Catching up on the mail

I’ve been busy lately, so I’ve gotten behind reading through the e-mail in my Inbox, so let’s see what’s in there.

Subj: add 3 inches to ol johnson

Obviously, this e-mail was sent to me by mistake. It was intended for a Mr. Johnson, who seems to be looking into methods to make himself taller. I’ve heard that it’s possible to undergo a surgical procedure that can make a person several inches taller, but involves breaking both legs and there is a danger that they won’t heal properly. I would advise Mr. Johnson to look into platform shoes, or perhaps take a self-esteem class – adding three inches of height won’t necessarily fill the emptiness he feels inside.

If anyone knows Mr. Johnson’s e-mail address, let me know and I’ll forward the message on.

Subj: U R Stupid Dumbass If You Pay Full Price For Softwarees!

Gotta give the sender an “A” for marketing. After all, do I want to go around thinking, “I M Stupid Dumbass?” Of course not! Therefore, I will seriously consider buying his softwaree, or so0ftware or soooffftwares as it is referred to elsewhere in the message.

The main program they are promoting is W1ND0WS XP Pro. They point out that when I shop and buyyy it in a box I paayy $299.00. But they can seeell it to me for only $32, which according to them is a saav1ngs of $254. These people obviously have the world of software figured out. I don’t know whether to be more impressed with their spelling skills, or their math skills. I better start ordering those softwaarres now. Oops, I accidentally deleted the message. Too bad.

V1agra, Xan@x, more – no doctor visit required! zxqvba shjol

This V1agra must be good stuff, because I have received over 1000 messages about it over the past month. Obviously a lot of people I’ve never met before are concerned with my health and well-being and thought I should know about this. The world is full of wonderful souls, isn’t it?

As for Xan@x, I’m sure it’s great too, but don’t you think people might mistake it for an e-mail address? Someone might think it’s used to send mail to Xan at x (I think they may have meant Xan at x.com though) and miss out on the amazing benefits one gets from taking Xan@x.

And no doctor visits – that’s just brilliant. I hate going to see doctors. They poke you with needles and charge you lots of money. Who needs doctors?

I clicked on the website listed in the e-mail, and discovered to my delight that they also had Phenterem1ne as well! How lucky am I?

Well, that’ll do it for e-mail today. Feels good to be all caught up.

Got a job

After 6 weeks or so of hunting, it looks like I’ve found a great job. It’s with the Advertising Checking Bureau, a company that audits print and Internet advertising and does rebate programs. I start Monday.

Looks I’ll primarily be working with Visual Basic and Microsoft Access, and doing web development with Active Server Pages. From what they tell me, I’ll also have a chance to learn some of the hottest new technologies. I may get the opportunity to do some development with .NET, XML, and/or Web Services.

Hard to believe I’m actually looking forward to an 8-to-5 job, but I am. I think I’m going to learn a lot and it will be good to have a steady income again.

Paul’s Constitution

Last week I was sitting around, reviewing some of the books I have read in the past few months, and decided to create a blueprint for where I want to go and who I want to be the next few months. I initially wrote it in the notebook I keep as a private journal, but I’ve since decided that I’d like to make it public. I decided to call it my “Constitution” because it’s a base on which I can build, in the way that the real Constitution was that base on which the U.S. was built. So here it is:

Paul’s Constitution – September 2004

I embrace all of my actions. I embrace everything I have thought, said and done in my life up until now. Some worked well, some didn’t; but they are all parts of me.

I intuitively know that things will work out. No matter what situation I may be in, I know I will be presented with the perfect opportunities.

I seize opportunities quickly as they arrive.

I cast a wide net, knowing that some will work out and some won’t. Casting a wide net prevents attachment to any one opportunity.

Some of those opportunities will turn out better than I expected, and some will turn out to be duds. But I can’t know which are which in advance. So never prejudge and explore them all.

I get the daily, mundane, necessary obligations of life out of the way quickly. I’m talking about bills, laundry, the kinds of things none of us want to do but we all have to. If not taken care of, these things can fester into guilt and worry. Once out of the way, I’m free to focus on opportunity, possibility, the wonder in the world around me.

In addition, I’m careful not to clutter up my life by taking on any additional daily obligations without very good reason.

