Wednesday, July 23, 2014

American Worker

I really don't utilize the blog much anymore as all I seem to have time to do is tweet.  And there is precious little time for that since I write, write, write for a living. Somebody tell me how to get paid on Twitter :-).

But something happened today that needed more than 140 characters to express. I was working this morning in my home office and the doorbell rang. A delivery? Solicitor? I don't think I had any maintenance work scheduled for today.

It was a guy (ethnicity irrelevant). Last year, he saw that my roof was covered in living schmutz (moss or algae or something green) and offered to powerwash it for a good price. I took him up on it and he did a really good job. I would use him for other work around that house if something came up.

He said his cell phone number changed and as any good businessman would do, he notified his customers. But since all he had was in-person communication, there he was at the door. He also asked for more work, which, unfortunately for him, I did not need.

So here is a guy looking for business and working hard. He was polite, confident and willing to deal.

My guess is he does not live in a $2 million dollar house on the water but he is indeed an example of what people in this country should strive to emulate. I took his new number and will keep it for the next time I need him.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nostalgia - MTA Seminar 2001

The 26th Annual MTA Seminar
Lincolnshire, IL
May 17-20, 2001

Although the crowd was somewhat smaller than usual, MTA members, affiliates and guests converged in suburban Chicago for their 26th annual seminar. It delivered the networking, reunions and new friendships that have become the mainstay of these gatherings. It also presented the opportunities to learn from both well-known and not-so-well-known technicians but all had something valuable to offer each attendee.

The Marriott Lincolnshire was a beautiful resort hotel with a worthy golf course, several restaurants and the expected complement of amenities. It was a good environment in which to base a successful weekend.

Thursday Golf

You could really see in his eyes how happy Phil Erlanger was to get his beloved golf outing underway. After explaining the rules to the duffers and outlining various contests in which to compete, five groups hit the links. Team Bridge (John Kosar, Michael Kahn, their boss Kevin Pendley and the director of the CRB Bob Hafer) teed off last at 11:40. Six hours and countless dead waterfowl later, the final four pulled into the starter area only to be met by Mr. and Mrs. Erlanger in a golf cart ready to search the golf course for the lost souls. Hey, it was a day in the sun, especially since Kosar and Kahn had not been on a golf course in literally a decade. When the boss says golf, you golf.

Michael Jepson reported that he has never seen rough like what we saw in Lincolnshire.  At the first tee, his drive went a little left into the rough.  No problem, he thought, just pull out the 4-iron and punch out. Three strokes later he's still trying to get out!  "I was so lost in the rough all day long, I thought they were going to send Jesse Jackson out to save me!" he said.

Congratulations to golf award winners: Todd Gold - closest to the pin, Kevin Pendley - low gross score and Ian McAvity - longest drive.


Check-in was smooth and exciting as old friends met in the lobby.  Conversations begun a year ago in Atlanta, and interrupted as friends left to catch flights, were resumed without hesitation one full year and one half a country later.  It wasn't until several hours later over cocktails that we felt sufficiently informed of the past to discuss the future.

After an outdoor buffet and cocktail party, attendees moved under the pool deck tent for the evening festivities. Seminar Chair Nina Cooper sketched out the next three days: a trip to the CME and the CBOE, a boat ride past several historical Chicago sites and many exciting speakers.  President Phil Erlanger introduced the Board of Directors and Management Committee members followed by Keenan Hauke, who presented this year's Charles H. Dow Award for the best paper on technical analysis.  This year, the competition was fierce and we awarded two awards, one each to Charles Kirkpatrick and Peter Eliades.


Friday was kicked off with a traditional Ian Notley walkabout where we were split up into many small tables for mix-and-match discussions. After a small time, the whistle blew and we followed predetermined patterns to switch to the next small table for discussions with new people on new topics. The theory is that by the end of walkabout, each attendee will have met half of the entire group although that rarely works quite that smoothly.

After a coffee break and visit to the exhibitor rooms, the late morning presenters where on. The pace was fast since the schedule was tight. By noon, we were all on board three buses and on our way, box lunches in hand, to downtown Chicago. Next stop, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.  In front of the large window overlooking the trading floor at the Mercantile Exchange, former pit trader John Kosar explained the layout of the pits and demonstrated the hand signals in use.

Across the street at the CBOE, where we were welcomed with a cake, there were 7000 computers.

