Mr. Sensitive

December 31, 2012

Brinky Cup Regular Season Results and Playoff Seeds

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 15:12

Brinky Cup

Tara is the 2012 Brinky Cup champion.  Another stellar week (11-5) gave her a decisive, nine-game victory over 2nd place Dark Mario.  Tara took the lead after a 13-0 performance in Week 7 and never looked back; over the course of the 17-week season she posted a sub-.500 week just once.  It was an astounding display of football acumen, all the more impressive because Tara had no opportunity to adjust her picks to account for the vagaries of the long, brutal season.  The first preseason picker to win the Brinky Cup; the first female to win the Brinky Cup; the first unblemished week in Cup history—truly a season for the ages.  I could send Tara the Brinky Cup itself, but that would be a kind of a pain, so I won’t.  She can hold the Cup in her heart, and know that she’ll be the one the rest of us will be gunning for in 2013.

Bizarro Brinky Cup

Ruby and her sidekick dug deep in the final week of the season, posting a league-worst 6-10 record in a bid to break the Bizarro tie…and Charlotte matched them, fail for fail.  With the pressure on and a Bizarro legend staring her down, my sister sunk to the challenge.  The crawl for the Bizarro Brinky Cup thus ends in a three-way tie: Charlotte, Ruby and Mario the Elder each take a share of anti-glory.

Brinky Bowl Playoffs

I warned Reagan not to pick the Dolphins over the Patriots, but she stuck to her guns.  ‘I like dolphins,’ she said.  If not for that ill-fated allegiance, the two-way tie for the sixth and final playoff spot would have been a three-way tie.  As it is, Reagan finished two games back of Jenny and…Katie?  Yes, indeed.  The same lovely lady I ridiculed for making a run at the Bizarro pack roared into the playoffs by posting a Week 17 record of…16-0?  The best single-week record in Brinky Cup history (sorry, Tara—guess you can’t have everything) was engineered by someone who’d had double-digit wins just once in the past three months?  It’s hard to believe, I know, and there are those who might think I rigged the spreadsheet in Katie’s favor, none of whom, presumably, have been married for as long as I have.  After thirteen years of marriage (eighteen years since I made that first, fateful pilgrimage to Arrow Lane), an assisted 16-0 week would get me diddly-poo in the way of brownie points.  I’d have to give Katie the Brinky Cup itself to help myself on the Brownie ledger, and even I wouldn’t do something that brazen…would I?

As for the playoffs themselves, there are four games this coming weekend, and I’d like to get picks for each of the seven Brinky Bowlers by Friday if possible.  The first game is Saturday at 4:30, so picks have to be in no later than that.  In case you don’t know if you made the playoffs or not, here’s the list with seeds:

  • #1 – Tara
  • #2 – Dark Mario
  • #3 – Justin
  • #4 – Dark Lee
  • #5 – Nicole E.
  • #6(tie) – Jenny
  • #6(tie) – Katie

Do the seeds matter?  Probably not, unless I decide later that they do.

The four games next week are as follows (team record in parenthesis):

  • Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) @ Houston Texans (12-4)
  • Minnesota Vikings (10-6) @ Green Bay Packers (11-5)
  • Indianapolis Colts (11-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
  • Seattle Seahawks (11-5) @ Washington Redskins (10-6)

You can comment on this post with your picks or give them to Katie.  Good luck to all.

Games Back Week 17
Tara 11-5
Dark Mario 9 9-7
Justin 11 11-5
Dark Lee 16 12-4
Lee 24 10-6
Mario T.Y. 25 12-4
Nicole E. 26 9-7
Jenny 31 10-6
Katie 31 16-0
Nicole M. 32 9-7
Reagan 33 8-8
Brinkley 38 10-6
Marcus 41 7-9
Jodi Ann 41 8-8
Mario T.E. 45 6-10
Ruby 45 6-10
Charlotte 45 6-10

December 29, 2012

Why Is Robin In Time-Out?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:04


It can’t be the short-shorts…right, Aqualad?

At least they gave him one of those spiffy air helmets, attached to nothing in particular and venting green bubbles into the water.  Otherwise I’d be worried.

This is fantastic in so many ways.  Aqualad’s pose is proud, yet disturbingly provocative; he’s happy for Aquaman and Mera, but he wants the big guy to see what he’s passing up.  Superman, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter can totally breathe underwater; I guess we know now that there is, in fact, water on Mars.  And check out the custom spiffy air helmets the Atlanteans made for Atom and Hawkman–how cute are those?

