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Thursday, November 30, 2006

game time

So we move now into that truly glorious time of year. No Im not talking about Christmas or Saturnalia or whatever you call this ridiculous holiday designed to force me to spend time around family members I m not that fond of, or buy gifts for folks I don’t particularly like. God ,no not christmas with all the forced cheer and twinkling damn lights and tinsel that gets caught in the vacuum cleaner until sometime in march,Christamas, with mistletoe suspended over the head of some chick with string warts who hasn’t been kissed since Nixon was trying to figure out how to get out of his messy little war, Christmas with all the trimmings that I have grown so not fond of over the years. Nope, Not Christmas, but that wonderful time of year when college football is winding into conference championships and bowl games, college hoops are just starting and pro football is heading down the stretch into the playoffs. A glorious time of year. Keep your deck the hall and fa-la-la. Give me a tumbler of Irelands finest and tv’s set to football and college hoops. My idea of a carol is the Notre dame fight song or the sound of Marylands well known rowdy fans chanting verbal nasties at Duke.

We re off to a good start tonight. The ravens of Baltimore(does it occur to anyone else that Poe would roll in his grave at the idea of being the symbol for a football team?He lived in Baltimore less than two years total and was dead drunk in the Horse You Came in On Saloon for most of that. His greatest ties to Baltimore come from dying in the street drunk and frothing at the mouth) have a chance to clinch the division and slap down the trash talkers from Cincinnati who despite repeatedly losing to us claim that they are the better team. Perhaps but that’s not the message that has been on the scoreboard of late. I am pretty sure that the team with the most points at the end of 60 minutes is the winner. Hopefully the result will the same tonight.The ravens have been much better than expected this year with a teeth rattling defense and once Brian Billick realized he could, in fact, be fired, the offensive side has really come on strong. Although the road through Indy, new England and the rest is a tough one, this team has the potential to go to the big one.That comes later, however. Tonight is fried food, cold beer and good football.

College hoops are off to a great start if you re a terps fan. 8-0 playing some pretty good teams for non conference play.They are finally showing the aggressive defense that has long been a hall mark of Gary Williams coached teams. When asked what sparked the sharp improvement over the span of a year, one of the players simply answered “Two years of going to the NIT.” I think this year the team finally gets it. They play in the ACC, arguably the toughest conference in basketball and if you want to go to the dance you have to be very,very good and play your best game, every game. So far, so good.We play Notre dame on Saturday and the ACC division games loom ahead full of Duke, Wake and Carolina—who looked incredible last night knocking off Ohio State. Hopefully my new friends in Kentucky can knock them down a peg or two on Saturday.We re ranked 19th, the womans team is number one and all is good in the land of the roundball.

Saturday brings us an incredible array of college games. Nebrask-Oklahoma in a revival of a historic rivalry for the Big 12 title game. Rutgers against West Virginia in what should be an offensive extravaganza for the Big East Crown. USC against UCLA with all hopes for justice in college football rest on the Bruins knocking off the hated Trojans(by me anyway. Where the hell do they get off beating Notre Dame like that?), Arkansas attempts to return to glory against Florida in the SEC grudgefest. Maryland doesn’t play having lost the chance to play for the ACC football championship. But we are going to a bowl this year coming in with a wining season for the first time in 3 years.

There’s another game Saturday. The 107th meeting of the midshipman of Annapolis against the Long Grey Line of West Point. Hardly a battle of football titans, neither team is ranked although Navy has been a pretty good team the last few years. This matchup is more than a football game for those playing and the middies and cadets in attendance. This is the game, This is the whole year. Navy is 8 and 3 and going to a bowl game again. The team will feel like they failed should the fail to beat Army. Likewise Army has been woeful again this year but will count the year as a triumph should they knock off Navy. The game is the highlight of these player’s football careers. Indeed the seniors on both sides will likely never don pads again after this. More likely the will be clad in Kevlar and body armor in the streets of Iraq than ever play again.

