Insight Information

The Lund Loop - Your weekly update on markets, trading, and life.*

*Please see disclaimers at the bottom of this newsletter.

In the 1984 movie The Big Chill, a group of student activists, 20 years removed from college, come together for the weekend after their friend commits suicide.

Most have long since abandoned their youthful idealism and now occupy the “straight” world they once protested, no more so than their host Harold, who along with his wife and fellow alumnus Sarah, has spent his post-college years raising a family and building a successful business.

At the other end of the spectrum is Nick, a wounded Vietnam vet who has isolated himself from friends and become a drug dealer, treating his PTSD with a rotating concoction of pills from his inventory.

Early one morning while out jogging, Harold informs Nick that his company is going to be bought out and anyone who owns stock will 3x their money. He suggests that this could be a chance for Nick to “get into a different line of business.”

This of course is inside information, which, as Harold dutifully notes, is illegal to share or act upon. It’s also the stuff people secretly dream about.

The idea of having exclusive knowledge guaranteed to affect a stock’s price is exciting, exhilarating, even sexy. It’s a staple of lazy afternoon fantasies, motion picture sub-plots, and the subject of a recurring dream I had back in the late 90s.

After pausing at a four-way stop, the car in front of me starts out into the intersection, when “BANG!” – it’s T-boned by a semi-truck.

I get out of my car and rush to the twisted wreckage where I find the driver laying on the pavement, bloodied and broken. As I roll him over, I realize it’s Bill Gates – and he’s barely clinging to life.

Knowing that every second is critical, I make a mad dash to the phone booth on the corner, where, after instructing my broker to short every share of Microsoft he can find, I immediately call for an ambulance.

Technically, this doesn’t qualify as insider trading as it’s pubic information, albeit temporarily known only by those who witnessed the accident.

But there have been numerous times in the past – times from which the statue of limitations has long passed – where someone I know very well, that definitely isn’t me, was approached with information about a company that, if true, would reside in let’s just say, “a gray area.”

And every single time it was wrong.

That’s because most of us will never be close enough to the locus of power in a publicly traded company to receive any real inside information. And we don’t need it anyway. We get in enough trouble without it by using our insight information.


in·sight

/ˈinˌsīt/

Noun

The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.

"this paper is alive with sympathetic insight into Shakespeare"

synonyms:

intuition, discernment, perception, awareness, understanding, comprehension,  acumen, judgement, acuity, vision, wisdom, prescience, savvy


It was the height of the dot com boom and the domain flipping craze was in full swing.

Business.com had just sold for $7.5 million and speculators were rushing to register any words or phrases they thought might have value.

Mind you, these were not active internet businesses being sold, just domain names.

A little late to the game, but not wanting to miss out on the action and sure I had the insight to find a valuable domain the public had overlooked, I began my search.

My idea was to start with obvious, well-known themes, then go downstream.

For example, Disney, Disneyland, and Disneyworld dot com would surely be taken. But what about character names? Maybe nobody had yet thought of Mickey, Pluto, or DonaldDuck dotcom?

They had.

But I continued, going from idea to idea, brand to brand, concept to concept, trying to find a hidden gem out in cyberspace.

At one point I theorized that the names of classic TV shows might still be under the radar and racked my brain to come up with the most iconic – those whose value would only increase over time.

And then it hit me. Star Trek.

The original series came out before I was born, and though it was constantly rerun after ending, I never paid much attention to the show. In fact, I only remembered two episodes – “Spectre of the Gun” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”

The first because of it’s surreal, Twilight Zone like depiction of the historic gunfight at OK Corral, and the second because of Sherry Jackson (Google it/her).

But despite my ambivalence, I knew the series, movies, and characters were beloved by millions. And if my hunch was right, there was a chance I could snag a related domain and make some big bucks.

