A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Janett and I watched a double feature at home: Trans Siberia and Mama Mia

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The World

In case you didn't hear it in the news, the court in Thailand decreed that the PPP party is an illegal organization, sparing the army and the king the odious ask of overturning the election results. I'm not sure whether it was the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court or why they have two highest courts in the first place. But in any event the city mice won.

Israel is bombing those Hamas folks in Gaza. A less subtle way of dealing with election results you're not happy about than the Thais concocted. I trust that Hamas has been as busy diging tunnels in Gaza as Hezbollah was in Southern Lebanon. Tragically, the "incidence of collateral damages" (ie dead Palestian civilians) will be very high, but acceptable to the Israeli proponents of collective punishment.

Darn market.

I thought TRAD was boring. CERN is equally so. I'm not giving up, but I'm placing a sell order contingent on the stock rising to 40, just over the current price (just in case this goofy market rallies this week). And while I'm at it I'm going to buy a call on Devon Energy. They own a lot of oil and natural gas resources and if there is a rally, energy stocks should benefit. The stock has been bouncing back and forth between 60 and 75 and is now at 64: another trade for which it's easy to figure where to place a stop loss order. I hate being long and short the same market, but I'm not being ambivalent, the market is.


We had a really nice Christmas

Janett and I went with Steffy and the boys to my sister Mary's house Christmas Eve, and Kim and Ross were there as well as several of my brothers, and my nephews and nieces. We were all happy to be together, and Janett's appetizers (pastrami and smoked provolone rolled up in flat bread with a little honey mustard) was a big hit.
John had drawn us in the gift lottery and came through with a generous gift certificate for Red Lobster/Olive Garden, which will insure that Janett gets her birthday lobster next month and provide another special night out as well. His labor of love was downloading the complete set of Rolling Stone Magazines 500 top rock and roll songs onto CD's for us.

Christmas morning Janett and I tidied up around here and she finished up a big crock pot of barbecued pork for sandwiches on buns. Oh yeah, the featured side dish was a potato casserole, one of three that John had brought to Mary's. This one didn't get to the buffet table and John offered it to anyone who would like to take it home. Janett stepped right up. It was excellent. Thin sliced potatoes boiled in half milk and half water before baking, Janett told me, but really well seasoned and tasty. I didn't get that part of the recipe.

Then Jason and Dee came with Joey, Lauren and Noah came from her parents home in Algonquin where they'd arrived the previous evening after an arduous drive from Champaign, Steffy and Mark and the boys with our friend Calvin rounded out the crowd. We ate and exchanged gifts and had fun.

Kimbo was not feeling well and she and Ross stayed home, so mid-afternoon Janett and Steffy took Owen to visit them in Lombard. Jason and Dee headed to her family party with Joey, and Lauren and Noah started their trek back to Champaign. Calvin and Mark took Malachy to a movie; the cartoon feature, I think, with the little mouse with big ears.

I laid down on the couch and watched a CD Steffie had given me, 3:10 to Yuma, and napped a little bit.

My religious observance of the day had been earlier, while taking garbage out.
The morning was beautifully cold and white, with clear blue sky, and very still. One could not help but pause to thank God for all his gifts to us and especially the gift of the precious Infant.

Everyone else smiled. Joey, Mally and I said "CHEESE!"

Janett and the girls with Owen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trusting the Twigg

The market was mixed today, but downish overall. So I'm going to try to buy a put in the morning. My buy order is in a little below the asked price, but a little above today's closing price. If I don't get a fill, that's OK. Cerner Inc is the company. They provide lab services to hospitals and doctor's offices. But the chart is the thing. The stock has not been able to get over 40 in a couple of tries and should now back down a little. My secret weapon, the Twigg's Money Flow just slipped into the negative, so we'll give it a try. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I closed my Trad out Friday with a small loss ($60)

I'll keep my eye on the stock, but last week it was like watching paint dry. That's OK, because I didn't go short and buy any of those expensive puts, on which I'd be down several hundred right now. I was prepared to try to make a little money on the upside, but the Christmas rally seems to lack conviction. There may be another little rally around inauguation time, but I now think the market will grind lower for a couple of weeks. Yeaterday I looked over some stocks to find candidates for shorting this week at less cost.

Sometimes you just can't be sure which way the market is going to move and one has to wait patiently for more compeliing indications in order to feel 60 to 70 percent confidence in a decision. Like Chuck Norris, I don't sleep, I wait.

When I was looking for Christmas art

I started with Raphael. I kmow he's great, but not vivid enough for me. I fear I lack sophistication or maturity. What do you all think? This is definitely one of his more animated compositions.

To lighten up a little and to help you understand

how I'm able to ponder all the depressing stuff without succumbing, I thought I'd post a few pictures from Steffies blog of two of my grandsons. Malachy and little brother Owen meeting with Santa, Owen with Uncles Jase and Noah, and Owen with proud papa Mark. I'll also post another shot of the adorable Malachy, so I don't seem to be favoring the baby. But I've already confessed that I'm struck by Owen's poise and equanimity. I find him amazing.

CSPAN has Lou Cannon's son on this morning. He

works for the Reader's Digest. He has a lot of nice things to say about Ronald Reagan. I think I saw a list that featured Reagan as one of the three best presidents. Reagan was facile and spoke like Jimmy Stewart if Congressman Smith had made it to the White House. But he was the friend of the rich and the powerful and therefore the enemy of the working class. Today's economic malaise results from Reagan's tax polices. If chief executives and investment bankers only got to keep 10% of their income in excess of 250,000, the heartless export of American jobs and financial chicanery on Wall Street would not have occurred. The financial incentive wouldn't have been sufficient to over-ride traditional moral and social principles. Remember the euphimism "down-sizing" was coined during the Reagan years.

Internationally, he was a criminal. His administration broke domestic and international law by selling weapons to the Iranians to fight Iraq. He allowed Israel to transfer US provided weaponry to Iran and make a nice profit and receive more up to date replacements. Reagan and Bush used the net proceeds to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, a disgraceful act of war on a struggling democracy. The brutal and indiscriminate killing of poor peasants in Latin America has been one of the most shameful episodes in modern American history. And the administration supplemented the Iran funds with profits on cocaine the CIA flew out on the same aircraft they used to fly weapons in. While George Bush, the former CIA chief, was more hands on these policies, that circumstance was designed to allow President Papa Noel to cloak himself in culpable deniabilty. Reagan knew exactly what he was doing when he selected Bush as his running mate. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were all involved in these programs, and also in programs providing Iraq in the early eighties the chemical-biological technologies which they all were so worried about 10years later. Here's a more informed write-up (starting around p 302)

Oh, and the one great success attributed to Reagan was winning the cold war. We didn't win it. Russia lost it, by bankrupting thmselves in their ten year campaign in Afghanistan. (Sound familiar?) The USSR was broke and demoralized when Lech Walesa, a union leader, with the support of a Polish pope rejected Soviet hegemony.

Sorry to have to issue so strident a denunciation at time of good will and grace. I simply have to set the record straight in so far as I am able. Now CSpan is carrying the current President's address to the American Enterprise Institue on the "Universality of Freedom." God help the American people.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is the full moon still here?

It's been weird and not all good around here.

Driving home last night my '94 Nissan broke, with finality. All of a sudden the engine started clattering and stopped running. I coasted down an off ramp from 290 West to 83 south and pulled over, and started calling for help. Janett would have tried to come, but I was afraid she'd have trouble. (She's not real good with expressway driving) So she reached our oldest boy Jason and he started out from his home in near Mount Prospect. Meanwhile I was unhappy about my car and getting cold. After 40 minutes help started arriving at ten minute intervals, an IDOT truck, a state police trooper, the tow truck and Jason. Jason gave me a lift home and the car went to Nissan heaven.

This morning Janett and I went to the bank and cashed out a CD early and she brought me a 2001 Park Avenue for $4,000. I'll drive it until it gives up the ghost, but I'll try to remember to get regular oil changes to postpone that inevitable.

Then I spoke with the Nissan's funeral director and he said the remains couldn't be disposed of without a signed over title. Well, as you may know, we've moved three times in the past 5 years, and if the title isn't in the glove compartment, which it wasn't, I wouldn't know where it was. So now I have to get a duplicate title and try to appeal to the undertaker's sense of professional courtesy when I inform him it might take a couple weeks to get a new title.

At least the running around today kept me from going to work, and enduring a monstrous commute home. But I'm a day further behind at work and we're running out of year.

