thoughts for this town.

This week my time was spent fixing bicycles, truing wheels, and cleaning parts. There was big, free bike swap meet in KC today and I worked my butt off this week getting ready. It was quite the ordeal, but I am committed to making my life more simple and if I can get this stuff all sold, I will be that much closer. I guess I need to share, if you hadn't guessed already that a great love in my life is riding bikes. When I was in high school on through college, I think I had 2 mountain bikes, a road bike, 3 BMX bikes, a unicycle, and 5-6 huge Rubbermaid bins of bike parts. Well in the past 5 years I have sold all of that stuff down and am down to 2 bins of parts and 3 bikes, 2 of which I am trying to sell right now. So this week was pushing to get more and more of that sold off, and so far, so good.

This week I was amazed by how powerful Craigslist has become. I predict Ebay is going to fall out, if you have your money in there stock, pull it out ASAP. After preparing all of this bike stuff for Saturday's swap meet, Thursday night I posted my four ads on Craigslist late that night and by 6AM the next morning, I had an inbox full of potential customers. Craigslist is the new king for me. Another story to share about Craigslist is that you can post your resume there anonymously, which I did weeks ago, and (other than the random weird emails) someone shot me a lead for a job here in KC that isn't posted anywhere. No idea why or who, or if it will check out, but it was a solid lead. He said he was just helping out a fellow machinist, kind of cool.

This week I felt the great sense of community at the swap meet. I have never been around a bike group at large that wasn't snobby, uptight, and think that they are faster than you. Traditionally bicycling is a deeply personal sport. How many miles I did, what my bike is, how fast I am, etc. Lots of non-team sport kids that grew up. However, I am amazed to say I saw just the opposite. Lots of friendly people, that just love to ride, like to shop talk, and work on bikes. Bicycle community is definitely the best way to describe it, I really felt like I met 20 new friends this weekend. This has to be what it feels like to be a Star Trek fan for a long time and then to finally go to a Trek convention.

This week I have decided to start a small no cost business. Can you guess it? Bike repair out of my home, it will be kind of a litmus test to see if it is an avenue I would like to pursue for a real business. This swap meet probably put together a small list of clients for me to start with and I can see how it goes. If it feels right and like something I can actually make money with, I might step forward with something more bold. Either way it will feel like I am progressing again, it will be fun to make something out of nothing.

Yup this week was pretty fun. And next week, Dyslexic Research will have a contest!!! Details coming soon...

Where in the World is MJ?

If any of you frequent readers of Dyslexic Research have been wondering what MJ has been doing with all of his time off lately, here's a video of him describing his recent freedom from work in front of an audience of his closest friends. (No, that's not David Spade)


The Quick Guide to Unemployment

Having helped a couple of neighbors now with the unemployment process, I thought I would put together a quick reference for those getting ready to start filing for unemployment. All three of us have had the unfortunate luck of living in Kansas and working in Missouri. Most of you don't know that Kansas has a straight forward well laid out unemployment system, that also has a higher payout limit than Missouri per week, so when you realize you are dealing with Missouri a big "son-of-a" will enter your mind. It is not the greatest realization. Enough about our story, so without further delay:
  • The state you work in, is the state you file in. No, it is not the state that you live in that pays unemployment, it is where you work. Your old HR department can get this wrong as my two neighbors' were told that they would be filing in Kansas.
  • To receive unemployment, you must qualify. The biggest qualification is either being fired or laid off. Each state may have a minimum amount of days worked and some other qualifications.
  • This brings up a point, if you are worried about your job in this economic environment, don't quit, unless you have another job lined up. Also try not to worry either about your job security to the point of stressing yourself out, if you get laid off you may have over 6 months of unemployment you can gather before finding the next job.
  • Fill out forms when you receive them and return them. Yes, most unemployment departments now have most, if not all, of your forms online, but there are a lot of forms, especially in the beginning, that may come through the mail. Fill these out promptly and return them back to the state. Failure to do so, can default your money for the week. This is probably the most important step!
  • Do everything that the state tells you to do, otherwise you will not receive the payout. Missouri asks that you show up every 4 weeks to an unemployment center. I show up, log in on a computer there and go home, it is a seemingly asinine process, but failure to do so defaults the payout until you do it. I understand the point, because those centers have a lot of useful options that can assist you in looking for a new job. Those centers often have real jobs lined up, mock interviews, resume writing help, and more so it can be a useful place if you need it.
  • File every single week, you have to. If you miss a week, it isn't too big of a deal, most let you file for weeks you miss, but know that you will not get paid unless you file. Most will not payout the week you file, but the week after. So if you miss a week, you will receive that payout a week after you do file for it. Obviously you may receive two weeks of payout that following week to make up.
  • Understand your state's rules on severance packages. Kansas wants you to include your severance information on the weekly claim and the state will not payout for that severance week, so you may want to file for unemployment in a state like this near the end of your severance period. Missouri doesn't care about severance, they consider that like bonus money from your past employer, so you could apply if you needed for unemployment right away. In state's like this, I would say it is up to you. I still think that you should begin filing near the end of your severance to maximize the time that you can be unemployed, you may need it, but if you need more money up front to pay off some bills you have the option.
  • How to mark the forms for taking classes or training step by step. Say you want to take a class or two while you are unemployed, please follow these steps so you are not denied payment. Step one always mark the box for did I train or take classes this week. Typically the state will send you an additional form for the first week you do this to know more. Fill the form out honestly with what classes your taking, where, when, etc. Typically these forms will have a spot asking if it affects your ability to work during a normal time period, which it is fine to say yes, but it is brutally important that you mark the next box correctly. If the form asks that you can readjust your class schedule if a job is found, ALWAYS mark this yes. If there isn't a box for this write on the form's note area or attach a sheet saying this. This is the truth, you can quit the class if you need to. Make sure that this form is immediately returned to the state and you should be okay.
  • Start the list of contacted potential employers from the beginning. My neighbor did this, I did not. It took me most of a day one day to put the list together. Forms for making that list can come from the state but you can easily make one yourself. It just needs to have the job, person and company you contacted, their email and/or phone number, and date.
  • Most states have a website with lots of information and a phone number to call. Help is there you just have to look for it.

