Mr. Sensitive

April 30, 2011

Love Is

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 21:10

I’m sure I’m taking this completely out of context, but…

them.  (She wrote “them” on the back of the page.  Just that one word.  But you get the point.)

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The Saturday Night Award

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 20:14

I am sitting in the dining room at my computer and Katie is holding Brinky on the couch, playing songs on the iTunes top songs list to see if we know them.  Our other children are elsewhere.  Katie needs a pacifier for Brinky and I have one.  She is about 15 feet away from me.

Katie:  If you throw that pacifier, do you think there’s any way I can catch it?

Me:  I’d have to throw it left-handed.  I don’t have the angle for a right-handed throw.  And it’s not a ball, you know?  There’s no telling how this thing will spin once I let it go.

Katie:  We can do it.

Me:  [Testing my arm]  I don’t know…

Katie:  Let’s do it.

Me:  [Won over by the ballsiness]  Here it comes!  [I make a perfect left-handed throw.]  Oh that’s perfect, but can you–

Katie:  [Catches the pacifier!]  I got it!

Me:   Unbelievable!

Katie:  We just won!  We won the Saturday Night Award!

And so we did.

There’s Not A Box For Puce

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 11:00

The other day it happened that I was attempting to explain the concept of race to Reagan, and I realized quickly that she doesn’t have the inherent sense of racial identity, let alone polarity, that I have.  I find I have a hard time explaining the concepts of race and racism to Reagan, although I think it is a wonderful development that she doesn’t have it environmentally drilled into her the way I certainly did.  One of Reagan’s classmates is a girl of Asian extraction who was adopted by old white people, and Reagan is determined that this girl is prettier and smarter than she is, in a way that is delightfully free of racial content.  Such a perspective would have been unthinkable for the environment in which I was raised.  I told Reagan that no one is smarter than she is, and that this girl is not comparable to her from a prettiness standpoint—they are different-looking is all.  My idea of beauty in the context of race is that there is a set of templates—probably a fixed set— against which the beauty of individual people can be assessed, but that it is impossible, even subjectively, to stratify across the templates.  These templates are much narrower and more viscerally relevant than white, black, Asian, Latin American, and so on—the boxes you would check on the census form.  Reagan’s friend, for example, is clearly of Southeast Asian origin, and is not Han Chinese or Japanese any more than she is Scandinavian or Italian.  We tend to have our personal template preferences and, interestingly enough, a person’s preference does not always or even usually correspond to his or her own template.  I enjoy looking at ladies of Mediterranean extraction, with large, expressive facial features, dark hair and dark complexions.  I find blonde white girls to be visually uninteresting in the extreme.  The ultimate example of this template, to me, is Hayden Panettiere, who looks somehow like everyone and no one at the same time.

I think I just feel asleep for a minute because of her face.

The most interesting people are those that combine the preeminent features of multiple templates and thus defy classification.  Here I am thinking of Zoe Saldana.

She looks slightly different in every picture, and this is not a coincidence.  I think Reagan is going to be one of these visually triumphant people, actually.

It is important to note that this template concept I’m talking about has to with looking at pictures and not real-life attraction, which is pheremonal and has the most to do, I suspect, with reproductive compatibility.  Template preference as I mean it also applies to the face only and not to other physical attributes.  Whether or not you like big butts and are more or less likely to be honest about it is another matter entirely.

As for what I am, I am hard-pressed to say.  Norman French, I think, or some kind of purple people eater.  I am clearly not the same as my most recent baby.

At least, not yet.  Maybe the paucity of puce is just because he’s new.

April 29, 2011

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:21

What happened this week: new bull market highs for all major U.S. equity indices, new multi-decade or all-time highs for precious metals and corresponding multi-year lows for the U.S. dollar, along with a desultory first-time Fed press conference providing no information or insight disruptive to current macro trends.  Curiously, Brinkley was really into watching the Q&A with Ben Bernanke this week and was extremely put out when his sisters came home and turned on Dora.  It certainly can’t have been the delivery or the content, so I assume it was the beard:

Why can’t we go back to that, as a society?  I blame the American presidency in general, and FDR in particular, for the destruction of the institution of championship facial hair for important persons.  This look, a la President Jimmy Garfield, which I call the Moses/bridge troll, is admittedly weak:

And this one, which I call the starship hanger bay, is probably unattainable for mortals (© Emperor William I of Germany circa 1875):

But what about a tidy, masculine tour-de-force like this, courtesy of the most handsome man in history, King George V?