It always strikes me when I watch these games, that everyone on both sides of the ball, and in the stands as well, each and every one of these young men and women were among the best and brightest of our nations youth. Their achievements earned them the congressional appointment to the service academies. Most likely they would have had scholarships available at the Ivy League Schools, Notre Dame, Stanford, anywhere they wanted to go. Yet, in one of the more dangerous times in our countries history, actively at war, with two of enemies rattling nuclear sabers, well aware that what followed school was not entry level I-bank positions or Silicon valley tech positions but service in a nation at war. Wall Street? More likely the corpse strewn streets of Baquba or Baghdad. They will man cockpits and gun decks, flight lines and gun turrets. For the cool starting pay of about 30 grand a year, they will walk patrols in cities undergoing violent civil war and where much of the populace wishes them harm. They will fight, fly, train and lead troops for at least the next five years. Many of them, if not most, much longer than that. They knew this when they raised their hand as a plebe or new cadet and they gave their oath anyway. Because they believed in their country and wanted to serve hoping to make a difference. From their ranks will come military and political leaders and many of those who will shape the future of this country will be in the stands Saturday cheering their respective school to victory.

This more than a game. Saturday, marines and soldiers in sweaty blood stained uniforms will take time from patrol in exotic locations like fallujah and sadr city, will watch over the armed services network, forgetting the bloody conflict that is their lives to watch the one on the field. US troops stationed on nervous duty along the DMZ in Korea will cheer their team and forget the madman across the border and the threat he offers the world. Pilots will walk from the flight deck to the rec room to cheer the navy blue and gold, a respite of the sorties and missions that must seem endless. On battleships, cruisers, bases and camps around the world the focus will be, for a brief period of time the clash of these teams, warriors on the field headed for a career as warriors in service of their nation.

Annapolis is draped in blue and gold. Tecumseh is painted to his full glory outside Bancroft hall. The brigade and the corp are leaving Annapolis and West Point headed for the friendly confines of the city of Brotherly love. Its time. Army-Navy. I am not one of those who feel that no matter who wins, it’s the game that counts. I hope Navy once again pounds the Army team into the turf of Lincoln Park. This time next year they will young LTs and Ensigns calling each other for air support, ground fire and other inter service battlefield assistance. But today they battle each other in one of the games grandest traditions. As you watch keep in mind the sacrifice these young men and women have made entering into the armed services of their country in a time of war. They had a choice. They chose to serve. That choice, regardless of your feelings on the war, should be honored and respected. It’s a game but so much more than that..
Oh yeah, I almost forgot


Tee it up

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

current market thoughts

Most of my attempts to trade the short-term direction of the market over the years have pretty closely resembled my various relationships with those of the female gender. Flashes of brilliance, some short term success but it’s usually just a loud, flashy process that costs me money. Having said that, much as I can’t give up the eternal; search for the perfect woman, I do have an opinion on the market. I am firmly in the camp that says that the steady advance of the past several months has no basis in economic reality and is entirely liquidity fueled. At some point it should reverse back to more sane levels..Perhaps as far back over time as the 1200-1220 area. That seems obvious to me given an economy that is throwing very mixed signals with some signs of inflationary pressure. That’s how the bond and force markets seem to evaluate matters as well. It is my considered opinion that those two markets are much smarter than the stock market t over time. So, it would seem obvious.

Of course there are three other trades on the board that seem obvious and have seemed so for some time. Being long volatility from these levels makes sense. However it has made sense for about two years now and vol sellers keep making money and buyers are going broke. Credit spreads have to widen at some point. B rated corporate paper and sovereigns of tin shack nations should trade higher than 100bps over t-bonds. However emerging market and junk funds keep clipping 7% coupons and anyone with the credit spread on has long since been measured for a body bag. The yield curve cant stay inverted forever. But the hillsides are scattered with the body parts of those who have had the trade on since the original inversion. So, as obvious as it is that stock prices should decline, many of those who have shorted it find themselves on stretchers and sucking oxygen from a bag.

When I examine all the obvious trades that are killing people all over the financial landscape, and hear the continued blither and blather about small cap, large cap, allocations shifts, industry weightings and other such that pass for thoughtful analysis of the current markets, I like to review where I have been able to make some money over the years. Its out on the edges. I cannot ad value to the merits and worth of an IBM, or an Altria. 29 dozen guys and gals already cover the company down to the number of flushes in the executive washroom. Out on the edges, out among the cigar butts and trolls however I can find some things that work. Stocks like Biloxi Marsh and Lands or Telos Pfd stock have yielded decent gains. Same with fun little things like Trico marine and Foster Wheeler warrants. Out on the edges where its pretty just me and one or two other vultures digging around, where market direction is pretty much irrelevant, earnings forecast are considered to be exactly the useless SWAGS that they are and it is your ability to decipher a balance sheet that makes money.

