Hit Me

It was so much fun to watch Texas lose with the Bushes in the best seats. Tim Lincecum is on the mound for SF tonight and I like his haircut. We’ve had to endure some bad commercials though. Are bad commercials more effective than good ones? What is it? I know this much. The World Cup is a lot more exciting than the World Series.

I talked to Anne Havens this morning. She’s been having some computer problems. Anne closes up her studio and heads south for the winter pretty soon. She likes the sunshine. I don’t mind the sunshine but I can only handle so much heat. It takes the life out of me or it takes the edge off at least. We’re supposed to have our first frost tonight and I love it when the house gets cool. Perfect weather for art.

I’ve not had any time for art the last few months but I do manage to get to painting class each week. I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to spend time with Fred Lipp and I’ve learned that I don’t have to bring in a pile of work to have an insightful conversation with him. I can just start working on something in class and Fred is off. In fact, the more on the line I am, the more cutting, right on and helpful the critique is.

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No Nothings

Rochester Rhinos vs. Miami FC 2010
Rochester Rhinos vs. Miami FC 2010

We watched the Rhinos beat Miami 3-2 and take first place in the USSF Division 2 but Miami looked like the better team. They passed like pros and hustled like high school kids. The Rhinos, who all seemed about foot taller than the Miami players, held their positions like American footballers and continually poked the long ball through and crossed their fingers. Miami couldn’t manage to get through the Rhinos muscular defense for the goal but they played a much prettier game. And that’s all that counts in my book.

I drove over to Home Depot this morning to pick up some white paint for the walls inside our garage. Bob Smith was interviewing U of R religion professor Emil Homerin and Judaic Studies professor Nora Rubel about the (what else?) lower Manhattan Islamic center. Bob mentioned the “Know Nothing” party and I was trying to imagine whether the people in that party refereed to themselves that way or was it a taunt by the opposition. A guy called in and took offense at the panel implying that Republicans were racist just because they opposed the “mosque”. Bob then mentioned some prominent Democrats running for reelection who also opposed the construction. The “Know-Nothing” movement originated in New York in 1843 as the “American Republican Party” and feared that the country was being overwhelmed by Catholic immigrants. Maybe Bob was talking about the current day, “No Nothing” party.

I went through the self check out at Home Depot. I opted to do my transaction in English, scanned the paint can and then I got hung up trying to pry one of the plastic bags open. I had bags all over the place I was about to put the free wooded paint stir stick into one of the bags when the automated voice said, “Unexpected item in the bagging area. Remove this item before continuing.” I removed the stir stick and the recording continued. I flagged down an orange suited employee and she magically fixed the situation.

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Stuff Like That

Marigolds, blue chairs
Marigolds, blue chairs

I just sized the photo above like I usually do but when I typed the dimensions for the crop tool in Photoshop I wound up with 450 inches instead of pixels. The progress bar started its thing and I spaced out for a few seconds before I realized I was creating a file big enough to eat up my hard drive. Stuff like that happens all the time but I thought it was worth noting on a slow news day.

We’ve had three pretty big jobs to deal with in the last month or so and of course a bunch of little jobs. I’ve noticed an inverse curve between the amount of money that a job pays and the degree of satisfaction we get from doing them.

I upgraded my brother’s computer so he can run automatic backups and I helped Anne Havens determine that her dvd recorder had died. I was unable to help another one of brothers open WINSCP files on his Mac. As far as I can tell it’s just another program to keep PC people from getting viruses when they download files but when you put files in there, Mac people can’t get ’em out. He was trying to download some plans for a building. And then my dad called and wanted to now what Bing was and why he was suddenly doing searches in Bing. He wanted his Google back but he had inadvertently selected Bing as his search engine of choice so I helped him reset it. These of course were all free jobs, on the very low end of that curve but they were all satisfying. Doing multiple rounds of design-by-committee revisions for a company that pays pretty good is grueling. I’m filing this in the “We Live Like Kings” category.