StarTrek.com was taken of course. Enterprise.com too. So I went down the list of characters, starting with the lesser known ones first…

MisterChekov.com

MisterSulu.com

Scotty.com

DrMcCoy.com

Bones.com

LtUhura.com

But they were all taken.

And as it was no surprise that MrSpock.com was gone as well, I almost skipped CaptainKirk.com – so imagine my shock when I found out it was unclaimed.

Instantly, I locked it up.

I knew it, I thought to myself.

I knew if I thought hard enough and approached the process from a unique perspective, I could find something everyone else missed - and capitalize on it.

I sat back in my chair, self-satisfied, intoxicated by my fantastic insight and ability to see what others couldn’t, all the while counting guaranteed profits in my head.

A few days later I called my best friend, a serious Trekkie, informed him about my coup and rambled on about the greatness that was I.

“CaptainKirk.com?” he asked. “You got CaptainKirk.com?”

“Yep,” I answered.

“Are you sure about that?” he continued.

“You sound surprised,” I said.

“It’s just hard for me to believe that a domain like that wouldn’t already be taken.”

“Yeah, well it obviously was missed. Not everyone can think like I do.”

“Uh huh? So, you’ve got CaptainKirk.com?”

“Yep.”

“C-A-P-T-A-I-N-K-I-R-K dot com,” he said

“Yes!” I shouted, irritated at the repeated questioning.

And looking down at my domain receipt, repeated back to him….

“C-A-P-T-I-A-N….”

“Oh? Wait?”


Very few of us will have unique insights that guarantee how a stock will act. Yet everyday I talk to people who’ve convinced themselves that they do.

For illustrative purposes, let’s take a stock that I’ve mentioned here many times before, Immunomedics (IMMU).

Immunomedics is small biotech company, with no significant revenues, and a very promising cancer drug which has performed well in testing and is waiting on approval from the FDA – scheduled to happen sometime in January.

The stock closed at an all-time high in early September of $26.70. It’s currently trading at $17.57 and the chart looks like hot death.

Yet the IMMU Kool-Aid drinkers are convinced that as soon as the approval is announced the stock will rocket back up to those all-time highs – or beyond.

I think IMMU has a good chance of getting approval. And if they do, I think they have a bright future. And in the spirit of full disclosure: I’m long IMMU.

However, as they say in Japanese, oshiri ga ookii – here’s the big but(t).

This would mean that in the next 4-6 weeks, IMMU is guaranteed to jump 54% at a minimum.

Does that make sense to you?

I know that the IMMU bulls have listened to every conference call, followed all the clinical trials, studied the efficacy of the drug, and done the post-approval revenue extrapolations.

But so has everybody else. Including brokers, hedge funds, institutional buyers, family offices, money managers, quant funds, bio-tech specialists, and a myriad of professionals whose only job is to find a home for capital seeking return.

And they know everything the IMMU bulls know. Hell, a newborn dingo in a cave in Western Australia knows what the IMMU bulls know. But the pros know even more.

And they ain’t buying it. At least not yet.

Or, what if they’ve bought it and approval is already factored into the price?

My pal Brian Shannon says, “only price pays.” But meaningful insights only come from price as well.

Okay, what does this mean? How does it relate to real-world investing/trading?

Scary Smart

The Lund Loop - Your weekly update on markets, trading, and life.

Eric Eberwein was smart. Scary smart.

The moment he walked into Algebra II/Trig I knew he was a curve killer – the yardstick by which the rest of us would be compared.

And he looked the part.

Off-brand sneakers, tube socks pulled up to the knees, cargo shorts, a faux football jersey – all topped by a mop of hair that never met a comb or dollop of styling gel.

The prototypical high school nerd.

It wasn’t long before Eric got a chance to demonstrate the power that lay in his overdeveloped cranium.

“Would anybody like to take a stab at this problem?” Mr. Hughes asked, pointing toward the chalkboard.

Eric instantly raised his hand.

“Ah, Mr. Eberwein? Please come on up.”