So what’s out there on the edges now? A few things catch my eye. I still like Optimal group with a sparkling balance sheet and a business that was eliminated by the ban on Internet gambling( I hate this thing..with no internet poker I may have to consider getting married again just so there’s something to do at night). However they still have an okay payment processing business and there are several activists agitating for sale or a special dividend. Very little downside, lots of potential up. Canada’s bone headed move to start taxing companies set up as income trust makes stocks like rogers Sugar Income and precision Drilling very interesting. Rogers yield 11% cash and is buying back shares. PDS yields over 13%(for the options junkies among you, PDS has options and they are fairly juiced as volatility rose on the tax law changes) and has a very good business that is likely to grow at a good clip over the next five years. Lots of turmoil and angst here, but good upside and an attractive payment while you wait. Finish Line, the mall based shoe retailer has had problems of late but management is making the changes needed to restore the business. The stock is dead on cheap on the numbers, trading a little over book with a solid balance sheet. Lots of company here as FPA, Olstein and Thaler all own large stakes in the company. There are activists here pushing for value to be unlocked as well. A solid holding out here on the edge(again, it is optionable as well. Walter industries is interesting with its upcoming spin off of Mueller Water. The parts here appear to add up to over 70 bucks on a 44-dollar stock. How abut thinly trade bexil, which is 39 dollars in cash and t-bills trading for 30? The question here is what do they buy with the dough? No way to know in advance but the company has been around awhile and made some very good deals in the past. If they buy anything worth what they pay for it, the $ discount goes away. For those with a longer time frame and the ability to handle the volatility of it, a small position scattered across the SPAC warrant landscape appears smart as well. With built in 10 to 1 leverage if just one or two of the deals work over the next 4 years you walk away with a more than adequate return on your money.

I’m just not smart enough to figure out which sector is going to dominate, or calculate when the market will go the direction I think it should. I can’t tell you when the yield curve will steepen, volatility will spike or credit spreads will widen. I can tell you that hanging out here on the edge, buying things for less than they are worth, following the footsteps of graham/schloss et al seems to be paying off for me. As it has for years. I ll continue to attempt to figure out the market of course, and examine all those obvious trades, and join crossman and Thompson etc in wondering when and what will crack the market or trying to figure out just where in the hell consumer got all this money, but for day to day practice, the action is out on the edge of things, far from the thundering herd and babbling commentators. Now, I f I could just find a girl out here maybe I can make that work as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

thanksgiving again

okay I admit it. I rewrote an article from a few years ago changing for the passage of time..but it hits the spirit I had in mind. happy thanksgiving

Over the woods and through the hills to grandmothers house we go..actually grandma is coming to me this year having talked me into cooking after a several year hiatus( we will not even talk about last years frozen turkey incident) fact mom is not allowed to cook holiday dinners as her idea of cooking is to take expensive meats and poultry and cook them until they are serviceable as arctic footwear, vegetables not cooked to the consistency of porridge are considered underdone and mashed potatoes come from a box....if her cooking was indicative of southern women, there wouldn’t be a fat man south of the mason dixon never quite enjoyed cooking it seems ..she does like eating however so its time to make the stuffing, cook the bird and all the assorted side dishes.Mom was one of those women, who although cooking eluded her, felt the need to arise on the anointed day and begin cooking at daybreak,serving the meal in the fine old southern tradition of 1:00 sharp. She looked puzzled when told that dinner was at 4 until my sister gently explained that there was more chance of the turkey escaping from the freezer and flying to cleveland than there was of me getting up at sunrise to cook.I had to stop at three separate stores last night to gather all the fixing but I finally got all the needed ingredients and will start Wednesday night to prepare the feast.It’s a task I secretly enjoy especially since all of my recipes start the same way. Open wine and pour carefully into the cook. all the same the thanksgiving holiday is upon us and as we’ll all pack up for the lovely drive, maybe a couple of lifetimes on the jersey turnpike or a rugby scrum through an airport to travel to far destinations to see people we are still pissed off at for tearing the head of our kung fu grip GI Joe 40 years ago, as we stand in the middle of the airport parking lot with the broken suitcase spilling on the tarmac, our significant other giving us that that quiet, thin lipped “I told you we needed new luggage” look, or in a car with children arguing at approximately the decibel level of an f16 fly over and the radio stations blaring christmas music over the din of 5000 hopelessly gridlocked cars, it is time to reflect up the year gone by and the moments and things we are thankful for, the things that make life the special wonder that it is.....