December 28, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:37

You know the trade is thin when a report that a ‘source’ says Obama’s position on taxes is the same as it has been is enough to knock a hundred points off the Dow in the final minutes of the day.  This fiscal cliff crap sure is irritating.  The phrase ‘fiscal cliff’ is more irritating than the fiscal cliff itself.  I overheard a lady at the doctor’s office talking about the fiscal cliff; as she was checking out, she noticed her co-pay had gone up from the prior year and she said, I kid you not, “must be because of the fiscal cliff.”  Mind-blowing.  Therein lies the dilemma for politicians and media folks alike: if you come up with a glib catch-all to refer to a complex policy issue, the American people will misunderstand and misattribute to a staggering degree; but if you don’t come up with such a catch-all, the American people will ignore the issue—and you—entirely.  Do you prefer placid and uninformed?  Do you prefer agitated and confused?  Ideally, each of us wouldn’t need to understand the gory details.  The idea behind representative democracy—as opposed to direct democracy—is that the people elect representatives to translate their values and interests into policy because the people themselves don’t have the time or expertise to do so.  Of course, it only works if we have honest, hard-working, honorable folks representing us.  When we have folks like this guy


we get a fiscal cliff.  Luckily for Senator Crapo, we’re just talking about a metaphorical cliff; otherwise he’d have probably driven his car off it.

The major averages were down this week by about as much as they were up last week.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Lack of conviction?  Probably.  The Family Stock Index traded down in line with the broader market, dropping 1.8% on the week to close at 13,223.  Alas, I can’t close the books on 2012 today because the market is open for one more trading day on New Year’s Eve.  Forget the fiscal cliff, Congress—pass a law that says every fiscal quarter has to end on a Friday.

Katie and I are tag-teaming this week’s A/Ds; I emailed her to see if she had any insights into specific stocks and she wrote the whole A/D section in response.  It makes me think I’m spending way too much time on these things; it doesn’t, however, make me more inclined to embrace Katie-esque brevity in 2013.

Katie’s comments are first; if I add something it will be italicized.  You can also tell the difference because Katie’s in love with exclamation points.


  • Nami & Lita (NL) +2.1%.  Reunited (with Charlotte) and it feels so good.  I hate that song and it’s in my head now, so thanks a lot.  Also I don’t know any other lines so I’m just looping that one over and over again.  Perfect.
  • Zondro (ZQK) +1.5%.  He’s happy to return to normal life without extra dogs in the house. And bonus inside time since it’s so cold outside!
  • Marcus (MCS) +1.4%.  Because video chatting is the future. Or the now. And if we get it all figured out he can see his nieces and nephew onscreen every once in awhile which is bound to do as much to improve his mood as any food or medication.  I agree with that except for the part about more Brinky equals improved mood; let’s just say that hasn’t been my experience today.  And the part about food, because what Marcus really needs is six boxes of butterscotch krimpets.


  • Lee (MSTR) -2.7%.  This is wrong. You should be up now that we’re getting back to the usual, right? I’m choosing not to believe that you and me both being down means our 30 day shred isn’t going to go well. It’s a winning plan.  30 Day Shred is an exercise routine-thing we’re planning to do.  Jillian Michaels is the trainer; she scares me.
  • Dustin (DST) -2.7%.  What’s with this? All of us parents are supposed to be up when our kids are gone, aren’t we?
  • Nicole M. (COLM) -3.0%.  Still sick? Dealing with Mario’s delayed reaction to the Steelers loss last weekend?
  • Reagan (REGN) -3.2%.  She’s going to miss her second family so much while she’s gone.  Reagan spends a lot of time across the street at her friend Faith’s house.  I think it’s because they keep their house at 80 degrees and I keep ours at 60; Reagan has lizard blood like her mother and she can’t take a little chill.
  • Ruby (RJET) -3.4%.  Worried Jenny’s going to try to get her to go see Breaking Dawn. Or watch Pitch Perfect 50 times while she’s there.
  • Katie (CATY) -3.5%.  Because of FAT. It’s been a rough week for my fatness because I’ve eaten way too much. But the fast food ban and 30 day shred are starting, so we can turn it around!
  • Jenny (JNY) -3.7%.  She must have had to ride in the back seat some, and we know she doesn’t like that. Plus she has to share a room in Hilton Head, just like she does every other day.
  • Zero (ZIP) -4.7%.  It’s okay, Zero – you can come back and be Reagan’s guitar teacher a little longer. Don’t be sad that you’re not going to be able to spend hours with her showing her what to do.  Zero’s trying to make a run at Lucas to retain his worst-performer title; with one day left Lucas leads at -42% against -39.6% for Zero.
  • Justin (SCI) -4.8%.  Because we don’t even know what he left behind yet.


