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Thursday, September 14, 2006

its over

As I sit here at the close of a business day with long coal stocks and short puts on same running out of my ears and splashing red all over the p&l(this of course gives me great confidence in the trade. When you buy the beat up stuff I do it always starts this way), I gaze out the window through the dreary rainy afternoon and contemplate the fast approaching end of the summer. Sunday ends the season and we move into fall. Now, I know the astronomy buffs, physicists and scientists here will attempt to patiently explain to me that summer ends with the equinox on the 21st. To which I reply firmly and with great vigor, balderdash. Any true n’er do well adventurous sort here in the mid Atlantic knows that summer ends the thirdSunday of September at around 5:00 when kirk from 98rock hip hops on to the stage and the bikini contest finals kick off at redeye’s dock bar. It will be packed as always with the bikers, the locals, the tourists and of course we dedicated locals, the few, the proud, the intoxicated. We ll raft up the go fasts off the gas dock unless you re one of the lucky ones with a slip at the marina, we’ll have one last summer time Sunday afternoon to laugh, joke, tell stories of go fast boat trips to reckless rics,nicks in Baltimore, Jellyfish Joel’s, the crab claw, Pussers in Annapolis. The smoke from the beef pit will swirl through the crowd and all afternoon the sounds of the band and the crowd will be punctuated by the roar of Harleys on the ground and cigarettes, Sonics and power plays on the water. As the bevy of barely dressed beauties dances and gyrates for the crowd and the winner is announced, summer will have officially come to a close. The sun will be setting over the narrows in a bright orange defiant manner, casting the pink orange hues across the fast moving water of the narrows and fall will be upon us.

It’s been one hell of a summer I must say. In addition to the local crowd here, a great assortment of folks, all successful at what they do and all firm believers in the work hard play hard approach to life, I have spent a lot of time with other folks from the spec list this summer. Starting all the way back in April with the Lexington trip, through the Chicago air show I ve spent a lot of time sitting around tables with luminaries such as Crossman, Jason Thompson, Ed Gross, Ryan Carlson, Tom Marks, Pam, Dr Brett, Tom Ryan, Tim Hewson, the voodoo prof and too many other to recall at the moment. Ed was able to get here to Maryland for a weekend of boating and over consumption including a trip to the legendary Tilghman island party on Labor Day weekend. Of course there was the spec party, one of the true highlights of the year for me, a chance to make new friends and catch up with the old ones. There was the special treat in chi-town of catching up with the great Cheesehead himself David Hillman to tell trading and drinking stories. We used to tell girl chasing stories as well but as the smile on his face is from wedded bliss these days, he is no long allowed to engage in such activates have .Thes conversations greatly expanded my base of trading and market knowledge and improved my life with new skills and new friends to a degree that I would not have thought possible back in the early days of newly budding trees and warming spring breezes that originally heralded winters end. One can learn more about markets in one good argument with Fred than years of reading books, and throw Jason, Ryan and Omid in the mix and information flows like wine at a wedding in Cana.

Sad to say but its over. All too soon, the rumble of boats will fade into the gray Chesapeake sky, flashy paint jobs covered in plain white shrink wrap, the docks will rock no more, oysters will take the place of crabs, the color of the day is no longer from the blazing summer sun sinking into the west filling the sky with streaks of orange, purple and pink but is now the many colored foliage that will soon line the byways and paths along the bay. A romantic evening will no longer being dining and dancing while the soft evening bay breezes and softer jazz fill the Chesapeake evening, but a roaring fire and classical music somewhere safe from the encroaching chill and harsh winds. It’s been a good one. Lots of boating, some baseball, a lot of complaining about just how bad the orioles have become, crab feasts, horse racing, a beach front wedding in of all places Naples Florida in July, dancing in a tux with my best friends new bride and full bridal party in attendance atn an out of the way dive bar at 2am, Ocean city days and Seacrets nights(, everything that makes up a mid Atlantic summer. But as markets change(anyone else recall that a few short weeks energy ,especially oil, was the absolute darling and would never go below 70?) so do seasons.

