Monday December 10, 2018

Happy Holidays!

I do not know who to attribute this quote to but I recall Father Joe saying it to me once in the sacristy of St Stephen’s after mass one day: “If ignorance is bliss, that makes me the happiest guy on the planet.” Needless to say this quote has pretty much summed up my life up ‘til now. It’s coming on the end of 2018 and at times like these I tend to get very contemplative about my life and the truth be told, I seriously have no clue how I have made it this far without the element of, “What I don’t know doesn’t hurt me.”

Moreover, I am actually going out of my way these last few years to only know as little as I possibly can about certain things in my life and if gradually things become clear to me or not, I tend to not even care anymore. Once, I used to care. Depends on my interest level, really. But this whole, “gossipy, Oh do tell!”, sort of attitude was never something I telegraphed, solicited or even probably uttered to anyone in my whole life. The reason is because of the first hand experience I have had with the underlying damage that behavior causes. But I digress.

Speaking directly to the times in which we now live and the observations I have had in the thirteen years of blogging, I’m not sure the concept of perfection is something anyone truly understands anymore. It’s a lofty goal to try and be perfect but there’s a finality in saying that you know something for sure that for thousands of years was something only attributable to the learned, scholarly and those using, “The Scientific Method” to figure stuff out. The measure of humility conversely has always been in how little we actually admit to knowing.

“If ignorance is bliss that makes me the happiest guy on the face of the planet.”

Perhaps the biggest sin is our loss of that child-like quality the season we’re facing mandates in order to enjoy fully. Instead we seem to be fearful and avoid decorating and enjoying the season and its various reasons by trying to be Internet experts. Case in point. The whole Facebook involvements with the, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer animated special and the seasonal standard, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” A backlash became evident recently with various posts and things having to do with how politically incorrect each of those are to certain people. As if our lives weren’t complicated enough we now have to worry about which touchstones from a simpler time we view with the disdain of supposedly having evolved beyond the concepts of bullying and the concept of adults enjoying alcoholic spirits.

Someone got offended, radio stations took what they believed was the high road approach and decided to publicly ban the playing of, Baby It’s Cold Outside on their airwaves. Rudolph’s father and coach was too hard on him and we should not let our young people grow up in the atmosphere where things might be misinterpreted.

How about we let them decide for themselves? Perhaps it is the shortcoming of the parents and their confidence levels in how they are rearing their children? Perhaps it is an attempt to level a playing field where a perfect world can exist?

The world is not perfect. And it’s cruel and brutal. And these things become apparent and manifest for everyone as our minds expand and accept the world in which we live. We can only insulate for so long, you know? And now would be the perfect time to hark back to those days of old when simple concepts were simple concepts instead of everyone making pronouncements and trying to be the experts on everything? Because if you know everything about everything, you’re perfect and none of us are.

I, for one am just trying to enjoy songs and specials for their own sake this holiday season for example and I have bigger fish to try like why “presents on the tree”, in, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” was changed to, “presents under the tree?” We’re trying too hard people and the point of the song is “being HOME for Christmas.” Some things I simply will never understand which makes me the happiest guy on the planet. No?

But I may have all this all wrong though.

Who knows?

Season’s Greetings, anyways!

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 754. Post #1248

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Friday November 30, 2018

One of my biggest fears which I have written and podcasted about before was the whole “living alone,” thing. Which makes for great comedy by way of hyperbole, which as most people know is usually my soup of the day.

(“May I have a cup of hyperbole with a handful of those? What are those imported, French oyster crackers? This soup is nothing without these in them! I have never ever tasted anything like this combination ever in my whole life.” As I spill the entire cup of lava, hot hyperbole right into my lap! HA!)

