Pangs of Guilt

I never really thought of myself as a “user”, but obviously I’ve been in deep denial.


Years ago, I saw an obscure movie on HBO. It probably had a very short theatrical release. Up until 5 minutes ago, I thought the name of the movie was “Dutch Treat”, but a check of IMDB finds a different movie by the same name.


For me, the most memorable line of the movie that I seem to have forgotten was “You car is your dick. RIght now, you have a really small dick”. That was the life lesson taught to a mid-west kind of innocent guy who moved to California.


Well, Twitter is the same.


I think you measured by your number of followers and your “Klout”.


FacebookYesterday, I decided to take some drastic actions to increase my number of followers and “Klout”, since both had stalled out in the past week after some nice and steady growth. Like most men, I wanted bigger Klout.


I wanted to cast a Klout shadow that would make Anthony Weiner envious.


First, I opened a Facebook account.


I actually had one, that was closed to everyone. I used it only to be able to place Facebook ads. I was proud to have no Facebook friends. I actually worked that fact into nearly every converstaion that I had with real people.


But since I now want to sell books, I was told that I need a Facebook presence and a page for Option to Profit.


Okay. The page went up and I was immediately stunned to see how many suggested friends were out there for me. Some names sounded slightly familiar, most not at all. Was I getting Alzheimers? Was there a reason I wasn’t remembering my “friends”? WHo were these people?


But before I get back to Facebook, I also decided to start following all of my Twitter followers. Previously, I had about a 4 to 1 ratio. I followed relatively few people and maybe, as a result, I had relatively few followers.


Maybe, the reason for that was my content was “drek”, but I’ll choose to ignore that possibility.


So follow I did and lo and behold, I increased my number of followers by about 20%.


I’m a user. No doubt about it. Facebook, Twitter. It’s all about getting people and then getting their people and their people’s people. All to buy books.


That’s when the reality hit.


If I thought that my Tweets were tripe, that all changed when I saw what was now pouring into my Twitter stream.


Holy tripe.


Here comes the guilt.


I need to unfollow most of those new people. I feel badly about that.


I do, because when someone no longer follows me, I feel just a little bit sad, although I often wonder why they were following in the first place. Was there anything in my Tweets or blogs that indicated I would be a good place for learning a daily Russian word?


At first I thought that I just couldn’t do that sort of thing, because I really wasn’t that kind of person, but then came the realization.


I stopped being a guilt ridden person that day that I gave up on buy and hold stock strategies. It has to all be about the outcome, not the process.


These days, I’m in and out. Not quite a day trader, but one whose trading pattern more befits my attention span. I also have way too much regard for my mental well being to be a day trader, although I do make about 4 trades a day.


For example, I expect that today, I’ll be buying shares of Home Depot, Transocean and the Financial Sector SPDR, with the cash that will come pouring in from assignment of my shares in AIG, GS and JP Morgan.


I plan to write in the call options immediately on all three, with expiration this Friday.


Home Depot, in fact, goes ex-dividend on Wednesday and if it gets exercised, I’ll be happy and just buy something else and again sell call options.


No guilt there. Just want to wring every cent out of those shares as quickly as possible. Sort of like Jack the Ripper.


So I started the Twitter pruning this morning with a newly discovered guilt free feeling. Sorry “Great Deals in Southern Florida” peddler. Sorry “Job Bank in Sacramento” guy.


And so it went.


But being a cautious kind of guy and still wanting to retain my followers, I hedged my bets. Not much of a surprise, considering how I trade.


I decided to start by dumping those people that had lots of followers. Looking through their Tweets, I couldn’t understand why they had so many, but I figured they would never miss me and would be less likely to reciprocate.


If that works, then it’s time to prune down those that seem to have a strong evangelistic tone. I’m all for religiousity, but I want mine in spasms of more than 140 spaces.


As the soon to be old saying goes “You lost me at Lord”.


Now, back to Facebook.


My sister immediately found my presence. I had long resisted her suggestions to join and become a part of “communities” of our past.


Her response was “OMG” and then posting a photo of us taken in a photobooth, probably about 45 years ago, back in the days when we had such things as booths.


My oldest son, posted this one Twitter: “Just received a #facebook friend request from @theacsman #sellout”


I’ll have to agree with both of them.


Not being one of great diplomatic talents, Sugar Momma and I went out for dinner last night with two friends. Interestingly, they had also found me on Facebook and sent in their “friend requests” an hour before our dinner.


 I accepted. What else could I do?


Then at dinner we spoke about many things.


I only wanted to know how to go about “de-friending” people. Not them, of course, just people.


Forget the guilt.


As I was starting to look at the “wall”, that monstrosity that I had somehow created, all of these obscure friends of friends were now appearing. There was no “greater plan” and my Option to Profit book theme was getting buried.


Remember, all I want to do is sell books. I really didn’t need to know about little Moishe’s bris and how scrumptious the whitefish was.


It’s not becasue I’m anti-social, I just don’t care.


And that too, extends to stocks. I really don’t care about all of the details. I don’t even necessarily want to know wehat a company makes or what services it provides.


I’m a user. I just want it to make money for me.


Is that so bad?


Now, if it turns out that the Facebook page gets my “friends” to read this blog, I’ll have some explaining to do, but then at least I’ll know that the advice to start a Facebook page was a good one. Better yet, increasing book sales would really make the point.


My new friend, Adam Pflantzer, at Shmish.com (a nice financial news aggregator site),  has told me that I need to put my facebook address out into the ether, so here it is: http://www.facebook.com/TheAcsMan


There’s nothing like profits to ease the guilt pangs.


So here’s to friends and followers. Especially the ones that buy books, post on their walls and the walls of their friends and their friend’s friends.


And so on and so on.


 

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When will the Barking Stop?

Laszlo the DachsundWe have a 15 month old long haired miniature Dachshund, named Laszlo.


When we got him, my Sugar Momma very specifically told me that I couldn’t refer to him as a “replacement” for our dearly departed Golden Retriever, Murray. We had to love him for his own self and respect his own identity.


Well, Laszlo has this bad habit and he certainly has an identity all his own


He howls incessantly. Perched on an easy chair top and peering out the window of our cul-de-sac, whenever he sees a jogger or any casual stroller, he goes beserk. If you don’t immediately let him out, he starts a pitiful whining noise.


MurrayMurray, bless his soul. was as dumb as a door knob, but he was incredibly sweet. Don’t let the mortarboard on his head fool you. He wasn’t even GED material. But the personality more than offset the lack of intellect. Sure, he barked as well, but only because he wanted to play with people.


