What did I get myself into?

Twenty weeks ago, I began chronicling my efforts to get out of the gutter in Motley Fool CAPS, the community-based market simulation where you pit your paper portfolio against tens of thousands of your fellow Fools.

I'm not doing so well. My rating of 3.63 -- which essentially means that all but 3.63% of my fellow players are doing better than I am -- is a five-week low for me.

Yes, it's better than where I was when these columns started, but I thought I'd be dancing with the stars by now. I'm not, yet hopefully these weekly dissections will help make us all better investors.

Here's how my ratings have clocked in over the past few weeks:

As I have every week, let's go over some of my recent picks and pans.

Making moves and taking names
I made four new market calls this week. Two of them -- Hooker Furniture (NASDAQ:HOFT) and China Medical Technologies (NASDAQ:CMED) -- are earnings-related. Both companies report their quarterly financials next week, and I am bullish in both cases.

Hooker Furniture is a former Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The importer of mostly Chinese furniture hit hard times, but I'm warming up to the idea of a domestic importer at a time where foreign currencies are appreciating against the dollar. Even with the Fed trying to talk up the greenback this week, I still see opportunities here. New furniture may be a hard sell in this anemic housing market, but that pessimism is already baked into the stock heading into next week's earnings report.

China Medical hasn't had a setback. In fact, the medical equipment provider has met or exceeded analyst expectations in every quarter since going public three years ago. That is the kind of trend that impresses me, so I'll bet on the company until it proves me wrong.

I also returned to Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), as a bull this time. All of the ingredients are in place for a good showing, like higher gas prices making a mail-based DVD rental system that much more attractive, and the potential of the company's movie streaming service.

The last of my new moves was to pick Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) to outperform the market. The company runs a fleet of high-energy cruise ships and it's trading at a market discount to its rivals. Fuel prices may crimp margins in the near term, but it's hard to bet against RCL at this price point.

Things can only get better
I did a little pruning, too. I ended my bearish call on Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). It was a good call for me, with the stock shedding nearly half of its value. I think a turnaround at Starbucks will be difficult, but vultures are starting to circle the java wagon. I think they're premature. I think Starbucks has a long way to go. However, I won't get greedy.

I also ended my bullish call on A.C. Moore (NASDAQ:ACMR), the small arts-and-crafts chain that bombed on me. I had no choice but to end the pick, since I couldn't recall my reasons for being bullish on the company when I made the call in 2006. My pitch was simple. "Sector consolidation can only help," I wrote at the time. Well, it clearly didn't.

Another pick that didn't pan out for me was betting against Stamps.com (NASDAQ:STMP). I know why I didn't like it at the time. There were too many "me too" players storming the personalized photo stamps market. I still feel that way, but the market is apparently warming up to the company's original model of selling stamps online. I guess the one-two punch of higher gas prices and higher stamp prices will serve the digital delivery specialist well in the short term. I'm bowing out, but I'll probably be back.

What will I do next? You're welcome to follow along on my CAPS page to see how I'm doing even before next week's update.

Another thing you may want to do is to give Motley Fool CAPS a shot. You'll be way ahead of me the moment you start. But I'm not going to stop fighting just because there's one more person ahead of me.

I'm not going to rest until my rating grows respectable. See you there!