Tonight, the thought dawned upon me: I no longer live alone. It’s been since the end of July, beginning of August of 2016 since I moved in with my sister in Machesney Park, Illinois. I’ve always been a quick study – so naturally – two years and three months later, I got it. I no longer have to worry about slipping in the shower, falling and cracking my neck and being this fat, bloated mess of a carcass that no one finds until stench o’clock in three weeks. That’s right. During peak hours of activity around the house, someone else is usually around. Which puts me in the dubious position of perhaps being the one saving the other person’s life rather than the other way around. Let’s let that sink in for a moment shall we? I’ll wait.

Hey, it could happen! Heaven help them.

The reason the thought occurred to me that I no longer live alone was triggered by something I heard which triggered memories from when I was a kid. When my sister and I were kids. The thing I heard was that throat clearing sound my sister used to make every time she ate sunflower seeds. Well it wasn’t so much a, “throat clearing” sound as it was a hacking sound. It wasn’t so much a hacking sound as it was her trying to get a little piece of sunflower seed shell she actually bit off and half-way swallowed that got caught in her throat. So whatever that sounds like, as you might imagine, was the trigger for the trigger I don’t live alone anymore. She popped some popcorn tonight and a kernel husk. . . . You get the idea. So I immediately did what any self-respecting little brother would do sitting upstairs in the computer room and browsing questionable web content.

“Sis?” I yelled downstairs. “Do you need a Heimlich maneuver? You okay down there?”

And after a slight pause she warbled, “I’m okay. I’m just eating popcorn.”

“Whew!” I thought. And rightfully so. The last thing anyone wants to have to do is to be put in the position of Heimlich-ing someone else because you have to pick them up – in a, “from the back, hugging position” – like a sack of potatoes and place your clenched hands at the southern most point of the rib cage, around the diaphragm and force your hands in, like that, and up into that soft tissue there. That can be quite a daunting thing to have to tell people you failed to do. Best case scenario, you can at least be there to offer a glass of water, is all one might have to do. The whole life-saving thing is a lot of pressure, you know? I’m not saying I don’t have the confidence or the responsibility is too great for me to handle. I’m just saying it’s messy.

And I’m not a hundred per cent sure anyone could do the same for me, a two-hundred eighty five pound, bloated, blotchy-skinned, sack of protoplasm. (As Ren used to call Stimpy.) So is living with my sister the equivalent of living alone? Probably so. Ideally, if all things were equal – being family – I’d like to think we’ve got each other’s backs. Especially now as I try to put my professional life back together.

One day we may forget childhood rows and disagreements and the joys of being brother and sister and may be responsible for one saving the other’s life? Who knows?

I’d like to think she’s already done that by taking me in two years ago.

But I’m nutty like that.

(Thank you, Sissy.)

MJC

Word Count:720. Post #1247

Wednesday November 7, 2018

After: On recent pop culture and universe expansion

SPOILER ALERT (The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes Final Episode)

At the time of this writing (Wednesday November 7th, 2018) The Walking Dead has aired its, “Rick Grimes Final Episode.” It aired this last Sunday night (November 4th, 2018). This ridiculousness of not being able to discuss this episode without a spoiler alert is considered bad form. So just in case you missed it above: SPOILER ALERT. Also, the blog this time is actually – by Internet standards – a little late and a mere speck in the countless blogs, reviews and recaps that sprang up instantaneously Sunday night after the episode aired and in the twenty-four hours after. (The mind reels!) So my little opinion literally amounts to virtually, nothing. Particularly three days removed from the ignoble packaging of the episode in question. (We should have known after the Glenn / dumpster fiasco things that appear final in this universe seldom are, truly.)

Anything less than a brutally frank recapitulation of the program’s fifth episode this season would be doing the franchise a disservice and believe me they are out there. Go find them.

What bothers me the most in all this is the fleeting nature of how such material is handled nowadays in our pop culture. Things like, “Rick Grimes Final Episode” are met with a shrug nowadays, three days removed from its original air-date. Before there were Inter Webs inundating every fraction of every second of our lives, a television series episode like The Walking Dead aired on Sunday, albeit, “must see TV” were the types of episodes that were not castaway, throwaway television, but a GINORMOUSLY huge deal.

