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Profile Information

Name: Schmengie
Gender: Male
Hometown: Podunk, FL
Home country: USA
Current location: Various.
Member since: Mon Aug 4, 2003, 03:56 PM
Number of posts: 21,277

Journal Archives

I've requested and been granted the position of Host of this group.

Shortly after this version of DU was launched (way back in 2011!), I put up this post, in which I provided a little background and my experience in the Securities Industry;

So I might as well start this by making a full confession and/or disclaimer.

For most of my adult life I have been an over-the-road tractor trailer driver. In 2006 I had an opportunity to change careers and joined AG Edwards & Sons, Which at the time was the 5th largest retail brokerage firm in the country and the largest based outside of NYC (St. Louis).

I studied for and passed the Series 7 general securities license exam and the Series 66 General State Law license exam (which allowed me to legally call myself a "Financial Advisor" ) and the Florida State Insurance exam for Life, Health and Variable Annuities. Those licenses allowed me to trade every security except Commodities and Futures. I "hit the street" in September of 2006. The Dow peaked exactly 12 months later!

AG Edwards was bought by Wachovia and Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo. Things went from bad to worse and I lost my position with the firm in July, 2009, primarily due to the fact that my book of business wasn't deep enough to weather the downturn and by the end of 2008, no one wanted to talk to a broker about anything other than CD's. A retail broker with a small book can't make a living selling CD's.

The rules stipulate that if a registered representative leaves a firm and is not hired by another, any securities licenses held expire 24 months after the last day. So my licenses are expired. I am back in the trucking industry, hauling new cars primarily in the South Eastern US. (Edit, 2/19/2015 - I currently haul US Mail for a contracting firm. Got out of the car haul biz in September of 2013)

I say all this so that anyone I might respond to in this group can know that I do have some professional background in the securities industry. I am fairly well versed in how Mutual Funds work and are structured as well as how to analyze them, Bonds, Stocks, Exchange Traded Funds, Closed End Funds and have a working knowledge of Options, though Options are much like speaking French. If you don't use it, you get rusty and I am pretty rusty on a lot of that material. I am familiar with and know the differences between 401(k)'s, IRA's, Roth IRA's, 403(b)'s, 457 plans, and some estate planning strategies.

So....the reason I petitioned the Admins for this privilege is because I noticed an uptick in participation in this group over the course of the last 18 months or so. Higher rates of participation to me, means a higher probability of a need for oversight. Those of you reading this and regularly check on/post in this group know that it is by no means the most heavily trafficked group on DU! Not by a long shot.


It is, in my humble opinion, a VERY important group to those that seek sincere, serious conversation and advice regarding investing, retirement planning, Real Estate and any and all matters that fall under the blanket of "Personal Finance and Investing" .


I want to make that absolutely clear. While I have my own personal opinion regarding what kind of "advice" is appropriate on a message board where the participants do not know each other in real life, I am, for lack of a better way of putting it, "Pro-Choice" all the way down the line. In other words, post away. I'm not going to get involved in, as I said, heavy handed moderating of this group.

The reasons I might see fit to lock or otherwise interfere with a thread or post is if it deliberately attempts to promote a specific security or investment. In other words, posts that say "You need to buy stock in XYZ company RIGHT NOW!!" are over the top, as I think most of you would agree.

On the other hand, a post that said "You should check out XYZ company! They seem to be ready for a huge upswing (or whatever) and here's why", THAT would be perfectly fine, in my view.

Telling someone to make a specific purchase or execute a particular trade are things to avoid. Pointing out a trend or offering research to back up an opinion is a different story, and that is the point I'm trying to make.

Now why is that? Because if someone were to actually TAKE that advice and the trade goes south, it could mean the loss of large sums of money and as a result, could cause serious and irreparable harm. It's a matter of ethics. This is the very reason the securities industry places severe restrictions on licensed and otherwise "Registered Representatives" from commenting or offering advice on forums such as this one. Now I realize that most, if not all of you aren't licensed brokers. If you were, you would know all this and would comply without me saying a word. But since you AREN'T licensed, there isn't a damned thing the Securities and Exchange Commission can do about it anyway!

