Mr. Sensitive

January 31, 2012

So Who’s Changing Her Name?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 12:00

Justin, Marcus and Mario are marrying ladies this year, cruelly forcing me to travel, and I got to thinking about whether the ladies in question would be changing their names.  Why is it my business?  Because there are FSX stock-selection implications is why.  I don’t remember how Katie and I made the name change decision (and I do think it should be a decision that the couple makes together).  We didn’t decide, is I think how we decided.  Katie didn’t have a compelling reason not to take my name, so she did.  I remember that my mother said something to her after we got engaged about how she’d be Katie Machi Eure, and when Katie said she was keeping her middle name, Anne, Mom looked at her like Katie was personally setting women back a thousand years.  Sigh.  I’m not sure how I’d have reacted if Katie had wanted to keep her maiden name.  It certainly wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker, but I wouldn’t have been happy about it, either.  (If you were wondering, I’d have put my foot down if she’d wanted hyphenation—I wouldn’t give permission for my name to be debased in that way.)  If we hadn’t been so young (she was 21), or if there was some legitimate professional brand value attached to her name, that would have been a different story.  What I would not have wanted her to do is take my name and then resent Jenny, Reagan and Brinkley because she did.  Not that anyone would do that.

Many times my mother told me that she took my father’s last name because they planned to have children, and it would be difficult for the children if their parents had different last names.  She was also against hyphenated last names; I agree with her on that one—just pick one, gutless.  The only thing worse than a hyphenated last name is a hyphenated first name; even Kelly Kapowski managed to figure that out.  Over the years the story of how Mom was forced at gunpoint by her unborn children to take her husband’s last name became more pointed.  She would tell the story and I would reply with something along the lines of, “that makes sense” or “okay.”  Obviously, the correct response was, “I’m sorry you had to sacrifice your heritage and a part of your immortal soul for me and my siblings, thus saving us from lifetimes of confusion and/or hyphenation.”  Of course, I’m a man and thus I don’t know anything about anything.  No one ever expected me to give up my last name and blah blah blah.  No one can understand my mother’s suffering, except another pampered socialite.  Certainly not the millions of immigrants who got surprise new last names at Ellis Island because a clerk wrote their names wrong.  Certainly not all the entertainers—male and female—who changed their names because the ones they were born with were too ethnic and thus not as marketable.  Those people could never understand, because they weren’t forced to do it by unfertilized eggs.

Justin has talked about he and Nicole both changing their last name to Wolf.  That would, of course, be ridiculous.  It would save me a trip to Virginia Beach to attend the Wolf wedding, since I don’t know anyone by that name.  It would also be fun to watch him try and explain it to payroll at his work.  I’d like to request a copy of the security camera tape from that day in advance.

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Preemptive Disappointment

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:08

I decided to wait outside on the front porch for Reagan yesterday.  Ordinarily, mid-afternoon is prime writing time for me, except if Brinky’s declared it Prime Brinky Time on a particular day; furthermore, Reagan, Jenny, and the girl who lives across the street usually walk home from the bus stop together.  Yesterday was different because Jenny was home sick, I’m on an off week in the Book War, and Brinky was having a massive nap, so I decided it might be nice for Reagan if she came down the street to find her loving father waiting outside to greet her.  It was a spur-of-the-moment thing; the neighbor girl came down the street with her brother well ahead of Reagan (I watch for the kids through my office window) and I thought Reagan might be sad, thinking Jenny was having a fun Daddy Day by herself.  In fact, Jenny wanted me to sit in her room with her and watch Harry Potter movies all day, to which I said, cast a spell to do the dishes and the laundry, clean the family room, and take care of your brother, and you’ve got a deal.  So I met Reagan, I gave her a hug, and she showed me a collage she made at school—that was it.  She asked me why I was waiting for her—I bet she was afraid something was wrong—and I said I just thought it would be nice.  Really, that’s all I thought about it.

