Posted by: jatplay | March 22, 2012

Lost and Found

The gods of live music smile on Manhattan in the spring. March and April regularly bring amazing talent to the various stages, clubs, and concert halls around town. Thanks to an understanding wife and friends who share my love for live music, I get to see more than my fair share of shows around this time of year.

The other night I had the pleasure of seeing the sax player Bobby Keys, best known for his work with the Rolling Stones during their most creative period.  Keys is an amazing musician whose career allowed him to work with almost every major rock star from Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley to John Lennon and Eric Clapton (to name only some). Keys has an autobiography out right now which is great fun to read, and his work and time with Lennon is our subject for this post.

Through the chaos and karma of the rock and roll lifestyle in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bobby and John became friendly with one another. Their friendship took hold in England, and continued when both musicians made their way back to America.

In 1973, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were at a bad point in their relationship.  John had just finished his Mind Games album, and he and Yoko were growing apart. Understanding her husband better than almost anyone else, Yoko suggested that they take some time apart. In October of 1973, Lennon left NYC for LA, where he and Bobby reconnected.  The next 18 months would become a period of time that Lennon would later refer to as his “Lost Weekend”.

Drugs and alcohol made this period a blur for those who lived in Lennon’s LA orbit.  Along with Keys, the cast of characters included Phil Spector, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and many other assorted rock and roll types.  While some effort was made to find a creative spark, most of the music from that period isn’t worth a listen – and the substance-induced shenanigans (especially boozing with Nilsson) came to define that time more so than any creative output.

One bright spot did emerge. Lennon was able to begin to repair his relationship with his son Julian, with whom he had very little contact over the previous 4 years. This reconnection would help show him the way back to his music and his family, helping him realize that it was time to move on.

By the middle of 1974, Lennon needed a change.  As Keys would recall in his book, it was time for Lennon to come back to NYC and “leave California in California.” He needed to make music – real music – without the distractions of drugs, booze and hard partying. Back in NYC, John found his creative energy again, and set to work on his next album – Walls and Bridges. From this album came the great song “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”.  A song defined as much by Lennon’s lyrics as Key’s sax work.

This wonderful song kicks off with a tremendous solo played by Keys. Unable to read music, despite being one of the most in demand sax players of the day, Bobby had to learn his parts from Lennon in the stairwell of  the Dakota, where John and Yoko lived. Lennon worked with Keys and taught him what to play so that Bobby wouldn’t be embarrassed in the studio when it came time to cut the record. Together they worked out the solos, especially the opening, which begins on an unmistakable high note. This track also benefited from Elton John on backing vocals, and Lennon promised him that if the song got to #1 he would join Elton on stage during his tour to sing it.

Sure enough, the record hits #1 – the only #1 solo song Lennon had in his lifetime. Lennon honored his word, and over Thanksgiving 1974, he took the stage at Madison Square Garden to perform with Elton John. It would be Lennon’s last public appearance on stage before his death on December 8th, 1980.

In October of 1975, John would see the birth of his second son Sean.  His “Lost Weekend” eventually brought him back home to NYC, where he regained success musically. He also found personal happiness and contentment as a father and husband again, eventually taking a hiatus from his music in order to give family his full attention. Although his life would end tragically and far too soon, he had enough time to find his balance again. But he had to get lost first to do it.

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Posted by: jatplay | March 16, 2012

Words of Wisdom from The Boss

I’ve been working on something more substantial to post here, and I hope to have it done this weekend.  Along the way I read the following quote from Bruce Springsteen from his recent speech at SXSW. I would be remiss if I didn’t share…..

“Rumble, young musicians, rumble. Open your ears and open your hearts. Don’t take yourself too seriously … and take yourself as seriously as death itself. Have iron clad confidence … but doubt, it keeps you awake and ready. Believe you are the baddest ass in town … and you suck, it will keep you honest. Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideas alive in your heart the whole time and, if it doesn’t drive you crazy, it will make you strong. Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive. And when you walk on stage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it’s all we have … and then remember, it’s only rock and roll.”

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Springsteen live many times over many years. No other artist can make the raw, emotional connection that he does during a show. Springsteen is authentic – and I don’t think there is higher praise one can bestow upon an artist.