For starters I am grateful for a holiday that does not involve me having to purchase gifts for anyone, attend a mass that lasts just slightly less time than the middle ages, or do anything but eat enormous amounts of food and watch football whilst sipping and swigging wine....I have never figured out exactly how eating and drinking to excess while watching steroid fueled behemoths bat hell out of each other chasing a pigskin around a field is a sign of gratitude..but who am I to argue with such a fine tradition? I have much to be grateful for so I ll have an extra piece of pie, more wine than is good for me and watch every damn game that comes on the tube.....for living in a land and in a time where I can screw up, blow up, start, fail and do it all over again, to be part of a culture and society that allows me get up after a disaster and start back up the stairs,where the only real limits I encounter are those I put on myself....for my family, even if my extended family is truly the bunch that puts the fun in dysfunctional, for my kids, my daughter, 22,health problems seemingly behind her now and only an occasional attack.Shes working now, fitting in classes around her busy life.Shes been through a lot with the gastro condition , but through all of it she was still able to smile and laugh, to muddle through school and work, enjoying her friends, her books and at long last after a decade and a half of dads cajoling and begging, her son, the eternal class clown..... out of high school now, attending college as well although he is still somewhat mystified about the concept of paying to go to school.Hes still the jokester and cut up but between work and school theres a little less time to be the funny man.worst thing ever happened to that boy was seeing a jim carrey movie...naturally all the little girls think he is hysterical and cute, therefore dads warnings to straighten up fall on deaf ears,,,my joke cracking snake raising son. He lives with me now, along with the traveling menagerie, a six foot ball python whom he occasionally lets out to crawl around the house( After the bookcase incident it was explained to him that this wasn’t going to hasppen if the old man was home.) a smaller mean tempered corn snake and a turtle who prefers to dine on ham and strawberries.. Every so ofter a caravan of his friends or his sisters gaggle descend on my place like a pack of locusts, consuming enough mountain dew code red to keep a small nation jacked up on a sugar caffeine rush and devour enough to keep several take out joints in the area in business and driving Cadillac’s for years to come( I ve actually come home to see them lined up three deep at the door delivering various pizzas, chicken, subs) listening to that horrid music and watching truly idiotic movies .....they re noisy, eat constantly , stay up until insane hours and I love every minute.....

For friends of course, because what is life without friends..people to talk with, laugh with, cry with, drink with, people with whom we share our thoughts, our ideas, pieces o our souls...people who put up with us not because of some birth related accident but because they choose to...the ones who answer their phone at midnight when we have some great idea or major crisis, who call on Sunday mornings to wake us up with their latest great idea or crisis....for those whose companionship as walk the road of life makes the journey all so much more enjoyable.....for the spec list, which has been a source of so many new friends ( in scattered time zones so you never know when the phone will ring), a source of ideas, of incredible conversations, intelligent arguments, new philosophies and ways of looking at life, a simple email list that has allowed me to meet some of the most incredible( to say nothing of a few of the strangest) people I have ever been blessed enough to call friend.....the wiz, the oregonian, the irishman, the crazed tank driving day trading floridian, the bombastic genius of mr e, the chicago crew,the chemist ,my sun baked friend, the columnist, the authors and the editor( this year especially the editor. She has opened up a lot of doors for me and helped make a couple of dreams come true. Blessings upon you and all your oversize dogs)..and of course the thrice blessed voodooprof..theres too many to name them all but each has had a positive impact on my life over the past few years,and of course as we look over our life on thursday and raise a glass, I think we all have to include the chair in our toast as it was his idea and drive that created a very unique, inspiring and worthwhile community of minds and souls.....

