Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Parking Nazis.

Okay, so today was a semi-productive day. I still have no internet and am therefore typing this from a super-secret location. So I went to Home Depot (the evil empire) to get some dust masks and a nozzle for my paint gun thingy which is clogged. The nozzle costs $30 bucks and seeing as how it'll probably get clogged again and I'll be out another $30 bucks, we'll stick to rollers and paint brushes. Those things clog really easily if you don't clean them right after you use them. I don't know who forgot to clean it last time, but I'm not hear to point fingers.

Anyway, at Home Depot I saw the day laborers hanging out. I walked over there because I don't want a stampede of them at the ninja mobile if I drive up. They look like ethiopians trying to storm a C-130 for some surplus wheat and condoms. I should say that not all day laborers are illegal. Some of them are, but I have no idea which ones. They're not all latinos either. There were some black guys there too. It looked almost like a Benneton Ad, except without the white people and asians...or women.

So this guy I hired sands the mudding that I did in the living/dining room while I work my hardwood flooring mojo in the MacGyver Kitchen. After a while the guy goes to the bathroom and when he comes back says that marble tile in there looks really really good.

Now, there's 3 sure fire ways to get me to buy you lunch or some beers.
  1. tell me that Ludwig von Mises is your favorite economist;
  2. give me Judy Greer's phone number, email or home address;
  3. or compliment me on mad Marble tiling skillz.

So this little Hoduran earned that chinese 3 picece fried chicken with pork fried rice on the side.

Anyway, I made some decent progress on the floor and I'll post some pics if the Comcast tech gets me internet up and running again. Since it's Comcast, I won't get my hopes up.

In other news, I still hate the Sudanese guy. His contractors left their vans in his muddy driveway and they couldn't get them out and blocked my driveway while they tried to pull them out with yet more vans and some chains. It was like a ghetto tractor pull. So I parked my car in the street because I didn't want to be an asshole, and I got a $50 ticket for being within 25 feet of a the stop sign. WHAT THE FCUK! SInce when is that even a fcuking' crime? This is proof that no good deed goes unpunished and that in the future I should be THAT guy. YOu know the one that says "I don't care if your truck is stuck, get out of my driveway now or I'll go down to the donut shop and get some cops to give your sorry ass a ticket. "

I really hate DC now. I don't even know if I want to bother to fight it anymore. Maybe I'll just give them the $50 so that mayor Williams can have an underaged hooker on his visit to Turkey this week. That one will be on me, Anthony.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Apres Moi, Le Deluge

Okay, so I took a few days off from work in order to get some actual work done at the ninja fortress. Just as my luck would have it, it's been raining nonstop for the past four days. There are three inches of standing water in my driveway; the basement is damp, smells like old people and is kicking my dehumidifier's ass; and I haven't been able to get much done. Plus it's supposed to rain 2-4 more inches tonight and there are more storms on the way. What a nice vacation. What the hell did I do to deserve this on my day off (well, besides the dead hooker jokes, which were mostlys RCR's).

I wanted to go exploit, errrr, I mean hire a day laborer to sand the awesome job I did on the drywall mud. But since it's been raining for 4 days and it's 100% humidity, the mudding I did in the bathroom (which I have pics of!) hasn't dried in a day and a half. W.T.F.

To add insult to injury, my internet is out. Luckily my cable still works, otherwise they might have to commit me. I called Comcast and they are supposed to send someone out on thursday. I insisted they send someone despite the phone monkey's diagnosis that is was only my ethernet cable.

Monkey: My computer shows that a signal is reaching your cable modem, so if you have no internet, the problem is somewhere beteween your modem and your computer. The problem is probably your ethernet wire. Why don't you buy another one and try that and see if it works.

Ninja: Look, It's not the enternet cable. The internet was working fine, there was a lightning strike and then it wasn't working anymore.

Monkey: It's possible the lightning damaged the wire. Why don't you change it before we schedule someone to come out there.

Ninja: It's not the wire man. It's something outside the house, trust me.

Monkey: How do you know it's not the wire?

Ninja: Physics.

Monkey: Excuse me???

NInja: It was working fine before the lightning strike. Then it wasn't anymore. It's theoritically possible that lightning struck my house, bypassed my tv, went to the cable box, jumped over it, then fried the ethernet cable, but stopped right before it got to my Mac, but I seriously doubt it. I think the problem is at the drop pole.

Monkey: The what?

Ninja: The drop pole. WHen cable signals go from the headend to your house, the last point before the drop line goes to your house is the drop pole, which is where the problem probably is. [Ed note: before I was a derivatives lawyer, I used to represent a lot of cable companies]

Monkey: So you don't want to try changing the ethernet wire.

So if all goes well, I might be back online by Thursday. No email till them. Crap!
I should go get someone to help me with the sanding tomorrow (meaning I'll pay him to do it while I watch). But I don't know yet. I not crazy about hiring day laborers. I know they work hard, but it's really depressing seeing all those desperate people lining up to get picked for work. They must look that much more depressing when it's raining.

I usually pay them well and buy them lunch, but I hate dealing with that human misery. If I wanted to deal with human misery all day, I would go teach math in the public schoools.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ninja Stock Picks

In case you're wondering, I'm not done with my spinoff Ninja stock picking blog. But I wanted to give you guys an update.

First: An update on an honorary stock-picking Ninja: Warren Buffett.

CNN is reporting that Buffett, the world's second richest man is giving away his fortune. Most of it is going to: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates? I'm sorry, but the Home Improvement Ninja beer fund could use those funds more than Bill Gates could.

I had hoped to develop my blog into some sort of profit making enterprise and sell it to Buffett for a few million, but I'm not above taking a few billion dollars of his charity. In case you're wondering, here's how my secret plan was going to work:

Phase 1: Set up Home Improvement Ninja Blog.
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Profit.

It's genius, I tell you.

ANyway, here's an update on the ninja stock picks. I'll announce the spinoff blog when I get it finished.

