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

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8:30 AM Friday, December 16, 2005: Made my first investment in overseas real estate yesterday. I'm getting a forecast 13% a year on owning some Home Depot stores and leasing them back to the erstwhile owner. Not one of the most exciting investments I've ever made but the yield is predictable and Germany, like Japan, is finally perking up.

My objective remains capital preservation. I'd rather be in triple tax-free muni bonds than anything with high risk -- like much of the stockmarket, which looks like it's getting squirrelly again.

I wish I had some brilliant ideas for you this morning. Yesterday stock research drew blanks. Even Cramer, who has a research staff, is drawing blanks. His ideas last night were Sara Lee (SLE), which has a new CEO and Cummins (CMI), which is benefiting from sales to BRIC -- Brazil, Russia, India and China.

I enjoy watching Cramer because he so obviously loves the stockmarket. Some of his picks have done very well -- including Google. But you have to selectively accept his recommendations -- and I mean very selectively.

Remove commercials on your TiVo replays: TV broadcasters hate the idea because it's their living. But you can now play back a show on your DVR (digital video recorder) and fast forward through 30 second commercials. Here's how to do it on your TiVo:

The button on your TiVo remote will bring you to the end of a program, or if you are at the end, it will bring you to the beginning. If you are fast forwarding, the button will skip you to the next tick mark. Now
bring up any recorded program or live TV. Then, enter the following sequence on your remote:

Select Select 3 0 Select

You'll know the combination worked when TiVo rings out three Thumbs Up sounds — that chiming "bling!" sound TiVo makes when you press the button on your remote control. Your button will now skip forward by 30 seconds, which means you may have to press the button several times to get through a long commercial break. This hack is not permanent. If at any time your TiVo needs to be rebooted—after becoming unplugged or as a result of a power failure — the hack will go away and you will have to reapply it.

Sanity on-line finally reigns. By hook and by crook you can now get all your regular monthly bills -- the ones you can't do anything about, like cable TV, phone, gas -- put directly on a credit card. And with luck you can get that credit card paid directly and automatically -- without your having to do anything -- from your bank account. The keys:

1. Telling them your credit card expires five years later than it really does. This saves huge aggravation. Most vendors simply bounce expired cards. They cut your phone off but don't tell you why.
2. Scrounge around their web site and find the "pay automatically" option. This worked with Manhattan Cable (TV).

3. Speak to an operator and beg. American Express's Blue Card, which gives you 5% back on some purchases -- my son's favorite credit card -- prides itself on doing everything on the web, including paying itself directly out of your bank account. But you have to intervene -- by clicking on one of their many emails. Call an operator and beg for the "Pay your bill with direct debit" brochure. Sign it. Return it and bingo, they do what they promised all along -- never bounce your card or add ridiculous interest charges -- even though you're sunning yourself on a beach in Aruba.

Winter dry hand woes: I play tennis. The winter air is super-dry. My hand cracks. Sometimes it bleeds. Here are my two recommended solutions (after years of trying the alternatives):

The new Lamborghini
A man who has finally made it in business treats himself to a new Lamborghini! After buying it, he feels guilty so he goes to the Orthodox Rabbi and asks for a mezuzah for the Lamborghini.

"You want a mezuzah for what?" the Rabbi asks.

"It's a Lamborghini,"

"What's a Lamborghini?" asks the Rabbi.

"A sports car."

"What? That's blasphemy!" the Rabbi shouts. "You want a mezuzah for a sports car? Go to the conservatives!"

Well, the man is disappointed, but goes to the Conservative Rabbi and asks for a mezuzah. "You want a mezuzah for what?" the Rabbi asks.

"For my Lamborghini", the man replies.

"What's a Lamborghini?" asks the Rabbi.

"A car, a sports car."

"What kind of sports car?" asks the Rabbi.


"What? That is blasphemy!" the Rabbi shouts. "You want a mezuzah for a Goyishe car? Go to the Reform!"

Again, the man feels guilty and disappointed,! but goes to the Reform Rabbi.

"Rabbi," he asks, "I'd like a mezuzah for my Lamborghini."

"You have a Lamborghini?" asks the Rabbi.

"You know what it is?" says the man.

"Of course! It's a fantastic Italian sports car... What's a mezuzah?"

Recent column highlights:
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click here.
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click here.
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click here.
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click here.
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ All turned on by biotech. Click here.
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available: Click here. The full audio is available. Click here.
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click here.
+ When to sell stocks. Click here.

Harry Newton

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. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty 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 Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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