Eric strode to the front of the room with confidence. He took a dramatic pause, then turned to address the class.

With an authoritative tone and the cadence of a computer, he broke down Mr. Hughes equation.

“Taking into account the concepts of the quadratic equation and the corresponding numerical coefficients, we can reduce these factors to their lowest common denominator.”

The class was mesmerized.

We were watching the next Newton. The next Einstein. A man whose name would one day be spoken with the same reverence as that of Euclid, Archimedes, and Pythagoras.

There was beauty and grace in the way he dismantled the equation - arms waiving to punctuate points, hands slashing across the board, exing out unneeded variables – like a conductor directing a symphony.

Then, as his performance reached its crescendo, he threw back his shoulders, tilted his head skyward, and closing his eyes as if about to experience the rapture, exclaimed;

“The answer is 3x – 7.”

The room fell silent.

Mr. Hughes got up from his desk, walked over to Eric, and laying his hand on his shoulder said;

“Wrong Eric.”

It was just the first of many times this same scenario played out over the course of the semester.

“The answer is 3 over π.”

“Wrong Eric.”

“The answer is the hypotenuse of a triangle.”

“Wrong Eric.”

“The square root of 747.”

“Wrong Eric.”

“Seventeen.”

“No, wrong Eric.”

Eric Eberwein was smart. Scary smart.

Except he wasn’t.

——

Realizing someone you thought was brilliant isn’t, provokes a variety of reactions.

If it’s a casual acquaintance, maybe there’s an odd curiosity.

If it’s a close friend or relative, you’re disappointed

If it’s a parent, it’s unsettling – especially if you’re still a kid.

And if it’s someone who manages your money, it’s terrifying.

That’s how clients of OptionSellers.com must have felt when they woke up two weeks ago to read that their accounts had been blown up - terrified.

If you are like me, you have a non-consensual relationship with the principals of OptionSeller.com - James Cordier and Michael Gross.

Particularly Michael Gross.

Thanks to the algorithm that is the Internet, every time I logged in to watch a video on YouTube for that last two years, I was subjected to a pre-roll with Messr. Gross telling me about the “3 Biggest Mistakes New Options Sellers Make.”

He had a whiteboard so you knew he wasn’t fucking around.

Oddly enough, one of those mistakes wasn’t taking out-sized risk for minimal gain.

Because that exactly what the strategy used by OSDC embodied - selling naked options in order to capture their premium. A strategy that is often referred to as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller.

But in this case it’s more aptly described as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller while wearing clown shoes, five-years worth of dreadlocks, and Princess Diana’s wedding train.

At some point, you’re gonna get caught.

And that’s exactly what happened when the natural gas futures options they had sold short - yes, you read that right - spiked, increasing volatility exponentially, and blowing out almost $80 million across 300 client accounts.

But wait, here’s the funny part.

They used margin, which means their clients are on the hook for more than they invested. $34 million more. With some clients liable for up to $1.4 million more than they invested.

The news was announced in a video posted on YouTube by Mr. Cordier. In the now deleted video, Mr. Cordier laments - while holding back tears - all the fun he won’t be having with his clients in the future due to the fact that he lost all their money.

“You were my family, and I’m sorry that this rouge wave capsized our boat,” Mr. Cordier says in the video.

He continues, “I promise you, every day when I woke up, I was checking for rogue waves…”

Let’s pause a moment to consider this.

To start with, if you have to watch out for rouge waves, you are doing something wrong.

You are over-allocating. Or using too much leverage. Or not managing risk properly. Or so on.

By the way, natural gas trades 24/7. Who was watching out for that rogue wave while you were asleep Mr. Cordier?

And why weren’t you hedged? And why were you trading a product that was originally designed only for hedging? And why didn’t you take off your Rolex before you filmed a video telling your clients you lost all their money?

My critique of Mr. Cordier and Mr. Gross is particularly harsh because they didn’t just fall off the turnip truck (shit, did I actually write that?).

