Archive for October, 2009

Predicting today’s stock market close

October 29, 2009 10 comments

A distinguished theoretical physicist  sought Rocky’s counsel for predicting today’s Dow Jones closing price. In addition to unlocking the secrets of the universe, this physicist seeks to unlock the prize in a “Guess the Dow Jones” contest.  (The winner receives the actual closing price in dollars.)

Rocky usually leaves such precise speculations to Trophy Wife, as Rocky considers  “good fundamental analysis”  to be successfully picking a pair of matching socks.  (Or at least they seem to match in the darkness of dawn.)

Rocky realized that the physicist’s challenge was too big for his HP-45 Calculator, so he borrowed Virgil Starkwell’s X-22 computer, and fired it up for the first time in 40 years…

The X-22 generated four possible closing prices:

[Disclosure: As the price dispersion demonstrates, Rocky does not provide investment advice. However, readers are encouraged to learn more about the legendary X-22 computer by watching the YouTube video embedded below. Warren Buffett will probably enjoy this approach too.]



Not-so-good places for a nap

October 23, 2009 15 comments

Northwest Airlines Flight 188 didn’t respond to radio calls and overshot it’s destination by 150 miles.  Some investigators speculate that both pilots fell asleep.

Trophy Wife claims that Rocky can fall sleep anywhere.  Nonetheless, here is Rocky’s list of least-favorite places for a nap:

1. Subway tracks.

2. The dotted line on the local highway.

3. An examining table at the coroner’s office.

4. Under a tree during a thunderstorm.

5. On a beach during low tide.

Rocky asks:

Is this little fellow training to be a pilot when he grows up?




A twist on French Roast coffee: “New Jersey Roast”

October 21, 2009 5 comments

coffeeCoffee futures are rising this morning as news of a fire at Sara Lee’s New Jersey Coffee plant percolates through the markets.

From Bloomberg News: “Coffee prices pared losses in New York after a fire burned overnight at a Sara Lee coffee and tea plant in New Jersey that roasts millions of pounds of beans each year. Firefighters were still extinguishing hotspots from the fire, the fourth at the plant since October 2008.”

Four fires in less than a year???

 Rocky believes Starbucks’ French Roast coffee already has a burnt taste. Now, competitor Sara Lee (which packages Chock Full Of Nuts) appears to have devised a  new process for a darker, deeper, richer flavor….

 How does one make New Jersey roast? Just burn down the building.

Hot Air Balloon (yes it’s real)

October 16, 2009 2 comments

balloonWith the six-year-old boy on terra firma, Rocky can now “safely” ridicule this well-publicized story. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “unintentional fall deaths” account for 7.0 deaths per 100,000 population or more than 20,000 people each year.

By “fall” deaths, CDC presumably means the effects of gravity, rather than the effects of autumn. CDC does not provide a sub-category for apples dropping on one’s head during the autumn — which involves a fall in the fall.

Most importantly, this story highlights the dangers of both “hot air” and hot-air-balloons. 

In the video clip below  the six-year-old suggests the entire story was a stunt. (Notice  both brothers look at their mother at 00:46 with a tell-tale expression after the boy “spills the beans.”) Hence,  the dangers of hot air.  Watch the video here:

The website, debunks “Hot Air Balloon Propaganda,” and floats the idea that ballooning is four times more dangerous than fixed wing flight:   … Hence, the dangers of hot-air balloons.

Historians (and literary trivia addicts) note that this fear of flying dates back to 1872:  Chapter 32 of the Jules Verne novel “Around the World in Eighty Days” says, “[in considering the use of a hot air balloon instead of ships and rail,] it would have been highly risky.” Balloons were never deployed by Mr. Verne, a scientific visionary!!

It took Hollywood’s 1956 movie adaptation Around the World In Eighty Days  to irresponsibly fabricate the glamorous use of balloons.  Perhaps the harmful and provocative  images from this movie influenced the impressionable six-year-old’s behavior?

[Disclosure: Back in college, Rocky threw some hot water balloons (as distinct from hot air balloons) out of his dorm room window. The consequences of this action confirm that both hot air balloons and hot water balloons pose risks to the general population. Rocky concludes that both of these devices should be subject to government regulation. This post has NOT been reviewed by the AAAA, the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association:  ]

Amazing live herd behavior

October 10, 2009 7 comments

Leave it to the Brits to capture genuine herd behavior in this remarkable video. Be sure to wait for the finale at 1:30. (The only question is why are they playing the 1812 overture? Didn’t the Yanks win that war?)

Click and enjoy!

Bank closures, oranges, and broken glass

October 10, 2009 7 comments

fdic“A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine,” says the Florida Citrus Commission.  Because of his acid stomach and acid wit, Rocky doesn’t drink much orange juice. Instead, Rocky says,  “A week without a bank failure is like a week with sunshine.”

According to the FDIC, last week marked one of the  rare weeks of 2009 without a single  bank failure.  Folks who see their glass as “half-full”  will read this statistic as a ray of economic sunshine.  Folks who see their glass as “half-empty” will note that the FDIC usually closes banks on Fridays. Due to the Columbus Day holiday, FDIC employees may have just decided to take a long weekend. The FDIC bank closing list can be viewed here:

Rocky isn’t someone who views his glass as either half-full or half-empty.  Instead, he views his glass as cracked. Hence, he  was not surprised when OJ  prices went “limit up” (outperforming gold) yesterday. The Trading Places-esque price spike occurred after a Agriculture Department crop report showed a 16% decline in  Florida orange production.  See:

Rocky sensibly concludes that any surviving banks won’t be serving free orange juice to their customers.

[Disclosure: Rocky frequently mixes metaphors, as this is part of constructing a “well-diversified” portfolio.]

More bathroom humor…

October 6, 2009 9 comments

Rocky received the following letter (actual fax image below) from the  Bemis Toilet Seat Manufacturing Company. As always, readers are cautioned to read the Disclaimer before making any investment (or other) decisions.

[From the Bemis Manufacturing Company, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin]

June 27, 2007

Dear Mr. Humbert:

Your recent faxed inquiry regarding the Model 400 and Model 450 was forwarded to me by our Director of (Toilet) Training, and as the executive responsible for the development of both the Model 400 and Model 450, I feel an urgent need to set the record straight.

(1) The Model 400 series of Comfort Receptacles were a seminal breakthrough achievement in bowel elimination technology

While to an untrained eye, it may just be a “toilet seat,” in reality, the Model 400 incorporates more than three dozen proprietary technological advancements, 17 patents, and it includes our trade-marked Anus Sensitivity System ®. 

Having carefully modeled the buttocks of more than 12,000 men, women and children of varying ethnic and religious groups, we designed the Model 400 using the latest 3-D CAD/CAM methods, and optimized for both comfort and functionality. 

Perhaps you are familiar with the  phenomenon of Bounce Back which occurs when a particularly large piece of feces drops into the water and causes an unpleasant splash.  Well, due to our breakthrough work, for users of the Model 400, Bounce Back is just an unpleasant memory.

(2) The Model 450 takes the Model 400 to the next level.  Incorporating high strength carbon fibre composite (the same material in race cars and the space shuttle), the Model 450 was originally designed for the British market, where constipation is widespread; and where the extra strength of our Comfort Receptacle is not a luxury.  It’s a necessity.

I apologize if you were confused about the warranty and pricing information provided by my associate; rest assured that,  the men of Bemis proudly stand behind every urinal (and toilet) that we sell.

Sincerely yours,

Robert S. Buttovsky, PhD

Vice President and Director of Research & Development