Trip Up East 2011

October 3, 2011

10:55 eastern time.

I have moused this little notebook from a cupboard at work.  The market is bouncing again this morning: first down 95, then up 30, then down 90, now down 62.  The S&P 500 is at 1125.  I will wait until it hits 1080 to buy again.

My dad and I leave tomorrow to travel northeast.  We will fly into Boston, spend one night in Ludlow (MA), drive up to Vermont for the Contrary Opinion Forum (three nights, Tues-Thurs), then return to Ludlow for four more nights.  B—and my sister!—fly into Hartford on Saturday the ninth.

I am worried that the market (1) will fall—it’s already been such a crummy three-month stretch; and (2) will hit my buy tripwire while I’m gone.  I am also worried about ongoing furnace and AC installation/replacement while I’m away.

Flight info:

Depart St. Louis Oct 4 8:05 central time
Arrive Boston              11:40 eastern time

Depart Boston Oct 11 5:00 eastern time
Arrive St. Louis          7:10 central time


October 4.

8:45 eastern.

On the plane.  BFR got to the airport before I did.  He went on through, I waited.  He texted me and said he was at gate 14, so I checked my bag and went on through.  The full body scanner couldn’t get my arms so I got an arm pat-down too.  When I was standing in the security line I could see BFR standing and waving his arms at me, waving, waving—yes: I see you.  Shaking my head, smiling though.  How is it I am so very self-conscious and would never do something like that short of a life-threatening situation and there he is waving, waving.


The plane will soon begin its descent into Boston Logan.  I ordered a cranberry for my drink.  BFR has been reading financial stuff.  Before we departed I ordered a double espresso at SBUX.  I ate the peanuts and Lorna Doone the flight attendant handed out.  I did a sudoku; it took awhile.  It was one where I could say that three boxes all had to have one out of a group of three numbers, e.g. 7 or 8; 3 or 7; or, 3, 7, or 8.  That left only two other open boxes, which had to contain the only other two numbers remaining, e.g. one or nine; or, nine or one.

My neck hurts.  I will need to lie flat later.  I have to urinate (not urgently).

Is “broll” a word?

What is “K Pareve” vis-a-vis food?


We landed…at 11:30 or so…I turned on my phone to see that the market had been down big early, down through 1080 on the S&P 500.  Down to 10,404 on the Dow but that it had come back respectably since then.  I checked and saw that the Q’s had a low of $50.25 where I had orders.  I wonder if that was them hitting there.  BFR had an INTC order in at $20.40…its low.  We listened to Bloomberg, then CNBC on the XM in the car.  By then the market had gone positive on some indices including the NASDAQ and the S&P 500.  We drove through the tunnels of the Mass Pike, 90W.  Through the neon lights and out through the city, past Framingham and Natick.  By Auburn the S&P was negative again, the NASDAQ was struggling to stay green, baby, stay green.  It started to rain.  We had paid $4.75 in tolls and taken a ticket.  We passed seemingly numerous McDonalds and Gulfs.  The XM was hissing static with regularity.  Bear market, bear market.  I called Elsie to make sure we could stay at her house.  BFR wanted me to ask her to see if she’d go to the deli to get us some sandwiches but I wouldn’t.  He was chagrined.  It kept raining but Ludlow wasn’t too far away.

Will helped BFR in with his bags.  We turned CNBC back on.  The market was back down, seeming to want to catfish its way back down to the morning depths.  Negative 105, negative 150.  I went nihilist, BFR defended his charts.  I got frustrated and went to make an unrelated call.

I came back out and … “It’s only down 15?  You gotta be kidding me.”  I took my eye off it again as I tried to plug Elsie’s password into the house wi-fi.  I said hello to Johnny Ruple who said he was up to “playing hockey and eating potato chips.”  BFR’s trying to tell me something…I’m talking to Johnny Ruple…he leaves…I look over again and, “It’s up 60?”  BFR says, “I was trying to tell ‘ya!”