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Happy Birthday Abstraction

Morning Prayers sign outside Saint Salome's Church in Rochester, NY
Morning Prayers sign outside Saint Salome’s Church in Rochester, NY

Al that praying is not really paying off for the people of Saint Salome’s parish in Rochester. First they closed their grade school and then they tore it down and built a senior living facility in its place with the promise that the new residents would be right next door to the church and now the diocese has announced they’re closing the church. The building, built in 1964, still looks pretty modern but then the whole concept of modern is sort of out of date. Abstract art (Kandinsky, Modrian and all) is now one hundred years old fer cryin’ out loud.

Our next door neighbor, Leo, called us this morning to ask us what his email address is.

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España Ubuntu

Lemoncello Cafe in East Rochester, New York
Lemoncello Cafe in East Rochester, New York

South Africans have this word, “Ubuntu”, for the concept that we are all interconnected. There has to be a Spanish equivalent to it because the stars from Cataln’s Barco team and the stars from Real Madrid aligned perfectly for Spain’s thrilling finale to 2010’s Copa del Mundo.

We watched this one at home on ABC and our little tv while sipping a World Cup drink that first learned about four or five World Cups ago. That would be about twenty years. It has become our tradition. The recipe was in the paper and it may have included other ingredients but the way we do it is: Wine (inexpensive Spanish Red), lime juice and sugar, served over ice.

We watched Saturday’s runner-up game out in East Rochester, Rochester’s Little Italy, at a place called “Lemoncello”. They have a little café like setting in the front of their building with fresh Italian pastries and a cozy dinning room, bar and stage in the rear. Most the people in this place were watching the game outdoors on the patio on a big projection screen. We nixed that idea right away because the picture was sort of bleached by the sun. They also had a merchandise table out there with t-shirts, jerseys and warm up jackets for most of the big teams, Italy being one of them even though they were eliminated so quickly. We watched the game on a big shiny Panasonic in their dining room while eating calamari. This was a great game with Uruguay coming from behind to go ahead before losing to Germany who we earlier had became convinced were going the whole way. But when Spain took on Germany in the semifinals we quickly realigned our allegiances to our post US favorites, España.

After the game I tried on the Spanish warm up jacket and Peggi took a picture. There was way too much polyester there for me to consider it. I settled on red, yellow and black España T-shirt and Peggi announced that she had a premonition that I must wear this shirt until the game in order for Spain to win. The shirt was a little snug and I was worried about putting it in the dryer so I asked if this meant that I had to sleep in it. I didn’t. When we walked the morning of the game I kept the white T-shirt on that I had slept in. And then, well before game time, I put the shirt on. When it was still 0-0 in the second half I began to worry ithat I had jinxed the team and at the end of regulation I was certain I had. With four minutes left in the second overtime Spain came through!

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Big Deal

Joe Deal's "Watering, Phillips Ranch, California" 1983
Joe Deal’s “Watering, Phillips Ranch, California” 1983

Joe Deal is dead at 62. That’s one of his photos above. He emerged as a leading figure in the new wave of American photographers when 18 of his black and white photographs were included in the enormously influential exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” The exhibition, which William Jenkins organized at the George Eastman House in Rochester in 1975, is now regarded by historians as a turning point in American photography. I took two photography classes at the UoR in 1977 that were taught by Bill Jenkins and I loved them. I don’t print from b&w negs anymore but that doesn’t have anything to do with what Bill taught me.

We were all set to watch the US vs. Algeria game at ten this morning but it wasn’t on ABC like the last US games were. So we took a bowl of fruit down to our neighbors and asked if we could watch the game there. They have cable tv and the game was broadcast on ESPN. It was a real nail biter. US had to win to advance and they did so, 1-0, in the 91st minute.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, we came back to work and we were previewing a Flash movie that Peggi had constructed on on cancer and the immune system when the house shook. Peggi felt the floor shake and I thought it was the roof was shaking. I couldn’t imagine who would be on our roof. It was a Magnitude-5.0 earthquake that was centered over Ottawa. My mom called later to tell us she was having an EKG and the nurse had just left the room with the equipment cart. She let the door close and just as it closed the building shook. My mom was naked and couldn’t imagine what the nurse had run into with the cart.

