- ► 2011 (24)
04/18 - 04/25
- When the zoo drops you, you know you're in trouble...
- Zen & the Art of Youth Ice Hockey Tryouts
- Nature's Fury
- Big Ben & The Court of Public Opinion
- Anarchist Pig Investment Advice for April 20th
- If only air to air combat was really this cute...
- "Fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life...
- Among the Barbarians
- ▼ 04/18 - 04/25 (8)
- ► 2009 (52)
23 April 2010
'The goal is to determine the extent to which Mr. Roethlisberger's violation of the league's Personal Conduct Policy during a night of bar-hopping in Milledgeville, Ga., was attributable to some underlying psychological, behavioral or neuropsychological disorder, and to map out a plan for intervention, psychologists say."
I'm glad the experts are on it- I just thought he was a self-absorbed asshole with a massive sense of entitlement.
22 April 2010
My kid is 10 and is by all accounts a very good player. He’s big and strong for his age, a good skater and has been complimented many times by his coaches for his work ethic and ability to follow instructions. He’s playing on a select team right now, sort of like an area all star team, and scored a game winning goal in Toronto a few weeks back. So, based on his ability and past performance, he should easily make his regular amateur team, right ? We will know tonight at 5 pm if he made the top team or if he has to try out again next week for the 2,3 or 4 team for his age group.
Going into tryout season, I told myself that this year was going to be different. I didn’t care what team he made, it’s all irrelevant and the main thing is that he is getting lots of exercise and having fun. “Impermanence” I kept repeating to myself over and over. I was calm, relaxed, my mind open and free…right up to the point where we were in the locker room getting ready.
“Keep your feet moving” I implored to my son, “stick on the ice, keep your head up” I mumbled, “look at the size of these kids, take it to them” I whispered so that none of the nearby parents could here. “Remember body position, use your size around the net” I continued “you’re faster than anyone in this room.” My kid looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and then said “Dad, why are you so nervous ? I’m not nervous.” With that, he went back to playing his handheld Nintendo, half his gear on, half of it strewn about with the confidence of a 10 year old version of Clint Eastwood.
“Because !” I wanted to yell, “this is serious business, this is a huge commitment in terms of time and money for this family, you need to take this seriously, the people picking the team are not your regular coaches, they don’t know you, jeez it smells in here, don’t you remember when I was your age and I got cut from a team and…..” With that, I caught myself surrounded by a thick wave of guilt. “Just do your best” I muttered and walked out of the room.
I walked up into the stands and sat down with the dozens of other neurotic hockey parents. There are 15 roster spots on the team and 34 kids are trying out. 19 kids are going to be disappointed, 19 sets of parents will be screaming and bitching that the process wasn’t fair, their kid is awesome, how could you do this to us. I could be one of the 19. You could read the body language of the parents in the stands as their kids were on the ice- twitches, winces, clapping, head in hands, smiles. Sort of like an immediate feedback loop tied to their kid's performance. I was trying to stay under control, barely, and limit my outward anxiety to a furiously bouncing knee and nervous facial tics.
Hockey parents are a different breed. I sneer at soccer practice when I hear a parent complaining about the $ 30 registration fee (wouldn’t even buy one glove) and the fact that they have to practice on Saturdays at 9 AM (try 6 AM when it’s snowing.) The season starts in August, and doesn’t really wind up until June. 3 or 4 practices a week, games, tournaments, another night, another rink- the entire family is soon walking zombies who’s lives are slaves to the hockey schedule on the fridge. Hundreds of dollars here, thousands of dollars there…pretty soon it adds up to real money. I've paid hockey bills before the car payment, before the mortgage payment, sold stuff to pay for fees in the bad times. Any rational person would look at this from the outside and label it madness. They're probably right.
I tried to think about why I was acting this way. I think it has to do with wanting the best for our kids, not accepting that they are anything less than handsome, brilliant and incredibly athletic. We try to shelter them from disappointment, hurt and judgment and keep them close to us for as long as possible (sort of like The Buddha's father, but I digress.) It seems incredibly unfair that some stranger can judge them, rate them, categorize them and place them on a team just on the basis of watching them play for a couple of hours. But then again, isn’t that how life works ? Life can be brutal at times, incredibly joyous at others- up, down, sideways and always impermanent.
My kid came off the ice and I met him in the hallway to the locker room. He was drenched with sweat, a huge smile on his face and his big blue eyes flashing. “How do you think I did ?” he asked. “It doesn’t matter buddy, I said. You did your best and I’m very proud of you no matter what.”
I think I need to write that down for next year.
21 April 2010
20 April 2010
My strategy was to go long on Citigroup shares so I opened the position about a month ago by purchasing 500 shares at $ 4.14 per share. At the time, Citi's book value of around $ 5.00 made this a compelling value play and I also felt that the bank's new management was making good strides to streamline their business groups and return to profitability. A few weeks after taking the long position, I further reinforced my optimism by buying 10 call contracts on the strike price of $ 4.00 expiring in September 2010, and 5 call contracts on the strike price of $ 5.00 expiring January 2012. Currently, these positions have yielded the following returns-
500 Shares Long + 17 %
Sept. 2010 call options + 62 %
Jan. 2012 call options + 22 %
Overall, this was a pretty risky bet on Citigroup. Not only was I long on shares, I also took option positions that could have been rendered virtually worthless. The call options clearly show how when you are firm in your decision they can accelerate returns above and beyond the underlying share value.