That's all I have for now. I may edit this some more as I think of other things that I forgot and add something others may comment on.


Friday I Rode My Bike

Friday I rode my bike and rode it and rode and rode for 25 miles. It is the longest I have ridden a bicycle in 8 years and all I can say is that it sure felt like more than that.

It took me three hours on a mountain bike and it led to a lot of internal thinking. This time I thought a lot about how nothing great is acheived unless something great is attempted. I don't ride to earn miles, usually I just pick a destination in the city and just go for it. Well for Friday I picked a park quite a ways away just to see if I could do it. I tried not to think too much about it and just told myself to start out.

Now this isn't a great story or anything and I am certainly not a great cyclist either, but I like to push myself and without work this is the way I know to do this. So that long ride continues to keep me thinking of ways I should push myself. Should I start a business for myself? While I am young, but not too young (30), I definately have had my share of lousy bosses and if not them then it is my boss' boss that I dislike. I really like the thought of getting real money back for something I put time into. There are lots of appealing reasons to open a small business, but is this the economy to take a chance? I know I have the will power to figure this stuff out, but I always wanted to start something at a much more stable point in life. Why should I wait? What is a stable point? These are all good questions, maybe I will get them worked out on the next ride.


What is the best grown-up fun?

It was a friend of mine's 31st birthday on Saturday and his phone kept ringing off the hook. The rest of us started discussing while he was on the phone, what would be the greatest thing that you could be telling someone your doing on your birthday that would actually make them jealous. Some that we came up with:
  1. Blow up bouncy gym with a fully iced keg in the middle?

  2. Rented Monster Truck at the local salvage yard? Wait for it, with dual USA flags in the truck bed.

  3. Baby Alligator filled kiddie pool with $10K in $100 bills?

  4. An old school bus, 500 pumpkins, an open field, and a trebuchet?

  5. Go-Carts on a hockey rink?

  6. Free trips in the General Lee provided by one of the Duke boys? No you don't get to drive, but you do get to shoot the explosive arrows.

  7. Build anything with the members of the A-Team? Cigars included.

  8. Chase down jets in Air Wolf?

Not sure how the last three came up. What would you love to say your doing to someone on the phone for your birthday?


Saving at the Grocery Store

So being that I am on continued "financial lockdown", I thought I would share one place that my GF and I have been particularly good at keeping costs low: the grocery store. We were $120+ spenders at the grocery store every two weeks and we are now averaging constantly in the $70-$85 range. Doesn't seem like too much until I did a little analysis. Also, disclaimer for those in expensive cost of living cities, these are Midwest prices.

First, there are three adult mouths to feed at my house. My GF, her brother, and myself. When we were paying $120 per trip, you have to remember that I was a frequent out to eater (4-6 times a week), the GF was only 1-2 times a week, and her brother 3-4 times a week. So there is a whole set of costs that are now reduced from me eating out once a week max and everyone else continuing their same habits. That being said, with me eating at home more, more food should be consumed and thus more groceries needed, right? Well, yes more food is consumed but it is important to know what I am eating. Basically very little is getting spoiled and not eaten now that I am around. All that being said, the savings is coming from being a better picky shopper.

Enough explanation of my personal situation and let's move on to some tips:
  • Pay attention to what is on sale: This is the number one rule! Look at your store's flier (usually right there when you come in), look online, and plain just look at the tags on the aisle. Coupons that come in your mail obviously can be handy too. Adjust your eating habits to what is on sale for that week. Last week, strawberries were $.99 a pack so we ate a lot of strawberries. The trip before that whole pineapples were a $1.50 so two week of carved pineapple was served at our house. Hy-Vee in Kansas City has been having amazing deals every week in their fliers and then we get coupons from the mail from them that have been ridiculously good, I am going there today to use my 5lbs of potatoes for $.58 coupon and my $.59 loaf of Hy-Vee bread coupon. It's been great, we can get a lot of food for very little, and by giving in to what is on sale we get variety every trip to the store. It prevents that same 'ol' food feeling you can get from eating at home rather than going out. Some stores are transitioning from newspapers to the internet and even email fliers, so sign up.

