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..

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Urban Meyer, on a slow news day

announced that he's been afflicted with an erratic heart and very severe head pain for 20 years, and while he remains selflessly devoted to the Gator nation, the time has come to honor his true priorities of family and faith and resign as head coach at the University of Florida. A day later he announced that he was actually going to take a leave of absence and wouldn't rule out returning to coach the team as early as next season. Speculation as to the causes of this erratic behavior:

a)Not being in contention for a national championship and playing second fiddle to Alabama in the SEC, he had to do something dramatic to elicit a lot of man love from the guys at ESPN.

b)The impending severance of his very close relationship with graduating quarterback Tim Tebow has resulted in a total emotional breakdown, and he simply doesn't know how to face life going forward.

c)One night at home with wife Shelley convinced him maybe the family thing wasn't such a priority after all, especially once she found out the 5 million a year didn't keep coming in if he resigned.

d) In keeping with his long established tradition of lying to recruits, he'll call all the kids comitted to Florida to reassure them he'll be back as head coach, then reannounce his resignation after the kids have signed their letters of intent.

e) all of the above

next day edit:

Entre nous, as my mother used to say, which I think means "between us" and implies a certain confidentiality, I think maybe Urban has been self medicating for these stress "symptoms" for a few years and his wife, a shrink specializing in addiction problems, had a little one on one with the coach. He blamed his habit on the demands of the job, so she told him the job had to go. Certainly they have all the money they could hope to spend in several lifetimes, and sacrificing their family and future happiness to a growing dependency would not be the right thing to do. Hence her announcement that he would definitely not be returning to coaching just a couple hours before he announced that he would. There's something a little dysfunctional going on. If I'm wrong it won't be the first time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bloging on Facebook

Andy Traynor Janett, Kim, Stephie and I went to Betsy's for a nice family party. Sisters Dean, Ann and Mary were there, Ann's John and Aidan, Brother Bill's whole crew, including 4 beautiful little girls (and special appearance - Katies's fiancee John) NY mogul John, Brother Tim and wife Billy. Betsy's Bill, Christie and little ...Bill with wife Courtney and daughter Sophia. Mary's Tom and Tim. Cousin Dee Dee
See More
about an hour ago

Only Friends · Comment ·LikeUnlike
Molly Traynor likes this.

Andy Traynor . Missing only Dean's Jim due to health problem, Mary's Ann and Tim's Betsy who reportedly preferred the attention of young men and Mike and Molly who were keeping the slopes safe in CO. Never enough time. Janett drove to and back with heavy snow falling. Hoorah for all.
about an hour ago ·

Andy Traynor John let us know son Mike was headed for the duty station today. Best wishes Mike. We'll be missing you.
about an hour ago ·

Andy Traynor And while Stephie was partying, Mark moved the family to new digs in Dundee. See why I still prefer blogging?
about an hour ago ·

Andy Traynor PS Everyone happy and excited for Noah, Lauren, and little three cheeks.
about an hour ago ·

Andy Traynor And where was Ross? After slipping and sliding home from Strphie's last night, our Southern Man decided he'd done enough winter driving for this year, pulled the covers up and put his head under the piilow. I admire a man of conviction.
about a minute ago ·

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Something happened yesterday

Lauren presented Noah with a beautiful son. John Reginald came into the world 22 inches tall and weighing ten and a half pounds with hefty little arms and big hands. His arrival really brightened our Christmas week, and we're so happy for Lauren and Noah.
But now, somehow, Noah's not my baby boy any more. Neither of us changed, nor did our loving relationship. But, it's as though he got a foot taller overnight. I'll still treat him with the same familiarity and affectiom, but with responsibility comes dignity, and respectability. Obviously, Noah's already a grown up and experienced and mature, a married veteran, working and continuing school, but having a son of his own is a pretty big deal. It's late, and I'm sleepy. Maybe I'm over-reacting. We'll see.

Here's a picture of my grandson, John Reginald.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I am so weird.

Haven't posted for a couple of weeks, maybe a little distracted by advent. I would usually be thinking of posting the image of the Infant of Prague with a copy of a little prayer, but spending happy time with Owen, anticipating the birth of grandson J.R. any day now, and Kimmy and Ross's baby in 4 or 5 months has reminded me of how joyful babies are.

So, I found this photo, and invite you to imagine with me Mary's happiness as she went to Jesus' little crib and was greeted by a face like this.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sounds like Brian Kelly is the guy.

I've commented in the last couple weeks about the ND coaching search. I mentioned Brian Kelly and Bob Stoops as candidates. I think Stoops was interested but for any one of a number reasons wouldn't take the plunge. (big money at Oklohoma, family and being in the middle of building a "dream house", less academic demands on players, lower standards for recruits). Most of all, though, ND lately seems like an imperfect opportunity.

I also referred to my annoyance with a lot of posters at Rock's House who insisted that Meyers, Stoops, and Saban were the acceptable candidates and hiring anyone else would represent a failure on the part of the administation. They're still going at it over there. From what little I know of Brian kelly he's a feisty, resourceful coach who works his players hard and adjusts his schemes to give his team the best chance to win with the talent available. His record at smaller schools is extremely impressive. He may be a turn around coach for ND.

If Kelly turns ND down, maybe Allsted, the Conneticut coach, or Lou Holts's son, Skip. They'd be OK, but I hope Kelly accepts the job.

PS Here's a link to an article about Brian Kelly and Notre Dame.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

In case you're interested

Here is a link to a couple of histories of Elgin IL written by the same fellow for the Elgin Historical Society.

The town has a colorful past, and reading the anecdotal writing brings on a nostalgia for the robust America of a cebtury ago.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Naming contest

From a recent NPR feature:

Illinois State Senator Mike Jacobs also wants to expand the market for Asian carp. For one thing, he'd like to see it on the menu in state prisons.

"Some people say that smoked, it's better than salmon," Jacobs says of Asian carp's taste. But the name "carp" is likely putting non-ethnic Americans off trying the fish, he says.

Aside from objections to the possibly offensive "ethnic" reference, and the possibly offensive state prison reference, the State Senator might have found a silver lining in the dark cloud of the Asia carp invasion. From You Tube clips. these things appear easy to catch, and there's a lot of them.

How does Heartland Halibut sound? No? Well, how about Lockport Lox? Hmmm, we'll keep trying.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A historical tid-bit and an interesting villain

Warlord's death evokes CIA's Golden days in the heroin trade

The death of Burmese warlord Khun Sa severs one of the few remaining links between Washington's Central Intelligence Agency and the trafficking of heroin out of Southeast Asia's famed Golden Triangle.

By The Vancouver SunOctober 31, 2007

The death of Burmese warlord Khun Sa severs one of the few remaining links between Washington's Central Intelligence Agency and the trafficking of heroin out of Southeast Asia's famed Golden Triangle.

Khun Sa apparently died last Friday in the Burmese commercial centre and former capital, Rangoon, aged 73 and after a peaceful retirement since he surrendered to the country's ruling junta in 1996.

Many believe he got amnesty in return for handing over to Burma's ruling generals his opium poppy growing and drug production empire that at one time provided 60 per cent of the heroin sold on United States streets.

But Khun Sa never considered himself a drug lord.

He thought himself a liberation fighter for the freedom of his people, the Shan of the forest-covered mountains of northeastern Burma. Poppy growing and drug trafficking were unfortunate necessities, he held, to feed and clothe his people, and buy arms necessary to fight Burma's military regime.

He even wrote directly to several U.S. presidents offering to sell the Golden Triangle's entire crop of heroin to them to keep it off American streets while still sustaining his liberation struggle. He never received a reply.

Khun Sa was a much loved by his people as a great nationalist hero. He was loathed with equal ferocity by successive U.S. administrations and in the late 1980s a $2-million US reward was offered for his capture.

It was not always so. Back in the 1960s and '70s, Khun Sa's empire fitted neatly into a CIA operation to fund Southeast Asian hill tribe militias to attack North Vietnamese supply routes to the war in South Vietnam.

In one of the CIA's more foul operations, its agents used its Air America airline to fly out Golden Triangle heroin. The drug was sold to corrupt South Vietnamese and Thai politicians who then peddled it to GIs in South Vietnam and a booming population of addicts in America.

There are some credible reports that, because of Khun Sa's access to southern China, the CIA continued supporting him well after the war in Southeast Asia had ended and even after the U.S. government had put a price on his head.

Khun Sa, meaning "Prince of Wealth," became the nom de guerre of a boy born in 1934 to a Chinese father and a Shan princess mother. His name was Zhang Qifu and he came of age in the tempestuous years after the Second World War when the Chinese Communists ousted the last troops of the old Kuomintang nationalist government from Yunnan province.

The Kuomintang's 8th and 26th Armies established themselves in northern Burma where they carved out a principality financed by opium production and supplied by regular air drops of arms from American planes.

As a youth Khun Sa joined the Kuomintang military, but then switched sides to Burmese government militias charged with halting the opium trade.

Once he had gathered an army of about 800 followers, Khun Sa declared himself a Shan nationalist and set up his own drug-producing principality. This brought him into collision with and defeat by the Kuomintang, as a result of which he was captured and imprisoned by the Burmese government in 1969.

Khun Sa was released in 1976 when his followers kidnapped two Russian doctors and demanded their leader's freedom in exchange.

