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Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor. Previous Columns
8:30 AM Thursday, February 10, 2005: My son is still in the pooh. Greenfield Online (SRVY) did, indeed, report excellent results last night, but after hours trading showed only $1 or so rise in the stock. If I were still giving him a weekly allowance, I could have cut it off for the next 325 years. We'll see today. Fortunately I've kicked out most of "our" Greenfield stock on the basis of my 15% stop loss rule. But I still have a little. And the little that I have sucks. Michael, brilliant stockpicker son, emailed me, "People are still positive about it...that is what I don't understand. Almost to the point that it seems like buying more shares makes sense....NOT that WE should do that." God forbid. Catch a falling knife. No way.

In short, the stockmarket is not a place to be at present -- unless you're Houdini and can magically pick the handful that are going up. I increasingly like Fred Hickey's put option ideas. See yesterday's column. Click here.

Meanwhile, the world is bizarre. As Greenspan raises short-term rates, long-term rates (excepting yesterday) are falling:

These charts show yields. Move the decimal point over one stop, i.e. 44.22 = 4.42%.

The best mapping software on the Internet is Google: Go to The first thing you'll see is:

You can find airports by their three-designator code, e.g. JFK or LAX. You can find businesses. You can find directions. Here's how to get from my place to JFK (Kennedy Airport):

and it's all free. God bless Google.

In Las Vegas, it's against the law to pawn your dentures. I left something once on an Amtrak train. I went to Amtrak Lost and Found. I asked what was the most bizarre thing ever left on a train? They took me to their collection of dentures. ... You get on a train with your teeth. You leave without them? I don't make this stuff up.

HP's ex-Carly Fiorina got $21.1 million for doing a totally awful job: She messed Hewlett Packard (HPQ) up by merging it with Compaq and concentrating on useless stuff -- like gigantic ego-boosting pep rallies with her as the star attraction. But Carly won't suffer. She's getting $21.1 million in a severance package -- which is undoubtedly more than she would have earned if she had done a good job. Go figure.

Now she's gone, I still would not buy the stock. Remember that HP's printing business accounts for nearly 80% of operating profits -- with most of the money coming from selling replacement ink cartridges. Imagine how long that business will last?

My friend who worked at HP for 15 years and loves the company says he never buys HP printers. He says Epson's are much better. My own experience with HP has been depressing. Item: when we moved last year, I lost the drivers CD for my HP scanner. The drivers were not available on the web. I had to call, pay $13 and wait three weeks to get my scanner working again. When I asked them why? They answered, "that was HP policy." There's nothing I can do with the drivers, except power an HP scanner. How not to run a company.

This is why you get spam: Feb 7, 2005: A 24-year-old former software engineer at America Online pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing and selling 92 million user names and e-mail addresses, setting off an avalanche of up to seven billion unsolicited e-mail messages. Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., entered the plea to conspiracy charges in Federal District Court in Manhattan. He is likely to face 18 months to two years in prison when he is sentenced May 20. Mr. Smathers told the judge that he accepted $28,000 from someone who wanted to promote an offshore gambling site to AOL customers, knowing that the list of screen names might make its way to others who would send e-mail solicitations.

''Do you wish to accept responsibility for what you did?'' the judge asked Mr. Smathers.

''Yes, sir, I do,'' he answered.

In December, the judge said he had dropped his own AOL membership because of too much spam.

Christo's Gates opens on Saturday in Central Park. I don't quite get it. But then I'm a plebian. There are these two artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude who get off on making gigantic works of arts that usually involve covering something huge (an island, the Reischtag, etc.) in fabric. They've just spent $20 million of their own money -- I kid you not -- to erect 7500 metal gates in New York's Central Park. This Saturday, they'll unfurl the saffron colored material which will hang from each gate. Thiis a drawing of what it will look like. The gates are already up. I've seen them, bicycled through them, admired them, been excited by them. In short, you must come to New York before February 27 and see these things. You'll need at least three hours to walk through them.