Embarq (EQ). EQ is a rural ILEC. I predicted a price of $60-70 on this based on the P/E ratios of other Rural ILECs. I thought it would take about a year to get there. I bought it $39.92, it's currently $39.75. So still not going up yet. Bear Stearns, however, started following the stock and rated it an "outperform" and gave a price estimate of $46. Most other analysts were estimating a one year price to $49. I re-checked my numbers and the reason why my estimates were higher is that I assumed earnings would stay the same (a rookie mistake). Still, the stock trades at 1.20 times book value, so I doubt it will lose value. The other analysts were assuming that earnings would decline, but even with those less favorable assumptions, a price of $46-49 over a year still works out to a 12-20% annualized return. Mad skillz!!!

American Home Mortgage (AHM). I bought in at $32.10 i think. It's now at $34.90 evem though the market sucks lately. That's up about 8% in the few weeks since I recommended it. (and the dividend is almost 12%) Holla! Still, I think It's a holder, not a short-term thing. The price should drop a dollar in a few weeks after they pay the $0.96 dividend, so do your own research and decide if it's still worth having.

Smith and Wesson (SWB). I didn't mention this in my blog because I hadn't finished with my research before I bought it (something you should never do). But what I saw looked good and the price was going up before the analysts conference call (which I listened to) so I bought assuming that the news would be good. I also got to call into CNBC's Mad Money and ask Jim Cramer about this stock. He said it's a buy. I got in at $7.55, now it's $8.20. Cramer says it looks good because congress passed a law that exempts them from lawsuits by cities suing over criminals using handguns. I think it's a good buy because they have a good shot at a couple of big military contracts. One is currently with Berretta, which is a foreign company and it expires in 2007. The other is a contract for the Iraqi police. Smith and Wesson beat out Berretta for the military contract to supply the Afgan police so it has a good shot of winnng the Iraqi contract too since it's competing against the same people. It's up 9% since I bought it, but I plan on holding it for a while until I get news on the contracts.

Also, next week I'll try to recommend one homebuilder stock. I knew that wall street types were overrated, but seeing as how awesome I am at this even though I just started, am doing it in my spare time (when I'm not fixing my house, drinking myself into a stupor, or watching netfilx) and it's my first time trying it, I should do this for a living. Maybe after I get rich from this I'll find a cure for cancer or figure out time travel.

I also got my compy fixed so I may have some actual home improvement pics again this week.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Random Fridayness

Well, I got my computer fixed today, hopefully for good. It was acting up worse and worse and I thought it might be something other than software. I tried to erase everything on my Mac to get rid of all traces of LimeWire and hopefully purge the machine of the sins of online music theft, but the machine couldn't find the Harddrive so it was dead.

I previously took it to the Apple store in Rockville, which was very helpful. (this is in contrast to the store in Clarendon where the "genius" was busy hitting on a girl who was clearly out of his league and didn't help at all). The helpful store told me that a harddrive replacement is about $400-500 bucks and they'd give me the same 40gig harddrive, but mentioned that I could get a better deal at an authorized Apple repair place. So big ups to who did the repair the same day, charged me $240 and gave me an 80 gig harddrive. Sweeeeet. I don't know what I'll do with all that memory. If I wasn't catholic, I'd be filling it up right now with stolen music and porn. So hopefully I can blog more efficiently and less stressfully now. I'm also taking a few days off work so you might actually see a few posts where I actually get some real work done.

In other news, I don't know why I'm surprised when I encounter an assjack who litters, but I saw one the other day (tuesday). A stupid girl in her 20s eating fast food that I hope will kill her one day. She was walking up Connecticut Avenue stuffing her self-invovled face when she drops a bunch of napkins and keeps on walking. I stopped my conversations and said "excuse me miss, you dropped something." She looks at the napkins and realizes that it's not her credit card or antything else that would matter only to her own sorry ass and says "oh...that's just napkins". And walks away. So I said "'s just napkins, huh? I guess that means it doesn't count, right?" She turned, gave me a dirty look and walked away.

Now, you know I'm not afraid to be political on my blog, so I will take a stand on one of the most controversial issues in geo-political thought: littering. I'm offically taking a stand against litteiering. I'm against it. That's right, I went there!

So I hope that self-important assjack reads this and realizes that karma will ensure that her pathtetic existence will never improve becasue the universe is saving up its Karmic goodness for people who aren't so self-absorbed that they can't stop stuffing thier stupid faces for the 5 seconds that it takes to clean up the mess that themselves made. Annnnnnndddd exhale.

Houston, We Have a Problem

A couple of people I know in real life asked me about the Houston job yesterday, and I realized that I hadn't updated you imaginary friends on my situation. I'm sorry to keep you out of the loop. It's not a reflection on our imaginary relationship--really, I mean that--it's just that I have been busy and it slipped my mind. I hope you can all forgive me.

So what happened? Well, basically, they told me to go fvck myself. Yes, that's right. They said "Go get your shinebox, ninjaman." I mean, they said it niceley, I presume, but the words don't change the message. If you get fired, it's no comfort that you were "downsized". If you lost your 401k when the market crashed, its no consolation that the market "corrected." If you get diagnosed with ass cancer, it's no relief that the doctor "has magic medicines to fight the demons in your ass." And if you are rejected for a job that you didn't even know you wanted until you couldn't have it anymore, it's no consolation that "they went with someone local."