Laszlo just wants to bark.


When he gets near people, he just does more of the same.


There’s another important difference. Murray only breached the electric fence once in 12 years. He may have been stupid, but he wasn’t dumb. We’d let him out into our substantially sized yard and never have to worry whether he would chase some innocent passerby.


Laszlo seems to care less if he gets zapped. He spits in the eye of the invisible enemy. He never seems to get tired of barking sheerly for barking’s sake.But he’ll also then lunge past the boundaries when someone passes by. Occasionally, he’ll do that with a car, as well.


I have long thought Laszlo to be very smart, but still he is the Spawn of Satan.


He’s also seemed to learn how to communicate. We can tell the difference between his barks for people, other dogs and birds.


A lot of good that does us.


But, the really annoying habit is that at about 3:30 or so each morning, and the time has gotten consistently earlier as we approach the summer solstice, Laszlo has been catapaulting out of our bed and howling, while he runs downstairs to the front door.


Laszlo is smarter than we are. He knows that we won’t be consistent with him in our approach to his behaviors. Our kids had us figured out like that, as well. When she was just my wife and not my Sugar Momma we would argue over issues like that with the kids. Now that we are empty nesters and she is, in fact, my Sugar Momma, I defer to her on all issues of behavior management.


We’ve tried just letting him bark, figuring that he would poop out, but that has yet to be the case. He goes on and on, howling over some unseen critter in the yard. Since we’re surrounded by sheep, cows, horses, deer and Lord know what else, I assume he hears soem rustling and wants to fetch us a varmint.


Although we still haven’t figured out at what point Laszlo will give up, even a brief moment of silence would be incredibly welcome .


That was precisley the atmosphere in the markets today.


Six straight losing days. It just went on and on and on. There really wasn’t any end in sight. Despite the typical onslaught of economic data and political events, there really was nothing out of the ordinary.


At this point, how are we going to be surprised by disappointing jobs numbers? But dispite the release of the ADP numbers last Wednesday and the absolute conviction with which the official government numbers would be dreadful as well the following Friday, the market dumped yet again.


How long have we known about the Greek crisis? Did it take a genius to realize that the Japanese disaster would also wreak havoc on the earnings of a number of American companies?


Even more maddening, almost like a momentary stop in the spine tingling barking, there were a few days in the past couple of weeks that it appeared as if the markets were going to eke out a gain.


I’ve lost track of how many days in that time period I saw five digit gains turn into losses. I was actually ecstatic for the one day that a five digit gain remained that way, just as long as you counted the decimal points at he the end of the trading day.


Even when all of those nice kind hearted buyers just wanted to pick up some shares, the market just barked at them.


But you just don’t know what to do. Just like with Laszlo, I know that yelling won’t help anything. Giving in, selling shares at a loss only reinforces bad behavior.


Sometimes all you can hope for is that the evil beast poops out and just has to take a breather.


That’s what happened today.


By 3 PM, the market had reached a gain of about 130 points. I squeezed out a few trades to capture a couple of more pennies from those weekly call options.


I bought back some $42 JP Morgan options and quickly resold them at $41. I also sold some AIG calls on my remaining shares. Both closed the day in the money.


I also sold some weekly $135 Goldman Sachs, which briefy went over the mark, but settled the day below $134.


I’m not sure what statment I was sending with those trades, other than my desperation to bring in a few more dollars of income, which is how I treat the options premiums.


In reality, I was saying that I didn’t believe that there would be follow through on the upward climb on Friday, the expiration date of many of my call options.


I was betting that the barking would start all over again.


Playing to script, by the time the final bell rang, the market closed up a respectable 76 points, but still, that was a sizeable drop from its intra-day high.


Was today just a Satan like breather or are we going somewhere far better?


It felt so good to see that everyone of my holdings stayed in the green. In all, only 4 of the 60 or so stocks that I follow lost money today.


Even RIMM and Goldman Sachs closed higher today. When was the last time that happened?


Even though I’m usually an optimist, I don’t think Laszlo will mellow out in the near future. I think that he’s going to continue getting up at ungodly hours until the frost comes. I think that whatever sounds of silence that we hear will just be momentary spells of silence, when he’s just a bit too tired and needs to actually breathe.


As far as the market goes, even though I made a few  bearish kind of trades today, I’m still hopeful. Hopeful that todays gain, despite the breather at the end of the day, is part of the market returning to a more acceptible behavior.


What really bothers me about this bearish beast of a dog is that he is also very hard to catch. Good old Murray would walk right up to you and never tried to run away. Laszlo plays this game and scampers away whenever you get close. Tantalizingly close, but not close enough. Just like market profits these days, he’s very elusive.


But at least I went to bed last night a little less nervous and at the very least, I can still dream about Murray while Satan is at my back.


As I do so, I think what we need is just a big capitulation. I think I need to let the dog out, just get it out of his system.


Maybe that’s what all of the barking is about. Once he realizes that he can’t catch the critters grabbing his attention, maybe Laszlo will throw it in and exorcise his demons.


Hmm. Maybe the market needs to do the same.


 

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It Could Have Been Worse

Just when you think things are really bad, some people prepare themselves for even worse to come, while others are grateful that things didn’t turn out even worse.


IMussolini the Trainmagine if Mussolini wasn’t able to make the trains run on time.


I like to think in terms of how bad things could have been, but weren’t.


Today was another of those kind of days. Bad things happened, but we’re all still here, unless you recently got a margin call.


I don’t really take great delight in seeing the fall of someone in power.


Let me qualify that, unless they deserved it, or unless they didn’t deserve to be in power in the first place.


There’s a good chance that some of the deposed leaders in the Middle East deserved to go and perhaps an even better chance that the currently embattled leaders of Lybia, Syria and Yemen deserve some hastened fall from grace.


In fact, they probably deserve to be on the express departing from Grace, non-stop to Hell.


With those obvious kind of exceptions out of the way, I should also add that I do take some delight in seeing the downfall of those that were quickest to sling the first stone, only to have their own peccaddilloes turn out to be major character flaws.


Think Newt Gingrich. How about the late Henry Hyde? Jimmy Swaggart anyone? They didn’t believe in virtual genital transmission. They went for the real thing.


I feel a little vomit working its way upward as I begin to type John Edwards’ name.


There’s a long list of hypocrites who so loudly decry the behavior of others only to cower in the reality that is their lives.