He moved to the wilds of northern Thailand where he established his base in the town of Baan Hin Taek where he was protected by his well-armed Shan United Army of about 10,000 men.

This began the glory days of his control of the Golden Triangle drug trade. But in 1982, after a long and arduous campaign, the Thai army and airforce pushed the Shan United Army back into Burma.

Khun Sa simply set up a new headquarters just inside Burma at Ho Mong from where he controlled the world's heroin trade for nearly two decades.

My friend, Bertil Linter, who is the great expert on the Golden Triangle and who interviewed Khun Sa several times, says the warlord was basically an illiterate thug.

But Khun Sa told another friend, Denis Gray of the Associated Press Bangkok bureau, "They say I have horns and fangs. Actually, I am a king without a crown."

Sun International Affairs Columnist

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I'm getting disoriented

reading about candidates for Notre Dame's head football coaching position over at Rock's House. The board moderators counsel against speculation, at the same time subtly hinting that they have a pretty good idea who the likely candidate is and whether that candidate will accept an offer.

Bob Stoops, currently the head coach at Oklohoma has been issuing more strongly worded denials, but some fans parse his syntax and continue to hope last week's hands down favorite is still in the running. Other fans have turned their attention from the loser of three of the last six national championship games to the winner of two of the last three. That's right Urban Meyer, a coach Irish fan's loved to hate after they felt he left them at the altar when he accepted the Florida job five years ago. And why do they think he might be considering the opportunity? Searching the tea leaves they come up with clues like Athletic Director Swarbrick warning it will be a while before the new head coach is named. They infer this timing would allow the new coach to appear in this year's championship game before announcing his move to ND.

And then today Kent Nix, a top Florida high school defensive tackle announced he was accepting a scholarship to Notre Dame. With all the trouble ND has had recruiting really good defensive tackles why would a top candidate from Florida commit to a team that doesn't even have a head coach, unless he know's something.

Well, this kind of speculation seems as unhealthy as it is inescapable. But why do the fan's short lists have to include the most successful major college coaches of the day and insist noone else will do? Frank Leahy came from Boston College, Lou Holtz from Minnesota and Ara Parseghian from Northwestern; good coaches but not the brightest stars in the coaching firmament until their success at ND. And they found Knute Rockne in the chemistry lab.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Did I post this before?


I think Christie O'Brien posted it on Facebook and I saved it 'cause I like it!

Yesterday's post was not what I intended when

I started. I was actually thinking of the opening lines:

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

and I was thinking of them in connection to Barrack Obama.

I was thinking he is the center trying to hold. His eloquence is labored, as though it is straining to express truths that most can accept while provoking as few as possible at either extreme.

With humility he conveys that he cannot devise a simple solution for Afghanistan, or the correct answer for Wall Street and Main Street. Like other presidents he's found that his freedom of action is limited by preexisting circumstances and commitments, but more than others he must try to build consensus at a critical moment. Like a shepherd, he really wants to find the greener pastures, but now must concentrate on getting his flock safely down the icy slope.

Something I've observed is that one might question his personal loyalties. Those who have helped him in the past can be left aside as he presses onward and brings into the fold former adversaries. A very risky tactic, except that it isn't a tactic, it is the mission. The former adherents must be counted upon to remain committed in spite of being displaced. Why? Because they share the vision, not a Utopian vision, but a pragmatic appreciation that this is what must be done.

The attempt at consensus slows, if not impedes, progress, as has been the case with health care reform. We barely seem to be inching forward. Perhaps, he sees that it is not the measure of the progress that it is critical, but the directional shift.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From Wikipedeia re Yeats' Second Coming

The lines "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity" can be read as a paraphrase of one of the most famous passages from Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, a book which Yeats, by his own admission, regarded from his childhood with religious awe:

In each human heart terror survives
The raven it has gorged: the loftiest fear
All that they would disdain to think were true:
Hypocrisy and custom make their minds
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.
They dare not devise good for man's estate,
And yet they know not that they do not dare.

I worry, but not too much, about being a cynical and embittered old man. Web surfing, tv watching, and news reading have led me to feel near to despair. Our brothers and sisters suffer intensely at the hands of the most rapacious few and statesmen do not intervene or even seem to notice, as they rely on the diversion of a small fraction of a percent of those greedy few's annual income to fund their public relations efforts. And the public relations effort, does it serve to inform or educate the electorate? Only so far as to convince thirty plus per-cent of the voters that this candidate is, at worst, the best of a sorry lot.

But I won't despair, because it was a simple accident that I was born to be a person who was given the time and education to ponder our situation. I've asked myself why was I not born an indentured slave in an Indian stone quarry, a Chinese peasant farmer, an Ethiopian goat herder or a Bolivian miner? If we strip away the accident of birth and I lived a life of hard labor and desperate poverty, I would know that despair is a luxury I can not afford, and that given nothing else I have only God. If I could not provide welfare or even assure the survival of my chidren, I would stare into the eyes of God every day and learn that He expects me to know that what matters is my relationship to Him, and that I need be a humble supplicant.

The human comforts we enjoy in our time and place are a pleasant distraction, but should we not be staring into the eyes of God and receiving the same message? Does the accident of our birth really alter the metaphysics? If the four horsemen crash down upon us and we lose all that separated us from the others, would we lose ourselves, would we lose our God?

I remind myself not to worry over what to require from this broken world, or from broken people. And I remind myself that in God's eye my fretful pondering is another self-indulgence and another distraction. I'll try to elevate myself to humble supplication.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A nugget

Amidst the angst over Coach Weis' travails at ND, there have been a lot of comments posted on the boards. An interesting one observed how closely coaches' percentage of wins and losses at a school in the coaches' first three years predicted their career percentage at that school.

Personally, I appreciate what Coach Weis has done. By recruiting a lot of talented kids he dispelled premature reports of the school's demise as a factor on the collegiate stage. Also, I think he emphasised character in promoting the program and his players can be proud of how they've conducted themselves on the field as well as off. I also liked the way he seemed to promote the school's unique identity to the players. Hopefully, even after disappointing careers for some, his players will love the school and will have participated in a way that will benefit them for years to come.

After the losses of the last couple weeks, I accept the evidence that Coach Weis is unable to solve the problems that have hurt the team's performance. No point in enumerating those problems here, or postulating on why Coach Weis could not correct them. We now have to conclude the head coaching position at ND is not a good fit for Coach Weis.

Toward the end of Coach Willinghams's tenure I expressed anger that he was not engaged in a way that made the ND experience beneficial to his players. I don't feel that way about Coach Weis, but I fear that if he continues in his position harmful effects will occur for the coach as well as for the young men. Just as I felt that terminating Coach Ditka from his position with the Chicago Bears probably saved his sanity if not his life, T think the same is now true for Coach Weis and ND.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This past week on TV

Channel 11, our national public affiliate presented "World War II on HD". I kind of thought it would be edited from the Ken Burns series which I haven't seen. I don't think it was. I hope not. It was OK for the historical content, and the personal accounts were interesting, but how many charred bloated corpses does it take to convey the war is hell message?

I remember my mother telling me that people couldn't believe in 1943 and 1944, that ten thousand American casualties would be suffered in a couple of days on some little (a couple of square miles) atoll that no one had ever heard of before and would not here of again. Apparently several little islands were desired because they provided air strips to support the bombing campaign against Japan. I've also heard it said or read that some of these little fortresses could have been bypassed.

We all know that our enemies in World War II, specifically Japan and Germany engaged in cruelty that was worse than barbarism. Germany seems to have behaved most grotesquely against civilians in their own country and in countries they overran.
The Japanese were inhumanly savage and sadistic toward military prisoners as well as to subjugated civilians. Even though the Japanese suffered tragic consequences of their military madness, one feels they never were adequately humiliated for their their insane criminality, and that their national hubris emerged unscathed. After the war both of these countries were transformed in the diplomatic game into "bulwarks" against encroaching communism, and both played their hands skillfully. Germany suffered more from the occupation, especially by Stalin's minions, and also from the worldwide revulsion at the horrors of the concentration camps. Japanese crimes against humanity have never been appropriately addressed. Maybe someone should do a thoughtful series on the Cold War.

At any rate, after a couple of evenings of viewing I stopped watching, feeling physically ill and psychologically distressed from what I had seen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More gold shenanigans, but worse

I have to go to work and don't have time to break this article down for you, but the author's contention is that fake gold bars (over a million 400 oz bars) have been minted with US Treaury connivance (during the Rubin-Clinton days). Half those bars are at Fort Knox and the other half have been sold in world market.

People who brought GLD, an exchange traded fund which theoretically was buying gold bars on behalf of it's shareholders, may need to be concerned that GLD's vault is filled with tungsten, not gold, and that their GLD shares are going to plummet.

Thee "real" gold market might fall initially as everyone who is uncertain tries to unload, but presumably the revelation of this counterfeiting will increase the value of actual gold.