Here's some technical information. The 7500 Gates are 16 feet high with a width varying from 5' 6" to 18 feet. They follow the edges of the walkways and are perpendicular to the selected 23 miles of footpaths in Central Park. Free hanging saffron colored fabric panels suspended from the horizontal top part of the gates will come down to seven feet above the ground. The gates are spaced at 12 foot intervals. The Gates have been entirely financed by the artists with the sale of studies, preparatory drawings and collages, scale models, earlier works of the fifties and sixties, and original lithographs on other subjects. Christo and Jeanne-Claude have donated the merchandising rights to the charitable foundation "NNYN" (Nurture New York's Nature and Arts) who are sharing these rights with The Central Park Conservancy. Neither New York City nor the Park administration shall bear any of the expenses for The Gates. The Gates will provide employment for hundreds of New York City residents:

* Manufacturing and assembling of the gates structures,
* Installation workers,
* Maintenance teams around the clock, in uniform and with radios,
* Removal workers.

A written contract has been drafted between the City of New York and the Department of Parks and Recreation and the artists. The contract requires the artists to provide, among other terms and conditions:

* Personal and property liability insurance holding harmless the City, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy.
* Restoration Bond providing funds for complete removal.
* Full cooperation with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Central Park Conservancy, the New York Police Department, the New York City Arts Commission, the Landmarks Commission and the Community Boards.
* Clearance for the usual activities in the park and access of Rangers, maintenance, clean-up, police and emergency vehicles.
* The artists shall pay all costs of the Park’s supervision directly related to the project.
* Neither vegetation nor rock formations shall be disturbed.
* The Gates will be clear of rocks, tree roots and low branches.
* Only vehicles of small size will be used and will be confined to existing walkways during installation and removal.
* The people of New York will continue to use Central Park as usual.
* After the removal, the site shall be inspected by the Department of Parks and Recreation which will be holding the security until satisfaction.

For those who will walk through The Gates, following the walkways, and staying away from the grass, The Gates will be a golden ceiling creating warm shadows. When seen from the buildings surrounding Central Park, The Gates will seem like a golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees and will highlight the shape of the footpaths.

Some of the materials ordered for 7,500 gates:

• 5,290 US Tons of steel (equal to 2/3 the steel in the Eiffel Tower) for 15,000 specially designed steel footing weights, varying between 615 and 837 pounds each, according to the width of the gate, (279 - 379 Kg.). Gates vary in width because there are 25 different widths of walkways in Central Park. The weights are resting on the hard surface of the walkways. There will be no holes in Central Park.

• 15,000 specially designed, recyclable, cast aluminum upper corner reinforcements which hold together the 2 vertical poles to the horizontal pole.

• 116,389 miles (187,311 Km.) of nylon thread to be extruded in saffron color and specially woven into 1,067,330 square feet (99,155 square meters) of recyclable, rip-stop fabric, and then shipped to the sewing factory to be cut and sewn into 7,500 fabric panels of various widths. 46 miles (74 Km.) of hems.

Stop reading now, if you are offended by tasteless, offensive jokes: But these are the best tasteless, offensive, politically-incorrect jokes you'll ever read:

What do you call two Mexicans playing basketball?
Juan on Juan.

What is a Yankee?
The same as a quickie, but a guy can do it alone.

What is the difference between a Harley and a Hoover ?
The position of the dirt bag.

Why is divorce so expensive?
Because it's worth it.

What do attorneys use for birth control?
Their personalities.

What's the difference between a girlfriend and wife?
45 lbs.

What's the difference between a boyfriend and husband?
45 minutes.

What's the fastest way to a man's heart?
Through his chest with a sharp knife.

Why do men want to marry virgins?
They can't stand criticism.

Why is it so hard for women to find men that are sensitive, caring, and good-looking?
Because those men already have boyfriends.

What's the difference between a new husband and a new dog?
After a year, the dog is still excited to see you.

What makes men chase women they have no intention of marrying?
The same urge that makes dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving.

What did the blonde say when she found out she was pregnant?
"Are you sure it's mine?"

Why did OJ Simpson want to move to West Virginia ?
Everyone has the same DNA.

Why do men find it difficult to make eye contact?
Breasts don't have eyes.

Where does an Irish family go on vacation?
A different bar.

What would you call it when an Italian has one arm shorter than the other?
A speech impediment.

What's the difference between a southern zoo and a northern zoo?
A southern zoo has a description of the animal on the front of the cage along with a recipe.

Why is there no Disneyland in China ?
No one's tall enough to go on the good rides

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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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