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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.

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9:00 AM EST Tuesday, June 10, 2008: Birthday boy. Another year older, but not deeper in debt. If you have cash, pay off your debts. Pay off your mortgage. It will be among your best "investments" for 2008. I don't borrow money. Bad practice. I don't like paying interest. I do like receiving it, however.

Yesterday was our Moment of Pain, interspersed by boundless new opportunities. To continue new opportunities:

Farm land: Food prices are rising.

Seed and Fertilizer companies: We need to up farm productivity. Key helpers include Monsanto, Syngenta, Intrepid Potash and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan.

Oil and gas wildcatters: Cramer's talking about them all this week. Last night's was Petrohawk Energy (HK).

My favorite comedian, Dan Good, suggests we short brothels. He argues higher oil prices will mean fewer customers, especially now it costs over $1,000 to fill an 18-wheeler.

GoldSpring is working out real nicely. GoldSpring, Inc. (GSPG) is a North American precious metals mining company with extensive holdings in the Comstock Lode District in Storey County, Nevada. I recommended it as my "spec of the day" on April 18. Since then it's up nicely.

The Company is holding conference call today at 4:30 p.m. eastern time to discuss hole #40 and the preliminary findings of the 43-101 reserve report. Call 866-214-7077 or 416-915-9608. Pass code is 8254829. There will be a playback. Call 888-203-1112 or 719-457-0820. Use pass code 8254829 for the replay. The call is also being webcast and can be accessed at

Great quotes:

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)

We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction. - General Douglas McArthur (1880-1964)

UBS is a genuine piece of dog do-do. An investigative reporter for The Boston Globe has discovered that UBS knew about problems in the auction rate securities business months before the auctions failed in mid-February. UBS selectively told some clients about the upcoming problems. To others, it kept peddling the securities it knew would soon become toxic. I've had personal experience with UBS. It's also the company more holders of auction securities and readers of my other web site have complained about. This is one ammoral, irresponsible, piece-of-drek company. For more,

How to shoot yourself in the foot: I went into Lee's Art Supply store on New York's tony 57th Street. I wanted to return a laptop cover that didn't fit and buy an Artemide Berenice light for over my office couch. The store took the cover back, but only issued a "store credit." The manager admitted he'd been fighting with the store's owners for years about this customer-irritating idiocy.

Then I tried to buy a light. They had them all over the store. But they couldn't tell if they had one in stock. Perhaps, they'd check. No luck. They were sure they had one in the warehouse and I could pick it up the following day. Wrong. They didn't have it in stock, but they could order it. Did I want one? Yes. They didn't know much it cost. They'd call me in five minutes. Three hours later they called back. I was out. I have to call them back. Can you believe this B.S.? All this over one lousy $275 light fixture.

The good news. I went on the Internet ( and found a better light for $62.

Moral of this story: You are your own worst enemy. No one can shoot you in your foot faster and better than you can. That includes your strongest competitor.

Harry Newton saves the world: From my wonderful, talented, handsome, generous (etc.) son-in-law:

Your site has a bit of a cult following at MFS (the wedding build-up and events did a lot for your readership). I relay comments from a colleague. Jonas is 1.5 years old and you've had, it seems, a real impact on his life. From Nicole:

Next time you talk to Harry - please tell him how grateful I am on the Lyme Disease info. Because of his web discussion, I have been all over this and sure enough at the Cape this weekend, Jonas got a deer tick. Because it was so top on mind, we are pretty confident we got it within 12 hours and before it had engorged. It was SO much smaller than I thought, being super aware of the issue definitely made a huge difference. We are grateful!

To repeat: Lyme Disease is debilitating long-tem. You must cover yourself when outside. You must stay away from tall grasses. You must check for ticks daily. You must remove them immediately. The worst ticks are the smallest. They look like black pinheads. Check your body carefully. Check crevices in your body even more carefully.

Total rubbish. Yesterday I published unmitigated rubbish about buying gas -- when it's cold, topping your tank, etc. I should have checked Snopes. But I trusted the fellow who sent me the rubbish. I'll kill him. From Snopes comes better advice:

The bottom line is that there are much easier and better ways of improving the efficiency of your car (and thus of saving you money at the pump) than the tips outlined above. Particularly important is proper maintenance, including engine tune-ups, wheel alignments, tire pressure checks, and filter replacement. Mileage can also be improved by removing from the car little-used equipment that adds weight or increases drag (e.g., sporting gear, tools, roof racks/carriers). Driving habits are especially important: jackrabbit stops and starts eat up extra fuel, as does driving at higher speeds. All in all, the simple habit of engaging in planning and combining multiple trips into one excursion will likely save the average motorist far more money (and time) than all four of the above tips combined.

Why would anyone give Lehman Brothers any money? Lehman Bros is the classic Cockroach Stock. Who knows what crappy toxic securities still lurk in the bowls of Lehman's balance sheet? But they raised some money (at a huge discount) and several of their competitors (including Goldman Sachs this morning) gave them a "Buy" rating. I guess it was all about you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.... My favorite quote is from David Einhorn:

And Lehman's most-vocal critic, David Einhorn, manager of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, who has been short the stock, betting it will decline, remains dissatisfied. "They just raised $6 billion of capital that they said they didn't need, to replace losses they said they didn't have."

That quote comes from today's New York Times piece on Lehman.

The wonderful (other) things in life: I'm biking through Central Park. There's a crowd under a tree. They're watching a red-tailed hawk eat a mouse it had just caught. I watch for 15 minutes, totally fascinated. Heck, I can see how easy it is to get into bird-watching. I rave about hawks to my family. My wife buys me a copy of Red-Tails in Love. It tells the story of Pale Male, a red-tail who came to New York's Central Park and made families of red-hawk babies for all of us New Yorkers to enjoy. I now watch for Pale Male flying, swooping and gliding around the park. One day he landed on the building next to ours. The book is engrossing.

My favorite quote opens Scene Five:

Each new stage of hawk-child development called for celebration. On April 29th one baby stood and flapped its stubby white wings. Hurray! On May 5th a chick toddled to the edge of the nest and sent a projectile stream of white excrement onto the building's green canopy below. Wild cheers from the hawk bench.

Understanding Engineers - 3
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, 'What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!'

The doctor chimed in, 'I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!'

The priest said, 'Here comes the green-keeper. Let's have a word with him..' Heh, George, what's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?'

The green-keeper replied, 'Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.'

The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, 'That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.'

The doctor said, 'Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them.'

The engineer said, 'Why can't they play at night?'

Understanding Engineers - 4
Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

(Doesn't that logic remind you of software today?)

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.

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