For the island crowd, that group of friends that has come to mean so much to me over the past few years. For all the island guys who have been broken up with by a parade of girl friends because we spend too much time with our friends in an assortment of waterfront distilled spirits establishments. For all the boat rides, thirsty Thursdays,long summer afternoons at red eyes, and winter weekends full of ravens and terps.The surfer dude and co-worker,the tic-tac kid(the cab is to take you home not to another bar)the logistics guy, Beach Club man, the tire guy,rip-rap man, the dallas cowboy cheerleader( that’s a story for another day. But trust me, look away if he bends over), the poker player, the entire group that makes up the Kent Island crowd,I don’t have the time or space to name them all here. They are incredible friends and very high up on the list of things for which I am grateful this year. I am not sure if they keep me sane or insane but whichever it is, it’s a good thing.

Of course, me being me I am thankful to whatever benign creator created the fairer sex, ah yes women...they have inspired me, they have comforted me, excited me, enraged me, engaged me, and on two occasions damn near bankrupted me. They are the most frustrating creatures that god, with his infinite sense of humor, could have ever designed...without them, I would be rich enough to retire young, still have brown hair instead of this grey stuff growing over my Grey matter, I would get more sleep at night, be more productive, and have more time to spend working and studying. But I would rather be a gray-haired property settlement paying insomniac than lived in a world where there were none....

For the other temptress in my life, the markets, with her siren song of changing notes, a constant daily challenge to get ahead and stay ahead of her dance, for the intellectual challenge of figuring her song, endless variations, price to book, high correleations,low z scores, new knowledge gained, free cash flow,arbitrage, endless dance and flow of ideas and strategies to test and trade.....I can imagine a more challenging or frustrating way to make a living...I cant imagine doing anything else......

Thankful just for this dance called life, to live, experience to learn, to fail, to succeed, to read the poetry, drink the wine, to kiss the carve up the bird, pour a little more bubbly stuff over here...hey whats the s a life,,,up, down, sideways, its a hell of a lot of fun and each of you on this list has made more interesting and I raise my glass to you and say Happy thanksgiving...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Now that the weather has begun its turn towards the inevitable all around crappieness of winter and already I see Christmas stuff everywhere, the weekends become much harder to plan and predict. Primarily they have revolved around daytime reading and football and drinks/dinner/whatever in the evenings. So as I found myself sitting on the couch the other night, half reading making notes for my latest project while half way watching House on the idiot box, all the while simultaneously exchanging text messages with a certain young lady form the Great State of Kentucky with the most incredible eyes and irresistible little Kentucky draw to her voice (the after dark bunch have met her on our degenerate bourbon fueled gambling trips to the Keeneland Horse Park), the subject of what’s up for the weekend arose. About half kidding I suggested I would drive down there if she could get out for the evening. She could. So I did.

Unable to find a flight, I checked Yahoo maps. Piece of cake, 450 miles, they estimated 7 hours, I figured six tops. So after delivering some crucial documents on a trust account I manage to our Silver Spring, Maryland office, I ht 7-11 for the mandatory large coffee, two packs of cigarettes with a diet Dr. Pepper in reserve and set my sights up 270 towards Frederick and the mountains beyond.

Some observations from my journey:

I love to drive fast. I know its against the law and unsafe and all that other ca-ca, but I love it. I was managing a steady 80 through the mountains all the way to Morgantown, WV, and then had a pack of cars flash by doing an easy 100 mph..Nothing else to do. Swig down the coffee, put out the cigarette, get up on the wheel and join them. I got in the middle of the pack and we ran single file all 150 miles to Charleston without ever really slowing. I have written of this automotive phenomenon before as it always occurs on Interstate 95 allowing one to blast through the Deep South at Nascar type speeds. I did not expect, however, to be so blessed on this trip. But there it was. Foot on the accelerator, up tight on the wheel through the Mountains, the switchbacks and turns up and down the hills. To put it simply, it was a blast. I t always amazes me how these breakaway packs of gonzoid drivers seem to instinctively act and react, with an established order of progression for changing lanes and protecting each others space on the road. More interesting, in an early pass I determined one of the other drivers was a genuine NFE. In way of explanation the term was coined on a drive back from Myrtle beach when our breakaway was led by a beautiful blonde in a convertible, pony tail flying, chain smoking while blasting up 95 at 100+mph. I remarked to my traveling companion that was my kind of a woman, a real girl, the epitome of the perfect woman, nothing fake, no façade to her if she could hang with the big boys at these speeds. He concurred dubbing her the original Non-Facadel Epitome. Dana Patrick for example is a perfect example of a true NFE. Fridays NFE was a brunette in a trans am with long wavy locks and a pack of marlboros on the dash.But I digress. Of course I usually do.

