More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Lesson In The Value of Covered Call Options Final


One thing about the stock market is that it's okay to change your mind. And that's what I decided to do with Cypress Semiconductor in this month's options play.

Yesterday I sold 13 covered call options contracts with a March 20th expiration and a strike price of $15. The deal for me was a couple-fold. One, on Monday the premium for this call was 50 cents at the start of the trading day, or $50 per contract. As the stock pulled back yesterday that premium gave up 10 cents, or $10 per contract.

I got a little twitchy.

The $16 call for March 20th, the one I would have preferred to have sold, was only about 15 cents or $15 per contract.


In January I collected $143 in dividends, and when I sold the first set of contracts on January 21st I collected a premium of $564 after expenses. The March 20th calls gave me a premium of $499 after expenses. Total collected is $1,206.

Based on my cost basis of $12.83 per share, with premiums and dividends collected this puts my total profit at $4,027 if the stock reaches $15 or better by March 20th and I am forced to sell my shares. I am still selling my shares at roughly a 24% gain and I am quite happy with that. I'd be happy to keep my shares as well, of course, and get to play it again in April, but I am inclined to believe that I will be forced to sell.

...and there happen to be a couple other companies on my radar I'd like to put the money from Cypress into.

I still believe that Cypress Semiconductor is a $17 stock, however. And I still like the company. Therefore, if my calls are called and I am forced to sell, I can then start to take a look at selling cash-secured put contracts to either simply collect premiums with no intent to buy shares, or to buy shares at a discount to what I think the future value is.

There is still money in Cypress Semiconductor no matter what happens is the point, and from a technical standpoint whether or not I own the shares,  I can still make money on it. So really, it's win win.

And of course the intention is to make money on wherever my proceeds from the sale of Cypress go.

So there you have it. A lesson in the value of selling covered calls on underlying shares you own to boost your overall profits from a stock. The dividends and options in the event that I'd be forced to sell, put my total per share amount collected to $15.92. So even if it only reaches say, $15.75 and I am forced to sell at $15, I am still getting 17 cents more per share than the market price at the time of the sale.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Playing Broke To Save Money

There are a ton of tips and tricks on how to stretch your dollars and of course, save money. And believe me, I employ a number of them. I am as miserly as they come, and quite frugal as well to boot. Of course some have another name for me.


Go ahead and have your fun, I say. I am laughing all the way to the bank, and when I really want to have a little extra money for something, I can have it.

So what's one little trick to saving money and having money? It's time to return to the days of make believe like when you were a kid. Only for this play, instead of pretending like you are Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, or perhaps the man who trumps all of their massive wad of cash, you play broke. That is, you severely limit what you have on hand for money, and make it damn difficult to get money in a pinch.

When I was in the Navy one of the things I did, and I'll admit that back then I was still not as good with my money as I am now, but I did still think about. It was a work in progress, shall we say? I made my money hard to get. I left very little funds right up front and accessible, and made sure that the rest was socked away into a savings account at a bank that was 30 miles from where I lived, and that I had no ATM access whatsoever to.

This meant that in order to get access to any of that money I had to physically get into the car during bank hours, and drive 30 miles to make a withdrawal.

That took a little bit of thought. It required a little bit of planning. And that meant that 90% of the time the money stayed at the bank just because it was too much of a pain in the ass to get at. I found other ways to get what I wanted. Or I simply went without.

These days I don't resort to bank accounts miles away. In lieu of that I keep most of my money in my brokerage accounts, and most of that is tied to a stock. It's still accessible. But again, far less accessible than if I could just walk up to an ATM machine and draw it out.

I have to think about a tax implication of selling shares of stock, or have to wait a couple of business days for funds to be transferred to my checking account from my cash account. Especially if I sell shares I have to wait a couple of days for the transaction settlement, and then have to wait a couple more days to transfer the funds. Often times I don't even resort to doing that.

Again, just like before, I find other ways to get what I want. Or I simply go without.