The Headhunter told me that they went with someone local because they thought that I wasn't really that interested in it. Acutally, I wasn't and maybe that's why they picked up on that. But the more I heard about it, the better it sounded. ($30k-40k a year raise, living in a city that's half as expensive as DC, opportunities to live abroad). Towards the end I felt like some hot fashion model from Oregon who is living in NYC and agrees to go out on a date with a Wall Street banker type only because she wants to eat at Nobu, then by the end of the meal she decides she really likes the guy because although he's not the most attractive guy in the world (HOUSTON...HEllooooo!!) he ends up being sweet and funny and really, really rich. She likes him so much, that she regrets not shaving her legs before the date. Then he doesn't call her for a second date becasue he decides to date some dorky MBA chick with glasses, frumpy clothes and shoes that me and my hot model friends would laugh at. Then I see him out at a fashionable hipster bar with her and my hot model girlfriends I laugh at him when we see his new girlfreind because "I'm so much hotter than her and my tits are real and everything." I laugh on the outside, but inside I'm secretly broken up about it, so my hot model friends get me drunk , then we go back to our hot model appartment in the Village and we have freaky hot lesbo sex....which we film and sell on the internet and make slots of money.

I've decided (retroactively) that I never really wanted that job in the first place. All that new money would mean that I would have to pay more in income tax. As a libertarian, I object to paying the government more in taxes, so my turning down their non-existent offer will mean less taxes flowing to the corrupt political machine in Washington. That's right. Just think of it as my way of "Sticking it to The Man."

I turned that job down because I believe in freedom, bitchez! So don't bother trying to call me back and offer me more money or a bigger office, because I got pricnciples and you can't put a price on that. I hope you're happy with your "local hire" because I'm not even bitter or anything. I'm sure he's really smart, has all his teeth (despite being a local) and can spell as well a high school kid where I'm from. It sounds like you'll be a perfect fit together. And don't bother calling me back and BEGGING for me to take your job because I don't want it. (Unless you want to offer me more money and a bigger office, in which case I'll shave my legs this time.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sitemeter: My Internet Crack

I don't think I should've ever installed Sitmeter on my Blog. Now I check it way too often, to see who's visiting and how they got here. Some people get here by asking random home improvement questions like "how do you install a marble saddle". Which reminds me to get that done so I can post about it. Stay tuned you marble saddle people. It turns out my site in number one in google searches for "connect copper to galvanized". Who knew my plumbing skillz would be legendary on the internet? I don't know whether to be honored or ashamed of that...or maybe a little of both.

Other people get here by asking random ninja questions like how you make a ninja smoke bomb? I wish I knew the answer to that, it would come in handy when I reach for my wallet at some clubs that charge $20 cover charges. I could just throw a smoke bomb and disappear into the crowd of metrosexuals, still keeping my 20 duckets. Actually, if you really want to know how to make a ninja smoke bomb, read this. Probably the best ninja question I've seen that googlers use to find my blog is "what do ninjas eat?"

Well, here's a pic of my actual fridge. If you're keeping track:
1) four kinds of beer. (the one's I'm almost out of are Corona's...luckily I quit drinking last saturday).
2) Diet Cokes
3) Sunny D
4) Yoo-Hoos (those are my nephew's, ninja's don't eat those).
5) olives (I don't eat olives either...ever, so those may have come with the house)
6) mayonaise
7) Special K breakfast cereal
8) Organic Soy Milk.

In case you're wondering, yes, my fridge always looks like this.

Now, I should mention that I try to be careful about what I say on this blog because I don't want it coming up in google searches for porn or anything. That's why I was trying to cut down on the dead hooker jokes. But it looks like I was too late. As of now, my site is the number 2 site on the entire internet for people that ask the question "how do you get rid of a dead hooker". (let's all click on my site for that querry so that I can move to number one). Now, I don't know who the guy is in Arizona who has come to my site twice looking for how to get rid of dead hookers, but I am speechless by this.
  1. Arizona has thousands of square miles of desert, and you're looking on some ninja blog in DC for advice about how to get rid of a dead hooker?
  2. your career as a master criminal is going to be pretty short if you need to look up ways of getting rid of dead hookers on the internet. Why didn't you think of what to do with that hooker BEFORE you ended with her corpse?
  3. I hope there's a reward for you, Mr DeadHooker Guy. Because I'm not above ratting on a serial killer, even if he is a reader if it'll pay for my next trip to Maui...or a new Razr phone.
In other news...I'm both flattered and surprised by the amount of people linking to my site. But I am saddened by someone, who I de-linked the other day, who used to link to me, but now doesn't. I don't know if she doesn't find me funny any more, or maybe I just made one too many dead hooker jokes. I don't know; I can't explain it. I don't understand women at all (which is why I'm still single despite being not unattractive, a fabulous dancer, and a slightly-better-than mediocre lover). But if you don't want to link to me...FINE! There are plenty of other people out there who appreciate libertarian rants and dead hooker jokes...and one possible serial killer in Arizona. So there!

In other news, Judy Greer never contacted me for that date so I ended up cutting down those shrubs this weekend. I can' tpost pics because my computer is all jacked up again. Time to go back to Apple and get it fixed again.

I also have some other pics but until my computer is fixed, no more pics or email. Damn!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Random Friday Thoughts

First of all, to whomever was honking their horn at 5am this morning: I HOPE YOU DIE. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. To Quote the great Klaus Kinksi, "You should be thrown to the crocodiles alive. An anaconda should throttle you slowly. The sting of a deadly spider should paralyze you. your brain should burst from the bite of the most poisonous of all snakes. Panthers shouldn't slit you open with their claws, that would be too good for you! No. Big red ants should piss in your eves, eat your balls, penetrate your asshole, and eat your guts!"

Thanks Klaus, I feel better now.

Moving on...

This has been widely reported, but I have to ask what is going on over at Home Depot? People finding pounds of marijuana and kilos of cocaine in cabinets? And turning it in?

Helllooooooo. I mean, even if you don't use it yourself, I'm sure you know people that do. With all that pot, and some of my nieces and nephews now in High School, I could totally be the "cool uncle" forever.

And don't get me started on the coke. I mean, even if you don't want to sell it because of the whole federal prison thing, you could still totally be the man with a few kilos of that stuff. There would be no Hollywood party that would be off limits to you and you wouldn't have to pay for a lapdance for the rest of your life. Now, before I get some angry emails, let me state for the record that not ALL strippers are coked-up junkie whores...just the ones who dance at the type of clubs that I would frequent.

