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

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9:00 AM EST, Thursday, April 2, 2009. They're firing lawyers. They're firing workers. I suspect that firings may be a lagging indicator. Employers tend to wait so long that by the time they fire their people, things are on their way up. Increasingly, I hear the words "things are stabilizing."

Life goes on. Our two hummingbird babies are thriving, getting bigger daily. A YouTube video shows the complete cycle -- from eggs, to feeding, to the young birds leaving the nest. The video was shot about 100 miles away. Please watch the YouTube video.

How real estate works: Neat discussion. Ask your friends how you make money in real estate? 99% will say "Change the nature of the building." That helps. But the real answer is the price you pay. It's the one variable you can seriously affect. Bargains are finally beginning to emerge, especially distressed real estate under duress. Bid low. Be prepared to walk. The worst mistake you can make is to fall in love with your project and hence pay too much. Bid low on ten. With luck you'll get one, real cheap. Do not underestimate how long it will take to turn it around.

One great technique: "I know you have a signed offer. But, in case, it falls through (because of financing or whatever) I can close in three days for all cash."

Reminders from out of the blue. Want your busy life organized? Phone your reminders in. Have them come back as phone calls or emails, or To-do Lists. NYTimes technology guru, David Pogue, loves a service called Reqall. Pogue writes about it here.

Netbooks get really cheap. AT&T announced this week that customers in Atlanta could get a type of compact PC called a netbook for just $50 if they signed up for an Internet service plan — an offer the phone company may introduce elsewhere after a test period. Netbooks are great for email and Internet surfing, not much else. But they're small, light and getting cheaper by the day.

Hold off on installing Internet Explorer 8. Still too many issues. Too many security problems. No serious benefits. I continue to use and like Firefox, which remains free and has zillions of add-ins, making it do what I want. This contrasts with IE8, which does what Microsoft wants.

GM pins its survival hope on the Chevy Volt. This electric car will run 40 miles on one charge. No one knows what the car will cost, since it won't go on sale until November, 2010.

Most observers think the Volt will be too expensive and enjoy too little success to save GM. GM closed last night at $1.93, just above its recent low of $1.27, but way below its one-year high of $24.24.

Capitalism versus Socialism.
The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery. -- Winston Churchill.

April Fool's from the Economist. "AS PART of a strategy designed to broaden the revenue base, leverage content over new platforms and promote The Economist brand to a young and dynamic audience, The Economist Group is delighted to announce the development of a public-entertainment facility that combines the magic of a theme park with the excitement of macroeconomics." Click on the image to read and see more.

In 1967, Abbie Hoffman and his fellow “Yippies” showered the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with dollar bills. They succeeded in stopping trading for six minutes while traders scrambled to pick up the notes. More on Aprils Fool pranking, click here.

The Sony Ericsson Open ends this weekend. Susan and I watched a great Federer-Roddick match last night. FSN is Fox Sports Network. The times are EST. W = women. M = men.

Three Cajuns, One Train Ticket.
One morning, three Cajuns and three Yankees were in a ticket line at a train station. The three Northerners each bought a ticket and watched as the three Cajuns bought just one ticket.

"How are the three of you going to travel on only one ticket?" asked one of the Yankees.

"Watch and learn," answered one of the boys from Louisiana.

All six boarded the train where the three Yankees sat down, but the three Cajuns crammed into a restroom together and closed the door.

Shortly after the train departed, the conductor came around to collect tickets.

He knocked on the restroom door and said, "Ticket, please." The door opened just a crack and a single arm emerged with a ticket in hand. The conductor took it and moved on.

The Yankees saw this happen and agreed it was quite a clever idea. Indeed, it was so clever that they decided to do the same thing on the return trip and save some money.

That afternoon when they got back to the station, they bought a single ticket for the return trip and watched while to their astonishment, the three Cajuns didn't buy even one ticket.

"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" asked one of the perplexed Yankees.

"Watch and learn," answered the three Cajun boys in unison.

When they boarded the train, the three Northerners crammed themselves into one restroom and the three Cajuns crammed into another one just down the way. Shortly after the train began to move, one of the Cajuns left their restroom and walked over to the one in which the Yankees were hiding.

The Cajun knocked on the door and said, "Ticket, please."

The Big Decision (Old but good)
A man wakes up in the hospital, bandaged from head to foot. The doctor comes in and says, 'Ah, I see you've regained consciousness. Now, you probably won't remember, but you were in a pile-up on the freeway. You're going to be okay, you'll walk again and everything, but.....something happened. I'm trying to break this gently, but the fact is, your willy was chopped off in the wreck and we were unable to find it.'

The man groans, but the doctor goes on, "You've got $9,000 in insurance compensation coming and we have the technology now to build you a new willy that will work as well as your old one did -- better in fact! But it doesn't come cheap. It's $1,000 an inch."

The man perks up at this. 'So,' the doctor says, "It's for you to decide."

The man agrees to talk with his wife.

Next day, the doctor asks, "'Have you spoken with your wife?"

"I have," says the man.

'And has she helped you in making the decision?'

"Yes, she has," says the man.

"And what is it?" asks the doctor.

"We're getting granite countertops."

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, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.