So Deck and Trad were down Monday and up today. Given the market's reaction to the fed's announcement today, I think going long with a cheapie was an OK approach,

Now I'm going to watch Hercule Poirot on WYSE. I like all the art deco accoutrements.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I'm not going to enter into a trade tonight. Maybe Wednesday after Janett's Dr's appointment my mind will be clear enough to act with confidence. Tonight I would be in doubt as to whether to go long Trade Station, an online broker with growing volume and profits, down to $5.75 from $14.50 a year ago. They're sitting on $7 a share in cash. Or to short Decker Outdoors, a shoe company with popular brands (Teva, Simple and UGG). Currently at $66 up from $50 last week, but still I think in a downtrend (from $165 a year ago). Similar range to that other short candidate, Chipotle.

Thing, is a call on Trade Station at $5 would cost me less than a hundred bucks, and the stok price would only have to go up $0.25 for me to be profitable, and if the stock goes up a dollar per share, I'd make over $200 on a $300 speculation. But a put on Decker cost $950. The stock would have to drop $9 per share for me to be ahead on the trade. So what's more likely, Trad to go up $1 (20%) or Deck to drop $12 (20%), or both, or neither? I just don't know, so I'd probably go with the cheaper trade, but that could be doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. So we'll just watch how it plays out for a few days and maybe have a better idea which way to go next time.

PS It's 2 hours later, and I've placed an order to buy a couple Trad calls. It's only couple hundred dollars. What the heck.

The Little King

'The Little King has been enthroned as the Great King of the world to assist His subjects in their trials, difficulties, and crosses. He Who Himself has suffered so much desires to assist those who come to Him. He wishes to attract all hearts to His own through the attractiveness and simplicity of His Divine Infancy.'

Auto Industry

Hi Kim,

I think the problems are too big for a fifty billion or maybe even a hundred billion loan to get them through the next year and a half, and the bailout won't prevent massive layoffs in that period. Production and sales will be so curtailed that a lot of the suppliers and dealers are going to go out of business. So what good would it do?

I don't blame the unions for saying that they only contribute 10% of the car's cost. If they took a 50% cut and cars were 5% cheaper, would prople be buying? I think bankruptcies will happen and I guess I'd rether see them happen sooner rather than later, because we'll need the bailout money to help the unemployed and the needy. Things are going to get worse. The autmobile companies are getting all the attention, but in these economic circumstances, a lot of businesses will be going bankrupt, and I think the government knows they can't keep bailing out business (including the bankers). They just don't know how or where to draw the line. I also don't know who owns all the bonds and who will suffer from defaults. But, at least, that way the workers wll have the comfort of knowing that the execs, lenders, and vendors will share their pain. 2 of the car companies, with their debt diminished, and new exes making better plans can emerge viable if smaller and potentially grow from there.

What will happen to the unions? I think they'll still represent the workers and have to negotiate and accept lower wages and benefits, but they can't accept big cuts before the negotiatons. The workers would feel they'd been sold out - and still face the layoff of half the workers and eventually, all of them anyway.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not a statement of opinion,

I just thought it was funny:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I entered a sales order for my Dryship calls at 575 tonight for tomorrow morning vs a cost of 150. I'm very happy with the trade for a number of reasons, mostly because I made money. I talked about Fibonacci retracenent levels recently and mentioned retracement levels at 23.6%. 38.2% 50.0% 61.8%. Many stocks I look at periodically seem to have retraced 23.6% of their losses since November and appear uncertain about going higher.

I'd like to short (buy a call or two) on an upscale retailler or pricey eatery. I'm thinking about Coach or Chipotles. I know Chipotle's isn't really pricey, but for a tortilla wrapped around beans and rice I think they're pricey. They got the beer and wine thing going for them, but there are nicer places to drink. I was going to short them last winter at $150, but talked to Noah and he said they weren't in Champaign Urbana yet, so I though they could still grow a lot. They grew all the way down to $40, but they're up $20 in the last couple weeks. That might be the end of their rally. Coach looks like a better short to me, though. I'd post the chart but you might not be that interested.

I'm going to take a couple days off trading anyway. Janett's not feeling well, and the last time she didn't feel well I was trading with half a brain and lost some money.

Just two weeks till Christmas. I got my brother Bill in the family gift drawing, and emailed him to inquire if there was anything he really wanted for Christmas. He answered "Someone to buy this house"...If winter is looking a little long to you right now, just be grateful you're not in Whitehall Mi.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How often do I start a post with something to the

effect of "I'm tired?" Seem like a lot lately. I stopped at a gas station on the way home for the specific purpose of buying a lottery ticket so maybe I can retire tomorrow.

Has anyone noticed any realy strange typo's in my recent posts? Maybe I've caught them all, but I couldn't figure out why it was happening. Last night I was helping Skip C with his resume and he said it was because the heel of my hand was brushing the mouse pad while I typed on the lap-top computer I'm using. Boy, did I feel unsophisticated! Sheesh1

But, I'm not unsophisticated. I'm worldly and wise, and Dryships went from around 5 to around 10 share price and the puts that cost me 150 are now at 450. I'll put a stop-loss (contingent order, actually) in at the share price of 8.25. If I get stopped out I'll still have a nice profit and maybe it'll go higher. The stock was pretty much unfazed by the market declines today and with volume that's off the hook. I always wanted to say that. Was the usage appropriate?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday night

I worked a little today, not enough, so I'm going to bed early to get up early and get to the office early when (I hope) I'll feel more productive.
I know it's time for me to post the infant of Prague with the little prayer I like. In order that you don't dismiss it, wishing for something more artful, I've been browsing the 15th century Florence and Venice. Here's the best I could do.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's a little late, and I've been getting to bed by ten

this week because work is demanding (I'm going to have to work both days this weekend)

I'm just dropping in to say hi and love to all, and to make a confession. After making fun of Dryships last week I brought a couple calls this week - so I'm a bull again. When a stock goes from 110 to 3.50, even allowing that it was over-priced at 110, it looks pretty cheap at 4. Naybe it'll go to 2 and I'll lose a couple hundred. I just felt dishonest not confessing to being long something, after warning about the divergence last week. I guess Monday took care of that little problem

Janett has made things nicely Christmasy here and if you'd like to know what Christmas is really all about, go here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Down Time - not exactly

Remember when you were in school, and thought the Thanksgiving break would be the ideal time to finish a paper or project and then the week would fly by, and you'd get to Saturday and not have really gotten much done. I felt that way, but my project had been to relax and do nothing.

Today I was supposed to be up at 4 to leave at 5 for an inventory in Joliet at 6.
I set the alarm for 4, but must not have properly switched to the alarm function,
because I woke at 5. So, I hurried out the door and down the road getting to Joliet an hour late.

The count crew seemed sufficient when I arrived, but people kept dropping out for one reason or another and by the time the counting was done at 1 PM what remained was 3 controllers (plant, area, and regional), one billing clerk, a nice girl whose father works for the company who helps out on school vacations and holidays, and me.

We're finding what must amount to hundreds of variances, which can result from miscounts, cutoff problems, or other kinds of errors, and by 1:30 I'm late for the door, and my boss is saying things like. "Nobody else can leave until we're all done"
At 1:45 I announce, "We're having guests at home this afternoon and I have to leave now." My boss looked very sad. She knew her two bosses weren't going to be happy if every variance wasn't recounted this afternoon, and I knew with or without me, that would take four or five hours.

I said the first thing I was going to do was stop someplace and grab a lunch for the road, and that I would feel bad eating, knowing that they were all still working and hungry, so I offered to bring lunch back before I left for Elgin. Folks were appreciative, even though the closest fast food spot was a White Castle. So I picked up a variety of sliders and a lot of them, because we were keeping warehouse personnel there late as well.

It was 4 when I got home and I stopped downstairs to talk for a few minutes with Jose. I finally got upstairs to see Janett who had been expecting me home at any minute since 1. She was a little stressed, trying to decide who to call first the children or the state police. I finally apologized without self-justification (awkward situation at work, cell phone dead, no pay phones any more), and things got a little better.

Now we've ordered a pizza and I get to watch ND vs USC, which could prove to be another ordeal. Love

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Here's another "rally monkey" chart

Those little horizontal bars on the right side of the chart represent Fibonacci numbers which are relied on to indicate retracement levels and resistance, and would seem to indicate a potential rally to 1060 on the S&P 500 and possibly even a rally to 1150. The Twigg's money line measures buying later in the day relative to buying earlier in the day averaged over 21 days. Apparently buying toward the close is a good thing for the bulls, and this indicator looks ready to cross into positive territory (this indicator is the RSI Relative Strength Indicator tweaked a little bit for extreme movement days and gaps).

