Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mushroom Hunter

What is it with Czechs and their mushroom picking? It is revered like the Sauna in Scandinavia, the Packers game in Green bay, the wine in Australia, the ultra hot bath in Japan: something only the locals can understand.

But at least I found the biggest Bedla, one type of mushroom.

"Bedla Jedla!", my wife cried. (Bedla Jedla means roughly "Bedla edible" as opposed to the unedible "muchomurka cervena" which is probably translated as red diarrhea).


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

ten days ago, 5 years ago, 20 years ago, 35 years ago.

My wife and I took the obligatory tour bus around New York on a hot Sunday afternoon. Fortunately the wife, Dasa, let us backtrack a bit so that I could visit the World Trade Center. Is that what they call it these days?


5 years ago, on September 11, We were in a Dodavka (A Fiat van) that we bought to move our things to Belgrade where I was starting a job. We were driving to Hradec Kralove in Moravia, eastern Czech Republic, to correct some paper work on the van. We heard the news on BBC. We spent the night in a hotel there only so I could watch the buildings come down, again and again.

My wife calls them 'The Twins' since it is a direct translation from how the Czechs describe the Twin Towers. I never used that name for them.

20 years ago I worked there, for a commodities futures broker doing back office work and then some trading. I worked at the bottom, in one of the cluster buildings. Many people don't know that there were World trade Center one, two, and also 3, 4 and 5... I think that's right. Please feel free to correct me. I cannot recall the address of the smaller, six story buildings that were 3, 4, and 5. (Was there a six?) These smaller buildings probalby would look like the green leaves at the bottom of a tall tulip, in relation to the Twins.

Somewhat wierd feeling being there. The photo shows me directly in front of the fences that surround the gaping hole. In the distance you can see World Financial Center,that was built while I worked in NY from 1986 to 1989. Our company eventually moved to one of those two buildings. One friend still works for the firm and I spoke to him after the attacks. He was across the street when the planes hit. I seem to recall him using the words 'Savages' when describing the terrorists. His father happened to be one of the builders that constructed the World Trade Center. He was a steel worker, and his last name was 'Steel'. And his son worked for the commodities trading house as a metals analyst. I was always fond of this irony.

I was born in a place called Rockville Centre, out on Long Island, but my family moved west when I was 13. This town was hit hard by the attacks because one guy from Cantor Fitzgerald kept getting jobs for his buddies and brothers of his buddies. 35 years ago I even remember on kid named Sherry who was 4 or 5 when I was 9 or 10. Just a younger kid from the neighborhood. He died in the attack working at the World Trade Center.

My sister told me of one of her old clients that died there. A Russian guy name Igor or something like that. My sis knew 3 or 4 people that died there.

Also another guy named Brennan, from Rockville Center. One of the big catholic families like ours. He also died there.

So what do I feel? Nothing too melodramatic. Just a sense of connection to the place. Memories of getting a shish kebab on the street (something we called Cat-on-a-stick due to the dubious nature of the meat), or a feel-awful, one trader's nickname for the falafel. Or Ziti (Begziti?), or pizza, or even the late night chinese that had the dead cockroach in it.

Memories of the subway ride that came into the deep cavernous station under the Trade Center. The tense feeling leaving work after having a bad day trading. I wasn't a good trader, to be honest. My boss once told me that I like the idea of being a trader, but didn't like trading; a candid and accurate assessment. But I also loved being in New York. I kind of wish I expolited the opportunities I had since I worked for a good part of the time, from 2 in the afternoon until midnight (trading with Australia and Asian counterparties). Only a few times did I enjoy late nights in the city that never sleeps. So called.

And now, going back to NY to visit my sister, I feel a real stranger in there. Taking tour busses, afterall.



Look what was waiting for us when we got back from two weeks in the states. A little surprise in the bread box.


And it was warm to the touch!



Tuesday, August 02, 2005

PC Follies

What does this signify?

Here's a guy that smells like flower water, putting his ID in his shoes, mumbling to himself, hands held high, .... get DOWN!

He's a Muslim bomber getting ready to push the button. See here and here.

Thanks to PC Watch who correctly indentifies the pure folly of telling the NYC cops to be politically correct and stop one out of five people to check their bags when they should skip the little old ladies and target anyone that looks like he could be carrying a bomb. Forget sensitivities here folks. Unfortunately for the people who look like Muslims when they really could be a hispanic, a Phillipino or even a Jew!.. the world is now a place where being PC will cost lives.


Internet Messenger Trick

So you are chatting on the old IM with a dealer in London, and they he tells you he is on a call. Here is how to rattle him a bit.

Me 4:02:06 PM: Hi mate, do you have that info?
friend 4:13:30 PM: sure - hang on, on call
Me 4:14:53 PM: why did the frog cross the road? To see his FLAT mate.
friend 4:20:58 PM: :-& dude, that's a bad gag
Me 4:21:44 PM: So it worked? I am sorry.
friend 4:23:37 PM: apology accepted
Me 4:23:46 PM: hee hee

So here I am laughing at my own humor.


Trader's Credo?

".... unfortunately we are at the place where supply meets demand."

Sounds like a trader lamenting the nervous stress of a trading room. In reality it was a comment made by a Nuevo Laredo, city councillor when asked about the gang wars in his drug trade infested, Mexican border town. Online FT artcle is subscription only ( I read the paper copy in the bathtub this morning).