Case in point. Dallas and the Who Shot J.R. episode. Or perhaps even the Bobby Ewing / Pamela had a dream season. The Texas oil family drama used this writer’s device to explain away the (Patrick Duffy) character of Bobby Ewing’s departure from Dallas. Sure, the audience felt cheated by the writer’s device the next season. Sure, it was the talk of whatever entertainment programs and magazines that were out there at the time. It was talked about for weeks in these pop culture outlets. Bobby came back to the show. But it was the way in which it was handled by the writers, show runners and producers that bothered the viewership the most. (Again, before the Internet.)

In 2018 however, and as far as The Walking Dead is concerned, the mortal wound supposedly inflicted upon Rick Grimes between episode four and five made it seem almost impossible that his character would remain alive. Yes, we’re constantly given moments in motion pictures and television shows where a mortally wounded character survives (A bullet missing vital organs, for example.). Sunday night’s episode was no different than so many in that regard. But what I am saying is this. If we use Dallas as the barometer and the whole Bobby Ewing gaffe, the show may have five more years left – by those standards.

Not to beat a dead horse here again but it cannot be overstated. 2018. Inter Webs. Huff Post, WSJ, Variety, TVLine, EW, AV Club and everyone else and their brother has posted up about this. Tech savvy fans have read all of it by now, three days removed from Sunday. We’ve all digested it. Rick Grimes is gone. Dead. Boom, Over. Finito.

Whether we were swerved by the show runners and producers or not. What is done is done. And what we learned mere moments after the show’s closing credits ran was that Rick Grimes’s final episode was not Rick Grimes’s final episode at all. His character is expected to show up in three, stand alone projects, all within the confines of the AMC, Walking Dead universe in made for television epic stories. So for that nugget of information, I guess, I’m glad. I mean I have written a ton of blogs about this show since it started – in these last nine years. It simply had that sort of effect on me. (I’ve been a horror / sci-fi fan most of my life.) But after all of the swerves this whirling dervish of a show has laid on me in the last nine years, I sensed the final goodbye was perhaps not the final goodbye at all. And I was right. Hit after hit. Death after death. I have remained faithful to see how this story plays itself out. That, is saying a lot. Especially for me.

Usually I would have been out after Herschel.

Perhaps if The X Files had handled David Duchovny’s departure and limited participation in the last few seasons of that show with stand alone Fox Mulder episodes we might have seen the expansion of that universe much in the same way Dick Wolf expanded his Law and Order universe. Or like the CSI or NCIS people have also done. Or a few stand alone made for TV Fox Mulder dramas. Or that Reyes and Doggett show that was hinted about but never came to be. What about a Agent Miller and Agent Epstein series, also hinted at in season 10 and more recently season eleven of The X Files? I guess they did try with, The Lone Gunmen series. Oh, well.

As a final cautionary note I would say to the producers and show runners of The Walking Dead the same thing Spock said to the Klingons seated across the dinner table from him in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the old, Vulcan proverb, “Only Nixon could go to China.” (Another show that handled universe expansion fairly well, I guess.) And that perhaps only Dick Wolf among very few others have handled a universe expansion successfully and well.

I hope it works for AMC and The Walking Dead. I hope it’s not lame. Now, let’s see what happens.

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 972. Post # 1246

Wednesday October 31, 2018

A CBOT Memoir, Part 8 – Osmosis

A lot of the “stuff” I needed to know and learn at my time at the grain exchange in downtown Chicago in the twenty-four years I worked there is still – to this day – something of an anomaly to me. A great mystery. Another one was how I managed to speak to as many people as I did on a daily basis. Somehow speak their language and not lose my mind in the daily tumult of commodity futures trading – as a support person. Yes, I understand brokers and traders in the thick of it all having to stop to talk to the guy next to him, the runner just learning, CBOT reps and price board operators. But as a support person, too, we had our pressures and various types of individuals we needed to speak to as well. Allow me to illustrate first the stuff I needed to know and learn.