The one thing I have learned over the years is that if you make money too easily accessible it gives you far too much freedom to simply give in, and take it. And 90% of the time it is simply something squandered on, on an impulse. Like New Year's resolutions are rarely followed through on, saying in the moment "I will deal with it later" is a sure way to ensure that it never gets dealt with. And time and time again you will simply find yourself going through more and more cash.

Playing broke is sometimes painful and frustrating, I will admit. But at the end of the day it just seems to make sense to me. When I really want the money for something I know it is there. I can enjoy skipping a fish fry today, for example, to better be able to afford a fishing trip I'd rather do tomorrow.

At the end of the day it is about having security and freedom. But not the freedom to frivolously spend. Rather, the freedom to spend wisely.

Besides, the best part is that when you get tired of playing broke and need a break back to the wondrous reality that you actually have money, it's right there, and you can go wild if you want and still not break the bank.

Joyous really. And perhaps, in some ways, quite brilliant, however conceited that may sound.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Lesson In The Value of Covered Call Options 2


The simple truth is that I took a bit of a risk. When I sold the options contracts the stock was trading only within about 60 cents of the strike price. Being that the stock pushed early on past $15, and closed very close to $15 by the end of the expiration of the covered call options contracts I sold with a $15 strike price, this could have forced me to sell my shares and that would have been the end of it. I still would have enjoyed a profit of $2.17 per share for a profit of $2,821, plus the premiums on contracts sold and dividends received, but now I would be out of the stock, and forced to decide whether or not reinvesting considering my $17 valuation would be as lucrative as being in the stock for just $12.83 per share.

My short term thoughts on that are that it would not be likely that I would reinvest. I was convinced that the stock would not trade higher than $15 by the expiration date of the contracts I sold. A less than $2 profit on future shares purchased would simply not be in line with what I expect out of a stock.

The key here is, though, that no matter where I think the stock will go, and no matter where the stock was when I sold the contracts, I did not believe I was wrong that the stock would not trade higher than $15 by February 20th. Selling the contracts to someone who believed I was wrong is also key. He paid me for the right to buy my shares at $15 because he was convinced the stock would be worth more by February 20th.

Again, this is where a little bit of technical analysis helps, and something you will have to discover on your own. To go into the reasons WHY I was so convinced of this is simply too involved to try to explain here.

What did I sell?

In January, based on my opinion that Cypress Semiconductor (CY) would not close higher than $15 by February 20th, I (wrote) sold 13 covered call options contracts for Cypress Semiconductor (CY) with a $15 strike price and with an expiration date of February 20th. I collected approximately $585 in premiums for this. After expenses I received a total of $564.

Again, I fully intended that these contracts would expire worthless, that the stock would not trade above $15 per share, and that I would get to keep both the premiums paid to me AND keep my stock to boot.

Moreover, now that those contracts indeed expired worthless since we only reached $14.95 per share at the expiration, I now get to decide to sell more contracts for March to collect more premiums.

Remember that I think that the stock is worth $17. But resistance is around $15.48 based on the recent high. That is approximately 52 cents shy of $16. It closed on February 20th at $14.95. That is 53 cents short of the high and $1.05 short of $16. Will it push higher in March past $15? I think it will. But, how much higher will it go past the $15.48 high before experiencing a bit of a pull back due to profit taking? I think it will not see $16 by the March 20th expiration date of the next options cycle. I also expect that seeing a new high of $16 or more 30 days from now is unlikely. We are going to push a bit higher, but breaking the high by 52 cents just seems to me a bit of stretch unless some major news comes our way. I do not anticipate that.

Again, based on analysis I will not get into here, I think the stock will see a NEW high through March, but the trading range will be from $14.95 to $15.75 per share.

With that in mind, selling covered call options contracts with a March 20th expiration date and with a $16 strike price is a safe bet. Based on what I see now I do not believe that Cypress Semiconductor will close above $16 by March 20th. It is highly likely that the stock will close lower, and I will again get to collect my premiums for the contracts (written) sold, AND will continue to be able to hold my stock and receive dividends without being forced to sell my shares.

