Monday, October 27, 2008

Check them

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I don't have a sarcastic remark for this as breast cancer affects so many women that I doubt a person would be reading this that has not had a sister. mother, aunt, gramma, or friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am rather surprised we have a whole month for awarenesss since it seems breast cancer carries that dreaded fear during the run up to a mammogram and then that period before you get the results for every single woman I have known. Even then sometimes the Docs say they saw a spec on the mammogram so they leave you twisting in the wind as they do more tests to make sure it is nothing but a calcium deposit. Those days of waiting are like waiting for an HIV test to come back after you finally mustered the courage to pay for sex in Vegas.

Words for all women, whether flat chested or overburdened & suffering back problems, check them often and with vigilance. Men, support the women you know to check them. Sometimes I wish women checked their breasts as much as some men check their package. I definitely do this (my OCD tic), so I am mocking myself, but man, some guys are always arranging things down there. Imagine if women did that. Not a single woman would fail to catch breast cancer early. It would also make for some really awkward conversations. It's bad enough when your boss is reaching around in his pocket jingling change as he fumbles with his balls, imagine if a female boss kept rubbing inside her bra as she asked you to fill out the TPS reports. Awkward, but it would save lives. We need to save breasts and keep as many women alive, because we have found out through the planet wide obesity problem, that breasts only look good on women. Check them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Stock Purchases

As the market has continued it's slide down to reasonable PE levels or lower price levels to account for diminished earnings expectations, I've been picking up more stocks. The portfolio I have put together would have cost me 4x what it is now about 2 months ago. One thing I am running into is purchasing stoxks right before the quarterly dividend is declared. This is a "bad thing" to some people. It's because it creates unnecessary tax payments. Here's my response: it's tax payments on money I did not have 2 weeks ago. I do not like doing it, but hey, it's the nature of buying now while the crash is going on compared to waiting. I love that rationale "you're paying a tax". Like paying a tax on money I did not have previously is a harm. What's my dividend going to be anyway $30, and I'll owe like $4.5 in taxes. Oh shit, better start worrying about that lost trip to Wendy's.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mad Men, Thank You So Much

AMC's "Mad Men" is gaining steam on "Lost" as my favorite show on television. "Mad Men" hits the nostalgia vibe, especially the smoking, which I always associate with a touch of glamour and being an adult. It's a corporate world I would love to exist in over the current sanitized, PC, no fun version of Corporate America. It's the interesting post-war era on the verge of many changes, which the advertising world seeks to be on the cutting edge in order to exploit it. The drama is sometimes mundane marital problems & affairs and other times rather complex like the issue of adoption, the changing role of women in the workplace or closeted homosexuality. The show is also extremely well composed. The music fits, the writing is crisp and believable, the detail is outstanding, and the attitude just blows me away. It just feels right. This is all for a cable show!!!!!! No offense to "The Shield", which I have always loved, but the production qualities and overall acting of "Mad Men" are a cut above any FX show.

I also have to take timeout to show respect for Christina Hendricks. My wife and I both applaud how this woman is on TV despite having curves not seen since Jayne Mansfield. She has woman hips. I love her screentime as the all powerful office manager, who also happens to be beautiful. I thought her look might be padded as no Hollywood agent would represent an actress shaped like that, but no, I saw her at the Emmys, which no one remembers except for her boobs. She's for real and Joan Holloway is fa-seriously cool. I'm not alone in my appreciation.

In all seriousness, I appreciate "Lost" and "Mad Men" because they are no just cop, doctor or lawyer shows. Who decided that lawyers, doctors and cops were that interesting and warranted 60 minute shows to enthrall us. I can only take so many "maybe I'm just not cut out to be a cop anymore" monologues. Kudos to shows that go beyond the norm, which includes wonderful premium channel shows like "Dexter", "The Sopranos" and "The Wire". These shows can contain the same human drama in those cop/doctor/lawyer shows, but with a different setting and environment. may your hard work inspire others.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Socialized Medicine Will Never Happen in the USA

Having experienced socialized medicine for a short period of my life in the UK, I can say, I never want it to happen here. Even with a Democrat as president and controlling Congress I am certain it will never happen here for one strong reason.....

Democrats will never accept the tort reform required in European models for socialized medicine. Their lawyer lobbyists would never let it happen. Never.

My Thoughts on the last "Matrix" Movie

The Matrix was a very interesting movie that had some nice BS philosophy stuff in it and lots of kung fu. Let me take that back, the philosophy was cool in that the idea is that your experience could be just the signals in your brain to set stimuli, which is a materialistic idea of existence. Kind of interesting in a sci fi movie with Keanu Reeves. I loved this flick, and I kept it on my CPU at school for a couple of years. It also had humans fighting evil robots. Come on, if a robot isn't a bumbling servant type or a sex robot, they have to be evil in movies. The most basic premise is that humans want to be free, robots want us to be docile pod people, generating heat that they use a form of fusion which they use to power their world.

