Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed

and is glad he finally did. The flight out from Tampa to Phoenix where we changed planes was pretty good though I was ready to get off the plane when we did land. We were on an Airbus A320 which is a pretty comfortable plane all in all, much better than the 737 we took last time. Phoenix was a mess of course, not surprising as everytime I go through Phoenix it seems there are problems. This time though I didn't want to fly through cities like Denver, Detroit, Chicago or even St Louis as the opportunity to be weather delayed in February is always there when you go through those cities.

We were delayed over an hour in Phoenix. The flight from Phoenix to LV was totally packed but we were in an Airbus A321 which was even nicer than the 320. Needless to say however we were ready to get off the plane an hour later when we landed. Baggage claim was ok and the shuttle to Ballys was a piece of cake. Check in had a little line but after we got there it got packed. We got there and the gal at check in was great. She upgraded us to a North Tower room without us even asking. For Free. This room is nice! Huge king bed, nice desk where I am typing this missive, roomy, etc. Only thing the room needs is a coffee maker and a fridge. Anyway we got in and settled and tried to take a nap but though we were tired, we couldn't get to sleep. So the Poker Queen, PQ for short - alias my wife, decided she wanted to play some Video Poker. Down we went down to the casino and played some for awhile. We were able to make some cash, well she did anyway, but nothing to write home about.

After a while we got hungry so we started walking around looking at different food places. There is a connecting corridor between Ballys and Paris and she wanted to check out the places there so we headed that way. We were a little way up the corridor lookiing at the Frenchy burger place when a guy asks us what we are doing that night. Before I can say anything my wife says nothing. I immediately chimed in that we were planning on playing a poker tourney but the guy asks us if we want to go to that night's Barry Manilow concert. He had 2 tix for free as comps and wasn't going and saw us walking holding hands and figured we were both old enough to remember Barry's hits and wouldn't be fighting in 3 hours when the concert started. And he just gave us the tickets. PQ was thrilled. Barry was the one show she wanted to see but it didn't look like we would be able to as he only was playing Saturday and Sunday night.

With some time to kill we end up eating at this Southwestern/Mexican place in Ballys. Nothing special but it was a decent meal and not too expensive. After dinner PQ decides whe wants to play more Video Poker but I was wanting to play some regular poker so I pointed out these machines that she might like as I played on them a little bit and did well and then headed over to the Ballys poker room. We're only going to play for a little over an hour because we have to head over to Paris for the show I get on the list to play 1-2 no limit and in a short time I'm in seat 5 with $150 in chips in front of me. I watched for a bit before sitting down and I had no hands to speak of for a while so I took stock of the players around me. The guy directly to my right was young and pretty loose aggressive. I watched him raise one pot in early position and when everyone folded get this disgusted look and fold like he had a monster pair. When he folded he flashed his cards up and I could see he was playing J-10 off so I put him down as a guy who would push preflop with near anything and if I had a decent hand, I was gonna push back hard. His buddy was few more seats to the right in seat 1. He was just crazy. He was willing to push and call on hands with less than premium holdings, like 3rd pair, even going so far as to call reraises with this crap. I guess he felt he was not gonna be bluffed. There was also one older guy in seat 10 who I thought had a big tell and I kept watching him. I have been reading a book of tells from Joe Navarro and he mentioned how people move their mouths and tongues when their weak. Now I'm not the most observant guy but I could see this exact thing in this guy. And everytime his mouth told me he was weak he ended up folding to bets. Unfortunately I never got to put this into use as we never got into hands together.

I played for about an hour and was doing well taking my chip stack from 150 to a little over 200. No major hands or anything but I was feeling good and the table was pretty loose so that even though I didn't have great hands, I was making people respect my raises. I don't think I showed down one hand. Then came my slight downfall. I called from the button with a 4-6 suited along with 2 other guys and the blinds. Flop is J64 rainbow. Checked around to the guy in seat 1 who puts out a pot sized bet of $10. It comes to me and I reraise him to $25. I am maybe putting him on air, maybe on a jack or draw. He calls. Turn is a 5 and he checks so I put him all in for his last 50 bucks or so and he calls and flips over a 75 for an open end straight and a pair of 5s. Of course a 3 rivers and I lose my profits plus about $25. I maybe played it wrong by not raising the flop bigger but seeing the way he played, I think he calls a bigger raise to like $40 so maybe this was one of those hands I was fated to lose. I didn't feel too bad as I got it in good as a pretty big favorite, it was just one of those poker breaks. But I hated losing that hand because winning it puts me up to about $300 and I would have liked that.