I sit back down on the couch.  At that time it was 15:45, 15:50…it hits 100 to the plus side, but it isn’t done there.  It’s the opposite of the sheer drop.  I wonder about what rumor has to be kicking around about now.  110, 120.  The FT reports that eurozone finance ministers are coughing up more details on what a European TARP might look like.  The euro goes back over 1.33 and the Dow continues to pound the clouds up 130 with just a few minutes to go.  Throw out the script.  What will tomorrow bring.  The Q’s are up $2 from their low with AAPL and AMZN still both negative.  It’s a short squeeze to end all short squeezes.  The final number is around 150, meaning a 300-point reversal in the last 30 minutes.  The Russell 2000 up 6% today after losing 5% yesterday.  Words can’t describe this action.


John A., my dad’s cousin’s husband, is talking with BFR and me.   BFR is in Elsie’s chair asking John if he is working tomorrow.

John:  Yeah, we’ve got a Department of Corrections audit tomorrow [where he works as a guard].  I don’t think they’ll shut us down, though.

BFR:  Well, you’ve got most of my IRAs.

I have a puzzled look on my face.  John says nothing.

Me [to BFR]: What?

BFR:  Where’d that come from?

Hilarity and belly-aching laughs ensue.  Later, John says that it didn’t make any sense to him, he was processing it and was gonna roll with it.  BFR says he was starting to drift off but that he did hear himself say it and immediately knew he had just said something that made no sense.  But I’ll also say that there was a moment when what he said almost made sense, and I was ready to just shrug it off and move on.

October 5.


I arose nearly an hour ago.  I flipped on the coffee, snuck a cup, and sat down in front of the computer.


I have eaten a couple of pumpkin and cream cheese muffins.  I have had not quite two cups of café.  Water.  I showered, and shaved in the shower, as is my wont.  It is mostly cloudy out, but I was able to visage some blue ceilingless.  Azureglass.

“What about Irene?”

She is a popular topic here, still.  So much rain have they had.  We will leave here in an hour and a half, head north to Vergennes, VT, to see where some of the rain fell so often.

I have been in contact with my wife by e-mail.  The smartphone makes that easy.  I am on house wifi. The 3G has been in and out: disappointing.  It’s not like I’m in the middle of nowhere—an hour and a half from Boston, twenty minutes from Springfield.  I am perplexed by the network sparsity.

The market looks to open lower.  I am not surprised.  The afternoon pole-vault was way too steep and will need to be leveled out.  I could stomach only ten minutes of CNBC this morning before my temper started to rise.  I cannot watch the financial news coverage anymore.  Hopefully I’ll never be able to watch it again.  It is manipulative, whether intentionally so or not.  Watch and your chances of making a destructive more increase.  To that end, participating in the market—any market—is like trying to hit a baseball or play golf: the harder you try the less success you will have.  This is not to say “don’t practice” or “don’t train” or “stay in shape”.  It is to say that when the time comes to swing it is your years’ worth of practice that you must rely on to take you through the moment…not the events of day in which you are swinging.


Recap.  Five-and-a-half hours in the car, winding, winding, and bending our way to Vergennes, VT.  WiFi at Basin Harbor Club.  Dinner with Mark T, Brandon C, … Drinks with David Fuller, David Kodrick, Symon/Wymon…damn, can’t recall.

NEWS: Steve Jobs dies.  Roy sends me that text, I see it as I am leaving dinner.  I was really checking to see the Cardinals score.  They won, beat Philly, tying the series 2-2, sending it back to Philly for a Friday night game.

I sat and had a beefeater martini, the Cardinals game had just ended, and I watched a couple minutes of Jobs obit coverage on CNN.  It’s so sad to me.  I have been using Macs all my life.  I was ridiculed for doing so at IMSA and a little less so in college.

Then I switched it to Cardinals post-game, Brewers pre-game on TBS.  I was sitting by myself in the little TV room, the bar area was empty.  The portly bartender poured me a good martini: a full chilled martini glass with olives.  The bill was $8.48 and I gave him $10.  That made five drinks: a little Hendricks and ice; gin and grapefruit; gin and grapefruit; the martini; a beer at dinner.

October 6.