"Gld ETF Warning, Tungsten Filled Fake Gold Bars
Commodities / Gold & Silver 2009
Nov 12, 2009 - 12:22 PM

By: Rob_Kirby

“Gold Finger - A New Take On Operation Grand Slam With A Tungsten Twist”

I’ve already reported on irregular physical gold settlements which occurred in London, England back in the first week of October, 2009. Specifically, these settlements involved the intermediation of at least one Central Bank [The Bank of England] to resolve allocated settlements on behalf of J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank – who DID NOT have the gold bullion that they had sold short and were contracted to deliver. At the same time I reported on two other unusual occurrences:

1] - irregularities in the publication of the gold ETF - GLD’s bar list from Sept. 25 – Oct.14 where the length of the bar list went from 1,381 pages to under 200 pages and then back up to 800 or so pages.

2] - reports of 400 oz. “good delivery” bricks of gold found gutted and filled with tungsten within the confines of LBMA approved vaults in Hong Kong.

Why Tungsten?

If anyone were contemplating creating “fake” gold bars, tungsten [at roughly $10 per pound] would be the metal of choice since it has the exact same density as gold making a fake bar salted with tungsten indistinguishable from a solid gold bar by simply weighing it.

Unfortunately, there are now more sordid details to report.

When the news of tungsten “salted” gold bars in Hong Kong first surfaced, many people

who I am acquainted with automatically assumed that these bars were manufactured in

China – because China is generally viewed as “the knock-off capital of the world”.

Here’s what I now understand really happened:

The amount of “salted tungsten” gold bars in question was allegedly between 5,600 and 5,700 – 400 oz – good delivery bars [roughly 60 metric tonnes].

This was apparently all highly orchestrated by an extremely well financed criminal operation.

Within mere hours of this scam being identified – Chinese officials had many of the perpetrators in custody.

And here’s what the Chinese allegedly uncovered:

Roughly 15 years ago – during the Clinton Administration [think Robert Rubin, Sir Alan Greenspan and Lawrence Summers] – between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten blanks were allegedly manufactured by a very high-end, sophisticated refiner in the USA [more than 16 Thousand metric tonnes]. Subsequently, 640,000 of these tungsten blanks received their gold plating and WERE shipped to Ft. Knox and remain there to this day. I know folks who have copies of the original shipping docs with dates and exact weights of “tungsten” bars shipped to Ft. Knox.


The balance of this 1.3 million – 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten cache was also plated and then allegedly “sold” into the international market.

Apparently, the global market is literally “stuffed full of 400 oz salted bars”.

Makes one wonder if the Indians were smart enough to assay their 200 tonne haul from the IMF?"

Also makes me wonder if the timing of this discovery by the Chinese just coincidentally occurred while President Obama was in Japan on his way to China. If there's any truth to these reports the president could be extremely embarassed in meetings with the Chinese. Those clever devils.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

John Gagliardi

I googled to see how Bobby Bowden and joe Paterno were doing in their death match struggle to retire (or die) with the most career coaching wins and came across an article about Joe Gagliardi, coach at St Johns College in Minnesota, who actually holds the record, but since St Johns is a Div III school, he's not competing with the big boys. Still, he's an interesting guy. You can read the article here.

Here's an excerpt:

Gagliardi, 76, began his coaching career at age 16 when his high school coach left to serve in World War II. With no one else available, Gagliardi took over the team and guided it to its first conference championship. A couple years later, he was coaching at Carroll College in Montana. He interviewed for the job at St. John's in 1953.


"They asked me if we needed scholarships to win. I had never had them, so I said, 'No, I don't think so'," Gagliardi says. "Well, I could see the reaction of the 10 priests in the room and I could tell by their faces that I had the job then and there.


"Then one monk says, 'I have one more question. Can you beat St. Thomas and St. Augustine without scholarships?' I had never heard of either team, but I said, 'Sure, I don't see why not'."


Athletic scholarships aren't allowed in Division III sports, so Gagliardi is nothing special there. It's his own rules that separates him from everyone else. When he took over as coach in high school, he did away with every rule that seemed stupid or unpleasant -- "We even drank water during practice" -- and he's been adding to them ever since. The list of 'no's is over 100 by now.


In addition to the no-tackling-during-practice rule, there are no coaches' whistles and no playbooks. No roster cuts. No mandatory weight-lifting. No use of words such as "kill," "hit" or "Coach" (players call him John). There are no long practices. There are no calisthenics. Well, there arecalisthenics, but they include such drills as laying on the ground, looking up at the sky and saying, "It's a nice day."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fast Food

I saw an article this morning on Burger Kings new value menu item, a double burger for $1. It's reported that the franchisees are suing over being required to offer this product because using $.55 as ingredient costs and $.45 as service and overhead cost they compute they lose a dime on every one they sell.

The comments posted below the article were interesting. Apparently a lot of people think Burger Kings are dirty and the food gives you diahrea. One commentor pointed out that profits are made on soft drink and fries, not on the burgers. Another said he drove through a BK and ordered two of the new doubles and a water to be sure they lost money. Personally, I go to BK every couple of months and next time I'm going to try the new double because they keep making the Whopper Jr smaller.

I googled "fast food survey results" and found results of a Zagat survey posted.
I copied some of the results below.

But first, allow to me to say our new favorite is Sonic. That's where Janett takes me when we go for rides. (The nearest two Sonics to our home are each more than five miles away) The food is good with a varied menu, including a wide range of soda fountain specialities. The burgers have an old fashioned drive-in taste, and I guess that's good. Prices are competitive, but they're not afraid to charge $3 for Mozzarella sticks. You can park to walk in or park at a speaker to order and a car-hop, sometimes a young lady on roller skates, brings you your meal.

PS If Subway is the favorite, how come they're always empty? Maybe because they sold too many franchises and tho stores are too close together?

Fast Food – Mega Chains
1.Subway
2.Wendy's
3.McDonald's
4.Taco Bell
5.Burger King

Fast Food – Large Chains
1.Panera Bread
2.Chipotle
3.In-N-Out Burger
4.Chick-fil-A
5.Au Bon Pain

Quick-Refreshment Chains
1.Starbucks Coffee
2.Dunkin' Donuts
3.Cold Stone Creamery
4.Jamba Juice
5.Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops

Full-Service Chains
1.P.F. Chang's China Bistro
2.Cheesecake Factory
3.California Pizza Kitchen
4.Outback Steakhouse
5.Carrabba's Italian Grill

Best Value:
1.McDonalds
2.Wendy's
3.In-N-Out Burger
4.Subway
5.Chipotle / Taco Bell (tied)

Best Value Menu:
1.McDonald's
2.Wendy's
3.Taco Bell
4.Burger King
5.Arby's

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vita, Dulcedo, Spes

I was given a rosary at my first Knights of Columbus meeting Monday night. Most people know praying the rosary consists primarily of saying Hail Mary's. (There is less familiarity with the contemplation of the mysteries suggested to accompany the prayers.) Commonly, folks question Catholic's veneration of Mary, in the same tone with which they refer to Catholics as praying to statues. As usual my daughter Kim is a source of wisdom. On this topic she questioned why Catholics seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin or other saints, when the relationship with Jesus is the source of salvation, quoting Jesus, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus does not seem to suggest we distract ourselves with middle men. Perhaps some Christians see the Church's promotion of the Virgin and Saints as intercessors to be reflective of the Church's seeming to position itself between the followers and God, as the definer of orthodoxy and custodian of the sacremental graces.

On the other hand, can we not acknowlege that Jesus may wish His Mother to be venerated? First because He loved her for her exquisite goodness. But more, from the day the Archangel came to her, she participated in Jesus' redemptive mission, and more than any other person offered herself to the Father and shared in Christ's suffering.

The words from the cross, "Woman, behold thy son. Son, behold thy mother." are taken by Catholics to indicate Jesus bestowed on the faithful the maternity of Mary. Also, her appearances at Lourdes and Fatima, would seem to be evidence that Christ views Mary as emmisary and as intercessor.

We could do a little reading, pray on it, and discuss this issue further, but today I just wanted to share a couple of prayers remembered fondly from my childhood also addressed to Mary.

Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Salve Regina

Hail holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

The Salve Regina referring to Mary as our life, our sweetness, and our hope, does seem to supplant Christ. Since the phrase appears on the crest on my university, I'm accustomed to it, but I can understand why critics object. The prayer has been a hymn in lyturgy and in common usage for a thousand years, and when church authorities are asked to explain this quasi heresy they say "the language of devotion is not that of dogma"
.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

On the ND board, they've quit complaining about

Coach Weis and started evaluating replacement candidates. I guess we're done paying Willingham for his buyout, so we can start paying Weis for his. I really like Coach Weis. He runs a classy program and is bringing in great talent. But he isn't a very good head coach.

Kabong posts a lot and seems knowlegable, but I feel that talking to Urban Mayer would be fruitless and more importantly, a betrayal of principle.

Brian Kelly from Cincinatti? Well, he has an Irish name and a pretty good record.

Brian Kelly
by El Kabong (2009-11-07 21:21:27)
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I'm not nearly as down on Kelly as some other folks are. I realize he's not the high-profile hire we'd want, but it's very difficult to argue with results. The guy takes low-tier talent and wins with it. No, his schedule doesn't set the world on fire, but I think he's something like 26-8 at Cincinnati right now, and since he's in his third year, it's difficult to say he did it all with the previous guy's players. In comparison, Dantonio was close to .500, and isn't raising eyebrows at MSU.

