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Monday, August 18, 2014

 

RIP - Robin Williams

Losing Robin Williams seemed to have a significant impact on people even before the details surrounding his suicide became generally known. I think it is that way with exceptionally talented people who also are plagued with sometimes debilitating conditions. In Williams' case, his history of addiction was well known and he made no secret of its impact on both his professional and personal life.   This flaw served to humanize him even as we were in awe of his otherworldly gifts. It also made an impression when he was able, as an actor, to transcend pure comedy and bring other dimensions to his movie roles, especially in movies such as Garp, Good Morning Vietnam, and most brilliantly in Good Will Hunting.   It may be that he realized that he really did not have much left in the tank given his health issues, and that realization would have been hard for him to handle. Still, it would have been nice to have him stay around for a well deserved victory lap or two.
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Obama and Kerry have done such a bad job trying to curtail the hostilities between Hamas and Israel that the US is now irrelevant. Any lasting peace deal is much more likely to be brokered by Egypt since neither of the warring parties trust this administration. Whatever happens, Israel must not prematurely end the mission but instead continue until Hamas is degraded as a fighting force and the rockets and tunnels are gone.  Whether that point has yet been reached is doubtful.

A good example of what happens when you stand down either due to lack of resolve, impatience, or political expediency is what's happening to us in Iraq.  Or Syria. Or Afghanistan. Or Ukraine. Etc, etc, etc.
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Louisville, KY, which is where I am as this is written, is an interesting town to visit, though certainly not as great a venue for a business trip as Seattle or Austin. But there is fun to be had. Fourth St. downtown is something of a disappointment in that there is little in the way of live music worthy of attention  and the bar scene, like Trix, is strictly for kids. But there is the Muhammad Ali Museum, the bourbon trail tours, and Louisville Slugger Park, the beautiful home of the Louisville Bats, a Reds  AAA farm team. The weather has been fine and many would not know the city abuts the Ohio River We are within walking distance of the bridge over the Ohio that takes you to Indiana (in fact there is a pedestrian bridge to Indiana).

As for food, it's pretty easy to abuse your diet here as in much of the south, particularly in the pub restaurants. We did have three or four excellent meals here and the standouts were Corbett's, Eddie Merlot, and Dr. Crow's. Corbett's is a charming old house turned restaurant about 20 minutes from Downtown and the food and service are impeccable. Even the appetizers provided for our cocktail hour were so thoughtfully prepared.   Eddie Merlot features very good steak and seafood in a setting nice enough to feel like it is out of place at the edge of the raucous Downtown bar scene. Dr. Crow's is by the river and certainly has more of a pub feel, but it is known for its steak and oysters and despite its large size, the service was quite good there too.

All in all, Louisville was a good meeting site and I would look forward to returning.
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The Mets have had their August swoon again which means September's games are unlikely to be meaningful. Still progress was made on several fronts his season. It looks like they are set at catcher for the first time since the Piazza days, and Murphy is now well established as a first quality hitter and a passable second baseman. The young outfielders look promising and we'll see next year who is worthy of a commitment like the team made to Lucas Duda this year.  Most promising is the pitching where the team is stockpiled with young starters and relievers.   Since it looks like most teams will be going to a six man rotation over the next few years, there is really no such thing as too much pitching.

Less bracing is the continuing decline of David Wright, especially offensively.  He has always had difficulty with pitch recognition, but now his uppercut is so bad he can't hit the fast ball either. Since the Mets are committed financially to both him and Curtis Granderson (also in decline), this figures to be a serious drag on performance for some time. Of course the other obvious problem is that Manager Collins has got to go because of his in-game strategic incompetence. It's way past time to give Wally Backman an opportunity
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Here are the recent stock trades. Keep in mind that this blog and it's author are not investment advisors so these are not intended as recommendations.

Purchases

Date      Symbol   Shares    Price            Comments

7/2        AGCO    50          55.59      Value Buy
7/9        FNFG     300          8.78    Zero Buy
7/9        TIP          20         114.66    Inflation around the corner
7/14      KN         100          29.50    Spin offs are popular
7/17      FAST       50           45.25    Quality company under pressure
7/18     TAI          100          21         We'll watch this one for a while
7/21      MAIN     100          31.74     Value
7/22      GE          100           26.10     Immelt's Turnaround at last?
7/23   BK.PR.C   100           23.45    Don't forget income
7/29    B              100            35.66    An old favorite
7/31    RAVN      100            28.92    Down markets mean bargains
8/4      IAU          200            12.52   Gold
8/5     BRS            50             72.98
8/6     BYD          300              9.52   It's a gamble
8/11   WFC.PR.P  100           23.25   Soundest of the big banks
8/11    AGCO        50             49.15   Average down

Sales
Date    Symbol       Shares     Price       Date         Price  
                                                           Bought      Paid

7/2        GHM         100        34.74      3/3/11       20.96
7/3        SHLM       50          41.34      9/22/06     23.77
7/9        ADM         50          46          8/3/12        25.48
7/9        ENI            200        17.48     2/10           21.39   European utility - UGH
7/15      AA             200        16.14     9/28/11      10.50
                                                           11/25/11      8.90    It took patience
7/25      AWC.MY  400          5.74      2/25/10      5.31
                                                            3/22/10       6.05
7/31      NVEC         50         65.07     12/2/09      37.50

When the markets are down, we tend to do more buying.  This market is precarious, but as Cramer says, you have to stay in the game. The rally of the last few days vindicated the formula yet again.  


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