I am playful in everything I do. Playfulness is like a magnet, attracting good events and good people to you. Its opposite, over-seriousness, repels these things and is the kiss of death. Even when in situations where it’s not appropriate to overtly exhibit my playfulness, I know it’s there, under the surface.

—–

…Okay. So that’s the constitution. I typed it up in Word and have made it a point to review it once a day since.

Now, here’s an interesting “coincidence” that I think is a result of adopting this constitution. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to go back to work full-time doing something with my technology and/or training background. Back in March, I met a recruiter for a technical placement agency at an Mpact meeting, but I had misplaced his card. Just the other day I thought to myself, I need to find a way to get hold of him. Well, today I ate lunch at Court House Deli, stopped to feed the pigeons, then ran by my aparment to grab some library books I needed to return. As I walked out the door of my building, I bumped into the very recruiter I had been looking for. He had heard my building was nice and had come by to check on vacancies. So we talked for 15 minutes and he asked me to send him a resume. He also promised to say I referred him if he moves in, which will get me a $400 discount on rent.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a lot of trouble believing that was a coincidence. “No matter what situation I may be in, I know I’ll be presented with the perfect opportunities.” People are event magnets.

Okay, enough for now, gotta get that resume out.

An example of what’s wrong with the world

Every year, I like to take a day near the start of the college fall semester and head up to the U of M. I just sit outside, watch people walk to and from class, talk to the people I know who are still there. This past Wednesday marked my 2004 trip to campus. “Just about this time every year I see you,” commented a math professor I used to work with. “It’s like, you’re in periodic orbit or something.” Periodic orbit – geez. You can always tell when you’re talking to a math guy.

Anyway – while there I picked up a beginning-of-school issue of the Daily Helmsman, the campus newspaper. I read an article saying that the U of M had a good chance of being a stop on the Rock The Vote tour this fall. This would be a Good Thing for students in the short term because there would be bands, games, a good time on campus. It would be a Really Good Thing in the long term because hundreds of 18-22 year olds would register to vote and get in the HABIT of having a voice in who leads this country.

But, I have since learned that Rock The Vote won’t happen here. And the reason why really pisses me off.

One of Rock the Vote’s major sponsors is Pepsi. The University of Memphis, however, has an exclusive contract with Coke. And Coke put their foot down and vetoed the tour.

So instead of fun and games and bands and voter registration, the students instead get a lesson – that Doing The Right Thing in America means doing what’s in the best interests of the large corporations.

I think that lesson sucks.

My mother has been telling me for years that I need to drink fewer Cokes and instead drink more water. If Coke keeps acting like this, I may well start listening to her.

That is all. Again, have a good weekend.

Plans for this weekend

Tonight (Friday): Turbo 350 is playing at the Tap Room on Beale Street. I’ll probably buy the $10 wristband that gets you in all the clubs, then spend most of my time at the Tap Room but hit some of the other clubs too.

Saturday day: The Center for Southern Folklore is having its annual festival. It’s on the Main Street Mall between Gayoso and Peabody Place. Good music, good food, good art and the people who run the center are really nice. They make Memphis a more diverse place and I’m happy to support.

Saturday night: Years ago, the Map Room used to have bands in their basement late at night. Well, the Map Room has become Empire Coffee, but this week they’re bringing back the bands. Cyrrus Range is playing this week from 10 to midnight. No idea what they sound like but I’ll be there because Empire’s basement is a damn cool place, and they actually CLEANED it, which is more than the Map Room ever did. $2 cover. They’re also selling beer.

Sunday: Getting drunk at the bars downtown. Around noon I’ll hit the Blue Monkey for champagne brunch and will probably hang out there until midafternoon. Afterward, I’ll probably head back to Main Street for the second day of the Center’s festival.

Monday: The FedEx Forum’s grand opening is today. They’ll be open from 11 to 6, offering tours, autograph sessions, and live music by the Venus Mission, After Dark Band, the Gamble Brothers, and the Dempseys. I know Venus Mission will be on first, not sure of the order of the other bands. I have seen the Dempseys twice in the past five days and will make it three times on Monday.