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Spinning Your Wheels

We had dinner across the street last night and the conversation turned to jobs, benefits and long term care. I won’t name any names but a teacher was grumbling about all the work involved with trying to stay one step ahead of students while correcting the mountain of papers from previous assignments. A former teacher expressed the numbing tediousness of correcting the same mistakes by different students over and over again. A museum worker said it was nice to walk out of the place and leave the job behind at the end of the day. And the web designers were assessing their lot. A career that will not stand still, that demands new, better but more complicated solutions all the time. Spending days and sometimes whole weeks between paychecks keeping up with new css, html, php and mysql standards while finding your own benefit packages.

We retired to the tv room for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season 3, Disc 4” and all was right with the world.

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Drawbacks Of A Healthy Lifestyle

Peggi and Olga taking a kumquat break near Lake Ontario.
Peggi and Olga taking a kumquat break near Lake Ontario.

I first became aware of kumquats while watching a WC Fields’ (“It’s a Gift“) with Joe Barrett when we were kids. Kumquats don’t grow around here but they are plentiful in Wegmans right now. We skiied for a few hours and took a kumguat break up at the lake. I love these things but I suspect they are bad for my teeth. Although maybe I don’t have to worry so much about my teeth anymore now that you can grow new ones. Joel sent me this link. We stopped in to visit our neighbor today and he was lamenting how all his friends are gone. We’ve heard this rap from him many times but this time he coupled it with how he never smoked or drank or used any stimulants like coffee or tea. We could really see the drawbacks of a healthy lifestyle.

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Auto Tune This

You know that Pete LaBonne song where the guy fine tunes a radio station until it goes off the air? I spent a good bit of the day today in a dentist’s chair listening to an all Christmas satellite radio station. I don’t think I heard a single song with auto tune and yet it seems the entire top forty has been auto tuned.

And another thing. I made some hummus yesterday with a big can of Goya chick peas and a regular size can of Goya kidney beans. Peggi was working on these tables for a client and she called me into the other room while the hummus was pureeing.

The food processor started making a really loud grinding noise and we both looked at each other and at the same thinking “WTF?”. I went back out to the kitchen and it stopped. I pictured a frozen jalapéno from our garden temporarily stuck under one of the blades.

Tonight when we returned from our Margaret Explosion gig we both dove into the hummus and Peggi hit a hard nugget of something. She spit it out and it looked like wood. The hummus tasted funny too and I was thinking it was because I used too much garlic. We threw it away. I guess I could go back to Wegman’s with it but I wonder what Rich Stim would advise.

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Instant Agenda

"Untitled" by Philip Guston from Small Panels show at McKee Gallery
“Untitled” by Philip Guston from Small Panels show at McKee Gallery

We got out of town ahead just ahead of the other day and drove to my brother’s place in Montclair, New Jersey. We kept his kids up way too late, talking and listening to Christmas records from his vinyl collection. We had breakfast with the kids, who were already late for school, and said goodbye to my brother as he raced off to work. The last thing he said was, “I left part of the paper here for you”. So I dove into the Friday’s Fine Arts section and spotted a Philip Guston painting with a review by Roberta Smith of a show at Midtown’s McKee Gallery. We instantly had an agenda for our New York trip.

"Untitled" by Philip Guston from Small Panels show at McKee Gallery

We found our way to Brooklyn and parked the car for the weekend near Duane’s apartment. More coffee and the F train to midtown Manhattan for this eye popping show. Philip Guston is my favorite artist and these small panels blew me away. This was a sensational show. Only four of these pieces were for sale. You could pick up all four for 1.3 million.

Even the Metropolitan Museum could not top that show but Robert Frank’s “The Americans” was pretty incredible. The prints were so much richer than the old book I bought at Light Impressions when they upstairs in Midtown Plaza. It was like seeing these by now familiar photos for the first time. We had an eggplant sandwich and a corn muffin at the museum café and then Duane and Peggi went up to see the “Velazquez Rediscovered” show while I wandered off to the Roman art section and to photograph some busts. I can’t get over how contemporary these heads look, like people you know or wish you knew, even though they were sculpted around the time of Christ.