And for the most part, neither shall I.

I take this subject very seriously because dammit, it IS A SERIOUS SUBJECT and someone very close to me, who had a direct impact on my family, over the course of a few decades, took bad investing advice, ignored good advice and basically squandered a multi-million dollar asset pool before anyone could put a stop to it. All this to the detriment of people I love.

So...my intentions are simply to act like a Border Collie! Keep things moving along (Which they pretty much do by themselves, anyway!), don't let anything stray too far afield and keep the wolves at bay.

I am more than happy to answer specific questions in private via PM if anyone cares to contact me. I am by no means any kind of stock market expert, I am not an Attorney, an Analyst or a Certified Financial Planner and I am not, as I indicated above, currently licensed to trade any securities. But I do have experience which some may find relevant to their situation or concerns, and as such, am more than happy to provide any guidance or help I can.

I like to end my posts with the following, and it is my sincere wish for all;

May all your trades be net gains.

Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sat Dec 15, 2018, 04:28 AM (11 replies)

A few points about this bullshit re: Marine One not flying due to rain (Text edited)

(This post has been edited several times for grammar, spelling and accuracy pertaining to information I was not previously aware of)

The Marine Corps Squadron charged with transporting the president via Rotary Wing Aircraft is "Marine Helicopter Squadron One", or HMX-1, based out of Quantico, VA. They operate two primary helicopters that transport the President.

The Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King, the one we are most familiar with and the one commonly seen landing on the South Lawn of the White House;

(This is new to me, so I stand corrected! ) A Sea King being loaded onto a C-17;

However, very often they do not carry a Sea King aboard either the C-5 or the C-17 airlifter, so when the President travels and a helicopter is brought along, it is sometimes the VH-60N, which is the executive version of the UH-60 Blackhawk.

The H-60 easily fits inside the large Air Force transport aircraft;

To fly for HMX-1 is a HUGE honor for a Marine Helicopter Pilot and only the best of the best rise to this level.

The Sikorsky dash 60 is used by every branch of the armed forces and by several overseas customers. Over 4000 have been built of the numerous variants.

BOTH OF THESE ARE ALL WEATHER HELICOPTERS. The Coast Guard flies the UH-60 into storms to save lives.

(For posterity, I am going to re-write that sentence; )

The Coast Guard flies these fucking things into storms of all types, INCLUDING KNOWN ICING CONDITIONS, SEVERE SNOW STORMS, HEAVY WINDS AND DOWNPOURS to save lives. The people that fly the H-60 are well aware of it's capabilities and.....

There is NOTHING stopping one of these aircraft from safely operating in a gentle French rainstorm.


Except a petulant president who didn't wanna go out today.
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sun Nov 11, 2018, 11:13 PM (112 replies)

YAY! (The difference between inspiration and aspiration;)



(I say "YAY" every day this buffet of displays replays cuz YAY is better than 'Hey' or "NAY". YAY means HOORAY!, it's Sunday, LOLCATS day, and this array is made by a friend who can outweigh Manet.)
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sun Sep 9, 2018, 07:24 AM (2 replies)


I play my yay at a gourmet buffet from a chalet on broadway in Bombay and I will not defray, delay or crochet a yay just to belay your misplay with my yay.

Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sun May 13, 2018, 08:47 PM (1 replies)

OK...here comes a hide....

Do you practice being this difficult? Or is it something that comes naturally?

Let me put it another way then, since apparently nuance COMPLETELY escapes you.



Jesus H. Christ drinking a cold one on the Eisenhower Balcony and drooling it all down his front.
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Mon Aug 15, 2016, 10:55 AM (1 replies)

Worth every penny for the laugh quotient. n/t

Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:52 PM (0 replies)

One thing about this "vast majority of officers" that isn't mentioned.

The distance from being Officer Friendly to beating the crap out of someone or killing them can be measured with a micrometer.

Entirely too many police officers seem to take the position that if you do not do exactly what they tell you to do the instant they tell you to do it, you deserve to be punished, REGARDLESS of whether or not the victim has actually committed a crime.

They don't do a particularly dangerous job and it is, after all, a job they CHOSE.

