Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Cats Take Over

I have had a very harrowing day coping with my electronic and technological gadgets all of which defied me at every turn and left me a broken shell  of a person flung into the corner of the room like a pile of dirty laundry.  Consequently, you don't get very many words out of me tonite, but I will try to fill up the column with a few pix.

One of the things which confounded me was the simple (?) task of trying to download some pics from my camera.  Two hours and a bucket of tears later I finally found the pro blem.....I was using the download cable from my old camera not  my new one.   If the prongs all fit the various holes I cannot for the life of me understand why the old one should not work, but at least the correct one did work and enabled me to display this somewhat undistinguished Picture of the new and improved, softer  version of Baskin in his favorite perch giving you the "look deeply into my eyes and I will turn you into a pumpkin" stare........otherwise known as the "Don't Fuck With Me, Kiddo".

This is supposed to  be a pic of Winnie co vering her eyes with her paw as she tries to nap.......ny vision is poor so all I can  be sure of is that it is a furry creature.

Same pose, perhaps a bit clearer but I know it will never win any prizes.
A view of my marvelous red trumpet vine blossoms.......too bad you can't see how huge they are but you can catch a glimpse of one of my numerous hummer feeders.  The funny thing is that the trumpet vine flowers used to be a feast for the hummers till they tasted Lo's Home Brewed Nectar.  Now they spurn the flowers for my offerings.  I hope I have not ruined their lives....

And finally, a pitifully inadequate shot of the livestock lounging by the pool........I took 2 or 3 of these and none of them was any good, but being that I am merely a limp pile of dirty laundry thrown into a corner by my tech devices,  I guess you should consider yourselves lucky to   be getting even this dubious stuff.

And now, my precious followers, I must rush off to  bed so I can arise with the dawn and see what is happening to the spreads, straddles and naked puts and calls in the Options Market.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Anyone Up For A Naked Put?

I am not sure if I will ever be able to blog coherently again.  For a week I have  been immersed in a rare, esoteric language which nobody in their right mind really speaks, but in order to participate in my new hobby it has  been critical that I learn it.  My brain is reeling and I am  beginning to think I have made a huge mistake.  (won't be the first and I sincerely hope it won't  be my last....if you know what I mean.....)

Well, my darlings, if you consider that first paragraph a bit of  an enigma just wait till I start spouting whole sentences, paragraphs, yea pages even  that don't make any sense whatsoever.  I have spent hours bruising my brain with decisions like whether a covered call framed in a  vertical spread is a  better tactic than entering into a short straddle whereby I must  be willing to accept exercise or assignment on either leg.... (of the transaction, that is).

Or perhaps I might dare  venture into the dangerous world of the naked call or put.  (Believe me, it's not what you think)   I am warned that if I enter a naked put and the market moves against me and the stock's price is lower than the put's strike price upon expiration (whose....mine or theirs?)  I might indeed have to clench my teeth and suffer having the stock put to me whether I like it or not. That somehow sounds like it might  be uncomfortable, painful or even a bit maiming,  no?   Well, that just gives you a taste of what I have coping with trying to fathom the intriguing, incomprehensible and totally frustrating world of stock options.    Aaarrrrggggh.

I am all for continuing to learn even into one's dotage, but I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew this time.  It all began a few weeks ago when I woke up and decided there was absolutely no incentive for me to get up at challenges awaited (except for those like cleaning out the closets which I have  been putting off for 5 or 10 years but am sure to get to one of these days.  No happy surprises were in store for me.........I had already received my last internet order of those storage bags which promise to compact your fluffiest possessions down to the thickness of a microchip with the help of using your vacuum to suck the air out and found that they do a passable job but no ecstasy results from it.  I have been forced into the unenviable position of having to give away some of my afghans due to no room left in any closet (despite the promises of those sucky bags) (No...this is writer's rhetoric....I love to give away my afghans.....the problem is I just can't stop making them).  Face it......I, who rarely in my lifetime have been bored (except at cocktail parties) was suddenly bored to tears  because I cannot physically do the things which used to keep me building a 6 foot blue velvet couch or a stained glass window etc.  Life, as I knew it, was over.  Sigh.