At this time I have not yet made a decision, but I told you I would provide you a real time example of what I am doing here. When I pull the trigger on a March 20th covered call options contract I will let you know how that went. be continued

A Lesson In The Value of Covered Call Options

I am going to give you a real time example of how stock options, done right, can make you a significant alternative income. For those of us who invest in the stock market, we call this generating cash on underlying investments that you wish to own, do not wish to sell, but that you wish to continue to earn from.

When I have talked about stock options in the past, I always stress that I do not buy stock options. I sell stock options. Why do I do this? It is simply a matter of this being my strategy. I buy stocks because I believe they are worth more than the price that they are currently trading for.

Pretty simple right?

Therefore I do not wish to sell the stock of a company that I feel is going to continue to make inroads, continue to advance, and continue to provide a great income opportunity over time. You sell your losers. You do not sell your winners. But when you have winners, you make the most out of them. You get every penny out of them that you can. You do not worry about what the rest of the markets are doing, or what the rest of the markets are thinking. You do your homework, you decide a valuation, and you proceed from there. And you keep in mind that everyone invested in a company has a different idea about what the company is doing, what it is going to do, and so this helps to create a vast market of individual investors willing to do all sorts of things depending on where they want to be with the stock.

You will not always be right, but that's okay. That is part of the game.

I said you have to do your homework, and repeat this here because if the idea is that if you do not wish to sell your stock, but want to continue to generate income on your stock, you need to have a good idea where you think the share price is realistically going to go.

I won't get into the math of that. You'll have to figure that out on your own. But there are tons of websites that can provide you valuable information on how to valuate a stock.

I currently own 1,300 shares of Cypress Semiconductor, and that's already great because it is a stock that pays you while you wait. My quarterly dividends on this stock are $143. Even if the stock does nothing at all, I'll earn $572 in a year just because I happen to own it. My cost basis per share is $12.83, and as of the close of today's trading, ($14.95) I am already up $2.12 per share, or have an on paper profit of $2,756.

I have no intention of selling my shares. I think the stock is worth about $17 per share.

But herein lies a part of the fun of this. I do believe I own a $17 stock. I do not believe that my $17 stock is going to trade at $17 within the next 30 days. I made this decision in January. In fact, in January I did not believe the stock would trade much above even $15 within the next 30 days, and moreover, I did not believe that the stock would close trading at $15 or higher 30 days from January.

It did go past $15 briefly. But as I suspected, it did not stick, and the stock took a significant down turn after pushing past $15. The stock broke resistance and people took profits. It's that simple.

Why is this important?

I want to make a monthly income on a stock that is now showing a profit. I want the best of all worlds. I want my $17 stock. I want my dividends. I want to keep on owning it. And I want the other investors in the market who believe the stock is going to go higher sooner to want to buy the right to buy my shares at $15.

I am looking for those individuals who believe in the same valuation I do, but believe that it will reach that valuation before I think it will.

This creates a market of buyers in the options world willing to pay a premium to have the right to buy shares at $15 that they are convinced are worth significantly more. If they can buy an option to buy shares at $15 and the stock goes to $17, they reduce their gain by the amount of the premium they paid for the option, but still win since selling the shares they obtain at $17 still reaps them a good reward.

Remember, the options allow them to buy the shares at $15. In their world, they are up $2 per share minus the premium.

Guys like me love this, and take this to the bank.

The options buyer  says "I can buy the stock, or I can buy the right to buy it at a price that I think is valued less than what I think it is worth. If I buy the stock I lose more than if I buy the right to buy it. If the stock does not do what I think it will do, I am only out what I paid for the right. Not the total loss of buying the stock outright and losing the overall value of my investment."

This is where guys like me come in and make money.

I am more than willing to sell you the right to buy my shares that I have $12.83 invested in that are worth $17 for $15 before they will actually be worth $17. Why? Because I am convinced that my $17 stock will not be worth $17 in the time period you think it will be. You are willing to pay me to buy my shares for less than they are worth thinking they will meet the valuation before I think they will. Even if I am wrong, and the stock does something unpredictable, I still get my premium and sell my shares for more than I paid for them.

