Mr. Sensitive

August 31, 2011

Put It On The Board

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 15:52

It has been said of me that I don’t do things halfway, including/especially things of no real importance.  It has also been said that I know my way around a spreadsheet.  In the spirit of things which might be derogatory and might not be, I have picked the winner of every game in the upcoming NFL season and Exceled out the division standings that would result from my baseless selections.  Rub this into your skunk stripe, Peter King.

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (10-6)
  2. New York Jets (9-7)
  3. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
  4. Miami Dolphins (2-14)

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (16-0)
  2. Cleveland Browns (10-6)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
  2. Houston Texans (4-12)
  3. Tennessee Titans (3-13)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos (13-3)
  2. San Diego Chargers (13-3)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
  4. Oakland Raiders (3-13)

AFC Playoff Teams: Steelers, Broncos, Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Chiefs

AFC Champion: Steelers


NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
  3. Washington Redskins (5-11)
  4. New York Giants (4-12)

NFC North

  1. Detroit Lions (11-5)
  2. Chicago Bears (9-7)
  3. Green Bay Packers (8-8)
  4. Minnesota Vikings (2-14)

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4)
  2. New Orleans Saints (10-6)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)
  4. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

NFC West

  1. St. Louis Rams (10-6)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
  3. Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (3-13)

NFC Playoff Teams: Eagles, Falcons, Lions, Rams, Saints, Bucs

NFC Champion: Falcons

NFL Champion: Steelers

Spider Surge 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 13:36

We have reached the point in the year when the Yard Dominion of the Spiders is at or near the peak of its troop strength.  If they plan a breakthrough by means of Tukhachevsky’s deep operations doctrine—force concentration and penetration in depth—now is the time.  They are still probing my defenses and my deliberate disregard of repeated provocations is no doubt causing the high command to fret and delay.  They have sent in several scouts of a variety I call crack-f***ers, given their tendency to wedge themselves into the crevices and stress cracks in the wall-to-ceiling joints of my bathroom.  The popcorn ceiling in the bathroom has started to flake after 11-plus years of being coated with shower steam, and the crack-f***ers love that too.  What they don’t love is a facefull of mold remover spray.  Yet there are fewer scouts than last year, and those have been smaller and lighter in hue.  The darker, armored, and painted shock troops of the Dominion have yet to cross the border of their realm.  They aren’t encroaching on the lower levels, either.  The girls are often in the Apple Floor Room—the meeting hall for their Earth Buddies club—and they have reported few encounters.  I realize that we are not yet at the seasonal peak, likely still four to six weeks away.  A major offensive might yet be undertaken.  And they have done something interesting in the backyard.  As I have mentioned in passing, the Mowing Man has supposedly been “unable” to mow the backyard for more than four weeks now because his “push mower” is “broken” and he’s waiting for the “repairs” to be completed.  Meanwhile the grass is nearly a foot high in several places.  Large troop movements would be almost impossible for me to observe in the dense overgrowth, and the Dominion could conceivably position entire divisions within a few feet of the border without being detected.  I suspect either they have sabotaged Mowing Man’s equipment, or they’ve turned him somehow.  No matter.  I am well armed and I have a plan of retreat and redeployment of which they know nothing, if for no other reason than that I just thought of it now.  Let them come for me whenever they are ready to die.

August 29, 2011

Oh That Looks Tasty

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:54

Hey, Zondy, what’s going on?  This sure is a mighty juicy tail you have here.  You can’t need the whole thing.

Pay attention when I’m talking to you!  You can lick yourself anytime!

I’m just going to have a bite.  You won’t even notice.

Oh man, that’s not what I was hoping for.

No wonder you just gnaw on your butt all the time.  That tail is no good.  I mean, I’m probably going to forget and try to eat it again, but I promise you, I won’t like it.

Secret War – Battle of Blegos

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 15:06

First strike this afternoon.  Two bins out–I judge that they have destroyed everything they’ve received from everyone for every occasion since they were born, leaving the wreckage for me to discover and dispose of.  It’s too much.  I’ve spent the last hour separating tiny Lego pieces and even tinier plastic beads.

Why don’t I just throw it all away?  Because people who care about Jenny gave her these Legos, and I can’t bring myself to throw them out–those good people don’t deserve such disregard, even if she doesn’t deserve any of what she has or any of the people who gave it to her.  I am waiting for the Empress to return to decide their fate–I want to take everything they have and leave them in a bare room.  But I will allow that I have been reading very many detailed accounts of Stalinist show trials, and my sense of justice may be a bit misaligned.  So I wait, and sort.