When news came out that there were additional photos, including the same kind of shirtless ones that resulted in Chris Lee’s resignation, it prompted me to Tweet the obvious joke, that perhaps Anthony Weiner should go by the name Chester Weiner.


But then the truth surfaced at this afternoon’s press conference.


So today came the admission by Anthony Weiner that not only were the released shirtless and pantless images of him, but that he was the one who sent them.


He lied.


What a shocker. He’s a politician. You almost can’t spell “politician” without “L-I-A-R”.


On a positive note, Weiner is now the most sought after “member” in Congress.


Now if you follow politics, Weiner is a pretty voluble guy. He’s no shrinking violet, unless he’s just come out of the water. Based on his underwear photo and the shadow cast, he’s no shrinking “member” of congress, either.


Now that the truth has come out, I’m certain that Weiner will backtrack on that “Photoshop” line of defense.


But at least he’s not been a hypocrite. He hasn’t lead the drum beats to jump over other members of congress that have auditioned to appear on “Dateline”.


One theory is that Democrat Weiner’s “six pack” wasn’t quite up to Republican Lee’s standard.


Just to be clear, political hypocrites come in all parties and not just related to sexually inappropriate actions.


Take Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, now being mentioned as another Republican candidate for the Presidency. Forget about the fact hat he was pushing Texas seccession. How about the way he decried the TARP, loudly condemning it at every possible venue and then taking credit for jobs created in Texas having used TARP funds.


Palin and RevereAs I watched yesterday’s evening news, I wonder what’s worse. Lying to save a bit of whatever self-respect you have left and perhaps give yourself some time to work out issues with your family, or trying to re-write history to make you look like less of an idiot than you already are well known to be.


I say that as I sit watching Sarah Palin trying to convince us that Paul Revere rode through the Massachusetts countryside in an effort to warn the British that the Colonists were going to whoop their buttocks.


Even Chris Wallace wasn’t buying it.


Really, what’s worse? Weiner lying, when we all knew he was lying, or Palin, thinking that we’re all idiots and could be snowed by some two century old revisionist history.


You know, I understand historical revisionism. It’s done all the time in order to promote or denigrate a particular agenda.


I can respect that. It’s one of the benefits of having power.


But revisionism for the sake of convincing people that you have a double digit IQ is a new low.


Oh, and let’s not forget the evils of the cover-up. True, Weiner lied in an effort to cover-up his love of all things social media.


On the other hand, Palin’s supporters have been caught trying to re-write the Wikipedia pages regarding Paul Revere’s ride to better reflect Palin’s developmentally disabled view of history.


I’ll give Palin benefit of the doubt on this one. She probably didn’t tell her supporters to put Wikipedia in their “crosshairs”, but how could you not. You just know what Moma Bear would do.


Alright, but where’s the parallel to stocks and investments?


Are you serious? They’re unending. The lies, the distortions, the doublespeak all seek to send you down a path not travelled enough.


Just look at Steve Jobs today, introducing a new Apple operating system and its version of cloud management, the iCloud.


What else would you have called it? I mean, after deciding on iPad, there was no turning back.


Anyway, it was just a few short years ago that questions of Jobs’ health were dismissed, deflected and decried.


I’m still surprised that a class actions uit didn’t arise out of that period when Apple’s stock plunged to about $70 when the truth finally came out.


Clearly, Jobs is an unmatched icon. In my eyes, he will be long remembered after Bill Gates is forgotten. Innovator versus stagnator, even though I’m a PC.


But still, great man, great visionary and he enriched the lives of untold millions, figuratively and literally, but he lied.


How about anyone in the financial sector? I know that’s painting with a broad brush, but look at the statements and actions of  Dick Fuld, Jimmy Cayne and even Lloyd Blankfein of my not quite late, but moribund beloved Goldman Sachs.


In the case of the financial meltdown, it to could have been worse, but probably not by much.


John Chambers, anyone?


That list is endless as well.


What I do know is that like all breaking economic news, regardless of how the market may be whipsawed at the moments surrounding data release, before you know it, all is forgotten.


Weiner will still be a weiner, new scandals will sway our attention and we’ll all choose to believe in the way in which we have been programmed.


I’ll continue to believe that things could have been worse. Goldman Sachs could return to 2008 levels, RIMM could sell itself to Nokia and Weiner could go on to open a string of Goldman’s Gyms and replace Ron Jeremy as the everyday man’s pornography hero.


Thank God for optimism.


Where’s my train?


 

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Death Becomes Us





 


I have an unhealthy pre-occupation with death.


It’s not that I fear it, it’s just that I’m fascinated by other people’s deaths. That’s something that I inherited from my mother. Not to be outdone by this site dedicated to my father, she has a website dedicated to her memory as well, but it’s more serious, befitting her personality.


My mother used to be an inveterate reader of the daily obituaries. One of her favorite comments was something to the effect of ” He’s dead? I never even knew that he was ever alive!”


NY Times ObitsThat really sums up my fascination, as well, as I begin each morning not looking at the pre-opening market numbers, but rather at the New York Times obituaries, with a particular eye toward the lesser known luminaries.


When my mother was nearing her final months of life, I knew she was disconnected when she showed no reaction to the news that Bob Hope had died. A few months earlier, when told of Milton Berle’s passing, even though she was not verbal, you could see the amazement in her eyes, as she processed that information.


Bob Hope? Nothing.


What amazes me is how many relatively unsung and generally unknown people have made such incredible contributions to the world. One of my regrets in having moved away from New York is that I can no longer browse the New York Times Death Notices that detailed even more obscure local passings, not quite important enough for for the on-line edition.


Those local obituary notices contained not only gems among gems, but occasionally unwelcome news of someone I had known.


This weekend was replete with death.


Much of it gleamed from Twitter from posting by comedians. Interestingly, many of their postings are not very funny, at all.


I learned that Wally Boag, Andrew Gold and Omar Shapli had passed away.


Who? Look them up. Do I look like Google to you?


Although Lawrence Eagleburger was probably the most prominent of this weekends’ necrology news, he didn’t make the top of my list. Nor did James Arness and Jack Kevorkian.


I did find it somewhat ironic though that Jack Kevorkian chose to have his body cryo-preserved until that day that modern science comes up with an understanding of what actually kept him alive.


The passing that most caught my eye, though, was that of Dr. Rosalyn Yalow. I certainly won’t try to chronicle her achievements, but suffice it to say, she was a women, Jewish and from the Bronx. Three strikes against her, especially when it came to setting her odds on ever winning a Nobel Prize for Medicine.


My sister, who also shares those characteristics with Dr. Yalow was once told by someone that she could never go forward in life unless she got out of The Bronx.


