Rocky’s been busy lifting large boulders, and then seeking medical assistance for the consequences of lifting large boulders. He apologizes for his recent blog silence, and offers another “Guess this object” contest as a goodwill gesture to his loyal readers. As always, the reader who correctly guesses the object will receive a unique prize of dubious monetary value.
Hint: The dimensions are 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. The yellow material is chamois (genuine). Inside of the object is a flashlight and a Poland Spring water bottle filled with 50% anti-freeze (Prestone) and 50% water. A piece of asphalt shingle is on the top of the object. And the stripes are “designer” duct tape.
[Disclosure: Rocky rarely uses duct tape with designer colors. As Trophy Wife will attest, he's strictly a grey-sort-of-guy.]
An old Dell computer has sat in the corner of Rocky’s home library for months. Rocky promised Trophy Wife that this unsightly dust magnet would eventually “disappear,” yet even Rocky’s trusted Computer Guru won’t carry the box away. The Computer Guru explained that no charity would want such a relic.
What to do? Rocky lists some possible uses for the “low profile” desktop computer:
1. It weighs about 15 pounds. Perhaps it can be used as a “medicine ball” … to be tossed back-and-forth in the gym?
2. In lieu of bricks, it could be placed in the trunk of a car…providing added traction for winter driving.
3. It can be donated to Habitat For Humanity and used as a substitute concrete block for new construction.
4. It can serve as a step stool to reach the top shelf in the pantry.
5. It can be used as a space heater to warm up the bathroom floor on cold mornings.
6. It can serve as a standing platform for meditation and yoga. Alternatively, smashed with a sledge hammer, it can provide a more effective release for life’s frustrations.
7. It could be buried in the backyard as a time capsule for future generations to find.
“Cougars” routinely prowl the bars of Greenwich, Connecticut, a town with more hedge funds per capita than any other US city. However, Rocky suspects some cougars have mutated into mountain lions — which pose a far greater threat:
From the Connecticut State Department of Environmental Protection:
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced it is cooperating with the Town of Greenwich Police Department to investigate recent sightings of a large cat in the King Street area of Greenwich. Based on photographs taken of the animal and other evidence it appears that the animal is a mountain lion that has been held in captivity and was released or escaped. There is no native population of mountain lions in Connecticut and the eastern mountain lion has been declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Anyone that sees this animal should not approach it and immediately call the local police and the DEP 24-hour Emergency Phone Line at 860-423-3333.
The full press release can be found here: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?Q=480832&A=4013
[Disclosure: Trophy Wife brought this development to Rocky's attention. She assured Rocky that if she sees the mountain lion, she won't offer the animal any leftover Frappachino from the Greenwich Starbucks.]
Skinflint. Miser. Penny-pincher. Frugal. Tightwad.
All of these adjectives describe Rocky in most matters. However, Rocky throws open his wallet and spares no expense for three important purchase categories: automobile tires, bath towels, and orange marmalade.
During her recent two-day trip to London, Trophy Wife’s marching orders were clear: find a jar of Fortnum & Mason’s finest Orange Marmalade, and carry it home for Rocky’s (discount) crackers and crumpets.
Trophy Wife scored a bottle of “Wake-Up Marmalade” early in the day, and all was well until Heathrow Airport Security seized the jar from her luggage as a “security threat.” Horrified, humiliated, and fearing the “Wrath of Rocky,” she ran to the Airport’s Duty-Free Shop, where she fortuitously found the marmalade section next to the Cuban cigars and over-priced single malt scotch. Unfortunately, the Duty-Free Shop’s marmalade selection was sparse, and she selected a jar of Sir Nigel’s Orange Marmalade. (Fortnum & Mason produces more than 40 marmalade varieties.)
From the marmalade bottle: “Noted 1920′s actor-manager, Sir Nigel Playfair was used to getting what he wanted – like the thick-cut, tough-guy marmalade remembered from his childhood rather than the effete flapper versions fashionable at the time.”
After sampling the marvelous marmalade on generic Stop&Shop water biscuits, Rocky agreed that he would no longer consume “effete” American marmalade . A tough guy like Rocky deserves a tough-guy marmalade. But in a show of tenderness, Rocky thanked Trophy Wife profusely for her valiant efforts, and gave her a sticky peck on the cheek.