I'm convinced that a large proportion of police officers get into "Law Enforcement" (a misnomer if there ever was one) because they like the idea of being able to tell others what to do. They relish the power their badge and gun gives them and if you don't like it, you had better watch out.

What would happen to my industry if truck drivers began running people off the road for the slightest infraction on the highway? How long would I be able to keep my job if I put people into the ditch for not letting me over when I have my turn signal on? What would be the reaction of the general public if trucking companies rallied around bad drivers and gave them "Administrative leave"?

The police have become an entity unto themselves and they have repeatedly demonstrated they hold the opinion that they deserve to go home more than the general public. An attitude shift needs to happen if they want to get back to the point where their profession is actually respected and looked up to, instead of being considered the band of armed thugs who can hurt the populace with impunity that is the case today.
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Wed Sep 2, 2015, 05:28 PM (3 replies)


LOOK......we get it, OK?

I'm taking the liberty of speaking for the millions and millions of Americans who identify as, at the very least, religiously skeptical here, and that number is growing faster than you can grasp.

We get the fact that you feel you and your constituents are being "persecuted" merely because you aren't getting your way with everything these days. What with Same Sex marriage being more accepted, with fewer young people attending Church and getting married (and as a consequence, revenues are down) and same sex couples adopting babies (THE HORROR!)....we get it. You have had your way with various societies for something like 1500 years now without any push back: Now you're getting pushback and you don't like it.

We get it

We know you are pissed. We understand you don't like it. But trust me, America has NEVER been the "Leave it to Beaver" and "Ozzie and Harriet" world you really wish it was. Just ask the next 70 year old black man you meet if he looks back on the 1950's with great fondness.

So....take a deep breath, realize no one, and I mean NO ONE has tried to close the church you so regularly (religiously) attend, and believe what the fuck you want to believe. Knock yourself out. It's OK with us, really. No one is persecuting you simply because they don't agree with the way you think society should operate. If I ask you to stop hitting me with your cross, it doesn't mean I am intolerant. It means I want you to stop hitting me with your cross.

We think, as sentient beings in a relatively scientifically advanced society, you are being rather silly to take so seriously a bronze age myth system such that it compels you to enact laws affecting the well being of total strangers, or laws that allow people who think like you do, a diminishing demographic to be sure, a license to legally act on the hate they feel for their fellow Americans, laws that the American people a mere 30 years ago would have rejected out of hand as being absurd, but that is not the point.

We get it.

You feel threatened.

Just stop worrying.

Go to your church every sunday, compare clothing or whatever it is you do, ridicule those of us who don't think like you to your hearts content and GET ON WITH YOUR LIVES! Not to mention, do the job you were elected to do, GOVERNING!

Stop enacting laws that do nothing but hurt people who have done nothing to you, merely because that's what you think some guy from Palestine 2000 years ago would have done.

All we really want is for you to stop being such pushy assholes about the whole thing and just let everyone lives their lives as they see fit, for crying out loud!

How hard is that?
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sat Mar 28, 2015, 10:17 AM (6 replies)

Some photos of the Apollo 11 Spacecraft you might not have seen.(Orig. posted 2009) *VERY Pic heavy*

I posted the following 5 years ago in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. I thought the 45th anniversary might be a good time to repost. The original thread can be seen here.

What follows is that same OP with no changes;

In light of all the Apollo 11 threads and the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing coming up, I thought some on DU might enjoy this.

I've always been fascinated by our spaceflight programs and came across these images today. They offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the assembly process of "the stack". Bear in mind while you look at these photos that all of this was built before the age of complex computers and CAD/CAM by engineers whose most capable calculating device was the slide rule. (Link added for those younger DU'rs who have never seen one)

Apollo 11 S-IC first stage in the Vehicle Assembly Building transfer aisle.

A crane lifts the Saturn first stage.

Workers prepare the S-IVB for mating of the Instrument Unit (pictured left), which houses guidance, control and other Saturn V systems. The ring is the same diameter as the stage the workers are standing on, but it is closer to the camera, thus distorting the perspective.

The S-II second stage is moved into position for mating with the S-IC first stage

This photo shows the S-IVB third stage being hoisted into position for mating with the second stage.