August 28, 2011

Yo Sunday!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 07:03

Katie is asleep because she’s having an allergy attack and I forcefully Benadrylled her.  So it’s just me and Brinky.  And you know, I think the ‘Happy’ episode of Yo Gabba Gabba is even better than ‘Eat.’  I wouldn’t have thought that was possible, but you learn something new every day.  Razzle dazzle!

August 27, 2011

Secret War

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:52

My daughters are beautiful, intelligent, and endearingly irascible young ladies.  They are also filthy wreckers.  If you asked them if they have done their chores, they will reflexively answer ‘yes.’  If you press them, they might allow for a qualified yes.  One of their chores is to keep their room clean.  This is their room this morning:

Would you say that this room is clean?  You would not.  Who is to blame?  Well, they are.  But I am not without some culpability, as is their mother, the Empress.  Both of us are, you might say, domestically casual.  We are not wreckers.  However, it does not bother either of us to leave a thing in the place where we used it rather than in the place where it belongs.  Nowadays I fight very hard against this tendency in myself; Katie does not.  My mother was the same way, as our recent viewings of home movies from my youth make clear.  Like her parents, Reagan is domestically casual; once she’s done using something and the thing leaves her hands, it simultaneously and entirely leaves her mind as well.  Has Reagan ever poured herself a beverage and returned the bottle or jug to the refrigerator.  She has not.  And Jenny is a wrecker.  Their room is the result, the joint product of disregard and sabotage.  It will surprise you not at all, then, to learn that I have declared war.  But it is a Secret War, and so there will be no propaganda, no diplomacy, no orders of battle.  Operations will be conducted during the still hours of the day; operations will be structured so that no permanent forward positions are needed; combined organization/attrition operations will be the norm, so that the girls focus on the order provided rather than the junk removed.  Whatever they are left with when the Secret War is over, it will be more than they deserve.  We begin on Monday, unless Brinkley doesn’t nap well.

Football Picks – Brinky Year One

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:41

Following the success of the NCAA basketball tournament picks (I won), we have decided to resurrect the NFL picks for this upcoming season.  Various Eures and Machis have traditionally participated in a months-long contest picking the winners of all the regular-season NFL games over the 17 weeks of the season, with the winner being awarded the Mario Cup (which is to say, nothing).  The Mario Cup was contested for over a decade until the last season, and possibly the one before that.  I blame myself for the interruption, and also for not being sure whether one or two years have passed since the last Mario Cup was awarded.  If you’re not sure what happened, I’m with you.  I know what, of course—do some quick calendar math and you get back to 2009, and if you don’t know what happened here in 2009, you’re pretty darn late to this particular party—but I don’t know why.  I don’t enjoy sitting and watching football games anymore, and I could certainly speculate as to why that could be, but speculation is all it would be.  My brain is a secret to everybody, not least of all to me.

I remember clearly last year talking about it with Katie before the season started, and not for very long at all, with both of us realizing we didn’t have any interest in staging the Mario Cup.  And that was that.  Since then our son was born, and that, coupled with other, unknowable changes to my secret brain, has revived our interest.  But the Mario Cup was discontinued and it won’t be coming back.  The winner of the picks this year will be awarded the Brinky Cup.

The challenge we faced in years past is two-fold: the NFL season is long, and people have lives.  Invariably, picks wouldn’t be submitted in time by one person or another, and one by one almost everyone would lose interest and drop out.  Mario’s going to win anyway, right?  Well, I can’t do anything about that last problem, but I have a solution for the problem of gathering picks from a bunch of people once a week for 17 weeks: I’ll gather them just once.  All I will ask of all Machis, Eures, and Machi-Eure affiliates is that each person picks every game now, before the season starts.  That should take ten minutes or less, especially if you know as much nothing as I do about the upcoming season.  That way, I will have picks in place in advance, for everyone, for the entire season.  In theory, you could win the Brinky Cup with only ten minutes of effort.  Of course, if you want to update your picks on a weekly basis—that’s what we’ll be doing here, since I certainly can’t get the girls and Brinky to focus long enough to pick 256 games in one sitting—you can certainly do so.  I plan to post results on a weekly basis, and I’ll remind my readers at that time to submit their weekly changes should they wish to do so.  Katie or I will presently be sending out the spreadsheet to be completed.  To make it even easier, the spreadsheet defaults to the home team or the Steelers, and you can just go down the ‘winner’ column and make changes.  As a reminder for those who don’t know or have forgotten, you are not permitted to pick against the Steelers.  The reason is simple: if you pick against the Steelers and they lose, Mario will hold you personally responsible for the loss, and I promise you that you don’t want that.  Because the restriction applies to everyone, no one is at a competitive disadvantage.  We are soliciting picks from all human members of the FSX*.  If you do as we ask, you have a chance to receive the first annual Brinky Cup; if you don’t, you have a chance to receive a Brinky doo-doo bomb in your mailbox.  The choice is yours.