And then I happened to accidentally read a piece of junk email (not quite spam) which begged and pleaded with me to realize the huge opportunities that Stock Options offered in a Stock Market such as we are experiencing.   Being weak and vulnerable I fell into the trap and read the whole damned thing (usually a disaster) and it really offered a nugget or two of interesting information.  Before I knew what I was doing I found myself on Amazon checking out the various "How to" books on stock optionsand ordered one.......used, of course.

You see, the truth is that may years ago I had what you could call "dabbled" in stock options and fortunately had enough sense to shake the whole thing from my fingertips like a 200 degree shred of melted mozzarella when I saw the column labelled "net profit/loss" contained too many negative numbers.  I realized I didn't know what the hell I was doing and felt lucky to get off so easy.  But the lure of a process where you could be naked in a transaction (figuratively, of course) never totally left me and I decided that perhaps if I studied I could learn enough to do it right this time....I confess it is the hardest subject I have ever tackled with the possible exception of "Deductive Logic" in the Philosophy Dept at UCLA.......a subject which I naively assumed would be fun like solving mysteries and found, to my horror, that it was 2 parts incomprehensible math type equations blended with 3 parts something like breaking down sentence structure in 8th grade English.  I fear I will never  be able to erase from my mind the memorable prime example of diagramming and proving the truth of the sentence "If it rains, the street is wet."  ugh.......quell horror.......But I digress.......

I am still feeling my way gingerly into this new endeavor and pray that it will turn out to  be both exhilarating and profitable.  So far I am not sure whether it has touched or even come close to either of those goals.  The thing it did do was to get me out of bed at 7am (the market opens in New York at some awful hour  and we are 3 hours earlier) and had me staggering and tripping over my cane as I made my way to the computer to check on some paper trades I had entered (mythical money involved).  This totally confounded the cats who never expect to see me before 10;30 on my best days, not to mention what it did to my daily naptimes.  The household has been in total disarrangement.  No one knows when to eat or sleep.

.Then there was an interruption to the process when I discovered that my blood pressure, which is normally incredibly perfect, was going through the roof.  I put my book and pretend option tickets aside and made my way to my magnificent cardiologist who saves my life regularly just with a hug and occasionally with an angioplasty and some stents.  After reviewing every thing I had eaten, drunk, inhaled or coughed up for the past 3 days we were no closer to an answer till I thought to mention my new activity and, after he finished laughing, we decided that excitement and stress and naked puts can have a resounding effect on blood pressure, especially when the 2nd most exciting thing in a person's life has  been hummingbirds for the past 2 years.  Well, who knew?

So there you have it.......Lois is galloping off in yet another direction and who knows what adventures will ensue.  Let us hope that bankruptcy won;'t  be one of them

Next blog I will tell you all about bull call spreads and straddles and strangles and collars and some strategy I  can't recall which is named after some kind of butterfly.....I can't remember how many legs it has and whether you can be assigned or exercised if you do it wrong.  I think I will stay away from that one for a while.  I certainly don't think I want to  be exercised........I had enough of that with the broken hip and the damned physical terrorists.....and if you are very good I will tell you more about naked puts and calls.....I know that is really all you care to hear about.

And, please, either wish me luck or pray for me....probably both if you can manage it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Belongs With My Previous Post

I fully intended to look up the following quote and include it in my modified rant against the pathetic  attempts some people make to hang on to youth and beauty far beyond their expiration dates. I just found it, so here it is.  It comes from one of my favorite authors, the wonderful George Bernard Shaw and goes something like this:

"Youth is a wonderful thing.
What a crime to waste it on children. "
                                                      George Bernard Shaw
                                                   And, even though the main message of my rant was hopefully implied throughout,  I realized that I never came right out in that post and stated the obvious .......... the bit of comfort we all can apply to our twinges of loss and regret......... that the appearance of the package will never be the main thing...'s what's inside that counts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sorry Folks.....No Extended Warranty

 Enhh......I always try to keep my promises, and I intend to continue with that noble effort.  Trouble is, sometimes it ain't easy.  For instance.....