So this morning, Reagan is sitting in the bathroom sobbing, and Katie and I can’t figure out why.  Turns out she’s sobbing because it was so nice that I was able to wait outside for her yesterday and she doesn’t think I’ll be able to do that every day.  She’s right that I can’t do that every day, but…really?  Reagan is that girl.  Something nice happens to her one day and she enjoys it for about one second before she moves on to being completely devastated that it might not happen every day.  This is how she was when she won the 2nd Grade spelling bee earlier this month.  She wasn’t elated that she won—she was relieved that she didn’t lose.  And then she moved on almost immediately from relief to worry—after all, next year’s spelling bee is only a year away, and she doesn’t even have the word list to start studying.

Oh, Ray Gun.  I didn’t teach her this, I swear—Jenny would be the same way, if this was learned insanity, and she isn’t.  It is my genetic gift to Reagan—preemptive disappointment.  Not discouragement, just disappointment; disappoint is useful, whereas discouragement, like happiness, is a useless distraction.  We are in constant competition—not with other people, but with a future that fears and hates us.  But Reagan is eight.  I can’t have been this crazy at eight.

I hope I was this crazy at eight.  I’d hate to lose at crazy to Reagan.

January 29, 2012

Book War Status Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:39

Per the schedule I drafted in October I’m due to have a week off here.  I’ve been sick the last week and the quality of my work during the first part of it felt substandard, not that I’ve read back over it yet to say for certain that it was.  I got 2700 words yesterday, though, and it felt as solid as anything has.  I can’t speak to the quality of the prose so near to having written it—I need more distance to evaluate that—but I learned things about the story that I didn’t know, and that only happens when I’m locked in.  I can chip away at known problems when I’m weaker and less focused, but I need to be at full strength to force a breakthrough.  This would be a decent time for a break, and the schedule calls for one, but I haven’t made up my mind whether to call off operations for next week.  The enemy is certainly not close to collapse; I couldn’t resist the temptation to finish it if that were the case.  I’ve written 11 of the 22 planned chapters and approximately 59,000 words.  By every measure I’m halfway to victory, but I’m not allowing myself to feel anything like that.  There are too many daunting pieces left, any one of which could block my progress unexpectedly.  I’ll make the call on next week tomorrow morning, but I’d put the odds that I push the next break back at least one more week at about 60 percent.

January 27, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:23

In lieu of market commentary this week I’ve decided to do some Apple math.  Apple, the world’s largest maker of iThings, reported quarterly earnings this week, and for once, the praises sung by the usual Wall Street chorus couldn’t possibly match the grandeur of the results.  The money this company is making is nearly impossible to put into perspective.  Revenue for the quarter was $46 billion on sales of 37 million iPhones, 15 million iPads, 15 million iPods, and 5 million Macs.  Revenue was up over 70% from the prior year and earnings more than doubled to $13 billion.  And that’s one quarter—they get another three this fiscal year.  Apple’s gross margin was 44% for the quarter, an improvement over the prior year’s 39%–so much for the notion of competition eroding profitability.  They can’t maintain that level of profitability forever…unless they can.  But seriously, they can’t.  I’ve told you that it’s hard to put this into context, but you can’t really appreciate that if I don’t try, can you?  Apple is on pace—assuming no more quarter-over-quarter growth (ha!)—to earn $50 billion this year.  Let that sink in for a moment.  AAPL stock trades at an all-time high of $445 per share, which looks expensive.  The highest-priced stock in the Dow is IBM at $190, and the next-highest is Caterpillar around $110.  Exxon Mobil, tied with Apple for the title of most valuable company in the world, trades at $87.  Yet compared to the market overall, AAPL at $445 is cheap.  That’s right—it’s cheap.

With 929 million shares outstanding, the current $445 stock price gives Apple a market value of $415 billion, about the same as Exxon.  The $50 billion of expected earnings for Apple translates into $55 per share, giving it a price-to-earnings multiple of just 8.  The U.S. market overall, as measured by the S&P 500, has a P/E multiple of around 15.  So Apple, one of the best-performing companies in history, can’t even sniff an average multiple.  Put just an average multiple on AAPL and you get a stock price of $825, which would be an 85% increase, and would value Apple at over $750 billion, making it the most valuable company in history.