PQ comes by a few minutes later and I have to leave to see Barry Manilow with her. Now many of you are probably laughing hysterically but those of you who are a bit older can probably remember that in the late 70s there were really 3 singers/bands that dominated pop music - Billy Joel, the Bee Gees, and Barry. So even though I am not a huge fan of his, I remember all of his big hits and many of them I still like. My wife really likes to hear him sing as well. Yes we are old apparently but I'll take Barry Manilow over Lady Goo Goo all day long. When PQ walks up she is holding 3 tickets from the Video Poker machines totalling about $500 in winnings. DAMN. She is no longer the Poker Queen, she is the Video Poker Queen. And it gets better later.

Anyway the concert was really nice. Barry Manilow is a good entertainer and VPQ had a great time. I enjoyed it myself. After the concert we wanted to stay up a bit later and get into the western time zone way of life so we decided to sit down and play some 3 card poker for a while. VPQ really likes this game but outside of the first time she played it (she hit a straight flush on her 2nd hand) the game has not been kind to her so we usually avoid it. But it was a good way to kill some time so we sat a while and played. She started off badly but I did ok and then she got hot and we both made some cash while we killed some time. The dealer was nice too so we had some fun and placed some bets for her as well.

By the time we went to bed after that we were pretty beat. It was a long day but a very full one and we had a lot we wanted to do the next day so we headed up to bed a little before 11. Though I was down a couple of hundred for the day, VPQ was up well over that so we felt pretty good. A lot happened the next day but this post is long enough as it is so I'll leave off here. Stay lucky you nuts, luckier than me at least.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trois Tres Drei Tre Trzy San

In other words THREE as in the number of days until PQ and I will be winging our way to the Holyland. We haven't been since November 2009 (our 25th anniversary) and I am so ready to go. Work has truly been a bear lately and if I didn't take some time off someone was going to pay. Do you hear me? SOMEONE WOULD PAY!! People have been walking very softly around my cube. Possibly with good reason too. I have not been the most laid back sort of late. But I am working on it. By leaving for a week.

I finally signed up for Full Tilt today so that I could play the Mookie and especially the VJ. Unfortunately I will probably miss next week's VJ, unless of course I go busto in Vegas. I will have a computer with me but I am expecting to be a mite bit busy next Wednesday. Mookie just started and I am at a table with Lightning and Very Josie. The funny thing is the 2 people Josie has been trashing lately are at the table too. Both HeffMike and JamyHawk are there but not for long as Jamy got moved pretty quickly. Then I got moved as well. I saw later that Josie was gone pretty quick. Lightning though had the misfortune of running his QQ into AA. All in preflop and he was first to bust. Sorry Light, we can have a beer next week and talk about it.

Made it to first break and haven't embarassed myself completely yet. Actually in 10th. Didn't get much cards early but made the ones I got pay ok. Late in the round I got AA twice. First time I raised in early position and everyone folded. 2nd I was in the big blind and got a walk. Yuck.

Cards have been pretty crappy since the break. I've picked up a couple of pots with nice flops and raised some pots preflop to take them down. Then I got lucky. Raised in middle position with 77. Julius Goat next to me pushed all in for about half my stack. I called expecting a big ace but was unhappy to see QQ in his hand. Flop was nice for me 658. Turn was an A but the river was my third 7 knocking Julius out. Apparently I won a bounty on Julius as well so I'm basically freerolling the rest of the tourney. I hit a couple of other hands, nothing major and found myself with a little over 11000 chips at the 2nd break, good for 3rd place at the time. 17 were left with 5 places paid.