Posted by: jatplay | February 25, 2012

Finding Inspiration

Over the long weekend, we decided to take our kids into the city to the Museum of Modern Art. The MoMA has always been one of my favorite museums, and they currently have an installation of James Rosenquist’s room-sized work, F-111. A painting conceived to surround the viewer with many connected panels across all four walls of the space. It’s an iconic image being displayed as it first was during it’s debut in 1965 in the famed Leo Castelli Gallery.

F-111 is a vibrant image, and you should go to MoMA’s site to see it for yourself if you can’t make it in person. (http://www.moma.org)  While taking it all in, I noticed that the description posted next to the gallery mentioned that Rosenquist was inspired by Claude Monet’s Water Lilies and Jackson Pollack’s large abstracts. Water Lilies is similar to F-111 in that it is comprised of multiple panels that are meant to be viewed together. These paintings happened to also be in the museum’s collection. Seeing the sources of inspiration, and the work which they inspired, together was a special opportunity and we went off to find them.

My kids, who are 7 and almost 5, have been to museums with us many times. While it’s always been a fun family outing to go to exhibits, this visit was special as my oldest had been studying art in 1st grade and was familiar with many of the artists and images in the museum’s incredible collection.  I am completely involved in my kid’s activities, and have marked many learning milestones in various play gyms, classrooms, and on playing fields. Yet, I was still struck by the joy they had in seeing and learning about these images outside of the typical structured learning environment.

My oldest informed me that his favorite painting from art class was The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, another work in MoMA’s amazing collection. I could see how excited he was to see the painting up close – observing the brush strokes and the color in a way no textbook or reproduction could convey. He couldn’t wait to go back and tell his art teacher about everything we saw.

As we walked through the different collections, the kids asked questions and made comments about what they were seeing. They were each relating at their own level, yet their shared love for the art was obvious. As they interacted with one another, talking about what they were seeing, I caught a glimpse into the special relationship they have with each other. Seeing them so engaged by the art was inspiring.

Parenthood is filled with many special days, and I felt lucky to know I was experiencing one while it was happening.

 

 

Posted by: jatplay | February 7, 2012

Windshield Sunsets

You don’t appreciate the extent of your freedom at age 21. College graduation was in the rear-view mirror. The new job and apartment in NYC down the road. But there were miles of highway to cover in between.  Jon was still my best friend then, as close to a brother as an only child could have, and we had planned this trip for years.

We left Ohio heading west through Indiana, Illinois, and Nebraska. The flatness of the land was mesmerizing, and the horizon went on forever. As the miles churned under our tires, the farmlands turned into foothills and then mountains. Pre-iPods and satellite radio, when even CD players were expensive options, Jon and I had only the changing tastes of the regional airwaves to occupy the spaces in between our raucous conversation and quiet introspection. We had plenty of places to visit but no where really to go. We were aware of time passing, but not concerned with the hour of the day.

Except when evening fell and we were treated to the kaleidoscope of colors that accompanied each windshield sunset. The pinks, purples, oranges, reds and blues were electric. They exploded on the horizon and then faded into dusk. Nothing I’ve seen since can compare.

Alternating between our tent and the hospitality of friends, we moved through Wyoming and then Idaho. Early summer in the Tetons has a crispness to it unlike anything else. We spent a week there– hiking, camping, and fishing. Then on to Portland, San Fran, and LA. The journey was a collection of  back roads and side adventures.  Hours spent in the car talking about our lives, our dreams. I had no grand plan, just a notion to eventually head back to NYC, get a job, meet a girl, and start a family- but that seemed far off.

Deserts and rocks like moonscapes. Storms and sunlight. Vegas to New Orleans in 26 straight hours fueled by nothing more than Gatorade, Pall Malls and trucker speed.  West Texas on a moonless night with one weak radio station beaming in the word of someone else’s God. The vastness making you all to aware of your own insignificance.  The Crescent City a drunken blur. New Orleans to Atlanta for the Olympics – the bomb blast alerting us to the idea that it was time to go home.

7 weeks of freedom. A lap around the country. A moment of suspended youth before responsibility. And those glorious windshield sunsets.

 

Posted by: jatplay | January 27, 2012

Music is a bridge

Music is a universal language –it is something that can be shared without explanation or instruction. It triggers memories, and can tell stories more effectively and viscerally than words on a printed page. Music is also about traditions.

From the muddy waters of the Mississippi Delta to the clubs in Liverpool in the 1960’s, a tradition of Blues playing was passed along, with each successive artist adding to it and in turn making it his or her own.  I “discovered” this music at a young age, and have loved it ever since.  Music is a bridge to the past and a connection to the future.