Something else that’s crazy—Apple now has $97 billion in cash on its balance sheet.  $97 billion in the bank—that’s more than the total market value of all but 25 companies in the United States.  Strip out the $105 per share of cash—as analysts and investment bankers do when valuing a business, because you shouldn’t pay more than a dollar for an actual dollar—and the P/E multiple is just 6.  Crazy.

Just for fun, let’s say the market decides to value Apple as highly as it values Amazon—a company that is trying to compete in the tablet market that Apple created.  At $190 per share, Amazon trades at 102 times earnings.  Put a 102 multiple on Apple and you get a market value of $5.2 trillion.  That’s more than the GDP of every country in the world except the U.S., China, and Japan.

So should you rush right out and buy AAPL stock?  No.  Should you buy it when the broader market pulls back from its current, overbought level?  Maybe so.  I’d definitely rather have one share of AAPL than one iAnything.

The major averages were mixed during another week of lackluster, low-volume trading, with the S&P and Dow slightly lower and the Appley Nasdaq slightly higher.  The Family Stock Index rose for the seventh straight day on Friday, capping a week during which the index gained 3.1% to close at 12,306.  The FSX has gained 11% during the first four weeks of 2012 and now sits at its highest level since August 1st of last year.  The last time we were at this point on the chart we plunged more than 2,000 points over the next five sessions.  Lucky for us history never repeats itself, right?

Advancers

  • Ruby (RJET) +27%.  On the road again, and again.  A steady diet of takeoffs and landings for Ruby has meant liftoff for her stock.  Maybe she and Mario the Elder should sell their house in Hilton Head and travel around the country in an RV.  I bet the flying RV from Spaceballs is available.

  • Reagan (REGN) +9.2%.  A balm for Reagan’s wounded soul has finally been found, and its name is Coldplay.
  • Jodi Ann (JOY) +9.1%.  Jodi Ann is putting Marcus to shame in the market (up 24% YTD) and in catering ideas for their late-summer wedding.  The Eure side is struggling to come up with some family foods to include, what with Jodi Ann being able to fall back on however much Italian she is.  Marcus acts like she’s 100% Italian, but her last name sounds more like a Southern expression of consternation than anything else.
  • Lulu (LULU) +6.7%.  The Fat One is up to something, possibly multiple somethings.  She was in Brinky’s room asleep on the bed when I put him down for a nap on Wednesday; this is no big deal, as she usually sleeps in there all day.  But after Brinky had been asleep for about an hour that stupid thing started caterwauling at top volume in his room.  I ran up to see what could be killing it and to kill it myself if something wasn’t already.  It was too late, though, and Brinky was awake and furious.  Lulu escaped before I could strangle her, and I never could find anything to explain her freakout.  Besides that she hates me and is plotting my downfall.
  • Zero (ZIP) +6.3%.  The market hopes Zero had a pleasant vacation; he deserves it.
  • Namilita (NL) +5.5%.  One of them looks a little like a tiny tiger.  I don’t know what the other one looks like, but I imagine it as Hector from the Catillac Cats.

Decliners

  • Marisa (MOLX) -1.4%.  A cat is supposed to be up to something; that’s what the market is telling us.  You get no points for being amenable.  And Marisa is a very sweet cat, except for all the murdering.
  • Jenny (JNY) -1.6%.  Jenny’s a quarter Italian herself, but she doesn’t think much of the cuisine of her one-fourth homeland (fettuccine with good alfredo sauce notwithstanding).  When Jenny gets married I expect the food to be French Fries with Ranch dressing on the side, and melted Freeze Pops to drink.
  • Marcus (MCS) -2.3%.  The traditional Eure meal is meat cooked in butter with butter on the side.  Desert is butter dipped in sugar.  You’re welcome.
  • Katie (CATY -2.6%) and Lee (MSTR -0.5%).  Our relationship isn’t perfect, but it’s damn near invincible, flaws and all.  Katie didn’t give up on me even after I gave up on myself; if she had, I’d be dead now.  The market has recognized that in the past, but Heidi and Seal have clearly got investors spooked.  If those two can’t make it work, every marriage is going to get a turn under the market’s microscope.
  • Nicole L. (COL) -2.7%.  This place is crawling with Italians.  Immigration really needs to step its game up.