They are co-authors of a number of books on options selling, including, “The Complete Guide to Option Selling: How Options Can Lead to Stellar Returns in Bull and Bear Markets,” and “The Complete Guide to Option Selling.”

They also have appeared numerous times on CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg TV, as well as in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

They should have known better.

And you could (almost) forgive them if they were risking everything to make a killing.

But instead, they were risking everything to make almost nothing.

Smart guys. Scary smart.

Except they weren’t.

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

- John O’Donohue

I came across this poem last week and it really resonated with me.

It’s hard to take the first step along a path when you can’t see - or even imagine - the final destination.

And that’s a perfect excuse to avoid all risk, and take no steps at all.

But if you have faith that you can figure things out along the way - as you’ve likely done before - your future isn’t guaranteed, but it will be better than living in a permanent past.

Bucket o’ Charts

Hard to believe, but it’s been barely two months since the S&P 500 hit all-time highs. And as we all know, it’s been a rough two months.

The good news is there was some serious technical work put in this week that could signal the beginning of the end of this recent downtrend. From a seasonal standpoint this would make sense, especially if you believe in (the) Santa Claus (rally).

According to the venerable Stock Trader’s Almanac, since 1969, the Santa Claus rally - which encompasses the last five trading days of the year and the first two of the new year - has yielded positive returns 34 out of 45 times, for an average gain of 1.4%.

So if we we’re going to have a St. Nick rally, now would be the time to put in a bottom.

Let’s go to the charts.

(click to embiggen)

Dow Jones Industrial Average - DJIA

Scratch That Itch

The Lund Loop - Your weekly update on markets, trading, and life.

For reasons I’ve written about in the past, I don’t like to travel. But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of it.

This week I was in Chicago, and on the way back I tweeted the following;

🎄Brian Lund🎄@bclundI’m trading futures on a plane over the Rockies because I’m a degenerate trader. Eh, there’s worse things you could be.

This tweet encapsulates the advice I got from my first trading mentor.

”Whenever possible,” he said, “try to trade overnight futures on an airplane with shitty WiFi while pounding high ABV craft beer. It’s the best strategy for a long and profitable trading career.”

Here’s the percentage of people that must trade on a plane:  0%

Here’s the percentage of people that should not trade on a plane: 100%

And yet, there I was, putting on a position 30,000 feet over the Colorado Rockies. So what gives?

Allow me to rationalize.

First off, I was trading as small as you can trade – one contract of the Nasdaq E-mini.

Second, I had a clearly defined, short-term goal. Risk $250 to make $1000.

Third, to mitigate Wi-Fi risk I entered a conditional order that, if filled, automatically set a stop and a target order.

And finally, I was scratching an itch.

Watching the futures since Sunday afternoon, I had seen many opportunities to trade, but circumstance didn’t allow me to give these opportunities the focus and attention they needed. So I passed.

Many times.

But I was itching. Bad.

Fear of missing out is something I’ve struggled with long before it was FOMO. And I bet most traders/investors feel the same way.

Knowing that there was so much volatility in the market on Monday and not being able to act on it killed me. In years past, I would have forced a trade - or ten - on my phone, in between meetings, only to have my head handed to me.

Nowadays, I breathe, count to ten, and remind myself that there will ALWAYS be other opportunities, ones I’ll be better set up to act on.

Perhaps it’s a maturity thing? Perhaps it’s a wisdom thing? Or maybe it’s just a tired of getting your head handed to you thing? But whatever thing it is, it still leaves an itch.

And it’s okay to scratch that itch. You just got to know when and how.

Despite the altitude, thin market, tenuous internet, higher than normal blood alcohol level, and all wisdom to the contrary, my plane trade was less risky than if I had pushed things Monday.

Here’s why.

----

Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.

And though it’s bad form to admit it, that’s what trading is all about.

They say that the type of music that was popular when you were in high school will always be your baseline for “good” music. I suspect it works the same way for the value of money – it’s based upon your first real job.