One basic tenet that any libra can grasp is that prices tend to revert toward a mean. The mean line is the upper diagonal line, and also seems to indicate the market could rally to that 1050 level

Being bearish I welcome a rally. I mean, what the heck, 20 straight days of down 5% and the game's over and we all go home. But, not so fast my friend, look at thst bottom indicator and you see a divergence. Prices are going up, but volume is declining. A divergence forces one to question whether the other indicators are misleading. Could be just the effect of the impending holiday on trading, bur I'm waiting to see further evidence.

Yeah, I know BIG was up another dollar and a half Wednesday, and my bearish inclination keeeps me from taking advantage of rallies. But what's the first rule? Don't lose your money. This is still a secular bear market and I'd prefer to err on the side of caution. My trading guru, Tim Knight says not to impulsively buy and sell, buy with an objective and sell when you reach it. In the meantime move your stop loss sale order price up, to get you out with some profit if the market reverses. Trading in a thin market, though, I rationalize that the price would fall quickly past my stop loss order price and I'd get a fill at a price so low I might have decided not to sell, but hold and hope for a bounce. Kind of a "sour grapes" rationalization, I know. Better for me to take my money and run.

Here'a a copy of an earlier write up on Fibonacci.

Before I get back to discussing the buyers and sellers in the future markets, I should review this Fibonacci number thing. Fibonacci was a Pisan whose father worked as a customs oficial in Algiers. The young man observed that mathematics was a lot easier using Arabic numbers than using Roman numerals. When he returned to Europe he promoted the use of the Arabic system. He was also a mathematical theoritician and in a book published in 1302, one of the problems he posed was a question about how many pairs of rabbits would be bred over a period of time starting with one pair of rabbits. The formula he devised [F(n) = F(n-1) + F(n-2) for n = 3, 4, 5, ..]produced the series of values, "1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ...," The Fibonacci series reportedly has been observed in a lot of natural phenomena so mathemeticians continued to tinker with it. One tinkerer observed that if you divide one number in the series by the previous number in the series you get 1.618034. This becomes observable when you get out to the seventh and eight number of the series, but then this number continues to be the answer for every such calculation. As I said Fibonacci series are found in botany, biology, architecure, and music, so eventually someone tried to apply it to market activity. It appears that .618, its inverse .382, .236 (the difference between .618 and .382), .764, thw additive inverse of ,236 and .500 are levels within the range of a market high and low where retracements occur. I don't believe the Fibonacci "Golden Number" has any occult powers. But the retracement pattern seems to work so I refer to them.

Happy Thanksgiving


Living in the USA in the second half of the 20th century was probably the best situation a person could have selected, if given a choice. Corruption and immorality seem to be natural offshoots of prosperity and security, and we definitely let the vices flourish and will have to undergo a period of austerity and spiritual revitalization as a result. But that will be something to be appreciated as well.

Mumbai is in the news today. But the situation I've been keeping half an eye on is in Bangkok. Remember Anna and the King of Siam, brought to the musical stage as "The King and I"? The kings of Siam played a skillful game in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries evading colonialization, and the little country seems to have benefitted from stability in the 20th. The king enjoys the support of the army and the mercantile class and Bangkok is one of those south Asia boom towns which offer the wealthy a consumers' paradise.

The sex trade thing is a troubling indication all is not truly well. Young girls and women being forced into the sex trade indicates poverty must afflict a part of the society, and tolerance of this commerce indicates corruption in the government. For the last six years there have been other troubling signs that all is not well. An extreme wealth gap has opened berween the poor in the countryside and the wealthy in the city. Bhuddists, I suppose, are inclined to be accepting of the existing order, and prefer to avoid the bad kharma of confrontation. Thailand is however a democratic monarchy, and the poor in the countryside comprise a majority of the population, and in recent elections have voted in reformers.

The military threw out the first reforming prime minister out in 2006 on questionable corruption charges and the electorate promptly selected a succcessor from his party, the PPP (Peoples Power Party) The military and king are uncomfortable but are hesitant to overthrow a second popularly elected government. The wealthy city folks in Bangkok are less sanguine and continue to demonstrate and demand new election laws diminishing the representation for the country people who they say are ignorant and succeptible to being misled, This anti democratic movement (incongruously calling themselves the People's Alliance for Democracy) have occupied the elected Prime Mininster's office for the last three months trying to disrupt the government, and the reformist goverment had to move their offices to the Bangkok airport, which the bourgeoise mob occupied last week. The military has allowed these illegal actvities, saying they hope the demonstrators will wear themselves out. At this time, the military chief and the prime minister are at something of a stand-off. The prime minister cautious about replacing the military leadership whch act might be misconstrued as an attack on the old order including the king, and the military not wishing to attempt another coup, which could provoke an uprising of the patient poor in the city as well as among the farmers. This is the kind of perilous situation that often leads to a "colonel's coup", where junior officers enccouraged by commercial interests and proclaiming loyalty to the king usurp power, probably the worst possible scenario for all nvolved.

I see it as a confrontation between the bankers and the workers in a charming setting with the powers that be supporting the wealthy, but realizing the wealthy are too wealthy and the impoverished too impoverished for things to go on much longer without upheaval. Kind of a microsm of the new world order, and I guess you can infer where my sympathies lie.

Here's an interestng comment posted in response to the question, why is Japan wealthier than Thailand.

Good question.Been trying to figure this out for years myself. People in Thailand work really hard. A countries wealth really has little to do with how hard the people of that country work, or more accurately if it did it would be in the inverse of what you expect. e.g. a rice farmer obviously works harder than a company CEO. Technology manufacturing, exports have a fair amount to do with a countries wealth. If you can produce quality goods or technically advanced goods like the Japanese it boosts the economy. The value of a countries currency used to be based on gold reserves of that country. These days It is supposed to be based on the domestic product of that country but not even that is true. A countries currency value and wealth is based more on manipulation and fraud, otherwise known as banking. Japan became quite wealthy in the 80s as a result of offsetting the US national debt with loans (on top of high exports of technology products and vehicles). The interest on these loans greatly boosted the Japanese economy. Under Clinton when the US economy was no longer as a deficit the Japanese economy suffered greatly.Often countries where the poor suffer terribly is because of corrupt government and resource mis-management not helped by the "assistance" of the IMF, in these cases corrupt politicians "sell-out" their country to the IMF. The IMF (international monetary fund) offer money to develop a countries resources (at high interests rates), that essentially leave the population indebted to foreign bankers while the countries resources are exploited by foreigners.Wealthy countries generally are wealthy because of the exploitation of others. Take for example the UK... what does it really export that makes its currency so valuable? Aside from hundreds of years of imperialism the answer is modern banking.As for Thailand, wall street manipulation (the same crooks who have made the biggest bank heists in history recently) pushed the thai Baht down through speculative trading. If enough people organize together to place a bet that a currency will go down, then the currency goes down. The same manipulation (speculative trading, put options, and derivatives) recently drove up the prices of food world-wide, real-estate and fuel. This kind of activity hurts everyone, is based on fantasy money, and when the reality of the situation becomes apparent the market crashes and the people who had nothing to do with it suffer.In the event of a financial breakdown, such as the one we are facing, we begin to see what is Truly valuable. If the stores supermarket shelves are empty and your paper money is worthless in a hyper-inflated economy then food is the most valuable thing. (read about post WW1 Germany, post soviet Russia or the great depression in the US). In such a scenario Thailand is quite wealthy as it has a high rate of farming and a good non-industrialized food supply. In a Truly balanced society the creator of the most valuable resource is the richest (i.e. the Farmer), in a distorted and corrupt society the banker is king.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


what have they done lately?

So long, Mr. Big

Kimberly commented that she and her husband, Ross, recently visited Big Lots looking for Christmas decoration bargains. Her report was discouraging. Of course I wasn't looking at the company's fundamentals when I brought a call, just the chart. However, the stock rallied weakly, a couple dollars and that translated into a 50 cent gain for my contract (that darn expiration month thing) so I sold it on the open this morning and split my gains about evenly with the broker.

Now lets see, $25 on $200 in 3 days. 12.5% profit. If I do that 80 times in a 25o day trading year that's 1000% Wow, now I feel better. Not really. But happy that now I can return to the dark side.