The day to day charting of highs and lows, opening prices, closing prices in standard graph form and the interpretation of that graph reading. The limited amount of understanding I had of this analysis I learned through osmosis, over time, by listening. Consequences of blatant patterns mostly. (inverted flag, Fibonacci retracements, gaps, etc.) The, “how” in which these states of being on the graph might effect a certain futures commodity in certain market conditions. One of the hugest aspects of this learning curve from making the transition from a large futures commodity office (Continental Grain) to a small one (Central Soya Co. Inc.) was how history does indeed repeat itself. Mostly.

Historical data during planting, growth and harvest follows the same patterns year after year and this “fundamental analysis” during a planting year was what kept (and keep) multitudes of analysts employed then and even to this day. It was always (as technical charting and graphs was) as important to our customers in the country stationed at delivery points and railcar destinations along the Mississippi and throughout the wheat, corn, bean and oats belts throughout the United States. Having the arsenal of technical analysis supplemented with historical and current fundamental analysis made someone engaging in “talk” on the floor a true person to reckon with.

By the time our small commodity office had hired a general manager in to lead our team, the office was interim managed by our crush trader. With the advent of our new manager being hired in, most of the young people employed at the time were extremely hopeful for our futures, (no pun intended) as this individual was relatively young and not far from our age group. He arrived in 1988 and would have the reputation of having this vast all encompassing market knowledge from having also come – as many of us did – from other commercial grain processors.

The story goes that prior to his first appearance in our office as our new boss on a morning run, he stopped at our office supervisor’s home and introduced himself. Running shoes and shorts and a tank top. This was not the traditional picture of a current CBOT commodity guy of the 1980s most of whom seemingly spent their off-market hours engaging in talk at local watering holes until the last train pulled out of Union Station headed for the suburbs. No.

We would soon find out in the office the experience this young man would bring to our team and to our daily grind and a much needed structure. It was needed. We may have been accused of being too laid back because our office was so small. It was shortly after his arrival he started sending me to CBOT archival offices to request copies of the historical data that the exchange kept as a matter of course that charted such things as the historical making and taking of delivery, crop planting intentions, aggregate harvest totals per month and per year, etc. (The core of our satellite offices in and around the corn belt spoke that language and we managed their risk, hedged their interests and held their hands during trading hours over the phone as they awaited their futures trade fills so it was incumbent upon most if not all of us working the desk to speak the language of those calling us from, “in the field.” Literally.)

“Mike run up and see Dave,” my boss would say, “And ask him for these SOND figures.” (September, October, November, December) And I’d snatch that laundry list out of my boss’s hand (usually in the afternoon after market hours) and take the elevator up to see Dave. It was also around that time that things started to click for me. At no other point in my twenty-four year career was information more accessible to me and at no other time was it more apparent how beyond in over my head I truly was. But I persevered. Continued on. Did what was asked like I was a runner all over again. Assisting and pleasing the new boss. It seemed pretty cool. Osmosis.

Another thing started happening gradually. If customers were calling us on the trading floor during market hours wanting to speak of their experiences out in the country (crop tours, etc.) versus the futures price at the current moment, I found I was actually starting to “talk that particular talk” with a lot more ease and my comfort levels were increasing doing so. Gradually.

Speaking daily, on the trading floor, to others, information gatherers, brokers, peers and trade checkers – all these had their own language nomenclature, manner in which they spoke about the particulars of their work. I was now gradually learning a language that no classroom or textbook could or would ever teach. Osmosis. The light went off in my head.

Historians have history. Technicians had charts. Merchandisers were taken up with crop, plantation and harvest. And, me? I was the knucklehead in post graduate degree Communications classes and seminars at Northeastern trying to communicate to all of them. Including academics and professors and advisers. This was not easy. History was once again repeating itself as it had done at Continental Grain in the beginning in April of 1985, but only now it was those early years employed at Central Soya from 1987 to 1989 or so. I was now learning multiple languages all at the same time. Resolving the inconsistency of how academic life absolutely and in no discernible way related to commodity futures trading was the other epiphany. Brutally so. But when I realized all this and how overwhelming it all was when it all came together the truth of the matter is: I plowed ahead anyway. Outgunned. Outshined by newbies and veterans alike. Outsmarted by the quicker. I still plowed ahead.