I woke up at six and three-quarters, made the in-room coffee.  I checked and saw that the Brewers lost.  Ha!  They gave up ten runs.  Ha!

850 on the S&P 500…where was it in July 2009?

Sometime later.

I am sitting in a florally decorated chair over in the main hall, near the dining room.

Sounds: “Good Cider”, silverware clinking together (probably being pulled from the dishwasher, lunch’s ware, prepped for dinner), “Not as dry as Roger’s cider”, “Where’d you guys go?”, a little air squeezed out heavily as a man plods quickly for the bathroom, an auto piano doing a ragtime ditty, sunglasses clacking closed, the bathroom door opening, these cider folks are…British?…Something about a travel agent, quibbling about a collared shirt being required in the main dining room.  Distant conversation from the front desk.  Air blowing (from) somewhere, probably the kitchen.

Anyway, back at Elsie’s I was telling Will about my writing exercise where I try to write everything I hear.  I had to borrow a pen from the front desk.  I decided lately to bring my notebook with me over here, figured maybe I’d write and drink, not just look at my phone.  So I went up to the front desk and asked if I couldst borrow one.  The comely (Jamaican, Trinidadean?) gal gave me two.  She is dark-skinned, with a lovely voice, and heavy neon-greenish mascara.

I skipped both of the afternoon talks.  None looked all that interesting.  I’m tired of the market in most respects.  I like it on my own terms.  I become easily annoyed by BFR when he is reading out all these CSS stocks that “gave buy signals” today, as if nothing else gave buy signals today.  The best buy day in over a year washes up on the shore Tuesday and where am I?  On a fucking Avis bus in Boston, MA, schlepping my way toward this slog of a conference in Nowheresville, VT.  I had strict orders to a colleague to put in about a dozen mutual fund orders when and if the S&P 500 hit 1080 but it didn’t get done.

Of course, if we weren’t at S&P 1175 as of today’s close but instead at 1065 I wouldn’t be nearly as upset.  So I try to look at it this way: if the low on Tuesday morning turns out to be the low for this August’s air-pocket decline then great, the carnage is over: we’ll move higher and do some selling and everything we bought from August until now will be black and shiny like anthracite.

If that was not the low, then I’ll be able to put the orders in at some later date.  In the “grand scheme” I guess it really doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference either way.

I’m alway going to find something to be mad about, aren’t I?  It’s a problem, a condition.  It’s something more than just being human.  I suppose it is akin to neuroticism, but I think it’s worse.
I kicked a chair and felt not knee-deep but chin-deep in the boil of my own bloody blood and decided, “I’d better get the hell out of here.”  Am I going to be this prickly, saturnine, aloof, bristly, jaded, jaundiced for the rest of my life?  When did this happen and what can I do to reverse it?

I went out and started walking.  I had a pretty good general idea of where I wanted to go.  All around.  To investigate, explore, define, and re-name.  Across the cove.  To the party tent along the water.  I am distracted by the baby squabbles about some guy at the front desk saying he ought to get his boarding pass printed instantaneously upon his request.  I walked and walked for about an hour.  I saw a portable disc-golf goal and wondered whether there were a course here.  Then I saw a bunch of pretty flowers, zinnia being the only one I knew for sure.  These flowers were so well-kept, in a plot measuring fifteen feet by thirty feet, with several distinct rows.  Upon a closer look I saw some peas strung up along one of those tepee-like structures.  I thought, “I need to do more beans next year.”

Then I heard what I first identified as a titmouse but when I turned I saw a chickadee buzzing at me.  I saw that it was perched in a tree bearing fruit.  Apples?  Indeed, a tiny little orchard: a copse of seven or eight apple trees, at least a couple of different kinds of apples among them.  Now the boarding pass guy’s buddy is telling him to calm.  At first I said to myself, No, they’re not my apples, I’m not going to take one.  “She’s cute.  Heavy but cute.”  I was looking at all of these apples and there were a lot on the ground.  I said fuckit, I went back to the apple I had touched initially and clipped it easily from the branch with my thumb.  I rubbed it a bit.  Are there pesticides on it?  Nah.  I bit into it and…ahhhh…so juicy, so firm, not so mealy, not grainy, not too sweet, not too sour, probably a McIntosh, probably the best I ever had.