Janett's not feeling well, worse than that actually, a bout with diverticulitis. Since surgery 18 months ago the condition hasn't afflicted her as severely as in the past, but she's in a lot of pain now. I have quite a bit going on at the office tomorrow but if we need to go to the emercency room in the morning that's what we'll do. It seems the treatment is a heavy dose of antibiotics, so the problem must not be an errant sesame seed, but an inflamation that becomes infected. If you're reading while dining I apologize. Anyway this may limit our Thanksgiving festivities.

Steffie and Mark are going to Iowa, Kim is probably thinking about having Ross at home for four days and still shy of their first anniversary may not wish to share his attentions. We kind of had an invitation to Jase and Dee's but Mom says Dee never actually invited her and fears Dee may be unhappy with me for being a scold with Joey at the last family get together. I can understand that. When I'm grumpy I can be pretty unpleasant. Louie did invite us, but I'm not sure Janett will feel well enough to be social.

I brought a turkey home from the office yesterday and Janett made it abundantly clear that she had no interest in cooking, eating, or cleaning up after a turkey dinner here. Gradually our options are being whittled away and I can see myself running out to bring home one turkey and one ham dinner from Boston Market.

I'm still going to try to cook that turkey even if I have to eat the whole thing on toast with mayonaisse, salt and pepper. Yummm.

And here's a fable, if you like that kind of thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Didn't there used to be something called

the Christmas rally in the markets? Well the markets could continue to plummet the next couple weeks or we could see a rally continue into the next week. I very uncharacteristically bought a call on Big Lots today. Generally I'm all about buying puts reflecting my bearish sentiments, but what the heck - maybe I want to express my Christmas cheer.
Incidentally I think I read that the founders of Big Lots kept a whole lot of stock for themselves and pay themselves yery generously, so I would never buy the stock. But the chart looks good enough to invite a short term play. Yes, I'm violating my expiration month rule, another symptom of seasonal exuberance. But if the stock goes from 15 to 20 in the next week, I'll sell my call which cost $200 for $600. On the other hand, I can enter a stop loss order to sell if the stock goes below that horizontal red line at the bottom of the chart and get maybe $50 dollars back on a busted trade.
If anyone wants to get in on the options market fun, check out the linked site, Slope of Hope from Tim Knight. Oh, and I use the Incredible Chart service for $24 per month because they enable me to fool around with Fibonacci lines, and feature Twiggs money supply line which I've found to be a useful indicator. The Twiggs indictor is not saying buy this stock right now. So I guess I'm breaking a couple of rules. Let's see what happens.
PS I don't know why I'm having trouble lately getting the image below the text. Sorry

Nouriel Roubini and other wisdom

Since I mentioned Peter Schiff the other evening, I thought I'd post a link to a Roubini article. Roubini has a pretty good grasp on things, and anticipated the events we're observing today. A couple of years ago, I might have gone on at length about my misapprehensions, but it's too late for warnings now. We need informed assessments of how bad it really is and Roubini should be good for that. (WARNING One reader commented " can always count on Nouriel Roubini to brighten my day. I wonder if it's too early to start drinking heavily")

I've never been good at keeping jobs, and so I'm not the best advisor in that area, and probably there's little one can do, beyond marginally, to affect their own job security in this evironment. One can try to pick an industry where prospects are not too bad and try to find an opening. (Maybe we'll all end up carrying blood samples from patients' rooms to the lab at a local hospital.)

Interestingly, I heard today that more babies were born in the US last 2 years than in any past two year period - and we all know folks are living older, and they're a segment of the population many of whom still have some funds at their disposal. So how about selling old folks something to give their grandchildren (or great granchildren) to remember them by. An ad in the AARP magazine is probally not too expensive. Photo portraits, for instance, and you go on the internet to find eager photographers in every market who can coax the old folks into disposition and attire that they'll be OK with as their "heritage" image. Once you check their references, you can franchise them or simply sell them referrals. If you're a good photographer (and who isn't?) you could even set up a venture locally, starting with all the old folk's homes, and then expand, growing as you learn.

See, it only took me 5 minutes to set you up with a new life program, and you can probably do even better than that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh yeah

November 22nd. The anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination.

The press has made a big deal about his womanizing, so maybe that's the only thing kids will know about him. And I do think it was very bad kharma for him to let the CIA murder President Diem and try to murder Fidel, but I think he was one of two decent presidents we've had in 50 years, and since the other one was Jimmy Carter, who had the severe misfortune of running up against George and Ronnie, and ended up looking foolish, I guess it's no wonder we're in such a mess today.

If I had whiskey in the house, I'd lift a glass to his memory and to his family.

PS I just wrote a 70 word sentence without even really trying.

I went to work today and I'm tired

so I wasn't going to post, but losing to the 119th rated team in the nation with a coach who got fired this week requires a comment. So here's one from Rock's House:

Watching David Bruton break down on the sidelinesby ProfKid93 (11/22/2008 20:23:36)
my heart broke, like nothing since I was a kid watching Miami dance on Faust's grave in 1985. I thought I was beyond that, had built up the appropriate level of cynicism and sheer ennui around myself to withstand watching this program for the last 15 years. And then, watching Bruton sob, it hit me: He doesn't deserve this. None of them deserve this. Walker doesn't deserve to feel like a goat because his idiot coach asked him to bail out his fat ass on a near-impossible shot. Clausen doesn't deserve to feel like the goat because he's been saddled with a grabshit game plan. The O-line doesn't deserve to feel like goats because they haven't been taught basic fucking fundamental football in the last four years. If the University is going to continue to bring in kids who love football, care about each other and want to win, the it owes them nothing less than the best chance to succeed. So either step up, find the right leadership for these young men, or shut the damn program down altogether. I'll find something else to do on my Saturdays, and future generations of football stars can go to institutions that actually care about football rather than tolerating it for the sake of a buck.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comment inflation

I've responded to several comments lately and enjoyed seeing my comment count rise with every response. Cool.

But no comments on my picture of the foxy Captain von Trapp? - He's starting to get on my nerves.

Today's market humor: "Dryships is lending new meaning to the word, tanker"

Peter Schiff

Scott knows I'm a gold bug and asked me the other day what I think of gold's decline.

I told him that back in March I said I was staying away from gold at that level because it was susceptible to price fluctuation along with other commodities, which were becoming overpriced. Lately gold has had a hard time because speculators are liquidating to cover margin calls, and because of a flight to "quality" - US Treasury bills.(?).

To reassure Scott and any other gold owners out there Peter Schiff, prognosticator extrordinaire,and Ron Paul's economic adviser has pointed out that at the stock market bottom in the depression the price of one ounce of gold was equal to the price of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, suggesting that the same thing could happen again. Where do you think the Dow and gold might converge in the next year or two? At three or four thosand? Sounds do-able to me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hi everybody

I might have posted this evening but I felt I should write a semi-long response to a comment, and I'm all used up. Let's see if I can find a picture. Ahh, here we go: Janett, Kim, and Steffie.
Oh, and Malachy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've been feeling a little run down

and, while things are moving forward, as though I wasn't quite on top of my situation lately.

Then, last night my friend Louie came by with a bottle of wine, and I already had a bottle of chianti in the fridge, so we sat around, drank up and talked. Commonly our conversations are wide ranging: the families, the markets, religion, horse racing, not too much politics, and our respective situations and outlooks. We decided not to go to ND for the Syracuse game because I'm busy, but maybe to drop in at Willow Creek Church where John Ortberg will be visiting this week-end.

Then this morning I started to drive to work, and the blower on my heater didn't work, and my windshield kept fogging up on the inside, and I unwisely used the washer fluid, which I would have thought was made not to freeze, but it was freezing on my windshield. Driving to the east toward the sunrise made it very difficult to see to the front. I pulled over for about 15 minutes, hoping heat emanating from the vent woud defrost the windshield. Then I decided to fo home and email the office that I had car trouble and wouldn't be in today.

With the car in the shop, I worked on some things related to the bookkeeping service, including filling out paperwork to become a registered CPA. I'd been toying with the idea of applying to renew my license, and figured they'd tell me I had to complete a couple hundred hours of continuing professional education before I got my license back. It turns out that from 2006 to 2010 they established a window during which the unlicensed CPA could register and be allowed to use the CPA title on letter head, business cards and in the title on the door while offering accounting and tax services. I can probably not issue audited financials or represent clients at IRS hearings, but those endeavors are not on my agenda. Falling into the window on this deal reminds me that someone up there likes me.