Name Ticker 12/28/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $28.07 -0.44
Charlotte ICE $123.66 -2.59
Dustin DST $59.81 -1.66
Ghost Marisa MOLX $26.68 -0.45
Icarus FAST $46.18 +0.10
Jenny JNY $10.70 -0.41
Jodi Ann JOY $61.48 -1.04
Justin SCI $13.62 -0.68
Katie CATY $19.12 -0.70
Lee MSTR $93.55 -2.61
Lisa LNCE $23.68 -0.32
Lucas LEI $1.34 +0.08
Lulu LULU $74.31 -1.4
Marcus MCS $13.45 +0.18
Mario T.E. MGEE $50.21 -1.16
Mario T.Y. WMAR $10.69 -0.01
Namilita NL $11.65 +0.24
Nicole E. NICE $32.71 -0.11
Nicole M. COLM $52.09 -1.59
Reagan REGN $167.97 -5.51
Ruby RJET $5.71 -0.20
Wilson WILC $4.75 unch
Winston ED $54.93 -1.12
Zero ZIP $8.10 -0.40
Zondro ZQK $4.11 +0.06


No Force-Chokes in 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:20

Several months ago I said (to my baby son, presumably) that the Republicans are distorting the tax issue by telling the public President Obama wanted to increase taxes on the wealthy when in fact he is proposing no such thing.  The reality, I said, is that tax rates will revert to Clinton-era levels in 2013 if no action is taken, and Obama is simply refusing to act to prevent that reversion.  The semantics seemed important: Democrats aren’t proposing a tax increase for rich people—Republicans are proposing a tax cut.  It turns out that I actually underestimated the importance of semantics, because semantics are what’s going to push the nation over the fiscal cliff ledge.   Most, if not all Republicans understand that tax revenues must rise if the budget deficit is to be reduced.  Most, if not all Republicans have pledged to Darth Norquist that they will never raise taxes.  How can they resolve this conflict?  Semantics.  If a Republican votes to revert to Clinton-era tax rates before 2013, he will technically violate his Sith pledge.  But if tax rates revert to higher levels automatically, that same Republican can safely vote to cut taxes for the 98% of Americans Democrats agree should have lower tax rates, while loudly cursing those same Democrats for stiffing the rich, er, I mean job creators.  The only vote our anonymous Republican will cast is for a tax cut, and he can freely and fairly insist that he never voted to raise taxes.  So taxes rise, but Norquist can’t force-choke anyone in particular on account of it.  Can it be that simple?  We’re about to find out.

December 26, 2012

Toogie Time – 2013 FSX Changes

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 14:37

With just three full trading days left in 2012, it’s time to announce the changes I’m making to the Family Stock Index for 2013.  I reviewed each of the 25 FSX components, and I’m comfortable with/resigned to leaving in place the stocks representing 21 of the 25.  That means four of us will have new tickers going into the New Year.  I’m breaking it down by group, providing explanations where I feel like it.


Name Ticker Company Business
Brinkley BCO Brink’s Company Security
Dustin DST DST Systems Software
Jenny JNY The Jones Group Fashion
Justin SCI Service Corp International Deathcare
Katie CATY Cathay General Bancorp Banking
Lisa LNCE Snyders-Lance Snacks
Lulu LULU Lululemon Athletica Athletic apparel
Marcus MCS Marcus Corporation Hotels, theaters
Mario T.E. MGEE MGE Energy Gas/electric utility
Nicole E. NICE NICE Systems Software
Nicole M. COLM Columbia Sportswear Athletic apparel
Reagan REGN Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Biotech
Ruby RJET Republic Airways Airlines
Wilson WILC G Willi-Food International Kosher products
Winston ED Consolidated Edison Electric utility
Zondro ZQK Quiksilver Athletic apparel

No explanations on these.  So sorry to disappoint.


I’d considered changing each of these before backing off when the time came.  Would you like some insight into the backing-off thought process?  Of course you would.

Charlotte (ICE).  I like ICE, even though its market cap ($9 billion) is pushing the high end of the mid-cap range I prefer to stay in.  The only reason I was considering a move is that the price action had been too tame for my edgy sister.  Now that ICE has agreed to buy the New York Stock Exchange for $8 billion—triggering shareholder lawsuits and the possibility of a bidding war—I’m expecting a rowdy 2013.  That should keep Charlotte in the headlines where she belongs.

Icarus (FAST).  This was a desperation move that’s grown on me.  Besides, if I’m contending that Zondro is quick (ZQK), it follows necessarily that Icarus is just plain FAST.

Jodi Ann (JOY).  JOY was a move I made because I didn’t know enough about Jodi Ann to make a snarkier pick.  Well, I don’t really know any more than I did last year, and JOY has grown on me in the meantime.  More importantly, the stock is cheap, trading at less than 9 times trailing earnings.  JOY is pricing in the end of the coal mining industry AND making the assumption the company couldn’t retool in the event of a slow death for coal.  At this price, JOY is a takeover target for Caterpillar, Komatsu, or even diversified industrial conglomerates like Berkshire Hathaway and GE.  I like the stock in 2013.