What gives me pause on Kelly, though, is that he's low-hanging fruit. I could probably walk into his office today and convince him to be the coach at ND, so I imagine Jack Swarbrick and Fr. Jenkins would have an even easier time.

I'd like to believe ND's admin is as interested in winning as I am, and doesn't want to do the least amount of work and just "get by". Getting Brian Kelly, while possibly a solution, smacks of the latter.

There's no reason not to make a run at Meyer and Stoops this year. Meyer's losing Tebow and a lot of other talent, and should at least get a phone call. Stoops may be feeling unappreciated at OK these days, with people grumbling about how it's been a while since the last title. I also think Gruden should get a call. If they go right to Kelly, that'll disappoint me.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Maybe I bit off more than I can chew.

I finally got Europe Central by William Vollmann from the library. The reviews tell me he's a really acclaimed author (like the best in 30 years?). Other novels by him on the shelf seemed to focus on North American Indians, in different situations, but it seems his fascination is with violence and how people come to engage in violence. Well I guess the war between Hitler and Stalin is as good a case study for exploring that topic as any one could imagine.

The first chapter was about Nanya Krupskaya, Lenin's wife and Fanya Kaplan, the Social Dewmocrat who tried to assasinate Lenin. Some kabaalistic references I couldn't relate to, but interesting characters.

The next chapter was about Kathe Kollwitz, German painter. sculptor, printmaker, and socialist whose life was touched with tragedies common to her era, but burdened even before personal losses with sympathy for the suffering of the working class. Interestingly she was never imprisoned by the Nazi's, maybe because her art was in the tradition of naturalism, and she wasn't an expressionist creating what Hitler referred to as gutter art. She died in '45 a couple of months before the Russians overran Germany. Thank goodness she was at least spared that spectacle of suffering.

I think the next chapter may focus on Shostakovich. Am I ready for that? I've become so accustomed to perusing electronic journalism that I'd forgotten how challenging reading could be. Wish me luck.

PS I took the night off and watched High Noon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween



This is Owen. Mally was too scary to post.

Here's a weird story

Choose a hero. Michael Collins or Eamon De Valera. This writer doesn't vote for DeValera



‘De Valera was a British spy’
Filed under: an príomhbhóthar
Book claims national hero was ‘turned’ after 1916

By John Spain Books Editor
Independent.ie
Monday October 26 2009




A NEW book to be published next month makes the shocking claim that Eamon de Valera, the founding father of the nation, was under the control of the British.

The book, provocatively titled ‘England’s Greatest Spy: Eamon de Valera’, suggests that Dev was terrified of being executed after the Rising and was “turned” in exchange for his life. For some years afterwards, the book claims, Dev was under British control.

The 470-page hardback is published by Stacey International, a London publisher specialising in politics and history.

The author is retired US naval officer and historian John Turi from Princeton, New Jersey. He developed an interest in Irish history through his wife, who was born in Ireland. Turi has been researching his controversial book for a decade.

The case against de Valera by Turi is based firstly on a detailed analysis of Dev’s emotionally stunted formative years.

He claims Dev was rejected by everyone in his early life — his mysterious father in New York (in fact, Dev was probably illegitimate), his mother, his uncle in Ireland, who treated him coldly, even the Church, which rejected his ambitions for the priesthood because of his probable illegitimacy.

His miserable upbringing left Dev with an inadequate personality, Turi suggests, which made him susceptible to being influenced later on.

Turi is scathing about Dev’s erratic behaviour during the Rising, when he was in charge of the men at Boland’s Mill.

He stayed awake for days, became disorientated and issued confused, sometimes ridiculous, orders. “It was not just his tactics the men questioned,” Turi writes, “they questioned his sanity as well.”

Dev kept his men “sitting on their heels” while a short distance away at Mount Street Bridge eight Volunteers were trying to hold off hundreds of British soldiers.

In fact the men at Boland’s Mill played little or no part in the Easter Week fighting, Turi says, because Dev was so exhausted and fearful.

At the end of the week, when word reached Boland’s Mill of the surrender, Turi writes that de Valera “abandoned his men and slipped out of Boland’s at noon on the Sunday, taking with him a British prisoner . . . as his insurance against being shot before he could surrender”.

Cowardly

“De Valera the cowardly, incompetent, mentally unstable officer who deserted his troops was (later) repackaged as de Valera the lonely hero fighting valiantly against overwhelming odds.”

What followed was also suspicious, Turi says.

Dev later claimed that he was tried with a number of other men and sentenced to death.

Turi writes: “Not one of the men allegedly tried with de Valera ever confirmed that such a trial took place, and there is no trace in the British Public Record Office of any trial.”

He also quotes the flat denial by the army prosecuting officer, William Wylie, that de Valera had been tried.

Turi also considers Dev’s fragile mental state and tearful collapse at Richmond Barracks the night before he was taken to Kilmainham, to where condemned prisoners were sent.

All the events indicate that Dev was terrified of dying, Turi suggests, and that it would have been easy for the British intelligence officer Ivor Price to turn Dev into a British collaborator. Major Price was “skilled at manipulating weakness”.

Turi notes that Dev was the only one of four Dublin commandants not to be tried and executed.

He dismisses theories that Dev was spared because he was born in America or because the British realised that further executions would be a mistake; as others were executed later.

The only reasonable explanation, Turi claims, is that Dev was “turned”. In all, Turi sets forth a dozen instances of what he calls “de Valera’s machinations that aided and abetted British interests” to support this claim.

Collins

Some of this ‘evidence’ concerns Dev’s activities in the US after he was released from prison — which split the powerful Irish-American lobby.

Turi also says the British feared what Michael Collins might do in the North and used de Valera to engineer the situation that resulted in Collins’s death.

Turi also calls Irish neutrality during the World War II “a hoax on the Irish people and a major boon for English interests”.

His book, which ends with a call for a posthumous trial of de Valera, will be published in Ireland and Britain on November 30 and in the US next year.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just dropping in to say hi.

It's been a weird week.

Joel still hadn't got back to me about the car, so I called again Monday. Turns out he was in the hospital all last week. I picked up the car yesterday and drove over for a visit. He's doing OK, but I must have been a little discombobulated. I failed to recognise a client who spoke to me in the hallway there.

Today, mom and I dropped off the laundrey at the laundromat, backsliding on a semi-resolution to do it ourselves this week. Maybe the change in the weather is tiring us out.

Tonight, for the first time I saw 30 Rock. It was very weird. And I had just watched the Office, so I should have been ready for anything. Then I went to the ND site, Rock's House, hoping the dump Weis crowd might be taking the night off and there would be interesting commentary about the upcoming Boston College game.
It was more acrimonious there than ever. Apparently ND announced today we'd be playing a game against Western Michigan next year.

One fan pointed out that we'd played Western Michigan before, in 1919 and 1920 and said perhaps they could promote it as a traditional rivalry. Another said he just felt sorry for Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan who must feel left out. It's all too much and I'm going to bed.

Mally's birthday party is Sunday. I don't know about warm but they say it'll be sunny.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I apologise

to Duval Kamara, the Notre Dame receiver who slipped, running a simple cut at the goal line last night on Notre Dame's final play. I said, on Facebook, that I blamed him for the loss. It's my dark irish side to single out some one to blame for my disappointment. Perhaps, the manager gave him cleets shorter than needed. Besides to single out the last play of the game, and forget all the miscues by other players earlier really isn't fair. And as Kim often has to remind me, how can I be so judgmental and hope to ask for God's forgiveness. And I'm sure he feels bad enough already, though maybe not as bsd as Clausen, Tate, Allen, Rudolph, and Parris who desperately sacrifices their bodies in a quest for victory. And we must remember Kamara wouldn't even have been in the game, hadn't Parris come out injured a couple of plays earlier.

So Duval. don't worry about it. I'm going to forget about that dumb ass play amd just remenber you as the disappointing receiver who frequently got illegal procedure calls for lining up behind the line of scrimmage. Duhhh.

And all respect and gratitude to the five mentioned and others who gave us a great game last night. And a silent moment and short prayer for recovery from injuries, especially for Clausen and Parris.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Words fail me

so here's a post from Rock's House

"It's crazy at ND.
by torontoparent (2009-10-16 17:13:31)
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My son '05, just phoned from Chicago. Friends called from ND to say he had to get there it is crazy, great. He is leaving in 5 minutes. When I asked where he is staying he said "I don't know". I would love to be there. I sense a spirit that just doesn't exist elsewhere.

It will help the team."

And I found this inspirational video

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Good One

Nate Heklman posted this link to Facebook and Stephie commented on it which brought the link up on my facebook page.

Statement of Lynne and Bill Hybels
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees

For the Thursday, October 8, 2009 Hearing on Faith-Based Community Perspectives on Comprehensive Immigration Reform


Everybody should read it. One method the elite use to prevail over us is to divide and conquer. Besides a sense working class solidarity, Christian sensibilities also advise us not to fall victim to biases that divide us.

When blacks or latinos demonstrate, or even when they resort to mob action, will you vote for greater social justice or more armored cars for the police? If you chose armored cars you have fallen victim to the exploiters' manipulations.

I confess that I am prone to think blacks are "different from us" when in the same evening news I see clips of grotesque black on black violence first in Zimbabwe then in some US ghetto. I always have to recall the news clips of first day at school in Chicago, the hope and happiness expressed in those little black faces. What happens to that hope and happiness over the next seven or eight years? What despair and dehumanization occurs? If you don't take a moment to feel concern for them it probably wont occur to you to worry about your childrens' grandchildren being consigned to the same conditions.