So be it. Break out the sweaters and windbreakers. Put away the beer and Gin and tonics. Step away from the chardonnay. Break out the brandy and the scotch and lay in a case of cabernet. Its fall. The regular season is over and all of New York hits the cathedrals, the churches and synagogues and prays for a subway series. So does every network executive ever born and one looks at buying a little NYT in the low 20s as such an event will surely spark readership and ad space sales. Its possible this year as the mets and yanks are two of the best teams in baseball this year. The Yankees most serious threat, the tigers of Detroit seem to have lost their fierce fangs as September approached and are in danger of falling out of their lofty perch as the winningest team in the American league. The mets my have a little tougher time of it but if Glavine and Pedro can reach deep down and pull out some post season pitching splendor, the Bronx shall duel the boys from queens for fall glory once again. No longer shall Saturdays be the roar of go fats boats, but a different roar will fill the land. In South bend, Knoxville, Austin and all over the country the roar will the student body and alumni welcoming college football back to the land. Here in Annapolis and in West Point the roar is the flyover of military jets as the brigade of midshipman and corps of cadets enter the stadium marching in military precision, taking in their schools game along the way to leadership of the military and the nation itself. It has started already of course and there have already been some great games and stories. Notre Dame, beloved of an Irish Catholic boy like me self, is back with Charlie Weiss and Brady Quinn leading the way back to glory. Ohio State proved that they are the beastly Buckeyes this year going into Austin and breaking the heart of an entire state in a few short hours. The Volunteers of Rocky Top chastised both Cal and the coaches for not ranking them higher, Blasting the 9th ranked bears back into obscurity. There’s more to come. Notre dame Michigan this Saturday, USC takes on a resurgent Nebraska. The Horned frogs and the Red raiders. The band plays. The tailgate rocks. Football of a college variety is back just in time to fill the Saturday void.

On Sundays the half dressed women won’t be on the red eye stage anymore but on the field at fed ex field and ravens stadium as the games begin again. Emperor tagliabue has stepped down but a new monarch emerges and the circus maximus that is the NFL returns. My Ravens were king of the gladiators the first weekend, slaughtering the bucs of tampa, Lord Manning of Indy vanquished the Earl Manning of ny that first night but the earl served noticed that there will be few Giant slayers this year. The high speed high impact world of the National Football league returns with high drama and much passionate and carefully directed violence.

There are I think many lessons to contemplating the changing seasons and environments. First is the obvious that change is constant and one must adapt to the changes as they occur and not as one wishes they would occur. I may wish it was summer forever and I could boat year round but should I try I will learn what wind chill factor really is and freeze off some of my very favorite parts, Instead I shall turn to other activities and wait until the summer sun returns, In the market we may wish that gold, and energy are going to the moon forever and ever amen or that big tech is ready for am imminent rally, but like the fast approaching chill of autumn, the market doesn’t give a good damn what we want.

Winning, in the market and in life is an attitude. There is a reason the Yankees are a winner. My team plays in the AL east but I am not going to fall into the “it’s the money” trap. It what they do with the money that makes the Yankees great. They do what they need to win, keep what works even at a high cost and get what they need to complete the puzzle. Other teams have the money but spend it poorly and think one high price player is all they need and spend it foolishly. Study the game, know the game, and invest the money wisely to get the things you need to win.

Setbacks can be overcome. It has taken the mets several years of painful rebuilding to get back to this level. Rather than go for a one trick pony, they got what they needed over the long term to re-achieve a high level and stay there.

No matter how much you study something there will be surprises. College football pundits spend hours poring over data to set the rankings. They wrote the Vols off and rated cal very highly. Tennessee killed them. No one thought Ohio State could beat Texas in Austin. They didn’t beat them. They manhandled them. No matter how much you study it or how specialized your knowledge base is, you will be wrong at times.

In the end it is the friends that make the experience. There was a flurry of friend posts on the list the other day but I didn’t have time to jump in and add anything meaningful. Rather out on the water or gathered around the TV watching the ravens slay a hapless foe, it is an altogether different experience when alone as opposed to the company of good friends. A good friend makes the ups and the downs smoother, the wins more enjoyable and the losses more bearable. A caveat here relevant to one of the post the other day. Never confuse stocks with a friend. A stock will never love you back and doesn’t care if you own it or not. Never lose a good friend. Make new ones as often as possible. Never hesitate to sell a bad stock. Never chase a growth stock too high. They don’t care if you own them and if they miss earnings and plummet your losses mean nothing to a stock.It is apiece of paper, an electronic blip. It will never love you back. Treasure your friends. Trade your stocks based on the conditions and circumstances that exist.

And in closing, as always, whether its red eyes dock bar, the football field or the comfortable confines of home, life is always better with half naked women in attendance.

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