From the summer of my sophomore year in high school on, I had a string of jobs that included everything from construction site gopher, to busboy, to Christmas tree hauler, to caddy at Bushwood Country Club.

But I got my first full-time job at age twenty, as a bellman at the Sheraton Newport, where I made minimum wage, plus tips.

At the time, the minimum wage was $3.35/hr. and tips were hard to come by, due to the Sheraton’s deceptive marketing practices.

The hotel was known as a corporate property, meaning, not geared toward tourists or vacationers, but those who worked for big corporations.

Each week, some massive Midwest conglomerate would fly 12 to 24 new hires out to their SoCal offices for orientation and put them up in the Sheraton, Newport Beach.

So what do you think of when I say Newport Beach?

Beach. Right?

These new hires assumed that the hotel, if not right on the beach, was pretty damn close to it, and set their expectations thusly.

Unfortunately for them, due to a quirk of the assayer’s office, the city line tracks Upper Newport Bay, which extends almost 10 miles inland, at the very end of which sits the Sheraton – Newport Beach.

Anger and bitterness ruled the day when these cornfed newbies first realized there would be no need for the bathing suit, towel, and sun screen they packed. Suffice to say, this realization did not make them the best tippers.

And so, I survived mostly on my meager wages, which if I could pick up enough shifts, might amount to $160/week - before taxes.

That’s my baseline.

No matter how successful I get, how much money I make, or what my station in life becomes, that number will still be the subliminal yardstick by which all else is measured.

And it all factors into the itch.

As a bellman, I busted my ass. And I put up with all types.

5:00 am coffee calls with arrogant a-holes who insinuated a tip before closing the door in my face.

Insecure middle-managers exercising futile power plays to curry favor among the corporate hierarchy.

A raven-haired PBX operator who said she loved me and wanted to build a life together, but then shacked up with some random surfer dude in the hotel bar one night.

But I’m not bitter.

Point is, every dollar had a burden – real or imagined - attached to it.

And If you told the 20-year-old me that you could earn five weeks+ wages in under an hour, while sipping free drinks and rocking out to Black Flag, my head would have exploded.

Which is why every one of the $365 I walked away with when I closed my plane trade was so, so sweet.

----

It’s all about context.

A ham sandwich at your favorite deli is a thing of beauty. A ham sandwich sitting on the pavement on a hot summer day is a trip to the ER.

I talk a lot about trading because I love it so much.

It’s right up there with my kids, drums, craft beer, a good book, my best friends, The Twilight Zone, Christmas, and The Damned.

But it’s all about context. And scratching that itch.

The money that I use to trade makes up only a portion on my overall financial plan. An amount that, if I were to lose it all, would delay, but not derail my long-term goals.

I have a 401(k). An IRA. Life insurance. A couple of 529 plans. CDs. Money market funds. A few gold and silver coins. Some crypto-currency. And most importantly, cold, hard cash.

And when I get to a certain profit level from trading, I sweep the excess into my long-term investments. It rarely goes the other way.

When it comes to trading, I’ve run the gamut. From using a fraction of my net worth to putting everything I had on the line during the most volatile periods the markets have ever seen.

And now at 51, I think I’ve found a happy medium. Where trading is like a side hustle that I can dip in and out of when circumstances warrant.

That allows me to scratch that itch I’ve always had - and always will have - without putting my financial future in jeopardy.

Remember that the next time you see some dick talking about trading futures, drunk, on a plane.


The River

There is a Buddhist proverb that says, “A man can’t go into the same river twice.”

This is because the river is constantly flowing and changing. But more so, because the man is changing as well.

A man who sets foot in the same river one year later will be a different man, shaped by the forces of time and experience.

This is an optimistic philosophy going forward, but a sober, pessimistic one looking at the past. It assumes that your understanding of things gone by – especially those which circumstance has frozen in time – will never be fully realized.