Duane is the perfect NYC guide. He wears an orange hat and Peggi and I just shut off our navigational instincts and gawk and follow the hat and try not to walk into a light pole or something. We took a couple of trains back to Brooklyn and hung out for bit in pad before heading back out to the Front Room Gallery in Williamsburg for an art opening. It was a “Multiples and Editions” show and the curator was a friend of Duanes. The thirty five artists all had small, very reasonably priced (for the holidays) art in every nook and cranny of the two funky rooms. Duane bought a pocket sized “Kodak Guide to Photographing Your Dog“.

After the opening we went next door to the Flying Cow, a saloon style Argentinean restaurant. We shared octopus salad and then a beet salad, a bottle of Spanish Rioja and two vegetarian dishes called, “Shangrila”. I spoiled a perfect meal by trying a Morcilla sausage appetizer. I’m a sucker for those Spanish delicacies. The bartender played the whole “Between The Buttons” record and then some Neil Young. We complimented him on the way out.

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I Like Light Leaks

Andrew Meyer photo used on the cover of Margaret Explosion's "Live Dive" cdLiveDivePhoto
Andrew Meyer photo used on the cover of Margaret Explosion’s “Live Dive” cdLiveDivePhoto

Following in the footsteps of Robert Frank, our nephew, Andrew, has been slowly driving across the US in his Toyota pickup, stopping wherever he likes to take photos. Favorite state so far – Nevada. It seems to have been a perfect match for his acute, observant sensibilities and that state’s raw material. He started in the bay area and is now in Rochester with a box of slides. He’s old school and is currently using a Canon 35mm with a manual light meter that overexposed his full western sunshine photos. They appear to have been taken on another planet, making them all the more startling. When we were setting up the Kodak projector I spotted a carousal of slides labeled “Porches” that I took back when I was about his age. Photos I took as I wandered around nearby downtown neighborhoods on my lunch looking at people’s porches. I threw them on only to confirm how good he is.

We saw some photos of prints of his on display in a gallery in Oakland and we chose two of them for the newest Margaret Explosion cd. The one above, the San Francisco Bay, was taken with a medium format Holga.

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Give It Up For Clarence

Jackie or Jill's wagon on floor as our house was being built
Jackie or Jill’s wagon on floor as our house was being built

Clarence Meyer stopped by to visit us and the Don Hershey house that he built in the the nineteen forties. Clarence is 97 now and this is his third visit since we have lived here. He had both of his daughters with him this time, one form Ohio and one from California. If you click on the photo above you can see the girl’s wagon in the foreground while Clarence is up on a ladder smoking a pipe as his wife hands him some nails.

It has been such a pleasure getting to know the guy who built our house, to be able to ask him questions about the construction and to hear his stories about the architect and the materials used. The war years were a tough time to be building a new house for a young family so Clarence did most of the work himself. And he didn’t cut any corners while carrying out the architect’s labor intensive, special touches. He is so delighted to see someone in the house who appreciates all his work and he’s thrilled to see the small updates we’ve done. He is an inspiration to us.

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Fcuk Him

Fcuk for him on display at A. J. Wright store in Rochester, New York
Fcuk for him on display at A. J. Wright store in Rochester, New York

I had worn a hole in the rear end of my pajamas so I stopped in A. J. Wright up in Culver Ridge Plaza. I asked the clerk where the pajamas were and she took me over to a rack of “Loungewear”, all bottoms, colorful concoctions that you sometimes see big muscular guys with mullets wearing out on the street. I guess they don’t sell pjs in sets anymore. This place is so discount they don’t have a dressing room and I couldn’t decide whether to go with Large or Medium. At 6 feet, 150, I’m half of each. I went with medium.