Nami & Lita (NL).  Like FAST and JOY, I went with NL for Charlotte’s cats even though I didn’t feel great about the pick.  With NL down 16% on the year, you’d think I’d be ready to dump a stock I wasn’t in love with to begin with.  Well, I can’t—it’s just too cheap.  To give you some context, the S&P 500 index trades at 17 times trailing earnings.  I argued that JOY was cheap at 8.7 times earnings—and it is—but that’s nothing compared to NL Industries.  NL trades at a ridiculous 6.9 times earnings; what’s more, the company pays an annual dividend of $0.50 per share, giving it an enormous yield near five percent.  Compare that to the S&P 500 yielding 2.2% and 10-year Treasuries at 1.75%.  NL is a terrific acquisition candidate as well.  I lauded JOY for the same reason, but a potential acquirer would likely have to offer something at or above the stock’s 52 week high of $96 to get a deal done.  That translates to a deal value above $10 billion, not including assumption of debt, and limits the field of potential acquirers to companies with deep pockets and strong balance sheets.  The bite-size NL can be gobbled up for less than $1 billion even with the acquirer paying $20 a share, well above the 52-week high of $16 and nearly double the current price.  NL could well be the WOLF of 2013, and that’s why I’m leaving it in the index.

Lucas (LEI).  I’ve come oh-so-close to dumping LEI at several points this year, most recently when it dipped below $1 for the first time.  If it had remained a penny stock, LEI would be out, but it bounced off its $0.95 low to $1.32 as of this writing, a gain of nearly 40%.  Even so, Lucas is the worst performer in the FSX for 2012, down more than 40% for the year.  Management has been canned, including the founder; the company is being sued for failure to pay a promissory note related to an acquisition; and the net loss reported for the last 12 months ($10 million) is a third of the company’s total market value.  But I still believe in Lucas.  I bailed too early on LEE (up 100% in 2012) and I won’t repeat my mistake.  Besides, I don’t have a better alternative.

Man, that went on longer than I planned.  On to the four changes.

Our spectral cat, Marisa, was able to retain her place in the FSX by appearing to Brinky on Halloween, less than a week after her death.  And in a spooky coincidence(?), Molex has two classes of stock that trade publicly: the regular common shares traded under the ticker MOLX, and the class A shares traded under the ticker MOLXA.  I am not making this up.  What’s the A stand for?  Afterlife, of course.  So Marisa will continue her hunt for ghost vermin in 2013 in the afterlife class of the same stock she inhabited in life.  What’s the real difference between MOLX and MOLXA?  The A shares trade at a large discount to the regular common, probably something to do with disproportionate shareholder voting rights—and who really cares about that?  Cats can’t vote anyway.

I’m moving Zero from ZIP to ZAGG.  I said I was going to do that several weeks ago, and maybe you thought I was joking, or maybe you just skim these things to see if I say anything obnoxious about you and didn’t notice at all.  Either way, Zero is the sort of fellow who zags when the universe says zig, and I try and side with Zero and against the universe whenever possible.  I also have my doubts about Zipcar, and at 95 times trailing earnings, those doubts are hardly reflected in the price.  By comparison, Zagg Inc., maker and marketer of covers for smartphones and other gadgets, trades at just 10 times trailing earnings and 7.5 times next year’s estimate.  The recent price of $7.43 gives ZAGG a market cap of $227 million, with plenty of upside room below its 52-week high of $13.29.

How many times have I switched stocks for Mario the Younger?  I’ve honestly lost count.  Stock after stock after stock, and for one reason or another I’ve eschewed the obvious.  No longer.  Why stretch for WMAR when MAR is available?  That is what Katie calls her little brother, after all, and if Katie’s not calling the shots, she certainly ought to be.  MAR is the ticker symbol for Marriott, the international hotelier, and that company’s $11.7 billion market cap may be what prevented me from considering it before.  Since the FSX was created in April 2010, I’ve added FAST ($13.7 billion cap) and ED ($16.4 billion); furthermore, during that time LULU’s market cap has increased from $3.2 billion to nearly $11 billion, and REGN’s has absolutely exploded, rising from a modest $2.4 billion to today’s $16.7 billion.  From that standpoint, $11.7 billion isn’t nearly so problematic.  At a recent $37, MAR trades closer to its September high near $42 than its year-ago low of $29, but the range is attractively narrow overall.