The S-IVB third stage is moved into position for mating

Apollo 11 CSM (Command Service Module) being moved from its work stand for mating

The Apollo 11 Command/Service Module (CSM-107) being readied for transfer to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

This photo shows the Apollo 11 Command-and-Service Module being mated to the spacecraft adapter.

Apollo 11 Saturn V rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building. 20 May 1969.

Aerial view of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building. 20 May 1969

This photo is a ground-level view of the Apollo 11 Saturn V during transport. The vehicle is 363 feet (111 meters) tall.

Apollo 11 Saturn V on the Crawler as it begins to go up the ramp to Pad 39-A. This photo clearly shows the hydraulic jacking capabilities of the Crawler, keeping the vehicle perfectly straight up as it climbs the grade. Note the diesel smoke as the crawler moves it's multi-million pound load up the hill.

This photo is an aerial view of the Apollo 11 Saturn V moving to the firing position on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center.

Many MANY more photos of this series and the Apollo 11 mission as well as technical data, video, audio and transcripts can be found here

Similar image libraries and data for all the Apollo missions can be found here
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sun Jul 20, 2014, 03:23 PM (77 replies)

The Town of Democratic Underground. We've had over 215,000 citizens. What a great place to live.

7 years ago last April I posted the original of this.....essay? That can be read here I made a few minor changes and added a much needed acknowledgement. I have often thought of DU as a little town. Surely it doesn't have 215,000 residents, more like 10 or 15,000 regulars with the rest having either left or just come into town on occasion. But still...this is how I saw it 7 years ago.

Perhaps this can serve many of the newer members to understand how many of us old timers thought of DU before the '08 election. I've been a member of DU since August of 2003. Not as long as some, longer than many. I hope you will find what I wrote enjoyable and interesting.


Welcome to our town. Care to take a little walk with me?

I've lived here for just shy of 11 years now and I like it just fine. It's very diverse, vibrant, active and fairly peaceful. Oh, we have our differences but for the most part, everyone gets along pretty well.

We have several Churches; A Catholic Church, a small Episcopal Church, A Baptist Church, a rather large non-denominational Church as well as a Synagogue and a Mosque. Oh, and a fairly good sized Unitarian Universalist congregation too as well as a vocal and passionate non-religious group. There are clubs and civic organizations to meet all tastes and a very active GLBT community. Here on main street is where many of our inhabitants work, whether it is in the small businesses they own or for some of the national chains that have decided to adhere to our strict zoning laws and scaled down from the large, big-box stores they set up elsewhere. We have a Mall on the edge of town where others work. Very few folks from outside town come here to work but quite a few commute to the city. We have a thriving Industrial park on the other side of town where many more of our inhabitants are employed. Seems to me our unemployment rate is about the same as the national average.

We have a few folks on the outskirts that have rather large properties, a cattle ranch and a few hobby farms, some orchards and several large vegetable producers. The folks that live here come from all walks of life and do almost anything you can think of. We have several Banks, Restaurants, a couple Brokerage Firms, Real Estate offices and Insurance companies. At the end of the block is a gun shop that has a shooting range inside and there is an active group of hunters. There is a Golf Course, a Bowling Alley, Hair Salon and a Barber Shop. Oh....and the Bars. We have several of them. There is quite a lively night life here. In fact, one street is referred to as "The Lounge" because it is lined with Cocktail Lounges and Bars of all types. If you stray over there, make sure you take a serious sense of humor with you. You'll find most are very accommodating and you rarely have to buy your first drink if you are new in town.

The age range is from teenagers to the elderly. I know there are small children here because I can hear them but I never see them. There are a few celebrities, a number of published authors, several filmmakers and quite a few cranky old farts thrown in for good measure! It is rumored that several of our quietest residents are famous in politics and the arts, but they don't say much, they seem to just watch the town through the windows of their homes. All of these tend to add style and color that we quite frankly would miss if they were for some reason to leave our fair city. We have Truck Drivers, Pilots, Sanitation Workers, Waiters and Waitresses, Carpenters, Bricklayers, Craftsmen, Clerks, CPA's, Attorneys, Stockbrokers, a Veterinarian or two, Doctors and Nurses, Cooks and Chefs, Seamstresses, and maybe a Tailor. I haven't met him yet but there is his shop, right over there.