Getting lucky with some hands after the break. Raised with AK and got 1 caller. Flop was Queen high. Bet the flop and he called, bet the turn and he called. River was an Ace and I took it down for a nice score. Then I called a small raise with 10-9. Flop was QJx and I called a 1/3 pot bet then the turn was another low card. I called a somewhat larger raise but still small in relation to the pot. I still had the straight draw along with a flush draw as well. River is a 10 of hearts. Didn't make me happy but gave me a pair. It was checked to me and I just checked as I didn't know if he was playing me with an AK or had nothing. He flips over A7 and I take it down with a pair of 10s.

Made it to the final table and moved up to 3rd place before it all came crashing down. Lost a race with AK against JJ. Then gave a few more chips away when nothing flopped on my AQ. Finally went out when I reraised all in with 44 and was called by Numbnuts errr Numbono with AK. Flop and turn missed him but the river filled a Broadway straight for him and I was out in 7th. I had some good luck, had some bad luck but mostly just played tight aggressive and picked my spots. It was fun but lasted too late for a weeknight. I got a lot to do tomorrow. So I bid good night to all and hope all you nuts stay lucky. Except Numbono. He got lucky enough with that broadway. By the way, its 2 days to Vegas.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's the Final Countdown

T Minus 5 everyone until we blast off to Sin City for some fun and games. Checked the weather today and they seem to be 10 - 15 degrees cooler. Guess I have to pack a bit of cooler weather gear like long sleeved shirts and at least one jacket. I won't be outdoors too much but with 6 days of fun and games to experience, I expect to travel a little. I got my hair cut yesterday and my barber said I need to go out I-15 to Utah through the Virgin River Gorge just to see it so I might.

Damn I'm getting excited just thinking about it. Its only been about a year and 4 months since I last went there but every trip to Vegas just brings so much fun. In 2009 when the wife, who shall be now called Poker Queen or PQ from now on, (her demand errr request) and I last were there we suffered a lot of losses early on but it all turned when we went downtown and played there for awhile. We went to Fitzgeralds and signed up for their Players Club. They had a bank of Video Poker machines that had a sign over them saying they would give a free steak dinner if you hit quads. So we sat down. These machines were a lot bigger than the ones we were used to playing on. No matter, we both sat down and started playing Double Double Bonus. Before long she hits a nice quads for $200. I tell her to cash out and now we find out why these machines are so big. They pay out in Quarters. There is nothing like the sound of 800 quarters being distributed to get your heart racing. I think Vegas made a mistake going to all these machines that pay out with tickets. The sound of coins hitting the pay slot just makes you feel all warm inside. We play for a good while hitting quads 5 times between us. We never hit the biggest paying quads but we each walked out with about $400 more than we went in with plus free steak dinners to boot.

After that our luck turned for the remainder of the trip. We hit more quads on other Video Poker machines, mostly at Casino Royale where we enjoyed playing the most. I played a good bit of craps and made some nice cash off this guys monster roll. Fooled around on the roulette wheel for a little while and noticed the dealer had a bias in the way she was spinning it. I noticed a bit late in her shift unfortunately but this other guy also saw and he cleaned up. I made a bit of cash for the short time I played. Went back to Video Poker with PQ and was doing nicely while she wasn't making much. The she grabbed my leg and said "Oh honey look at this" and I look over to see the club royal flush on her machine. Bingo! $1,000 here we come. We had a great time for the rest of our trip and it was nice for both of us to come back with more money then we left with.

This trip I think we'll play more poker than we did. We'll play more tourneys for sure as I think we only played one or two and I think we'll play a bit at the cash tables as well. I am definitely going to play craps again as I really enjoyed it last time. PQ and I have been checking out different daily tourneys to see what's going on. This is gonna be fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm all booked up

Got my tickets, my hotel reservation and 9 days to countdown. Cuz Vegas is CALLIN and I aim to answer. Flights are gonna be a pain but thats to be expected in this day and age. Still we got a sweet deal on the hotel. 6 days at Ballys for a grand total of $78.40 including tax. Yep gotta pay for 1 night and got comped for 5. I thought that was a pretty fair deal. Now I'm not living it up in some penthouse suite but a hotel room in Vegas is simply where I lay my head. I don't need much in that regard.