I mentioned in a recent blog the awful fact that I had written a vast ranting outburst against the folks who keep yearning to have  their youth back or, worse yet, their youthful good looks......oy, such a waste of noble effort.  Then disaster struck.   I hit "publish" and somehow sent the whole thing into oblivion....aaaarrrrrggghhh...... sob.

After I mopped up the lake of tears I felt that perhaps it was a good thing that the post  did not see the light  of day because I was  in a deep  funk that day and being really ultra bitchy. After spouting fire and smoke while spitting out a rant usually all that is left is a small pile of dubious ash and one wonders whether the heat was really warranted.   Well, after vacillating back and forth and about that idea  for a few days  (as I am wont to do) I am sort of on the fence about my whether my harshness was justified, but I am going to try to recreate some of my thoughts on the subject because I think it is really important that the world get a new attitude about that ephemeral thing called youth and beauty and stop suffering pain over the loss of something so ....well, SILLY...... the agony of which often blights the whole damned rest of their lives.

I have confessed in these  pages many times that I had a touch of real sadness about not having enjoyed my day in the sun because I never though I was in any way beautiful.  It is only in ancient decrepitude that I see clearly that I was somewhat gorgeous.  I know I am not alone in this sad fact because many of you have stated the exact same regret in  your blogs and I always feel my heart wrench when I read that.....what a bloody shame.  To have once actually possessed the thing that you spend the rest of your life craving and to not have recognized that you had it and  been able to enjoy it is worse than pathetic.  Boo Hoo for us all. 

I also remember vividly how naive, gullible, clueless, uncertain, scared, confused, puzzled, wracked with anxiety and tormented I felt as a teenager (and even a young twenty-something) .  The torture of that feeling of being an outsider, even when you had weaseled your way inside and ostensibly "belonged".  The desperation of feeling so empty inside that you were like an overfilled balloon and every moment of your life was fraught with the danger of someone accidentally or on purpose pricking you with a sharp edge or word causing you to explode and be reduced to a miserable shred of rubber.   Confidence and some measure of inner assurance did not begin to come to me until my 30's and it has been an ongoing process ever since to fill my balloon with solid stuff rather than air.  I still have many pockets that need filling, but I am working on it every day and I no longer dread the approach of someone with a pin.

Of course there are blissful moments interspersed with all the pain that make being young a treasure to be appreciated if possible.  If the pains hurt worse when you are young, the delights are equally extra delicious and ecstatic especially because they are so brand new.  Somehow though, in looking back objectively I find a lot more time spent hunched over clutching myself  in agony than tripping along  a foot off the ground in delight.  (Perhaps I was just unlucky but I suspect not.  So many people have expressed to me their combined desolation and relief at reaching middle age and accepting the fact that they are never going to have a happy childhood.  Once you get that notion out of the way you might have a chance at inner peace..) 

But to look at the whole subject with a mercilessly reasonable eye,  there is a specific purpose for youthful beauty in both sexes that has nothing to do with the Ego, Vanity or your ultimate self worth rooted in your appearance.  It is the job of youth and beauty to attract a mate and get about the excruciating job of propagating the species.  Once you have got your mate and have produced your obligatory 2 or 3 or.....4 etc. offspring, those glowing, dewy, enticing looks are more a hindrance than anything else........I would imagine that any Mother worth her salt would better spend her time attending to the needs of the children, hubby, dogs, cats, goldfish etc. than annointing herself with ungents and potions intended to make her look more like she did before ever getting tangled up with aforementioned distractions.  And the dreadful pangs of conflict and guilt to be wrestled with regarding this choice must be agony indeed.  (Never having had or wanted children I cannot speak from experience about this tenks gott......a wise decision since I would have been a terrible mother of children........animals no, children yes.)

I do not deny that I enjoy looking upon beauty, youthful  or otherwise as much as the next person.......that is what the entertainment world is for.  Many of those called "eye candy" have little to offer except for their good looks to satisfy our need for what Al Capp used to call the "purty face wif naught behind it".  Of course some of them like Mark Harmon, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Scarlett Johanson also bring a load of talent to provide double-barreled joy to us, but the others who just strut their stuff and get into mindless,endless trouble........I will try to be magnanimous and say that their looks alone somehow justifies their existence, but I cannot believe that any of you beloved people would trade their hard won solid structure and character to be a  Paris Hilton or..... who is that wretched young person I keep hearing about....Justin Bieber?  (Who or what the hell is a Justin Bieber?)

