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Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day


From an article originally posted in 2006

But at sometime this weekend I will raise my glass in a silent toast to the reason for the weekend, those who gave their lives in the service of their country. They fell on the green at Lexington, at Trenton on Christmas Eve and in the snow at Valley Forge. They gave up their very lives in the peach orchard at Gettysburg, the cornfield at Antietam, the wilderness outside Petersburg and at Shiloh and Chancellorsville. They left their future behind in the Beleau woods, at Ch√Ęteau Thiery and at Ephey. They lie fallen on the beaches of Anzio, Normandy, Guadalcanal and Tarawa. They died at the frozen reaches of Korea at Chosin and Pusan. They paid the ultimate price in the jungles of Khe Sahn and Da Nang. They are buried in Arlington and veterans cemeteries all over the country..or in graves in France, Belgium or some obscure south pacific island.

They are the reason I have the right and ability to work hard and play hard. Because of them and the blood they shed, we all have the right and freedom to work for own destiny, to be that which we would aspire to become. Because of them we can trade for a living, write books, study numbers. It is their sacrifice that allows us to enjoy our lives and our loved ones. And Although I suppose this is more so for those of us in the United States, their sacrifice made it possible for many other nations to enjoy unprecedented levels of freedom and democracy. Memorial Day. Remember them as you celebrate the start of summer. Some enlisted willingly. Some were drafted kicking and screaming. But in the end they wore the uniform of their nation and died fighting under that flag that we may continue to be free and prosperous. I raise my glass to them in a salute of their honor and the sacrifices a grateful nation can never repay. To fallen comrades. We remember you.


The words may be a few years old but the sentiment remains as strong as ever. This weekend the haze of backyard BBQ grills smoking as an endless supply of burgers dogs, chicken and other tasty dead animals will dominate American skies in the ritual of the unofficial first day of summer. Here on Kent island the skies willl fill with the sound of music form the dock bars and the growl of high performance engines let losse for the first time of the year. The pack of fast boats will doubtless run to Tilghman island for the bash at Captain Buddy’s that has been a Memorial day ritual for many years (This year broken rib Tim will remain firmly terra firma). There will laughter, music, fiends, excessive aduly distilled beverages and a general damn good time. Enjoy the weekend but at some point recall why we are celebrating.

A bunch of us went out to see the blue Angels the other day as they put on the annual Naval Academy Graduation air show on Wednesday. I could not help but think about the graduates the air show honors every year. They all signed up in 2006, five years post 9-11. From the very first time they raised their hand on the first day of plebe summer they knew they were entering a war time military. Those who choose the marine option on commitment day last year were well aware they were probably going to face combat during the five year commitment. Those who similarly tossed their caps in the air early this week also knew that they would probably see duty in Afghanistan or Iraq in the next five years. Yet they joined anyway. Most of them could have gone to any school in the country. They chose to serve their country.


I think of the enlistees. Regardless of their individual reasons for joining they have volunteered to serve and if necessary fight for their country. They are all too aware what they are getting into. They are over worked, underpaid and they go to serve anyway. As you party and enjoy the comfort of family and friends this weekend, take a minute to honor them and think of those young men and women who have joined the ranks of those who gave all for our country over the centuries and decades.


The bravery and honor of all those who have ever put on the uniform of the United States of America deserves nothing less.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Almost

It is almost here. Occasionally we have dreary rainy days with the death throes of winter on the edge of the air but summer is almost here. But there are days like this past weekend when the sun is overhead and the breeze carries a savory olfactory hint of the season to come. There is a hint of the mix of sub tan lotion, high octane gasoline and fermented and distilled adult beverages of a wide variety. Here is a far off rumble on high performance engines and outdoor rock and toll that comes in on the wind foreshadowing the good old days of summer. Wine drinkers are starting the annual switch from wine to perfectly chilled whites and scotch is retired for good old G&T’s and orange crushes. The smoke of a thousand grills and the poolside laughter of children will soon fill the air all over the island.Summer is almost here.

Unfortunately for us baseball fans, summer also means the Orioles have already dug so deep a hole that it is highly unlikely they have even an outside shot at the playoffs. From here they need to win almost 60% of their games to be a .500 club and with their current sparkling .300 win percentage the chance of that are about on par with a tax reduction this year. This cannot be blamed on the front office as in years past. Andy McPhail put a better team on the filed in terms of talent. Unfortunately that talent has been playing like bumbling idiots. Missing signs or the cut off man, getting caught in rundowns ad hanging a curve ball to the leagues best hitters is just stupid baseball. I still watch and root for the Birds but it can be physically painful.

The kids birthdays are next weekend and find it hard to believe they will be 22 and 26 this time around. I have been informed that I am cooking a spaghetti dinner on Sunday for however many show up as their celebration with an request, or perhaps demand there be lost of vino available. Ill bitch and mumble as usual but will actually be delighted to do it. The house will be filled with their friends and a few of mine with lots of laughter and food, and of course the aforementioned vino. I often wonder what happened to the little girl in the pom- pom get up and the little boy with bloody knees and dirty face but time stands still for no one. Still does the son of a bitch have to sprint? It is not all bad of course. They have turned into to amazing adults who are a pleasure to be around. Now if I could just get Tommy to stop going into the tire shop in his PJ’s.

The adventures of the island have been accelerated this winter at an unusually weird pace. I thought I had seen everything but we hit new lows this year. The breakups that some of our merry little band experienced hit new highs on the really fucking strange o meter. I saw things happen between various couples happen this year (including me of course just to get the season of what the fuck just happened off to a roaring start but at least mine was early enough I had drank it pretty much gone by Christmas) that would not even be believable as Monday night ABC sitcoms. Still we made it though and the summer is starting to show signs of better times ahead for all. The abnormalities of the past harsh bitch queen of the past winter is fading as temperatures rise for which I merely say thank god. Summer is almost here at long last and the perhaps the oddness will be behind us all now.

The markets have been even more volatile in recent weeks. The problems in Europe have made trades jittery and we are seeing downside action again. In spite of today’s snap back rally which smelled of serious short covering to me I think the market may have finally run out of some of the steam that pushed it up. I suspect some of the HFT guys have cut back after being blamed for the mini crash of last week and want to leave less of a footprint on the markets. The flight to quality rally is offering a great chance to re-enter or establish a short bond position as a long term trade. It looks and smells like agrat trade to me offering outsize returns without much risk to me. I saw today that Wilbur Ross commented on the other trade of the decade. He thinks banks will struggle for some time to come as a result of coming turmoil in bonds and commercial mortgages. As investors begin to realize this bank stocks are selling off. Eventually these stocks, especially smaller community bank stocks will reach levels that make them a must buy for long term investors.
All in all it’s a pretty good life. I am listening to Oscar Peterson and looking forward to tomorrow night and the weekend ahead. The kids are well, the friends are incredible and in spite of the fucked situation in the country today there is much that is right in my life. There are good books, good wine, great music in the future and best of summer is almost here.