The Matrix 3 wrapped up with a lot of interesting CGI scenes of battles, Morpheus becoming a secondary figure (after the Oracle said that without him humans would be lost), Trinity dying, Neo dead, Agent Smith turning out to be a CPU virus while Neo was the McAfee anti-virus program, and the robots and humans calling a truce. Yup, robots and humans call a truce. Humans whow ant to be freed, can be freed, but the rest remain plugged in, which from what I recall in the first movie was referred to as slavery.
So slavery is OK as long as the enslaved does not realize it or is OK with it? Humans would strive to free themselves for years upon years, but suddenly be cool with the awful robots. Every cool character that we could have developed an attachment to was killed or shoved to the side by the end of the trilogy. This screamed BS. It betrayed everything from the first movie. It was a total cop out to the idea of "peace" instead of going through with fighting for your freedom.
Here are my questions: with Neo out of the way, how long would it have taken the machines to reprogram the matrix so everyone had the same life in their picture show existence to prevent others from being released or discovering "talents"? You seriously mean to tell me super intelligent robots and computers couldn't figure that out. Then, how fast would the robots wipe out Zion? How would humans explain to families of those who died fighting the machines that despite the sacrifices made, humans still "power" them? Why would a robot guided by a logic function ever hold up an agreement when they know the one critical variable for the other side is eliminated? Why wouldn't the robots help disarm the humans, and then wipe them out? Why wouldn't the Architect create a CPU program to deal with the freelance programs like the Oracle and the Merovingian? Why would the humans ever give up on their fight, existing only at the mercy of the robots?
Huge betrayal of everything the first movie established.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Bathrobe

A few winters ago, I received a bathrobe. It is very heavy, grey, and great for winters. I like to wear it on the weekend just lounging around. I cook breakfast on Sundays and generally be a lazy bum. I also like to put my hands up to the shawl collar and say "as mayor of the munchkin city" in that sing-song manor that the mayor of the munchkin city uses in the Wizard of Oz. It makes my wife laugh, and keeps me happy on cold winter weekends. It's one of those gifts that I've used way beyond expectations of the gift giver. First would be my battery powered alarm clock (still in use) that I got when I was 6, second would be my wristwatch from my wife a few birthdays ago, and third would be this bathrobe

A smoking jacket is on the wish list for when I hit 40... OK maybe 35. I'd like one by the time I have kids so I can tell them fatherly things and recall distant family memories while holding a pipe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Steely Dan

I'm on a Steely Dan kick right now. Part of the Yacht Rocky genre. I need something smooth to help me pass the days.

I Guess I am Not Alone

Ok, this has weirded me out and I find I am not the first to notice it. One thing I noticed though is that his lips are really thin in his TV ads where he talks to the camera in his "normal" voice. They look wicked thin and purple. Really creepy. Notice in the link though his lips are puffy while in this photo they are really thin. Does he get collagen? I wouldn't put it past him. The man has chosen friends, wives, pastors, etc. in a never ending quest to become president. Yes, I left a comment on that guy's blog as it was a really interesting collection of information on Barry.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time Waits for No One

I have always liked that phrase. Time keeps going, and it will not stop for you. That's really hit home the last few months as some friends of my family have passed on, an old coworker died, and my grandparents have updated their will and "arrangements". The couple that passed on in a span of 6 months was like a 3rd set of grandparents, and oftentimes, they treated me more lovingly than my own. Bill died from complications from a serious stroke that had damaged his brain, and his wife, Jane, stopped kidney dialysis because she didn't want to go through it just to live each day. It was her choice. Her Bill was gone, her daughter was a succesful businesswoman, and her grandsons were grown up and married. That was her in a nutshell: tough and independent.

I went to visit them in Florida (retirement requires a move to FLA??) 5 years ago. They were as entertaining and tough as usual, but they said something to me that will always stick, "oh yeah, the first ten years of retirement, we did whatever we wanted, now we're waiting". Every morning, she cooked breakfast for me, and I'd get up at 7am to eat it with them. They'd tell me to sleep in, as their grandson did it, and I'd say "I'f you're cooking for me, I'm getting my ass up". I'd eat dinner with them and talk until 7pm (bedtime). Bill told me stories of serving in the US military attachment that was in China at the end of World War 2 and during their Civil War. We golfed 18 holes one morning (at 8am to beat the crowd), and even at 78, he walked the course with me. There are many memories of visiting them growing up I will keep and a steady one is Jane's spaghetti sauce. No matter when my family visited on a vacation, the last meal was her famous sauce. It was so good that when I visited in '03, The day after I had the spaghetti, I had some of the sauce only as a snack. My wife has the recipe now, so I guess some things never die.

I Bought On Friday

Let's put everything into perspective (Dow bear markets). S&P 500 prices declined over 20% in one month, after a pretty steady wave down since last fall (45% to be exact). That's almost a halving. Do I think the business world is that dark. No. Have some names been beaten down relentlessly despite producing must use products and generating steady income streams? Yes. I decided on Friday to wade into some individual stocks and next week, I will pull the trigger on some more. If we have a rally, I'll wait that out for the next leg down. Oh, there will be one more.

My Reasons

1. I'm 28, so I got a long time to ride this rollercoaster.
2. My wife and I have plenty of cash saved up for rainy days.
3. The crash of the last week is almost unprecedented. They keep saying "worst week ever". Sign me up.
4. I have not touched a bank or consumer/discretionary goods company... and I will not since I don't feel comfortable with banks and feel the consumer spending recession has only just begun.
5. Jim Cramer says sell and stay away from the market. Yup, that's a contrarian sign.

and most importantly...

6. If we do head to Great Depression v.2.0, then this will not matter as there will be bigger worries for everyone.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hey Daniel-san

End Near, you don't say
How many things must I fear
Don't insult Grampa

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Good Day for Democracy....

I think we witnessed the beauty and potential of the internet and modern telecommunications with the NO vote by the House of Representatives on Monday for the Paulson Plan. I loved that reps said response from constituents was overwhelming and that they responded to it by voting no. That is what representative democracy is about. Even if it may have been the wrong vote, it expressed the will of the people, which is why they are voted in, right? It makes me happy. This is close to the small town hall referendums that I witnessed in Maine, and even the state wide referendums that I didn't know were peculiar to Maine compared to most other states. There are downsides to direct democracy, but I like the occasional chance to let the people decide on laws that will govern them.