  • Know what generic products really save you money: Key generic food that can save you lots of dough is cereal and bread for sure. At my store, Hy-Vee, makes great bread of all types and usually something is on sale for cheap every week. Sometimes it is plain old white bread for same price as a candy bar, and other times it can be some butter top wheat or cottage wheat for a buck. Generic cereal (I mean store brand not Malt-o-Meal) can be tricky at times, as some can end up tasting like saw dust, but for the most part generic cereal still tastes pretty good. You have to try some to really see what works, but for me generic apple cinnamon tasty-o's, cinnamon toast squares, and golden honey crisps are pretty delicious. Generic bread and cereal are particularly cheap compared to the full price brand names, often times half the price. Some other generic products may not really save you a lot of money ($.10-$.20 off) and really just name brand stuff on sale is just as cheap so just take note. Other good high-savings cheap generics are ketchup, mustard, chips, oatmeal, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and crackers.

  • Watch the meat prices (Vegans skip ahead): For the meat eaters out there, don't just buy what you like. I get at least a pound of deli meat every trip for sandwiches, and every time I want to buy roast beef, but if it isn't on sale then I won't get it. Look at the sale deli meat, it is again like half the price of the rest of the stuff. Most delis will let you try a slice if you are worried about the taste and buying only what's on sale forces the variety in your diet. As for other meats, I am a snob when it comes what I call the grilling meats, like hamburger meat, steaks, pork chops, chicken quarters, etc. I look for light meats, and yes they are on sale just as much as the fatty stuff, you just have to look. Again be open to what is on sale (notice a trend) and also look at the pre-wrapped stuff away from the butcher's counter, a lot of times there is the same stuff cut the day before for a lot cheaper (30-40%). Don't forget to check the bologna, brats, and hot dog aisles, usually one is on sale for cheap.

  • Pop is expensive: The real deals on pop are $1.20 and less on two liters, and $11 and less for 3 12-packs. You can figure out the math on your own to adjust for price. When these deals come around load up if pop is important to you, otherwise try to avoid it.

  • You don't have to buy all 4 pizzas to get the 4 for $10 deal: Pop, pizza, chips, cookies, condiments, ice cream, among others tend to have deals that are 2 to 5 for some good price. Most grocery stores will still give you that value price even if you only get one item of the deal, so only buy what you need.

  • Buy food not condiments: Okay sometimes you need condiments, but seven types of salad dressing is overkill. Limit your variety of condiments at home so you use things up and open up on your variety of food. For me I like all sorts of barbecue sauce, but if I haven't used one up at home, then I won't try a new one. Food fills you up, not sauce.

  • Conversely stir fry sauces are like gold: Stir fry is delicious and easy to make. Buy a wok, preferable stainless, cook your meat first (any meat), add your vegetables, mix, cook, and then lastly add the stir fry sauce until your stir fry is sufficiently flavored. It doesn't take much sauce at all for everything to taste great. Prepare some noodles or rice on the side (also cheap) and you will be amazed how close this tastes to your favorite Chinese food place. A lot of times I just cook the vegetables and not add any meat. Super healthy and super good. Yes the sauce can be a little pricey at times, but it takes very little to fully flavor what you eat.

  • Quantity and Quality is key: Make sure to look at the weight or amount of stuff that is in the box/bag when comparing prices. For instance chip amounts in bags vary wildly, so be aware of when a bag is cheap but gives you nothing and when a bag is cheap and can feed a football party. When I refer to quality, I am talking calories. For example Miracle Whip is typically cheaper in price and contains something like 30-40% less calories than mayo. Butter vs margarine vs margarine spread also varies wildly in calories, price, and amounts. (Note: don't mess around, if you are making cookies at home, use butter)

That's it, if you have some more good tips please share it in the comments as I am sure I will do a version 2.0 of this article as I figure out more.


On Wednesday...

I rode a bike and walked more miles than I drove. If this rain will stop in KC I will keep trying to do so.


Bike: 12 miles
Walk: 3 miles
Car: 10 miles

I thought that was kind of cool for the day. As Kermit the frog puts it, "It's not easy being green."


Articles of the Week: Baldor Bounces

I still like this company and it's latest earnings may help get my portfolio back on track. It may be a little late to get in at this point but this stock tends to fall until the quarterlies are reported, so you may want to keep an eye on it. If you need a little refresher on the company, here are the plus/minuses:

  • High effeciency, US made motor. The brand that everyone starts with when purchasing new motors.
  • Consistant purchased product no matter what the economy.
  • Metal prices have dropped while motor prices have stayed consistant.
  • Future looks bright as they already make the highest efficiency electric motors and have recieved help with the US gov't to make the next iteration of the product.
  • Begun some China production to support that market. (US production supports the US and Europe).
  • Has consistantly beaten market expectations for at least 2 years.
  • I absolutely think this stock will take off when either the economy turns around and/or real funding is released for green/smart energy occurs.


  • Carry quite a load of debt but doing extremely well at paying it down. This is the biggest risk of the company.
  • Sales have fallen, but not as drastic as most industries.