*Human non-FSX members and non-human FSX members can also participate upon request.


Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 07:32

Life can be beautiful.

August 26, 2011

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:11

So many questions.  Will the Fed launch a third round of quantitative easing?  Will Germany and France impose their Carolingian will upon the unruly Greeks, forcing them to accept the presence of German tanks fiscal restraints?  What will consumers do if the economy doesn’t start adding jobs?  And how will those consumers know what they’re supposed to buy now that Apple has lost its Jobs?  The market continues its long summer of inauspicious indecision; much like Scotty, it doesn’t know.  I am similarly hamstrung, unable to rid myself of the pesky need to have data and logical reasoning to support private conclusions, let alone public pronouncements.  So let us turn instead to someone who will not allow ignorance and incompetence to stand in the way of a 12-15% annual increase in the S&P 500—Abby Joseph Cohen!

Sorry, wrong picture.  My apologies to Mumm-ra for any inadvertent insult.

That’s better.  Here’s what she said this week:

“There are many different ways to look at the mathematics of valuation, but one of them is to say at these levels on the [Standard & Poor’s 500] what’s priced in is many years of no earnings growth. That does not seem to us to be the most likely scenario.”

Note that Abby doesn’t claim to know any of the ways to look at the mathematics of valuation, only that they exist.  Maybe she’s cleverer than I thought.  But perhaps her sagacious statement does not assuage your worry.  Perhaps you are saying, “How is that supposed to make me feel better?  I don’t know what any of that means!”  Your problem is that you are focusing on what Abby is saying, not what she means.  What she is saying is “Bloo-bloo-poo-poo the economy, therefore blah-blah-pee-pee earnings;” what she means is, “The S&P 500 will increase by 12-15% in 2011, because 2011 is a year, and I have three names.”

The Family Stock Index had a strong week on an absolute basis, but comparatively…eh.  We rallied, sure—up 5.9% on the week to close at 1049.61—but that was barely enough to avoid falling further behind our peers.  Of the four major U.S. equity market indices—the Dow Industrials, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq Composite, and the FSX—only the latter remains solidly in bear market territory, down 23% from the April high, compared to losses of 12-14% for the others.  I was hoping for a more decisive rally in response to the onset of the new school year, but it seems there are still too many wild cards to turn all the bears into bulls.  For one thing, Lucas’ adventures in middle school are apt to be perilous, because middle school kids are the meanest people in the world.  Add to that the ever-present threat of a nervous breakdown for Connecticut’s best but most tightly-wound English teacher, and you have an explosive mix that even my two inveterate teacher’s pets can’t entirely defuse.  Who knows where we’d be without Nicole B. and her 15% third-quarter gain?  I don’t like to think about it.


  • Marcus (MCS) +18.2%.  ‘Why do you think Marcus would be up almost 20% this week?’ I asked the Empress on Thursday.  ‘Who even knows?’ she sighed.  Marcus is like a far-out-of-the-money call option at this point; it will take a big move in the underlying to get anything back on an investment, but the options themselves are cheap.  On the other hand, there are certainly those of us who would love the opportunity to stake a lot more.  If Warren Buffett can call Brian Moynihan on Wednesday morning and take down $5 billion in B of A preferred the next day, maybe there’s a way to get this deal done as well.  I nominate Charlotte for the role of Warren Buffett.
  • LULU +13.7%.  Not even the market can step on Lulu without getting ten claws right in the calf meat.  In general, the return of the girls to school is a net positive for the cats, as neither pair of ladies has much use for the other.  Another factor to consider is the high grass in the backyard.  The Mowing Man hasn’t mowed it in almost four weeks because he’s waiting on a replacement mower, and it’s getting to be quite the wildlife preserve.  This favors Marisa (MOLX +4.8%) more directly—and indeed she left a mouse on the front walk for me on Tuesday—but the market may be thinking more long-term.  If Lulu parks her ample behind in Brinky’s room all day, every day, and Marisa gets eaten by a snake in the backyard, who has gotten the better end of the deal then?
  • Icarus (FLOW +15.3%), Winston (HWD +10.7%), and Zondro  (ZQK +7.7%).  Before the Lehman bankruptcy in September 2008, the assumption underpinning the stock market values of many troubled financial firms was a belief that the government wouldn’t allow one of the big boys to fail, given their indecipherable network of counterparties and the unquantifiable systemic contagion that would accompany a default.  By March of the following year, the market was pricing in widespread failure if not comprehensive nationalization of the entire banking system.  If Lehman could fail, then anyone could fail.  If you understood the greed-fear dynamic that dominates the market during periods of great upheaval, you weren’t surprised in the least when the realization that the goliaths could be slain morphed rapidly into the belief that every single one of them would be.  In retrospect, it was as wrong-headed to believe that every bank would fail as to believe that none would.  Was Citigroup ever worth the $50+ per share it fetched (pre-split) in 2007?  Certainly not.  But neither was it worth less than $1, the level where it bottomed in March of 2009.  It seems now that Icarus and, to a lesser extent, Zondro and Winston, have been similarly mispriced (down 35%, 25%, and 22%, respectively, in two months prior to this week).  While no dog amongst these three is a Randy—the J.P. Morgan of dogs—none is a Lehman.  Or in this case, a Saffy.
  • Brinkley (BCO) +9.5%.  Brinky has been flat-out awful for the last two days, and yet his stock performance—especially today—has been nothing short of awesome.  Katie has speculated that he’s teething again, as he’s been stuck on just two bottom front teeth for a while now.  Based on his caterwauling during the two hours leading up to his afternoon nap, I’d say we’re not looking at teeth so much as tusks.  Would that be awful, or would it be awesome?  I bet you can guess where I come down.
  • Mario the Younger (SUP +9.8%) and Katie (CATY +7.1%).  As close as brother and sister are, they rarely trade in tandem.  But this week Katie mentioned in passing that she was going to be getting the Entertainment Weekly Fall Preview issue, and that can only mean it’s time for the return of new, bad teenage dramas.  Soon any and all extra room on our DVR—and in our lives—will be gone.  Note also that the market has also made it clear which of the two siblings will take greater girlish delight in the return of 90210 and its odious ilk.