 

Name Ticker 1/27/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $28.20 +0.34
Charlotte ICE $116.45 -0.96
Dustin DST $48.96 +0.29
Icarus FLOW $3.80 +0.13
Jenny JNY $9.08 -0.15
Jodi Ann JOY $93.12 +7.76
Justin WOLF $3.29 +0.11
Katie CATY $15.99 -0.42
Lee MSTR $114.65 -0.56
Lisa LNCE $22.65 -0.16
Lucas LEI $2.48 +0.02
Lulu LULU $64.12 +4.00
Marcus MCS $12.55 -0.30
Mario T.E. MGEE $45.21 +1.08
Mario T.Y. SUP $18.28 +0.56
Marisa MOLX $26.61 -0.39
Namilita NL $14.16 +0.74
Nicole B. NI $22.90 +0.06
Nicole L. COL $58.23 -1.64
Reagan REGN $85.54 +7.21
Ruby RJET $5.37 +1.15
Wilson WILC $4.59 -0.07
Winston ED $58.89 +0.13
Zero ZIP $16.13 +0.96
Zondro ZQK $4.37 +0.10

January 26, 2012

Learning From Parents’ Mistakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:49

The easiest way for me to teach my children how to behave is to point out to them how clever and prudent I am to behave the way I already do–for example, how can you need a cell phone, Jenny, when I don’t even use one?  This method is convenient (I am already demonstrating the behavior I want to demonstrate) and it allows me to bask in the glow of my children’s awe and admiration (never mind that what they respect is my power over them, not my genius in the field of home economics).  But note that I said easiest, not best.  It’s much harder for children to learn from their parents’ mistakes.  This is not to say that my children don’t think I make mistakes–they do, Reagan’s denials not withstanding–but the mistakes they think I make are all about them.  I don’t have to tell Jenny that I’m messing up by making her eat something other than fries and ranch dressing for dinner–she already knows I’m wrong.  I don’t have to tell Brinky that I’m out of line in forcing him to wear pants–he was born knowing that pants are for clowns.  What they don’t know, and what I can’t explain meaningfully even when I know myself, is what I have done badly and will do badly in my own life.  Alas, that’s the thing I really want them to understand.  What I can force them to learn–how to behave as  children–won’t necessarily apply once they aren’t children. A thirty-year-old Brinkley will, presumably, not want to eat thumbtacks.  I’ve tried to learn from my parents’ mistakes, lesson number one being don’t die like a fool.  Thus I don’t ignore unexplained chest pains (Dad) or sit in my kitchen all day eating Wheat Thins, watching Law & Order, and playing Sudoku (Mom).  What will my children learn?  Besides the obvious (don’t drink, kids), it’s hard for me to say.  In fact, it’s probably none of my business to say–it’s for them to decide.

What made me think about this?  Brinky is learning early.  He hears me complain all the time about having to tithe to the dentist, and he’s made the commitment to take care of his six teeth.  This morning I watched him spend a solid fifteen minutes sitting in the family room, watching Dora and flossing.  Don’t believe me?

January 25, 2012

State of the Union

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:40

I didn’t watch the State of the Union address on Tuesday.  I voted for President Obama in 2008 and I’ll vote for him again this year, but I can’t stand to listen to him.  His cadence is maddening.  I just want to scream at him, “Punctuation means pause!  If there’s no punctuation then FINISH THE SENTENCE!”  He must drive his speechwriters crazy with the nonsensical pauses.  Also, what is he looking at?  Half the time he’s looking up and off to one side or the other, not like he’s avoiding eye contact with the camera or the audience, but like he’s making eye contact with THE FUTURE.  You want to talk about the future, that’s fine, but stop talking to the future.  It can’t hear you because IT DOESN’T EXIST YET.  You’re not going to be president of anything when it gets here if you don’t stop talking to it before it arrives.  I did watch some of the Wednesday morning coverage on CNBC, though, and the fact that it was sparse and grudging leads me to believe that the President did pretty well.  They’d have had mock-ups of him in front of a hammer and sickle wearing a Lenin beard if he’d given them anything to work with.  It also causes the CNBC anchors obvious, physical pain that an aggressively progressive ‘millionaires’ tax’ is being championed by Warren Buffet.  Buffet is a part of CNBC’s three-personed God of Business, along with Steve Jobs and Jack Welch.  Now they’ve lost Jobs literally and Buffet conceptually, and Welch looks more like a goblin with each passing day.  He still hates poor people, but his face suggests he should be bashing down the gates of Minas Tirith instead of bashing Democratic politicians.