“Good people aren’t from The Bronx”, was the bottom line.


My sister eventually did leave The Bronx and has not yet won a Nobel Prize, so I wonder how accurate that advice really was.


Being Bronx bred and having worked in the Bronx in my early professional days, Rosalyn Yalow was an institution. Not only an incredibly accomplished researcher and mentor, but also a dedicated mother and wife. More than a triple threat, she was a quadruple threat. She proved that you could have it all, despite the roadblocks.


On top of all that, in her world so strongly influenced by science and data, she was an observant person, one of deep and abiding faith.


As an added bonus, she didn’t go around killing people.


My fascination with death is not entirely paralleled in my fascination for stocks.


For starters, I chose to ignore the lesser known stocks. I tend to gravitate toward the more household names. I rarely look to capitalize on an undiscovered gem. Let someone else get the thrills of discovering one of those. I don’t want to dirty myself.


The stock market mentality in me gravitates much more toward Jack Kevorkian than Rosalyn Yalow.


The stock market mentality in me also looks at death, but in a different way. It doesn’t allow me the fascination with a life well lived. Instead, it wants continued vibrancy. I don’t really care what you did yesterday. I want to know what you’re going to do to line my account tomorrow.


While at am somewhat awed by the lives that the recently departed lived and the impacts made, I have a very different attitude toward stocks that are “dead to me”.


I do, however, distinguish between “dead money” and “dead to me”.


For me, “dead money” is just a question of poor timing or extrinsic factors effecting stock price, that I don’t believe will be corrected in the short term. I don’t mind or totally rule out the possibility of investing in those companies sometime in the future.


Right now, I look at my holdings in British Petroleum as dead money. I’ve made lots investing in shares well before the bad days surrounding the Gulf spill and after. But lately, it’s going nowhere and I don’t see anything on the horizon to prompt it much beyond $48.


Even worse, as its volatility drops, so does its options premium.


When a “dead money” stock starts picking up in volatility, then I start getting interested again.


Then there are the “dead to me” companies. The ones whose intrinsic doings seem to doom any hope for price rebounds in my lifetime. Those stocks often get recharacterized by some as “value stocks” and by others as “value traps”.


Value is great, except when it’s not real.


Take Research in Motion. And I mean that literally. Just take my Research in Motion. No amount of volatility at this point makes it appealing anymore.


Not that we didn’t have good times, but it sometimes becomes time to move on and not look back.


I hate losing money in the market. Although I sometimes rationalize selling in order to take a tax loss, I’m really not kidding myself. I’d rather be in a position to pay more taxes, than looking for losses.


Recently AIG joined the list of “dead to me” stocks. Although, at the moment, it’s one of those hideous “partial death” sort of things, because I still hold shares.


Granted, with its volatility, I was able to repeatedly sell call options on AIG, yet its spiral downward fro $40 to $28 has been too much for even my beloved covered call writing strategy to withstand.


AIG? Dead to me.


Ford Motor. I spit on you.


Don’t even get me started with YRCW. Only a class action suit can do anything for that horror. Once the darling of cable TV, you don’t really see CEO Bill Zollars on anyone’s guest list these days.


In the markets, everyone loves a winner. A high profile homerun hitter.


Zoeller? Dead to me. Not a woman, not from the Bronx and really don’t care about his religion.


Rosalyn Yalow? Always a hero to me and hopefully to a few more now.



 




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Party Like its 1999

I don’t remember much about 1999.


Not that I was in a drug filled haze, or anything like that. If anything, that would have been many years earlier and I still remembered all of those times.


What I do remember is that we spent the most pathetic New Year’s Eve ever welcoming in 2000 at our neighbor’s house.


I can make those statements because they have since moved to Florida and I don’t believe that they were literate.


PrinceFor starters, just about everyone at the party was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt. Mind you , we were in a part of Maryland that was not at all close to the Monongehela River. Most of the men and some of the women, I think they were women, were watching ESPN Classic Pittsburgh Steelers games from the past.


Happy New Year to you, too.


Anyway, the only music playing all night was the ubiquitous song by Prince, at a time when he was known as something else. It amazes me that an entire world had been waiting 17 years for that song to be relevant. But then again, these were the people watching an equally old football game that had at least as much relevance.


What I do remember about 1999 is that I sat on the sidelines when it came to my investments.


If you were a reader of the first incarnation of the Szelhamos Rules blog, you’ll know that I had a wonderful broker, Bob Shapiro. If you read the Option to Profit book you’ll also know that he passed away very unexpectedly.


Back when Bob was managing my account, I still followed the markets daily, even though he had full discretionary trading rights. I never micro-managed.


But on the sidelines I saw the wild amounts of money being made by people who weren’t me. It didn’t really matter that my own portfolio was performing well, because it wasn’t performing dot com well.


The stories of excess were legendary. The money was coming in and was going out even faster. Unfortunately, the money that was coming in wasn’t really from sales.


Long story short, I was spared the roller coaster rides of that era. I don’t have any sock puppet momentos inthe closet, nor reams of class action papers as a reminder of the wild times. Bob stayed on a much more sedate path. Sure we had ups and downs, but I never puked on the way down.


And so yesterday the big news came. No, not the news that Goldman Sachs was served with a subpoena by the Manhattan District Attorney. We all knew that was coming.I’ve got nothing left to puke on that one.


It was the other news that we all knew was coming.


A couple of weeks after the LinkedIn IPO came the much awaited word that Groupon was going to go public.


Within minutes also came word that Pandora, the music service with the artificial intelligence algorithm was also coming public. Since both are Morgan Stanley offerings, you’d think that maybe they would have timed the announcements to let Pandora have at least a little glory that Groupon was gobbling up.


Now, for full disclosure, my son works for Groupon’s biggest competitor, LivingSocial. He is responsible of overseeing the huge hiring spree that LivingSocial is currently engaged in. At least, that’s what a proud father would like to believe. In fact, a silver lining in ADP’s employment numbers was that LivingSocial accounted for 1/3% of all new hires in May. Not bad for a pretty small company.


A pretty small company that keeps company with Steve Case and Jeff Bezos.


Anyway, you remember Groupon. They spurned Google’s $6 Billion offer.


You remember Google, don’t you? They’re starting a Groupon like sevice tomorrow, Google Offers, in San Diego. Interesting, just a couple of days after they announced Google Wallet. 


Have you seen Groupon’s CEO?