Not going to work was probably a good thing. My boss' boss quit a month ago due to the inordinate demands being placed on him and the replacement has been pressuring me to change the format of my project logs, dress up the files before another audit in December, and record all transactions in the automated A/P system, which I had not previously done. Meanwhile my boss, thinking I must have time on my hands is throwing work my way because she's understaffed. As you probably know I'm not compulsive about work, but I do try to meet folks' expectations at some level of my own choosing. Given the dual responsibilities, even that was becoming difficult, and taking a day off seemed like the appropriate response.

And being home allowed me to close out an options position before the stock rallied late in the day. It was a December contract, and I don't like (don't do well) holding positions open into the expiration month as the premium evaporates. Now I can sleep well tonight, and go to work tomorrow with the sense that if people are too unpleasant toward me I can always take another day off.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


It's 4:30 PM. It's been a fun and funny day. Note Dame beat Navy, but gave up a couple touch-downs in the last few minutes to make it close at the end (27 - 21). So it was a win that folks can still complain about, and everybody's happy.
It was also open-house day for the tax and bookkeeping service. My friend Jose is the best kind of ambitious, the high energy, excited kind. We had a decent turn out, but word of mouth and references are the best ways to ramp up business and Jose is also big on fostering an almost familial clientelle.
If businees doubles again this year we'll need a second shop next year, but we (I) need to develop an Anglo clientelle as well as the bookkeeping business. I neeed a website, and to do some cold (phone) calling. Pretty much everybody needs to file returns, so the tax service is a good thing to call about and provides an opportunity to introduce the bookkeeping service as well.
I'm not real confident of my ability to set up a web site, but I can get some advice from son-in-law Ross and Janett and get something up. Primitive is fine if presentable, I just want a site where people who Google tax or bookkeeping in Elgin can find us. And as Jose says "The only one who can stop you is yourself, or something like that." Here's a picture of Jose and I setting up the canopy out front, and one of me and the padre who came by to bless the venture, and one of little Ownie, who I think has a very grown up appearance for a six month old.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Do you think the government should try to save the big 3 automobile manufacturers?

I've heard it said that a million jobs would be eliminated as direct and indirect consequences of the failure of GM or Ford. This projection seems to fuel congressional democrats in their efforts to put together a rescue plan. I think they must use a multiplier of 8 to get from 125,000 GM employees to a million total job losses. Given the car dealerships and suppliers tied to GM, then add business services like legal, consulting, auditing, advertising and insurance and banking, add in the Cintas, Snap On Tools, and Red Goose shoes people, then the roach wagon and lunchionette people, and other retailers who supply the domestic needs of the workers and their families, plus local government employees discharged as tax revenues fall, maybe you'd come to million people over a six month period. Also, there would be a severe impact on GM retirees, who are probably equal in number to current employees, as they would lose over half their retirement income as well as their medical insurance coverage. Pretty scary.

But given that the automobile companies are losing a lot of money, are already insolvent (ie they owe more than they own) even before they write down the value of their assets, won't be able to borrow money from the usual sources to pay their bills, and face big losses on their credit portfolios, they're probably doomed to failure regardless of any immediate assistance. Especially since, even assuming some economic recovery in a couple of years, they are not equipped to provide the kinds of cars consumers will desire to buy.

I'm sure auto execs have figured this all out and are prepared to enter bankruptcy, wipe out their debt, liquidate their assets, then lease back the desirable ones, stiff the pensioners and renegotiate their labor deals. Maybe they won't eliminate the unions entirely, but they'll demand wage rates and benefit costs be slashed to maybe a half of what they are now. Do I think bankruptcies inevitable? The more I think about it, the more likely it seems.

Since the labor unions are the ones who'll be most adversely affected, I assume it is they who are pushing Obama, Reed, and Pelosi to act to save the companies. But you can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved. I support organised labor, but even with a friendly president and congress I don't think the unions will be able to keep the execs out of bankruptcy court, and I think the government should hold on to the hundred billions to pay out as support to displaced workers in the aftermath.

Naivete? Because I don't think I'm half well enough informed, bright enough, or suspicious enough to divine what's really going on.


PS Or maybe the government will have to give the hundred billion to AIG to buy out of the credit defauls swaps on GM's debt. Oh My!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I visited Wikipedia this evening.

You all remember "The Sound of Music" I suppose. Thinking of Austria as a landlocked country, as we've known it to be, it was amusing that Ritter Georg von Trapp was a commander in the Austrian Navy. But of course, before World War I Austria had included parts of modern day Italy and Albania including some Adriatic coastline, and had a for-real navy.

Well, I learned that Von Trapp had been a war hero submarine commander. Below I'm pasting his war-time achievements.

On April 22, 1915, he took command of U-5 and conducted nine combat patrols. While in command of the U-5 he sank:
The French armored cruiser Leon Gambetta at 39.30N, 18.15E on April 21, 1915, 15 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca
The Italian submarine Nereide at 42.23N, 16.16E on August 5, 1915, 250 yards off Pelagosa Island
He captured:
The Greek steamer Cefalonia off Durazzo on August 29, 1915
He is sometimes credited with sinking the Italian troop transport, Principe Umberto but in reality, this was sunk by the U-5 under Von Trapp's successor Friedrich Schlosser (1885-1959) on June 8, 1916 after Von Trapp was transferred to the U-14.
On October 14, 1915 he was transferred to the captured French submarine Curie, which the Austrian Navy redesignated U-14. While in command of the U-14, he sank:
The British tanker Teakwood at 36.39N, 21.10E on April 28, 1917
The Italian steamer Antonio Sciesa at 36.39N, 21.15E on May 3, 1917
The French steamer Italia at 39.45N, 19.00E on May 30, 1917
The Greek steamer Marionga Goulandris at 35.38N, 22.36E on July 5, 1917
The French steamer Constance at 36.51N, 17.25E on August 23, 1917
The British steamer Kilwinning at 35.26N, 16.30E on August 24, 1917
The British steamer Titian at 34.20N, 17.30E on August 26, 1917
The British steamer Nairn at 34.05N, 19.20E on August 28, 1917
The Italian steamer Milazzo 34.44N, 19.16E at on August 29, 1917
The British steamer Good Hope at 35.53N, 17.05E on October 18, 1917
The British steamer Elsiston at 35.40N, 17.28E on October 18, 1917
He conducted ten more war patrols, until, in May 1918, he was promoted to Korvettenkapitän (equal to Lieutenant Commander) and given command of the submarine base in the Gulf of Kotor.
At the end of World War I, von Trapp's wartime record stood at 19 war patrols, 11 cargo vessels totalling 45,669 tons sunk, 1 cargo vessel captured, the French armored cruiser Leon Gambetta (12,600 tons) and the Italian submarine Nereide (225 tons). Among other honors, he received a knighthood[2] and the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.

Interesting also was the fact that his first wife was the English grand-daughter of the inventor of the motorized torpedo and builder of the submarines purchased by the Austrian Navy. Her inherited wealth supported the family after WWI. After her death and his subsequent marriage to Maria, political pressure led him to transfer his funds from Lloyds of London to the Austrian bank owned by a friend which soon failed leaving the family in genteel poverty. It was these circustances that led Maria to commercialize the family past time of singing.
Interesting, huh?

The Mexican government has a history

of coming up with far fetched explanations of embarassing events. When a plane crashed this week in Mexico City killing the interior minister (top cop) and a half dozen of his staff, the official sources explained that the pilot had apparently lost control of the plane. Well, that doesn't seem too implausible, but doesn't provide an adequate explanation.

The Mexica government's war on the drug traficers is hampered by a culture of official corruption extending into the police and military, the gangs' proclivity for violence and terror, and the prevailing poverty that contributes a fertile recruiting ground for the gangs. We feel at a loss to find solution to the threat that our neighbor will sink further into the narco state squalor as government officials are intimidated as well as bribed into submission to the gangs.

The only response I can recommend is that we all commit to a boycott of illicit drugs from Mexico. Sounds extreme, I know, but it seems to be working for ivory.

I know I said one unexpected loss

wouldn't spell the end for Charlie, but "unexpected losses" are starting to pile up. Here's a sample of the posting at Rock's House this morning, an open letter to the board of trustees:

"We need an emergency bailout plan post haste.