[Disclosure: Terrorists should note that airport security will detect explosives dissolved in blood orange marmalade . ]
The Captain of the Titanic supposedly said, “Women and children first!” when directing his passengers to the lifeboats.
Rocky, (hardly a chivalrous fellow), thinks recent Consumer Price Index data demonstrate “Women and Children LAST!”
He notes that women’s and children’s apparel prices are declining at a noticeably faster rate than men’s apparel prices. (See the bottom three lines of the chart above.) Although Rocky continues to wear the same ragged grey sweater and chinos, Trophy Wife may find this data to be an impetus for a visit to the shopping mall.
Rocky theorizes that women can wear men’s clothes (which support the price of shirts and pants), whereas most men wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a dress or skirt. However, if this trend continues, Rocky’s miserly nature will prevail, and he’ll try on a kilt or two.
The bald facts
The MegaMillion Lotto Jackpot is now $237 Million. The odds of winning are about 1:175 Million. This means that if Rocky fills out 175 million lottery tickets, he is guaranteed to make a profit. (Assuming that he doesn’t have to share the prize.)
But Rocky doesn’t want to stand at his local Seven-Eleven and fill out 175 Million tickets. (After he enters Trophy Wife’s birthdate, the dog’s birthdate, and his lucky number from inside of a Chinese Fortune Cookie, he won’t remember what numbers to pick.) So instead, he will ask the Seven-Eleven lottery clerk for 175 Million “Quick Pick” tickets.
A “Quick-Pick” is a computer-generated random number lottery entry. The computer picks the numbers, so Rocky doesn’t have to think that hard.
Alas, this won’t work either. Because even if Rocky buys 175 million Quick-Pick, there is some chance that he will receive duplicate Quick-Pick entries … and there is some chance that he won’t receive the winning combination.
The chance of getting a duplicate Quick-Pick should be the same as the chance of winning the lottery. But in Rocky’s case, achieving this result is an illustration of really bad luck.
So Rocky poses the following math question: What is the OPTIMAL number of Quick-Pick tickets to buy? (The optimal number should maximize the chance of getting the winning combination, and minimize the chance of getting a duplicate combination.)
As always, the reader with the best submission will receive a unique prize of dubious monetary value.
Flush with profits from a recent trade (and a 20% discount coupon), Rocky headed to his local CVS/Pharmacy to treat himself to an indulgence.
He passed on the bubble bath. (skin allergies)
He passed on the organic chocolate bars. (weight gain)
He passed on the automatic blood pressure monitor. (don’t ask, don’t tell)
He settled on Yoshi Blade – “the one knife whose sharpness is guaranteed.”
Rocky enjoys late-night informercials, hence he knew Yoshi Blade is a ceramic knife that’s guaranteed to stay sharp; won’t rust or pit; can replace a drawer full of metal knives; is made of natural eco-friendly materials; and its design is ideal for precision cutting and thin slicing.
After paying $18, he headed home and severely gashed his finger while opening the sharp plastic wrapper. Alas, Rocky discovered that the plastic wrapper would prove to be a better knife than Yoshi Blade (as seen on TV).
“When all else fails, read the instructions,” thought Rocky.
Fearful of a paper cut, Rocky carefully unfolded Yoshi Blade Care and Maintenance Guide, (a booklet containing more detail than his Dell Computer User Guide.)
From the Guide: (verbatim)
- DO NOT use Yoshi Blade or the side of the blade to chop food.
- DO NOT use Yoshi Blade to cut frozen food.
- DO NOT use Yoshi Blade to cut hard cheeses.
- DO NOT use Yoshi Blade for carving poultry or meat with bones.
- DO NOT cut on ceramic plates, marble, stone, glass or tile.
- DO NOT bend, twist, pry or apply force on the tip or side of the blade.
- DO NOT use Yoshi Blade to smash garlic or other foods with the side of the blade.
- DO NOT place Yoshi Blade in or near open flame or heat source, as ceramic blade will get hot.
- Yoshi Blade is NOT dishwasher safe. Hand wash only in warm water with mild soap and never let Yoshi Blade soak in water for any period of time.
Rocky thought he understood the instructions. Yoshi Blade cannot be used for cutting, carving, chopping, twisting, stirring or any other activity normally reserved for knives.
(It suddenly became clear how Yoshi Blade can replace a drawer full of metal knives: put Yoshi Blade in a drawer, and order Chinese Take-Out.)