 So, if after this penetrating expose you are all still mourning your lost youth and beauty  I am truly sorry.  I refuse offer to share your misery but the least I can do is wish you, "Good Luck."  And, then again.....maybe not. were given the chance at a  life...........hell's all of it.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Wrong Again.....Baskin Is Smarter Than Me

(I know, I know,  I still owe you the blog on lost is coming soon..........)

And now for something completely different.

The only somewhat interesting development I can pass on this week is regarding Baskin, my part feral orange kitty who, in the  6 or 7  or 10 years he has lived here would not let me get close enough to touch him.   I inherited him from a friend who rescued him from some mean kids when he was a kitten.    She told me that all he did was hide in the closet except to come out to eat know.  When she had to move and could not take him to her new apartment she begged me to take him and I, naturally, succumbed.  I figured I would have him eating out of my hand in two weeks max.  Ha.   In 2 weeks  I couldn't get within 6 feet of him.  Dumb Cat!

After 2 weeks of failure I switched to plan B.  I went off blithely to KMart and purchased a big heavy duty fishing net for scooping  huge bass or something from the water, removed everything  breakable from my bathroom and proceeded to chase Baskin around the sunroom for an hour or so trying to net him in a space not occupied by furniture.  Sweaty, exasperated and exhausted I finally got him and trotted to the bathroom shutting both of us inside, with Baskin uttering the most horrible moans and shrieks while I tried to soothe him with soft platitudes.

  After freeing him from the net into the bathtub lined with soft towels I kept up the soothing speech while he cowered in the farthest corner of the tub looking at me like I was Freddie Whatshisname..  I then reached out slowly and proceeded to pet him while he tensed every muscle in his body making him feel like a lump of bricks and continued with the awful moans that told everyone on the block that I was torturing a cat in here.  Patiently I proceeded and after a few minutes the moans stopped but not the tenseness.   A few more minutes and I actually heard him purring a bit while still tensed into the fearful ball.  After a while of this, I then I complimented him on his bravery and  told him we would play like this again later.  I was sure I was making progress.

Naturally I brought food, fresh water and clean litter box several times daily and each time our routine was the same.  I was sure that after a few days the howls, at least, would stop.  Not a chance.  The animal lovers in the neighborhood were already casting dirty looks at me no matter how much I reassured them that no animal was being harmed in this process.  At the end of a week our relationship had not improved a single whit so I just gave up, released him back to the sunroom and the safety of the wicker couch or the topmost shelf of the kitty condo and got my bathroom back.

The Plan B maneuver was repeated a number of other times during the first year or two with not one iota of improvement till I finally said, "F... you, you miserable little excuse for contact.......and thus it continued for 5  years until I finally decided to let him spend the day in the garden, fixed up the garden shed with a bed and food and water, let him sleep in the shed at nite if he preferred and just come in for meals whenever.  He really seemed to like that.  But he looked so lonely.

Then I went to the enormous trouble and expense of getting another cat to keep him company.  When he first came to  live here I had two lovely russian blue kitties, Minnie and Moe, and Baskin loved both of them, particularly Minnie and he would cuddle with her and not have to be lonely.  Sadly, both of them reached their expiration dates and, since he never cottoned to Gussie, I thought perhaps another female might fill the bill.  Hence Winnie came into our lives and it was Pretty Good.  He developed a crush on her and, while she was pretty casual about him, she did permit him to lie close to her by the pool and to follow her around so at least he wasn't lonely any more.  That improved the situation a bit for me and I though that was as good as it it would get.......until this summer when I ordered from the internet an easy-to-install screen to cover the sliding door opening but still permit easy entry and exit.