The Katie-knows-best theme doesn’t stop with MAR, though.  She calls her younger brother Mar; so what does Katie call me?  A number of things, of course, depending on audience and circumstance; for example, if she calls me something other than Daddy in front of Reagan, a stern rebuke (from Reagan) will likely follow.  But what is the true name of a thing if not what is most reliably used to summon it?  And if Katie wants to summon me, what name does she call me?  She calls me Toogie, and she has for a long, long time.  Why?  I truly have no idea, and I don’t think Katie knows, either.  But I answer to Toogie; therefore, Toogie I must be.  There is no Toogie Corporation—get on the ball, corporate America—but there is a company with the ticker TGI, and that’s close enough.  TGI is the ticker for Triumph Group, which, according to Bloomberg, “designs, engineers, manufactures, repairs, overhauls, and distributes aircraft components.”  Okay.  That’s better than MicroStrategy, which “enables departments and enterprises to deploy Web-based reporting and analysis solutions” (again, per Bloomberg).  What does that even mean?  Apparently, not much; MSTR is down 30% in this quarter alone.  At a recent $65, TGI is close to its 52-week high near $67, something that by itself would give me pause.  In this case, though, the 52-week low is only $53, and that narrow range (plus a below-market P/E of 10x) suggests stability and limited downside.  Stability and limited downside?  I believe I could get into that.  I haven’t been a complete waste of flesh and food this year, but neither have I performed MSTR-fully; after all, I meant to have a book to shop at the beginning of 2013, and good or bad reasons notwithstanding, the fact remains that I don’t.  I am Toogie, win or lose (was that in my marriage vows?); and if I have a more triumphant year on account of this stock switch, well, that’d be fine, too.

MOLXA, ZAGG, MAR and TGI will be added to the FSX after the close on 12/31, replacing MOLX, ZIP, WMAR and MSTR.  So there.

December 24, 2012

Brinky Cup – Week 16

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:20

The penultimate week of the NFL regular season solidified one of the three races and turned the other two into real nailbiters going into Week 17.

Brinky Cup

It was a dark week for Dark Mario.  First, the Steelers lost–in gut-wrenching fashion–to the Bengals to fall out of playoff contention.  Then his otherwise-laudable 10-6 Week 17 performance dropped him seven games back of the Brinky Cup lead when Tara went 12-4.  At least the Japanese steakhouse lived up to expectations.  Justin and I led the Cup league in Week 17 at 13-3, but that only served to solidify our locks on the #3 and #4 positions, respectively.  Dark Mario (-7) and Justin (-11) could decide to take big risks in the last week to try and catch Tara; at 17 back with 16 to play, I’m now officially eliminated from contention.  Drat.

Bizarro Brinky Cup

Charlotte’s homage to Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters is nearly complete; she’s now tied with Ruby and Mario TE in last place with one week of futility remaining.  Don’t discount Jodi Ann and Marcus, either; inspirational, dual implosions over the last two weeks have dropped them to within two and three games, respectively, of last place.  Only preseason pickers are eligible for the Bizarro Brinky Cup, ruling out both Brinkley and Katie and precluding a deliberate tank job by any of the five contenders.  Week 17 will be the crucible in which we learn, once and for all, who’s bad.   Shumon.

Brinky Bowl playoffs

With only the sixth and final playoff spot realistically up for grabs, Jenny and Reagan have been battling furiously over the past three weeks for a shot at the Bowl.  Reagan pulled ahead by one after Week 15, but she managed just a .500 record this week, allowing Jenny to tie it up again with a 9-7.  The big news is that this heated sibling rivalry may ultimately amount to nothing; Nicole M. posted an 11-5 record in Week 16 to force a three-way tie for the sixth playoff spot.  Week 17 will be the crucible in which we learn, once and for all, who’s slightly less mediocre.

Games Back Week 16
Tara 12-4
Dark Mario 7 10-6
Justin 11 13-3
Dark Lee 17 13-3
Lee 23 8-8
Nicole E. 24 8-8
Mario T.Y. 26 7-9
Reagan 30 8-8
Jenny 30 9-7
Nicole M. 30 11-5
Katie 36 10-6
Marcus 37 7-9
Brinkley 37 8-8
Jodi Ann 38 6-10
Mario T.E. 40 7-9
Ruby 40 7-9
Charlotte 40 9-7


December 21, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:55

We now have two choices, according to the financial media: either the market is down because there’s no agreement on the fiscal cliff, or the market is up in spite of there being no agreement on the fiscal cliff.  The fiscal cliff is the new Greece: a cop-out for headline writers, and not much else besides.

I have no idea what Boehner was thinking, publicizing a vote on his inane ‘Plan B,’ then pulling the vote because he didn’t have the votes.  I feel sorry for the man; his job truly sucks.  The corporatists seeded their caucus with nuts and now the nut-trees are in full flower (now that’s how you craft a metaphor—hope you’re taking notes).  Nothing left to do but give up, go off the cliff, and immediately pass tax cuts for the 98%, just like the Democrats want.  It’s been a rough year for the GOP; I can’t blame Boehner if he just wants to skip ahead to January.

The Family Stock Index closed up 1.6% to 13,464, recouping last week’s losses and tacking on a nifty Christmas bonus.  The FSX is sitting on a 21.6% gain with a week left in 2012; not a bad year by any measure.