I feel the same repugnance for the juvenile thugs attaching no value to human life or virtue that most readers do, but remember, they weren't born that way, something happened, something went wrong. And in the prevailing economic system things are going to go wrong for a lot more people. Those little black kindergardners are the canaries in our coal mines.


PS As a token of my appreciation for Christians who identify with Christ more strongly than with Glen Beck, I'm restoring the link to Sojourners which Kim initially installed here, but I must have deleted at some unecumenical moment.
.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Corporate Debt

Here I go again but not on a topic I've covered too extensively. I have mentioned corporate debt along with mortgage debt, consumer debt, and government debt as big money that's not going to get paid back. I think I mentioned private equity firms buying companies shares with borrowed money, taking the firms private, paying their own company excessive management fees, and paying banks and lawyers tens of millions dollars to manage the deals. All these shysters paying themselves first, taking the money from the businesses, and perfectly good companies are being bled dry.
Here's a sadly illustrative story from the New York Times.

Buyout Firms Profited as a Company’s Debt Soared
JULIE CRESWELL
Published: October 4, 2009

For most of the 133 years since its founding in a small city in Wisconsin, the Simmons Bedding Company enjoyed an illustrious history.
Noble Rogers worked at Simmons for 22 years, mostly at a factory outside Atlanta. When the plant closed last year, he was left with a bitter taste.

Presidents have slumbered on its mattresses aboard Air Force One. Dignitaries have slept on them in the Lincoln Bedroom. Its advertisements have featured Henry Ford and H. G. Wells. Eleanor Roosevelt extolled the virtues of the Simmons Beautyrest mattress, and the brand was immortalized on Broadway in Cole Porter’s song “Anything Goes.”

Its recent history has been notable, too, but for a different reason.

Simmons says it will soon file for bankruptcy protection, as part of an agreement by its current owners to sell the company — the seventh time it has been sold in a little more than two decades — all after being owned for short periods by a parade of different investment groups, known as private equity firms, which try to buy undervalued companies, mostly with borrowed money.

For many of the company’s investors, the sale will be a disaster. Its bondholders alone stand to lose more than $575 million. The company’s downfall has also devastated employees like Noble Rogers, who worked for 22 years at Simmons, most of that time at a factory outside Atlanta. He is one of 1,000 employees — more than one-quarter of the work force — laid off last year.

But Thomas H. Lee Partners of Boston has not only escaped unscathed, it has made a profit. The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company’s fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping run it. Last year, the firm even gave itself a small raise.

Wall Street investment banks also cashed in. They collected millions for helping to arrange the takeovers and for selling the bonds that made those deals possible. All told, the various private equity owners have made around $750 million in profits from Simmons over the years.

How so many people could make so much money on a company that has been driven into bankruptcy is a tale of these financial times and an example of a growing phenomenon in corporate America.

Every step along the way, the buyers put Simmons deeper into debt. The financiers borrowed more and more money to pay ever higher prices for the company, enabling each previous owner to cash out profitably.

But the load weighed down an otherwise healthy company. Today, Simmons owes $1.3 billion, compared with just $164 million in 1991, when it began to become a Wall Street version of “Flip This House.”

In many ways, what private equity firms did at Simmons, and scores of other companies like it, mimicked the subprime mortgage boom. Fueled by easy money, not only from banks but also endowments and pension funds, buyout kings like THL upended the old order on Wall Street. It was, they said, the Golden Age of private equity — nothing less than a new era of capitalism.

The rest of the article may be found here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Deefense

The Irish defensive players must feel good today.

Two goalline stands forcing Washinton's Huskies to settle for one field goal yesterday enabled ND to take the game into overtime, and ND eventually won. The second goalline stand, in the fourth quarter, was extended to eight plays by a "roughing the snapper" penalty on a field goal attempt, which gave Washington the ball first and one on the one yard line. Since the Washington running game had been very successful yesterday, those defensive stops were a pleasant surprise to ND fans, and a real disappointment to Washington and especially to Washington quarterback Jake Locker. This dispassionate account, of course, understates the emotional content of those minutes.

I'm attaching a write up below, but I want first to complement our new defensive line coach, Randy Hart, on his contribution to this success story, and question how the new Washington coach, Steve Sarkisian, and his players must feel about having fired Coach Hart at the end of last season.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – When a defense makes one goal-line stand in a game, it typically becomes cause for celebration, especially when the stop preserves any shot at winning the game.

But for Notre Dame it wasn’t one goal-line stand that led to the latest miracle win, actually it was three such stands that helped the Irish complete a third-straight comeback in a 37-30 overtime win over Washington, in what was the miraculous of the three.

When asked the secret of the success in those three difficult goal-line situations, defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore simply said, “confidence and heart, that’s what pulls you through.”

The first stand came late in the third quarter with the Huskies leading 24-19. The Irish kept Washington out of the end zone on three straight plays inside the five-yard line, and made a fourth-down stop to hold the Huskies scoreless on the drive, and kept this from becoming a two-possession game

“With each stop we just felt like we were just getting more momentum and momentum,” Lewis-Moore said. “And by the time the fourth down came, we just felt like it was all out.”

The first stand helped to save the game. The second and third stands essentially won the game.

In what turned out to be a “double” goal-line stand, Washington ran eight plays inside Notre Dame’s 8-yard line and came away with just a field goal. The Irish made one goal line stand, but a strange roughing the center penalty during a field goal attempt gave the Huskies new life and a first down on the 1-yard line.

Irish head coach Charlie Weis said he expected his defense to be deflated after the penalty and the fresh set of downs for Washington.

“But there were no signs of it,” he said.

Notre Dame dug in and held again, and Washington settled for a field goal and a 27-22 lead instead of what could have been a 31-22 lead.

“The odds of us winning right there, really aren’t very high,” Weis said of the importance of the stand. “We’re in big trouble.”

Instead, the goal-line stands set the table for the Irish offense to take over and complete another miracle drive.

“I was scared but our defense showed a lot of heart and got us the ball back,” said Irish junior receiver Golden Tate. “It’s scary when the defense is on the field because I can’t do anything about that but cheer them on.”

Thursday, October 01, 2009

We're cool

Louie and I are going to South Bend Saturday for the Washington game. Could be a big win, ya never know. The weatherman says rain for Saturday, so I asked Janett for a ride to the thrift store so I could buy a hooded sweatshirt to sit in the rain in. (Joel at VP Automotive has had my car for a week and isn't returning my calls). Janett doesn't think it's cool to brag about my thrift store adventures, but I can't help it. I found this over the top, off the hook, whatever, Notre Dame jacket for $39. Now as you all know, I'm usually conservative when it comes to ND gear, preferring the crest to the monogram, the monogram to "Irish" and "Irish" to the leprechaun, but this jacket has a pugnacious leprechaun 10 inches tall and a foot wide on the back, a smaller one on the right chest, and NOTRE DAME around the right sleeve. I couldn't pass it up. It's what we used to call a car coat, comes over the hips, and appears to be new, even still having the little plastic thing on the cuff of the sleeve where the tags were attached. It might be a little heavy for a nice day but should be good for 50's in the rain. OK, so we'll be rocking, win or lose.

Speaking of which, the market was down again today, and so I'm about back to where I was last Friday on my puts. I hope today's drop on the bad employment numbers puts a little "let's wait and see" into the bulls. I also hope this week's up days were just a result of fund managers buying stocks to list in their quarterly reports, to show their investors they're really earning their money, and that they'll be easing back out of a lot of those positions tomorrow.

Oh, and I haven't posted since my birthday party Tuesday night at Stephie's Lots of fun and good food (soft and hard taco's and funfetti cake). Kim and Ross were there. After dinner Mark couldn't find the Yatzi game and Malachy persuaded us to play Mousetrap, a came involving the construction of a Rube Goldberg kind of mousetrap. (Mally likes the word contraption). Owen was delightful, except for his fascination with my cigarette's which makes Daddy Mark a little uncomfortable.

Then yesterday, while Stephie and Janett were on a shopping excursion, Mally hung out with me down in the office, in his customary supervisory role, including keeping a sheet of paper with Jose and my names on it, scoring our performances with checks or x's. He was great, but I think the experience was tiring for him. He suffered a meltdown when Stephie and Janett returned and it was time to go home. The tiring part was probably mostly having to correct Jose's rude and offensive behavior toward me without becoming rude or offensive himself. Little Mally's officious manner brings out the tease in Jose. At one point the little fellow had to hold up his hand, fingers extended and say "Jose, I'm going to give you this many more chances and then if you're still being bad, I'll have to fire you." A lot of responsibility for a four year old.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This one seemed simpler

While shaking one fist at the sky about yesterday's "merger and aquisition rally" which took back my CAR gains, I patted myself on the back with the other hand because I checked volumes reports last night and saw that it wasn't really a strong rally in spite of the gains. Maybe the bad consumer (lack of) confidence report this morning will spark downward movement.

I saw an article today about treasury manipulation of the gold price. It was lengthy and a little tedious, and since we discussed this ad nauseum acouple of years ago, I decided not to copy or link it...but it's still out there, and in some analysts' minds represent a cataclysmic event waiting to happen. Yawn.