The Interstate Highway System in this country is an under appreciated marvel and a true testament to the ingenuity, determination and engineering capability of the United States. It is a wondrous enough accomplishment to just consider the roads that run along the coasts or through the plains. But my journey from the point of Frederick on into Ashland Kentucky was a series of climbs and descents of mountains form 1 to almost 4000 feet, with grades ranging from 3 to 6 %. At some point during the original construction the equipment must have been almost vertical on the mountainside. The roads have been chopped and blasted and simply willed out of the terrain. They are well-maintained and safe to drive. Even by idiots like me.

The area around Morgantown, West Virginia is booming with technology projects. There are technology parks and new construction everywhere. Rt 79 through the area is referred to as the High Tech parkway. This is of course fueled by the proximity of WVU but it is good to see the expansion of the tech industry somewhere away from the coast.

West Virginia is an amazing state. Parts of it appear to be have been simply hacked out of slate gray hillside by an angry deity with a blunt ax. Run down shacks and the ubiquitous doublewide hunker down in the little hollows and clutch almost desperately to hillsides. Other parts are simply awe inspiringly beautiful with although I am loath to use clichés, awe inspiring vistas and sweeping mountain grandeur. If it this wondrous at 90+ mph I wonder what it looks like at lesser speeds.

I am aware that some statistics show a weakening in the economy. It is hard to believe when you are on the interstate and see the US GDP rolling by 18 wheels at a time. Wal-mart, Food Lion, Dixie Trucking, trans-am trucking. The roadways are packed with Commerce on the move headed to various distribution and retail centers. Unless there is a hideous inventory buildup somewhere that I am unaware of, we are still buying and selling an enormous amount of goods in this here great country of ours.

Anecdotally, West Virginia is very religious state. On my drive back Sunday there were very few cars on the road in the early part of Sunday afternoon. Most of these had out of state plates. I hypothesize that they were all at church. No state troopers either. No a one for 200 miles. So I suspect even the gendarmes of the highways were busy praying singing and snake handling at Little Holler Baptist and Stinking Creek Church of God on Sunday. Much like the deep south it is on of the few states where you see a billboard urging you read your bible on the opposite side of the road from one advertising the twin pleasures of an Adult Superstore and Oriental massage parlor. Very open-minded. All types of spirituality embraced apparently.

Charleston West Virginia seems to be having some sort of renaissance. The skyline shows sleek mini-scapers and large corporate campuses. The train yards were full and the city from the interstate (from a more sedate 60mph) seemed to be bustling. There was even a little rush hour back up at 5:30 on Friday. Huntingdon, WV where I stayed also seems to be growing on the back of Marshall University with shopping and retail complexes being developed downtown.

It was so tempting to stop a throw rocks at the international coal building. ICO (NYSE 4.74) is easily my worst stock of the year. Not, of course as bad as that unmentionable donut stock a few years back but still a stinker so far. Of course, this would lead to broken windows and another asset write down in the next quarterly. So I abstained form this cheap juvenile show of frustration. But it was tempting.

Arriving in Huntington on Friday I anticipated checking into the downtown Radisson and finding some food and a bar in which to watch the terps on ESPN2 play in the final of the Coaches against cancer basketball tournament. They were playing a Michigan State Squad who upset #3 Texas the night before. To my surprise, she of the ever-amazing eyes asked of I wanted her to join me. For those who knew me well, this is a seriously silly question. She suggested a place for dinner. Leading us to

Rocco’s in Ceredo (, located between Huntington And Ashland, Ky is a treasure. The food is as good as any I have had anywhere.

The University of Maryland, also known, as the beloved and much maligned Terps appear to be better than the preseason pundits thought. They beat MSU to win Friday (helped by a missed time clock violation but a win is a win) and trounced a very good St. Johns team the night before. Still not in the top 25 and the ACC is a bear as always but I look for a return to the NCAA after two years in the backwaters of the NIT.