The Charlie Weis era is over. If he won’t resign or you don’t fire him today, you more than Weis will be responsible for the bigger mess that will follow the Notre Dame Football program in particular and the University in general for a long, long time. Take Lou Holtz up on his offer to serve as interim coach. You already chased him away once, but the man’s love for Notre Dame outweighs any animosity he might have had for the institution that stabbed him in the back at the beginning of this legend-breaking debacle. It’s the only credible option you have.

Remember this; it was football that allowed Our Lady’s University to become the wonderful institution of Catholic, intellectual thought we all know it to be. Remember your roots; remember the beacon of hope it became for the Catholic immigrants’ children when they needed someone, something to believe in as the forces of discrimination were working against them in the rest of their moribund lives a generation or two or three ago. I know my Dad, a subway alum, realized all too well what Notre Dame symbolized to Catholics in the 20s and 30s outside the City of Pittsburgh when the KKK burned a cross high on the hill across the river from the Eastern European, immigrant, coal-mining and steel town he grew up in. I also know what it meant to him as a symbol of hope coming back from World War II and experiencing the job discrimination against Catholics that still prevailed then.

My Dad died 10 days shy of his 87th birthday in the spring of 2007, so he has been spared the ignominy of having had to witness this slow motion train wreck over the last two seasons of the football team and University he held so dear. This is the man, whom upon my cleaning out his house after his death, I finally realized just how proud he was that his only son had the chance to attend Our Lady’s University. Buried at the bottom of the socks drawer in his dresser was an envelope marked “Mike – Notre Dame”, and in it, I discovered my tuition/room and board invoices from the University, all eight of them neatly arranged in chronological order. It became painfully obvious to me just how proud this humble and not well-to-do man was of paying those then-hefty bills to allow his son to attend this wonderful University of ours. Notre Dame Administrators – you owe a lot to people like my Dad (and Mom who passed 5 years prior to my Dad); many, many people like them helped make Notre Dame the special place it came to be. You also owe much to those who believe so much in Notre Dame today, in what it represents as a symbol of faith in this increasingly-secular world.

The time for change is now, not next week or next year. Please know this; it’s a whole lot more fun celebrating winning with humility as demonstrated by the likes of Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine, and Lou Holtz than what we have been experiencing lately. And if this helps any, I’m willing to put $100 up - $1,000 if you really need the push - to help make this happen. Heavens knows you’ve already gotten a lot more from me over the years. Count me as one of the lunatic fringe who returned to get a second degree from Notre Dame and send his two kids also.

I know it’s only football, but it’s our football and it’s our University, not just yours. "

Also posted

I didn't get it , but I liked it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

That makes it official

Janett sat down at her computer this morning and ordered my business cards for the tax and bookkeeping service. She's agreed tenatively to do some work there this tax season, manning the office for walk ins and preparing returns. I think she's partially motivated by a desire to be there to clean up after me, and keep me organized and on task. Jose is conducting training on Friday nights, and Janett attended last night

Besides business cards the other cool thing I desire is a little signature stamp with name and address printed small enough to stamp into the preparer block on returns. I guess between e-filing and printing everything from the computer, little rubber signature stamps are going the way of green eye shades and arm bands.

My daughters havent commented here since I posted that note on Senator Durbin losing his daughter. Maybe I embarrassed them (again)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Note to self

It was rude of me to refer to Senator McCain as pig-headed, and I shouldn't have expressed that opinion about Congressperson Emanuel either. Obviously, I take politics way too personally, and was caught up in a silly season frame of mind. Not that I think that I'm necessarily wrong in either case, but don't we all respect someone who speaks in measured tones, presents verifiable data, and must be pressed for an opinion, and even when pressed states the opinion in a nuanced way and never offensively?

My father or grandfathers could have stong opinions which they wouldn't share, preferring to keep their own counsel, and not feeling it was incumbent on them to influence or inform others. In our society, there may not be a lot of gentlemen to model our behaviour on, but it's probably not a bad idea to look back generation or two for instruction on appropriate behavior.

Thinking about it, I'm afraid they may represent a standard that would require a lot of practice to imitate. But I will try not to be offensive.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sen Sam Brownback

would have been my choice among the Republican contenders. Folk's will say the market crash spoiled McCain's chances. I'd say his chances were always slim and none. He was just too pig-headed to know it. Now we have to figure out where the Republicans go from here. I'm sorry Mitch McConnell didn't lose in Kentucky. He's not capable of providing the kind of leadership they need now. I'm at a loss to see where they'll find a guy with brains, charisma, and vision amongst the membership. You do things the easy way long enough and it catches up with you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Senator Durbin

cancelled his election party because his 41 year old daughter died over the week-end.

You know I like Senator Durbin. If he feels the way I do about my children, I imagine he is mourning the loss of a unique beauty, the distillation of hundreds of years of family history of happiness and strife, triumphs and losses, beauty and adversity, grace and courage into one precious little being in whom you rejoice each day of her life. Someone far too valuable, not only to the father, but to the world, to have lost.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

OK, OK Just one more thing

My old friend Everett and I got together a couple of weeks ago. I thought we made a date for brunch with the ladies for this morning at Port Edwards, a nice sea-food restaurant in Algonquin.
I called yesterday to confirm with him and got his voicemail. It was a nice morning and we took a chance and drove up there - No Everett, which was fine. At our last visit he was talking of plans for a visit with his daughter in Vermont, and he may still be there. Since he's in his nineties, there's some concern, but I'm not going to worry yet.

The thing was that there was no line at Port Edwards for brunch, and as Janett and I drove back to Red Lobster, which is more our speed she pointed out three closed restaurants in adjacent buildings in the Mall. One was a Famous Dave's, one a Friday's, and I don't remember who had the third place. We spoke of this oddity, and Janett told me about news of auto dealers closing. Just wait till they ship all those car's back and you drive past blocks of empty lots on the car dealer strip. That'll give people a chill.

We were all given an extra hour today

I used mine to update my playlist. Kim mentioned listening the other day, and I knew a lot of the connections had gone bad and needed refreshing. Also a couple just didn't fit, so I deleted them so I could add a couple and be sure I was bringing you the all time top 40.

ND lost to Pitt

I didn't really mind losing to North Carolina, but Pitt? This is not good. The offensive line was not good, so ungood in fact that Pitt rushed just three and still got pressure on Clausen, while dropping eight into coverage, so even when he had time, Clausen couldn't find an open receiver.
The running game should have thrived, but it was running back by committee (again) . While, I like Aldridge and Hughes OK, Armando Allen seems to be the best running back and should be used exclusively unless he's thoroughly winded or in certain short yardage situations. Really good running backs can go 20+ carries a game and seem to get stronger as they get in their groove (and the defense gets weary getting blocked on every play and having to chase him around.
I don't think one unexpected loss or even a dissapointing season spells the end for Charlie, but it doesn't look good for John Latina , the offensive line coach.

PS I know John Latina is a better offensive line coach than I am, and so I'm not in a position to judge, except by apparent results.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wait a minute

On Thursday there was a news item I only heard once and have not seen in print, that Obama has asked Rahm Emanuel to serve as his chief of staff if he's elected. How annoying. The chief of staff controls access to and scheduling for the president, and for that reason has occasionally been referred to as the second most powerful man in Washininton.
I had been pleased that Obama seemed to be breaking the lockstep cadence Democratic nominees usually establish with pro-Israel extremists. In fact, my impression was that the neo-cons had shifted the Republican party into alliance with the Israeli right wing, and that Americn jewry was supporting McLean.
While I never expected the jewish people to be frozen out of influence in the Democratic party, I expected more moderate American jews would be represented in the Obama administration than Emmanuel, who I consider to be an agent of influence of the Israeli government in the leadership of the US Congress.
Either Obama has deceived me about his desire to take a more balanced position in mid-eastern affairs, or the announcement was a ploy in a day of campaigning in Florida, but the very thin coverage of this story in the news leads me to fear the former is the case.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I've been missing in action. I think I burned through another monitor. I've borrowed Janett's laptop til I can get to BestBuy. I worked til 11PM Tuesday and went to bed early last night, but tonight I felt I was beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms and some kind of isolation syndrome. I'll probably post a comment on everyone's blog tonight just because I Can.

I talked to Jose today. I haven't been able to get the bookkeeping thing on track due to my temp job. He's OK about that though because he's getting fired up for a big tax season. He asked today if Janett would like to get involved. I told him that the year I ran the tax service in Huntley, Janett was receptionist/office manager and did some returns too. He was happy to hear that. I told him maybe we'd be able to get together with Janett on Saturday to sound her out.

