Thursday, March 30, 2006

Capitalism at its finest--turning white trash to class

Michelle Lamar, a suburban Kansas City gal, has turned being a White Trash Mom into a business, a blog, a book and...who knows what's next?
Lamar calls herself white trash and proud of it. Just read her blog, "White Trash Mom." Her Christmas lights stayed up months after all the gifts were unwrapped. She has mastered the art of driving while talking on her cell phone and yelling at her two kids in the back seat. And sometimes she buys cookies from the store and crumbles them at the edges so they look homemade.
Ain't capitalism great?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cartoon Tuesday

By Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Home buying on the web

We pay our bills online and shop for financial products on the web. We buy books, CDs and movies on our computers. Many of us do our weekly grocery shopping online.

But would you buy a new house on the web? According to the Prudential California Realty Online Homebuyer's Survey 2006, many of us would.
Thirty-one percent of Bay Area homebuyers believe it is likely that people may consider buying a home on the Internet in the future without ever seeing it in person, according to a survey released today by Prudential California Realty. The findings demonstrated a shift in attitudes as consumers increasingly utilize the Internet in their home search.

"The idea that some buyers may buy a home over the Internet without actually viewing it is not as far-fetched as it would have seemed several years ago as buyers become more active and involved in the transaction through websites," said Sherry Chris, COO of Prudential California Realty. "This is particularly true for the vibrant market in the Bay Area where competition for homes is often strong and good listings can be snapped up quickly."
With Bay Area home prices among the highest in the nation, this idea is especially surprising. Would you spend $750,000 on a home, sight unseen?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The week in review

  • DJIA gained a whopping .32 or .003% to close at 11,279.97
  • S&P 500, fell 4.30, .33% to 1302.95
  • Oil, gained another $1.49 this week to 64.26. Last week the oil market was worried about Iran, this week it was's always somethin'.
Google will be added to the S&P 500 on March 31st. It replaces Burlington Resources which is being bought by ConocoPhillips. Haven't we all had about enough hubbub over Google?

New U.S. home sales dropped like a rock in February. Is it a bubble? Call it what you like, there's something going on here.

Money Market rates top 4% for the first time in four years. Now before you get all excited, remember that after inflation and taxes that gives Oh well.

In March Madness today we have Texas vs. LSU and UCLA vs. Memphis. Hook 'em 'horns!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cartoon Tuesday

By Henry Payne, The Detrioit News via Cagle

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Happiness research

Saturday's Wall Street Journal carried an interesting story about research that's being done to figure out what makes folks happy. One finding from the Pew Research Center has me scratching my head a bit:
A survey of 3,015 Americans suggested happiness is more likely if you earn more than $100,000 a year, attend religious services and are a Republican.
Okay, the hundred grand, I get. The religious services, I understand. But happiness comes more easily to Republicans? Do the folks in Berkeley know?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Week in review

  • DJIA gained 203.31 or 1.84% to close at 11,279.65
  • S&P 500, up 25.67, an even 2% to 1307.25
  • Oil, gained $2.81 on the week to 62.77 though it fell 81 cents on Friday as fears about Iran lessened.
I'm pretty sure there was some other stuff that went on this week but right now I'm just too stunned over my Jayhawks' loss to Bradley that I just can't think what it was.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cartoon Tuesday

By Gary Markstein via Cagle

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Certain Slant of Light

In December of 2004, A Certain Slant of Light was created to celebrate the birth of a new baby boy by his proud grandfather, Bernard. For the past fifteen months the blog has grown and evolved but one thing has remained constant: Bernard writes passionately about the things in this world he cares deeply about.

A Certain Slant of Light was one of the very first blogs I started reading regularly and I consider Bernard a close friend, though we've never met and likely never will. Ain't the internet amazing?

Now, Bernard is movin' on up from Blogger to WordPress and the new layout is terrific. Go check him out.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Week in review

  • DJIA gained 54.75 or .50% to close at 1176.34
  • S&P 500, down 5.65, .44% to 1281.58
  • Oil, down a healthy 3.71/barrel to $59.96
The Nasdaq Composite has more than doubled in the last three and a half years, but it's nowhere close to where it stood six years ago last Friday when it hit an intraday high of 5132.52. To mark the sixth anniverary it closed at 2262.04, 56% below its high water mark.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hold the anchovies and buy a hundred shares of GE

Brokerage firms have to diversify too, ya know.

Merrill yesterday agreed to buy the privately held NPC International Inc., the world's largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants, according to published reports.

The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

NPC currently operates 790 Pizza Hut restaurants and delivery kitchens in 26 states.
Who knows? Maybe you'll be able to do a few stock trades and get a large pepperoni to go.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cartoon Tuesday

John Branch, The San Antonio Express-News

Monday, March 06, 2006

The money market squeeze

Discount firms like Schwab and TD Ameritrade may have low transaction costs but they still have to make money...

Schwab is supplanting its various money market funds that pay about 3.8% as its default vehicle for sweep balances with a bank checking account that pays 2.2% interest. A primary option is the Schwab Money Market Fund with $42.3 billion in assets.

TD AMERITRADE jacked up its management fees on its default money market funds as of Feb. 24. The Omaha, Neb.-based company allows investors to choose a default option.
The bottom line here is that Schwab and TD Ameritrade have begun to charge clients out the wazoo for money market sweep accounts.

TD Ameritrade charges a management fee of .91% on its Money Market Portfolio--are you kidding, an expense ratio of nearly a point for a money market fund? And Schwab, offering 1.6 points lower yield for a bank sweep account vs. money market? Will clients really put up with this? They will if they are not aware.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Week in review

  • DJIA lost 40.26 or .36%
  • Oil, up $.76/barrel to $63.67, 1.21%

Research in Motion settled the lawsuit that threatened to shut down Blackberry service. Folks, give your thumbs a rest from time to time anyway.

The world's number one chipmaker, Intel, lowers revenue guidance.Rival AMD's been chipping away (sorry) and is beginning to take some significant market share.

Apple launches the Mac Mini and iPod hi-fi. Pretty cool stuff.

The 78th annual Academy Awards are Sunday. My personal choice for Best Picture is "Crash". Of course it's the only one of the five nominees I've seen. Geez, I need to get out more.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Same view, different day

Okay, so we got a little snow beginning in the pre-dawn hours Friday. Mrs. THC and I left the hotel about 7:30 am and took a little hike up to Mirror Lake and back, about 4 miles round trip. What a fun hike in the snow, it's been so long since I've spent any serious time in the cold, white stuff. Market...was the market open today? Do I care?

Thursday, March 02, 2006


We're taking a few days to get away for some much-needed rest and relaxation but that doesn't mean that I can't take a few minutes to share a photo of Half Dome taken from our hotel room yesterday.

Isn't it interesting that, even a 79 year-old hotel in the middle of a National Park offers high-speed wireless?