Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Can your google do this? Two points for Microsoft.

Microsoft's latest mapping technology

All I can say is....wow.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Democracy InAction (title stolen from the Daily Show)...Florissant Mayor Lowery shows that ignoring is bliss

I sent this email to Florissant at citymail@florissantmo.com: My email:

I have sent several emails, and left several voice mails regarding contributing to the committee pertaining to Ordinance, # 7220. All have been ignored.

If you would truly like to prove to your citizens that you would like to work together on this, like you said over and over, than please allow a landlord and tenant on your committee. (I do not mean the 2 or 3 landlords who are for this, I mean the other side). Please allow me on this committee so we can work together.

This is going to come down to a lawsuit against Florissant. You know this. What greater dis-service can you do, than to allow us to sue ourselves because we are unhappy with the way we are being governed. We will have to pay for our lawyers, and as a taxpayer I will have to pay for Florissant's lawyers. Please do not let this get this far.

Please allow me on this committee.


I sent the below email to Paul Harris (an STL radio personality) at paulharris@kmox.com:

Good day Paul,

Please check out the below link:

Florissant is stepping over the line.

Please note that post includes a few links with objections and a solution. Florissant is stepping way over the line here, and isn't listening to what we are saying. They care about their image, and not their citizens. Maybe you can help us get more publicity so we can kick them where it hurts: their image. They want us to be the West County of North County, but they take the wrong steps to do so. We should try to bring high income people in, instead of trying to keep low income people out. (as a side note, my tenants make more than me!...I am low income, not my tenants!). I have also suggested a way to do that, and their response was I am idealistic....even though its called realism in other cities.




Please send emails.

*******************UPDATE 12:08******Update:

I told a friend that the mayor's assistent replied and said she would make sure he heard my request. My friend in turn asked if I thought he'd listen.

My reply:

absolutely not.

persistence beats resistence, but stupidity reigns.

I think he will reply with: thank you for your thoughts, we are looking into this further and look forward to reaching a plan that benefits everyone.

translation: we are waiting until after the april elections before we impose this on you....oh and by the way I formed this committee of 3 people so the other council people wouldn't get harassed as much, now its just 3 council people getting tied up in this instead of 9ish. Oh and even if I let you on the committee I wouldn't listen to a thing you said, but it would allow me the chance to say "we even had a landlord on the committee and still decided that its in florissant's best interest to do this."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Progress regarding Florissant's discrimination against Landlords and Tenants

Post from the Post.

My solution

My stance.

The mayor has said we need to work together. He also said that there will be a a committee formed to review this. On the committee is the mayor and 3 council people. No landlords, and no renters. Once again, this is wrong. I have contacted several council people and the mayor himself to try to get on this committee. So far, I haven't had luck.

The bottomline is if something is wrong, stand up and fight. This law benefits me and my homes, but it is wrong. So I am fighting to overturn it. If something is wrong, it is wrong, even if its right for me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I read my comments. GM part deux (or whatever number I'm up to)

Dickens made some good points in his comments to a GM post I made a few weeks backs. Both can be seen by clicking here.

Since my post, GM has taken steps that I appreciate. Dickens is right to acknowlege the unions as a hurdle.

I feel GM needs to do the following:

1) Sell or close several lines of cars. I don't know much about which ones, because I honestly don't follow GM as anything more than an armchair investor. They need money, and they need simplification. Toyota, Honda, Nissan are great companies because all the cars are essentially the same. A camry is a corrolla is a lexus ES...just different tweaks to the same model. A sentry is a altma is a maxima is a infinity. They are simple. A friend pointed out to me a few days ago that the japanese car companies are strategically superior because they also go many years without significant changes to models. They build cars that work and then just tweak them. GM builds cars to build cars. If you build it, they will come no longer applies.
2) innovation.
3) cut executive pay and dividends. They recently did both. Although I would like to see them eliminate dividends...but first things first. The execs (at every company) should get paid on performance. Give them a 100k salary, and then bonus' if they hit benchmarks.
4) eliminate unions. Companies can not grow nor compete in this day and age if they have unions. Profit sharing and establishing pride is the way to go.
5) I read once that Toyota's biggest problem is their sales force. After many studies Toyota said their cars sell themselves and they don't know why they need a sales force. Do you think GM has this on their list of problems?
6) It is taking GM and Ford longer to build each car than it takes Honda, Toyota, and Nissan....if I recall its like a 5 hour gap per car. That is huge when you're talking about millions of cars....and the gap is widening. Its not just about engineering the cars, its about engineering and innovating the process to build and distribute the cars. Microsoft became great because they innovated their own processes and not just their product....same thing with 3M, toyota, nissan, FORD 80 years ago, etc.
7) Opportunity: Hybrids offer GM and Ford a chance to innovate. This is a revolutionary time in transportation. Who will take advantage of it. So far Honda and Toyota are the clear winners. Can GM, Ford, and Nissan make a big move here?