The Articles:

Baldor Electric Company Announces First Quarter 2009 Results

UPDATE 1-Baldor Q1 profit tops Street; warns of difficult Q2


Funny Feeling...

Okay is anyone else getting a funny feeling about the markets right now. My investments have grown and now stablized for around a week now and it has interest me greatly. Mostly due to the fact that I am extremely sceptic about the market.

It is summer right now, and if consumers are going to buy anything, now is the time. Why do I say that? Traditionally most manufacturing occurs from the March to October time periods due to consumer spending increases. Stuff like lawn mowers, plant seed, bicycles, 2x4's, etc all start selling when the weather gets nice. So even in this bad economy, stuff will sell when the sun comes out. Money starts getting recorded and quarterly reports are reported, investors get jumpy and want back in. Which prices were so low, it wasn't a bad decision to make. A decision that I wish I had an option for.

Here is the thing. Manufacturing is still in the toilet. Every major production facility that I have contacts with are still running on fumes, bairly making anything. Which makes you wonder, why are stock prices going up? I understand a stabilizing in the market and am happy to see it, I just don't know if I believe that the market is truely stable.

My one buying idea is VIG, also known as Vanguard Dividend Acheiver's ETF. Essentially it is an ETF that covers constant dividend acheiving stocks. What is important to note is that it holds barely any banks and is mostly made of good companies that happen to pay a healthy dividend (don't believe me check for yourself here). It is also a Vanguard product so there is little in the way of fees and could potentially be a long term consistant dividend return product (currently ~3%) that could also grow in value over the long term. I am watching this ETF closely as I am looking to switch investing companies so that I can go with a service that does free automatic dividend reinvestment. I haven't decided a price point but will you all know when I do think it is a buy.


Financial Lockdown

Last week I posted about being on "Financial Lockdown" under strict orders of my GF. Now I didn't do anything overly bad and I am not in dire straits that forced this to occur, it is just that I am currently unemployed and any real slip up in the matter of money could prove disastrous down the road if I stayed unemployed. I look at it this way, every $1 I save is a $1 longer I can stay in this house. There are cool blogs out there that are all about proudly saving until it hurts and I have enjoyed them greatly but have never buckled down and done what I could do to save 'til it hurts.

So in reality I am not a big spender, my bills are pretty low, my mortgage is decently priced (although I am trying to get it lower), and I don't really buy much, so what made my GF force me into the lockdown? The answer is eating out. No, not the $10 meals at sit down dinners, but my occasional $6-$7 meals that are a quick pizza or sub that seem to sneak into my diet now and again. In January, while still employed, my eating out roughly equated to 7-8% of my "brought home" income (not gross). That is actually pretty low for me, usually I would eat lunch out 2 to 3 times a week and I would say that it would more typically affect my budget by 10%. 10% isn't bad right? Well wrong, really that is 10% going to only me, and when I have a GF, a future brother-in-law, 2 dogs, and a cat that I typically feed with groceries, it comes out pretty selfish. Not to mention, 'out' food doesn't really keep the whole diet in check. I am also not counting my stops as the local QT for the occasional soda and cupcakes. I can't be trusted when it comes to my stomach, so I get why she did it and why I agreed to it.

After the lockdown, what did I learn about myself? Well eating at home ain't all that bad, never has been in fact. I enjoy cooking and without a job, I find myself grilling, stir-frying, and baking at least a couple of times a week. A college favorite, PB and J's are made when I am ready to snack and I stay out of stores. My killer is soda pop, I go in and out of full on addiction to it. Currently I am on but when the last 2-liter is emptied I will try again to keep away from the Dr. Pepper.

What else? When you are in the savers mentality everything becomes a chance to save. My GF wants to make a garden on the south side of the lawn, that can be a lot of money right? Well, we are probably going to get some limestone rocks from my parents house to border the garden and most of the plants will likely be re-purposed from other spots in the yard. The only spending I see will be some planting soil and maybe a couple of $10 plants. Another example is in my garage, I finally grabbed my bicycles from my parents shed and needed storagefor them in my garage. $3 in hooks and some scrap 2" x 4"s later everything is hanging. Not bad, I think.

Great, what else? I don't shop for anything but groceries really. My GF and I look for things to work on around the house and not things to buy. We hang out with friends at their homes (no one is forced mind you, everyone is worried about excessive spending too) not the bar. We go 'out' to places we have long-not-used gift certificates for if we are feeling the urge, and generally look for free fun.

To me it is really not that bad. I have always wanted a simplified lifestyle, and this was just yet another way of achieving it. In a month, my GF may give me all of my monetary freewill back and I feel as if this lifestyle should continue. We'll see...

From The Makers of Viagra

Kalamazoo study finds Pfizer factory release drug into water supplies.

According to this news release:
In one study, samples taken at two treatment plants down the sewer line from drugmaking factories contained a range of pharmaceuticals -- among them opiates, a barbiturate and a tranquilizer at "much higher detection frequencies and concentrations" than samples taken at other plants, according to preliminary research by the U.S. Geological Survey.