Baby steps.

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 1121. Post # 1245

Wednesday October 24, 2018

You were expecting a Part 8?

I have been enjoying reminiscing about my twenty-four years in commodity trading pits so much recently but some other special significance need be mentioned in my blog and we happen to be smack dab in the middle of it per today. The significance of both October 23rd and October 25th cannot be overstated. For as much hyperbole and bluster I have been known to blow around in this blog – make no mistake, this is big! Huge even. October 23rd, 1956 to be exact. Sixty-two years ago, yesterday. October 25th, 1989 to quote the significant year of that date, too. Twenty-nine years for the second date. I can either tuck these two dates away, smile as I think of them and return to my regularly scheduled MikeC mish-mosh of a blog or truly try and share the whys and wherefores of those two dates. Oh, what’ll it be? What’ll it be?

Oh, what the hell!

October 23rd, 1956. Dateline: [ Hungary ] A small group of college students lead a rally or protest outside a radio station of the soviet occupation that eventually lead you to reading this blog today. Significant in and of itself – insofar as my existing is concerned – the larger importance – to be sure – is that the newlywed Csikis, Antal and Aranka, my parents fled communist Hungary and ultimately ended their escape on the soil of The United States of America because of that exact day. Without their sacrifice my siblings and I would not have had the same life we have had. We may not have not even been born. Of course I’d like to think if there were never a, “me”, someone would have had to invent me. But, hey! That’s my little conceit and I appreciate you allowing it as my existence probably only means anything to me.

Humor and ego aside, the next date on deck was a direct result of the first, as it was it’s catalyst. Bases loaded. Three two pitch. A thirty-three year wait. Hungary swings. Boom! October 25th, 1989. They secede from the block of nations under soviet rule. The pitch arrives over home plate. Grand slam! My apologies for the baseball analogy but it’s appropriate for the end of the baseball season and both dates just so happen to fall in that seasonal time frame, do they not? (New York Yankees over the Brooklyn Dodgers II in 1956 and the Oakland A’s swept the San Francisco Giants in 1989.)

1989. I sat down at my morning balancing desk at Central Soya (See? I couldn’t NOT bring up another CBOT memory) and laid the copy of the Chicago Tribune down next to my morning coffee with the headline that reported that all important news. Happiness and pride was all I felt. Dad, 57, and Mom, 53 would be proud too if they may have heard or saw the news that day at their jobs (but I knew I’d be bringing the newspaper home to show them when I got home from work that day.) I was twenty-seven still living at home, paying my way and hopeful for my future.

Two years into my tenure at Central Soya. Finally working for a company at which I was very proud to work as trade checker. Most mornings then ran the gamut from unraveling knots on paper with little to no effort on paper or with other trade checkers to rabid bulldog protecting his chew toy or bone. In the few short minutes between outtrade prep work and the trade checking area near the fourth floor trading area, I read the Tribune article with much glee, relishing the historical significance of the ‘56 revolution, my parents sacrifice to leave Hungary and come here and what the whole Hungarian secession might mean in the future. I finished my day, that day, by folding my newspaper and placing it in my book bag to take home and show my parents, later, as if that day’s edition had been spun from gold.

(The previous year, June of 1988, I achieved historical significance by becoming the first branch of my family tree to earn a college degree in this country)

By the time this news had broke I was well into graduate courses and would continue to earn more credit hours, a total of 21 toward my Masters degree which, sadly, I was not able to complete. Twenty-nine years later maybe that’s all the distinction I really needed: simply being, “the first.”

I can’t go on too far about my knucklehead achievement nor the events of the day Hungary seceded from the soviets without mentioning and stressing that parental decision in 1956. I’ve written about it. So has my sister. My cousin’s son has, too. It’s pretty huge.