A woman who knows and understands college BB is a treasure. Even is she has the poor taste to root for the Wildcats of Kentucky.

Driving by a coke plant at night is a lot like driving past the inner circle of hell. Belching smoke and leaping flames abound. Somewhat surreal if you asked me.

If you know of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching the #1 college football team play the number 2 while rubbing the back of a beautiful woman while she sleeps, please do not tell me. I don’t want to know. I prefer my version.

That game was everything it was built up to be. Great college football. Next up, Notre Dame-USC next Saturday with Army-navy looming on the horizon.

Jeff Shaara is as good, if not better writer than hs father. His contiunation of his fathers cvilw war work was wonderful stuff. To the last man about WWI was as good and so was the revolutionary war Glorious cause.Add the rising tide, a look at the early part of WWII. Most accurate historical fiction writer I have read in a long time. Sticks to the facts and adds dialogue appropsraite for the temperment and personalties of those involved. Highyl recomended

We are now in sports junkie paradise. College Conference title games, rivalry matches and bowl season just around the bend. The pro-game is heating up, the ravens are winning and college hoops are under way. God Bless ESPN.

Tim Wilson ( is one seriously funny redneck comedian. Vulgar and a long way from PC (sounds a little like a certain slim Chesapeake bay are value guy doesn’t it?) but funny.

On My drive back I saw snow. I hate snow. I have friends that love snow. They talk about ski trips and such. Skiing is one of those things that make no sense to me. Strap waxed boards on your feet and slide down the mountain. Its cold and its wet. Don’t they know that the lodge has heat, a fireplace AND a bar? Or that for about the same money they could fly to Aruba and spend the day on the nice warm beach and the nights frolicking and gambling in the casino? I refer you to my earlier comments on snow from this time last year.

About 11 I decided that a nightcap was the just the thing and off to bed. Pouring a tumbler of Irelands finest single malt I stepped out on the deck to see what changes the weather had wrought. The snow was falling fast and furious, racing through the lights on the edge of the grounds, dashing to and fro in a jumble of flakes, the flaky confusion resembling an airborne version of the original mosh pit at a grateful dead concert. The ground now was covered, each fallen morsel piling on the other, flake by flake, stitch by stitch, weaving a soft white blanket over the earth, the mundane parking spaces now a snow covered playground. The trees off in the distance, those stark, bare branches that usually cut the sky with slashes of winter grey ugliness, now almost majestic in appearance, branches bending into intricate patterns, ice sculptures carved by a maniac snow queen for a winter celebration. Over the frozen waters of the creek off to my right, the snow continued to fall, swirling patterns of ice shaved off some celestial diamond bouncing and skipping with the wind as they covered the icy layers of Thompson creek. The watermans work boats, usually hulking industrial looking crafts covered in netting and cages, now rose like snow covered hills off some surrealistic arctic landscape, these white masses rising from the ice, the harsh workday edges rounded off by the falling snow.The piers extended over the water ways of ice, fingers of whiteness untouched as yet by footprints, just suspension bridges of snowy symmetry and perfection over the ice.
I paused and sipped my glass looking at the newly formed wonderland of wintry excellence, listened to that unique lack of sound that comes on snowy evenings, as the snow covers and muffles the earth and the clouds hang low to earth, disgorging sound baffling clouds of wintry wetness over the earth.

As I stood there, beholding the changes upon the earth, the mundane everyday turned into a painting by some heavenly currier and ives, breathing in the quiet and dampness quality of suspended noise from the world, regarding all that had happened to the world with just the arrival of one small winter storm, I had but one thought at regarding such sights


The drive home took a little longer as there was no breakaway, but six houras dootr to door wasn’t bad.Lots of times to ruminate on the great questions of life, value versus growth, men versus women, loves lost, loves still to come and all the other eternal and unsolvable, and of course essentially meaningless drivel one tends to reflect upon whilst driving. While listening to the ravens beat up Atlanta on the Morgantown radio station I luckily found at game time. I arrived in time to see the Cowboys upset the Colts and catch up on the island goings on of the weekend. Glad I went away after the update.

At last!!!..a new liquidation on the tape..back to work.