Ha! Wouldn't you know it: I move down south and get hit with more snow than I had the past two years in Connecticut. This puts a serious crimp in my preseason golf training. But my tobogganing skills haven't lost a step!

This week, some final thoughts on GBS classic "options strategies" and a surprise visit from an

X-Files

mainstay!

In reply to his good thoughtful response, I have one correction. It is possible to buy options between the bid and the ask, even in thinly traded issues. My broker explained this to me. There are plenty of options writers out there, usually institutions with big holdings, who will gladly write these things. My experience bears this out, the market is much more liquid than it appears. I almost never buy at the ask. And you can occasionally buy at the bid! The psychology of options is very important. Options tend to mimic a moving average, sorting out the market noise. This can be a real advantage to traders using technical analysis, because the options often lag the issues. For instance I am holding puts on several semiconductor stocks, and Friday was a big day for the chip makers, but the puts did not give much ground! Either I have a window to trade out, or the options players know something the rest of us don't. We'll see. Great feature. Dave Reutter I find the best way to work a market like this is to write put options on equities that I like. Say I like XYZ at 25 bucks but it's trading at $27.50. I don't want to pay $27.50 so all I have to do is write the 25 puts and let the market do the rest. If the equity closes at 25 or below during expiration, I get the stock at a price I want to pay. Plus I get the premium I sold for the puts. This gets me long at a discount. If the equity closes above 25, I get the premium but not the stock. If the stock kicks in a really good rally, I buy back the puts for much less than I sold them and either write more puts at a higher price or move on to the next play. Either way I get to work the rally. Cool thing about this strategy is I get to participate and have a little down-side protection as well. On the other hand, writing calls against an existing position one gets a little down-side protection but doesn't participate if the equity rallies because the call sold increases in value along with the equity. Trying to chase a rally on a stock that's moving up is almost always not good because the premium grows during the rally, and if you buy the call back, you pay for that premium. Selling covered calls can be very frustrating when the equity rallies. Covered calls are good if you want to stay long the position and want a little premium. One way to use covered calls effectively is to sell deep out-of-the-money calls several months out and just collect the premium. This way, if the position rallies, you get the higher price plus the premium. I know this is late but two cents is two cents. Best o' luck. Terry O'Rourke I'm new to this game ... and a bit confused on how exactly to read your charts/graphs. If not for your little caption in each one, I would be totally lost. I imagine you don't have the time or space to put a how to understand or read the charts, but could you analyze Broadcast.com (BCOM) - Get Report or 7th Level (SEVL) ? Thanks. Alex Krycek

Gary, I read your columns religiously. Keep up the great work! (By the way, nice long calls on eBay (EBAY) - Get Report and CMGI (CMGI) last week.) I am new to trading and would like you to address a pattern I am seeing with Dell (DELL) - Get Report. Since the company reported earnings on Feb. 16, it has predictably traded in a range between 77 and 87 (down from its 110 high). This chart doesn't cover a very long period (and maybe this is a problem with TA), but would it be a good short below 77 and/or a good long above 87? (It splits this week, so adjust if you need to.) I know PCs are out of favor for now. Thanks for your help. Robert Spallina

Hi, Gary, I am in Beijing, but I am Canadian and my wife operates the transaction for stock in Montreal. I want to know why E*Trade (EGRP) has a resistance now; it seems it can't go up. Would you please analyze this phenomenon? I am a beginner, I need your help. Thank you. Lin Yidi

Dear Mr. Smith, What are the long-term prospects of Intel (INTC) - Get Report and where should I try to buy additional shares? Thank you for your time and advice. Kathryn Murray

Hi, Gary, I've been long Compuware (CPWR) several months. Along with many others, I can't figure out the weakness in the stock. Everywhere I look, it's recommended. Your take on the chart would be appreciated. John Osky

Hello, Gary, I have been your fan for two months, and I have learned a LOT from it. I was wondering what you felt about DoubleClick (DCLK) . The stock broke out on Friday; do you think it is still a buy or should I have bought it just after it broke out? How high do you think it might go -- that is, when would I sell it ? Thanks, Avinash Mehta

Dear Sir, I am a stockholder in Peoplesoft (PSFT) and your comments would help me find a way through the information lacking at this time. I believe this company has shown in the past that it has sound footing. Has this changed? Your help and insight would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, F. Scott Young