Thursday, June 30, 2005

Happy 4th of July

The 4th is my favorite holiday. There's usually no family committement like a thanksgiving or Christmas. No ton of money to spend on gifts like birthdays or Christmas. No false religious bull like Easter or Christmas.

Can you guess my least favorite holiday?

The 4th is just fun and friends. It combines the best of life for a mid-western American male: Explosives, beer, and cow flesh grilling. How can you beat that?

Friends are coming over for the 4th. Other friends - good friends - are flying in from South Carolina on Friday. Originally from Virginia they used to live here before an untimely job change. Now they're back in Cincinnati to catch up with various friends. They're coming by our place on Saturday.

The 4th and visits will be good. I need a little change. Once again I seem to be stuck in a mood rut. Things are going well career wise. I'm starting to fear that I'm just a stuck in a mood rut kind of guy. If this keeps up I'm calling in the miracle workers of Big Pharma.

When I was younger (20 or so) I made a list of things to avoid to have a pretty successful life. This included:
Not spending any time in jail.
Not getting a DUI.
Not getting myself fired from a job.
Not becoming an alcoholic.
Not screwing around on my wife.
Not getting divorced.
Not having to borrow money from relatives.
Not beating my kids.
Not having to live with my parents.

I figured if I could avoid any of the above I'd be a success. Well, I've never done any of the above and I don't always feel like a success. I think it's that "Not" in front of everything. Pretty negative. "If I avoid things, that will be good." The list should have been more positive, but at the time, surveying the wrecks of lives around me, avoiding those things seemed pretty good. It's not that I want to cheat on my wife or become a booze-hound, it's just that it needs to be more positive.

I also need to change my mindset. I read somewhere that life "is the road, not the inn." (Chaucer maybe) It's the trip that counts. Maybe it's a Protestant work ethic thing but I have the end in mind too much. It's like those family trips where my dad was intent on "getting there" even if no one really wanted to be "there." We delayed bathroom breaks, we passed up those brown tourist signs on the highway that looked interesting. We didn't stop at the kitch shops along the way (the south always had wonderfully tacky shops I wanted to see.) I still have a kid's curiousity about what Ruby Falls is.

Why couldn't we stop? So what if it took 5 hours to get to Detroit instead of the 3 hours and 10 minutes it usually took (yes, I still remember the time door to door to grandpa's house). So I have to remind myself to stop and (oh, God, am I going to really write this) smell the roses.

Have a happy 4th and consider taking up one of my traditions for this best of holidays. Go rent 1776.

Update: Come back soon, because I had another idea for a project and I need to test my microphone and a audio program I have. Soon Howard Speaks. You'll get to hear first hand my nasally drone.

Stay You.
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Friday, June 24, 2005

I'm Home

I got back from a long road trip. It wasn't really long - two days - but I drove for 1,300 miles. Kids are asleep. Wife is asleep. I'm wired. THere's nothing on TIVO or satelite or the internet that interests me. Two glasses of wine haven't helped. I still owe myself a Father's Day present, but nothing I see on Amazon really excites me. I listened to the White Album for the last couple of hours but now I'm wired, sick of The Beatles, and it's coming up on midnight and I have the horrible feeling I'll be up for hours.

I just reread what I just wrote, realized that it's a blather and have decided to let it go.

anyway, I drove through East Liverpool Ohio which is the home town of Lou Holtz - whoever that is? - and then through Stuebenville Ohio - hometown of Dean Martin. It's no wonder these guys left. The area is bleak beyond bleak. Poverty of the people is only matched by the beauty of the green rolling hills of this river valley interupted only by coal plants and strip mining operations. I'm glad I'm out of there.

I was neutral on Tom Cruise until I saw this video. I'm sure Mr. Cruise has had to deal with his share of crazies and there had to be a point - a split second - where he wondered what he was getting squirted with; acid, poison, bleach, was he scarred, was his career over, were his kids going to be alright if it was poison. But that's how I hope I would react. You hold the guy accountable, you call him on his actions and you don't let him off the hook. He could have ran away and sqeeled like a girl. The squirter was a wus in response and I hope he has ED for a while.