We were originally planning to spend a little time downtown and some on the strip but when we talked about the wife said she didn't want to stay downtown at all. So I redid the hotel reservations and presto. We haven't made any plans to do anything specific but we are gonna rent a car for 2 or 3 days maybe go to Red Rocks Canyon, hit the hills outside of Vegas, maybe Hoover Dam and definitely hit some of the big offstrip properties like Green Valley Ranch, maybe South Point or some of the locals casinos. Anyway I can't hardly wait.

"I'm so excited

That I'll never be able to go to sleep. This has been the 2nd best Valentine's Day every"

That was the exact quote my wife said to me tonight on our way home. Home from where you may ask? Well the 2 or 3 readers I do have would probably remember that the wife and I were playing in a Valentine's Day couples poker tourney. I would say I have performed better in tournaments before. I was out in 45 minutes when I ran J8 into AJ on a JJ5 flop. That sucked. I wasn't getting much to work with and really thought the guy was trying a massive steal. One thing I have learned lately is to trust my reads and it's worked out pretty well for me. But some days I don't read as well as others it seems.

So I slunk off to the $1-1 no limit tables trying to salve my conscience. Saturday night I went out to play $1-1 and I had a good night turning my $60 buy in into $170 but this time it was a real struggle. Couldn't get much going hand wise and I couldn't draw out either. Made a couple of good pushes and had a decent read on the 2 maniacs at the table so that I was able to get back close to even after a couple of bad breaks early. I'm sitting there minding my own business when my phone buzzes. My wife sent me a text message saying she had just made a 7 high straight flush in the Valentines tourney. Now besides the money for the top 5 places, the best hand of the night wins a choice of these large diamond earrings or a diamond Tag Heuer watch. Well at that point, her hand was numero uno. Of course she had to sweat for the next hour and a half.

I kept playing and losing a bit then getting it back and decided to watch the wife for a while and see if she won. I got there in the nick of time. About 2 hours into the tourney they called one last hand for the high hand and she was still leading. One hand later and boom, she won. She chose the the big ass diamond earrings which was cool. I wouldn't have minded a new watch though. She was thrilled. I watched her for a while more but she wasn't getting anything going and her stack was down to about 7K. After winning the earrings which were worth more than 1st place in the tourney, she was not overly concerned with placing in the tourney. So I went back to play only to have my table break and have to go to a new table. I was just getting it going too. So I end up at this other table where there was this couple who were brand new to live poker. These people are calling down and betting with near anything. At first I had no read on them but after watching some of the calls, I new any decent hand like top pair would probably take them down. Of course, to get there I had to have something worth playing And that wasn't happening. Finally I get 77 UTG. I called a small raise along with 5 others. The flop was nice, Q 7 9 with 2 hearts. The newbie guy leads out for $2 and I raise him up to 8. Everyone else folds around to the newbie who calls. I put him on a flush draw or maybe a queen.

Turn is another heart, the 9 making a beautiful boat for me. He checks and I only bet out $5 which he calls again. Now I'm definitely putting him on the flush. River is the ace of clubs. He leads out $8 and I raise him to $20. He looks at me and I figure I might have lost him but he calls. I show him my boat and he flips over A8 off, no flush, no nothing till he rivered that Ace. Wow was I surprised. Not long after this I get a text from the wife. I'm figuring she's telling me she's out but instead I read "Come look at my big stack" So I head over to the tourney and it's getting down to the end of the last level. I look at my wife and she's sitting with this massive pile of chips, about 70K I figure. Looked like she had more than anyone at her table and there was only 2 tables left. The tourney ends and they count up all the stacks and put the teams together. Only one couple had both made it all the way to the end. They ended up in first. Our team, aka my wife, placed 4th. So on top of the earrings she walks out with almost $500 as well. Now that's quite a day.

Well that's enough for now. I gotta get some sleep. Good night all and stay lucky you nuts.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Channeling my inner donkey

Haven't posted in a while so a quick recap is in order. Played last Saturday in the 8 pm tourney. For the most part I played well I thought. Got very little going early but stayed patient and by the time of the first break I had doubled up when I flopped a straight with J10 and took out a guy with QQ. He raised 3x preflop and with other callers I felt compelled to call from the Big Blind.