Now I’m going to have Katie handle the A/D section; I’m not in top form, nut-tree metaphor notwithstanding.  There’s only so much bleach a man can inhale in one week.


  • Zondro (ZQK) +14%. I think Zondro likes having dog visitors here to play with. Wilson doesn’t really play. But Icarus and Ed Winston probably will, so it’s dog friend time!
  • Katie (CATY) +11%.  Closed at a four-year high. Things have been going well for me at work recently and this week I had the added bonus of winning an 8 week fitness challenge (and an iPod shuffle). Cool, right? Turns out exercising actually does help you lose weight.
  • Icarus (FAST) +6.9%. Dog friend time! Including a back yard to roam freely in.
  • Lee (MSTR) +5.7%. He’s worked very hard this week to get the house into great shape for visitors, including refinishing the kitchen table because he’s a table master (I actually said that to him out loud yesterday). It looks awesome. Make sure you tell him. And I think he likes having a giant boy in the 99th percentile for height and weight still at 2 years old.
  • Marcus (MCS) +4.4%. I think this means Marcus is going to have a wonderfully relaxing break from school stress for a few days!
  • Mario the Younger (WMAR) +3.4%. Ready to see his sister. And all the kids. And enjoy some Christmas traditions. Plus if the Steelers win on Sunday (I’m sure they will), he’ll have to come back and watch them every game for the rest of the season to ensure victory, so we’ll be seeing a lot of him.
  • Ruby (RJET) +3.0%. Mom’s excited about time with all three of her children + families tomorrow! And the Steelers winning on Sunday.
  • Jenny (JNY) +2.1%. Jenny had a great day at school yesterday because it was just fun times – no hard work. Movie watching, crepe eating, fun art projects. Do you remember how awesome the last day before Christmas break was? I always loved it.


  • Charlotte (ICE) -1.3%.  Paying $8 billion for the New York Stock Exchange. Big stuff was happening in the market with Charlotte this week, so there’s that. I can’t think of why she’d be down at a fun family time. I think it must be because she doesn’t realize what sort of super fun we’re going to have on Christmas day. I have a plan.
  • Nicole E. (NICE) -2.2%. I’m sorry, Nicole. We’ll have fun with you before Christmas day, don’t worry. Hopefully you’re not down because you think  Justin’s going to leave something important behind this trip. Like you.
  • Reagan (REGN) -3.5%. Reagan won her class spelling bee, which bring more of a sigh of relief than a victory cheer because she wouldn’t have handled it well if she didn’t win. After the break she’ll head to the school spelling bee for the first time with third through fifth graders. Lee thinks she’s down because she fully expected the national spelling bee championship to be awarded to her when she won the class bee without having to go through all the additional levels to win it.
  • Lucas (LEI) -10.6%.  Was down by as much as 32% on Tuesday. Lucas is down, but not as much as he was, so maybe middle school is finally going to turn around for him. Either way, he’ll have a fun visit here tomorrow. Maybe he’ll even be able to fix our exercise bike.


Name Ticker 12/21/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $28.51 +0.24
Charlotte ICE $126.25 -1.65
Dustin DST $61.47 +0.36
Ghost Marisa MOLX $27.13 +0.43
Icarus FAST $46.08 +2.96
Jenny JNY $11.11 +0.23
Jodi Ann JOY $62.52 +0.88
Justin SCI $14.30 -0.04
Katie CATY $19.82 +1.94
Lee MSTR $96.16 +5.16
Lisa LNCE $24.00 +0.18
Lucas LEI $1.26 -0.15
Lulu LULU $75.71 +1.16
Marcus MCS $13.27 +0.56
Mario T.E. MGEE $51.37 +0.72
Mario T.Y. WMAR $10.70 +0.35
Namilita NL $11.41 +0.23
Nicole E. NICE $32.82 -0.73
Nicole M. COLM $53.68 -0.11
Reagan REGN $173.48 -6.23
Ruby RJET $5.91 +0.17
Wilson WILC $4.75 +0.05
Winston ED $56.05 -0.07
Zero ZIP $8.50 +0.09
Zondro ZQK $4.05 +0.51

December 20, 2012

I Love My Son

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:25

How do I know?  Because he did this

dec20 018

and I just laughed.

I mean, I’m definitely writing him out of the will, but still.

December 18, 2012

Brinky Cup – Week 15

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:02

For the last three weeks of the season, I’m going to summarize each of the key races separately.

Brinky Cup

Cup-leader Tara posted an unspectacular 9-7 record in Week 15, opening the door for Mario to cut further into her three-game lead…whereupon he missed the door completely and ran into a 7-9 wall.  Now five game back, Mario needs a Christmas miracle to have any hope of defending his 2011 Brinky Cup championship.