I've also renewed my Nortons' and it won't install so now I'm waiting on a call back from India. Until then - I'm unprotected.

Have a speech to give. Use this book. Great little book.

The cat is now clawing at the window to be let in so I'm turning off blather mode.

Stay You.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Curiously Empty

My mind is curiously empty today. No great thoughts. No great observations.

While sitting in a little farmers market cum restaurant half way between an appointment in Lebanon Ohio and an appointment in Waynesville Ohio, today eating fried chicken, cole slaw and a diet pepsi, I finally caught up on reading the Sunday Challenger.

They had a great article about my town of Bellevue, Ky. Check it out here. We're growing. At least our tax base is. Where must of the building is going on was either a dump or 100+ year old houses that poor people lived in that had been flooded on a regular basis. Where'd the poor people go? Don't know. My suspicion is the suburbs.

However, all the development will block the view of the city skyline from our favorite ice cream shop.

Stay You.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Out of My Funk and Into the Beatles

It seems like forever since I've posted. I went to Ft. Wayne Indiana for Father's day. Stayed with my sister and her family. It was their youngest's birthday. Carter is now 2.

Brunch at my parents on Sunday, then a 3 1/2 hour drive home.

Work sucked before and after this weekend. I was in a seriously black funk over the last week. I even broke out my old book to help out.

This week I am spending alot of time alone in the car. Actually, I rented a Chevy Silverado (big mother of a truck) to drive. I have a stack of Beatles CDs and they've done their usual job of pulling me out of my funk. God Bless John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Yes, I'm a Beatlemanic. I've just check and I've never posted about this. I am going to have to soon. I listened to Rubber Soul twice today. It's perfect. Go buy it.

Tomorrow it's Revolver. I'm Only Sleeping was my teen-years anthem.

How can an American conservative minded investment guy who was born 6 days after the official break-up of the band be a Beatlemanic? Easy, Paco. Keep coming back. Someday I'll tell you.

Stay You.
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Friday, June 17, 2005

Speaking of Eulogies

Along with Jonah's eulogy of his dad (again, wonderfully written). I can't believe that I forgot one of the best eulogies in literature:

From the MTM show:
"Chuckles the Clown brought pleasure to millions. The characters he created will be remembered by children and adults alike...Peter Peanut, Mr. Fee Fi Fo, Billy Banana and, my particular favorite, Aunt Yoo Hoo. And not just for the laughter that he provided. There was always some deeper meaning to whatever Chuckles did. And what did Chuckles ask in return? Not much. In his own words-'a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pant's."
Stay You.
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Happy Father's Day!

I do worry about the type of dad I am and am going to be. I have two daughters and I see danger for them everywhere. But the danger I'm most concerned about is me. Am I doing a good job? Am I warping their psyche in some way that I am unaware of?

I know I'm not The Great Santini, but there's lots of inoccuous men out there that are total creeps. I don't want my girls dancing on poles at 23. The women who danced at The Blue Iguana were not happy.

National Review's Jonah Goldberg's father just died. Jonah published his eulogy here. THis is one of the best things I've ever read and written on very short notice. I secretly hope I have a lingering illness so people will have time to prepare something nice. But what will my girls say at my death?

I'm a little touchy about this because of my grandfather. Here he is. He died about 10 years ago. My father, who sort of led the care for him during his final years and was at his side when he passed, called me that day and asked if I would say a few words. I said sure, but then it dawned on me. I didn't really have anything nice to say.

You see, my grandfather wasn't an easy man. He probably had some personality disorder if not outright schizophrenia. Depression was in there. Paranoia too. Bottom line is that he was really kind of a son-of-a-bitch. It's sad to think that maybe a pill could have made his life happy and his families easier if he was born 70 years later, but oh well.

So I bailed on my eulogy. I was one of the younger grandkids and never lived in the same town as him. I wasn't around that much and there were other grandkids - much older - who could do a better job. But they had the same experiences. They had nothing nice to say.