I have always described Baskin as mentally challenged, but I have just found out that I am wrong.  He is actually very intelligent....just brutally, head-smitingly  stubborn.  For the years when his  pattern was that in the morning I open the back door of the sunroom where he ate, slept and poohed, he would run outside , spend the day in the yard  and often refused to come back in at nite. For several years now he has been sleeping in the garden shed most nites.   In the morning when I open the door and leave the room he would come in and have his breakfast and during the day  go in and out the open door but only stay in some nites. (those nites when he sleeps inside he wakes me to be let out with huge howls around 4 or 5 am....grrrr.)   Of course this method may have been been good for Baskin but it was hell for me .....not only the early wake up call. but the flies!   Because the flies in the neighborhood considered the open door an engraved invitation to come in and drive me crazy in the kitchen, and required me to perfect both my forehand and backhand slam and be constantly at the ready when I would have really preferred doing other things.  Sigh. Such is the life of a slave to cats.

But then.....recently I bought a thingy of a screen that fastens  over the slider opening with velcro and has a magnet that closes the split to keep out at least some of the flies..  Of the 3 felines, only Baskin figured out that he could poke his head thru the split and get in and out.  The other 2 cats sit and look at it like it was the Berlin Wall so I have to prop  it open a bit at the bottom for them.  Recently my handyman has  been working in the yard with his chain saw plugged into a socket in the sun room and the extension cord running out that door so I cannot close it all the way at nite.  That little devil, Baskin,  figured out how to get his claws into the opening and slide the door open enough for him to get out in the morning.  (tenks gott....better than having him wake me at 4 am every nite howling.)  Now he generally comes in every nite around 5 or 6 pm to sleep and is almost blase about my passing through the room.  I think he feels he has his own key now and is more comfortably independent.  Meanwhile neither of the other cats has figured out how to slide the sliding door open.   The little bastard.....all this time I thought he was retarded.  He is obviously brilliant......a very clever pain in the ass by choice.

Both of us are so much happier now.....I am tickled to have him indoors at night and protected from the weather and other threats and also delighted to be able to walk into that room without him behaving like I was Typhoid Mary  and running like his tail was on fire.  He even looks at me differently now......instead of that fearful, wary, sullen stare he now observes me calmly, almost benignly......unless, of course, I get within about 20 inches of him.   

There is and has always been, however, one exception.  (This, by the way, has been going on for years).   It consists of him taking a certain hiding position under the wicker couch, my going out to the garden and gathering a handful of the choicest tender blades of grass (only accomplished on hands and knees, you understand, and returning to the sunroom with the sacred bouquet.  Then, I get down on hands and knees or, preferably, tummy, on the floor and creep with outstretched arm to fingertip distance from Baskin holding out a tender blade enticingly.  Baskin, who is watching me like a hawk to be sure I do not get 1/16 of an inch closer than necessary, pretends to cast a casual disinterested, disdainful,  blase glance at the offering and, just at the moment when the phrase,  "Fuck you, you ungrateful wretch", is trembling on my lips,  he reaches out an inch toward the morsel and chompfs it down to a nub allowing his whiskers to tickle my eager fingers in the process  This gets repeated with each blade until there is nothing but inedible nubs left whereupon he scans the floor in front of him for missed goodies, sighs and turns away casting me a glance fraught with meaning something like, "There, you frumpy old biddy, don't ever say I never did you a favor".  I am not sure what it says about my character, pride or self-respect that I accept this treatment gratefully.......I do not intend to pursue that avenue right now.  I never for a minute would have put up with such abuse from any man in my life, but, somehow with Baskin it seems OK.  I cannot satisfactorily explain this.

Chalk it up to just one more character flaw or sheer insanity, whichever comes to mind first.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Things to Ponder While Yelling "Ouch"

(This is NOT the blog I promised you after losing the rant I wrote on Sunday.....that is yet to come.)

 I am sharing a hard won life lesson with y'all today on the off chance that my struggles may be helpful to someone out there.  If you are one of the lucky ones who never has a pain or an ache, for heaven's sake, don't waste your time plodding through this....just keep on smoking whatever it is you are smoking and move on to a more exciting blog.  However, if you have ever uttered an "ouch" or "oy vey" you might find a nugget of interest here.  I am not preaching anything, by the way, nor am I trying to entice you into my cult where magic is a daily ho-hum happening.  I offer my experiences with all humility and much's a kind of take- it- or- leave- it thing.  I hope some crumb will resonate for you and make things better.
 As most of you know, I recently cancelled my plans to have a bum knee replaced when I realized that my suffering from the knee only accounted for about 30% of my total miseries and it did not seem worthwhile to incur the pain of surgery, recovery and the damned physical therapy to only feel perhaps 30% better.