Moving on...

I mentioned before that I don't blog about the place that pays my salary. So the following is a hypothetical conversation between me and Lord of the Rings.

LOTR: Hey, we got a new intern starting today.

Ninja: Yeah? How big are her norks?

LOTR: She's a He.

Ninja: Okay, how big are his norks?

LOTR: You need professional help, man...seriously.

Ninja: I went to Catholic School, man. There's no amount of therapy in the world that can fix that.

LOTR: Too much info...seriously. Look, we got a new intern, do you have any work you need help with?

Ninja: Yeah...what's he know about drywall and electrical?

LOTR: Uhhh, nothing. Do you have any legal work for him?
Ninja: No. If he can't even hang drywall, why would I trust him with legal work?

And finally:

My old roomate from Law School's Parents and Brother are in town this weekend. So I'll try to show them around on Saturday. I offered to let them stay in the Ninja fortress, but they opted for a hotel. I don't know if they were just being polite or if they were trying to say something about my personal hygiene. Jus' sayin'.

Anyway, this should be interesting. The last time I saw his brother, me, my roommate and him got into a fist fight with rednecks in a drivethrough and almost got arrested. This is an interesting story, but I'll save it for a later post because I'm too lazy to get into it now.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pre-meditated Murder

This weekend, I will kill these two shrubs; A double murder. I know you're thinking that my "garden" looks pretty pathetic. And that I shouldn't be killing the only two living organisms in my garden. Well it took a lot of work to get my garden looking that pathetic. I had too pull out so many giant weeds from that patch of dirt that now it's finally safe for Vietnam vets to walk by my place without getting jungle-ambush flashbacks.

The last time my brother was here for a visit, my sister in law did her best to kill it with one of these. She trimmed all the branches down until it looked like a couple of giant sticks. The friggin' thing survived however. I'm as impressed by its will to survive, as I am offended at its will to defy me. So this weekend it must die.

No one, not even the kooky Daryl Hannah can stop me. If she tries to chain herself to my shrub to save it, I'll just go get a finance textbook and start explaining the Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model, which puts people to sleep quicker than a tranquilizer dart. After she's out cold, I'll move her to the side, sneak a quick peak at her norks, then proceed to destroy the shrubs.

I will fight it with the The Persuader which has fought beside me against 3" iron pipes and is undefeated, so this should be a piece of cake. In case you're wondering why I want to kill something green, let me explain it.


There is a pipe leading to the sewer between these two shrubs. If the roots get big enough, and that pipe leaks, the roots could actually grow into that pipe and mess it up.

If the pipe is too close to big roots, the roots can break the pipe and grow inside it until the plumbing in your house is as fcuked up as the WMD intelligence unit at the Pentagon.

See, there's the pipe.

Here is a really close up pic. It's got a hole in that pipe actually. I should fix that...someday.

So that's the first reason.

The second reason is that I don't like trimming it, so I'd rather kill it. I'll show this post to my future kids when they ask me for money for a haircut.

The third reason is that I think it looks ugly and blocks the light.

And the final reason is that I tried to kill it before and it survived (mad skillz, plant!) so I have to kill it to show the rest of the natural kingdom that I am not one to be fucked with.

If any of you greenies want to persuade me to save it, I will listen to your pleas now. I doubt I will be convinced with mere words though. If you want to save this little bullwark against global warming, it will cost you. I will spare these marvels of nature for one of the following:

A Sunbeam Tiger. A red one; like Maxwell Smart had. Not one in a shitty color.

An autographed letter from Warren Buffet that says "You gotz mad stock-picking skillz, Ninjaman!" It has to say that word-for-word. I won't take it without the Zs.

A date with Judy Greer.

She's so pretty I could start a whole blog devoted to how attractive she is. I hope she reads this and realizes that I meant that in the least creepy way possible.

Anyone have any thoughts on the plants? The awesomeness of a Sunbeam Tiger or Judy Greer? Or about how much better my stock-picking skillz are than Warren's?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ninja Stock Picks.

Well, like most things I do, this experiment started as idle boasting. Johnny Vegas was bragging about how he's winning our bet about the recession and I'll be owing him $65 soon. The subject turned to investing and I mentioned that, if I wanted to, I could start a hedge fund and outperform every index (like the S&P 500 or the Dow) and that there isn't a hedge fund manager or other stock picker out there who could shine my shoes. The conversation went something like this:

Ninja: Name one thing I do that isn't awesome.

Vegas: What about the whole law're not very good at that.

Ninja: What!?! I got mad legal skillz!

Vegas: Is that why you have a drawer full of press clippings of your former clients who are in federal prison? [in my defense, it's not a drawer full, it's just a few clippings]

Ninja: Okay...but that was when I practiced securities law. I kick ass as a derivatives lawyer. Plus I couldn't help it if my clients were shady...and don't know how to work a paper shredder.

Vegas: So your saying, with a straight face, that you are better at picking stocks than Warren Buffet or George Soros?

Ninja: Those bitchez? They can't hold my jockstrap when it comes to stock picking.

Vegas: Why haven't I heard about your mad stock skillz before today?

Ninja: Because I haven't bothered to try it before today, but I am still convinced that I'm better at it than everyone based on my past awesomeness at everything that I try.

Vegas: Is your awesomeness comforting to your clients rotting in federal prison?

Anyway, I'm in the middle of setting up an investing blog because I want this blog to remain about home improvements, random libertarian rants and ninja news. I reserved "The Investment Ninja" at Blogger and "the Investing Ninja" at Blogsome (I reserved Investment Ninja too, but I lost the password). I'm playing with the two to decide which is better. So far, Blogsome is kicking Blogger's ass. But anyway, it won't be done for a week or two, so heres' the ninja stock tips that I mentioned. Like all things relating to the shadow warriors, these tips are unorthodox but powerful.

