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Monday, April 04, 2011

 

Havin' Fun Now

There have been so many great games, battles that came down to the wire in this year's NCAA tournament, it is very difficult to keep any perspective about it. With 64 teams, and maybe 15 or 20 actually believing it's possible to go all the way, the tournament is coming down to sort of a lottery. I can tell you there weren't many brackets that had this final four. The Butler UConn game is about to start, and I think we are looking at a toss-up since both teams are so good at pulling games out.

Even on the girls' side, we have had three upsets in the final eight - Notre Dame over Tennessee and UConn, and Texas A&M over Stanford. That leaves another toss-up tomorrow night. Forced at gun point to pick winners, I would have to go with UConn in the boys and A&M in the girls.

And now that the Knicks have made the playoffs, a huge step forward for our moribund pro basketball franchise, baseball is finally under way. My beloved and often hapless Mets didn't win many road series last year, but they have started off with 2 of 3 in Florida, and now move on for a sterner test in Philly. However, they do there, I like the team. The starting pitching will be better than anyone thinks, and the lineup is surely better with Thole and Davis a bit more experienced, Reyes and Beltran back if not 100%, and some bench players in Murphy, Harris, Hairston and Duda. The major weakness looks to be in long relief, a spot a lot of teams could use help with. The Mets have the misfortune to play in a pretty good division, but a strong second would not be a surprise to me, and that puts you in contention for a wild card.

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Speaking of good things, last night's Academy of Country Music Awards show on CBS was a lot better than your average monotonous self congratulations fest. Among the highlights - Carrie Underwood's pairing with Steven Tyler for one of her songs and then an Aerosmith classic; a very nice tune by comeback star Sara Evans; Reba being Reba and singing as well as ever; Darius Rucker singing with the developmentally challenged kids; and finally, the great medley by Zac Brown with James Taylor. And how nice that Taylor Swift's fans put her over the top for Entertainer of the Year over Miranda Lambert who deservedly won everything else. I know Country is not a pure medium anymore, but that was a fast moving, fun three hours.
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The Obama re-elect campaign is officially started with a fundraising goal of $1 billion. Republicans need a candidate. With Romney and Pawlenty the only really serious viable candidates so far, one wonders if someone can convince one of the aggressive governors, Christie, Daniels, or Kasich, to jump in before it's too late. All would prefer making the run in 2016.

For pure courage, you have to admire Rep. Ryan, Chair of the House Budget Committee, and the one man in Washington ready to take on the real budget busting entitlements. If you think Social Security is the Third Rail of politics, wait til you see what Ryan has ready for Medicare overhaul!
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The reclamation of George W. Bush's reputation continues. This from Der Spiegel, Feb.7 (reprinted by WSJ): Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that Mubarak was a villain and the U.S., who supported him until recently, was even worse. However, it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions...Everyone was sure - without knowing any Muslims - that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naive nonsense...

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I returned to the tournament bridge scene Friday and Sunday, and have to admit it was more fun than I remembered. For whatever reason, I am more comfortable at the table, and that starts a virtuous cycle involving more competent play. For two days, the master point haul was about 6 and a half points, mostly gold.

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We now count our LZ holding as a cash equivalent, given that Berkshire's closing of the Lubrizoil acquisition is a certainty in my mind. I don't think the questionable stock purchase by a Berkshire officer will upset the deal, and so I am holding out for 134.25, not willing to leave more than 75 cents per share on the table for the arbs. Eventually, my limit order will execute.

Otherwise, we continue to be active. On 3/16, we bought 20 shares of TIP at 109.80. Inflation hedges are the rage, for good reason. On 3/18, we bought 400 shares of Tat Technology (TATT) for the IRA, a value buy at 5.42. On 3/21, we 50 shares of Expeditors International (EXPD) a zero buy at 48.37. On 3/23 we bought 25 shares of Con Ed Preferred (ED.PR.A) for the IRA at 92.41. On 3/30 we bought 600 shares of Frozen Food Express (FFEX), a value buy at 3.45.

Then we switched to the sell side. On 3/31, we sold 100 shares of CRDN from the IRA at 44.85. These shares were purchased on 4/14/08 for 33.18. On 4/1, we sold 200 shares of Conrad (CNRD) at 14.16. They were purchased on 2/19/05 for 2.25. That was when Conrad moved to the pink sheets to avoid the exchange rules that required compliance with Sarbanes Oxley. My kind of management. Today, we sold 300 shares of Petroquest (PQ) from the IRA for 9.30 that were purchased on 4/22/09 for 2.91. So important to take profits.

Time for our periodic disclaimer: Redwavemusings and its author are NOT investment advisors and the securities mentioned here are not recommendations, only a record of my transactions. Such securities may not be suitable for readers, or anyone else.

Comments:
A couple of questions, first when will the Mets teach Parnell who to pitch or give up on him? He is killing the team and the season has just started. Next, what do you think of the Knicks chances against the Celtics? Finally, investing, any opinion about Jim Cramer? I have been watching him on tv for some time now and have considered buying his books. What do you think of his advice (not showmanship)?
 
I wonder if you care to comment about Rory's collapse in th Masters and about Showalter's Birds of Baltimore? I seem to recall a prior post wherein you announced that you were a fan of that moribund franchise.
 
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