‘Nuff said. I’ll let you scour YouTube for some clips, but yesterday’s statement that the money losing Groupon would not measure its performance in the usual fashion, should be sending a bad message. But if you don’t want to go the high tech route and search YouTube, just dust off your Funk and Waganalls and look for the illustration for the words “arrogant” and “obnoxious”.


Remember, I’m biased, but I’m being objective on this one.


The fact that Groupon employs 400 full time staff writers should send another message. How much effort does it take to write the same tripe for every tooth whitening offer in the country?


But there was unbridled enthusiasm yesterday as the announcement came across the news wire at about 3 PM. LinkedIn was the teaser, Groupon just a tasting, with everyone waiting for the 800 pound gorilla.


Facebook, with a current valuation of about $50-80 Billion.


And if this really is 1999 redux, there’ll be lots of drek coming along too, vying for your investment dollars.


What really makes me believe that we’re already nearing a top in social media is that my son, who made his first stock investment about two weeks ago, had already read Groupon’s S-1 filing and he was critiquing it for me, analyzing their dividend payments and compensation packages.


WTF?


Since I have an aversion to speculation, I won’t jump in, even if given the chance.


Which I won’t be.


On the positive side, I’m hopeful that my son’s LivingSocial stake will get the benefit of a wildly bid up valuation on the heels of Groupon and others.


In the meantime, I see a different outcome, at least for LivingSocial.


Granted the Google alliance with AOL didn’t turn out as planned, that alliance was with a Time Warner- AOL and not with a Steve Case led AOL.


Microsoft already has a small piece of the consumer market and no doubt that Google wants to keep Microsoft from gobbling up a big player in the daily coupon business.


After all, wasn’t that why they picked up a stake in AOL in the first place?


So I see Google, Steve Case and Amazon coming together on this one and blowing Groupon out of the water.


The difference between 1999 and 2011 is that all of this froth is based on people to people businesses. No real technology, per se, just a better way to get the non-proprietary tangibles that we all need.


Food, recreation and 50% discounted bikini waxes.


Why didn’t they think of that in 1999 and spare a generation that pain?



 

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Some Days it Just doesn’t Pay

Today was one of those days that you just wished that The End of Days had actually occured.


As if a 280 point drop in the Dow Jones wasn’t enough, watching Trump eat his Pizza with a fork and knife in a prototypical New York Pizzeria joint was enough to question everything in life.


Trump PizzaDuring World War II, reportedly American GI’s tested suspected spies by peppering them with baseball related questions. That was one sure way to test someone’s stripes. If you fell for the old, was Joe DiMaggio your favorite Brooklyn Dodger question, your ass was toast. Especially if you answered “Yah”.


No doubt, after seeing Trump elegantly dining on Pizza, one would be well justified to question the nation of Trump’s birth. Even Kenyan’s know how to eat Pizza.


They certainly don’t stack their slices and they’ll usually walk the extra 20 feet to bypass the Albanian Pizza place for a chance to get some really authentic New York Pizza, made my authentic Italians.


Let’s be clear, The Donald’s excuse for using a knife, fork, spork, whatever, doesn’t hold up to well. He said that he eats it that way so that he can bypass the dough, to keep his weight down.


The stacking sort of speaks a different story, unless Trump uses one of those Intuitive Surgical Da Vinci robotics to extricate the mozzarella and tomato sauce from between the soggy crusted slices.


Palin Star of DavidAnd then, there’s this image of Sarah Palin with her daughter Piper apologizing for pushing a cameraman. Well, as if the Jewish people don’t have enough problems, Palin is wearing a huge Star of David.


It was pretty unmistakenable. Maybe she was just trying to be prepared for any possible host awaiting her upon last week’s cancelled Rapturapalooza.


Don’t know, but once again it has me questioning everything. I had no problem with a Tina Turner beating Ike Turner or baseball bashing Rod Carew wearing the Star of David, but this? Too much. Just too much.


These sights were no way to end an absolutely horrid day.


Like most days that the markets are opened, I eagerly look forward to the days’ action.


Today was no different.


But like most days recently, our Dachshund, Laszlo, has been waking up and howling at an obscene hour in the morning.


Letting my Sugar Momma sleep, I get up and let Laszlo out with the full intention of going back to bed.


That never happens. Just can’t do it.


And so, I wait more than 4 hours waiting for that opening bell with my days’ trading strategies all planned out. I was fully expecting a rebound in Research in Motion and another upward bump in Freeport McMoRan.


Besides, the pre-open numbers indicated only a mild drop. Plenty of reason for sustained optimism.


But for the first time in a very long time, the market acted in an appropriate fashion for the economic news at hand.


The ADP employment numbers and then the ISM (Institute for Supply Management) data were not very good. But instead of moving in the irrational direction, the market actually did what a normal person would have predicted.


Given yesterday’s 128 point climb, today’s numbers gave a good reason to take some profits, but it was really an overdone reaction.


Given that Friday are the official government job numbers, I can’t imagine another such reaction for the release of numbers that should roughly mimic ADP’s numbers. The caveat being whether there are substantive revisions to previous month’s data.


Unfortunately, I’m not very well hedged and today was quite a hit. Normally at this stage of the month I’m fully hedged, but I change gears a bit if the previous month didn’t have many assignments. That usually means that I’m holding positions that are in negative territotry and I expect price rebounds.


In a perfect world, I’d rather make profits from an always upward spiraling stock price, but that’s just not the way of the world. Sometimes stock prices move downward and options premiums offest those paper losses very nicely.


That was the case during the May 2011 options cycle. I chose to not write June call options on a number of positions until they exhibited some price rises.


That was the strategy that I used during the early period of the post 2009 recovery. Back then, I went for capital gains on the stocks and smaller call option premiums.


For the pasy year, however, especially when volatility was high, I was particularly happy with the options premiums that came with near the money strike positions.


So today ened up being a total disappointment.


Rather than rapture, today was definitely a day from Hell.


Trump, Palin, The Dow Jones and Laszlo.


But at least my day tomorrow will have a much better chance of improving.


Don’t think Rep. Anthony Weiner will be able to say the same thing, although I guess we both could be guilty of letting the dog out.


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Trying to do my Peace





 


There was a time, not that long ago, that I actually cared.


I spent considerable time and effort advocating for equitable health care. I actually put my Masters in Public Health to reasonably good use, but then I joined the dark side.


I decided that I really needed to make some serious money and did so for nearly a decade, until I realized that I could make some serious money without really working.


But as a member of The Chosen, I carry guilt with me regardless of the decisions made, trying to somewhat assuage those feelings by supporting varied charities and then calling it a day.