We only need to reach back into the annals of hair a little more than a century to retrieve this majestic facial display.  I say we start with that—not for Obama, because black men have their hotness situation locked down already—but for the white dude press-conference set.   In time, perhaps we can move back a little further still to resurrect the gold standard for ravishing masculinity:

It’s a process, and we’re not there yet.  It needs to start somewhere, and I nominate George Clooney and/or Tom Brady to get us underway.  And also to be President of the United States.  How about this: Clooney/Brady ’16—bringing follicular sexy back for America.

What was I talking about?  Financial markets, right.  Financial markets are boring right now, because the Fed isn’t going to let any of them correct/collapse in a purgative and ultimately restorative manner so long as it has any way to prevent it.  This means more asset-price inflation and dollar value destruction leading to an eventual monetary catastrophe, albeit one that is probably still years away.  Bernanke will have his beard to shield him then, but the rest of us are going to be in deep trouble.

So the S&P 500 added an impressive 2.0% on the strength of earnings from multinational industrial and resource companies, with a long-overdue kicker from the health care sector.  I think we’re near the top of the intermediate-term range here (Dow 11,500 – 13,000), but absent an external black-swan shock or a Fed policy change I just don’t see a significant correction in the offing.  The FSX finished the week down one-tenth of one percent, but that represents a significant shortfall relative to the broader market.  I have been dragging us into the mire the entire week, but Reagan had neatly offset my gaping, sucking maw-like effects until today.

Advancers

  • Reagan (REGN) +2.8%.  Why is Reagan at the top of the advancers list this week?  Well, two days ago she was up nearly 35% for the week on speculation that she might cure cancer (not totally kidding).  Then the market realized that while she is very clever, she is also seven, and the cancer cure is probably several years in the future yet.  Her day-to-day moves have been breathtaking over the last four sessions: up 4.6% Tuesday, up 29% Wednesday, down 3.6% Thursday, down 21% today.  It’s been a wild ride, and I don’t have the heart to tell Reagan that she tanked today, because her outfit is really cute.
  • Zero (FRZ) +9.8%.  Zero has quietly put together a nice two-week run, and I say quietly because there hasn’t been a single breakout session that suggested unbalanced exuberance on the part of the Zero bulls.  I wonder if the market watched the royal nuptials this morning, and is realizing just how lucky Zero was to get away with the modest but tasteful affair to which Charlotte assented last summer.  I know Zero has deep pockets now, but that shindig this morning cost close to $40 million and with Charlotte still eager to buy the New York Stock Exchange, even the Guitar Master was going to be strapped for cash.  Also, The Zero Bulls would be a good name for a band.
  • Icarus (FLOW) +7.5%.  The butt-sniffing sector of the market has had a nice run of late, with Icarus in the lead this week.  He is the fastest of the dogs, at least in a stretch run, so that would probably translate to the highest-velocity butt-sniffing metrics, if one were to calculate such things.  That assumes that the butts are spread out, though; Icarus is not as maneuverable as the smaller dogs, and that could be a problem as butt-density increases.
  • Lisa (LSA) +6.9%.  Lisa added to her niece and nephew collection this week, and she’s pulled out ahead of everyone in the index in that regard (oldies presumably notwithstanding).  Katie and I have a good excuse for lagging in this particular derby, seeing as we have been net niece/nephew contributors for some time.  I suppose this means I am good at something—niece/nephew production—not that you would know that watching LEE crater.
  • Marisa (MOLX) +6.1%.  If you don’t know, now you know.

Decliners

  • Winston (HWD) -2.6% and Zondro (ZRAN) -2.6%.  I take from this that the market considers high-speed butt-sniffing to be more effective than dexterous butt-sniffing.  And that I have now typed butt-sniffing more than anyone has ever typed butt-sniffing, at least in the context of stock market analysis.
  • LEE -28.5%.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  When I put this index together last year, I was apprehensive about what I might say if one of the stocks went into a death spiral.  It’s a little bit of a relief that I’m the one spiraling, so I won’t risk offense to anyone by indulging in gallows humor.  The pressing question here is, um, what the hell?  Well, the hell seems to be that the market is in a tizzy about the prospects for LEE refinancing the $1 billion in debt it has coming due in 2012, speculating that the interest rate will be a free cash flow-destroying 15% or more—that is, if the refi comes off at all.  The other hell is the gout, which resurfaced in my right toe this week, a site free of the uric scourge for probably three years before two days ago.  And, Brinkley is being a coincidentally (or opportunistically) terrible person right now, sleeping in one-hour increments at best for most of the week and being a fat meanie the rest of the time.  All of this is bad—the $1 billion in debt, the gout, and the cantankerous baby—but a drop of more than 50% in ten days seems nonsensical to me.  Either LEE will get the refi done on manageable terms and will be worth a good deal more than the current price, or it will default, go bankrupt and be worth $0.  $1.43 is the wrong price, with only the direction of the wrongness to be determined.  For my part, I whipped this latest gout flare handily, albeit with the standard spell of intestinal distress that comes from taking poison.  After being visibly swollen Thursday morning, the toe is now back to normal size, and I expect the percentage of my day spent in the bathroom to drop from 20% to back below 5% within the next 36 hours.  On a tragic spectacle note, LEE is now down 13 days in a row, which comes tantalizingly close to the 16 day streak posted in Oct-Nov of last year.  I find I prefer that, if we postulate misery, such misery might as well be noteworthy.