Enter charts and technical analysis which is way more than I will get into here, but do your research and you can learn where technical analysis can help to make short term decisions on where a stock is heading based on market sentiment...

And that word I used earlier in this text. Resistance. It is important to know what that is, and how you can decide where to set your strike prices in short term options selling. be continued


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Today's Swimsuits: The Blog

Blogs are sometimes just simply hit or miss. It's just the nature of things. Either you don't have a topic that enough people will ultimately find interesting, or the layout is all wrong, or there is simply too much other competition out there making it virtually impossible to get anywhere.

And then there are swimsuits.

Of course, the only reason I ever visit Nelda Hoxie's blog, Today's Swimsuits, is for the articles. After all, Ms. Hoxie writes with detail and precision, and you can almost feel the fabric of the suit on your skin as you read along. I hardly ever notice that she also includes pictures of bikini clad women in each of her descriptive entries.


I have followed Nelda in a couple of different places, and that's really how I found her blog. But being that summer is right around the corner, I like what she has done with the blog, and of course enjoy the articles, I thought I would share.

If you have not yet visited Today's Swimsuits I encourage you to do so. Especially for the ladies who may be looking for just the perfect swimsuit to add to her ensemble for the coming warmer days ahead.

It is a blog worth reading, and I give Nelda Hoxie a two thumbs up hands down. It's fantastically done, and in all ways good. Pictures, descriptive content, and layout combined. It's just fantastic. I am actually quite envious.

I bet she is making a killing.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

All Right Illinois, Let Me See What You've Got

As I have been told since recently transplanting to southern Illinois about the winters, it's all a matter of perspective. Or in other words, it's a matter of what you are used to. Still, being from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin region of the country, my wife and I still find much humor in the pandemonium that breaks out when there is a call for any of that white stuff to come along around here.

That's snow folks.

In fact, about a couple of weeks ago there was a little bit of that white stuff that fell on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, and while watching the news reporting my wife and I actually thought we had somehow landed onto a comedy skit from the likes of Saturday Night Live.

There was a reporter with a semi truck in the backdrop with a dusting of snow covering its hood and windshield. I could actually still make out the wipers. He stood, microphone in hand, with an umbrella, trying his best to shield himself from a treacherous wind.

"Already folks an inch and a quarter of snow has fallen and street crews are working around the clock to keep up."


Imagine the horror if that inch and a quarter of snow might advance to say, an inch and a HALF!

Granted, while Wisconsin is no Eastern coastal state the likes of New York, or even New England for that matter, we still get our fair share of snow during the winter months, and not having a snow blower handy, and at the ready is almost impossible to imagine. In some years we have gotten 160 inches or more of the white stuff. We of course brought ours with us when we moved, but it has been—thus far—sitting lonely and abandoned in our garage for the entire duration of the winter.

Until now.

We brought her out, fired her up, and made sure she was ready to go. Because southern Illinois, in the St. Louis metro area, is expecting a dumping of at least 6-8 inches of the white stuff. Had our neighbors caught us in the act I suspect they may have been fascinated and perplexed all at the same

What on earth is that contraption you've got there?

The looks on their faces would be akin to the amazement of watching the Wright Brothers take their first few seconds of flight, and somehow with my fantastic machine I could enjoy a short-lived moment of being accelerated to a God, or a great magician the likes of Houdini.

So Illinois, we're ready for whatever you have in you to dish out to us. Bring it on! We've got this. Let me see what you've got. Snow fall if you dare, and little Illinois snowflakes prepare yourself for a ride through my tines and out of my chute, and let's get this thing done.

Me And My MTD Snow Blower and the Blizzard of '011, A Rant

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ford Wird Eine Fest 2015

Ich habe seit einiger Zeit sagen, dass ich denke, dass die Ford Motor Company ist ein unter geschätzt, und sicher eine unterbewertete Aktien. Nichts hat sich meine Meinung über das geändert. Tatsache ist, dass die Ford Motor Company hat eine ganze Menge guter Dinge zu bieten, und ich glaube, dies wird dazu beitragen, um den Aktienkurs zum Ende des Jahres 2015 näher an die $ 20 Bewertung, wo ich denke, die Bewertung sollte zu fahren.