This “Fcuk Him” product caught my eye on the reduced table near the checkout. A kid with the “Why Can’t We All Just Get A Bong” t-shirt caught my eye at the Public Market this morning. And I was thinking of this line from Jeff Spevak’s review of the crowd at last night’s Phish concert – “a museum of non-sequiturs.” Give it up for Jeff.

Everything is in season now. We hauled four big bags home. Corn from Honeyoe Falls, peaches from Hamlin and blueberries, apricots, beets, cucumbers, peppers, pears from other local farms. I just made my first tomato and onion sandwich of the year.

Deer aren’t supposed to like Rhododendrons. That’s why ours are shaped like Palm trees. And they aren’t supposed to like Marigolds either but they got ours last night. Second time this year. The yellow would have spoiled all the green anyway.

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Sparky Doll Discovery

Sparky Doll purchased at Small Word Books on North Street in Rochester, NY
Sparky Doll purchased at Small Word Books on North Street in Rochester, NY

Sparky Doll purchased at Small Word Books on North Street in Rochester, NY

It wasn’t even a close call to pick our favorite Sparky doll from the fourteen on display at Small World Books on North Street. Peggi picked this one up for two bucks. The owner, Rocco, let me photograph all fourteen while we hung around talking. He told me these things are pretty common in New England.

Sparky Dolls found at Small World Books in Rochester, New York

I had to call Sparky this morning to check in on him. We were neighbors for twenty some years and I kept track of him when we lived in the city. We even developed a mythological site devoted to him and I’m sorry to report I don’t have any new episodes for it.

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Anybody Have A Kind Heart?


Subway to MoMA
Subway to MoMA

We got on the F train in Brooklyn at Fort Hamilton and headed for the Modern in Manhattan. We were sitting at the front of the first car. This line brings you above ground for a few stops before going down under the East River. A very short man with a camouflaged hat got on and started singing a beautiful folk song in Spanish. I gave him a dollar. At the next stop a guy in a trench coat got on with a styrofoam cup that he was rattling. I tried not to look at him.

A women burst through the door right behind him and loudly addressed the passengers, “OK people. I will try to be brief. My husband has abused me, humiliated me. . . etc.” She kept walking to the other end of the car and we tried to tune her out but she worked her way back to us with her hand out, repeating, “Anybody have a kind heart? Anybody have a kind heart?” She said this like it didn’t have a question mark. Next on was a woman with missing front teeth. She was dragging a big black trash bag. She leaned against the pole in front of us and began singing, “I believe the children are the future”.

The distance between stops as the train goes under the river is longer than that between most stops so this train is a magnet for buskers. Duane, our NYC friend and guide, told us he has seen guys bring a whole drum set in, set it up and bang out a hip hop tune. They get of on the other side, cross over and ride back all day long.

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Everything Is Right With The World

Paul Dodd Crime Faces on the front wall of the Little Theater Cafe
Five Paul Dodd Crime Faces on the front wall of the Little Theatr Cafe

I found a Hawaii quarter in my pocket today. That completes my little green book. And it made me think of our brand new funky president.

We were going to drive down to New York this evening but we chickened out and called our host, Duane, to tell him we would not be making it. Martin Edic told us last night that Jet Blue had $49 dollar flights so we booked some for an upcoming weekend.

We skied up to the lake and around the ponds. We saw the Mayor of Durand and his posse. The mayor was drinking LaBatts from a can this time and he had a gun for measuring speed. He and his buddies were clocking each other on their sleds and listening to mellow instrumental music. It was eight degrees and sunny.

We checked online to see they had put anything in the Irondequoit Post about my painting show. They had and Peggi read it aloud. She got down to the end and read that I have a second opening on February 6. Only then did we realize we would be in New York City for my opening in Rochester. Jet Blue was very nice about switching the dates.

The first opening went well. I almost forgot that the walls are a burnt orange. Jaffe sat in with the band on piano. He told me, “I’ve seen some piddily ass artwork in here. This stuff is real”. I thought that was kind of funny.

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Miniaturize My World

Stella sitting by the fireplace
Stella sitting by the fireplace

I know some people are cat people (like us) and some are dog people (like our neighbors, Rick and Monica)  and others are are just not pet people at all (like my parents). And that’s what makes the world go ’round.