Speaking of Janett, she ran over to pick up Kim today and they came back to Elgin where Kim could vote. She hadn't registered in her new home town yet. Last week there was some intra-familial tension over our daughters favoring McCain and Janett favoring Obama. Our daughters are not really one issue voters - well, yes, I guess they are. I heard today that there are a million abortions a year in the US. (I guess that's about the rate at which Hitler was exterminating people in the camps.) So at least the girls won't have to feign ignorance when they stand before their Creator on judgement day.

I've shared with them my opinion that the Republicans cynically use the abortion issue to lock up Catholics and other Christian voters, and the last thing Bush or McCain really want is another million welfare babies on the rolls each year, and that the Republicans' idea of a conservative supreme court justice is one who protects the wealthy and powerful, and unborn babies need not apply. But the girl's have made a commitment that the blood of those innocents will not be on their heads, and I guess, even if it's just lip service, the Republicans are keeping the debate alive.

I guess it's kind of like me voting for Nader in previous elections.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


My life is unharmonious at this time. Perhaps that's because I lack the energy or discipline to put things in order. I had a couple of future contracts expire out of the money last week. And I haven't opened up new positions. I figured the market was going to 8000 and now that it's there, even though the bad news continues to come out, and we haven't really had a selling panic to mark the bottom, something tells me the Dow's going to run up a couple thousand pretty quick . But I'd hate to go long and watch the index drop a couple thousand more instead.

Janett's still not doing all that well. She's fatigued and doesn't spring back after a couple days' rest. Maybe she has a cold coming on. Did you hear about her asking the landlord this week about the heat in the apartment? He said the thermostat in is the vacant first floor unit, and since the electricity was shut off, it's probably not working. Hmmm, Do you think maybe we should do something about that?

Mally's birthaday was celebrated yesterday. Steffy posted a couple pictures of her beautiful boys. Maybe there's more to come. If you go to her site to check them out, Owen doesn't really look like that. He's dressed in his Chew Baca outfit.

I'm still moving forward on the bookkeeping thing. Bad time to start a small business serving other small businesses. I mentioned to Jose, maybe we could offer a little bankruptcy filing service.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting back in the groove?

Posting 2 days in a row. How about it?

My temp assignment is dragging on. The plant is finished, up and running, all but a half dozen invoices have been received and paid. But the client isn't indicating I'll be released soon. I know there's more to be done, like reclassing the construction in process to assets placed in service and closing out the CIP account, but I think they're really keeping me around to deal with the auditors who will definitely scrutinize the project files.

And the corporate engineer, in a teleconference today, after confirming we'd committed all but a hundred thousand dollars on a 35 million dollar project, started talking about a few nice to have things that would run another half million. I've been worrying about coming in under budget (very important in these days of financial stress), and I got the feeling he can simply ask for another half million if he wants to.

Then this evening I met with my new neighbor, Jose Ramirez. Jose doesn't live next door. He's rented a little commercial space next door for his tax service. Our landlord told him that I'm an accountant and Jose would like to expand his tax service to include a bookkeeping service, so we're talking about me helping him out with that. I like the idea working part time getting a bookkeeping service going to supplement my retirement income, and I like Jose.

Last weekend Janett and I promised we'd make no plans for this weekend, and she could relax and not entertain. There's no Notre Dame game this week-end , which would normally be a social occasion for me, so maybe I'll have some time to investigate how to open up a bookkeeping service. We'll see what happens.

And here's another picture from last Sunday's walk in the park:


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boy, oh boy, oh boy

Wow, it's been like a month since I posted anything. I should apologize to friends and family who occasionally drop by to see if I'm OK. Well, I guess I'm OK. About three weeks ago I was unsettled by Janett's health problems. A couple visits to the emergency room and an appointment with a new doctor seems to have gotten us through that crisis, but the stress and concern was fatiguing.
But I don't think that really kept me from posting. I think it's that feeling that people have described after having when involved in a major disaster, how time seems to stand still and you can look around at the horror filled expressions on peoples faces and hear crashing, tearing sounds and feel jolted and being tossed around, all in an instant that lasts a long time.
I think that's where I've been stuck for a month with the economic train wreck occurring.
But nice things always happen to me in the personal world. My birthday was the 28th and Janett and I went to Louie's for lunch and cake. Janett had prepared a nacho dish and it was good, but she was still in a lot of pain, and fearing she was going to run out of pain medication before she got in to see her new doctor she was self medicating with Miller Genuine Draft. So it was weird. Me, I'm kind of a celebratory drinker. If nothing else we can celebrate that we're having a drink. So Janett's drinking intently, purposefully seemed kind of like watching somebody cheat at crouquet. But anyway we put off the family celebration until this past Friday when Noah and Lauren were going to be in town. It was a family party, and very nice. Ross and Kim were there and Jase and Dee with Joey. Noah and Lauren, of course, and Steffy with her boys, and Mark showed up a little later. Janett ordered a bunch of Chinese food which we all enjoyed and there was a sufficient surplus that Janett was able to put leftovers in bags for people to take home.She also made a triple fudge layer cake and found chocolate mint meltaway ice cream at the store. Yumm.
Then Louie and Julie came over to watch ND lose to NC on Saturday. Too bad, but giving up 5 turnovers makes winning tough - and after last year, losing football games doesn't sting as much as it used to. Besides we're playing a lot of freshman and sophomores who are doing well, so there's real hope for the future.
Then on Sunday we drove down the river to Fabyan park in Batavia and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon walking around and taking pictures, like this one.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

How long has it been since I got hysterical about

the economy? I mean everyone knows I've expected the worst, and I haven't wanted to continually complain and warn folks. But just in case anyone thinks the "resolute action" by tne Treasury/Fed this week solved our problems, I thought I'd post a little caveat.

The AIG Insurance melt down is shocking but not unexpected, and the problem is not just that they made some bad mortgage loans. The problem is their credit derivative and default swaps. I wrote about them a year ago, and I don't want to copy my earlier post so I found a good article at Storm Watch (one of my linked sites). Bill O'Brien used to say he liked Scientific American, because the articles started simply enough then got more rigorous, and you could quit whenever you wanted and still get something out of it. Why did the govt take a majority interest (ownership) of AIG, instead of just lending them the 85 billion? Could it be because they plan to tell the insurance companies and pension funds, "You cant sue Uncle Sam." when those folks seek to collect on the insurance on their investments AIG sold them?

What is troubling is that politicians are "appalled" at the magnitude of the problems they've been forced to acknowledge. "Nobody expected such a thing could happen" sounds a little like "Everyone thought the Iraqis were developing WMD's" Yes we did, and no we didn't. It's a kind of culpable deniability. And they're not going to level with us about how bad the prospects really are.

The problem is they'll bankrupt the nation trying to stave off each lesser "disaster", pretending to be oblivious of the really big disaster that's rushing towards us.

We now return you to scheduled broadcasting...

Monday, September 15, 2008

ND vs Mich

Clausen hands off to Hughes

Tate getting yards after catch

Scoring with a recovered fumble

Blocking on play action TD pass to Tate. Mean while Tate is running down the field on the right (out of photo) while the safety at the center of the screen is still looking into the ND backfield for the ball carrier.

First three photos are from Era of Ara at Cartier Field
Last one from Blue Grey Sky

Sunday, September 14, 2008


So Lehman Brothers is going bankrupt. As was the case with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it'll be interesting to see what their assets and liabilities really are and how much those assets are worth when they have to be liquidated, and who they owe how much they owe that isn't going to be paid off.

and Merrill Lynch had to find a buyer

and insurance giant AIG is under scrutiny, and looking for buyers for the pieces of its business it can sell off to raise some cash.

Just folks like us can't be sure what's happening, like why Bank of America is paying more than market value for Merrill Lynch shares. And what kind of deals the Fed and Treasury are promising Bank of America to bail out Merrill.

Anyway the market is going to be down big on Monday, (and it wouldn't be very good day to ask your bank for a loan).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I haven't been communicating well...

Not only on blogs, I haven't been calling people on the phone or visiting my Facebook page or checking my email. I've been preoccupied, mainly by work, but also probably in dealing on a subconscious level with the losses suffered by our little family. Every day I think of Kim and Ross and their lost baby and I think of Sally without Si caring for Davie. If my emotional equilibrium is so upset by these sad events, how hard must it be for those who suffered the losses more immediately?