Imagine a boss threatening you for whatever disagreement you might have had with sending you to Siberia to chop down trees for the rest of your life as your subsequent professional vocation. Hard labor. That is, if you made it there alive or in a pine box, was the implication. All he would need to do is talk to the right people (there was no email or cell phones in 1956). If I had that hanging over my head, I’d do what my parents did, too. Because cutting down trees in Siberia is one thing. MAKING IT to Siberia was quite another.

All my parents had was their faith in each other, in their Higher Power and that – as Bob Marley sang – “every little thing was going to be alright”, as long as they escaped the long arm of such tyranny and fear-mongering.

Hungary owes the distinction of being, “the first”, to those who changed the game of politics in that country by their sacrifice: the young academics who began the protest that fateful day on October 23rd, 1956. I owe my distinction of being the first American-born citizen of my family in this country to earn a university degree to the faith, fortitude and fidelity of my parents and their sacrifice.

None of that can be overstated.

Not by a long shot.

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 1038. Post # 1244

Friday October 5, 2018

Part 7

“Think big. Think positive. Never show any sign of weakness. Always go for the throat. Buy low. Sell high. Fear? That’s the other guy’s problem. Nothing you have ever experienced can prepare you for the unbridled carnage you’re about to witness. Super Bowl? The World Series? They don’t know what pressure is. In this building it’s either kill or be killed. You make no friends in the pits and you take no prisoners. One minute you’re up a half a million in soybeans and the next, BOOM!, your kids don’t go to college and they’ve repossessed your Bentley. Are you with me?”

“We gotta kill them m*****f*****s! We gotta kill ‘em!”

— Trading Places, 1983

The above Dan Aykroyd quote is revealing in that in 1983 – when there was still face-to-face, open outcry, hand signal trading going on – posturing was key. And his advice is just that. The face you wear and the face that you show to others. Demonstrable facial gestures. Behavior that’s tangible that others bear witness to: it’s also visual, auditory and it’s a persona existing in a trading space occupied by hundreds of other people. This is what Winthorpe was telling Billy Ray in that now famous scene as they walked into the World Trade Center to take on the Duke Brothers.

In 1983, when the movie Trading Places was released, there was this fascination with old Saturday Night Live, Not Ready for Prime Time Players cast having left and presumably bridging the gap with the newer cast members that came in to take their place, Trading Places was the vehicle for that consideration. Eddie Murphy was the break out comic to come from that second cast. I was still two years from entering the commodity markets when Trading Places premiered in theaters and just thought it was this funny comedy movie with a couple of really funny guys as the leads. Guys I watched on television who made me laugh.

Little did I know that by April of 1985, I would enter the wacky, wonderful and cut-throat world of commodity futures trading. Not the same as the one depicted in the movie in New York City. But Chicago’s very own. Agriculture. Wheat, corn, oats, soybeans, etc.

By October of 2008, a year after the real estate market fell out of bed, I was given my walking papers. Twenty-four years lived through. Taking up space. Working my tailbone off. Sweating like a drug mule going through Customs. Dotting is and crossing ts.

I was told on September 15th, I had a month. On the day I was let go due to downsizing, two other employees, one of which had at least ten years on me, were also let go. When my company was bought out by a soybean processing company who predominantly operated out of South America, two commodity offices came together in the office spaces of 141 W. Jackson Boulevard in Chicago at the Chicago Board of Trade building. That was in 2002. Roughly thirty-four people. By March of next year, (2019) I am told the office may very well be down to three people. Seventeen years. Thirty-one lives. Thirty-two if one counts the one individual who passed away shortly before the two offices came together in 2002. All effected by the ever-growing presence of virtual markets and computer trading environments which have 95% taken over what was once, face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, smash-mouth, open outcry, hand signal commodity futures trading.