At this point, I will probably take profits on the September 2010 options position and move that money into the January 2012 options position. I am making this move because I remain very bullish on Citigroup and will also retain the 500 shares that I am long on. My personal opinion is that if you can get in at anything less than $ 5.50, you should enjoy solid returns provided you can endure the inevitable dips and panics that come with owning a battered company this one.
Next week, I will review how I sold covered call options on my position in American Rail Car Industries (ARII.) When my position in ARII reached a profit of nearly 100 %, I sold a covered call option contract because I felt it couldn't go any higher- problem is, the damned stock price has done just that !
Anarchist Pig Investment Advice is just that- advice. I am not an investment advisor, broker or investment professional and if you use this advice, you are using it at your own risk. If you take my advice, you need to do the research to see if it supports your investment goals. In other words, if it doesn't work out, don't fucking call me.
19 April 2010
As I mentioned in an earlier post, 21 year old Matthew Clemmens (pictured above) allegedly vomitted on an 11 year old girl at a recent Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. (Editors Note- Yes, I know it seems redundant to mention that it was a baseball game but this blog now has international readers. Anyways, on with the story.) Inevitably, numerous follow-up articles are now coming forward including a defense of Matthew from his uncle. I can certainly understand family loyalty, but the defense offered by John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer is a little harder to, errr, choke down. Mr. Gonzalez points out the massive media conspiracy that has labeled Philadelphia fans as boorish animals more interested in drinking and fighting than actually watching the game-
As we all know, Philadelphia has a reputation for harboring and enabling lawless savages masquerading as fans. The Clemmens arrest only added to that stereotype and allowed lazy, brainless outsiders to lump us all together thanks to the sins of a single cretin.
As the old saying goes, within every stereotype lies a grain of truth.
Mr. Gonzalez's defense of the Phillies and their fans sounds a bit like the excuses offered in 2009 after a fan was beaten to death following a game in Philadelphia-
"The vast majority of fans act well at games, act well outside of games. And are cordial with opposing fans, but it's a select group of knuckleheads that take it a little too far and then give the whole city of Philadelphia a bad name."
At what point do the excuses stop ?
I'm sure that life has become a living hell for Matthew Clemmens and I hope that this incident causes him to take a hard look at himself. That being said, if it wasn't Matthew becoming the poster child for barbaric behavior in the stands, it would be some other lost soul at some point doing something equally stupid. Although personal behavior and accountability are the issue here, we can't discount the Animal House atmosphere at many professional sports venues these days. The free for all, alcohol fueled atmosphere fosters and nurtures this type of behavior.
I don't know if some sociologist will ever do a study, but I just can't remember going to baseball games in my youth and seeing people tailgating in the parking lots. Sure, some people may have had a grill going and were enjoying a few pre-game brews, but nothing like the binge drinking frat boy free for all that you need to navigate on the way into the stadium. I'll say again that this problem is not just present in Philadelphia- it has spread to many other towns and sports.
Then again, is it really a big societal problem or am I just getting old ? Perhaps a bit of both.
18 April 2010
Well, you say, that wouldn't happen in a great city with a great sports tradition such as....Pittsburgh ! Oh nay, nay. It does happen and I've seen it happen. I've seen it happen to such an extent at Steelers games that after many years of buying 3 or 4 games a year off of a friend, I am sitting this season out. I'm sick and tired of trying to go to a game and having to endure thousands of blind drunk "fans" hurling obscenities at the opposing team and fans, their own team and each other. I'm revolted by the parking lot tailgating scene that is starting to look like something out of "Mad Max" with rampant binge drinking, vomiting and fighting. I made the mistake of taking my 9 year old to the Steelers-Oakland game last season and instead of enjoying an afternoon out, was forced to explain why otherwise responsible people feel the need to get drunk out of their minds in order to watch a game.
Now look, I'm by no means a priss. I like to drink beer when I'm at sporting events (before, during and after) and enjoy hanging out with my buddies as we enjoy the ups and downs of our local teams. Having a mild buzz and sitting in the stadium or arena can be an enjoyable experience. What I don't get, however, is how people can pay a great deal of money to buy their tickets so they can get blasted in the parking lot and pass out in their seats. A more logical plan would seem to be save the money, get blasted at home and pass out on your couch but, hey, who am I to judge ?
The other problem at sporting events, particularly Steelers games, is the underlying nasty vibe that you get (even if you are wearing Steelers gear.) The crowd seems very edgy, very drunk and in need of just one little spark to completely lose it. On many occasions I've bumped into a member of the Steelers nation, said "sorry" or "excuse me" and been met with the classic "fuck you" hissed through beer sodden lips. I've seen fist fights break out over people having their feet stepped on, cutting the line at the bathroom (because they badly need to get rid of that 6 gallons they drank in the parking lot) and reacting to insults real and perceived. Something about putting on a Steelers jersey and drinking heavily before noon can turn a nerdy bank vice president into a raving lunatic ready to fight anyone, and everyone, that gets in his way.
So, I'm sitting this one out. I'm tired of worrying about getting punched, kicked or shoved while trying to actually watch the game. In fact, I'm so tired of Steelers nation that I'm not even going to watch them on television. Screw 'em, the team and their fans have become a damned disgrace. No more hero worship for women beaters and sexual predators. You want me back in your stadium ? Clean up your act. You can start by cutting a few big names on your team. Next, reign in the zoo in the parking lot and quit quietly looking the other way at underage binge drinking, public exposure and drunk driving. Pull season ticket holder's tickets if anyone using theirs gets out of line and make them pay a fine of $5,000 to get them back with money going to charity. Do these things and I might just come back. Maybe.