When my wife was pregnant, I made mixes to play for our babies while in utero. They had some of the more melodic songs from my favorite artists, as well as some classical standards.  One of my favorites from this mix was “In My Life” by the Beatles. After their births, when they would get overwhelmed by their emotions as toddlers, I would sing or hum this song to them to calm them down.  Music has that power.

I’ll never forget the day my son asked me to download John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” to his iTouch. I was so proud. Now he asks me to put the Dead channel on satellite radio when we are in the car. He likes the Stones and is starting to get into the Black Keys.  I was recently able to take him to see Gary Clark Jr. in a small recording studio near where we live, and I could tell that it was an experience and memory he will carry with him forever. He still likes the kid stuff – Big Time Rush and LMFAO are current favorites, but I also know he’s building a good base with the classics.

My 4 year old daughter also likes to belt out the tunes. Her tastes skew almost exclusively to whatever is on Radio Disney, but I can always get her to dance with me when I put on a honky-tonk jam or a New Orleans flavored swing. My wife often gets a chuckle watching her with her friends singing the latest Adele tune in the backseat during carpool. It’s funny to see them try to convey the heartbreak, passion, and angst of these songs despite the innocence of their age. (Side note – I will KILL the boy that breaks her heart – you’ve been warned future boyfriend).  I wonder what song she and I will dance to at her wedding…

Next week my son is taking his first guitar lesson. I never learned to play an instrument and it’s one of my only regrets. Maybe someday I’ll find the time.  I’m excited for him, but equally excited at the prospect of sharing a love and passion for music that will connect us even when his interests inevitably deviate from mine.

Posted by: jatplay | January 23, 2012

Eliminate the noise

I am not a trader anymore. Back in the mid to late 1990s, I traded professionally and was a market-maker for some of the high-flying tech names in the NASDAQ.  I was young, and although I was just at the start of my career, the rising market ensured that I made a decent living. I eventually moved on to work for some of the bigger banks, learning and developing new skills, before deciding to go out on my own.

I am currently a professional investor. Hard fought victories and defeats throughout my career have led me to my current strategy, although the journey of creating and establishing a track record of success based on this strategy has not been smooth.  I have been forced to reconsider the rules I tried so hard to master over the first decade of my career, and have worked diligently to keep my mind open to new perspectives. Reinvention is never easy, but in my case it was essential in order to reach the life goals I had set for myself and for my family.

Along the way, I figured out that I value stability and consistency over outsized gains. I now focus on the probability of loss as much as on gain. I don’t care about fundamental research, nor do I pay much attention to technical moves. These things are of passing interest to me as a student of the markets, but there are better things for me to focus on in order to achieve the levels of risk and return that I seek.

It starts with my work environment. Read this http://abnormalreturns.com/highly-influenceable-traders to get an idea of what I mean. My partner and I don’t have financial news blaring on the TV. In fact, if the TV is on, it’s usually tuned to some food channel or cooking show. We get all the headline news we need from Twitter, and can dig deeper with more detailed stories from the blogs and articles we read.

In a market of stocks, it is impossible for me to compete with the professionals on the buy-side and sell-side who are consumed with the nuances of sectors and names, management decisions and micro trends. Their access to resources gives them a competitive advantage over me. But in a stock market, where human behavior and emotion hold sway, there are  advantages to filtering out or ignoring  the steady drumbeat of information that other market professionals must process.

Opinions and predictions are largely worthless. What is of value is what those opinions and predications tell you about your own personal biases. Seeing your bias for what it is, and countering it with opposing points of view, can only enhance the strength of your decision making capabilities. Disconnecting from the relentless fire-hose of news gives you the time and clarity of mind in which to do this.

A few things happen when you stop reacting to every headline and stock move – you begin to think about the utility of your strategy in the broader context of your investment goals.  You start to see new ways to bring enhancement or protection into the mix. Most importantly, you begin to think about risk management as part of the entire investment process, not as an overlay onto an existing portfolio of positions.

When you eliminate the noise, you begin to focus on the things that are essential to your process. So far that seems to be working for me.

Posted by: jatplay | January 23, 2012

Making the most of every opportunity

It’s late Fall, 1969. In the middle of Hollywood, California, Sunset Sound studio is buzzing with activity. The Rolling Stones are finishing up their album, Let It Bleed, after previously laying down most of it at Olympic Studios in London a few months back. They’re in LA and there is darkness brewing within the band.  A storm is threatening.