These computers generate enough heat collectively that the air conditioner runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The furnace, though present in the basement, sits inactive but we could have used that heat at our next stop, the water taxi tour of the Chicago skyline as seen from lake Michigan. 

Standing on the sidewalk awaiting our tour, the temperature grew cooler by the minute.   Adjacent to our post was a drug store.  It was a nondescript place, unremarkable in every way except that it was about experience a strange run on warm clothing.

Dressed in short sleeves, we entered this store like an occupying army foraging in the countryside.  Bruno DiGiorgi was the first to spot them.  They hung above the counter, and were reduced for clearance.   They were ugly; so ugly they weren't hung as one would expect; on hangers.  Instead, they were stapled to the wall. They were lightweight, ugly, green windbreakers.

Eight dollars later, our scouts emerged from the drug store much warmer and fully prepared to cruise.  Moments after that there were two green jackets standing in the crowd, then there were three, then four.  Soon the crowd turned to face the door and place bets on how many of us there would finally be.  With every green jacket at the door the crowd cheered.  With each addition to our special group the cheers became more enthusiastic.  Each coat wearer, seeing no other choice, took his rightful place next to his brothers like some junior high band preparing for parade.  We can only imagine what non-MTA customers must have thought as they opened the door to find 50 people, a half dozen of whom dressed in uniform, cheering, pointing and staring at them. 

The MTA Bowling Team was born.

(more about the) Legend of the Green Jackets

Dick Arms and Mike Jepson left the bus, walked around looking for a department store to buy something warm. Finally they walked into what looked like a downtown was a train station.  Anyway, a security guard said that all the stores in the area catered to women only and that maybe we could find something in the drug store at the end of the station.  Not knowing that other MTA members had just purchased green jackets and walked out the other door, they walked into the opposite end of the store.

Mike eyed a nice looking tan jacket but Dick buys it.  So, Mike thought thought, "we don't want to look like the Bobsy Twins.  Think how dumb we would look walking out of the drug store and on to the boat with our cute, matching jackets."  So, he did the smart thing and bought a green one.  Moments later as they exited the drug store they were in for a really big surprise!

Take my word for it, everyone but Dick Arms and Bill Meehan (on the right) was wearing the same green jacket.

An hour later on board ship John Brooks, always the considerate of the comforts of others, offers his eight dollar green jacket to the shivering crowd.  "Sixty dollars, firm."  Now that's a technician!


Saturday's closing dinner was highlighted by the keynote address given by Peter Eliades. Next Mike Epstein presented the 2001 MTA annual Award to Phil Roth, who accepted it and then made a $4000 donation to the Educational Foundation.


Once the evening's dinner, speeches and awards were behind us, Barbara Gomperts wheeled out a piano and with it was Nina Cooper's request to Peter Eliades for a song or two. Peter played and sang. Sam Hale danced with Karen Beaver. 

After Peter, Michael Smyrk came to the keyboard to play a great Jazz riff and Mark Scott followed that with an original piece, which he had written for his wedding proposal.. Just when you didn't think it could get any better, there was a sing-a-long.
"It was without any doubt, one of the greatest moments any MTA annual seminar has ever had." said Michael Krauss.
Thinking of the future:

With the great reviews of late, will boat rides and light shows now be de rigueur for upcoming MTA annual seminars?  When I complained that since Walter Deemer wasn't present there would be no light show, some quick thinking showman pulled out a laser pen and dealt with that problem.

Should potential keynote speakers also be evaluated on how well they entertain us after their presentation?  Is it true that Linda Raschke's virtuoso piano presentation and day trader Barbara Streisand are on next year's short list for keynote speaker? Linda has the edge because her political views are more acceptable to the MTA.

Will attendance trail off as the widely accepted view of MTA seminar debauchery and hell-raising is exposed as the wholesome events they actually are when it leaks out that we now have father-son attendees? How long can it be kept secret that one third of the group took the 6:30 PM bus back to the hotel from downtown Chicago after the afternoon activities so they could get to bed early and be alert for the morning presentations?

No one I spoke with thought the walkabout lasted long enough.  Since a very vocal majority wants next year to be near the beach, will it be oversubscribed when it is known that the walkabout will be 1/2 day from Tiki Bar to Tiki Bar--shoes and sandals optional?
Q. Did Mike Epstein really write that book at the Traders Press booth about "Safe Sex on Wall Street"?
A. After 42years, two wives, five kids and a lot of bar bills, etc. I feel I can state that there is NO safe sex on Wall St - Mike Epstein