Bizarro Brinky Cup

Charlotte continued her epic bizarro choke-job, following a dangerous 7-9 week with a potentially-disastrous 10-6.  Almost unbelievably, Ruby failed to take advantage of Charlotte’s inexcusably solid performance.  Matching 10-6 records allowed Charlotte to preserve her two-game lead over Ruby and Mario the Elder.  But wait…who’s that creeping down behind?  It’s Katie!  After a 6-10 Week 15, she’s suddenly within three games of the Bizarro lead.  How is this happening?  In no small part, it’s because of Michael Vick.  Katie hates Michael Vick, and so she refuses to pick the 12-2 Falcons.  Are we talking about the same Michael Vick who last played for the Falcons in 2006?  Yes.  That means Katie also refuses to pick the 4-10 Eagles, Vick’s current team, right?  Nope.  Katie always picks the Eagles.  That means she likes the reformed, post-prison Vick, right?  Nope.  She just refuses to accept the facts–Michael Vick plays for the Eagles, not the Falcons.  If this accounting thing doesn’t work out, there’s a place for her at Fox News.

Brinky Bowl Playoffs

Last week, Reagan, Jenny, Nicole M. and Jodi Ann were all within one game of the playoffs, with the top 5 playoff spots virtually locked in.  Now the picture is slightly clearer.  Reagan (10-6) seized sole possession of the final spot from her sister (9-7); Nicole M. is still in the hunt, but her 8-8 Week 15 record pushed her deficit from one game to three; Jodi Ann pooped the bed with a 5-11 week and now sits alongside Marcus, six games out of the playoffs.

Games Back Week 15
Tara 9-7
Dark Mario 5 7-9
Justin 12 10-6
Dark Lee 18 8-8
Lee 19 6-10
Nicole E. 20 7-9
Mario T.Y. 21 9-7
Reagan 26 10-6
Jenny 27 9-7
Nicole M. 29 8-8
Marcus 32 6-10
Jodi Ann 32 5-11
Brinkley 33 8-8
Katie 34 6-10
Mario T.E. 35 10-6
Ruby 35 10-6
Charlotte 37 10-6

December 14, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:39

Oooh, uncertainty.  Oooh, fiscal cliff.  Investors must be panicked, right?

The Dow was down 20 points this week.  Not percentage points—index points.  As in, closed last Friday at 13,155 and closed this Friday at 13,135.

Oooh, boredom.

We’ve got two canards being repeated ad nauseum in the financial press this month: first, that the market hates uncertainty; and second, that there’s an incredible amount of uncertainty surrounding the resolution of the so-called fiscal cliff.  Can you guess how many of these pearls of wisdom are, in fact, dried-up dingleberries of wisdom?

Both of them, of course; why else would I phrase it that way?

I’ll take them one by one.  First, the market hates uncertainty.  Investors hate uncertainty; I’ll give you that one.  By investors, I mean people who put money into certain assets anticipating a long-term, reliable rate of return.  If there were only investors buying and selling stocks, the uncertainty trope would be fair.  But there are also traders, hedgers, speculators, and straight-up gamblers.  Some of those folks in fact need uncertainty to drive value in their portfolios.  Option traders, for example, can’t live without uncertainty because it creates volatility, and volatility is the most significant input to most option pricing models.

Second, the fiscal cliff.  The market is completely over it.  As I see it, the stock market expects the following: tax cuts for the bottom 98% of Americans, with the rates on the top 2% reverting to pre-Bush levels; divided and capital gains taxes reverting from 15% to pre-Bush levels; no defense spending sequester.  That’s what the two parties are in a position to get done, albeit probably not until January.  If something significantly better and/or worse happens before the end of the year, the markets will certainly react.  The lack of volatility tells me no big bets are being made in any direction.

The Family Stock Index was also flattish on the week, closing down 0.3% to 13,245.  The big news is that, unlike the broader market averages, we felt the force of the fiscal cliff in a major way.  If there’s one clear impact the fiscal cliff has made on the markets, it’s the mad rush by corporate boards to pay out special dividends to shareholders ahead of the anticipated increase in dividend tax rates next year.  For example, Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands just paid a huge special dividend, $1.2 billion of which went to Adelson himself.  Well, Marcus got in on the act this week, paying a $1 special dividend.  When a stock goes ex-dividend (payout and holders of record then are locked in) the price is lowered by the amount of the dividend, but because it’s a return to shareholders, it’s not treated as a decline in the price.  Thus the stock price is lower but the stock hasn’t declined.  Clear as mud, right?   Ordinarily, I don’t adjust FSX component prices for dividends because the amount of the dividend is negligible in relation to the stock price.  In this case, Marcus paid out 8% of his capitalization and MCS opened $1 lower when it went ex-dividend on Wednesday.  Suddenly a $12.25 stock was $11.25.  I decided that it was unfair to punish the entire family just because Uncle Scrooge McMarcus can afford to blow $20 million, presumably on freeze pops.  Thus I will be adding back the $1 dividend to the price of MCS for the remaining few trading sessions of the year, after which point the rebalance will render the point moot.