“Gimme Shelter” is a Keith song, not a Mick song. If you know what I mean, than you know there’s a distinction. It’s a song about love and anger, but through the collaborative alchemy of the Stones it becomes an anthem for all that is wrong in the world in 1969.

While in London, Keith Richards came up with the amazing guitar intro while Mick Jagger was off acting in some forgettable film. The band recorded the song with the great Nicky Hopkins on piano; and Jimmy Miller, the Stones producer and sometimes session contributor, added some subtle but memorable percussion work to the track.

But something was still missing, so Miller took the band to LA looking for a certain sound that would complete the recording.  He would find what he was searching for only a few miles away.

Miller decided the track needed a female backing vocal, and immediately called Bonnie Bramlett, the wife and band-mate of Delaney Bramlett, of the group Delany & Bonnie. She was a well known and accomplished singer signed to the legendary Stax label, having previously performed with the likes of Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Duane Allman. Bonnie gladly came in to rehearse when Miller called, but unfortunately her voice gave out and she ultimately couldn’t perform when it came time to lay down the final recording.

It was getting late, and the band was feeling in the moment. Sensing the urgency of the hour, Miller called Merry Clayton, a voice he remembered hearing not too long before.  Jagger would later recall, “She came with her curlers in, straight from bed, and had to sing this really odd lyric. For her it was a little odd – for anyone, in the middle of the night, to sing this one verse it would have been odd. She was great.”

Clayton wasn’t an unknown the night her phone rang with a chance at immortality. She had done session work for acts like Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, and Neil Young and was respected for her strong voice. She entered the studio and promptly gave one of the most electrifying performances captured on tape.

When you listen to  “Gimme Shelter”, you can hear as Clayton’s voice cracks from the strain of her powerful singing. During the third and final refrain, she wails the word “murder”, after which Jagger lets out an emphatic cry in admiration of Clayton’s emotional and over the top delivery. Her sound is primal, capturing the darkness and urgency of the lyrics. It’s clear to everyone in the control room that they just witnessed greatness.

Merry Clayton laid down her vocals and left the studio. Not long after, she suffered a miscarriage. Apparently, this was due to the strain that came with reaching the highest notes during that session. It’s impossible to know this fact and not feel her devastation every time you hear the song.

For all of her contributions to this legendary recording, Merry Clayton’s name was misspelled on the original release, appearing as ‘Mary’. Amazingly, “Gimme Shelter” was never officially released as a single.

This recording changed the arc of her career. Clayton went on to success as a solo artist and was in demand as a backing vocalist for other stars. She recorded 5 singles that made it onto the Billboard Top 100 charts, including her own version of “Gimme Shelter”. She also had successful career acting on stage (as the Acid Queen in The Who’s Tommy) and in film and TV.

Merry Clayton seized her moment. She took advantage of the opportunity to fill-in for an ailing Bonnie Bramlett, and by delivering a powerful performance, became a part of rock and roll history.

Oh, and one more thing – “Gimme Shelter” isn’t the only legendary song on which her backing vocals make an impression. You can hear Merry Clayton on Lynyrd Skynard’s epic “Sweet Home Alabama” as well.

Turn it up.

Posted by: jatplay | January 18, 2012

It’s Always About the People

NYSE Trading Post Last Sale Indicator – Presented to my grandfather in 1980 when the NYSE switched from wooden, hand-adjusted indicators to computers

“55 Water St., back of the building,” my father instructed the cab driver, and just like that we were off.

The ride in on the 7:34 am MTA train from North White Plains was uneventful. This was before the iTouch and smart phones, so as an 8 year old I had little to do but watch my dad and the other commuters read their New York Times or Wall Street Journal’s. As soon as we hit Grand Central, however, things started to happen at an increasingly faster pace. We walked briskly through the enormous terminal, and upon hitting Lexington Ave, promptly grabbed a cab in order to make it onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange before the opening bell.

It was the summer of 1982, the first year that even 100 million shares were traded in a day on the NYSE, and not many people cared about the overseas markets or what the futures were doing. The exchange may have been the epicenter of the financial world, but until that morning, it was a place that existed only in my imagination.