Nobody had anything nice to say and if someone did say something nice we all would know it was a crock. This went unspoken but it was heavy in the air. So heavy that somewhere in the service I got the giggles. Right in the middle of the funeral. It was just plain funny; everyone sitting around paying their respects to a guy they didn't like.

But, God was it sad. God, I don't want that to be me.

Stay You.
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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Speaking Tonight

It's early and I have a speaking engagement tonight. Doesn't that sound fancy? A speaking engagement. What it is is me getting up in front of 25 people at Karlo's Italian Bistro in Florence Kentucky to give them a basic investment presentation. This will be part of a patient appreciation event being thrown by one of my clients.

I can do the presentation in my sleep (and have). There's nothing fancy in it, but people still seem to be wow'd at times by it. I like that. One thing that I've noticed is that even though I can do this in my sleep and have done it 100 times or more, speaking to a group is exhausting. After a presentation I ride a huge adrenalin rush and then 1-2 hours later I crash hard. I get exhausted and grumpy. I guess it's from being in front of people all the time. This has made me realize that my political career may be limited. How do these politicians go from meeting to meeting and campaign event to campaign event and not tell everyone to just go to hell. You have to admire that - in a way.

Should I take a nap sometime today? Will anyone at my office let me?

Stay You.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

30 Days

I watched Super Size Me a month or so ago (I like it) and Morgan Spurlock has a new series out based on the same premise. Watch it tonight!

It looks like a fish out of water show.

On the web's episode guide he lists some improbably scenarios. A Christian lives in the Castro district, a mom binge drinks for 30 days (?), Morgan lives on minimum wage, etc. The one that cought my attention was a Christian lives amongst the Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan.

I know I'm prejudging but I'm going to bet that the whole point of the show is that the Christian learns that not all Muslims are Osama Bin Laden. Blah, blah, blah. Preachy, preachy.

Ok, I like the McDonald's movie, so I'll give Morgan a break, but what I'd really like to see is a Christian living in Saudi Arabia. How does he react when they tear up his Bible at customs? How does he deal with being arrested after conducting a Christian church service in his hotel room?

My office is in a very Catholic, very German part of Cincinnati. One my drive home, I often seen a buddhist monk walking along the street. About 30 minutes ago, 3 women with innumerable kids in tow walked past my office. All of them in very dark muslim garb. Aren't they hot? I don't think they are walking in fear. Maybe they get looks. Maybe some idiot is rude to them. But there's no fear of death.

Or how about this: An openly gay man in Iran. Does he cry when he's stoned to death? How's he hold up under torture?

Like I said, maybe I'm prejudging and I'll apologize, but if Morgan turns this show into a how-America-sucks-this-week indictment, he'll have pissed away alot of goodwill. Sure we have our problems, but people vote with their feet and all I hear is a crowd coming our way.

Stay You.
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Monday, June 13, 2005

Things I Don't Care About

I don't care about that missing chick in Aruba. Sorry. I thought we were suppose to be infatuated with missing or dead pretty blondes. Sorry. She may be missing or dead. She's a blonde. But pretty?

Michael Jackson jury is in. Whatever. If he's guilty is he still the King of Pop. If not, who is? Will a Regent of Pop be named? Maybe a mature figure. Huey Lewis maybe? Until a new King of Pop can be determined.

At the grocery store I thought I didn't think I knew who Katie Holmes was, but then I remembered her from this movie that I liked. Why do I care that she's so young? Isn't Tom Cruise a male movie star? Isn't he suppose to like younger women? Doesn't he have the ability to get them? So he does. Why is that news? Why do I care who Tom Cruise is having sex with? Ok, I do have one question: Isn't Katie Holmes going serious downhill from Nicole? Answer: Yes!

Hear about that shop-a-holic 9/11 widow? I don't care about her. Screw her; her friends sound pretty dispicable too. I put the shop-a-holic disease right up there with anorexia. Only a country as rich as ours can start making up diseases for rich people to have.

Ok, how many of you have I pissed off? Why do you care?

Stay You.
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Howard Dean

I would hate to give advice to the Democrats because it would sound too cute or trite, but the Howard Dean crack-up is just a symbol of the entire party. They take themselves very seriously, but no one else does.