Here’s an update of the sucky brothers comparison from last week:

Year-to-date through 4/14:

  • Marcus -21.7%
  • Justin -20.7%
  • Me +4.1%

Year-to-date through last week:

  • Marcus -18.7%
  • Justin -19.5%
  • Me -18.7%

Year-to-date through this week:

  • Marcus -16.4%
  • Justin -18.4%
  • Me -41.9%
Name Ticker 4/29/2011 Change
Brinkley BCO $33.01 -0.48
Charlotte ICE $120.35 -1.83
Dustin DST $49.31 +0.53
Icarus FLOW $4.31 +0.30
Jenny LEN $18.99 +0.08
Justin WOLF $2.13 +0.03
Katie CATY $17.05 -0.03
Lee LEE $1.43 -0.57
Lisa LSI $7.33 +0.47
Lucas LEI $3.23 -0.28
Lulu LULU $100.05 -2.12
Marcus MCS $11.09 +0.30
Mario T.E. PBY $13.70 +0.15
Mario T.Y. SUP $25.27 +0.28
Marisa MOLX $27.00 +1.55
Nicole B. NI $19.45 +0.33
Nicole L. COL $63.10 +0.17
Reagan REGN $51.04 +1.29
Ruby RBY $5.18 +0.02
Wilson WILC $7.49 +0.05
Winston HWD $17.06 -0.45
Zero FRZ $3.24 +0.29
Zondro ZRAN $10.47 -0.28

April 25, 2011

Cat Master

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 20:32

I have two cats, Lulu and Marisa.  The reason we got two cats when we did is that they told us at the pound that they came in together and were probably sisters, and we are suckers.  I picked Lulu first because she told me to.  Lulu is fat and mean, but generally useless from a cat functionality standpoint.  Here she is:

She routinely has the tar beaten out of her by Marisa, who is the master cat.  This is Marisa:

No one pays any attention to the cats but me, but they love Katie the most and like to sleep by her feet whenever they can, Lulu especially.  Recently they have switched their naptime allegiance to Brinkley, and they try to sleep by his feet in the evening instead.  We didn’t have cats when Jenny and Reagan were babies, and the cats are the secret reason why Brinkley will not be sleeping alone until he is six months old, or possibly three years.  I am confident that they both understand that Brinkley is a human and not at all edible, but when you have seen Marisa having her way with a bird it isn’t something you can ever un-see.

I know what my cats are, but I am less sure of myself as cat master.  Who am I, really?

Is this me:

Or am I this gentleman:

If I had my choice, I would pick…Mac.  But we all know I could never pull that off.

April 24, 2011

Basement War – One Year Later

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 21:07

I am reflecting this week upon the Basement War, the conflict which, one year ago, dramatically expanded the Empire and re-established its military policy for the foreseeable future as one of controlled expansion.  Still unsure of my abilities as supreme commander (and still only a general), I set for myself a series of limited objectives (retrieval of the flooring from the crawlspace, destruction of boxes, detonation of rolling bug bombs, and so on) and advanced room by room, facing in turn the tangible arachnid horrors and the specters of my prolonged decline and desiccation.  And I won.   I cleared the basement, cleaned it, and gradually, in the months that followed, integrated it once again into the daily congress of the Empire.  Then I did the same thing throughout the house over the balance of the year, operating consistently, methodically, and irreversibly.  Now it’s hard to remember what it looked like before.  For my part, I now look less like how I once imagined that a grownup should look than I have in more than a decade, and I feel more like a grownup than I have in my life.  And I’m maréchal-général now, which beats the hell out of Senior Vice President.