[Disclosure: Rocky lives dangerously. He put Yoshi Blade in his dishwasher. ]
Rocky always looks for an “edge” in his market speculations, but rarely finds one.
In contrast, Rocky always looks for an “edge” in his brownies, and often finds one. As any brownie aficionado knows, the crispy, chewy edges are the best part of a brownie. Rocky’s technique is to cut the crispy, delicious edge from around an entire brownie pan, and leave the gooey middle bulk for lesser mortals.
This habit always drove Rocky’s daughter crazy, as she would bake a gorgeous fresh pan of brownies — and return to find all of the crust surgically removed and only mutilated innards remaining.
Rocky’s daughter gave her dad a birthday present that solved the problem: The Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan. This cleverly designed pan has a maze shape, so that every brownie has a chewy, crispy edge. Rocky thought the invention to be brilliant and dubbed it “his best birthday present ever.” (Except for the birthday when Trophy Wife rented a full-size excavator for a day, and Rocky and his friends dug some holes for fun.)
Here’s the amazon.com link to the brownie pan:
[Disclosure: The first batch of brownies was magnificent. Every brownie had two crispy/chewy edges, and some brownies had three edges!]
The NY Times reports regularly on illegal aliens crossing into the USA. However, there’s another insidious immigrant invasion underway: mice invaded Rocky’s basement!
The “cute” little rodents know better than to come upstairs where the cats will pounce. So they party in the basement and in the walls.
Rocky set several mousetraps, and discovered the bait disappeared within fifteen minutes. Multiple times. Trophy Wife accused Rocky of being dumber than a mouse! His manliness challenged, he set up a nightcam video surveillance and caught the clever critters red-handed. He figures that if he can understand their “M.O.,” he can out-smart them.
Rocky will spend the evening watching “Caddyshack,” while he plans his next move.
By unanimous decision: Round One goes to the mouse.
[Disclosure: During a recent trip to London, Rocky and his family attended the longest running play in history: Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap." Rocky hopes that his mousetrap doesn't require sixty years.]
Rocky found some fool’s gold buried in today’s Producer Price Index data.
The year-over-year change in “Karat Gold Jewelry Prices” was 12.1% Whereas the year-over-year change in “Costume Jewelry Prices” was a modest 0.9%.
According to Wikipedia, “Costume jewelry (also called fashion jewelry, junk jewelry, fake jewelry, or fallalery) is jewelry manufactured as ornamentation to complement a particular fashionable costume or garment.”
Since the Government sees fit to include the “all important” costume jewelry price in the PPI, Rocky smells an arbitrage for an upcoming Trophy Wife birthday present.
Rocky currently owns gold in his investment portfolio, but this price discrepancy suggests that he should consider a “short gold / long fake gold” swap for Trophy Wife’s jewelry box portfolio.
[Disclosure: As they say on TV: "We're trained professionals. Don't try this yourselves at home!]
The crisp chill of autumn fills the air.
The deer are rutting. The squirrels are gaining weight. And Rocky went shopping for a new pair of bedroom slippers.
In past years, Rocky’s slippers slipped into the same black hole as his missing unpaired socks and ballpoint pens. This year, Rocky tried a new tack. A tacky tack. A pair of slippers so thoroughly ugly – that they would not be borrowed; could not be misplaced; and will not be stolen.
Did Rocky mention that they were $3.24 at Target? (Thank you, China!)
[Disclosures: Rocky believes that the "S-S" refers to Syracuse University, and these slippers are not WWII surplus. Also, upon viewing Rocky's new footsie-tootsie, Trophy Wife was left speechless. The small white dot on the right slipper are the stubborn remains of a price tag, and it does not interfere with comfort or functionality.]
Rocky purchased his HP12C Financial Calculator 25-years-ago, and the calculator has been a loyal, trusted and always-present companion ever since. It witnessed and assisted in life’s most important moments:
- It computed the per-carat cost of Trophy Wife’s engagement ring; and the closing costs of The Humbert Family Estate.
- It calculated the required vitamin pills during pregnancy, and the travel and parking time to reach the local hospital.
- It provided a “Discounted Present Value” for a lifetime supply of Rogaine. ($11,000); the cooking time for a gargantuan slab of discount bbq meat (3 days); and the hours required on a treadmill after eating the slab of meat (3 days).