If I made profits from shares on options on Altria or Philip Morris, you guessed it, Easter Seals and American Heart Association erased some of the guilt at only a small fraction of the profit.


These days,  I sit, I watch TV, I trade and then I shake my head in disbelief watching the world’s news unfold before my now passive eyes. I don’t really think about such heady issues as international conflict and world peace, although I do occasionally recall a long ago forgotten solution offered for achieving world peace.


 


Dean MartinMany years ago, and I do mean many, I had a comedy album, that I think was called “The First Family”. Regardless of the title, the album was about the Camelot presidency of John Kennedy, with the premise being that all of his high level cabinet appointees were Hollywood celebrities, portrayed by the impressionists of the day.


 


For me, the most memorable moment was the press conference question posed to Secretary of State Dean Martin.


 “Mr. Secretary, what is your answer for achieving world peace?”


 Secretary Martin replied “Wheat’s the answer, man. We need more wheat all over the world. ‘Cause the more wheat we grow, the more booze we gonna have. And if everybody’s drinking all the time, won’t be any fighting. Just hugging and kissing. Good night, everybody.” 


Well, yesterday was one of those days that I sat vacantly and did nothing but trade.


The market opened up with a bang. One blink of the eyes and we were already in triple digit terrority.


Thanks to E*Trade’s finally supporting weekly options trading my own trading activity has changed significantly. Rather than being concentrated to the first couple of days of each options cycle and then looking for opportunities to buy back and eventually resell those same options, I now can find opportunities nearly every day.


Best of all, when a position does get exercised, I suddenly find myself flush with cash to open up new positions or expand existing ones.


That was the situation today, on this first trading day of a holiday shortened week. I lost some shares in Freeport McMoRan, some Spiders and British Petroleum.


I took the opportunity to pick up some Praxair, which goes ex-dividend in a couple of days, new shares in Freeport McMoran, Research in Motion and Microsoft.


I know that those sound like odd choices.


If you follow the blog, you know that I like Microsoft, even if it moves nowhere. Selling call options ad nauseum and collecting its ever improving dividend is fine by me. Plenty to gain, with little to no risk.


RIM may be a value trap, but I think it was hit unduly hard yesterday due to Nokia’s troubles and besides, it has a nice call option premium. It will probably flame out one of these days though and maybe then Microsoft can get its phone strategy working


Why buy back Freeport McMoran? Because it is one of my favorite stocks always providing a thriling ride and rewarding options premiums, that also happen to come in the weekly variety.


So what’s today’s point, as I seemingly ramble?


There was really only one interesting news story today and like so many recently, it painted Goldman Sachs in a bad light.


This time, news came out that the Libyan Sovereign Fund, which was a Goldman Client lost about 98% of its value, as it was very heavily invested in financials, at the worst time you could pick.


Okay, the Libyans are big boys, but for some reason Goldman went through any number of potential permutations to make the Libyans whole again. Even for that very brief period of time when Qaddafi ostensibly behaved himself, I doubt that anyone in the world would shed a tear over their financial loss.


Now I’m really not that interested in the origins of Goldman Sachs. I’m currently long shares and have been so, off an on for about 3 years. In fact, I’m pleased to take a 10% hit in its recent stock price in return for Libya’s 98% hit.


Booyah.


However, I can guess that most people, especially the anti-Semites out there, fervently believe that the firm has Jewish roots. There’s certainly been no shortage of anti-semitic comments about Goldman’s role in the financial meltdown.


As I thought about Libya’s relationship with Goldman, I juxtaposed that with Saudi Prince Al-Waleed, referring to ex-Citibank “big macher” Sandy Weil, as his “good, dear friend”. I also recall the not so secret trip Weil made to Saudi Arabia at the depths of Citigroup’s own crisis.


Funny how money brings people together.


Sworn enemies, Jews and Arabs, bought together out of a mutual love of profits.


Obviously, the answer to world peace is prosperity. Okay, maybe a little wheat based alcohol, as well, but prosperity trumps everything.


As I sit and trade, my guilt is disappearing. I’m spreading prosperity one trade at a time.


The dark side is not so dark after all. It can be a fairly prosperous environment if you only let it be so.


Just doing my peace, is all.



 


 


 




 




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Appropriate Behavior is a Moving Target





 


A few weeks ago I wrote about why I loved modern times.


This past Friday, I had an opportunity to put my admiration for technology to work.


Although I was an early adapter of technology, having set up a Novell network back when it was v1.1 and the people in Orem, Utah knew me on a first name basis, I was very slow to pursue the personal technology explosion.


Mostly because I non’t really believe in personal relations. Remember, I have no Facebook friends.


DroidI resisted the temptation of Palm Pilots, I eschewed all things iAnything and my personal cell phone has always been antiquated, although its tethering cords are spun of fine silk.


Admittedly, I’ve have some wanderlust for the iPad, but I know that once I make that plunge, the “cool factor” will officially be gone, so I allow the world to remain giddy while I stay unconnected.


In many ways, I’m still stuck in 1986, which was a very good year, including the birth of my first son and the last time my beloved New York Mets won the World Series. In many other ways, though, I go back much further.


But my 19th century sojourn in the land of cellphones past ended a few months ago when my son picked up a smart phone for me, as part of a “BOGO” deal.


Now, I’m an emotional cripple if my Droid battery dies on me, which it does seemingly every 15 minutes. Fortunately, most days I’m glued to the La-Z-Boy and all electronics are plugged and charging.


This past week was really my first test of personal integrity and respect of institutions, decorum and education.


Although I am essentially retired from professional life, I was attending a professional conference in New York City, that for all purposes, marked the end of my commitment to the organization that represents my healthcare specialty.


My final Board of Directors meeting was on this past Friday, from 9 AM to 1 PM.


But instead of paying much attention and contributing whatever wisdom remained in the now smoothened ex-fissures of my brain, I focused on my trusted Droid and its E*Trade application, although I occasionaly checked Twitter and read my daily Dilbert.


With every Friday now being an options expiration Friday, I really didn’t feel that I had the luxury of paying attention to such issues as promoting life-long learning.


Did I really want to analyze budgets and P/L statements?


Not really. I wanted to make some trades and my Droid was my “bestest” friend. After all, even a couple of hundred dollars on an options contract expiring in a few hours was a worthwhile endeavor.


It just took time, effort and attention to find the right trading opportunities and the willingness to close my mond to other things going on around me.


My Sugar Momma of a wife would say that I was already quite good at that.