My expectations of what this place would be were molded and shaped by the stories told around the dinner table by my grandfather, uncle, and father, all of whom worked somewhere known simply as “the Floor”.  Based on these stories, this “Floor” seemed to be the most exciting place in the world, and I was finally going to see it for myself.

The people on the floor of the NYSE didn’t care about your pedigree. It wasn’t a “white shoe” place like the banks, but it was no less competitive. It was a place where it didn’t matter what your last name was or where you went to school. If you could trade, you were a success, and if you couldn’t, you were out.

My grandfather began his career delivering stock certificates. He physically moved the certificates around from one vault to another, wearing out the soles of his shoes on the cobblestone streets of the financial district. Over time, he made his way off the actual Wall St. and into the “Wall St.” of lore. He eventually became a Member of the NYSE, and by the 1970’s had built a decent sized firm with some great partners. My father reluctantly came to work on the NYSE after a career in the art world. The arrival of his first and only child, me, forcing him to seek the more stable life that trading afforded (imagine that today – yeah right!). After spending some time as a $2 broker (so named for the amount of commission they charged per 100 share order), handling order flow from “upstairs” clients like banks and asset managers, he joined the family business and became a Specialist like my grandfather.

While people on the floor didn’t care where you came from, there still was a bit of a hierarchy. Specialist and brokers were Members. They owned or leased “seats” which gave them the right to trade stocks. They had clerks who helped process the order flow and keep the paperwork humming along. Specialists were market-makers, and sat atop the food chain. Charged with maintaining a fair and orderly market, they saw both sides of the order flow, and in doing so had a distinct informational advantage. Specialist committed their own capital to buy when there were no other buyers and sell when there were no other sellers. They made the spread between bids and offers, and real and enforceable rules were in place to prevent them from abusing their informational advantage.

Like all Members, they lived by an ethical code – “your word was your bond”. This was a club of sorts, and you looked into the eyes of those with whom you traded every day. It wasn’t a place that tolerated those who couldn’t play the game fairly. Most everyone started at the bottom as a clerk, either for a broker or a specialist.  If you were really good, you would probably earn the opportunity to become a Member and get a “seat”.  This “seat” gave you the right to trade, but you still had to prove your value every day. Everyone was only as good as their last trade in that environment.

For me, walking into the NYSE was like stepping into a different world. Men wearing brightly colored coats, known as floor jackets, ran around yelling and screaming at each other. They ate like animals, and littered the floor with tons of paper. By the end of the day, you couldn’t even see the actual floorboards, covered as they were with paper more than 6 inches deep (from time to time, my dad would mail me envelopes filled only with paper he scooped up from the floor; and I knew he was thinking of me just as if he had written a note). It was controlled chaos, an adult playground. Dirty jokes, foul language and general mischievousness filled the brief moments between trades.

The Floor was divided up into separate trading areas, each with their own trading posts. These posts were populated by some of the most colorful characters I’d ever seen. Yes, they were mostly normal family men, but from the opening bell to the closing bell their animal instincts took over and they traded in a ruthless and breakneck pace. Guys with nicknames like Heshy and Spider, their hair slicked back, dressed in sharp suits, and moving millions of dollars around (back when that was a lot of money) with the flick of a wrist and the cacophonous short-hand code of the Floor. It was a foreign land, with its own customs and language.

Younger citizens of this strange tribe dealt with hazing rituals unique to the Floor’s anthropology.  Having sugar or salt poured on your shoulder while you weren’t paying attention and everyone around you screamed “It’s snowing in New York”, or being sent to look for a box of plus tics (there is no such thing, it refers to an uptick in the last sale of a stock), or going to the money desk to ask for change of a $100 dollar bill (no money changes hands at the money desk, I’m still not sure what purpose it served), or getting your freshly shined shoes powdered. You had to be on your toes all the time. It was close to sensory overload!

When the action got heated, huge crowds would gather in front of the Specialist charged with making a market in whatever stock was moving that moment. I still remember one of my dad’s partners, Stevie A., imposing at what seemed like 7 feet tall, slicked-backed, jet-black hair and impeccably dressed. He stayed calm, controlling the frenzy of the crowd the day that Solomon Brothers’ stock blew up in the wake of some bond scandal. He looked like a general leading from the front. I was in awe!