Quick quiz: which one is Jack Welch and which one is Gothmog from Return of the King?

January 21, 2012

What’s Lunchtimer Than Being Lunchtime?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 11:05

Jenny:  I’m so hungry.

Me:  It’s not even lunchtime.

Jenny:  I know.  But it’s incredibly lunchtime.

Puff Daddy

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 10:59

Jenny:  Who is that?  Papa Dada?  Piddy Diddy?  No, wait–it’s Poop Dogg.

January 20, 2012

FSX Friday Update – Celebrity Guest Post by Katie

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:57

I’m guest posting the FSX update because I’m home on vacation to try (and fail) to make sure that Reagan has the birthday she’s been dreaming of.  (And because I’m mopping and scrubbing to get ready for Ray Gun’s sleepover—editor.)  As far as the market as a whole, I don’t have much to say about what’s going on in the economy. I could bore you with some thoughts on the convergence of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and International Financial Reporting Standards and the impact that will have on me personally, but I don’t think that’s interesting to anyone. I can say that grocery sales, at least at my employer’s stores, are up significantly over last year, so that’s bound to mean the economy’s improving, right? But fuel prices have increased a lot recently, so that’s not cool. But the fuel increase is partially driven by the removal of an ancient federal ethanol credit, so I don’t know that it’s a true increase. I think what I’m saying is that I have no idea what’s going on in the market. I think Lee mentioned something about Google, and I think he said the stock is up. That could be because I decided to get another Android phone. Except I just looked and they’re down, so maybe it was that he said they’re down (I did—ed.). So maybe they think I should have gotten an iPhone? I don’t know. Maybe other people besides me heard about Obama singing a little Al Green and thought that was a good thing for the economy, too. (http://youtu.be/T-hDt2E8MoEhttp://youtu.be/T-hDt2E8MoE) I thought it was cute.

FSX up 1.7% to close at 11,930; S&P 500 up 2.0%.

On to the people:

Advancers

  • Ruby (RBY +12.5%) – Mom headed out of town this week, which I think she enjoys. And so does her airline stock. And I heard it was really hot when she got to Texas – she was probably able to shed the winter coat she felt she had to wear in Hilton Head before she left.
  • Lee (MSTR +8.4%) – Toogie’s life was improved this week (for real) by the addition of Baby First TV to our lives. Baby First TV just became a free channel on DirecTV this week. I didn’t think we’d want to watch it because it would be really boring. But it’s actually kind of soothing sometimes, and kind of crazy at other times. The big plus, and why I think it’s the reason Lee’s up this week? No commercials. So he can avoid the Fresh Beat Band. I won’t even type the name of the specific song he’s trying to avoid because it would get in my head and his. The point is, it’s definitely good to have Brinky watch something that won’t get stuck in his head for the rest of time. Or if it does, it’s some weird harmless clay looking mice thing that makes weird noises.
  • Nicole L. (COL +4.8%) – I’m going to say Nicole’s up because of the progress she and my little brother have made with their wedding plans. And the progress we have made in figuring out our plans to get us and our extremely cute children there for the wedding.
  • Marisa (MOLX +4.1%) – Oh, Marisa. Why are you up? Because you’re sleeping right beside me on the floor at night on a blanket and I haven’t stepped on you? Yet? I guess so.
  • Katie (CATY +3.9%) – Why am I up? I don’t really know. Oh, wait, I do! We ordered a new Wii (or a new used Wii) so we’ll be able to play our dance games again. I love the dance games. And a little exercise certainly couldn’t hurt. The dance games are definitely more fun than trying to train for a 5k with Jenny when it’s cold outside (not that I’m doing that, but I should). Oh, and I finally got a new phone that will hopefully function all day every day instead of freezing up repeatedly and restarting randomly.
  • Dustin (DST +3.6%) – I don’t know. Neither does dad. We’re assuming that means life is good.
  • Jodi Ann (JOY +3.2%) – I think Jodi Ann’s increase is also wedding related. She and Marcus set a definite date and location for their wedding. Getting that accomplished is a definite reason to be up!
  • Justin (WOLF +2.9%) – With a new job and another birthday this week, how could he be anything but up? He would have been up more if I’d thought to post the cute video of Brinky laughing actually in celebration of his birthday instead of just for the pleasure of the whole world, but that’s okay.

