Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Costco Part 2

(in case you missed Part 1 of this epic tale, it's here.)

Now, as you all know, I'm a very cultured guy, but I've never been in a Costco.

The gray cinder-block walls gave the place a "jail chic" kind of appeal and observing a few of the patrons I wouldn't be surprised if a few had "washed" someone in their past.

After a few minutes of walking around aisles wide enough to allow the easy passage of very obese people and wondering if we really needed 28 glue sticks, I started thinking bad thoughts about Obama.

"Fucking elitist," I thought. "Dude can't even bowl without looking like a girl. How the hell is he gonna stand up to the terrorists?" I grabbed a sleeve of 36 D-size batteries and threw it into our cart.

I looked at Judy, my waifish yoga wife, and compared her to a 300-pound woman riding around in one of those electric wheelchairs. I thought of three Judys in one big "Judy body" while I reached for a "Red Cross Emergency Kit." 

"Maybe Judy needs to gain a little weight," I thought to myself.   And I threw a 3 million candle spotlight into our cart.

A mom and her son, both huge, were looking at bags of chips. 

"Those bags are bigger than the other ones we got," the son said while giggling. 

The mom giggled back at him. They stood there like that, in front of the chips, shoulders shaking, necks all loose, laughing.  I walked by them and picked up 1000 feet of aluminum foil. 

"McCain isn't really that old," I thought. 

I spent a long time contemplating a generator. I was pulled away from said generator by Judy. I listened to a salesman talking to an old guy about Tums. 

"If you have a few people in your family taking these," the salesman explained slowly in a serious tone, "buying in this quantity is a very economical way to go." 

The old guy nodded thoughtfully, and added the gallon-sized tub of Tums to his cart.

All around me, different people were having different conversations but the words I heard were the same... "big," "bigger," and "biggest."

An 87 year old woman wearing a Costco visor was handing out free samples of grape juice. 

"Where could I find the green tea?" I asked. 

"Aisle 32,148," she said, as she continued to pour the juice into tiny plastic cups. 

She didn't even look up. She was like an 87 year old robot, lifting the plastic cup from the stack, placing it on the counter, and then filling it with purple... over and over. I felt a pang of sympathy for her and remembered how it used to be when old people retired. But hey, she probably had credit card debt, and should be happy Costco gave her the opportunity to pay it off.

Behind me, a lady was struggling to carry a huge bag of red meat. She was grunting as she lugged it toward her double-size shopping cart. I imagined her, as a cavewoman or something, trying to drag a dead boar to her fire... she was hunting here, at Costco. 

Other people were pawing over discounted books. One large woman was reading the back cover of a book about the South Beach diet and another, equally large woman, came over and told her that it changed her life. 

Men were buying quantities of meat, and cases of beer. They wore sports jerseys and Nascar caps. The mood was light. The people were happy. The people were filling their carts. The people were getting good deals on big stuff. 

What more was there?

We got to the checkout and I realized, in a panic, that there was no way we could fit this stuff into my small car.  I worried about this, out loud, to my mother.  A man in the next checkout lane overheard our conversation. 

"Oh, you find ways to fit it all in. You always do," he said.  Lightheartedly, he laughed, and I felt like I was a member of some new club. 

This man was my brother. He spoke in open-ended terms, he sounded wise. He too had found it difficult to fit the absurdly large quantities of stuff into his car, but he had managed. I would manage too... everything would be okay. I could consume. For a flashing moment, I understood the psyche of a Hummer driver.

And then, as if to complete the scene, upon exiting Costco through the automatic sliding doors, I looked out over the vast parking lot towards where the horizon should be (instead there was a BestBuy or something) and saw a funnel cloud descending, slowly and silently from the black heavens. It was the first time in my entire life that I had ever seen a funnel cloud. I thought the coincidence of me going to a Costco and witnessing my first funnel cloud was just too much.

Compared to the Costco and that funnel cloud, I had never felt so... small before.

But ironically enough, I also felt very American.

St. Vincent, "Dig A Pony"

The RO Report

It's hard for me to look back on today with much clarity, so I'm not gonna try right now. I'll just get to the numbers, have a few drinks, and let this one settle in.

Out of 26 traders, 19 were positive, or 73%. I was #10 of 26. It was my best day in awhile.

Here's the top 3:

1. $23,456 on 308k shares traded.
2. $20, 568 on 337k shares traded.
3. $10,124 on 454k shares traded.

And the bottom:

1. -$2,602 on 37k shares traded.
2. -$940 on 71k shares traded.
3. -$829 on 0 shares traded (swing account).

NOTE: Part 2 of my Costco experience will be posted later this evening or early tomorrow morning. Please stop by to check it out.

A Nice Walk Through Some Fire

Who would have thought, that at 9:40am this morning, I would be looking at my worst day ever in over 9 years of trading?

Who would have thought, that at 9:40am this morning, I would have lost my rather impressive month of July, and blown out of all the funds I had remaining in my company?

Who would have thought, that at 9:40am this morning, I would have called Judy into the office, showed her my loss of over $10,000, showed her my heavy position (2500 shares) of CLF and said to her, "It's done now. I'm blowing up for good. If it trades $91, I'll be forced out and I'll have to find a new job."

And who would have thought that at 9:50 I would be up nicely on the day, Judy and I would be giving each other hugs and high-fives, and I'd be liquidating my position and getting ready to take the rest of the day off?

Surely, not me. But sometimes, funny things happen to stock traders.

At 10:45 I was walking hand and hand with my daughter through our CSA, picking flowers and placing them in a bucket. I was still somewhat shocked at the turn of events, and shaking my head at the absurdity of it all.

Indeed, I felt like one of those people who has looked directly at death, seen the light at the end of the tunnel, only to wake and live again.

Hudson City, Strength Amidst Weakness

Things still looking up for HCBK. I first mentioned this gem a year ago.