Later on it got interesting. Two guys got moved to the table. I was sitting on a better than average stack but they had about as many chips as I did. Blinds were 200/400 and I was UTG with 66. I limped in as I didn't feel like raising that in 1st position. 4 others limped to the big blind who raised to 1500. I had seen him raise a previous hand on what I felt was BS and I just didn't put him on much there, so I reraised to 4K. The other new guy in seat 10 called as did the Big Blind. I wasn't that concerned about the big blind but was unhappy about seat 10 calling. Flop is K22. I did not put either of them on AK, seat 10 never raised and the big blind didn't bet the flop so I pushed 6K in after the flop. Maybe I should push all in there but I was a little leery. Guy in seat 10 folded and the guy in the big blind agonized for a while. I was wondering if he had KQ and was putting me on AK or AA. That is the great thing about being the aggressor, they have to make that decision. we had about equal stacks and more than half my stack was in the pot not so if he pushes, I'm not sure what I do next. But I didn't have to as he folded. Just to let the table know I would push hard with less than a premium holding (as all they had seen me play was big pairs and made hands) I flipped over the 66. Big blind was happy as he folded 55 which surprised me a little but not much. I can see him moving like that preflop with 55. And figuring me for a king on that flop. Seat 10 was another story. He was very unhappy as he tossed QQ figuring I had AA or AK. See what I mean? It has taken me a while to learn to be aggressive like that when I don't hit. But it is helping.

Unfortunately I lost it all later. Got moved to another table next to a big stack. He played LOOSE as I saw the first hand he raised preflop and then raised after the flop. He had 52 suited though he didn't know I saw his cards when he folded. I don't get much for awhile and steal a couple of small pots but then get QQ under the gun. I raise 4x and he is the only caller. Flop is 10 8 2. I make a bet of 2/3 the pot and he calls. Turn is a J. He checks and I bet again. He pushes all in and I don't think long enough. If it was Josie next to me, I know I fold but it wasn't. However he did play that shitty J10 into mean. I called for all my chips just to get no help on the river. Now we were down to 3 tables less a few players at this point and he had a big stack then. Should have walked to the final table. He was out before they got to 15 players. Play like a dimbulb, lose like a dimbulb. And calling big raises with J10 then calling with top pair shitty kicker will do that to ya.

I played some 1-1 no limit after that with my wife at the same table. She was getting whacked. I earned back my tourney entry. If I hadn't been supporting her too, I would have raked. I hit a number of draws, made straights a lot of times. People would not raise enough to get me out of pots when I had good draws. Never had a day like that. I busted some good hands too. Hint people, raise preflop and raise good after the flop. These crappy little raises of 5 or 6 bucks into a 25 buck pot is not gonna get me out when I have 10-9 on a J-8-4 flop. I had a really good read on the table too. So it was an ok night though I busted my wifes AA with 35 when she didn't follow this rule either. Also got people to lay down better hands when I pushed straighty boards when all I had was top pair and not a great kicker. You show down a few straights and everyone believes you for some reason.

Thursday the wife and I headed back to sign up for the Valentine's day tourney. Its a tradition for us as we have played 5 or 6 times. I have done well in the tourney cashing 2 or 3 times. She has managed to make it to the end of the tourney exactly once, last year. It's a timed tourney and the end of 6 levels or so they add up the total of each couple's chips and the top 5 couples get paid. Tourney is limited to 50 couples. We took 2nd one year I know of (I did as she went out early that year) and last year we got third as I did decently and she made it to the end and had enough chips left to push me from 4th or 5th up to third for us. Its a fun tourney for sure. And it's what she likes for Valentine's Day so a win/win from my perspective.

Just played a 180 person sit n go online. Played pretty well I thought and made the money. Again was aggressive once I got some chips though it took a while to get there. Luckily right before 2nd break I raised 4x with 77 and got one caller, the big stack on the button. Flop was beautiful KJ7. I C bet 1500 into a 2600 chip pot and the big stack raises me to 4000. I had about 7500 left so if I call him I'm committed. I didn't put him on KK as he would have reraised me. Maybe JJ but more probably I figured he had a big K, KJ or Q10. Hoped he just had a big K and pushed all in. He called with AK and I turned quads to bring double my stack up and put me in 2nd of 35 at the 2nd break. Top 18 get paid.