Decliners

  • Reagie (REGN -0.7%) – Reagan shouldn’t be down because she’s been looking forward to her birthday celebration today so much for at least two weeks. But I guess she knew in advance that there would be some ancient people who didn’t know how to use the computer check-in system at school ahead of us when we got there for lunch, which made us get to the lunch room about three minutes after Reagan’s class got in there. Which was long enough for Reagan to completely freak out and start crying because she thought we weren’t coming. I like to believe the rest of her birthday will go according to her plan. We all hope it does.
  • Nicole B. (NI -1.4%) – I don’t know why Nicole would be down when she and Justin are settling into their new lives in New York. Maybe because there’s no settling before they move into their actual new home in a few more weeks. Let’s go with that.
  • Lulu (LULU -3.0%) – I may have stepped on Lulu in the middle of the night. It’s her own fat fault though.
  • Wilson (WILC -4.1%) – Poor Wilson. Every day he just looks sadder and like his life is harder than it was the day before, mostly because Brinky will not leave him alone.
Name Ticker 1/20/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $27.86 +0.50
Charlotte ICE $117.41 +0.94
Dustin DST $48.67 +1.68
Icarus FLOW $3.67 +0.02
Jenny JNY $9.23 +0.02
Jodi Ann JOY $85.36 +2.62
Justin WOLF $3.18 +0.09
Katie CATY $16.41 +0.62
Lee MSTR $115.21 +8.97
Lisa LNCE $22.81 -0.18
Lucas LEI $2.47 -0.08
Lulu LULU $60.12 -1.84
Marcus MCS $12.85 +0.01
Mario T.E. MGEE $44.13 -0.09
Mario T.Y. SUP $17.72 +0.17
Marisa MOLX $27.00 +1.06
Namilita NL $13.42 +0.31
Nicole B. NI $22.84 -0.32
Nicole L. COL $59.87 +2.72
Reagan REGN $78.33 -0.59
Ruby RJET $4.22 +0.47
Wilson WILC $4.66 -0.20
Winston ED $58.76 -0.42
Zero ZIP $15.17 +0.17
Zondro ZQK $4.27 +0.01

January 19, 2012

I’m Like A Bird

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:02

I have many chores and much baby in my day.  Alas for me (but hooray for Brinky) I’m not able to put off all the chores until the baby goes down for his nap.  He slept late (for him) this morning and so I was expecting a first nap beginning no earlier than 10:00.  He wasn’t much into his Dora, so I brought him into the kitchen with me for some dishwashing.  Most of the baby-level kitchen cabinets have baby latches on them on account of the many babies, but we’ve left one unlatched and full of plastic bowls for the various babies to play with.  The first two enjoyed the thought that they’d penetrated our defenses when they got into that cabinet, and Brinky is no different.  So I had my back to him, washing dishes, while he threw all the bowls out of his cabinet and onto the floor.  Quiet is a relative concept.  Only then I experienced a few minutes of absolute quiet, a few minutes being a few minutes longer than I should blithely allow such tranquility to continue unquestioned.  As it turns out, I’d stored something else at the back of the baby cabinet during the baby interregnum and subsequently forgotten about it.

We’d tried to have a bird feeder out front, several years back, before I realized that I was effectively inviting the poor things to die in the claws of our cats.  I took the feeder down, but I kept the birdseed because you never know, right?  We might have a chickadee emergency or something.

Well, birdseed’s just sunflower seeds and other, smaller seeds, right?  And people eat sunflower seeds on purpose, right?  So we should be fine.

Then why is it I’m so certain I’ll see those seeds again?  Probably sometime tomorrow.

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