Unter einigen der Schlüsselfaktoren für meine Überzeugung, dass Ford Motor Company sollte gut zu machen in diesem Jahr sind:

  • Die quantitative Lockerung in Europa, die helfen sollen steigern europäische Vertriebs- und dazu beitragen, die europäische Wirtschaft sicher.
  • Sehr attraktiv Verkaufszahlen bereits für die neue Aluminium-Karosserie Ford F-150.
  • 24 neue Modelle im vergangenen Jahr veröffentlicht, die auf kurze Sicht kostete das Unternehmen eine Menge, aber das sollte unteren Linien erhöhen in diesem Jahr.
  • Eine kürzlich durchgeführte Erhöhung der Dividende bringen Gesamtausbeute von Ford auf etwas über 4 %, was ein Zeichen dafür ist, dass Ford ist zuversichtlich, dass es profitabel sein wird und es sich leisten können, weiterhin ein Stück vom Kuchen an ihre Aktionäre zu schaffen.
  • Wenn die Gaspreise können unter 4 $ pro Gallone bleiben, sollte dies auch dazu beitragen, LKW und SUV-Verkäufe, die den Lebensunterhalt für die Autohersteller steigern. Mit der neuen F-150 aus, ich denke, es gibt keinen Zweifel, dass Ford auch weiterhin aufrecht zu erhalten, es ist #1 Position im Lkw-Absatz, und kann sogar gewinnen einige GM und Dodge- Liebhaber auf ihre Ecke, um dies zu überprüfen.
  • Ford hat in einem Bereich von etwa 14,00 $ gehandelt - 17,00 $ in den letzten zwei Jahren. Ich denke, es kann die 17 $ Widerstand auf starke Verkäufe, das Wachstum und andere Faktoren zu brechen, und sobald es tut die Aktie ausziehen.
Insgesamt denke ich, dass 2015 wird sich als ein sehr gutes Jahr für Ford Motor Company Anleger. Selbst bei den heutigen Preisen schweben ein wenig über $ 15 je Aktie Ich bin ein Käufer . Ich werde noch ein Käufer auf rund 17 $ pro Aktie.

Disclosure: Der Autor dieses Artikels ist zur Zeit lang Ford Motor Company (F) und beabsichtigt, Aktien innerhalb der nächsten 30 Tage

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Keystone Pipeline Passed

Before the start of the new year I sat down and wrote down some of my predictions for 2015, and as suspected, one big one came through. I wrote:

"With republicans back in power I believe that the Keystone Pipeline deal may be back on the table, but even if anything makes it to President Obama's desk, he will veto it. The Keystone Pipeline, however, will become a big part of the next presidential campaign, and actually believe that both the republican and democratic candidates will be in favor of approving it."
Part of that prediction came true yesterday when Congress passed the bill  270-152, which comprised of all but one Republican voting in favor of it, including 29 Democrats. The last part of that is equally important to note since 29 is a fairly good number for Democratic approval in the House, and I think the voting will have similar results in the Senate. While I cannot call this particularly strong support in Democratic circles it is, I think, still significant.

As predicted as well, President Obama has vowed to veto the bill once it crosses his desk, and I don't see him backing down from that.

The truth is that from day one this president has followed an agenda which I think runs contrary to his messaging throughout both campaigns, and quite frankly contrary to his messaging throughout his presidency. He said he wanted to fix the economy, help the middle class and the poor, and create jobs.

In many ways this bill, which has been sitting on the sidelines for all of his presidency could help to do all three of those things; particularly in the area of job creation and helping the middle class and the poor by potentially bringing more relief to Americans at the pump. The hardest hit by gas prices have of course been the middle class and the poor.

I still strongly believe that the Keystone Pipeline will eventually be approved, although I am not convinced it will ever happen during President Obama's watch. But I do believe that both presidential candidates from both sides will be in favor of approving the pipeline. It's a bill that just makes sense on a variety of levels, and like other things the president has turned his nose up at, this bill has the majority of Americans support.