I spent much of this month clearing out the last of the unwanted furniture and miscellany that I took in after my mother died last May so that the saintly city sanitation folks could haul it away forever.  Thereafter I cleaned the basement and garages once again and reshuffled the furniture in anticipation of spring and summer use.  All of this was straightforward and, unlike last year, neither terrifying nor chastening.  The spiders didn’t come back.  I thought they might, at least in an expeditionary capacity, just to see if I was prepared to repel an attempt at re-infestation (I was).  After I loaded up one side of the garage and much of the Apple Floor Room with everything from my mother’s house, they certainly had the opportunity to do so.   They didn’t.  When I was preparing for bulk pickup this year, I didn’t see a single spider.  I realize that it’s early in the year and the Yard Dominion possesses but a fraction of its full summer martial potency, but there is more to it than that.  They are still in shock.  Imagine how the Great Powers of Europe would have reacted if the Ottoman Turks had come roaring out of Anatolia and back to the gates of Vienna in the 1880s after two centuries in decline.  The only question for Austria, Russia, and Britain by the late 19th century was how best to preserve the balance of power between themselves while dividing the territories of the moribund Empire.  That was me in 2008 and 2009, and the Basement and Yard Dominions were probably haggling over who got to sleep in my bed once the whole place was abandoned.  Now the Basement Dominion of the spiders is no more and I suspect that the winter dreams of the leaders of the Yard Dominion were very dark indeed.  Perhaps they have some knowledge of my plans for my lost Grand Pond Duchy, and perhaps not.  Their intelligence networks were severely disrupted by the removal of the carpet, but I have not exactly been hiding my invincibility gloves.  These are strange times.  I wonder now if I have any territorial limits at all, apart from those insisted upon by our local Register of Deeds.  We will find out soon enough.

The Meaning Of Easter

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 14:46

Reagan:  fun!

Jenny:  yummy cheese fries!

Why I Wanted Children

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 12:58

So that one day I could have an insane conversation with one of them that would be recorded by an email program of some sort.  A brief set-up:  I tersely but respectfully informed Jenny that she would not be allowed to use the front door again while Brinkley was napping because she had slammed it for the fourth time in the last fifteen minutes.  She would come inside and stay there.  She may have extrapolated from this directive, realizing that she would have to burn up in a fire, should one break out during Brinkley’s nap, as she would not be allowed to use the door.  Whatever her reasoning, she decided to stomp off up to her room.  I assume it was the fire thing, as I didn’t yell at her or put her head through the wall as I ought to have done.  She started chatting with me on gmail, and this is what we said, with no changes made.

Jenny:  I am sorry

 Sent at 10:29 AM on Sunday

 me:  It’s okay.

 Jenny:  I am black

 me:  No, you’re white

 Sent at 10:38 AM on Sunday

 Jenny:  I am sorry not black

 me:  But you said you’re black

 Jenny:  I didn’t mean too

 me:  Are you coming back down?

 Jenny:  No

 me:  What a grumpy-sounding no

 Jenny:  I did not say no. I typed no

 me:  What a grumpy-typed no

 Jenny:  You dont know

 me:  I know everything about you, now and forever

 Jenny:  No

Me sad and sorry

 me:  Don’t be sad.  Just stop slamming the door.

 Jenny:  K.( me not coming down )

 me:  WHY NOT

 Jenny:  Me in trouble ( baby talk )

 Sent at 10:48 AM on Sunday

 me:  I know it’s baby talk.  And you’re not in trouble.

 Jenny:  But I can’t go outside

 Sent at 10:50 AM on Sunday

 me:  So that’s it?  Outside or upstairs?  You don’t like your family?

 Jenny:  I Do like my family

 me:  Come visit us sometime then

 Jenny:  B-but I’m in biig trouble

 Sent at 10:54 AM on Sunday

 me:  YOU’RE NOT IN TROUBLE.  And Brinkley is awake

 Jenny:  K

 Sent at 10:56 AM on Sunday

 Jenny:  I’m back up stairs

 me:  Brinkley is really awake now.

 Sent at 10:58 AM on Sunday

I love my daughter.

Morning People

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:21

Yes:

Yes:

No:

Brinkley looks like he was in a knife fight with the Easter Bunny, but he also looks like he won.  Reagan gave up and went back to bed; maybe she was expecting Santa?

April 22, 2011

Infernal Tutor

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:19

Jenny is teaching Brinkley how to play on the Internet.  He made her penguin tell a joke, whatever that means.

Apparently, it wasn’t a good joke, so Jenny was embarrassed.  She also wrote a poem about him:

He drooled on it.

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