Now if I had happened on a student acting the way I was acting just a few short years ago, I probably would have had some very sarcastic, humorous comment that would have superficially covered some deeply seated anger over the wanton display of disrespect.


Man, I should have been a therapist.


But here I was, being the disrespectful kind of guy that I never really cared for, unless they could do it without getting caught.


Those guys I respected.


But I didn’t even make any attempt to hide my lack of focus on the topic at hand. It’s not like I hid the phone in my lap. I was fully engaged in a behavior that had evolved to a point that it seemed entirely appropriate.


Besides, I was too busy trading to care. I sold some JP Morgan Chase $43 calls that were set to expire later that day, as well as some Time-Warner calls, right after Time Warner went ex-dividend.


I made enough that morning to make me happy for a week and it at least makes up for Monday’s day off, due to Memorial Day.


After the meeting was over and the market closed, I remained holding my JP Morgan shares, as the options expired worthless, although I did lose some other holdings, owing to a late surge in SPY and Freeport McMoran..


CarterLater in the day, as we sat with some friends in an Ale House, I was thinking about my behavior earlier that morning. It really didn’t take much to get me to rationalize my “multi-tasking”, particularly in light of the continuing education program the following morning on ADHD and OCD, but still, I felt as if I had behaved inappropriately.


As I had not yet dismissed any guilt over the morning, I re-directed my attention and admired the framed  collection of 1986 New York Mets baseball cards hanging on the wall. At that moment, we were all unaware of the news that was going to hit in a couple of days, that Gary Carter, “The Kid” had a rapidly growing inoperable brain tumor.


His card was front and center among a collection of great New York Mets stars, some of whom went to to inglory, wasting great talents and robbing the Mets of a potential dynasty.


Gary Carter was the conscience of the Mets back then. He was the leader and had a work ethic and zeal that was second to none.


To be both “The Kid” and the elder statesman of the team says quite a bit.


I don’t know very much about Carter’s life after professional baseball, but I imagine that he applied the same sort of zeal and enthusiasm to everything he did.


In my mind, Carter’s behavior probably had not evolved, or from some perspectives on modern culture, devolved to meet society’s changing directions.


Apparently, I don’t have the same kind of moral compass.


During the lecture on Saturday morning, very possibly the last lecture I will ever sit through, I resisted playing with my electronic umbilicus for as long as I could.


As I looked at more and more slides on the topic, I decided that I had ADHD, and as such, I could excuse my need to shift my focus.


Unfortunately, the markets are closed on Saturdays, but still, there was no shortage of games to play, news articles to read or Twitter posts to make.


Reprehensible behavior? Maybe so to the me of a few years ago.


Today, not so much, but deep down, I probably wished that I could maintain the effusive energy and commitment to tradition as Gary Carter.


Eh, at least I made some money while evolving into a bad boy.


Here’s to Gary Carter and a commitment to ageless standards. May you continue to make great new memories for you fans and admirerers.


 




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Why I No Longer Watch Jim Cramer

 

 

I’ve been on Twitter for about a month now and if you’ve been following me, you’re no doubt annoyed with the intrusion on your lives.

Sorry, but an addiction is an addiction. They’re very tough to break.

CramerSo too was my addiction to Jim Cramer. So much so, that when I was in the insane commuting phase of my life, flying to and from Boston every week for about 7 years, I always made certain to DVR Mad Money shows that I was likely to miss.

My DVR, with some sort of developing artificial intelligence based on my predictable behavior, would get concerned and break out in a cold sweat if I forgot to program it for CNBC at 6 PM.

I actually broke out in a cold sweat when CNBC paired back airings from 3 each day to just two.

I mention my Sugar Momma with some frequency in my blogging and book. We have had very few substantive disagreements over the more than 25 years of marriage. However, one such disagreement was over Jim Cramer.

She couldn’t stand his voice.

“Why is he always yelling? He gives me a headache”.

The fact that she preferred to switch the station to watch “Judge Judy” for some reason didn’t seem incongruous to her.

Talk about irritating.

Anyway, in the short time that I’ve been on Twitter, it would be nearly impossible to not realize how much venom is (mis) directed at Jim Cramer.

One of the great conflicts that I’ve had in my life is similar to one that I experienced as a child.

Back then, our family used to go away for summers to the “Bungalows” in what used to be considered Upstate New York, but what eventually became a commuting town just outside New York City.

During summers, you would actually develop an entirely new circle of friends.

Your summer friends. Because they were in such far flung boroughs as Brooklyn and Queens, there was no possibility of ever seeing them during the rest of the year. In fact, even some portions of The Bronx were just too far away to be conquered.

After a few years, I had developed a great summer relationship with Kenny, and one year I was so happy that he was going to visit me at my non-summer home and get to meet my rest of the year best friend, Sidney.

Long story short, they hated each other.

And so it was when Jim Cramer appeared on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”.

So I should be used to slings and arrows being hurled at him.

Yesterday, though a a really disturbing Tweet was referenced by someone I followed, who described it as the most disgusting Tweet of the day.

In essence, without repeating or glorifying that Tweet, the writer, while offering some condolences regarding the sudden passing of Mark Haines made certain to mention that if the same fate were to meet Jim Cramer, the markets would celebrate.

Human nature being what it is, I had to treat this Tweeter as if he was Roadkill, in that I had to give into my curiousity and check it out.

Typical Penny Stock idiot filled with hatred. Probably has an unusually small penis, as well.

I ‘ve always liked to say that Penny Stock traders are like Gangbangers. They don’t survive into adulthood.

Why I chose to capitalize “Penny Stock” and “Gangbangers” is beyond me. They certainly don’t warrant that kind of respect.

This fellow clearly has a lot of growing up to do. I’m not hopeful for that ever occuring.

But let’s get to why I don’t watch Cramer anymore.

That’s because Cramer did his job.

He’s always said that his goal was to educate and entertain. No one does it better than he does.

No matter how much you respect education, it’s time to move on.

I did.

After two graduate degrees, coincidentally from the same institutional parent that Cramer attended (and at the same time) and another 20 years in advanced education, I finally moved onto the “dark side”. Time to put all of that education to use and make some real money.

As respected and buttoned down as the late Louis Ruykeyser was, he had nowhere near the impact of Jim Cramer on demystifying the world of the markets and educating everyone with access to basic cable.

It was more than Brooks Brothers three piece suits versus rolled up sleeves.

I listened and watch intently for years and Cramer taught me how to think with regard to investments and market psychology. I still can’t understand why he gets so much blame for his opinions and calls. He always warns people to do their own due diligence and to not plow forward.