First: The disclaimers:
  1. the opinions are my own, not those of anyone I work with, especially my bosses;
  2. i'm not an investment professional, these are just my opinions. You need to do your own research and come to your own conclusions;
  3. diversify! don't bet everything on one stock...ever. Have at least 8-10 different, well-researched stock plays that you are working on;
  4. don't bet with money you can't afford to lose. If your wife kicks you out because you blew the kid's college fund on something some guy on the net who thinks he's a ninja told you was a good idea, you are NOT crashing on my couch;
  5. I may buy and sell at any time without giving you advance notice, and contrary to my recomendations if I think the market is changing or I need beer money. So decide on your own entry/exit points, don't wait for me to tell you;
  6. Don't sue me. Read number 2 again;
  7. I meant what I said in number 6.
With that in mind.

So here’s my thoughts on Embarq (EQ).

It was recently spun off from Sprint/Nextel. Embarq is a rural ILEC (incumbent phone company) The index funds that own Sprint haven't sold Embarq because it's also part of the S&P 500. But the people who invested in Sprint because they wanted to own a cell company are selling the shares of Embarq. The situation is like if you bought a house and there was an old sailboat in the driveway. Most people buy the house and didn't want the sailboat so they will sell it (often way below top dollar) to get rid of it. Someone who knows about boats can buy the boat and resell it for what it's worth. So, as expected, with everyone selling it, the price of Embarq immediately dropped from 44 to 40. Now it’s starting to stabilize, so we take a look and see if it’s worth buying.

Here's the bad parts of Embarq:
  1. it has been losing phone subscribers (like every other phone company) due to increased usage of cell phones, and cable phone service;
  2. it's rural so it's cost per subscriber for all those wires is higher.
Here's the good parts of Embarq:
  1. it has been losing phone subscribers, but gaining market share in the use of DSL, which is very profitable;
  2. that high amount of wire per customer means high depreciation, which means it has more cash than the earnings would suggest;
  3. it's rural so it's unlikely to face as much competition from cable phone suppliers as ILECs in larger markets;
  4. it costs a lot to service rural customers, but they ARE the phone company and can charge a monopoly price;
  5. P/E or less than 10.

Okay, the forward Price/Earnings ratio of the stock is less than 10. The current P/E is 7.96. By comparison, the P/E of the S&P 500 is more than 20, but the real way to see if that's a good price is to compare it to other Rural ILECs. Citizens, a rural ILEC, has a P/E of 20 (but with an 8% dividend). ILECs as an industry have a P/E ratio of 14.88. So...assuming a fair price for this should be a P/E of somehwere between 12 and 15, then based on it's earnings per share of $4.96, a fair price for Embarq should be $60-$70. Since it's currently trading at just under $40, I think it's a good investment and has a large enough margin of safety to make it worthwhile to invest it. (but sell it when it gets to about $70, because then it's not on sale anymore).

I bought about $5,000 of this yesterday at $39.94. I was waiting for the price to come down more, but some joker put in a mini-tender offer which raised the price. I won't go into what mini-tenders are, but people who do them to should be kicked in the nuts. I want to buy more of this, but I'll hold off and buy on the dips unless I see it going higher, in which case I may add to my position and sell when it gets closer to $70.

Here's my thoughts on American Home Mortgage (AHM).

AHM is a Mortgage REIT. Everything in the housing sector has been getting battered lateley. You can thank Bernake and Greenspan for that. AHM has a trailing P/E of 8.13 and a forward P/E of 6.63 times earnings. Talk about a bargain! Now I know why you girls get all excited about a shoe sale. (okay, I'm a sexist pig...I've been looking at stock charts for a week, so sue me).

Anyway, sometimes stocks trade at a low P/E ratio because they suck, like New Century Finance (NEW). NEW Trades at a P/E of 5.89 and pays an incredible 16% dividend yield. But buying New Century is like dating Paris Hilton. It looks attractive at first, but then when you wake up with some sort of crotch disease, it won't seem like such a good idea.

AHM pays almost a 12% dividend yield. That's less than NEW's 16%, but it still rocks. AHM has made interest only loans, which are scary, but those loans make up only 15% of it's portfolio and they lend to high-quality borrowers. So they should be okay even if the housing market implodes because the people they lent money to, usually pay their bills. It' s competitor, New Century Financial has a 16% dividend yield, but it lends money to subprime borrowers and has about 40% of it's loan portfolio in California. Yikes. So the first one is like dating Ivanka Trump, the second is like dating Paris Hilton. Both are rich and sexy, but only AHM won't give you the stock equivalent of crotch rot in the morning.

I bought about $5,000 of this too. I got in at $32.18. I'll probably buy more on the dips unless I hear bad news about this particular stock. I think this is a good stock. I don't have an exit point for it though. I'm thinking this is a long-term play and I'd be happy if the stock stayed where it is and kept paying 12% dividends. That's better than the 2% I get from Bank of America. So I'll consider this like a savings account.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Underpinning Stuff

Okay, I got a couple of questions about "underpinning" in my last post on the Sudanese guy. In case you are wondering what it is and why it upsets me, here is an explanation. Imagine you are standing on a ladder and can't reach something. Your friend comes over and tries to help by shoving a few phone books under the ladder--while you're standing on it. That's what underpinning a house is like. You dig beneath the foundation and try to shove some bricks under there before the building falls on you. The idea is to make the basement deeper so you can turn it into an illegal rental unit. Anyway, it is as dangerous as it sounds, which is why the Sudanese guy pisses me off (that and the whole dumping dirt in my driveway the genocide).

So I was watching the news the other day and NBC reported that a rowhouse collapsed in DC when they were digging beneath the foundation to underpin it. That's one of the reasons I was so pissed off that the Sudanese guy was hiring people from a parking lot in Home Depot (the corporate Satan) to do the same thing at his place.