Instead, I'm copying this funner article which touches on my incredulity at the strength of certain retailer's stock prices.

There are 215 Starbucks within 5 Miles of my Office
By Barry Ritholtz - September 29th, 2009, 9:30AM

Over at kottke.org, jason started a thread about the maximum Starbucks density and Starbucks center of gravity of Manhattan.

It seemed that 165 was the maximum # of SBUX found within 5 miles of your location.

On a lark, I punched in my street address — 535 5th — and BOOM! We have a new winner — there are 215 Starbucks within 5 Miles of my office.


PS Darden Restaurants releases earnings report today. I'll be interested to see.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Day

Somehow the Knights of Columbus at the West Dundee parish got their hooks into our friend, Louie and appointed him treasurer. He's had a busy month, selling corned beef sandwiches at Irish fest at St Catherines, then selling roasted ears of corn at Dundee's tradition fest. This weekend it was Tootsie roll sales. Louie's been calling members to line up volunteers, making sandwiches, nursing the corn roasting machine through a long weekend, and hitting the street with boxes of vintage tootsie rolls. I called him last night and he was happy to report a very successful day which concluded at the toll booth with a captive market of homeward bound commuters. Standing there in the rain, he said, he had the sympathy thing working for him. What a guy.

He's the kind of small businessman that we've relied on in the past to keep plugging away with enery, inventiveness, and courage fed by desperation to begin to turn the economy around when things were most dire. I hope Louie and guys like him can do it again. But with banks continuing to cut credit to small businesses these fellows are growing more discouraged.





The news in general, and the financial news in particular has been "optimistic" about our economy. It invokes the mood of survivors in a lifeboat pulling away from the sinking Titanic, with people floundering in the freezing water all around, and hearing the orchestra still playing on the ship's deck.

As I've said before, my greatest disappointment in Obama has been that he's left the Goldman Sach cabal members in hight positions at the Fed and Treasury. I guess in preinauguration briefings they levelled with him about now bad things really are, and persuaded him that to avoid a cataclysmic melt-down he should leave the banking system in their expert hands and give them trillions of dollars to try to cover their losses and generate some market profits which would reestablish confidence in the banking system - hopefully for a period sufficient to allow other stimulative measure to begin to generates some positive results. Anyone who has had their confidence in the banking system restored in the last six months hasn't been doing any banking. On a happier note, the big Jamokes are still getting their seven figure bonuses

I wonder what they told him about UFO's.

I bought a CAR (Avis) put the other day, and the stock dropped about 6% the next day. ISLE is down a lttle bit each day. I said earlier in the week that the index (DJIA,S&P) charts dont appear to be alarming, but a lot of stocks are dropping after approaching the high end of their trading ranges, so I'll try to make few bucks short term, while waiting to see if the market keeps falling.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still retiscent

So I'll just post an article providing some stock market perspective, nothing too sensational here. Interesting, though, the writer's reference to the possibility the fed will slow down it's purchasing of mortgage backed securities. (ie giving banks tens of billions for garbage) The Fed hinted today those purchases will be curtailed in the next quarter, and the market dropped 81 points and may drop further tomorrow.

Market TalkHome About RSS Feeds The Pinocchio Recovery
Posted by Paul Vigna on September 22, 2009
Autos, Dow Jones Industrials, Economy, Federal Reserve, Markets, Stimulus, Washington


Is it me?

I just can’t help but feel that there’s something the stock market’s missing about the economy. It’s a feeling I had back in 2007 as well. The market was marching giddily higher, right into October, and the whole time, I’m thinking to myself, there’s something wrong here. You didn’t need to know about derivatives, securitized debt, CDOs, CDS or mortgage fraud. Home prices had doubled in five years, wages were flat. It was the very picture of an asset bubble.

Now, I see a recovery that looks like Pinocchio: it wants to be a real little boy, but it’s really just a wooden toy that moves only when somebody pulls its strings. But everywhere, we hear people talking up the recovery as if the economy is sprinting into a new bull market.

Listen, I’m no PhD. I’m willing to entertain the idea that I could be wrong. There are a lot of smart people who probably think I’m wrong. Of course, there were a lot of people much smarter than me who were wrong in 2007.

But I keep seeing all those strings pulling the economy, and wonder if and when they can be cut.


For one thing, the stimulus programs that have come out of the federal government and Federal Reserve have underwritten the recovery. These include cash-for-clunkers, the first-time home-buyer tax credit, the Fed’s facilities for buying Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities, as well as its move to lower its federal funds rate to essentially zero.

Cash-for-clunkers provided a spike to auto sales, but the program has already expired, and the auto sales are already falling back to the levels from before the program. If the rest of the stimulus programs have a similar temporary effect, the economy may be stuck in its current state for some time.

Then there’s inventory replenishment. This is one of the biggest props of the recovery theory. Companies have been slashing inventory levels, and the notion is that once they begin restocking the shelves, it will provide a big boost to activity.

Through August, at least, this process had not started. Inventories were still falling, the Census Bureau reported. If September doesn’t exhibit some rebuilding, this plank will start popping some serious holes. For one thing, now is the time when companies start stocking up for the holiday season, which apparently lasts longer than actual seasons like winter (indeed, K-Mart and Target are already selling Christmas merchandise.) So we should already be seeing some inventory building. Shouldn’t we?

I can see this rally running through October, because the Fed is still underwriting the stock market, through the bond-buying programs, and money managers are still chasing returns, and likely will through their October fiscal years end. The Fed will still be buying MBS through year-end, but winding it down.

Washington’s hope is that the stimulus will eventually give way to a natural momentum that will pull the economy out of recession (and no matter what the President or Fed Chairman or anybody says, right now at least, we are officially still in a recession.)

But if that momentum doesn’t build on its own, if those props disappear, and at the same time holiday sales come in weak, well, that could spell trouble. Another thing to keep an eye on, of course, will be corporate profits. They should start looking better given easy comparisons to last year, but the market is building in a lot of upside there.

But maybe it’s just me.

(Images: Andre Koehne, wikipedia commons)

Tags: Autos, Bull Market, Earnings, Economy, Federal Reserve, Paul Vigna, Pinocchio, Recession, Retail Sales, Stimulus

Monday, September 21, 2009

A moment of levity


One of the highlights of the MSU game was Golden Tate's band dive after catching a pass in the end zone.

Just a quick note...

Janett made a collage set to music capturing many nice moments from Jason and Dee's wedding last weekend. Our trip to Vegas was a lot of fun, and Janett is going to be throwing a lot of change into the Hinkley and Schmitt bottle in the hope of a return visit next year. In case anyone visits here but doesn't know Janett's blog site, here's a link.

As for me, I know I'm unusually quiet these days. I'm a little busy, and not feeling passive or disinterested. I think I'm quiet because there's big things going on, and I'm not driving events so much as participating. Being a participant is a little different from my whistlin' gypsy rover persona. More thoughtful and (I hope) supportive than over the top.

ND's football program is an enigma now. Good offense, but still uncertain on defense. I do think the Big 11 refs were unfair in their calls, but that's pretty much to be expected.

The market persists higher. Charts of the S&P and DJIA dont look like they're topping. I had to rollover my ISLE option, losing a hundred dollars closing out the Sept option and opening an Oct one.

Jose and I are getting along and making progress, Janett's contributing a lot to the venture. In fact she's so busy now with all that's going on, we're both wondering when she's going to get a down day to regroup. Saturday night, after a fun day with Steffie and the boys in Dundee, we had a quiet moment on the porch and shared the feeling that we're very fortunate.

I think I'll click on my playlist and chill for a bit.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

I'm no fun

Been sick a week. Head and chest congestion. Occasional running nose or coughing.
One would hope coughing would clear the lungs, but it doesn't seem to work. Worst I feel fatigued a lot. Even mental activity, like working with Janett on how to enter a new clients transactions in Quickbooks wears me out quickly.

I am happy with ND's win, and am looking forward to our Vegas adventure this weekend.
I'll be the prototypical Irish fan searching out a TV at the reception to catch a glimpse of the game. Hmmm, maybe not. Given the time difference, the game should be on early afternoon vs a late afternoon wedding. Folks may be hanging out poolside early, and I could probably slip away now and again. We'll see.

I can't emote much or form strong opinions at this time. Just wanted to be in touch. See you later.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

As the saying goes,

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. But here's my magic elixir.

Here's fhe first few paragraphs of a good write up on the game Saturday. Click here for the rest.

Irish, Weis Seek Validation
posted by Mike Coffey
by John Vannie

Notre Dame opens the 2009 football season at home on Saturday with renewed hope for both the program’s reputation and the security of its head coach. The Irish struggled to a 10-15 record in the past two seasons as Charlie Weis attempted to rebuild the program with a solid base of underclassmen. This year, the team and its fans expect to reap the rewards of this endeavor. The overall roster is generally more athletic, many key players have gained valuable experience, and the schedule appears to be quite favorable.