In another study, Environmental Protection Agency researchers tested sewage at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., that serves a major Pfizer Inc. factory. Bruce Merchant, Kalamazoo's public services director, provided data that showed unusually high concentrations of the antibiotic lincomycin entering the plant, a drug the factory was producing around the time samples were collected.
So, now we have a reason for the recent rise in illegitimate children in the State of Michigan. ;-)


Job Search: Interview Articles...

Two great articles showed up on Yahoo the other day for the interview process of a job search. It is well worth your time to read these, it is basically the same advice that I would give:

The Interview That'll Bag a Job

Answering One of the Trickiest Interview Questions


When Green has jumped the shark...

Maybe you have read this and never understood what the term commonly referred to as "jumping the shark" is. This term is commonly referred to something once it has become so popular that it starts to veer off course into something totally absurd. Sometimes it refers to when a fad becomes absurd and ends, and othertimes refer to when something 'sells out'. It literally refers to a Happy Days episode where the Fonz actually jumps a shark on water skis to keep TV viewers interested in the show.

Regardless I have officially read the article over at the Green Wombat that "jumps the shark" on the green movement:

The whole green thing is great and if you are going to be an engineer in the US, become a Electrical or Computer Engineer. Your future will be bright. But really people, why are we investing in this? As of right now when have you known anything can transfer radio waves into usable energy? I know of plenty of things that use energy to convert to radio waves (microwaves come to mind), but this is ridiculous.

Also I saw Twitter on my local news today, it's official some other Internet fad will take over. Or will that only be after some Twitter based crime occurs?

2008 Taxes Turned in Yesterday...

And I clearly feel like the winner. I purchased a new home last year, paid off student loans, and worked in a different state than where I lived, and you know what, I came out ahead $2,900 total. Needless to say that keeps me in my house another two months (if I need it) after the unemployment wears out. So all in all, I am super happy.

Also, job update is both good and bad. The bad is that the good engineering job I interviewed for is going to wait 3 weeks before they get to finish their interviews and select the final candidates for the position. Craptastic. Good news is tomorrow I am having my second interview for the project management position, they are flying in to talk to me so that is pretty good sign.

Guzzo dropped more posts than I have the last two weeks because I felt that I don't have money to invest right now, so I don't have much advice. I am on, as my GF describes it, financial lock down so I won't do anything stupid with the money that I have. Interestingly enough I spent roughly 7% of the money I brought home my last month of real work (January) on eating out. That is a lot in my opinion, so eating at home is helping a lot. We dropped cable as well so the savings is adding up.

More later, but don't be surprised if I am a sparse poster for awhile.


Article of the Week...

Every investor has a style. Mr. Guzzo (now back at his regular gig) is a contrarian, but firmly believes in the teachings of Mr. Bogle. My college buddy Grant (over at the Corner Office Blog) firmly believes in stocks that pay a high dividend. Besides being a bit of those two (I always look for a dividend, and now about half of my portfolio is Bogle-esc), my stock picking is heavily influenced by Benjamin Graham and his modern disciple Joel Greenblatt of Magic Formula Investing. That is I am a value investor, recently a a good article popped up on Barron's that gives some insight to this style again. Enjoy:

A Back to the Future Value Strategy


That's when a couple of bones were thrown my way....

So I have been posting lightly this week due to some interesting circumstances.

Tuesday: Went through the first steps of getting my mortgage loan readjusted with the bank. It looks as if it may go through, I should get a call for the next steps some time in the next two weeks. Yay unemployment!

Wednesday: Worked on taxes, I still need to do state but so far $1300 from federal coming back. Will finish this on Saturday. Yay new home purchase and student loans!

Thursday: Two interviews, yeah TWO interviews today. The first was a first round phone interview for a project manager position and the second was a first round face-to-face interview for a manufacturing engineer position. Both in Kansas City. I don't know if I will get called back from either, but I know that gave the best interview I could for each. Yay possible employment!

Overall I am pretty happy with this week, I feel like something was accomplished.


Arbitrage Opportunity

Image Entertainment
Just bought 1000 shares of Image Entertainment (DISK) at $1.10/share as a speculative arbitrage opportunity.

As a speculative play, the details about their business isn't too important to me since I'm only attempting to capitalize on the difference in the stock price now compared to the buyout price. What do I mean?

According to a definitive merger agreement in January:
On November 17, 2008, our board of directors approved, and on November 20, 2008, we entered into, a merger agreement providing for the acquisition of Image by Nyx Acquisitions, Inc., a Delaware corporation, or Nyx. If the merger is completed, you will be entitled to receive $2.75 per share in cash, without interest, for all of the shares of our common stock that you own at the time of the merger.

What is important to me are the chances of this merger actually happening.

The current stock price would indicate that most investors probably don't think this merger will ever come to fruition, and there's good reason for their skepticism. Nyx Acquisitions, Inc. has already extended the closing date of the merger a few times and investors are worried that Nyx won't be able to swing the financing or that they may back out of the deal.

But, I think differently.

With each extension of the merger closing date, Nyx is basically required to pay an ever-increasing, and non-refundable, extension cost to Image referred to as a "business interruption fee". After news today of another reported extension, the amount of extension money Nyx has paid to Image now totals $4 million.