If you ever watched the ticker in the after hours as he spoke, you realized that greed overtook common sense and people just ignored Cramer’s rules.

One of the things I learned from Cramer was the need to wean.

For a while I ran a subscription service offering very short term covered call plays. In my home page, FAQ’s and disclosures I made it clear that if I was really doing my job properly, subscribers should be able to go out on their own after just a few months, because the strategies were intended to be non-proprietary and transparent.

Additionally, I ran a subscription service for members of an affinity group to which I belonged. An additional disclosure for those potential subscribers was that as a member of an affinity group they were uniquely poised to be taken advantage of by predators. After all, how could you not trust someone from your own caste?

The program was a day to day service and was also very limited with regard to the number of subscribers that I could handle. But there too, the intention was clearly made that subscribers should be able to move out on their own after a few months.

Like a Momma bird, I was proud to see them go and even more proud when a number of the past subscribers suggested that I codify the Option to Profit strategies in a book, aptly named Option to Profit.

So thank you Jim Cramer. Momma Bird.

You gave me an education and set me off to soar on my own.

  

Addendum: Although I no longer watch Cramer’s Mad Money, I listen raptly to his other on-air appearances throughout the day. I think he was an excellent addition to the latest iteration of Squawk on the Street. I think Mark Haines would be pleased, as well.

Sidney and Kenny? Lost track of each of them. Sidney moved to Vermont and Kenny to Florida. Talk about opposites.

Sigh.

Yet another Addendum: On March 14, 2012 Cramer’s Mad Money celebrates his 7th Anniversary on air. Congratulations. I’ll be watching, since Sugar Momma is in California for a few more days. I know where my bread is buttered.

Oh, but I was able to uncover from the CNBC archives my audition tapes for the original Mad Money show.

In hindsight, I think my gimmick over throwing dixie cups was a little under the top.

 

 

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Remembering Mark Haines

 

Does anyone really like a curmudgeon?

Mark Haines SzelhamosApparently so, because the truth about a deep down “softie” came out yesterday in the aftermath of the sudden passing of Mark Haines. We got a glimpse of that part barely 2 weeks ago when Mark Haines bid farewell to his broadcast partner, Erin Burnet.

The difficult task of making the on air announcement fell to Carl Quintinilla, who was choking back tears as we all sat stunned at the news. Newsmen don’t usually do that sort of thing. They’re stoic, unbiased and without on-air passion.

To break through that facade there has to be a very deep and personal connection.

CNBC did a wonderful impromptu job in remembrance of a bigger than life on air personality in the world of business news. Uncharacteristically, they recognized the continued existence of some past on-air personalities, such as Ted David and Liz Claman, by passing on their words of condolence.

These days, I rarely watch CNBC after 6:59 PM, but tonight had to be different. Last night, their 7 PM show, remembering the life and work of Mark Haines was truly in the spirit of NBC’s past, “Must see TV”.

As an inveterate and addicted CNBC viewer, I used to start off my mornings with Mark Haines, Joe Kernen and David Faber.

I was disappointed when that entertaining trio was split up, but came to realize that Haines could entertain on his own.

He entertained by being unlike anyone else on air. He didn’t fawn over self-anointed experts or personalities du-jour. He asked probing questions and had very expressive body language, never seeking to mask his real thoughts.

Everyone is remembering a classic interview with Barney Frank. In fact, it was ironic that Bill Griffeth, such a genuinely nice man, was called upon to interview Barney Frank this afternoon.

Can you take a guess what kind of mood Frank was in when even slightly pressed?

As a liberal Democrat, I typically agree with Frank’s positions on issues, but I just can’t stomach his personna and pomposity. Although power hasn’t corrupted Frank professionally, it certainly has done so on a personal level.

Who would ever think that two seemingly disparate people like Mark Haines and Stephen Colbert could be joined together in a non-partisan demonstration of just how pompous Frank really was?

Mark Haines and Stephen Colbert? One was precisely what you saw on air, the other a comedic parody, but with similar aim and goals.

Except that while Colbert goes for “truthiness”, Haines went for “truth”

The man was never fazed, although sometimes he would lean back in that chair with a characteristic look of disbelief.

“Did that guy really say I what I think he said and with a straight face?”

Mark Haines obviously respected the intelligence of his viewers and the truth.

When was the last time you could say that about anyone on TV, where the superficiality is so overwhelming? In a “me me me” generation and industry, Haines stood out.

Definitely nothing superficial about him.

And yet, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, in obviously an unrelated post, the world goes on.

Yesterday my son left for Army basic training. I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer once my wife and I got back into the car. I did handle myself better when I had to make a late night run to his Army supplied hotel room to drop off his Blackberry recharger. It was like a bonus round for me.

This morning, when the news came, I had no tears, yet still a surprisingly overwhelming feeling of loss. The kind you have when you know there will be no bonus round.

Maybe it was the kinship over the New York Mets, maybe harness racing, maybe bringing Barney Frank down a peg or seven.

Whatever it was, he will be missed by so many. For me, it means that more of my TV watching will now become background noise. It never was when Mark Haines was on air.

I remember that when Szelhamos passed away, I was so grateful that my own children had gotten the great gift of knowing him.

Both of my sons are interested in investing, the oldest just having made his first entry into the markets last week. Neither are at the CNBC stage of their lives though and neither will see the likes of Mark Haines again.

Eveyone needs someone to be brutally honest with them and open their eyes. Haines did that every day. Reminds me of the scene in Moonstruck when Cher slaps Nicholas Cage in the face and says “Snap out of it”. Except that instead of being a single scene, it was day in and day occurrence

When Mark arrives at the pearly gates, I would love to see his take and the questions he slings at St. Peter.

If anyone can get to the bottom of what awaits us, it’ll be Mark Haines.

 

POSTSCRIPT: During an invited visit to CNBC in November 2011, I had an opportunity to see the sincere reverence with which Mark Haines was held by long time employees. What you see on the air, whenever his name is mentioned is the real thing.

 

 




POSTSCRIPT May 24, 2012: On the one year anniversary of Mark Haines’ passing, CNBC commemorated his memory, including showing his portrait that hangs in the New York Stock Exchange. On this day, coincidentally it was once again time to send my son for the next phase of his Army “Advanced Individual Training.” This time, a year later there were no tears. Time changes so many things. AS in the case of remembering Mark Haines, the on-air reflections evolved, but were no less touching. A year later, Mark Haines is still missed by many

 

 


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