The opposition this week will be provided by the Nevada Wolfpack, who have never played Notre Dame. Chris Ault’s team boasts a potent offense that was ranked in the nation’s top five last year and returns most of its starters, except at wide receiver. The defense is far less formidable, but Nevada hopes that the patience afforded last year’s young players will lead to improvement this season.
Weis barely managed to survive last November’s collapse and must start fast this month in order to keep the smoldering chair in his office from a spontaneous combustion. The Irish boast a wealth of talent at the skill positions and an experienced offensive line. The latter unit has been much maligned over the past two seasons for inconsistent performances and passive play, but enters this campaign injury-free and absent any plausible excuse.

Defensively, the back seven is stocked with speed, skill and numbers. Competition at each linebacker and secondary position has yielded a formidable two-deep that has not been evident in South Bend in more than a decade. The primary concern is an inexperienced group of linemen, but this can be mitigated if sufficient members of a promising sophomore contingent meet or exceed expectations. Nevada is the first of several teams that will test Notre Dame’s ability to stop the run, and the degree to which the Irish are successful will be a key factor in their overall season results.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I have a cold

and I feel like slouching around all day in a bathrobe, and not even making my hair lay down, or shaving. And going to the ice box and eating leftovers, one spoonful per visit, and channel surfing between stations for real crime shows while checking ESPN for college football news.

Just writing this has made me realize how unpleasant I must be to live with. Janett would be right to be very annoyed, and disappointed in me. OK I'm going to go clean up and get dressed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maybe it's the football.


photo from Bleacherreport.com

I posted to Facebook last night that I was growng annoyed at the semi-good news coming out about the "jobless recovery". I was edgy last night, and was downright unpleasant to Janett about some work we were doing on a phone book ad. She said I must be losing money in the market or might be afraid to put my name on the ad, because something was bothering me.

Well my ISLE put has been a wild ride for the last week, but it's OK, and I'm not shy about the ad, and of course I shouldn't let the business news happy talk upset me. I must be stressing because I acknowleged that the Irish have a football season encroaching.

Do they call it sublimating, repression, or denial when you try to pretend you're not concerned about something. The unexpressed anxiety vents in inexplicable and seemingly unrelated ways.

OK Let's get it all out front. I want the Irish to go 12-0 and play Florida in the BCS Championship, but what if they lose to MSU, USC and some other yet to be named crappy opponent. Then what will I do? Could I stand another year of disappointment and disilusionment?

I'll try to put this thing back in perspective and remember that college sports is just an entertainment, but if in the next few months I am sometimes ill tempered and out of sorts, dont worry. It's nothing you did.

PS did you ever notice the ND pennant on the wall in this "viral" clip. Catch the fever.

PPS Also might as well get this off my chest. I hope the Browns let Brady Quinn play this year, he does real well, and then we all email ESPN asking whatever happened to their annointed superstar QB's: Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jamarcus Russell.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Insider trading

Officers and directors of corporations have to report their purchases and sales of stock in their companies to the SEC. Here are the headlines for the reports for the last rhree weeks:

Aug 20, Courtesy of Finviz, the ratio of insider buying to selling transactions is 18 to 131. Total transaction value: Buys: $29.7 million; Sells: $889 million.

Aug 13, Courtesy of Finviz, the ratio of insider buying to selling transactions is 10 to 136. Total transaction value: Buys: $60.1 million; Sells: $1,146 million

Aug 6, Courtesy of Finviz, the ratio of insider buying to selling transactions is 5 to 145. Total transaction value: Buys: $13.4 million; Sells: $1,042 million.

Just sayin'...
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A statistics teacher, I think, once told us

the best daily weather forecast would be "tomorrow will be a lot like today." That's true in many aspects of life. Big changes are pretty rare. But, I'll be sixty-four in a month and it occurs to me a lot of guys seem to die between the ages of seventy and seventy-five, and given my lifestyle, some would say I'd be optimistic in planning to live that long.

So instead of assuming an unbroken succession of good days, I have to be aware that the probability of some kind of breakdown or illness increases monthly for me, any one of which could have debilitating or fatal consequences. Weird, huh?

That thought doesn't depress me, nor is it likely to cause me to change the day to day pattern of my life, but it is interesting to think the probability may be that I have 5 more years to live. Any of us over 40 years of age think 5 years can go by pretty fast. Maybe, I'll start taking a baby aspirin every evening or say a prayer of contrition every week, and maybe I'll live to be ninety (but I kind of hope not.)

That reminds me of the story of the two brigands dragged before the king for sentencing, and the clever one, bargaining for his life tells the king that in his travels he has seen many great things including among others a flying horse, and that he had learned the secret of how to capture this wondrous horse. The king expressed an interest in obtaining the marvelous steed and the bandit told the king it would take several months to travel to the land where the horse lived and several more months to capture the horse, but that he was sure he could deliver the horse to the king in one year from that very day. When he did he would hope for a pardon and if he didn't his life would be forfeit. The king agreed to these terms. As they left the court the second bandit asked, "Now what are we supposed to do?" and the first said "Many things can happen in a year. We might die. The king might die. Or maybe we'll find a flying horse."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ND '09

2009 Notre Dame Football Schedule
Sept. 5 NEVADA
Sept. 12 at Michigan
Sept. 19 MICHIGAN STATE
Sept. 26 at Purdue
Oct. 3 WASHINGTON
Oct. 10 Open Date
Oct. 17 USC
Oct. 24 BOSTON COLLEGE
Oct. 31 vs. Washington State (at San Antonio, Texas)
Nov. 7 NAVY
Nov. 14 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 21 CONNECTICUT
Nov. 28 at Stanford

The 3W 7L 2007 season diminished my excitement over the 2008 season. In 2008 the Irish posted a better 6 and 6 plus a bowl win, but 4 of those losses were depressing; Boston. Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. So it's hard to get really fired up for 2009.

On the bright side, QB Clausen will be better as a JR and has 2 or 3 really good receivers to throw to, esp Soph Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. I don't know who the tight end will be, but Kyle Rudolph was supposed to be pretty good.

The running backs will be very good with Armando Allem and Robert Hughes returning. James Aldridge has switched to fullback. Also Cierre Woods is a 4 star freshman who might be a five star player. Thing is, all but Woods were here last year.
I didn't watch closely enough to say, but offensive line play was probably a weakness. Coach Latina was replaced by a new line coach, Jerry Verducci. Before going to the pro's Verducci coached at Iowa State from 1989 to 1998, and I have memories of some excellent offensive lines there in those years. He's presumably emphasising basics in the hopes of improving on what some have called the "matador" style of recent Irish offensive lines.

On defense the backfield is excellent and linebackers very good. Again, the line is the question, and again the line coach has been replaced. I never thought badly of defensive line coach Jappy Oliver, but he wasn't a great recruiter and suffered from lack of talent. The talent is hopefully improving. His replacement Randy Hart from Univ of Washington is experienced and respected. Again, we hope he is emphasising fundamentals. The big add on the defense was a five star from Hawaii named Manti Te'o. He's a linebacker, and while it's uncertain which position he'll fill he'll probably get playing time.

This will be the second year for Jon Tenuta as linebacker coach and they're switching back to a 4-3 defense. I don't know if it was a promotion but he's now listed as co-defensive coordinator with Corwyn Brown, who coaches defensive backs.

I guess you'd have to call it a make or break year for Coach Weis. who with the departure of Tom Heywood takes over as his own offensive coordinator. I don't know if the offensive line in recent years has suffered from a pro style playbook, but if that was the problem, I hope Coach Weis simplifies the schemes, emphasises fundamentals and just wins 10, 11 or 12 damn football games.

Here's College Football News assessment.

PS the new athletic director is talking about how hard it is to put together a decent schedule with seven home games. Maybe he'll go to 6 and 6 home and away and down the road we won't have to be scheduling San Diego State, Nevada and Syracuse. We'll see what NBC has to say about that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Degrees of separation

I was just watching Lonesome Dove and I liked the character of the girl who threw rocks at bad guys, so I googled her name: Nina Siemaszko. Turns out she went to St Ignatius, the same high school I did. I mean, she wasn't born yet when I graduated, but the school administration when she was there had been scholastics in my day. Turns out she and her brother Casey were in a whole bunch of films and TV shows.
I met (young) Amy Madigan, the actress married to Ed Harris for 25 years when she attended parochial school with my sister Ann and she was in a lot of stuff. And my sister Mary's close friend at Lyons Township High School, Joyce Hazelhoff was David's little sister. So if you know me you can claim four or five degrees of separation from anyone from Michael Fox, Robert Duval, Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Kostner to that blonde chick from the lifeguard show. Thanks David

Oh, and another quirky thing. Janett and I went to the library yesterday, and in the hardcovers for sale room I found two complete Len Deighton trilogies. For $6 I picked up what at my current pace will be a years worth of reading. Bernard Sampson here I come.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Communion Picture

Janett scanned the picture of my first communion group and I added it to my photo bucket site and she said I should provide a link, although I thought I already had. But here it is anyway. You will probably find me easily, I am second row,center. I think you can download the picture if you'd like, and enlarge and adjust brightness or contast. See if you observe a resemblance to any of the kids. See also the altar boy to the far right of the lower group. Looks like brother, Bill, doesn't it?

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I think is a helpful article re Obamacare

by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

Op-Ed Columnist
The Swiss Menace
Published: August 16, 2009

It was the blooper heard round the world. In an editorial denouncing Democratic health reform plans, Investor’s Business Daily tried to frighten its readers by declaring that in Britain, where the government runs health care, the handicapped physicist Stephen Hawking “wouldn’t have a chance,” because the National Health Service would consider his life “essentially worthless.”