I bought DISK because I believe NYX wouldn't just walk away from such a large deposit if they weren't truly intending to buyout Image. It's difficult finding financing at this time, but not impossible. The merger date may be postponed again, but I think that that it's a done deal sometime in the near future.

Of course it's all speculative, but when it happens, I should more than double my investment in this arbitrage opportunity. If it doesn't happen, Image Entertainment, Inc. would be "sitting pretty" with a free cash infusion of at least $4 million.


Madoff Released!

Breaking news today. According to the AP:
Bernie Madoff to become a free man on Friday. A federal judge in lower manhattan district court ruled that evidence gained from Madoff's confessions violated self-incrimination rights, and he ordered all charges to be dismissed immediately. The judge also ordered all seized assets to be return to Madoff by the end of this month.
Until all of his assets, including interest, are returned to Madoff, he will be released to his advisory team of Milken, Boesky, and Kozlowsky on April fools day.


Weekly Market Wrap

I was telling my wife Janet yesterday that this Friday would be the real tale of the tape about a stock market rally. If the markets ended up on Friday, it would be a positive sign of investor confidence and we could be onto something. If they ended down, investors still aren't convinced that we're out of the woods just yet.

While this past week brought some good news regarding new home sales, consumer spending and corporate earnings, rising unemployment news still has many investors too nervous to remain in the markets. So, it looks like we'll have to see what next week brings.

Now Go Out and Buy Some Company Stock
Source: ajc.com|Mike Luckovich

In the meantime, knowing that a picture (or cartoon) is worth a thousand words, I thought I would post a linkfest to some of the very best financial editorial cartoons that I found this past week.

Gary Varvel - The Indianapolis Star

Jim Morin - The Miami Herald

Clay Bennett - Chattanooga Times Free Press

Steve Breen - San Diego Union-Tribune

David Horsey - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Don Asmussen - San Francisco Chronicle

Enjoy the weekend!

In Search of a Deal - Step 1: Grow a Pair

So last thursday I get a call from my old college roommate, not Grant but my other roomy.  He had tickets to NCAA first round tournament of games in KC.  So I called up my pops and off we went to the Power and Light District by the Sprint Center.  A good time was had by all, including such great quotes as:

"There is no one in OU's band that could even play the cow bell in the Morgan State Band!"
"Air ball, Air ball, Air ball"<-directed at Blake Griffin after missing a free throw
"Mr. D, you are going to let your son use that OU rally towel?" and the reply "He said he needed a rag for wiping his feet and changing oil"
"Well should we play Boomer Sooner again?" <- in response to Morgan State's band director taunting OU's band.

Needless to say Morgan State has one heck of a pep band.  Elsewhere, I was trying to teach my old roommate a lesson in economics.  See he bought the first round ticket set before the seeding occurred and paid out the nose for them.  A couple of people backed out and he was stuck with the tickets.  My dad and I helped with a couple of tickets, but who knows how bad he loss with the rest of the sessions.

Regardless, I am a firm believer in ticket scalping.  Put on your school affiliation gear and walk out to the stadium.  Every time I have ever gone to a Big 12 tourney or first round session, I have paid no more than a $30 ticket to get in.  Usually paying $10-$20.  Why you say?  Because when I was young a good friend of my pappy taught me the art of buying tickets.  There are more stories than advice here but the basics are don't be a wuss and grow a pair.  For those who are unable to do this, bring a friend that has.

The biggest part of getting a good deal on anything is having the guts to try.  Everyone from that guy who yells at you on TV to Trump has opinions on how to do it, but I always thought it was best to try anyway you can and after a few tries and some good awareness you should be well on your way.


Tour de Broke - Not coming to a town near you, unless you live in Boulder

Well, my GF has outdone herself this time. She convinced now in the time of my dire straits that I should get out of the house and travel to go see my brother. I told her the whole when you have work you don't have the time for a vacation and when you don't have work you have the time but can't afford the trip. Well she 86'd that idea and out the door I was pushed on Wednesday. I love that gal. 9.5 hours of driving later I am in beautiful Colorado with my brother, sister-in-law, and my two favorite nieces hanging all over me. It just recharges the batteries a little. My job search needs a search party currently since I have only heard from one recruiter for an out of town contract engineering job. He won't call me back either now.

It is rough out there, but at least the unemployment money is coming in with it's +$25 (thanks Jesus II) and I am not dipping into any savings so far. At the risk of becoming a statistic, I am going to take advantage of this time to try and get that mortgage rate down (not that it is that high). Then see what I can do out there, my two positions that I am most qualified for aren't exactly in the best shape right now. Do you know any non-producing factories that need a manufacturing engineer or any underwater businesses that are in need of a capital projects manager? All joking aside, it is going to be interesting to see what I end up doing. For right now, I have to go read my youngest niece a book. Hope the rest of you are enjoying your work.

Comments as true now as they were then...

Here is the famous part from the movie Network. I recently heard this quote over the radio again and it is as true now as it was then.

I agree, I want you to get mad, get mad as hell...god dammit my life has value!