The argument could be made that I’m systematically understating the return on the FSX by not accounting for dividends.  To make that argument, though, you’d need to have read the entire preceding paragraph, and why on earth would you want to do that?


  • Jodi Ann (JOY) +7.3%.  I was going to say something about Jodi Ann’s special-dividend windfall, but when I asked Katie if she had any tips on the action in JOY, she had this to say: Jodi Ann’s a cool person who had a Pinterest success; a crafty one, too.  I have no idea what that means, but who am I to argue with the market?
  • Nami & Lita (NL) +7.2%.  As much as Charlotte luuuvs animals, these two have to be the safest cats in the world; there’s always demand for safe-haven investments.  I bet Charlotte would jump in front of a bus for her kitties, and it should surprise no one that the market is taking notice.
  • Marcus (MCS) +3.8%.  Freeze pops can be tough to track down in December.  Of course, with $20 million in his pocket, Marcus can have his freeze pops imported.  Heck, he can buy them in Australia, have them flown to Antarctica to freeze, and then delivered to his door.
  • LULU +2.8%.  Lulu’s fattening up again; is it sad that I consider that a good sign?
  • Lee (MSTR) +2.8%.  In May of this year, I traded up to $160 on the market’s ebullient response to the completion of the first draft of my book.  What was particularly impressive was the manner in which I laid out a realistic plan and executed on it.  Investors who’d driven MSTR up nearly 50% in four months presumed I would handle the second draft with similarly efficient aplomb.  I assumed I could wrap it up by October.  I was a fool, and MSTR at $160 was fool’s gold.  I decided to go through the first draft and mark up a print copy, thinking I could then simply(!) make the changes to the Word doc.  In retrospect, I see that it was a terrible plan.  Not only did it take me far longer to finish the mark ups than I expected, and not only did I end up making cuts, changes, and additions far beyond what I had anticipated, but now that I’m making the changes in Word, I find I’m re-reading and re-writing the whole thing all over again, again.  The first draft was right at 144,000 words; this draft is on pace to top out above 210,000, and I’m not expecting to finish before April 2013.  That’s ridiculous, and the market punished me savagely.  After MSTR traded below $84 last week—a nearly fifty percent retracement—I might be stabilizing.  So would I, as a former investment professional, suggest investing in me, as a writer?  Certainly not yet.  There should be plenty of time to get in if I turn things around, and I’m afraid the risk is still to the downside.


  • Charlotte (ICE) -2.2%.  I bet Charlotte would jump in front of a bus for her kitties, and it should surprise no one that the market is taking notice.
  • Wilson (WILC) -1.5%.  No one’s jumping in front of a bus for Wilson.
  • Jenny (JNY) -3.8%.  Only Lucas (-38%) and yours truly (-32%) have fallen further than Jenny (-15%) this quarter.  It’s no coincidence that two of the three laggards are in middle school, and some might argue I never fully escaped.
  • Nicole M. (COLM) -4.8%.  Nicole can’t go to Mario’s special work bowling Christmas party (maybe Katie said it was a Christmas work bowling party, I don’t know).  I’m sure Nicole is sad.  Unless she can go to the bowling work Christmas party; Katie wasn’t sure.  But then again, she might be sad about that, too.
  • Zondro (ZQK) -16%.  The only question here is whether Zondro is more likely to run in front of a bus than I’m likely to throw him in front of one.


Name Ticker 12/14/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $28.27 -0.24
Charlotte ICE $127.90 -2.82
Dustin DST $61.11 -0.83
Ghost Marisa MOLX $26.70 -0.30
Icarus FAST $43.12 +1.00
Jenny JNY $10.88 -0.43
Jodi Ann JOY $61.64 +4.21
Justin SCI $14.34 +0.09
Katie CATY $17.88 +0.14
Lee MSTR $91.00 +2.44
Lisa LNCE $23.82 -0.43
Lucas LEI $1.41 unch
Lulu LULU $74.55 +2.02
Marcus MCS $12.71 +0.46
Mario T.E. MGEE $50.65 +0.03
Mario T.Y. WMAR $10.35 +0.07
Namilita NL $11.18 +0.75
Nicole E. NICE $33.55 -0.15
Nicole M. COLM $53.79 -2.71
Reagan REGN $179.71 -1.16
Ruby RJET $5.74 +0.06
Wilson WILC $4.70 -0.07
Winston ED $56.12 +0.09
Zero ZIP $8.41 -0.01
Zondro ZQK $3.54 -0.66
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