GM is on a better track than when I wrote last about them....but they really do need to downsize dramatically, focus on a core line of vehicles, establish pride and profit sharing in a non union workforce, and go from there.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Are you getting rich working 40 hours a week?

I work 40 hours a week. I have a lower income than most people I know. I get paid less than the average american household.

I enjoy what I do. I enjoy going in to work. I enjoy my responsibilities at work. I really like my new boss's boss. I really really like my new boss. I (generally) feel no stress.

I hate my pay...but I know how to get rich. Its simple. Its easy.

You step up to the plate.

You don't swing for homeruns. You get your basehits, and score your runs. Every now and then you happen to get a homerun. Every now and then you strike out. But you have to step up to the plate.

You see, you can work 40 hours a week making 100k a year, and not get rich. Most high income people are not rich.

rich = (age/10)X(annual salary).

Most people get rich by having their money make money.

Is your money making money?

When I go to sleep at night, my money is making money. My money works harder than I do, and I work smart and hard...and after taxes my money pays me more than my 40 hour a week job does.

That is how you get rich. Your money has to work for you, so you don't have to work to make money.

Step up to the plate. Swing smart.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wise words

Please note I agree with everything in here, but these are not my words. I have pasted this article from yahoo:

"A few weeks ago, I was at a financial conference giving an investing talk. A hand from the audience shot up as I talked about returns on investments of 50 percent, 1,000 percent, and infinite returns. "That's a load of rubbish," shouted the person attached to the hand waving in the air.

I asked the participant to clarify what he thought was a load of rubbish.

"You can't get such high returns," he replied angrily. "I'm a financial planner, and I've never seen anyone achieve such returns."

"What kind of investments do you recommend for your clients?" I asked.

"I recommend a well-diversified portfolio of cash, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds," he replied indignantly. "That's why I ask you: How can you get such high returns from these investments?"

"Because I don't invest in those investments," was my reply.

No Honest Advantage

I don't think too highly of investments such as savings, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, as my articles have made clear. I have written about the importance of having control over your investments -- how professional investors can invest with higher returns and less risk simply because they have more control. People who invest in paper assets -- such as savings, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds -- have very little control (see "Why Business Smarts Are Investing Smarts").

Beyond the issue of control, there's something else even more important for some professional investors. One of the problems I have with savings, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds is that I don't have an honest advantage over other investors. In this area, if I do become creative and find an advantage, I run the risk of going to jail or paying stiff fines, whereas finding an edge in other kinds of investment doesn't carry such legal risk. For example:

With registered securities, trading on insider information is illegal. When investing in a business or in real estate, insider information can give you a legal competitive advantage.

With paper assets, you have very little control over your greatest expense -- taxes. When investing in a business or real estate, you can gain a legal, competitive advantage by paying less in taxes, which increases your return on investment.
Creativity Puts You Ahead

When it comes to savings, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, the government, via agencies such as the Securities & Exchange Commission, does its best to keep the playing field level and the rules fair. It's important they do this since so many amateur investors are involved.

At the same time, the SEC's tight rules tend to take away as much creativity as possible. With businesses and real estate, legal creativity is your advantage. The more legally creative you are, the greater your return on investment.

Recently, I bought 10 acres of land for $100,000. Since the land is already zoned for mobile homes, my plan is to simply subdivide the property into approximately 50 lots and sell each lot for $25,000. Do the math, and you'll see that the 10 acres are worth a gross of $1.25 million, which is not a bad return on a $100,000 initial investment. The legal advantage is the mobile-home zoning, an advantage all the other land in the area does not have.