The Floor was a primal place, populated by men and women who would have no place in the sanitized culture of today’s financial firms. They wouldn’t want to be part of it anyway. It was raw. Capitalism laid bare. It was a place where you had to physically assert yourself in order to be seen and heard. And when the closing bell rang (at 3:30PM back then), it was over.  The decibel level dropped dramatically and everyone left to go back to their normal lives. Some would head up to the Luncheon Club, a wood-paneled sanctuary where Members could drink, eat, and play backgammon or gin rummy while unwinding from the day’s non-stop adrenaline rush before heading back to their wives and kids.

That first visit made a huge impression on me, and despite my dad’s wishes to pursue other things, I spent most of my high school and college summers clerking on the Floor. As a pimply faced high school kid blessed with a good wit but not much more, my summers working on the Floor gave me confidence and exposure to a world that was far different from my suburban upbringing. Unfortunately, by the time I graduated from college, the Floor was already in its decline.

Decimals replaced 1/8ths, shrinking the spread between bids and offers and making it harder to profit as a Specialist. Eventually, computers replaced most of the people. The old, colorful characters sold their small, family-owned firms to big banks, and young corporate types took their places. Members became shareholders when the NYSE went public; effectively marking the end of the club, and the party was soon over. They even closed down the Luncheon Club, auctioning off the huge bull and bear clock statue that graced its wall along with plates, silverware and everything else that bore the exchange’s bull and bear logo.

I have fond memories of this magical place, shades of which still emerge when I hear the rasp of Art Cashin’s voice as he is interviewed on CNBC from the now sanitized and quiet NYSE. Seeing the hardwood floor on TV, devoid of its scrap paper coating, only further reinforces how much things have changed. Most trading today is done via computers.  The floor of the NYSE isn’t the center of the universe anymore.

Although I have built a nice career for myself within the world of finance, I realize now that my boyhood enthusiasm for stocks and investing was due to the characters that populated that place, not the work itself. Investing, when done well, is boring – and it should be. It requires focus and dedication, especially when you do it on behalf of others who have placed trust and faith in your ability.  Of course, those characters didn’t entirely disappear. The lure of money and the rush of adrenaline still attract a certain type of person to this business.

Today, the real characters in finance don’t stalk the floor screaming at each other and telling dirty jokes. They have moved to the virtual world, on places like Twitter, Stock Twits, and the colorful blogs that you can check out to your right on my blog roll. I’ve gotten to know some of them, and that old guard from the Floor would have approved. They are a boisterous lot who don’t care about your pedigree, as long as you bring it correct every day. They still mostly adhere to the adage that “your word is your bond”, and they aren’t afraid to time-stamp their ideas. They let you know when they are right, and more importantly, when they are wrong. They’re quick with their wit and happy to help you improve your game by sharing their wisdom and experience. I only wish I knew them all in real life so we could grab a drink, play backgammon, and unwind together after the closing bell.  Check them out. You’ll learn and be entertained, just as I was by those characters years ago in a place that today exists only in my memory.

Posted by: jatplay | January 16, 2012

To-Do Lists and the Illusion of Control

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making to-do lists for myself. I have a to-do list for my job (I manage money – more on that in the future perhaps), a to-do list for my errands and things around the house, a to-do list for the books and music I want to check out, and even a to-do list to update my other to-do lists. These lists exists on paper – in notebooks and scraps on my various desks -as well as in my mind. I realize that I find comfort in the writing down and checking off of items on these lists. It is an illusion of control in a reality of managed chaos. I like things to be neatly organized, yet I have built a life that is impossible to keep neat. I make my living off of the unpredictability of markets, and my family life is wonderfully chaotic! These lists allow me to lie to myself. They let me believe that I can control when and how things get done, and offer the promise that one day all things will be checked off. I hope that day never comes – how boring it would be. Some items never get checked off, they get perpetually rolled into the next list. One of the to-do’s that kept getting rolled forward was to start a blog. For a long time I debated this idea internally. I questioned who would have an interest in what I was thinking, and even decided that a blog post would just add to my lists of to-do’s! Ultimately, I decided that while most of my thoughts and opinions become properly channeled into the conversations I have with others (through work, with old friends, and through a social life that my wife keeps active for me), some ideas have no natural way to get out. Thus, Drumfill was born!

My rough plan with this space is to riff on politics, markets, music and other culture as the notion strikes me. I will attempt to hold to high standards of spelling and grammar, but I cannot guarantee it. I will try to keep it entertaining and light, but life isn’t always like that. It might get weird sometimes, but I never want it to be offensive. So thanks for stumbling upon this and come back often.

Enjoy!

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