Which might be another reason why Obama dislikes it. If the American people want something, he will be sure to make sure he goes the opposite direction.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Fun of Paying It Forward

So here we are again with a massive Powerball jackpot just sitting there waiting for someone to claim the winning prize of $450 million on February 11, 2015.

If somebody wins.

Of course I play the lottery. If you have happened to have followed me long enough you are well aware that I am willing to fork over my $2 for a chance at multi-millions. If I took the money I spent on lottery tickets year over year and compared that to what I might spend in casinos year after year, the small amount of money I pay for a chance at multiple millions in a Powerball lottery jackpot pales in comparison.

So I am willing to pay, and willing to play. 'Nuff said.

By my math, which is rough I will admit, of the $450 million Powerball lottery jackpot, I will get to keep roughly $270 million after taxes. I am always firm in saying that I would choose to take the annuity option if I won. So after taxes that gives me somewhere around $9 million a year for the next 30 years.

I would likely first give the household budget a $1 million a year "salary," and would give my wife a $250,000 a year "salary." In addition I would give away $1 million to family members. At least in the first year. The rest of the money, $6.75 million would be invested in various ways.

But the most fun would be contributing to what I call working charity. In other words, tipping waitresses at restaurants we would eat out at the full bill. Handing a $20 bill to the guy or gal bagging my groceries. Handing the delivery guy of my pizza or other delivery food a tip worth the entire bill.

The thing is that all of this money goes into the real economy. It benefits society, it benefits jobs, it benefits the economy, and it is my way of paying it forward. Thanking people for their hard work and putting money in  their pockets that they may not have otherwise had.

This would be gobs of fun.

I look at it this way. When you are raking in $9 million a year, money really is not an object. Moreover, when you are investing $6.75 million a year, the dividends alone can provide for more than you are used to taking in.

I want to be able to spread the wealth. If I get lucky enough to win the lottery, I want that money to funnel into as many pockets as possible.

And I would have loads of fun doing it.

Bubblews May Have Been A Scam From Day One

The one thing I always found a bit confusing about Bubblews was that whenever the question came up as to whether or not Bubblews paid its members, the answer largely depended on who you asked. Some members reported that they were paid consistently, and others reported that they were paid some of the time, or had several missing payments.

After the now infamous New Year's post posted by the CEO, Arvind Dixit, which told members that redemptions before a certain date would be erased, and any pending payments after that date would have a new pay structure applied retroactively, thereby dramatically slashing payments due, it became clear that the pay structure Bubblews was using was flawed.

Bubblews never had the ability to pay its members one penny per like, one penny per view, and one penny per comment from day one.

Instead of changing their pay structure, the owners of the site, I think, simply made active decisions about who would get paid. The fact was that the owners of the site were getting some media attention, and their site was booming with new signups every day. It is my opinion that the owners of the site believed that the money would eventually work itself out.

In some ways what Bubblews was doing was closely related to a Ponzi scheme. The difference was that they were not relying on new members to supply money, per se, but content.

So who got paid? Members who provided richer content, and who were relatively active on the site,

Arvind Dixit, CEO of Bubblews
and who potentially would draw in more ad revenue. Those members were put at the front of the line to keep them paid and keep them providing content that would draw in the most ad revenue. Others who were less active, or who provided less rich content were sent to the back of the line, and were either paid late, or not paid at all.

What happened to the money?

Just like in a Ponzi scheme where new money pays old investors, the money that was not paid to less contributive members was funneled into the accounts of those who provided richer content and who were more active. Again, to keep them writing and keep them onboard.

I was one of those members, having been paid every single redemption I ever made, aside from the final payment which had been slashed due to the retroactive pay structure being applied to it. In fact, if you go back and review many of the posts by members during times when there were severe complaints about payments you begin to notice a trend.

Those who were saying they were missing payments had less rich content. Those who wrote posts saying they could not understand the complaints, and who said they were being paid, and defended the site were typically those who had richer content.