(Quick note, congrats Mike on the new job. AND if you haven't visited in awhile this site is now authored by myself and Mr. Guzzo. Ain't technology grand!)


It's All About Patience

There's an old Dutch saying: “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”

After three months of searching and waiting for "the right" job, I've finally found the ideal position that I was looking for. With a pharmacist shortage nationwide, it used to be easy to pick and choose what I wanted to do. But now that we're in a recession, finding that "ideal" job isn't so easy. Yeah.. I know. Boo Hoo.

In order to demonstrate just how difficult it is finding a "good" job nowadays, I thought it might help others if I videotaped my most recent job interviews so you could see for yourselves.

To begin with, I wasn't offered the first job for which I interviewed. The HR person interviewing me with must have missed his morning coffee. It was all over within the first minute after he found out my GPA in college. Hit me with a brick, why dontcha.

So, I shook it off, reworked my resume a little, and set forth on my second job interview. This one seemed to go a little better. I thought that I convinced them that I was the best man for the job. The interviewer seemed interested in hiring me, but decided it would be best to consult with his superior first. Once his boss came into the room though, it was all over and I was shown the door. Tough crowd.

I realized that I must be doing something wrong, so I decided to ask a colleague if I needed to rework my interviewing methods. I took his advice to heart, changed my entire approach, and set off on my third job interview.

Not only is patience worth more than a bushel of brains, but sometimes it's nice having more luck than brains.

I'm not exactly sure what happened. Maybe it was my new haircut, the way I dressed, or maybe even the way I carried myself, but this interview went far better than I could have expected. This employer hired me on the spot and gave me everything that I wanted. I was so happy that I spent the whole night celebrating with my beautiful wife.

Now, let's see if having patience will work out with my investments.


Hold on Tight

We've officially been in a recession for 15 months now and it looks like we're about to break the record for the longest recessionary period since the Great Depression. With rising unemployment, record foreclosures, and depleted savings, this economic crisis is almost crushing our dreams for a secure retirement.

But, hold on tight, don't give up just yet.

After the Treasury Department's announcement today of their plan to rid banks of bad debt, investor confidence surged. The markets rallied with renewed confidence that our new administration will do it's best to keep our financial system from failure. Hopefully, the Fed's actions will spark a permanent turnaround.

However, what's really on everyone's mind is: Have we reached a market-bottom or is this just a bear market rally? Of course, everyone has their opinions pro or con, but we'll only actually know in hindsight.

Like everyone else, I have my own opinions. But, I thought I would ask a few old friends if they could orchestrate a get-together in order to shed some electric light on the subject.

Here's what they told me:
Accroches-toi a ton reve
Accroches-toi a ton reve
Quand tu vois ton bateau partir
Quand tu sents -- ton coeur se briser
Accroches-toi a ton reve.
Sounds like good advice to me. If you can't read French, watch this video for a better understanding.


A Liter For The Fallen...

One of my favorite bloggers, Mr. Mike Guzzo of Guzzo the Contrarian fame has closed his site down for good after a few months of conflicting thoughts on continuing. This stinks from my opinion, but I was able to convince him that whenever he feels the need to share again with the world, he can do so whenever he wants here at Dyslexic Research. I truly respected his work, and he even influenced my own investment strategy toward more stable 'Bogle' style, low fee, diversified investing. His website will be missed, but hopefully he won't be as I am planning on giving him the ability to write what he likes when he is ready again.

So another one doesn't quite bite the dust and I will drink a liter to that (it's a Filipino beer thing).


Don't Believe the Hype, But...

So after the market has increased in value now for roughly 6 days, a lot of naysayers are starting to come around and say that we "may have hit the bottom". People are looking for more signs than a group of fourteen year old girls in an Ouija board. I don't believe the hype, until my friends at the paint company tell me that production is up, I am going to have a hard time believing it. There is just too many people on unemployment, too many scared to purchase more than anything besides the necessities. I won't believe it until consumer spending is up for a couple of quarters.


The savvy investor, the contrarian, and myself know (I am the dumbest of the three) that if you wait too long you may miss the bounce. So I have begun the search for more good stocks. It is a gamble, no doubt. I have two ultimate criterion. 1] The potential company must be one that will exist when this economy has finally turned. 2] The potential company must be one that will be profitable when this economy has finally turned. Sorry GM doesn't qualify.

My favorite way to begin a stock search is through the magic formula screen. I have talked about it before, recommended buying the book, and believe in it's methodology. I won't go into full on stock research in this post, but will say that my findings turned up several good prospects including: CALM, MLHR, MSFT, PCU, PM, RIMM. Until I plow through their latest financials I won't recommend anything. Also there are a few perennial industrial powerhouse stocks that are 'relatively' cheap including LECO and EMR among others.

I will start doing the numbers because I am beginning to feel like it is a good time to start looking to buy. We will see how it goes.


How to Become a Financial Expert...

Step One: Create a blog.