Often the national media, be it a Newspaper or a TV Network reports on what goes on here. We think thats fine. It's good to know we get noticed.

One thing you'll find out right away is that there are conversations that spring up on almost every street corner and in every business about any number of subjects at all times of the day and night. Our residents LOVE to talk. Sometimes, the conversations are just between 3 or 4 people about something as silly as what shampoo to use on a cat. Other times, huge crowds will gather with dozens shouting their opinions. There can be two or three very loud, raucous conversations about the same subject going on at once. It can get rather lively. Usually when it gets to be really big, it draws several of the cops to circle around and stroll through the crowd, looking to stop anyone who might be ready to throw a punch. Once in a while there is a push or a shove and on occasion a punch is thrown. Rarely is the injury any more severe than a bloody nose or damaged pride. More often than not, when tempers flare, the antagonist or protagonist will just walk away. In the most severe cases the same participants of a conversation will call upon the residents of the town to participate in a jury. That jury will decide whether or not to break up the conversation completely and make everyone leave. They do, but sometimes it is just down the street a little where another conversation will start again. It is usually the case that the jury will take a specific participant out of the crowd entirely, and that person is not allowed to speak in that conversation any longer. It serves to keep things a little more civil, though the system has it's flaws. Often these conversations last for days and days. There's several big ones going on right now. You can tell the ones that get heated as they tend to drift up to the top of the street, near the Courthouse, while everyone is sweating and there are several cops in the crowd.

We have a small Police Force, maybe less than 100 Deputies, a Mayor, a Sheriff and a Marshall. The Deputies volunteer to be assigned to a specific street and they rotate out every few months so there are no career cops. They carry no guns but they have a weapon no other Police Force in the country has; the magical ability to make someone shut up! It seems to work pretty well. It is rumored that the Mayor, the Sheriff and the Marshall are the town fathers, but I think they just hung a phone on a post in the woods, stuck a flag in the ground, named the town and within days, this town started to grow, but that's just my opinion. I wasn't here then, but I passed through this area before it existed and it was just wilderness. The Mayor is a decent sort, very opinionated but firm in his convictions. The Sheriff writes an occasional column in the paper that is widely read and the Marshall...well....he stays out of sight. I think he sits in his study, playing with electrical devices all day, trying to create a time machine maybe. Who knows? Sometimes an outsider will come into town and start conversations or enter into them and cause nothing but trouble. Then, all of the sudden, he or she disappears. There is a special team charged with catching those trouble makers before they get a foothold in town. They seem to do a pretty good job. I know. I was on the team for a while. (Tip - Watch what you say)

Our history has had it's share of serious problems. Soon after the towns founding, hundreds and hundreds of people came rushing in to the area, trying to tell the Mayor that he had no business setting up a town here, that he was a maniac, that the water was poisoned (or that it WOULD be if he didn't leave) that the grass would die, that no one would come to live here, etc. As you look around, I think you can tell those predictions were all wrong.

Is it a perfect place to live? Surely not. But what place is perfect? We have clean air (we see to it) clean water (that too) good schools and good food. We have births and we miss those that pass away. New folks come to town all the time. Some stay for years, others leave soon after they arrive. Some, for some strange reason, insist on telling everyone they are leaving. This often gathers a crowd of either well-wishers or smart Alec's or both. I could never understand that, but there you go. But all in all, it is a wonderful place to live. Just walk down the street and listen in to the conversations. There is so much to learn and so many incredibly intelligent people that live here. I learn something just about every minute of every day!

Just remember, when you come across one of those large conversations that seems to have drawn a large crowd, try and listen in for a bit. You don't want to say the wrong thing and get the cops pissed at you. Trust me, I know. I was escorted almost to the edge of town at least once!

Well, I hope you enjoyed my 5 cent tour. I'm heading home. Have a good time and I'll see ya around!
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Sat Jun 28, 2014, 05:22 PM (33 replies)
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