This is Stella and she makes my world go “round. We sat by the fire this morning and read the New York Times on our iPod Touch. I love the way some sites are optimized for this thing and I want like rework all our sites for this tiny device.

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Hot Pants Shaker Scene

Peggi buying cabbage at the Public Market in Rochester, NY
Peggi buying cabbage at the Public Market in Rochester, NY

I loaded my mother-in-law’s SUN though SAT, MORN, NOON, EVE, BED pill container like we do every weekend but today I felt like I was loading an Advent calender. We used to have those things in our house when we were growing up and most of the little doors would be open by now. This one though has no surprises unless you forget what medicine you’re taking every day and my mother-in-law just may fall into that category.

We started the day at the Public Market downtown. I love this place especially the way it seems to draw equally from all sub cultures of the city. Red peppers were in abundance for some reason and local cabbage, pears, onions, potatoes and apples were everywhere. Christmas trees were fifteen dollars and every sort of nic nac  or common junk drawer product was there, fresh off a Chinese container. One of the fish guys tried to talk Peggi into buying an eel by wiggling it at us. “They’re good in soup”, he said. We had read a rave review of Barry from Fair Game Foods’ pastrami sandwiches in City Newspaper so waited in line for one of those and took it to our car where we listened to a cd of Margaret Explosion with Phil Marshall from last week.

It started snowing on the way home and it looked like a shaker scene. We are up to about fifteen inches of the white stuff now. We had arranged to ski with Rick and Monica so we headed right out in to the woods. Rick led the way and took us across the golf course and down a few thrill seeker hills. When we got back home we built a fire and put James Brown’s “Hot Pants lp on.

There are a few things in the running for tonight. Bob Henrie and the Goners are at Abilene and Watkins and the rapiers are doing their Christmas show at the Flipside. We might try to do both.

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Soul Revival

Peggi and Monica skating at Manhattan Square Park
Peggi and Monica skating at Manhattan Square Park

Monica had the brilliant idea to invite us to go skating with her and Rick at Manhattan Square Park after work on Friday. We put our long johns on and warmed up our skates by the heater. Peggi hung on to me for the first few laps and then she was on her own. She had a collision with a young kid and they both fell but no one was hurt. The rink here has been renovated and it is now kidney shaped and very pretty. I could have done without the Christmas music but that is a losing battle.

I clomped next door with my skates on to Manhattan Square apartments where Frank Paolo works but the guard told me “Frankie wasn’t in yet”. We drove over to Corn Hill to look for a Mexican restaurant and wound up at an Italian place called Tony D’s. They specialize in coal fired pizza and they let us to place a special order of caramelized  onion pizza with no cheese. We sat by the oven and watched three beefy guys do the cooking. They played eighties soul music and got talking about Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the whole soul revival thing goin’ on.

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Capitalism Is Eating Itself

We met with our Merrill Lynch adviser this morning and were left with the distinct impression that capitalism is indeed eating itself. Our portfolio is worth less than what we put in to it and we’re doing “pretty good”. The same guys who have been saying for as long as I have been listening that “business knows best” are begging the government, who can’t balance a checkbook, for help. The receptionist, who used to greet us here, has been laid off because of the restructuring that Bank of America, who now owns Merrill, has started. And the Wall Street Journal I glanced at in ML’s lobby had an article about New York’s Attorney General, Mario Cuomo’s son, shaming Merrill’s CEO into not taking his ten million dollar bonus this year.

“Does the that fact that big business is begging the government for help indicate that things are really worse than they seem now?”, I asked. Our guy agreed that that was the case. We pushed ahead. Are there any buying opportunities out there now that just about everything has tanked? Maybe but even with their commission danging there they had no solid recommendations. “Do you feel that the Dow could drop much further?”. Our guy thought we would see a twenty to twenty five percent drop before things turned around.

We sold a few things at a loss so we could deduct it from our taxable income and called it a day at the races.

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