It helps to confirm for me what was going on. It helps to make it clear that the owners of the site were actively deciding who got paid and who did not based on what they felt was "best for the site," and I think overall, "best for their bottom line."

What is sums up for me is that Bubblews was never truly able to manage itself, and was a scam from day one. Only it wasn't apparent to everyone since probably half the members were getting paid. To me there really is no other explanation as to why there was so much inconsistency in how redemptions worked for some, and not for others.

The smart members, the ones who were the rich content providers, mostly left the site after the New Year's post. And the site is now basically a shell without a body. Can Bubblews recover? I have a hard time believing that it will since the Internet is such an easy place for people to talk about their experiences there, and share their opinions about the site, which when it comes to the smart members, is all bad press. The bad press always outweighed the good press, and these days the bad press has grown to a point that it buries any good press there could have been. Bubblews is dead.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pest Control Pic of the Day 02/06/2015

After four years working for a pest control firm as a licensed and state certified service professional and licensed wildlife trapper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I accumulated quite a few pictures of things seen in the field that I found fun or interesting. And so I thought, why not share some of those pictures and even some of those experiences here, on my blog?

To that end I was often asked, "What is the biggest rat you ever caught?" And while my biggest probably pales in comparison to some of the rats running through the sewers of the City of New York, this guy was certainly the biggest I had ever seen in the City of Milwaukee.

I caught this guy in a wine and sandwich establishment (which is no longer in business) on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood in a storage area of the basement.

Just another day in the life of an exterminator.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

You Can Win The Powerball Jackpot

Sometimes the fun of life is simply taking a moment to dream about what is possible. Like winning the Powerball jackpot which tonight could make some lucky individual $317 million richer. Granted, the odds are terrible. I will readily admit that, and anyone with half a bit of sense is quite aware of this fact as well. In fact I once sat down and compared the odds of either winning the Powerball jackpot or being struck by lightning. It turns out I am more likely to be struck 43 times in my lifetime by a bolt of lightning than win the Powerball jackpot once.

But the truth is, you can win the Powerball jackpot only if you have a ticket in your hand when the drawing occurs.

But it's such a waste of money, you say. I get that. And the Powerball, unlike most other lottery games, is twice the cost at $2 per play. Still, when I think of all of the money I waste (and I really don't waste that much money. I am quite frugal actually), a mere $2 for a chance at $317 million, or even a mediocre return is still a great opportunity to have, and I think it's $2 wasted that is worth the chance.

Somebody must win. It's the name of the game.

And people do in fact win. It was reported by the makers of the popular docuseries which chronicles the lives of those who have won the lottery that roughly 1,600 new millionaires are created every single year simply by winning the lottery. That's about 4 new millionaires each and every day of the year.

You probably won't win. The odds are simply stacked too much against the player. But again, somebody must win, and that person absolutely cannot be you unless you have a ticket in your hand when the drawing occurs.

I will certainly be buying a ticket for tonight's drawing. All I have to lose is the jackpot, right? Or, of course my $2. But just to have a chance? Just to have a long shot? Yep. I'll take my chances. If I were to win the Powerball jackpot, I would choose the annuity. The cash option is only worth about half the total prize amount, and then when you take out for taxes, it's about half of that. If I take the annuity I still get paid somewhere around (after taxes) $6,340,000 a year for 30 years.

I think that be just enough to cover the groceries to be sure.

Also by Springboard about the lottery: Winning the Lottery: The Dream of the Big Win

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ford Will Have A Solid 2015

I have been saying for quite a while that I think that Ford Motor Company is an under appreciated, and certainly an undervalued stock. Nothing has changed my mind about that. The fact is that Ford Motor Company has quite a lot of good things going for it, and I believe this will help to drive the stock price towards the end of 2015 closer to the $20 valuation, where I think the valuation should be.