  1. Underpinning is dangeous if you don't know what you're doing: FACT!
  2. People who look for work in Home Depot parking lots are usually not experts in structural engineering: PROBABLY A FACT!
  3. He's got a meelyun Sudanese people living in his house and if they die in a horrible building collapse near my property it probably won't be good for the value of my home: SUPPOSITION!
Dead bodies are never good for resale value, even if it's a few doors down. I mean, try being the guy who's selling a house on Jeffrey Dahmer's street. "Oh, the serial killing cannibal? No, that's two houses up the street...this one has no dead, sirree." So if that guy wants to kill his fellow countrymen, let him go back to the Sudan and buy an AK-47. Don't let them die anywhere that could possibly have an effect on my property values.

In other news, a house that is RIGHT by the ninja fortress partially collapsed the other day too. From the looks of it, it looks like a bad underpinning job too.

$20,000 Fine? Yikes!

Here is what it looks like from the side. As you can see, it's sorta' missing an entire wall. Now, I'm not an architect or anything, but I think having a house with only 3 walls is probably not a good idea. That's like buying a car with no steering wheel or taking abvice about mental health from Angelina Jolie.

This is stop work order. Seeing one, even on someone else's place gives me the heeby jeebies. Partly because it involves fines and bureaucrats but mostly because it involves telling you to stop doing work. Telling a latino to stop working is like telling an Arlington Parking Nazi to stop being an asshole. It can probably be done with some intensive training sessions, but why change human nature?

Update: They got some engineers in and did some bracing and they put the bricks back up now. I'll take a picture of it when I have some time. Also, I'm in the process of setting up a spinoff site for my ninja stock picks, but I may post the first installment here in a day or two. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

From this day forward...

I am never drinking again. I know that I say that after every hangover, and say that I mean it. But this time I really mean it. I don't know what the hell will happen to all that beer I have in the fridge, but I'm not drinking it. Maybe I'll donate it to the homeless, they seem to like beer. Although I don't know if their pedestrian pallets can really appreciate some of the good belgian stuff I have. So maybe I'll just give them the miller lite or some of the other stuff I keep around to offer visitors who I don't really like. I know what some of you are thinking: that giving Miller Lite to homeless people is like giving them a Canadian coins or something. That it's cruelty outweighs it's charity. But some of those people are so far gone that you could give them turpentine to drink and they wouldn't know the difference. Actually, turpentine is probably the main ingredient in miller lite, so that's not even an insult.

Anyway, I'm better today. (I was hungover for a good portion of yesterday, and was locked in mortal combat with my stomach who felt betrayed because during my drunken haze I walked all the way to Adams Morgan (probably like 20 blocks) to get a Jumbo Pizza slice and forgot to take my lactaid pill when I got home). In a positive turn of events, the cab driver who took me from the pizza place to my house didn't try to rip me off, despite my drunkenness. Unless I gave him seven $20 bills instead of seven ones, in which case I'll find him and kill him. He was some kind of middle eastern, drove terribly and didn't speak english very well. So if any one sees someone matching that description who is going on some kind of spending spree
and paying only with twenties, email me.

Anyway, I'm off to Lowes now to find the perfect medicine cabinet for the fortress. I'll post some pics if I get it. Hopefully I can get some actual work done today around here to prepare for my visitors. Next week, I'll post my ninja stock pix (I'm setting up a separate website for that) and I'll try to post some underpinning stuff.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another Ninja News Segment.

Okay, It's time for another ninja-news update. Since there are several entire cable channels devoted to home shows, at least two devoted to shopping, and and one for cooking, I'm surprised that no one has spotted a hole in the market and come up with a news channel that reports on ninja news. It could be like CNN, but for ninjas. NNN, the Ninja News Network. Until the whole cable channel thing arrives, I'll pick up the slack by continuing to be your only outlet for ninja news stories and videos. Anyway, here are some random video clips dedicated to the Shinobi and the dark arts of killing, with some marketing thrown in.

This is a very funny Ninja Commercial. It's not the Progressive Insurance commercial either; I said it was funny. I'm glad that Madison Avenue is waking up to the awesome marketing potential of ninjas. I mean, what's more entertaining than a hired killing gone wrong? Besides a cartoon a about frozen bananas, I say nothing is.

Here is another Doog Toons and Ask a Ninja collaboration. This is probably the best collaboration in the history of video, except for the whole Jenna Jameson and Brianna Banks ouevre. Don't Google that from work, people.

And this a video of what my Florida Trip home movies would look like if there were a camera quick enough to capture my moves.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Florida Trip: Part 3

Okay, this Part 3 of the Florida Trip. I didn't feel like finishing it, but since I left off in the middle of the story, if I don't finish it people will see me in the street and say "hey, you said you were in lied. Now I can't believe anything I read on your blog...and a little piece of my innocence died just now". Since that would be awkward for both of us, here's some more of the story.

If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2, you should before you go any further...or farther. Or whatever. Reading this without reading the first two parts would be like watching Return of the Jedi without first seeing Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. Or like watching The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly without first seeing A Fistfull of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. I mean, the whole Man With No Name Trilogy is a cheap ripoff of Kurasawa's Yojimbo but that is a post for another day.

Well, first you should know something about my sibling rivalry with my brother. I've alluded to it before. Because we were so close in age (almost Irish Twins), I was always frustrated that he was better at everything than I was. We fought all the time, but he would always beat the crap out of me. My brother is average sized, but he's freakishly strong and has beaten up a few muggers that were dumb enough to try to mug him. After he knocks them down and starts stomping on their testicles, they usually decide to let him keep his money. So, for him, beating me into submission was no big deal. It was something that he did when he got tired of watching A-Team re-runs on TV. Besides beating me up all the time, he always did every other thing known to man better than me.

For instance, for a while I thought I was better guitar player than my brother. I took lessons for a long time and can actually play Classical Guitar, which almost nobody can do. Since he wanted to make sure that nothing gave me a sense of accomplishment, he bought a guitar and taught himself to play. At first I laughed at him, but I'll leave you to guess which of us was in a band that got played on college radio. (fcukers!).