I returned one of the pens.  Those two guys talking about the boarding pass were about as priceless as it gets.  The griper’s buddy was talking about some real-estate deal and the possibility of doing a 1035-exchange.  The other guy says, “It’s been fifteen fucking minutes!”  The buddy is like, “Why don’t you just calm down?  Whether you get it now or after dinner, what difference does it make?”  And he suggests they get back to talking about something that really matters, i.e. his real-estate deal.  These guys are like 75 and the griper doesn’t care about the real-estate deal.  He’s hung up either on his boarding pass or the gal at the front desk.  “She’s cute,” he says, “heavy, but cute.  Look at the size of those legs!”  Ha!  You can’t make this stuff up.

I have moved writing perches.  I hate this pen.  I had someone across from me at the mini-table I was sitting at.  Older.  I got up to take my martini glass to the bus tray.  I came back, she was very gracious, said, “I thought you had forgotten it.”  Meaning my glasses case and notebook.  But I said, “No, I was just setting my glass back.”  And I thanked her.

A little ways away now in the next seating area over from where I am is the guy from White Plains, NY.  Who I’ve heard a lot from.  Not directly but because I’ve been within five, or ten, or as the case is now, forty feet from him.  And I can hear him easily.  He is loud.  Does he want to be heard or can he just not talk in a lower voice?  Based on tone I think he is just unable to talk in a lower voice.  Someone comes up to me and asks me if I’m guarding the door and I say, “No, I’m monitoring, I’m monitoring.”  He says, “Even worse, even worse.”

Ha.  I’m getting on over half into my second martini and I’m feeling it…already.  My drink rationing is working.  The cocktail hour starts at six.  It’s ten ’til and the thirsty ones are going in for the kill.  I’m chewing on a plastic sword from my first martini.  My dad is probably wondering where I am.  I hope not.  I hope he knows.  Where is JBR?  Check the bar.  If that’s the worst thing they’ll have to say then let them say it.

After 18:00.

The encampments have moved barward.  I am very pleased with the spot I had staked out, two candy-striped loveseats opposite one another.  “They like to drink ’til the very last minute,” says one of the organizers of this event.  I am waiting on BFR, like he was waiting for me inside security on the day this all began.  I also did, as I just hear spoken the words “blue heron”, see one out fishing in a puddle on the airstrip near the restaurant here, the Red Mill.  I had seen signs for that place but didn’t know where it was until I stumbled upon it during my meanderings this afternoon.

October 7.


A couple of people are looking for S&P 1250 as a sell signal…


I am waiting for this thing to wrap up.  It is the panel session now.  Should be over any minute though.  Folks are starting to make their way out.  The market is mixed but basically flat.  The clean tech guy didn’t seem to think the investing prospects were very good for those types of companies.  The options guy was the cranky Yankee season ticket holder from last night.  Ha!

October 10.

I’m in South Hadley, MA, in the plume of someone’s cigarette.  How long’s it been since I had a cigarette?  Not ages, but…I got to NE last Tuesday (10/4)…I didn’t have one on October 3…could’ve been 10/2 or 10/1.  I haven’t hung out with Roy in awhile is part of the reason.  Plus, the American Spirits I had went stale.

Later: I’m over at the stand now, a.k.a. Randall’s Farm.  It is remarkably warm here.  Well over eighty degrees, in record territory.

November 1: Postscript.

Can we start from scratch?  I have my second cold since coming back from MA.  I am thinking of making my beard the fall guy for everything negative from August on and shaving it.

I have been depressed, pathetic, desperate, and unfriendly.  I hate a lot.  It’s no way to live.  Work sucks.  My neck hurts.  Writing could be a way out, at least a relief.  At least it is seventy-two degrees and sunny outside on this first day of November.  How come there isn’t a Yes-vember.  Ever wonder that?

I’ll work from home tomorrow.  That’s a saving grace.  But I’ve got to go out for a meeting with a client at 14:00….

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