- It inspired The Second Law of Rocky.
- It deserves credit for every successful (and unsuccessful) arbitrage that Rocky executed over the past 25 years.
Desite dents, scratches and worn feet, HP12C never let Rocky down. Yet suddenly, two days ago, age caught up to HP12C. The display dimmed, and commas/periods randomly appeared and disappeared.
Even though Trophy Wife hates Reverse Polish Notation “RPN,” she recognized the dangers of an unreliable financial calcuator, and located the tiny replacement batteries in a nearby town. Alas, new batteries did not fix the problem: HP12C was approaching the inevitable end of its life…. (Sentimental readers: the YouTube Video of the Byrd’s song “Turn Turn” is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgq8_EmOSM0 )
But in calculators, as in life, there is always a silver lining! As HP12C faded, Rocky studied the financials and prospects of HP Corporation (HPQ), and concluded that it could be an interesting investment… if entered at the right price.
Amazingly, this opportunity occurred just one-day-later … as the CEO resigned amidst a sexual harrassment/expense account scandal. Rocky started buying HP stock around 6pm ($42), because the stock lost $11 Billion (11%) in value on the news. He will buy more if it keeps declining solely because of this resignation news. (The stock is trading at 9x earnings, so that means Mr. Market attributes $1.22 Billion in EARNINGS and $19 Billion in SALES to the just-departed CEO. Rocky thinks Mr. Hurd was a fine CEO, but he is neither Steve Jobs nor Warren Buffett, and the reaction presents a Rocky I opportunity.)
[Disclosure: Rocky doesn't believe that the disclosure of his future purchase of a HP calculator constitutes material inside information that will impact HP's stock price. He appreciates that the CEO's expense account irregularities could be just the tip-of-an-iceberg of problems. And he never provides investment advice. ]
The birds love it. (“Chirp, Chirp.”)
The deer love it. (“Slurp, Slurp.”)
Trophy Wife loves it. (“Ahhhh….”)
Alas, when the electric bill came, Rocky didn’t share in the euphoria. Instead, he decided to install a timer. A project that begs the question, “How many trips to Home Depot does it take to screw-in a lightbulb?”
On Thursday, Rocky purchased a timer at his local True-Value Hardware store and synchronized the river tide with Trophy Wife’s comings and goings. ( Trophy Wife’s weekday departure time=Waterfall Off. Trophy Wife’s weekday arrival time=Waterfall On. Sleeptime=Waterfall Off.)
And all seemed well … until Saturday.
“Why is the waterfall turned off?” ask Trophy Wife.
“Because you aren’t supposed to be home,” answered Rocky.
“But I’m always home on Saturdays and Sundays,” observed Trophy Wife. “You need to fix this problem.”
So, Rocky set off for the local Ace Hardware Store and bought a new timer — one with a label that read “WEEKLY schedule — every day is different.”
After struggling to remove the plastic wrapping (which rendered the product non-returnable,) Rocky sadly discovered that this was a “Vacation Timer” designed to turn lights on and off at entirely random moments. This timer’s intent is to confuse burglars — especially burglars who check a waterfall before breaking and entering.
Timer #2 could not be programmed, but at least the timer’s description was honest: “Every day IS different! ”
Rocky knew better than to propose a waterfall that starts and stops randomly. Instead, he tossed it in the back of the trunk and headed to Home Depot.
At Home Depot, Rocky found two suitable choices: (1) An in-line 7-day digital programmable timer with waterproof box (which risked electrocution for both the installer (i.e. Rocky) and local chipmunks. (2) An idiot-proof 7-day timer with “no assembly required.” Rocky chose the latter, programmed the weekday and weekend settings, installed a professional-looking weatherproof box, and went inside to take a well-deserved nap.
[Disclosure: Before purchasing the third and final timer, Rocky sent a Blackberry Email to Trophy Wife which read: "Please note that NONE of the timers can be set to turn on for Federal Holidays. Trophy Wife replied, "Yes. We'll deal with those manually. If you're still there, buy more lawn bags. "]
Panera Bread just opened a a new restaurant where customers “pay whatever they want.”