When my brother wasn't busy fist fighting Coney Island muggers or being my father's favorite, he was...wait for it...a Mathlete. Since I work with derivatives, I'm okay at math. But my brother is the kind of person who thinks things like this are funny:

I'm good enough at math to understand the "joke" once you explain it to me, but when I do the math, the answer I get is 51*. My brother says the answer is 57006. After he explains it a few times I just nod my head and pretend to know what he's talking about. "Ohhhh, base string [thingies]...I see now."

*D=13, E= 14, A= 10, D = 13
(13 + 14 + 10 + 13 + 1 = 51) (Seeeee, my way makes sense too, right? right? right?)

For all my brother's ways of making me feel inferior, there is one area where I think I got him beat hands down: my command of the english language. This is why I think I'm a better lawyer than he would be. Despite all his math skillz, his musical talent, his ability to toss bags of cement around like they are pillows, and fighting skillz, rhetorical devices like metaphors and hypotheticals are completely alien to him. They are like some exotic garnish on a spicy ethnic dish that he would never eat.

What's the point of this? Well, I was worried about putting the house we were buying in my name. As a former mergers & acquisitions lawyer I am trained to be risk averse and constantly think about everything that can possibly go wrong. When I told him I was worried about the liability and tried to explain it to him, it was like trying to explain to a cabbie why the plural of mouse is mice but the plural of house isn't hice.

Ninja: What if someone slips on a banana peel in the driveway, it's me they are going to sue!

Brother: What the fcuk are you talking about? Why would someone be eating bananas in your driveway!?

[enter Dad]

Dad: What are you two fighting about!? Stop fighting!! Why can't you two ever get along?

Brother: Me!!? He's freaking out about people eating fcuking bananas in his driveway?

Dad: He doesn't have to eat bananas if he doesn't want to! Leave him alone!!

[turning to me]

Dad: Just calm down. Forget the bananas. If you're hungry, I'll order pizza.

This is the part in the last post where I said before that I ate a pizza despite my lactose intolerance to prevent family discord. Abdominal cramps and farting are a small price to pay to avoid continuing this conversation.

By the way, my family has never believed I was lactose intolerant. They think I'm making it up because if they aren't lactose intolerant than I couldn't possibly be. My brother also thought my nephew didn't have appendicitis. He thought the kid had a stomach ache from eating ice cream or something (lactose intolerant?). A surgery later I think he still thinks the doctor misdiagnosed him.

So anyway, that's why I needed the iPod that I mentioned before, for the appendicitis nephew, because I'm better at getting kids to like me than he is, so I won't give up that advantage.

Fast forward to the birthday party:

Here is a picture of a birthday cake. I think the blurry kid is my nephew. He usually doesn't look like that.

Here is a pic of a tablecloth. I don't know who took this pic with my camera, but it might have some hidden meaning. I won't delete this pic until after I read the DaVinci code. Ya' never know. This could crack that Holy Grail mystery wide open, bitchez!

This is a cute kid at the party. My sister got mad that I petted her head. She said "don't pet her head. She's not a puppy! That's very condescending!". The kid didn't seem to mind. I think she likes puppies and I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what condescending means. To be fair, I didn't know either 'till I looked it up when I wrote this post.

This is a pic of my niece. One day I'll have tanned kids with big eyelashes like her.

This looks like it could be a chair. Very cryptic. Child prank or government conspiracy? You be the judge!

Well, I'm getting too lazy to finish this, so there will be a Part 4 to the Florida Series Trilogy. To give you a little teaser. In Part 4 we will discuss/mock my brother some more and find out why he's got hundreds of women's shoes in his bathroom:

No, I'm totally serious about this.

And we'll discuss my run-in with the security monkees at the Airports in DC and West Palm Beach.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Bensonhurst Kid Rides Again

Okay, so I kinda sorta crashed a wedding a little on Saturday. My friend, who we'll call Anthony (cuz that's his name) was in town for a wedding, so I went to pick him up to hang out afterwards. And by "afterwards" I meant I showed up before the reception was over to snag some free booze, deserts and dance with some hotties. Showing up uninvited, drinking your booze and leaving with your women is a skill that I practiced at many fraternity parties. Now I'm no Cassanova, but let's face it. Me taking women and booze away from a frat boy is like Pele taking a soccer ball away from a 9 year old. Before I get angry comments about me picking on frats, let me say for the record that I have nothing against fraternities. I think they are fine organizations...if you can get past the whole repressed homosexuality thing. It's a little too Brokeback Mountain for my tastes, but whatever floats your boat, man. "Oh Sigma Alpha Epsilon, I wish I knew how to quit you". Ewwww.

Anyway, some random facts about Anthony (aka "The Bensonhurst Kid"):
  1. I've known him for 20 years, which makes me feel really old;
  2. He's such a good friend that if he showed up at my place with a dead body in the trunk, I would help him bury it;
  3. He's sicilian, so the scenario in number 2 is not as unlikely as it sounds;
  4. Although I've known him 20 years, I've never done anything to make him want to kick my ass (unless you count when I made out with his ex-girlfriend 20 minutes after they broke up);
  5. He's such a good friend that I've been to all three of his weddings.
So this is basically what the conversation was like a month ago:
TBK: Are you in town on the weekend of the 6th?

Ninja: How would I know? you're coming to kick my ass, in which case I'm busy.

TBK: I'm coming down to DC for a wedding.

Ninja: Your's or somebody else's?

TBK: Asshole.
Anyway, I'm putting the pics on my blog to give him an excuse to read my blog. They had the wedding at the Willard Hotel in DC. (You outta' towners should know that the Willard is one of the swankiest hotels in DC, which makes it that much more awesome when you can scam free booze from a place like that).

Here's a pic of Anthony, his Mother in Law, and his wife.

The Willard....fancy.

Me and the Bensonhurst Kid. I don't know why I look crazy in this picture. Maybe it's the heroin?