Professor Hawking, who was born in Britain, has lived there all his life, and has been well cared for by the National Health Service, was not amused.

Besides being vile and stupid, however, the editorial was beside the point. Investor’s Business Daily would like you to believe that Obamacare would turn America into Britain — or, rather, a dystopian fantasy version of Britain. The screamers on talk radio and Fox News would have you believe that the plan is to turn America into the Soviet Union. But the truth is that the plans on the table would, roughly speaking, turn America into Switzerland — which may be occupied by lederhosen-wearing holey-cheese eaters, but wasn’t a socialist hellhole the last time I looked.

Let’s talk about health care around the advanced world.

Every wealthy country other than the United States guarantees essential care to all its citizens. There are, however, wide variations in the specifics, with three main approaches taken.

In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false. Like every system, the National Health Service has problems, but over all it appears to provide quite good care while spending only about 40 percent as much per person as we do. By the way, our own Veterans Health Administration, which is run somewhat like the British health service, also manages to combine quality care with low costs.

The second route to universal coverage leaves the actual delivery of health care in private hands, but the government pays most of the bills. That’s how Canada and, in a more complex fashion, France do it. It’s also a system familiar to most Americans, since even those of us not yet on Medicare have parents and relatives who are.

Again, you hear a lot of horror stories about such systems, most of them false. French health care is excellent. Canadians with chronic conditions are more satisfied with their system than their U.S. counterparts. And Medicare is highly popular, as evidenced by the tendency of town-hall protesters to demand that the government keep its hands off the program.

Finally, the third route to universal coverage relies on private insurance companies, using a combination of regulation and subsidies to ensure that everyone is covered. Switzerland offers the clearest example: everyone is required to buy insurance, insurers can’t discriminate based on medical history or pre-existing conditions, and lower-income citizens get government help in paying for their policies.

In this country, the Massachusetts health reform more or less follows the Swiss model; costs are running higher than expected, but the reform has greatly reduced the number of uninsured. And the most common form of health insurance in America, employment-based coverage, actually has some “Swiss” aspects: to avoid making benefits taxable, employers have to follow rules that effectively rule out discrimination based on medical history and subsidize care for lower-wage workers.

So where does Obamacare fit into all this? Basically, it’s a plan to Swissify America, using regulation and subsidies to ensure universal coverage.

If we were starting from scratch we probably wouldn’t have chosen this route. True “socialized medicine” would undoubtedly cost less, and a straightforward extension of Medicare-type coverage to all Americans would probably be cheaper than a Swiss-style system. That’s why I and others believe that a true public option competing with private insurers is extremely important: otherwise, rising costs could all too easily undermine the whole effort.

But a Swiss-style system of universal coverage would be a vast improvement on what we have now. And we already know that such systems work.

So we can do this. At this point, all that stands in the way of universal health care in America are the greed of the medical-industrial complex, the lies of the right-wing propaganda machine, and the gullibility of voters who believe those lies.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reunion

My class reunion was a great pleasure. I wore a suit and was a little overdressed, but I ditched my jacket after a while, and it's always better to be overdressed than under.

The organiser of the party was Tom Casey, who was my best friend in high school, and many of the attendees were guys who'd gone to Ignatius. I was glad to see all of them. Janett looked lovely and was gracious and hung by me long enough to snap a few group photos, but then let me wander around. There were a few friends from high school, I didn't talk to as much as I might have liked, but that's the way it is at family parties, too. You speak a little with everyone, and later wish you had more time.

I spoke with Kitty P.F. the longest. I'm not sure my feelings for her are reciprocated, but I assume they are. She was the first girl I ever dated (one date) when we were probably in eighth grade or freshman year, but we lived a block apart in high school and had occassions to talk during those years. Then she went to St Mary's while I was at ND and we saw each other every so often then. She was always smart and gentle and pretty and I always considered her a friend.

She had a city job, from which I gather she's retired now, but still does some consulting. She's kept in touch with many of the nice people from college days and she filled me in a little bit, and I told her a little of where my brothers and sisters were and what they were doing.

As you may know, I like almost everyone, and am comfortable with people of different backgrounds, interests, and attainmnets, though I sometimes have to stretch a bit one way or the other. Big gatherings are a bit stressful for me because I can feel like I'm stretching in a lot of different directions, as when engaged in simultaneous conversation with a really serious investment banker and the one time quarterback who was humorously sharing with us stories of his gangster youth.

I know one is supposed to relax and be one's self, but being one's self is not always relaxing. And I don't want to pick out the biggest winners in the room and relate only to them even if they'd have me. So, the party was great, and Janett was very nice to let me wander around and visit. I think we'll do it again in 2059.

PS Go to the link to Janett's blog (to reader's right), and you can see slideshow.
Or go to http://s963.photobucket.com/albums/ae120/AndyTray/ for photos.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

We could do

this

Back from Boston

Noah and I had a nice time in Boston. Dean and Jim have so lovely a home that I took a lot of photos and posted them at Facebook. We never lost sight of our primary objective which was to support Dean and facilitate however we could Jim's move to a care center because of his Parkinson's disease, but there were so many other aspects to the visit, I don't know which to comment on first.
One thing was that I liked traveling with Noah. I liked slipping out of the terminal for a cigarette and making him worry that we would miss our flights because I wanted a smoke. I never knew he was such a worrier. It was like role reversal. Who's the parent here, anyway? It was nice of Mommy-To-Be Lauren to let Noah depart for a few days, and then when I got home I found yummy zucchini bread in the fridge which I think she sent.
Noah and I did things like clean out the garage, and move exercise equipment around the basement, and he worked harder than I did. I got my first Chipotle dinner when the Mexican restaurant Dean wanted to take us to Thursday night was found to have closed. We took the Chipotle's home with a bottle of Lambrusco and watched a tribute to James Taylor concert tape. Noah acted like he liked James Taylor just fine, but only half watched, concentrating more on setting up Dean's new computer at a desk near the TV room.
Dean told us how she and Jim met their holy person in India. They had been visiting temples and schools looking for a holy one to be their teacher and had learned of Matagi(sp?) and visited her convent but were told she was at that time in Bombay (I think) and off they went to find her there. They approached her at a religious event and asked if they might speak to her and she invited them to return to her convent, where she gave them the room her teacher had stayed in when he visited the convent. It was a privilege for them to be invited and they became devoted to her as they learned from her. A few minutes later Dean remarked on how fortunate they were and said "Oh, she wouldn't have invited us if she hadn't felt we were connected." I didn't ask Dean to elaborate on the nature of this connection, but in the Hindu faith it probably meant that they had been together in some way in a previous life. Well, I don't personally believe in reincarnation, but I do feel Noah has in some way a connection with Jim and Dean and that's why he wanted to visit before Jim's health deteriorated any further. He has previously discussed with a positive sense principles like non dualism, which are more in tune with Hinduism than Christian beliefs.
Maybe I project too much, but more than just affection I feel as though Noah perceives that Jim and/or Dean posess something that attracts him. I don't understand it it but I respect it. When I said good night to Noah last night I added thanks for his coming along with me on the trip, and he said "No, you came with me."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Re Baseball and the Irish

I hear Jeff Sanardzjia's pitching for the Cub's tomorrow. Hope he practiced his change-up while visiting the minors.

Here's a little clip of Quinn and Samardzjia against UCLA. Down 4 ponts, 40 seconds left in the game, 45 yards to go - who ya gonna call?

Gotta get a little more excited about the Irish than we did last year.


(several days later: maybe I just dreamt that about Jeff and the cubs)

Going to Boston tomorrrow.

Being with Noah and Dean and seeing Jim will be great. I was in Boston once or twice before. I remember getting my picture taken with a statue of Mayor Curley, sitting on a park bench as I recall, and going to the Old North Church. The Mayor Curley thing was kind of unique back then (maybe 30 years ago.) More recently I think I've seen park bench statues of Big Bird and Ronald McDonald. Sigh. One snapshot in my mind is of strings of lights over a busy market street in an old Italian nighborhood. I wondered if they had feast days to celebrate so often that they left the lights up year around. I'd like to live in a neighborhood like that.

Of course, everyone there is probably getting goofy over the Yankee-Red Sox thing. Maybe we'll watch a Red Sox game one evening and try to catch a little baseball fever. So far this year I haven't succumbed, even though I guess the Sox and Cubs are close to top of their respective divisions. I get my baseball enthusiasm through osmosis from people around me, and I just don't feel it in the air this year. Maybe people think our teams won't make it through the play-off's, so why get all excited.

I don't think I'll take the laptop, and probably won't post while there. So I guess I should tell you that I bought a put on ISLE (Isle of Capri), a casino company stock on the 30th of July. it's down a little, but i'd like it to drop to its 200 day moving average, around $7 pretty soon. My grudge stocks, Darden and Gymboree are still doing pretty well, although Darden is off it's high, Gymboree is out of sight. Still bearish? you ask. Sure, and while I wish a speedy and robust econonic recovery to all those near and dear, I feel personally a little Eeyore-ish or maybe Cassandra-ish and provide a link to this article for you to fret over while I'm gone.