Ross's friend brought his band to town for a performance this week-end, and the guys are staying at Kim and Ross's, Kim likes the guys but decided it might be a nice time to get away, so she stayed at Steffie and Mark's last night. Only 5 min. away. I'll swing by there on my errand run this morning

But I got to be home this afternoon for the ND game with Michigan. Louie and Julie are coming over. We'll probadly skip the cooking brats etc. and just order a pizza. Janett's been miserable this week with pain in her upper abdomen. Her doctor says it's fibroid myalgia in the tissue separating her lungs from her stomach (or something like that), so he prescribed a pain remedy I've never heard of that's supposedly good for fybroid myalgia. She's cleaning and freshening the place up a little for company but I'm not sure she'll be a affable hostess. Well, my little den is at the other side of the apartment from her bedroom and study, and she can have a little seclusion if she doesn't feel gregarious.

One little problem is my TV. It is little. like 13". The TV in the living room is a little bigger, maybe 19". I'm just not a big TV guy. I told Louie we could watch the game at his house if he wouldn't be comfortable with the little TV, but he seemed happier with the idea of coming over here. Maybe the little TV will prove a blessing. If Notre Dame disappoints, we can turn the volume down and only half watch.

OK, time for me to run out for snack shopping and to see Kimbo at Steffie's. Steffie just called and said a bag of dough-nuts would not be unwelcome. So here I go.

PS The audit of my project at work went well. Tne numbers all tied out and the papers were in order. Some documentation required by the company are still missing, but the auditor felt that the shortcomings were more plant and procurement issues than accounting problems. At least that's what he said. I'll get a written report next week.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm still here

It's been a crazy couple of weeks.

Janetts brother Si (for Silas) passed away Wednesday. Kim and Ross had a nice visit to N Carolina, and are thinking of hopping back on the baby train in a few weeks. They're very sweet.

Work's been demanding and is wearing me down a little but i'm getting to the end of the assignment.

A new neighbor has a tax prep service and wants to expand into bookkeeping. We're talking about working together.

ND opens up the football season next week-end. I think I posted my expectations here already.

Besides not blogging I've been ignoring my email. I opened a few things today, and thought I'd share.

Hmmm, they should be bigger. That happens someties. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home Alone

Tuesday night.

Janett's in Savannah GA. She often spoke of wishing to visit Savannah, but the circumstances aren't ideal. She's in Ga because her brother's ill, and had a little car trouble today on the way back to Macon from Wayross, where she visited Valerie.
So she's spening the night in Savannah, probably a steamy August night. She and her friend Carrrie were out walking around when I called her earlier. Maybe they'll find a nice sidewalk cafe where they can stop and have a coffee and a slice of some Savannah specialty. I don't know what that might be, but I'm sure they've got some good ones. I may be wrong but I imagine Savannah clinging to a shred of French culture, like sidewalk cafe's where they serve good coffee and fresh pastries.

I went to Steffy's house tonight and brought a birthday cake for a little celebration. Her birthday, her choice of cake; yellow with white butter-cream frosting. It was very nice but Mark and Mally and I threw a litle chocolate ice cream on our plates. Our tastes are just less refined.

I saw a little of Brady Quinn for Cleveland last night against the Giants. He played well. Not a tremedous deep threat, but very good at fifteen to twenty yards -and just oozing leadership qualities. Whatever you think of Charlie Weis, comparing Quinn after 2 years with Willinghan to Quinn after two years with Weis has got to tell you something.

So, what about ND this year? 8 and 4, or 9 and 3 seem the concensus on the Notre Dame boards. Allowings as how Michigan is in disarray and is probably a win for the irish, and we can predict a loss to USC, to go 8 and four we'd have to lose to MSU, UNC, and BC. I can imagine winning all those games.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Serious stuff

I think I mentioned Kim was going to have a baby. Well, that's not going to happen just yet. She suffered a miscarriage this week. The doctor told her the pictures indicated the baby had stopped growing a couple of weeks ago. We were all saddened and sorry Kim suffered such a loss. Kim and Ross had already planned to go to the Cangelosi family get together in N Carolina this weekend, and Kim pulled herself together to make the trip. Being at a lake in the mountains for a week with people who share your loss is probably the best thing you can do after such a sad event. I'm sure they'll come back renewed.

When we got home Thursday night, after being at the hospital with Kim, there was a call from Janett's sister in law Barb, John's wife. She told us Janett's brother Cy had suffered a very serious stoke while undergoing back surgery that day. Cy had called Janett last weekend and they spoke for quite a while. Now I wonder if he'd been apprehensive anout the surgery. Poor guy. Friday Janett caled the college to withdraw from upcoming classes and packed some things. This morning she left for Georgia with her friend Carrie co-piloting. It would be nice to hope she'll find Cy beginning to convalesce, but Barb seemesd to suggest hopes were slim that he would recover many of hs capacities. We'll pray and wait. We feel great sympathy for Cy's wife, Sally. Cy and Sally have been tgether since high school (fifty years?)and are a very devoted couple.

So I'm home alone for a week. Steffy's bithday is Wednesday; it'll be a small party, but Malachy will no doubt liven things up. I haven't seen the little guy all week. I think I'll go over there for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Lauren

I spoke with Noah last night and asked him to convey my greetings to Lauren, and he probably did.

I fled the office at 4:30 today. I sensed good feelings coming on and had to get away from that sometimes difficult environment to let them grow. I'll return tomorrow a more positive, dynamic person.

Arrived home a little early to an empty apartment. Janett may be visiting Kim, or with Steffie, or just out and about. For now I'm fine home alone. I want to nurture those good feelings, so I don't think I'll try to make investment decisions just now, or play Risk or read the news. I think I'll pull a book off the shelf, go out on the porch and read for a half hour, keeping my mind open to some beneficial realization.

I was thinking today about "will o the wisp", a term my mother used occasionally.
It's a nice way to refer to someone a little flighty; the phrase is now nearly anachronistic, but I like it just for the sound of it, as well as as a connection to times gone by. I hope the Irish never lose their love for words.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


To offset the heavy tone of post below I thought I'd add a snap of me and my main man yuckin it up.

Thanks, Kim, for the photo.

The Bees

I've been observing some bees. At the plant where I've been working I noticed about six locations where bees were beginning the construction of little hives, usually on the underside of an overhanging roof, often on light bulbs recessed in the overhangs. I thought about the news articles I'd seen about bees disappearing, and imagined that these bees were unable to find their way home, and due to an ingrained compulsion were building where they were.
The Orkin man came and sprayed and knocked down the little hives. At one spot the bees, much fewer in number than before, buzzed around where they had been building and then began to build again nearby.
I felt bad for the bees, working so hard, knowing the Orkin man would be back.
I admired their artisanship. Then I thought, maybe their instinct to build wasn't linked in their bee consciousness to starting a hive and creating a home for hundreds of bees to come, maybe they just felt they had to be building, and were fulfilled by the activity regardless of the lack of a successful outcome.
Of course, I wondered if the same pattern of behavior was observed in people. Like Iraq now, or Germany during World War II, or in Africa during the slaughters. Millions of people trying to get to work each day to do their jobs, partly to earn an income, but maybe, in part to maintain the order they were familiar with in a world gone goofy.
I don't know, but two other conjectures: First, is it cell phone signals from all the towers and handsets, interfering with the bees' navigationl mechanism? Will anyone acknowlege that, if it is true. Which do we need more bees or cell phones? Who has the bigger lobby in DC?
The other, are politicians aware of this compulsion in people to try to go to work every day, maintain order and pretend that the world hasn't gone mad? Do they rely on that instinctve positivism among the populations when they're plotting their rape, pillage and plunder? Scary.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Busy Saturday

I just posted concerning our Saturday night, but there was more to yesterday than that. I'd arisen at 5 AM to go count some inventory in Joliet. Janett got up with me and by seven was on her way to Jasons's (our oldest boy's) house to see her daughter, Valerie and Valerie's family.

Valerie (second oldest) and John and their little ones, Hannah and Logan are moving from St Paul to Waycross GA. John's company asked him to take work down there and, in this economy, the decision to move seemed to be the right one. Now they'll be two day drive away, but since Janett's brothers are in Georgia, chances are Janett'll get down there for visits every other year.

Janett helped Jase fix a big breakfast and enjoyed a nice vist before seeing the family off on the second leg of their journey, Valerie driving the family van and John driving the big U-Haul. Cogratulations and best wishes to the Hustons!