Mr. and Mrs. The Bensonhurst Kid, she's 8 months pregnant. She's half-sicilian, so TBK has learned to sleep with one eye open.

The kid's name will be Julia.

Anyway, they got to see the fortress but they couldn't hang out too long because his wife is so pregnant that standing up too long bothers her stomach. They are coming back after the baby is born though, which should be an interesting experience. I should have an actual kitchen by then.

I also got an email last week, that my old roomate from law school, Tony Twist, was having his dad and brother, Scrappy Doo, coming to visit in a few weeks. So I gotta call them and see about hanging out. It's good that that they are coming. Having visitors is an incentive to get my ass in gear with the repairs. I haven't seen them in a while though. Last time I hung out with Tony Twist and Scrappy, we ended up fist-fighting with rednecks in a Jack-in-the-box drivethrough on the night before TT's wedding. There were police involved and we were almost arrested. It's a long story that has nothing to do with home improvement, ninjas or anarcho-capitalism, but if anyone wants to hear it, I'll post about it separately.

Anyway, I hope everyone else had a nice weekend.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Victorian By Any Other Name...

All in all, this has been a pretty crappy week. During a conversation, my Real Estate Broker, Jimmy the Greek, mentioned that my house probably isn't a Victorian. He said it's probably a Federal, whatever that means. A google image search reveals that the ninja fortress does indeed look the untrained eye. In terms unattractiveness, the impenetrable fortress falls somewhere between




It's probably closer to this one, except with two windows, so it's a little narrower. Mine also has a driveway which, in DC, is like having a apartment in NYC with a walkin closet. Or like going to a restaurant where all the food is free, non-fattening, and makes you handsome.

Some of you are thinking "yeah, right...a walkin closet in NYC. Pft!"

Anyway, I don't like the term "Federal". As a libertarian I object to it because the word reminds me of government oppression, high taxation, warrantless searches and tranny hookers (hi Porter Goss!). I also object to it because it sounds less expensive than a Victorian, and might affect my ability to scam future buyers out of the most possible money. Therefore, from now on, the architectural style of the fortress will be known as "Ghetto Victorian". The Victorian part should appeal to the class concious and the Ghetto part should appeal to the hipster gentrifiers that feel white liberal guilt about contributing to wiping out the cultural history, crack dealers and tranny hookers (Hi again Porter Goss!) that were once the fabric of this neighborhood.

In other news, I've been swamped lately, but my stockpicking challenge is still on and when things get less hectic, hopefully next week or two, I'll have my final recommendations (hopefully). One stock that was on my short list (Kinder Morgan) announced this week that it is being taken private and saw a 20% jump in stock price last week. I won't take credit for that because my research wasn't done on it and I didn't invest in it, but hopefully I'll have some good ones soon. I'll also reveal my analysis on Kinder and other stocks so that you can see why I rock and the people on TV suck it bigtime.

Anyway, I gotta run, but I'll discuss the rest of this weeks suckitude next week. I also promise to post Part 3 of the critically acclaimed Florida Trip Chronicles, or the Underpinning post (Part 4 or 5, I lost count, of the Genocide Chronicles). They are both pretty much finished except I need to fix the pics. Man, I need an assistant for this crap, or maybe I should revert to a pure text blog.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Help a Ninja Decorate His Fortress

Okay, I need some input from the non-decoratively challenged. One of the drawbacks that comes from being so macho and studly is that I have poor decoration skillz. (another drawback is that sometimes I'll unintentionally break things with my powerful male arms, just because I don't know my own strength, so being so studly is a mixed blessing). So this weekend I went to Home Depot (the evil empire) to get a cabinet for over the bathroom sink upstairs, which doesn't have one. In case you're wondering how I get by without a medicine cabinet, I've been shaving in the basement bathroom for almost a year now, but enough is enough.

First off, take a look at the sink I installed. They don't make a matching cabinet for it. There is a matching mirror thingy, but I need a place to put all my stuff, so a mirror won't cut it.

Okay, this is what we're working with here. Try not to get hypnotized by the incredible looking marble I installed. The cabinet has to go with that sink, those tiles and the rest of the bathroom. (the tub is white, the toilet is white, and I'll probably paint the walls white). So it has to go with that color (beige?), white, and that stain of wood. Got it?

So I need some input as to what to put over it. I'll tally all your votes and decide which one to pick based on something completely arbitrary (like which one is in stock).

I think something like this might go with what I have. Unfortunately, Home Depot didn't have anything remotely resembling it, and even if it did, would it be okay if the stain wasn't exactly the same?

Should I look around to find something like it? Or try to go with something they have in stock? Or Lowe's has?

Whoever designed this should get a medal. I'm sure they don't give out medals for designing medicine cabinets, but if they did, this guy should get the gold medal (or platinum, if gold isn't the highest possible award in the hypothetical medal).

If I had a loft this would kick ass. It probably doesn't go in my victorian house though. I don't mind a little bit eclectic, but when I go to resell the house, I don't want buyers saying "the contractor had some mad home improvement skillz, but his designer is obviously retarded...or heterosexual."

I think white goes with everything, right? Would this okay with my sink? Or is this for one of those bathrooms that has beadboard on the wall?

I thought about beadboard in my place. I went with marble instead because
1) I wasn't sure they used beadboard in Victorian Houses;
2) I wanted to show off my mad marble tiling skillz.

I was seriously considering something like this. Since it's glass all around, I think It goes with anything. Is that right, or did I just convince myself of that because I wanted to believe it?

I'm not sure about the lights though. What other kind of (non-ugly) lights would go with something like this?

See, here is what it would look like without the lights. Does it go with a sink like I got? My place isn't exactly traditional, so you think this would work?

Also the vanity in question ins 24" wide. Do you think it would look okay if I put a 30" medicine cabiniet over it, with 6" sticking out on the left side (I can't center it because of the wall).

Thanks folks!