Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Tear in my Hermetically Sealed Life

Bat, 1522
Albrecht Dürer

Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.

George Santayana

On Tuesday I had the happy circumstance of having lunch with my former executive assistant (FEA) and my former boss (FB). It was FEA's birthday which I thankfully remembered last week and called my FB to suggest an outing. I also called another former colleague to see if he'd be available for drinks--so long has he could meet me around 4 p.m.. The intermission (between lunch/drinks), I stopped at my Dad/StepM's home. (1)

Our conversation turned to politics, and Virginia is in an interesting position as she has two sons who are being considered by both candidates as VP with the Democratic choice being our current governor. Our current governor used to be my corporate attorney in the late 80's through the mid-90's prior to his seeking political office. He's one of the finest people I know.

Over lunch I had the best fried softshell crab sandwhich I've ever had. They are in season now. The batter was perfectly seasoned, and it was fried to penultimate crispness. I'm sure some of you are reading and cringing at the notion of eating a fried crustacean. Somethings it is best not to let the mind linger on too long. This is one of them.

We came to a unanimous conclusion that whomever was the successful candidate, the change would be for the good. It was good to visit with them.

My Dad lives just 15 minutes away. I had pinched H's laptop to take with me as my Dad has a wireless router. It was Fed decision day--and I likely would not have made lunch plans had I known that. BUT I'm glad that I had my day instead. My dad was not home, but I visited with my stepmom. (I was also unable to log on as he had a security encryption on his network!). I was able to see the reading of the decision, but missed most of the afternoon extravaganza. My Dad arrived home shortly afterward.

My Dad tends to have a very negative outlook, and I try to quell any urges to jump off of bridges after visiting with him. All I can say is that he's gone from bad to worse of late, and I'm not sure that I would have ever thought that possible! But his color looks good, and I suppose that piss and vinegar possess curative properties.

Next week I will be 48. You'd think that would qualify my being considered a grown up and capable of thinking through issues and forming my own opinions on most matters (and that I'm college education, enjoyed a successful business career etc). Somehow, my Dad (from whom I certainly get my pig-headedness from) seems to forget those small matters, and proceeds to tell me how much worse things are now (people, finances) than they have ever been. And he reads and believes all of the conspiratorial press, and it only deepens his disgust.

I can literally write the script of every conversation, but even with that familiarity, the conversation is unpleasant. And you don't think for a minute that I'm not going to express my opinion! I reminded him that if he really thinks people and things are worse, then he is no student of history. (I should just keep quiet at times). He of course proceeded to tell me HOW he knows they are worse (and there was NO empiricism in that). While we agree that things are bad, perhaps I'm naive enough to believe that more time spent toward action and influence and less time spent toward bitching about it would yield a more productive result. I'm all about the "step into the conflict and reconcile". That is my general reaction to conflict/disagreements, which is why you don't/won't see me rail much.

Thankfully, the clock saved me from hearing the last chapter of the financial Armegeddon story, and I was able to go onto my third and final visit. It was a very pleasant evening, first with my friend and drinks where I had the best fried oysters. Later I visited with he and his wife. They were expressing alot of anxiety regarding 'stuff'. My friend said that he had not even looked at his investment statements. I stated that he was likely to be down 20% or so. I had lunch about 2 weeks ago with a friend (he wanted to discuss a Soros book with me and understand the financial crisis) whose accounts were down 30-40%.

I don't normally discuss personal financial issues with friends. It came up in both instances because, in Summer of 2006, I sent a letter to my friends (after thinking long and hard about it) suggesting to them that they sit down with their financial professional to discuss appropriate financial strategies to employ in the event of a bear market. My friend who is down 30-40% did that. Fidelity informed him that he was well diversified and that they would not suggest any changes. My friend is in his mid 60's. a 30-40% hit is alot. I'm not in the camp that there is a giant bull market just around the corner.

So it was only because of this letter, and my friends' realization that indeed this bear market (and the collapse in real estate) is upon us that these matters came up. One friend (whose port. is managed at Wachovia) wanted me to look at his portfolio. I declined. I'm not qualified, plus, I don't want to know the financial business of my friends. But there was an article on Market Watch, that forwarded to him. I think that the article is a little late and that strategies should be developed beforehand. But likely if you are reading this blog you are interested in the market. Further, you, too, have been faced with the dilemna of how wide-eyed to be in describing potential losses. So perhaps, you'll find this article useful as a resource for your friends.

I arrived home a 10;30 p.m. which is late for me. I had been gone for almost 11 hours (and my animals are used to having me around), so while my family was in winkie-land, I was exuberantly greeted by my dogs--almost too exuberantly! I did not notice until I went upstairs that Daisey was limping. That dog is an accident going somewhere to happen (as my parents would say of us as we were growing up). I took her to the vet yesterday. She has an indeterminate soft-tissue injury. I had left her out while I was gone. I'm not sure what she got into.

The day was a pleasant diversion from my heremetically sealed life. While I feel very connected via the computer and do much communication in that respect, during the day, I don't converse (except to the animals, and I do keep that to a minimum). Hopefully, my engagements did not think me too much of a monologue!

(1) While I would like to be able to say "parents' " home, I could not. My dad and SM have been married for 17 years, and I love her like my own mother though having acquired her into life at the age of 31. She's been the only maternal grandmother they know as my mother died when H, my daughter, was 18 months old. But, she is not my parent, so I backspaced over ""parents' ".

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