After the break the cards dried up. I managed to steal a couple of pots to but also had to give up some raises to reraises. By the time we got to 22 I was down to 13th with a slightly below average stack. I couldn't catch a decent hand it seemed and every raise was into people with bigger hands. Last raise was A9 in middle position. Got called by button with a big stack and then the small blind pushed all in for about half me stack. He was playing very tight so I put him on better than A9, besides I didn't want to get middled here and get reraised all in by the big stack if I called. So I dumped and was happy when the big stack called with 10-10. Small blind had AA and I blew a sigh of relief as he doubled up.

I picked up a couple of small pots to stay viable and was 13 of 18 when the bubble broke. Blinds and ante's increased and I had to dump my blinds to big raises a couple of times. Before long I am small stack with 16 left. Blinds are 300-600 when I wake up UTG with AA. Figure my best bet is to push there so I go all in for 5600. I get called by the former big stack - no surprise there and by a pretty big stack next to him. Flop is K43 and the ex big stack pushes in and is called by the guy next to him and he shows 99. The biggie shows A7 of clubs. There is one club on the board and nothing else for him. of course the turn and river are a 5 and 6 and he makes a straight to knock us both out. That sucked as I should have tripled up there which would have put me right back into things. But I cashed and I was fairly happy with my play. I saw the big stack who was now a bigger big stack managed to go out 10th. He lost all the chips he got from that hand plus some after about 10 minutes. A bad player can't wait to give his chips away it seems, especially if he is gonna put a fair amount in the pot with nothing and no real draw as well. Some stats for the Hoyazo - Played in 163 hands, saw the flop in 35 or about 21%. 17 of those were from the blinds so I saw 18 of 123 non blind hands or 14.6%. Probably a little high for me. I won 20 without a showdown and 5 of 7 showdowns. I think that's a fair percentage 25 of 35 hands won that I entered. Too bad I didn't win that last showdown. Well that's enough for now. Hope all you nuts are staying lucky, luckier than me at least.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Time for a little investing

I've been looking at doing some investing lately as I think the market is headed up for awhile at least. I mentioned I had about 25% of my portfolio in cash currently and I've been reading some of the analysts and market pundits that I trust - ones who have been right in the past and put their own money in there too - for some ideas. I think I have found a couple of good ones.

One of my problems is working in the financial services industy. You might wonder why that is a problem but I think too often when you are too close to something, you fail to see the forest for all the trees. Being exposed to all the information all of the time leads to a kind of "paralysis of analysis" where you see too much and try to include too many factors in your decision making process. This is where the trusted writers come in. Reading them gives me the ability to pull back and look at things from more of a distance.

Here is what I believe based on my readings:

1. The domestic economy is improving. You have to ignore the nightly news reports and weekly job figures etc because each day or week you get conflicting figures. But if you look at the general tone of information coming from different companies when they do their earnings conferences you see that many of these companies are reporting some of their best figures in many years. Even though the US is not a manufacturing economy anymore, what manufacturing we still do is reporting major demand improvements and greater backlogs than ever before. This is generally a sign that hiring is improving across all lines as such companies as AT&T, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Quest Diagnostics, and Union Pacific are all reporting increases in hiring. Most of the companies reflect the growth of business in general as they would support greater needs in transportation and communications. Pier One says their traffic has increased greatly. ADP reports the number of large companies planning on increased hiring has risen from 50% to 65-70% in the last quarter. That's a very large jump over the span of a quarter and bodes very well when you consider we have just completed the holiday season. Gray, Challenger & Christmas which is one of the nation's largest outplacement firms announced that January job cuts are the lowest number of job cuts for any January on record. All of this points to a greatly improving economy no matter what the Fed says and does. And don't get me started on that.