Mostly, his remarks about the Republicans being a "white Christian party" and the not making an honest living thing (this is the party of Union members getting the day off to vote right?) along with his past condescention about wanting to be the candidate for Southerns with pick-ups and gun racks remind me of that line from Blazing Saddles when Gene Wilder consoles Clevon Little after being treat...well, like a black man in the 1800's:
You've got to remember, that these are just simple farmers, these are people of the land, the common clay of the new west. You know . . . morons.
I think that's the most common instinct that party leaders have towards most Americans.

What mostly concerns me is that I like competition and the Democrats aren't bringing it. Howard Dean can't seem to run a party with very few divisions within it (monolithic?) and he came within a shout of the Presidency, luckily this guy saved the day from total ruin.

Stay You.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

You Ever Want to Disappear?

You Ever Want to Disappear? This Northern Kentucky woman did.
When a Texas Ranger visited the school where Ann Dickenson works in Moody, Texas, she assumed he was bringing the worst news: that her daughter Brandi Stahr, gone without a trace for nearly seven years, was dead.

But Stahr wasn't missing at all, and the stunning truth soon emerged: She had simply walked away from her life.

I think it's kind of cool. She slipped off the face of the least her earth. Yes, it's cruel to leave your parents in that kind of mental torture, but maybe - just maybe - for a daughter to disappear, the parents don't really deserve a whole lot of consideration? Maybe they were sucky parents? Probably.

I've given it some thought and once or twice flipped through books at the book store on how to disappear. Pack up the wife and kids and....vanish. It sure would simply life alot. It sure would eliminate a lot of negative family connections. Put up in some ridiculous place like Eugene, Oregon or Conway, South Carolina. I'm surprised this particular woman disappeared to Florence Kentucky (Florence is an old Indian word for "Out by the Mall"). I thought all weird things happened in Florida. But it's not going to happen. I'm staying put.

One thing I do like about these stories is the accompaning photos. Do these people think, "Reporters are here. They want my story. They want my picture. I think I'll change into that really nice t-shirt I bought in Wyoming. Hon, you go put on your Harley Patriotica t-shirt."

And there's always a step dad. I know I'm generalizing again, but I always think he's the dick. He's the one that was the final straw. He was the one who came in an laid down some law and pissed everybody off and drank too much and ended up buying a fancy American flag t-shirt with a bitchin' eagle on it.

But the part I really like was this line:

Dickenson was nervous about calling her daughter. Stahr's sister called first, then her stepfather called - even though the marshal told them that Stahr didn't want to hear from them just yet.....

A couple hours later, Ann Dickenson picked up the phone. On the other end, she heard her daughter's voice for the first time in more than six years.
That's right. In not uncertain term (you disappear for 5 years) you tell your mother you don't want to deal with them and then a Texas Marshall tells your mom not to call and what does she do? She calls.

Maybe Ms. Shahr ought to consider disappearing again. I hear Pensacola is nice.

Stay You.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sunday Challenger Article/Breakfast with Howard

I had almost given up on the Sunday Challenger running this piece of mine on Covington City Commission Jerry Stricker. I had submitted it a few months ago and was thinking of asking if another local paper would want it. But here it is.

Here's a snippet:
The fifth child of Clarence and Frieda Stricker grew up on Newport's West Side, moving from rental property to rental property as family economics dictated. The moving stopped, however, when he was a freshman at Newport High School. His oldest brother, Robert, died in World War II and a small payment from the government allowed the Strickers to buy their first home on Columbia Street. Unfortunately, just a couple of years later, Clarence Stricker passed away when Jerry was 17 years old.
Jerry Stricker is an older man - maybe late 60's but doesn't look it. He also seems tall. I'm at 6'0" even and he seems to tower over me, but looking back on it, I think that was his personality. That sign in the picture wasn't that high off the ground. He's also thin and works out quite a bit. He's done alot and spoke quite abit about it. That's quite a difference from conversations I have with most people where it eventually turns back to something they saw on television.