Another property recently came up for sale that's more complex and interesting -- a whole town for sale in Nevada for $12 million. We estimate the town's single family homes alone are worth $26 million. The remaining buildings and land, including a golf course, we estimate to be worth another $10 million.

Our plan is to raise the $12 million, plus an additional $2 million to fix up the single-family homes, and then sell those homes for $26 million. We then pay back the investors and split the potential $12 million dollars in gross profit. The rest of the town would belong to the five of us who put the deal together. That would be our real return on investment.

This all sounds easy in theory, but there's one serious problem, which is the reason the town's price is low. We suspect there are environmental problems, which the Environmental Protection Agency would pounce on, levying heavy fines, once we own the town. Before investing any money, a friend of mine who specializes in polluted properties will evaluate the risks. If the contamination is too high, we won't invest. If the contamination is low and we can solve the problem, we stand to make millions without putting a dime into the venture.

These are two examples of how a little skill and creativity can be used for legal advantages. So here are four lessons I want to leave you with:

1) Be careful about who gives you investment advice. If your advisor thinks an 8% return is a good return, you may want to look for another advisor.
2) Someone else's problem can be your opportunity.
3) Take the time to cultivate a stable of friends who know how to solve tough problems.
4) Learn to invest in investments where you can achieve an honest, legal advantage over other investors. When it comes to investing, why play on a level field?"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sometimes I think I am stupid...until I look at numbers.

If I rip on google, and wait for that boat to sink (the stock price, not the company) than I must admit when my picks faulter.

Cendant. Cendant is in the midteens right now. It doesn't make sense to me. I think its worth 30, and the market thinks its worth 15.

So I went and did some homework to see if anything changed since last time I looked at them. I see that there market cap is $16MM. (market cap = number of shares X price per share). I see their cash flow from operations was 5B last year. This means in 3 years they would buy back all there shares if they wanted to.

That is some strong cash flow!

They have 30 billion is liabilities. In 6 years they could pay off all of their debt.

That is some strong cash flow!

Cash is king. The ability to generate cash from sales is what makes a company strong. A good idea does not make a company strong. The ability to turn that idea into sales, and then turn the sales into cash is what makes a strong company.

The market and masses are wrong. again.

...(this is what I call opportunity.)

Monday, February 06, 2006

An atheist seeks god.

Yesterday a buddy and I went to this church.

I am not going to already claim to know what they believe. Essentially it seems that they hedge all bets and believe everything. They follow the beliefs of Christianity, Buddiasm, Judiasm, Islam, etc....because they figure one of them has to be right...and you can learn something from each of them. Sages come in various forms.

The first 30 minutes was a waste of time. It was hell. It was listening to some 86 year old swami retell a story of how he met some other swami in the 1920s or 30s. It was rather difficult to listen to this old guy from India try to speak english and try to remember his story, which carried no meaning in my life.

But then the next 30 minutes he started talking religion/philopsophy. It started to get interesting. He gave the standard catholic speach. Notice I am being ironic there. Catholic means universal.....that is despite the catholic religion being one of the most narrow minded sects of any belief system. Notice I said "sects" when talking about religion....you have no idea how much I am giggling to myself at all my subtle and cryptic jokes I am making right now. But back to the universality of this "Vedanta Religion."

The standard univeral speach is as follows: We are all one consciousness, we are all one. Nothing is beautiful, because everything is beautiful. The swami went as far to say that all the women in the audience who think they are beautiful are not, because there are no values because everything is one. Which I thought was ludicris, because the blonde sitting two seats in front of me was clearly beautiful, especially when compared to the girls who were not her. But I understood what he was saying. Its actually an impressive thought, almost buddhist. He went further to say that the world can be seen in a grain a sand, because we are all one....and so forth.

I was intrigued by this philosophy. But I couldn't get over one thing. War. War is clearly not beautiful. There is no beauty in war. I know the Swami would have a retort for this confusion fodder of mine, but I didn't have the balls to ask him about it.

The point to this post is: there are other beliefs out there. Before you cling to yours, educate yourself and derive your own beliefs from everything you learn. Don't just believe something because its in a book, or because moral stories were handed down over several millienium. Believe something that is true, regardless of what you were told to believe.

....because the masses tend to be wrong.

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