Step Two: Create content, typically cover crap any investor already knows or something popular spewd out by whatever current financial or investing expert that everyone knows. Topics like "Save 25% of Your Income" and "How to Start a Roth IRA" are good starters (if your new go ahead use these topics, I don't mind). Keep those things like thoughts and ideas of your own at bay, don't want to go ruining your content.

Step Three: Add stupid clip art.

Step Four: Answer comments by the finacially inept.

Bam, instant success. In no time you should be well on your way to financial superiorism.
(Maybe that is why I only have two viewers, thanks Grant and Mike ahead of time)

Due to tough economic times...

...we may have to lay off Andre.


If you have money left, where would you invest?

So if you have money, and want to actually invest in something still what would you do?

Before I answer that, let me just say that my parents grewup as children of parents that survived the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and as adults themselves survived the exodus of jobs in Oklahoma when all of the Oil Companies left the state in the 80's. They never have really invested other than, their home, some rental properties, and high interest CD's and Money Market accounts. They have saved some, but I am uncomfortable to think how much. Their current jobs are secure and they are close to retirement. I know that my brother and I wish they invested more, but now think at times maybe they might have been fairly right all along. I mean they have seen some of these economic times on a micro-economic level in Oklahoma and experienced the psychology of their parents in the aftermath of the Great Depression, and learned what is really true: money and stuff you own, and real estate.

Which gets me back to where do you invest in this market, that will have the best chance of returning a profit in the years to come? Me, I am leaning towards real estate. I know it is crazy, but prices are at a value and if you truly know your town, and make logical property purchases over the long term you could really do well. Nothing is a guarantee, but if you are truly a long term investor, it may be just the right way to go.



An Idea...(Notice: Rant Ahead)

Recently between working on my neighbor's house for money, wading through unemployment proceedings, attempting to refinance, signing up for COBRA, and oh yeah looking for a job, I am noticing a few trends:

  1. Everyone has their own idea of what will get us out of this mess.
  2. No sympathy for where public America is really at right now.
  3. The ridiculousness of the comments I have been hearing on radio and TV.

So 1, all over the radio and TV is a number of people stating that their own idea of what will boost the economy, and the truth of the matter is that they need to take care of their own house, their own job, and their own money. By trusting some other jack@$$ in the first place, buying crap you don't need, and banking on rapid growth or some other prospective investment we have all fallen into a trap. We used 'fake' money, overspent on ridiculous stuff, and now want someone to help the sinking ship we all created. Somewhere in life, things went from buy what you can afford to buy now pay later, even if you can't. Stimulus plan may work, may not, but if we all start coming to the epiphany of what we can really afford then maybe we will stop the scariness of everything. End overbuilding, overspending, and think. In the past two years I bought a new 'used' car and a house. I put down more than 10% on each, purchased something extremely affordable, and they may both be in jeopardy now that I don't have a job. Okay not really, but they could if I am unemployed a year from now. I take that responsibility however, and it is my job to try and take care of things.

2 is the other common theme I hear. Please understand we are past the point of the housing bubble, that was a domino, and now a lot of people, more than what is being reported, have lost their jobs or may end up losing their jobs. Sure idiot bankers should not have sold 0% down loans to risky buyers and likewise buyers should not have thought that they could purchase these homes, blah blah blah, etc. Spending is frozen, lending is frozen, and no body is really producing anything besides gas, food, energy, and natural gas. A quick call to friends from past employers over the past two weeks report 20%-30% work force layoffs at every employer I have ever worked for, ALL OF THEM. To top that off everyone of them is producing at around 10% production of their yearly average. TEN PERCENT!!! Read that as factories, companies, employees, everyone is standing on that cliff looking over the edge. Unless something changes, i.e. lending opens up, people open up their pocketbooks, then bankruptcy and shutdowns at the least are going to begin to occur. It is going to be painful, heck it is painful. Start showing some sympathy for your fellow man, because you may be next one on the chopping block, and hope your neighbor isn't serving crow when you need help with your next meal.

And last but not least number 3. The bits of armor are starting to fall off of everyone, and we are hearing some of the most stupid comments I have ever heard from people getting worried. For example, today on NPR's Talk of the Nation, a gentlemen called in to the station to say that it has been very difficult to get his two VARIABLE RATE HOME LOANS on his current home and his VACATION HOME, and although he has hired someone to help him get them readjusted nothing has occurred. He wanted to know when the government was going to force these banks to do something. All I can say is, where is this guy and how else can someone make money off him. Then about a month ago NPR covered the fact that California may default on their bonds for the first time ever, a consequence was that student loan checks have been late, not that they weren't paid out, just late. NPR of course found some strapping young woman at Berkeley for comment. Her quote you ask? "It's not bad enough that I am a DOUBLE MAJOR with a MINOR, but now I am going have GET A JOB to make my payments." I don't know where to begin, first college is a privilege, second 2 majors and a minor what the heck do you need that much college for, third enjoy your debt for the next 25 years, and lastly YES YOU MAY HAVE TO GET A JOB.

These times are rough, and I am sorry if I am negative. The government is doing some positive things, albeit expensive things, to try and help. I will be one of the people in line for the help, and will remember this if I make it through this intact and reciprocate to someone else in need.

Good luck, evaluate yourself, and SAVE!