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..

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'...

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. 26 at Purdue
Oct. 10 Open Date
Oct. 17 USC
Oct. 31 vs. Washington State (at San Antonio, Texas)
Nov. 7 NAVY
Nov. 14 at Pittsburgh
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


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.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We could do


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.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

We need help

Janett's going to visit Jason. I was going to write a letter to a client, so I thought before she left we could set up my "all in one" printer. (Scanner, copier, printer, fax), and while we were at it set up the "magic jack" I purchased to link to the printer and serve as a dedicated line for the fax application. An hour and a half later. We got no where and were getting annoyed with each other's suggestions amd so we quit. Janett says she'll work on this project later, when I'm not around.

How bad was it? We couldn't even get the printer ink cartridge cradle to slide over when we opened the covering flap. We thought we had installed the printer but it doesn't show up on the device list. When we turn the printer on, a little alarm light comes on telling us to look for a "stuck button." We thought we registered and installed Magic Jack, but couldn't get a dial tone on the hand set on the "all in one", or on the phone we hooked to Magic Jack to try as an alternative. We feel stupid and disgruntled, or at least, I do. Janett just left for Jason's. She has re-focused. That's what I should do. Maybe a little shirt ironing therapy.

I'd give you my new Magic Jack phone number, but what would be the point?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

OK, we got it all worked out.

Janett never got too excited about Fremont Street and the Four Queens, so we're staying at the Excalibur, which looks like a cleaner and perhaps funner place (big nice pool, which Four Queens couldn't offer). I also acceded to her idea of going on Thursday and coming back on Monday. She consented to allow me to book direct flights so we have a good half day there on Thursday and almost all day Monday. Also we get to rent a full sized car. Much nicer plan than my original. See how grownups work things out, not a cross word between us, just a little google fatigue.
Unfortunately, yesterday, I kind of persuaded Ross of the appeal of the gritty city street versus the plastic playland of the strip. Sorry Ross, playland it is. But I'll drive you around in my sedan.

Quasi-political comment

about Obama's style. He hardly seemed to notice that those two journalists had been arrested, tried, convicted, and thrown in the slammer, but today they're home with their families. He's been low key in the face of other events that just seemed to resolve themselves in a couple of weeks.

Previous administration, in the person, perhaps of the veep, would have been fulminating and those young ladies would have been moved to the darkest corner of some Korean hell, but at least that administration would have gotten to enjoy demonstrating their impotent machismo.

I like Obama's way better.

(But i have a few questions about what a couple well connected journalists were doing getting lost and stumbling into North Korea in the first place)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Post with a Purpose

At the bottom of the page was a short post with a link to the story about Goldman Sachs's stolen trading software. This post should knock that one to page two. So now you'll be able to scroll all the way down the first page and not find a rant about the economy or financial markets.
This will be a rare and short lived phenomena.