Among some of the key factors in my belief that Ford Motor Company should do well this year are:

  • Quantitative easing in Europe which should help boost European sales and certainly help the European economy.
  • Very attractive sales figures already for the new aluminum body Ford F-150.
  • 24 new models released last year, which in the short term cost the company a lot, but that should boost bottom lines this year.
  • A recent increase in the dividend bringing Ford's overall yield to a little over 4%, which is a sign that Ford is confident it will be profitable and can afford to continue to provide a piece of the pie to their shareholders.
  • If gas prices can remain below $4 per gallon, this should also help to boost truck and SUV sales, which are the bread and butter for automakers. With the new F-150 out, I think there is no doubt that Ford will continue to maintain it's #1 position in truck sales, and may even attract a few GM and Dodge lovers over to their corner to check this out.
  • Ford has been trading in a range of about $14.00 - $17.00 over the past two years. I think it can break the $17 resistance on strong sales, growth, and other factors, and once it does the stock will take off.
Overall, I think that 2015 will prove to be a very good year for Ford Motor Company investors. Even at today's prices hovering a bit over $15 per share I am a buyer. I will still be a buyer up to around $17 per share.

Disclosure: The author of this article is currently long Ford Motor Company (F) and intends to add shares within the next 30 days.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

All about Tom Brady's Balls

With all of this hoopla surrounding Tom Brady's balls, I decided to sit down with Brady before the Super Bowl to discuss the whole debacle of his balls. He was very kind to sit with me for this interview, and his time was well appreciated.

JB: So Tom, what's your take on all of this sudden media interest in your balls?

TB: Well Jim, I think it's a bit hyped. But certainly there has been plenty of other interest in my balls. It surprises me it took this long for more people to want to know. When it comes to being a quarterback in the NFL, it really is, and always has been about the quarterback's balls.

JB: Are you particularly partial to your balls?

TB: Oh yes. Like I said, for a quarterback your balls are very important, and how your balls feel on any given day really can be a game changer. I tend to spend a lot of time with my balls before each and every game, touching them, squeezing them, feeling them all around.

JB: Do you have any help in this task?

TB: All quarterbacks have an equipment team who have an intimate knowledge of how a quarterback prefers for his balls to feel. Before the game in question, and really before any game my equipment team spends quite a lot of time feeling my balls for firmness or softness. If my balls don't quite feel right, I give them solid direction on how to make my balls feel better, and they are very good at solving any problems I may encounter with my balls.

JB: Must be nice to have such a great team of people working your balls?

TB: Oh it sure is. When you've got your balls handled, it really helps to relieve some of the pressure a quarterback feels before a game. Especially an important game.

JB: So, were you comfortable that your balls were in tip top shape on the game day that started all of this hoopla?

TB: I am confident that there was nothing wrong with my balls before we got onto the field. I and my equipment team spent a lot time with my balls, and I had every bit of confidence that my balls were perfectly fine before the game started. But like anything to do with your balls, weather can certainly impact how they wind up. It was very cold that day, and that could have well had some impact on causing some shrinkage of my balls.

JB: So there was no manipulation of your balls at all?

TB: Not hardly. There are regulations on ball firmness, and we were within those regulations. What happens to my balls as a result of other factors is entirely beyond my control. Sometimes your balls just do what they want to do. There is only so much you can control. That being said, my balls were constantly checked throughout the game, and again, I had every bit of confidence based on everyone's input that my balls were just fine throughout.

JB: Do you feel that it might be a step backward if more focus is placed on yours, or anyone else's balls in the NFL as a result of this debacle?

TB: Not at all. If it's good for the game, then it's good for the fans, and certainly good for the players. Having a few more people with their hands on my balls is only going to improve the situation for us all. And if it helps to relieve questions about my balls, or anyone's balls in general? Why then, I think that's great for the NFL.

JB: Well thanks for your time. It is appreciated. Of course I have to ask if you have spent considerable time with your balls today before the big game?

TB: Oh, you bet I have. And believe me when I tell you more people have handled my balls today than any other time since I began playing football. I don't mind at all if it supports the idea that we are playing a fair game, and if we win, that it not because of any problem with my balls. It feels fantastic that my balls are very well taken care of.

I thanked him, we shook hands, and he nodded and went off to ready himself. He did not bring out any of his balls for the interview for me to handle. There's probably rules about that anyway so it was no matter.