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..

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.