From the Associated Press: CLAYTON, Mo. — Panera Bread Co. is asking customers at a new restaurant to pay what they want. The national bakery and restaurant chain launched a new nonprofit store here this week that has the same menu as its other 1,400 locations. But the prices are a little different — there aren’t any. Customers are told to donate what they want for a meal, whether it’s the full suggested price, a penny or $100.
The full story can be found here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g__EQ-OG9DhU1YwC4Fo4s5QREdbgD9FPBIMG0
This bizarre business model has Trophy Wife jumping up and down with excitement as she hopes that Tiffany’s jewelers may adopt a similar pricing policy. Additionally, if Panera succeeds in this approach, it will be bullish for textbook publishers, as it will require a re-write of every college economics textbook!
[Disclosure: Rocky doesn't own any shares of Panera Bread (PNRA), but if he did, he might be tempted to sell them before he lunches at Panera for a penny.]
Rocky walked over to his Lexus car on Sunday morning, and discovered that all four windows mysteriously opened overnight. This posed a problem because a late-night monsoon left the seats, carpet and dashboard badly soaked. Even the cupholders were holding water (without cups).
“Unintended acceleration gets all the attention, but unintended ventilation is far more insidious,” grumbled Rocky, as he wiped the seats with a handful of Trophy Wife’s dish towels. “At least with unintended acceleration, you can shift into neutral or turn off the engine.”
The outside temperature was in the high 30′s, so obviously Rocky had not opened the windows intentionally. Also, he keeps the passenger windows in “locked mode,” so he could not have accidentally confused the door-lock and down-window buttons when exiting.
Other than an electronic problem, the best explanation is that Rocky may have sat on his key fob in an odd way. When a driver presses a Lexus key fob unlock-button for 5 continous seconds, all of the car windows open. But how could this happen accidentally? Rocky does not wear his trousers to bed, nor does he engage in contortionist exercises. The best explanation is that Rocky “bent over,” (literally) as he must occasionally do….
[Disclosure: Rocky intends to contact the National Highway Safety Administration and lodge a complaint. Perhaps then Toyota will issue a key fob safety recall -- which will prevent unintended ventilation from ruining more fine wool suits and silk jackets -- as these fine garments are pressed against soaked leather seats.]
The Company said the waffle shortage lowered the company’s fourth-quarter sales by 2 percent, and the stock is down 5%. See: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aqjyWpquFFmI
Rocky noticed the signs at his local grocery store that apologized for the Eggo shortage. Luckily, as part of his Y2K disaster preparation, Rocky kept a stockpile of waffles and Tang in his generator-powered underground bunker.
He’s currently checking the prices on Ebay to see whether he can unload his waffles at a profit.
A representative of the National Waffle Association, (yes, it exists), declined to comment on Rocky’s arbitrage activities.
[Disclosure: Trophy Wife is not fond of frozen waffles for breakfast. She's strictly a fresh banana and Special-K kind of gal.]
For New York City apartment dwellers, Channel 11′s TV Yule Log may be their only fireplace. But is it also a solution for Global Warming?
The day-long video of a burning log always intrigues Rocky. Despite its continuous combustion, the log never decreases in size.
Rocky spent many a Christmas day staring at the Yule log (in-between bites of leftover Chow Mein) — unsuccessfully looking for evidence that the film was a continous loop.
During the 2009 baseball season, Trophy Wife bought a 55″ HDTV, and Rocky just parked himself in front of the huge new TV. He hopes that HD will either show the video to be a loop — or more likely, that the Yule log is a source of permanent, clean and renewable energy.
[Disclosure: Happy Holidays to all! Internet news reports that the video Yule log has gone national. Check your local listings for time and channel! See: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/dec/24/fireplace-yule-log-becomes-ubiquitous-holiday-tv-o/news-breaking/ . ]
For Tuesday’s dinner, Rocky prepared Roasted Duck Breast; a cold diced cucumber and tomato salad; and X (see picture above.)
Rocky discovered X in an ethnic food store last weekend. The knowledgeable and friendly store owner convinced Rocky to give X a try. Things went downhill from there….
Trophy Wife pushed X to the side of her plate without even a nibble.
Rocky’s daughter said, “Dad, you gotta be kidding! This looks like a microscope slide of bacteria colonies from my biology class.”
[Disclosure: The first reader of Rocky's blog who either correctly identifies X or provides a decent recipe for X will win a Unique Prize of Dubious Monetary Value. Hint: The owner of the ethnic food store was Armenian.]