I definitely feel like I made the right decision for me....(I encourage anyone who is facing replacement of parts to proceed like gangbusters if that surgery will eliminate most of your discomfort or give you mobility you are lacking).  The most interesting thing is, that in order to make that decision, I had to face, analyze and get on speaking terms with all of my various aches and pains and was reminded (once more) of a lesson I learned years ago but keep forgetting:

When there is no possibility of immediate relief from a pain the best thing to do is to stop fighting the pain.
Stop resenting, resisting, hating and trying to pull away from the pain or tear it out of yourself.  Relax and get neutral.   (Easy to say, I know, but it can be done).

Accept the pain.

Take a deep breath.  Look inside.  Examine it for shape, color, size, texture, general characteristics.  Start thinking of the pain as not your enemy but a sort of are both stuck in this together.  As soon as you do this the pain becomes less intense and/or more manageable, I swear.  When you quietly accept the fact that there is no quick fix, you develop an odd respect for the pain and begin to learn to live with it rather than be at war with it.  Sounds crazy I know, but it has always worked for me.  And it has just worked again.

Now, before you all pelt me with camel dung I must state (I should probably have said this at the beginning),
I am not talking here about Grade #10 or even #8 or #9 pain.  This method did not work for me during the week on the ship when I was having the extreme sciatic attack and was incarcerated in my cabin unable to move and with excruciating, ceaseless agony for 7 days 24 hours a day.  No amount of accepting made that better or distracted me from its intensity for a moment.  I don't think it helped with an abcessed tooth I once had either.  But it has helped with a lot of the inbetweens and it is helping me a lot with my knee.  For one thing, my  unceasing spewing forth of streams of curses and naughty words has fallen to a trickle.  I am not nearly as exhausted by the end of the day or even when I get up in the morning.  I have stopped obsessing about the damned knee, screaming at every twinge and have actually noticed one or two pleasant things in between groans.  All in all, my condition is much improved without having undergone surgery, tenks gott.  Of, course, the day may come when I re-evaluate things and find the percentage has shifted, and I may very well reschedule the knee replacement.  But, for now I feel I made the right choice and I am content.

So when they find you seated in the lotus position with eyes crossed breathing heavily and they ask what the hell  you are doing, just tell them, like Lois said, you are making friends with your pain.

Monday, September 5, 2011

You Coulda Heard my Screams in Timbuktu...

Oh....all I can say is shit, piss, fuck.

Yesterday I had a brief moment of inspiration.....something goosed me to the laptop and I wrote at least 10,000 gazillion words, stopping every 500 or so to carefully  "save" them. After all, I am no novice at this computer stuff....I have been around the block a few times and know all too well how stuff can disappear into the the Computer Nowhere.   Still, when I had it all fine tuned to my liking I hit "publish" and ended up in some weird Bloggy swamp. 

With trembling fingers I made my way back to my site and my worst fears were confirmed.  Every gazillion of those words must be floating in oblivion because they sure as hell ain't in my Blog list....not even in draft status.  Sob, snivel, sniffle.  I was too disheartened to try to reconstruct it yesterday, but today I made a few notes and just maybe......

But, actually........the truth is.....

I wish I could say that you were all dreadfully deprived of a masterpiece, but I was in a really shitty mood and as I reflected on the whole situation I ended up thanking my lucky stars that the wretched thing did get lost.  You would have probably hated every word I uttered and me for being the utterer.  Most of it was a rabid rant against everyone (including a lot of bloggers whom I love) who had been moaning and crying for their lost than that......for their lost youthful good looks, a complaint I simply have no time or tolerance for.

I will present my arguments tomorrow......meanwhile if you want to do any bitching and complaining about the fact that everything is drooping and you can't stand to look in the mirror anymore and  "why oh why, poor me", you had better do it before I expound on what a silly fool you are for feeling that way.

See.....I am NOT always Pollyanna!

Enuf said for today.