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Mark L Schemper

Friday, May 25, 2007

Speculating on Some Less-than-Glamorous Casinos

Back in February, while celebrating my birthday in Vegas, my girlfriend and I took a stroll through the Riviera Hotel and Casino. The place was huge and empty, and it was a Saturday night. Empty. To illustrate this point, when I used the restroom, I was the only person in there. I've never seen an empty restroom in a casino, not even on Christmas night (then again, I've never been to a Trump casino, but that's another story). Unbelievable, especially since the Rivi was the top casino on the entire planet just fifteen years ago. Sure, fifteen years is plenty of time for markets to change, but this isn't Polaroid or VCRs we're talking about. This experience compelled me to check out the stock upon returning home. It was sitting stagnant at $20. A month later - immediately after my March Madness Vegas trip, where I checked up on the place to see if business had improved; it hadn't - volume and price popped on no news. A few days later, it came out that there was a bid for the property.

Since the North Strip is the future of Vegas, I used the approximate figures from the sale of the nearby Sahara to estimate a value on RIV. This came out to around $30/share. I didn't make a move, stopped paying attention, and missed the boat. A bidding war has started for RIV, with the latest offer coming in at $34/share. The stock is at $37.40 today, up about 85% since my last trip to this dilapidated giant.

Last week, the New Frontier, another North Strip dump with even less going for it than the Rivi, was purchased by Elad Group for $1.2 Billion. Yeah, you read that correctly: One point Two Billion Dollars. It comes as no surprise this sum set a Vegas buyout record at $33 Million per acre. Plans for the New Frontier have been disclosed. It will close in July, be imploded in early 2008, and will be replaced with another mega-resort - the Plaza Las Vegas (not to be confused with the downtown Plaza) - set to open in 2011.

The Riviera is about one block north of the New Frontier. If RIV is eventually sold for $33 Million an acre, that comes out to about $70 per share. Whether RIV will go $33MM per acre will be decided by the interested parties. What is certain, however, is RIV is worth at least as much as the New Frontier. Both are past their prime, and both are sitting on some of the hottest property on The Strip.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Week 2 Update - The MAYhem Diet

Still no trouble following the diet plan. I've come to realize, however, that if I weren't so busy with school right now and I actually had a social life, the plan would be much harder to follow strictly. Then again, that's why I chose to implement it at this time.

Results thus far are encouraging: eight pounds of fat lost, three pounds of muscle gained, body fat reduced by three percentage points. As I mentioned last week, I am mostly concerned with muscle loss. Hence I ramped up my weight training routine, although I haven't spent more than a total of 30 minutes all week lifting weights. The formula of heavy lifting, high protien, and a modest amount of cardio is working out well.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Week 1 Update - The MAYhem Diet

One week in, and all is well. This diet is incredibly easy to follow. The meals are filling, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Results so far are very acceptable. I've lost 4.5lbs - mostly fat - and reduced my body fat by 1 percentage point. My only concern was losing lean body mass (read: muscle) along with the fat. I've taken some steps to curb this, however, and they seem to be working.

I've also learned to curb my gluttony on the cheat days. You are given one day per week to stray from the plan and eat what you want, and I overdid it this time. The funny thing is that I gorged on pie and ice cream not because I necessarily wanted it, but because I could. This resulted in poor sleep that night, and a disappointing weigh-in the following morning. Lesson learned. Duly noted. Back to kicking ass.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The Edge of Bankruptcy?

A casual observation worth mentioning: while en route to visit my parents yesterday, I saw - for the very first time - a Ford Edge. On the road, sans dealer plates. Meaning someone actually paid money for it. Given, I do live in a region where the vehicular landscape is defined by Japanese and European offerings - wait. That's everywhere in the US these days, with the notable exceptions of the Midwest and California's Central Valley. Still, when I consider how many Ford Edge advertisements I've seen since December - in print, online, on television, and the three-dimensional billboards on 101 and 880 - I can't help but wonder how much they've lost on this one.

For the record, I think it's pretty ugly.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Fat, Getting Fatter

Seems like I've been having to suck in my gut a lot lately, like I put on some weight or something. I was right.

Work and school have taken a toll on my waist, weight, and general health. Five days a week, I eat lunch at my desk, rarely sampling fresh air between 7am and 4pm. To borrow one from Dick Cheney, I'm in the "last throes" of my MBA program, and the volume of work is overwhelming. So it came as no surprise when last week, I weighed in at.. well, let's just say it's a 52 Week High. Until I finish my degree in early June, my ability to exercise is severely limited. The only way to combat this offensive weight gain is through the most dreaded method of all: diet. Since the next four weeks will be miserable anyway - consumed with schoolwork and deficient in any form of entertainment or amusement - I have decided to implement a diet. Heck, I really have nothing to live for until school finishes. Why not go on a diet?

I came across a rather strict plan on the front page of del.icio.us that claims to drop 20 lbs of fat in four weeks. This is a stricter version of the slow-carb diet used by the Ultimate Human Being Dean Carnazes. I would be happy with 15 lbs in that time, and I'd be even happier if I looked half as good as Dean. So I started on Monday.

Discipline is the biggest killer of diets for the majority of people. This isn't my first foray in hardcore diet/exercise regimens, though. In April 2006, I implemented a 16-week program I found in Men's Fitness (one of the few fitness mags I trust) that gave phenomenal results. So discipline isn't a problem. I treat these things for what they are - experiments in life - and I'm looking forward to seeing the results. Expect some updates along the way, assuming progress is realized.

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