In 1985, by the time I was notified by a friend that a commodity office was looking for office help a perfect storm had come together in my life. I had gone back to school, was taking day classes at Northeastern Illinois University and was finding it difficult to find class availability that I needed for my Speech Communications major, therefore I had missed the previous years Spring Semester (June, July and August). I had acclimated back to part time work, was twenty-two and was not carrying my weight financially at home, let alone paying for my own existence and upkeep as an individual. I needed to work full-time – again – to begin my life and day classes would need to be converted to night school for that to happen. So the decision was made. I took my friend’s advice and got hired by Continental Grain Company and switched up my life in ways that still have lasting impressions on me some ten years after what is referred to as, The Bubble of 2008.

Had I known then, in 1985, what I know now, some thirty-four years later. . . .

Ahhh, never mind.

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 792. Post # 1243

Sunday September 23, 2018

Part 6

Among tertiary and support people whom worked on the grain futures trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, I found out, early on – the most highly coveted thing one could offer was the level of talk you could share on a moment to moment basis. This “info” ran the gamut from what you would normally expect to hear in hushed tones in dusty corners of the room to the highly coveted “player” information that firms would want to share on phone calls with their customers. To some, this may be gossip. (which to an extent, it was.) To others, it was their life’s blood (and an extra stipend) as there were individuals who compiled hourly, daily, weekly and monthly “player sheets,” that they would offer to trading firms whom didn’t expressly employ or send out runners to gather this information in house. At any given time someone at a trading desk or kiosk might say, “Run and ask our top step corn guy who bought the Dec”, and it would be incumbent upon a runner to go and do just that. Or find one of the “player” gatherers from another firm or the consensus gatherers – of which there were two – whom did that and only that and compiled those talk sheets I mentioned earlier.

The normal talk surrounding talk, or players went back and forth continuously all day until someone would say for example (like I would sometimes) go to the Louis Dreyfus desk or the Cargill or ADM desk and find their desk manager and sidle up along side him and say out of the corner of my mouth, “Kevin, the player guy from Garvey is reporting you guys bought two thousand wheat this morning and no one seems to want to share if that’s true.” This sort of thing was met with as many responses as you might imagine could happen from stonewalling (“How dare you know what we are doing!”) to agreement (“That’s possible.” “If that’s what the floor is saying, okay by me.”) to poker faces and shrugs of shoulders. So the slippery slope of information gathering on the grain floor was this “thing” that you navigated with grace or not. And in the close to three years I spent at my first company gathering information for them, Continental Grain and my supervisors there knew that although I might not be the quickest when it came to picking up market strategy and market mechanics, I was getting to know people: something I had zero trouble doing.

When I began at my second company, in late September of 1987, where I was offered a position from a friend (I knew from the time I was a teenager) I knew all the information gatherers from all the other firms including the independent gatherers on the trading floor. I also bought with me the resources of the brokers I had met at Continental Grain as back-up resources to check, double check and triple check my info. “Ronnie,” I’d say to my old supervisor when I began at my new company – when the new company wanted to know if the talk of my old company was true – “Kevin is saying you guys bought close to four thousand top step soybean contracts today from the open all the way up to five seventy five and a quarter.”

Ronald would instantaneously answer, “Chico, I don’t have time right now, find Mikey and ask him.”

The position this put me in personally and professionally – working, now, in October of 1987, for Central Soya – was sticky at times. But I was being paid $7.75 an hour at my new company, a dollar twenty-five cents more an hour than I was making for the last three years at Continental Grain so I pressed this advantage as often as I could for the extra money and I gained praise from my friend, all of my co-workers, my supervisors and the grain merchandisers whom we spoke to all day long on the desk phones. This also put me in a position – at times – to be that extra resource for previous brokers, traders, supervisors and co-workers as well. The more of a consensus your information received, corroboration and substantiation from other sources, the more integrity people would see in your work ethic, the more accurate your data and info.

It wasn’t always about being, “the sweaty, fat kid who got numbers from Continental who now works for Central Soya.”

But when they said, “His numbers are good,” that’s all that it was about.

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 768. Post # 1242