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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment, Technology Investor. Harry Newton

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9:00 AM ET, Thursday, December 10, 2009: Got a bunch of cleanup things to do this morning. Quick hits:

+ Americans have grown gloomier about both the economy and the nation's direction over the past three months even as the U.S. shows signs of moving from recession to recovery. Almost half the people now feel less financially secure than when President Barack Obama took office in January, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

+ Doctors love Medicare. They can bill virtually anything. Since I went on Medicare all my regular "procedures" have skyrocketed in price. I checked one gigantic bill last night -- one that had been paid by Medicare --- and emailed the doctor "What gives?" He replied, "Oops, billing error."

+ Barnes and Nobles' Nook eReader got panned in today's Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Don't buy it. My recommendation remains: Get free software BN Reader and see if you enjoy reading a book on screen. Then, if you must, buy the Kindle. But, frankly, I'd wait. Next year's eReader hardware will be much more advanced. You can still read a book on paper. God forbid. Paper.

+ I'm seeing new opportunities in real estate. A luxury home buyer with temporary lousy credit wants to borrow 18% of the home's price, and will pay 9% for the privilege and give away a First Trust Deed (West coast equivalent of first mortgage). He'll pay off the loan when his credit improves in a year. Another man will do a sale and leaseback on his present apartment which he wants to stay in for another couple of years. Divorce and all that. The apartment is large, but needs work. You could negotiate your way to better numbers. But you'd better be in the business of rehabbing apartments, because if you pay retail, the numbers suck. And then there's my friend who's closing on a deal yielding 12.5% without leverage. To find fantastic real estate opportunities is a full-time job.

+ This Is The Chart Warren Buffett Keeps Under His Pillow. Says Clusterstock,

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is an economic indicator for the U.S. manufacturing sector, in blue below. It tends to be a leading indicator for future railroad shipments. This relationship makes sense since product orders generally lead to transportation demand via railroad and trucks.

Due to positive signs from manufacturing, the PMI has spiked hard recently. Thus it's a fair bet that rail carloads, in red below, should eventually spike as well. We might not be back to the good old days, but the situation is likely to be better than where we've just been.

If this turns out true, it would be good news for the U.S. economy and U.S. manufacturing. It'd also make Warren Buffett look pretty smart, since he made his largest investment ever in the railroad Burlington Northern (BNI) not too long ago.

+ Surprise, surprise. eBay sellers are often more expensive than Amazon. I prefer Abt for electronics. They're as cheap as anyone else. But typically they don't charge shipping or local tax.

+ What bugs us most of us are hidden fees and not being able to speak to a human being when we call customer service, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports.

+ Dumbest Christmas present. A DVD of a fire, replete with crackling sounds. Absolutely no warmth, and no loss of warmth up the chimney.

Only $8.99 at Amazon. Such a bargain.

+ At Least 9 Women Linked to Tiger Woods in Alleged Affairs, says abc News Entertainment. One of them is a pancake waitress. Our tennis club has a pool on the final number. The most popular bet: Around 30.

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.