  • Wilson (WILC -0.9%) didn’t move higher with the other dogs because, of course, he’s really a fragile teenage girl in a dog’s body.
  • Zero (FRZ) -3.7%.  We witnessed big rebounds this week from beleaguered Team Charlotte members Justin (WOLF +8.0%) and Miss Eponymous herself (ICE +6.7%)  Of course, Nicole B. had no rebounding to do, and still she tacked on a few basis points.  But not Zero.  It’s as though the market wanted him to keep his managerial position.  And after all, why not?  Why shouldn’t he keep it?  Hasn’t Chicago done fairly well by him, at least from a professional standpoint?  The market will need to be convinced that leaving now, or soon, is the best course for Zero; absent something definitive and accretive, he should continue to lag his teammates.  At the very least, Justin should chip him off some of that Jennifer Aniston-babydaddy money.  I bet it was Zero who introduced them anyway.
  • Lucas (LEI) -4.3%.  The best thing about middle school is that it only lasts three years, except, probably, in Wytheville.  Do they even have middle school in Wytheville?  Probably they just send the kids to high school right out of fifth grade.  After all, why should skeevy mustachioed upperclassmen have to wait until the girls turn twelve to date them?  If you can put on a dress, you pass the test.  (Imagine the ghost of Johnnie Cochran nodding approvingly.)
Name Ticker 8/26/2011 Change
Brinkley BCO $24.25 +2.11
Charlotte ICE $112.09 +7.04
Dustin DST $45.51 +1.84
Icarus FLOW $2.64 +0.35
Jenny LEN $13.58 +0.86
Justin WOLF $2.57 +0.19
Katie CATY $12.36 +0.82
Lee MSTR $114.76 +8.84
Lee LEE $0.72 +0.01
Lisa LSI $6.76 +0.47
Lucas LEI $1.78 -0.08
Lulu LULU $52.31 +6.31
Marcus MCS $9.49 +1.46
Mario T.E. PBY $9.14 +0.56
Mario T.Y. SUP $15.87 +1.42
Marisa MOLX $20.29 +0.93
Nicole B. NI $20.54 +0.30
Nicole L. COL $47.48 +2.23
Reagan REGN $55.81 +1.44
Ruby RBY $3.96 +0.10
Wilson WILC $5.65 -0.05
Winston HWD $14.37 +1.39
Zero FRZ $1.80 -0.07
Zondro ZQK $3.79 +0.27

August 25, 2011

Sex Education

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:34

I figured there would be no sex ed until middle school, but Jenny and Reagan just got home from the first day of the new school year, and now I’m thinking maybe NC is more progressive than I thought.

Jenny:  Today we were learning about consumers, you know, and piranhas.

Katie:  I have no idea what you could mean.

Jenny:  Consumers and producers.  That’s what I said.  You know, the different kinds of orgasms.

Me:  [conspicuously unparental cackle]

Jenny:  You know, organisms.  Organisms.  What’s funny?

Katie:  It’s just a very different word that you said before.

Jenny:  [already not listening]

I think Jenny has no idea what she said or why it was funny.  But I blame Friends for what I really hope was not a Freudian slip.  And I can’t explain the piranhas at all, but I really, really hope they’re not related.


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