And I’m too lazy to start a new post, so here’s everyone’s favorite weekly feature, WHAT THE BUMS ARE DRINKING THIS WEEK. (Based on the empty boxes outside the liquor store around the corner, the one that caters to people who beg for money for food, then eat out of the garbage can and spend the money on cheap liquor)

– Mad Dog 20/20

– Dark Eyes vodka

– Grey Goose vodka??? WTF? A bum could buy a gallon of Dark Eyes for what a pint of Grey Goose costs. Bums are into quantity, not quality. I wonder if there’s a vodka named after a pigeon? Bet the bums would drink that.

– Calvert Extra

– A whopping FOUR CASES of Wild Irish Rose. Bums like “fortified wines” like Wild Irish Rose and Mad Dog because they contain 17-18% alcohol rather than the normal 12-13% found in regular wines.

That’ll do it for now. Happy Labor Day weekend everybody!

My stock portfolio

I haven’t talked about the stock portfolio I self-direct inside my IRA for a while. Here’s what I’m holding these days:

Chemed, formerly Roto-Rooter (NYSE: CHE). This stock is not very well respected because Roto-Rooter’s core business has not been all that great. However, they have done an excellent job investing their spare cash, and have recently acquired a hospice company that is rock-solid and looks to contribute a lot more to the bottom line than Roto-Rooter in the years to come. I think this is a sleeper waiting to be discovered.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD). I went to eat at the Bartlett location with my friend Kenny and Rick last year. It was a Tuesday night about 5:45, and the place was packed to the gills. No kidding. The only open seats were at the back bar. All types of people there – families, frat guys, people stopping by after work. And not only were they eating the wings, they were also drinking – and that’s where the real profit is, at the bar. This stock has stayed flat since I bought it due to concerns over the price of wings, but I think the market is failing to consider alcohol and other menu items. I subscribe to the Motley Fool’s Hidden Gems newsletter, which picks undiscovered stocks, and this has twice been picked as the gem of the month.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). The S&P 500 is trading at a P/E of 22 as of yesterday. According to the Motley Fool, MSFT is trading at a P/E of 21. I cannot believe that one of the finest companies in the world is trading at a discount to the market as a whole. Investors seem to have ignored everything this company has done since about 1998 – including releasing Windows 2000 and XP, which were monumental improvements over their predecessors. MSFT has also increased their dividend and announced a special one-time dividend of $3/share for later this year to pay out some of the cash it has been hoarding. The company has settled most of its legal challenges. I think the fair value of this stock is at least 50% above where it sits now.

Alderwoods (Nasdaq: AWGI). My newest addition, bought just this morning. Another two-time Hidden Gem recommendation. Alderwoods runs a chain of funeral homes. They went bankrupt in 1999, but have since fired their management and hired a CEO who has 25 years’ experience turning companies around. They’re paying down debt, and the CEO’s incentives are tied to further debt reduction. Management shows integrity in an industry not known for it. Death rate will begin to increase as baby boomers approach their 60s. Stock had gone up to 13-14, then they had an earnings miss and it fell back down. I was happy to scoop some up for 9.30 a share. The Fool thinks it will triple over the next five years, and I agree.

So far this hasn’t been a great year for my stocks – I’m about even after being up over 100% last year. I’m going to start watching it a little more closely. When you self-direct an IRA in stocks, you have to stay on top of everything with the companies you own, and those on your watch list.

That’s all for now – have a good weekend everybody.

The Pie Lady

For years I have heard about the Pie Lady who is famous for baking the best pies in Memphis. Well, lo and behold, last week she turned up at my favorite coffee shop – Empire Coffee at Madison and Main. She has moved her oven in there and is baking pies fresh every day. And they’re just unbelievably good. My favorites are the chocolate pie, and the “glory hallelujiah” pie which is made with pears and assorted spices.

But that’s not all – she’s cooking lunch, too. Today I had the best quiche I’ve ever had. It didn’t even taste like quiche. It was a spicy southern one with sausage, corn, and spinach. If you like chili and tamales you’ll love it. She also has a vegetarian quiche which is quite good. And, sometimes she bakes chicken pot pies.

She has a website: www.sarahclayborne.com Internet Explorer needs a helper application that lets you smell the pies.

Empire has also started serving beer, and they are going to start having bands in the basement in the next couple of weeks, as they used to do when it was the Map Room. So come by, drink a beer, hear a band, eat a pie. Most likely you’ll see me there.