This was driven home to me a couple of years ago as I was going through my late father’s record collection.

I love this collection.

And every few years I’ll pull out the milk cartons that hold it, just as I did as an eight-year-old boy, to thumb through the albums that made up my father’s musical library.

The smell of the cardboard reminds me of him. When I slide the vinyl out of their sleeves, gently blowing off the dust, I think of how he once did the same thing.

At that time he was a man who had only a bright future ahead, one far removed from the cancer that would eventually part him from his young family.

It is a moment frozen in time. That I can, at best, only understand in the context of a twenty-year-old man-boy – my age when he died.

The Bagel Club Paradox

The Lund Loop - Your weekly update on markets, trading, and life.

One of Steve Jobs’ better-known idiosyncrasies had to do with his clothing.

Every morning, so the story goes, Jobs walked into a closet consisting solely of black turtlenecks, jeans, and sneakers - and picked out one of each.

That was his routine

Hundreds of clickbait articles have been written on this subject. Most theorize that it was designed to save time, but almost all agree that adopting this same routine is your first step towards being a visionary billionaire.

I mean, who’s ever become successful wearing colors and patterns?

And I love how Jobs is given the benefit of the doubt. What if his routine wasn’t calculated at all? What if he was just a lazy bastard? Or a real bad judge of fashion?

But I digress.

Routines by their nature involve structure. And structure is agnostic.

Externally enforced structure - like having to be in a cubicle every day at 8:30 am just so your boss can harangue you about TPS reports - can be soul crushing.

But internally created structure, especially if it’s voluntary, can not only be liberating, but pleasurable.

My ADHD craves the salve that is structure, and I have tried diligently over the last 10 years to incorporate routines into my life. Some of those have taken root and solidified, but most have died on the vine.

For example, 35 years after I learned how to drive, I’m literally unable to adhere to a routine that keeps the inside of my car from looking like Tobacco Road. Don’t even ask about my laundry routine.

But there is one routine that I’ve groomed ever so diligently over the past few years. Slowly but surely, it’s become an integral part of my weekend, one which I thoroughly enjoy, and without which I feel adrift.

It begins Saturday morning, after I’ve made my kid’s breakfast, when I take a 20 min drive down the coast to Shirley’s Bagels. It’s there that I take my place in line among the beautiful people of Newport Beach.

I stick out like a sore thumb among the Apollos and Venuses cloaked in Lululemon and Under Armor – even their genetically engineered offspring instinctually know I’m an interloper – but I pay them no mind.

As the line inches forward, I pass by the open-air cooler that holds my beverage of choice, Mexican Coke. I reach far towards the back and pull the coldest of bottles, then shuffle forward towards the counter.

There I’m greeted with the standard “good morning sir, how can I help you?” and my command is always clear and concise.

“Can I get the Shirley’s Club – on a toasted onion bagel – with no mustard, only mayo, this Coke, and a cup of ice?”

“Absolutely,” comes the response, and inevitably, an outstretched hand with the follow-on, “Would you like me to open your bottle sir?”

As time has gone by, I’ve learned to mollify the response and lessen my recoil at the thought of my precious soda going flat before I can imbibe it alongside my meal, but still, I’m sure some residual anxiety is sensed as I reply, “no, that’s okay. I’m fine.”

When the time comes, I’ll open it like I’ve opened a thousand other bee…uh, sodas.

With my car key.

Sure, it’s harder now that I drive a VW Passat with an electric key, but old party animals never die – they just cut their knuckles up while Millennials stare at them, sipping their double frappuccino lattes.

From the order counter it’s a short walk to the bar where I grab the farthest stool to the left, providing me a 50% less chance of someone sitting next to me, while simultaneously allowing me a clear view of the open prep kitchen where I can monitor the action and wait for the first of glimpse of my order in the delivery queue.

In the meantime, I prop up my iPad and begin reading the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal. At some point in the next 12 to 17 minutes, a smiling server, who has spied the correct digit atop my number holder, will slide me my order.