2. Car sales have improved dramatically over the past 2 years even accounting for the cash for clunkers program. Not only cars but trucks as well. Cummins who makes most large truck engines and Paccar who builds light and heavy trucks are both reporting huge sales. A lot of truckers delayed buying rigs in 2008 and 2009 and now all that pent up demand is catching up. Not only that, Cummins reported great increases in sales to Brazil, China, India, etc. Boeing has a huge back log of orders, not just for the new Dreamliner they have yet to deliver but also for 737s, 747s, 757s etc. They are projecting to build 485-500 planes this year and the production run is already completely sold out. They expect to begin delivering the Dreamliner in the 3rd quarter of this year (at the rate they're going, 1 on September 30th is how they will achieve this) and once that kicks in, they are going to go great guns for a good while since they have orders for at least 800 right now and once they do start delivering and Airbus remains as screwed up as they have been, they will get more orders from carriers who cancel their Airbus orders. Watch and see if Wabtec (WAB) who supplies a lot of parts to the rail industry, doesn't beat their numbers substantially this quarter.

3. Prices for commodities are still rising - in the case of copper and molybdenum - or have recovered and are rising again like gold and silver. Just about all food prices are back on the rise as well. Both of these seem to be long term trends unless the world tries to implode again (not as far fetched as it seems though I give it a few more years at least) though you may see some short term ups and downs.

So how do we want to play this? Well first off lets take a look at the rest of the world. India, China and Brazil who are the 3 largest and fastest growing emerging economies and a source of much of the best growth for the past decade are having some problems, namely inflation. Both India and Brazil are taking concrete steps to fight it by raising interest rates and that is impacting their economies and depressing many of their stocks. China has taken some steps but these seem to be more of the cosmetic rather than concrete steps at least so far. All of these countries are experiencing major price increases for food. Here in the US that matters but not like it does to the emerging economies. If you think the recent turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia is unrelated to this issue, consider this. When you're trying to get by on $2 a day, higher food prices are a huge impact in your life. You can stand a bit of totalitarianism if you have stability but when you're not sure if you can afford to live, someone has to pay and that someone is usually the guy in charge. China is trying to walk a very fine line to avoid slowing down their economy as growth is such a big part of it, but for many in China who do not live in the cities, food inflation is a major problem. Unfortunately jacking up the rates enough to stop inflation or at least slow it substantially, would impact all of these people who now live in the cities and would lose jobs if the economy slowed a great deal. Tough choices for them to make. India and Brazil with their freer market places and elections can afford to slow down the economies and take a harder line on inflation

To me this means the best returns for the near future are probably going to come from US companies. In the long term however I believe the emerging economies are still the way to go so I'm not going to ignore them completely, but I'm not going to make them a primary focus right now. The good thing is, if Brazil takes a big hit in the near future it probably opens up some very very good companies at very good prices. And opportunities are what we are looking for. Now if manufacturing is taking off and food and commodity prices are rising, we may have missed our best opportunities to get a cheap manufacturer or miner already. But that doesn't mean we haven't missed all of our opportunities. What about the companies that supply the manufacturers and miners? Some of them have admittedly risen quite a bit. I am kicking myself for getting out of two stocks too early, Caterpillar and Freeport McMoran. I made a nice profit on both of them but if I had stayed in I would have tripled my money on CAT and quadrupled it or more in FCX. Stupid me. I had a fair amount of cash tied up in both of them and got a little worried and decided to take my profits. 35% is nothing to sneeze at but 200% is a shitload better. And I'm not so young that I can afford to take that big a risk without taking some money off the table. As Cramer has always said, "Bulls make money, bears make money, but hogs get slaughtered." You don't want to be the one still standing when the music stops. So when I can I take some profits. It costs me a chance at bigger profits but it also lets me get out and play with the house's money if I have a big enough position. I have done that on Cal-Maine Foods, New York Community Bank, and Yamana Gold. I hope to do that on some more too.

So what am I looking at? Here is where I am and what I am want to do. First off, I own stocks in 2 gold miners in my IRA, Yamana (AUY) and Gammon Gold (GRS). I have done well in Yamana already and recently bought into Gammon as I thought they were a good buy with a lot of upside in the near future. As high as gold has gotten I really think it will go higher. I also believe there will be a good bit of merging in the mining sector and Gammon may also have a lot of upside there as a buyout candidate. Unfortunately I don't own any more manufacturers like Caterpillar and I don't want to buy it at 99 bucks a pop. I like Ford but they are expensive enough as well and I will NOT buy GM stock no matter how cheap it is. And it's not cheap. On a sidelight I did read a good article that GM is kicking the crap out of Toyota in China. Somewhat surprising that is.