Yesterday morning I had a sparringly attended client appreciation breakfast (15 people in all) at the local country club, but made some good contacts there (a CPA, a mortgage broker, the son of a client who is a graphic design who may be able to help with this) that I think will help my clients in the future. That's always good. I actually like smaller groups. I've had a few in the 35-40 people range and don't feel like a make as deep of a relationship connection with that many, so maybe this size is better.

Stay You.
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Thursday, June 02, 2005


This post has been sitting around for a couple days because I saved it as a draft and didn't post it. Hope you enjoy. For those who care, I've posted the entire PDF of my book The Pure Investor here. Read away.

Now that the big mystery of the 70's is over, I'm a little let down. Don't argue that Hoffa is a mystery. A ex-con union boss with mob ties disappears? No big mystery there.

I'm of the 80's generation so the biggest mystery we had to undure was Who Shot JR? and Where's the Beef? Oh, and how in the hell did Madonna get away with calling herself a "singer" much less an artist?

I have to admit that I admire Woodward and Bernstein. They kept the secret for 30 years. Considering my whining yesterday about money, I don't know if I could have done that. There had to be a point in the last 3 decades where Carl or Bob needed some jack to pay the kid's college bill or to buy that mid-life crisis enduced red convertible or to pay the townhouse rent for the bimbo they kept downtown. Bravo.

It also seems like Deepthroat was kind of an ass. He got passed over for a job so he leaked to the newspaper. A real man would have resigned in protest, gone to a sympathetic Congressman - proper channels - and told all. The way Deepthroat did it, he got to stab Tricky Dick in the back in an underground garage and still keep his pension. That didn't take guts.

Also, Nixon doesn't seem so smart in this. I can't stand Nixon's politics but at least he was tough. Anyone who will bomb on Christmas to get people back to the negotiating table deserves some respect. The pollyanna's don't want to admit it, but Kennedy had more cunning and guile than Nixon ever did. Kennedy knew how to handle people working for him, he just kept screwing things up internationally. And of course he forgot to duck. Nixon should have known that if you pass up the #2 guy at FBI to put your own stooge in that the #2 guy will come after you somehow. Kennedy would have passed the #2 guy up, but then either brought him in closer and sent him someplace far away. Any middle manager knows that when you get that promotion you don't take on the old guys secretary. She'll be out for you. Nixon left him in place. Dumbass.

Stay You.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Hard Road

Maybe I've chosen the hard road. Maybe it's not that hard. I don't want to whine.

As a conservative, I believe that big business is almost as bad as big government (when you get the two together - go run and hide).

So I don't work for a large company. This is a philosophical and tempermental choice. The large firm I did work for was very pleasant but soul deadening. Moreover, it was ambition deadening. I felt myself getting fat and lazy there.

Now, my office is very small. My goal is to work totally for myself which would make my work environment even smaller people wise. But with that comes a lack of all those corporate benefits. The hard road. Maybe? But - for me - the right road.

As a conservative I don't think it's right of me to send my kids to public school. These are so controlled by the Feds that I have come to think of them as welfare schools. They are a disaster. Mainly, it just isn't right for me to take other people's money to education my kids. We're the ones who decided to have them. So I pay...and pay...and pay... Oh, and once a year, I get to pay a property tax bill to keep the dysfunctional public school going. Again. The hard road?

We'll survive. It's not like I'm not one of the world richest just by living in this country. It's not like we'll starve. I'm just tired of always taking the hard road. I'd like a little extra comfort.

In Kentucky, food stamps are on a credit card type thing now. Recipents just swipe their card to pay in the same place we swipe our check card. The Divine Mrs. M. was stuck in the grocery for a while as the kids and I waited for her in the car. It seems like a woman was having trouble with her free-food card. The clerk worked it out. The customer then paid for her cigarettes with cash.

We don't live in an affluent neighborhood so this is a frequent scene. They are friends and neighbors. I like them. They come to my kids birthday parties and I drop their kids off after activities. But, these people do know how to work the system. I've been there when it's discussed. It pisses me off. But sometimes I'm a little jealous of that.

Can't someone else pay for the groceries? I could really use that money for a little extra fun - even if it's just some cigarettes.

Stay You.
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