“A Shirley’s Club with no mustard. Is there anything else I can get you?”

“Thanks, but I’m already in heaven,” would be my response if I could speak. Instead, I grunt “no” as a small bit of drool pools in the corner of my mouth.


The club sandwich is a miracle.

Alone, the components – lettuce, tomato, turkey, sometimes ham, and a spread or two – don’t merit much attention. Together they exemplify the saying, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but still, there is nothing legendary in this collaboration.

The bread, of course, is what ties it all together. White is good. Sourdough better. Rye, pure evil. But when a toasted onion bagel is the carb of choice to hi-hat our hero, things go to another level.

A great onion bagel, as Shirley’s is wont to make, is a thing of beauty. Toast it, and not only is there a new textural contribution to the whole, but the bittersweet caramelization of onion bits adds an exotic twist to an already over-the-top sandwich.

And then comes the hammer. Bacon.

I, like all sane mortals, only consume bacon in one format – crispy. The crispy I’m talking about is one second short of burnt. It snaps, not crumbles, when you bend it. It’s probably carcinogenic, but not so obviously that you can’t rationalize eating it.

And Shirley’s makes this exact type of bacon.

If that wasn’t enough, the Shirley’s Club is impaled, keeping it intact and manageable, and garnished with bagel chips and a kosher dill pickle.

My first move is to squeeze the whole concoction tight, remove the toothpick, and devour from left to right. Glances at book reviews, opinion pieces, and Joe Queenan’s column are punctuated by crisp, delicious bites, and gulps of pure cane sugar cola.

Simply put, Nirvana has been achieved.

And should a helicopter parented child decide that now is the time to extract their lump of flesh for the mortal sin of being given an Xbox, a PlayStation, a Wii, but not a Nintendo Switch, I have my trusty earbuds at the ready to filter out the shrieks of any Chase, Madison, or Ryder that threatens my bliss.


I love my friends. I love my acquaintances. I’m very loyal to both, even to a fault.

But something came through my social channels recently that questioned how far I’d go to support a friend.

It first appeared on my buddy Sid’s Instagram, and soon after, it showed up on his Facebook.

The post was as follows;

UNSAFE DRIVER: Heading down the canyon w/ 3 other cyclists & nearly taken out by the driver of this van.

“Jesus Christ?” I thought. “This sounds serious.”

Less than a foot of clearance on the pass w/ all the room in the world. Chased the driver down.

“Okay, perhaps you’re taking things a bit too far here?”

He was completely dismissive...as was the manager when I went in to talk w/ them.

“Hey, I’m glad you’re alright, but now you seem a little fanatical bro.”

Didn’t realize bagel deliveries were based on speed rather than safety & courtesy.

“Ugh,” I said to myself. “Please, please don’t let it be….”

But of course, it was.

The comments came fast and furious. And at first, they just expressed concern.

Oh no! I’m sorry you had to experience this. Sending good thoughts your way.

That's awful and scary! I'm glad you are all ok.

“I’m down with that,” I thought. “Sucks that Sid had to deal with this situation, but things happen in life, and he’s okay. No harm, no foul.”

Then came the coup de grace, with his addition of #boycottshirleysbagels.

“Aaaaaaah, really?” I thought.

Of course, right on cue, came responses from the throngs who’d gone far too long without an acceptable outrage to glom on to.

“Shirley’s Bagels will never see my business again,” said the first social lamprey.

“We’ll stop supporting them,” chimed in some delicate soul.

“This is awful!!! We won’t support them!!! Our business is gone!!!” added the exclamation point king.

“Shirley’s Bagels suck!” replied an desperately unoriginal malcontent.

And finally, a follower, who possibly has a newsletter with the initials “LL” said, “That driver is such an A-hole. Damn, if their bagel club wasn’t the bomb I’d stop going there,”


What a conundrum.

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