**** Rant Time - Either way, I am not buying Government Motors just like I'm not buying Goldman Slachs. I don't like what they stand for and I don't like what they've done. If that means I miss out on some profits, there are plenty of other stocks out there. I don't have to support companies like these 2 and I won't no matter how many Boo Yahs Cramer gives either of them. I do hold grudges. I also won't buy a GM vehicle either nor ever use Goldman as my broker or buy a product or IPO they are involved with. End of Rant *****

I do think Boeing is still a decent buy but that's because so much of their earnings are still in the future and a lot depends on them getting the Dreamliner out reasonably soon. I think it's safe to bet that Airbus still won't get their act together on their new widebody jet which means even better profits in the future for BA. It's definitely a possibility but I think I can do better. Not to mention maybe a bad report comes out from BA and the stock goes down a bit more. Then I think I do buy. Another place to look is to the companies that supply manufacturers like the car companies, Boeing, Caterpillar or Cummins. A very good choice there is Johnson Controls (JCI). JCI makes stuff like automotive interiors, hybrid batteries and a number of other things car manufacturers use and they supply to a lot of companies here and abroad. I have been watching that stock for a little while and I think I will pull the trigger there as they've recently pulled back about 10%. Another one I like is Gerdau Steel SA, a Brazilian Steel producer which is down and maybe will fall a bit more. They gotta make the cars out of something after all. Of course you could also look at American producers like US Steel (X), Nucor (NUE) or Steel Dynamics (STLD). Of the 3 I like STLD best I think but all of them are up near their 52 week highs. I think GGB is the better buy though.

Since food is a good long term trend, I am looking to get into there as well. I have one food stock right now in Cal-Maine foods (CALM) but I don't think it's the right one. I like it long term and have done well in it so far but I think it's time to sell and take the rest of my profits. 2 stocks I like instead are Cosan Ltd, a Brazilian sugar and ethanol producer and Con Agra Foods (CAG) here in the US. I think I can wait on Cosan a little figuring the Brazilian markets will be down a bit in the near future but I like them a lot and I think they are a fine long term play. I hope I'm not wrong and it shoots up before I can get it. Not only that they just started paying a dividend which is an ok 2%. Con Agra is better in the near term I think and pays a nicer dividend at over 4%. Monsanto is also a very good play and should go up some but it is rather pricey for my tastes. I do want to get back into CALM after awhile. CALM is the nations largest egg producer but they are facing rising feed costs and I'm not sure how much of that they can pass on through higher prices. If they do it well, then I may regret selling them but if they can have a couple of bad quarters, I will be able to get back into them cheaply again. I think they are well managed and unlike just about every other US company, they have a floating dividend policy. One third of all profits go to dividends so a great quarter means a great dividend but a bad quarter means nothing.

I'm also still looking at miners though not gold or copper miners. I am specifically looking at Thompson Creek Metals (TC) who produces molybdenum. They are the biggest pure molybdenum miner in the world - I think Freeport McMoran produces more than they do right now but FCX is primarily a gold and copper miner who also takes out molybdenum. Molybdenum is used to make stainless steel and as an anti corrosive in pipes and stuff. More cars, trucks, oil pipes etc means more molybdenum. The price fell from around $34 to $8 in 2008 to 2009 but has come back to $16 now. If the recovery continues in manufacturing there is every chance it will double again.

Well that's all for me right now. I'm sure I've bored you enough. Hopefully I'm making some good investment decisions here. One other area to look at is energy as it is gonna keep increasing over time as well. Solar may be one good part of energy that's relatively cheap as well but I need to do more research there. Gotta get ready for some poker tonight. There's another tourney to win (I hope) and maybe a high hand for me instead of my wife. Though I don't mind if she gets another. I did have a good run online last night but finished 5th when my AK lost to A6. Until I come back, stay lucky you nuts, in poker and in life.