[Stage manager scuttles to microphone. Whisper: Better hold off.] Um, hold on a minute, please ... [Whisper: Maybe we should do a recount. ... How can we do a recount in the middle of the ceremony? We have to go with what we have!] OK, sorry about that. The winner of the 2007 Feste Award is ...
Yes, our perennial Susan Lucci counterpart has finally won the prize, after seven nominations and numerous attempts at bribery. Congratulations, Michael! We asked all the nominees to share a bit about themselves, and the following is in their own words:
Winner! - MichaelRead
Michael Read is an unemployed coot. Any more is commentary. Failing aging gracefully he has begun his 70s much as he did in his indolent 60s: pestering salmon in his boat Comedic Relief (successor to his previous boat Not Both Oars in the Water). His first boat, Here, Hold My Beer While I Do This, sank in unfortunate circumstances about which MichaelR is closemouthed.
MichaelR has been a member of the Motley Fool community for several years and, from his home on Semiahmoo Avenue in White Rock, British Columbia, enjoys the anonymity given by this medium. His quote: "No one knows you're a salmon-bloodied beer-guzzling geezer on the Internet."
This is the seventh Feste Award MichaelR has failed to win, beaten out, as he puts it, by damned competence, dastardly content, and bloody cogency -- traits he would like to emulate yet doesn't have a clue how or when or what they are but that they have little to do with dangerous salmon fishing. He doesn't know the meaning of fear, nor competence, content or cogency. Obviously. [Ed's Note: He was not optimistic this time.]
Married to Elly, he has seven grandchildren each of which is mentioned in his will: they get a salmon apiece if they're lucky since MichaelR is thinking of a new boat, Inheritance Be Damned I'm Spending It Now.
First Runner-Up -- Mungofitch
Originally trained as an architect in Ottawa, Canada, I left university early to become a computer programmer, leading inevitably to becoming a serial entrepreneur of various software companies. By the late 1990s, my firm was running some of the largest data mining systems around, looking for predictive patterns in gigantic databases.
I was fortunate enough at this that I was able to retire in 1999, emigrate to the Principality of Monaco with my lovely wife, and focus on my investments. Since I had a lot of time, and a lot of data mining tools, I tried my hand at predicting the prices of stocks. This turns out to be remarkably easy, much to my surprise! You don't actually have to be able to predict the future as such, provided you can stack the deck a bit, and never bet the farm.
For several years I've spent a lot of time trading research with other aficionados of the Mechanical Investing board, certainly learning more than I'm teaching. I enjoy the tremendous community of posters there, being unfailingly generous, clever and civil.
More recently I'm back at work, having started a hedge fund, since I can't resist the joys of investing!
Additional Honored Nominees
(In descending order of votes cast)
Steve has 25 years of experience in different computer jobs. He's currently an IT manager for an ad agency, where he keeps the Macs and PCs talking to each other.
Having grown up in Southern California, he now lives in Michigan, with his wife and family. Steve once walked from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, by way of New York. In his early twenties, he was a long-haired liberal, but has since fully recovered.
He spends way too much time on Motley Fool, and has little time for things like writing a self-serving biography for the Uncle Fester Award, or whatever it's called.
A recent father of triplets, in addition to a young son, Steve spends his time not sleeping.
I try to adhere to the Fool's mission of 'enrich, amuse, & educate' and figure I'm somewhat successful in 2 of 3 of those on a given day. I came to the Fool in January 2000, and listening to some of the posters helped me skillfully/luckily sell all my TMT holdings on March 14th of 2000, cashing out before my trip to Las Vegas for some extremely legal betting, investing some of the proceeds in upsets by UNC, Miami, Tulsa, Gonzaga, and Wisconsin. Most markets are noticeably inefficient.
I've worked on and off Wall St at various firms, in several areas within Capital Markets, such as banking, derivatives, research, and sales/trading. I now work on the buy-side, allowing me to use my experience to point out hilariously flawed investment strategies by salesmen of all kinds, and a few minutes of spare time to amass the highest CAPS score of any nominee.
I try to remember that the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
I've lived in the Valley of Hearts Delight, now called Silicon Valley, since the second grade. I served as an aviation electronics technician in the US Navy. Our squadron made two cruises to the Far East aboard the USS Coral Sea. I married my high school sweetheart and we had two sons.
We lost our youngest when he was 13. Don't forget to tell those you love just how you feel about them.
I worked as a technician and engineer at a dozen jobs and after too many long days, sometimes working around the clock with 100+ hour weeks and months without a day off I'd had enough, I quit work in '97. I ended up doing on call work until 2005 when I retired for good.
I took up woodworking after retiring and find my work skills continue to be used. Now instead of designing electronics circuits, mechanical parts and writing test software I design things in wood. If you care to check out a couple of my pieces here ya go:
I've motorcycled to Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Glacier Park and up to Banff National Park across highway 1 to Vancouver.
I hit the gym 4 days a week for an hour or two workout and dance at the SaddleRack Thursday & Friday nights. I attend a bible study class Wednesday mornings and get to do 5 days of homework each week. I spend a fair amount of time cruising the Fool boards. I've had a great time and enjoy answering the easy questions...
My thanks to FreeThinker for putting forth my nomination. I'm still shaking my head a bit about this and consider it quite an honor to even be considered. While not having a chance of winning it's no less fun and I've got a big grin inside! When I found the Fool and signed up for Stock Advisor in 2004 I needed a user name and decided I wanted a reminder that my true treasure was not my portfolio. So I took a verse from scripture, Matthew chapter 13 verse 44...
God bless, Ken
Where to start? Currently I am 15 years old, and a sophomore in high school, living in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in California. My interest in stocks started when I kept peeking over my Dad's shoulder as he would buy some stocks now and then and read stock newsletters from this place The Motley Fool. I got interested enough that I started investing myself in July 2005 when I was 12 years old. I started posting on the Fool just a few months later and have been a pretty regular contributor ever since, primarily on my discussion board, Pencils Palace. I'm really not sure how or why I got to where I am today, but I'm just making the most of it and having way too much fun along the way. My favorite investing writings are those of Peter Lynch, as well as David and Tom Gardner, Warren Buffett, among others. Lately I've been reading a good deal of company histories, such as Pour Your Heart Into It and Behind the Arches.
Outside of investing, I am a big basketball fan (both playing and watching), stay up way too late with friends, and spend way too much time in front of a computer.
My Background -- Let's see... I was born in a cross-fire hurricane... No, that's not right. I was born under a bad sign -- I've been down since I began to crawl... No... Let's just skip that. Nobody really cares.
My Interests -- Music, technology, economics and politics -- for many of the same reasons. All seem to involve massively complicated things made out of dozens, hundreds, thousands or millions of individual (seemingly simple) things. Of course with music, I only follow the stuff that's enjoyable and can tune out the rest. With economics and politics, it's still somewhat interesting to exercise the brain to figure out how the pieces are working together (or not) but it's more out of guarded concern that I spend time following them or writing about them.
The Fool and the Feste -- Like any community, the boards cover a lot of ground and posters participate and contribute in different ways. I'm here because there's something on the boards at least every two weeks or so that makes me think -- REALLY think. I may not agree with it or understand it but it's nice to see us non-MSM mortals cut through the fog every once in a while. Given my relatively paltry collection of posts since 12/2000, if a Feste nod means at least a few readers get a sense of enlightenment or at least entertainment from reading my posts, then that's not too bad a reward for the time spent.
As a college dropout, ultimatespinach began his investing career with appropriate humility, limiting himself to mutual funds. When these funds brought him outstanding returns, he drew the only logical conclusion: He had extraordinary natural instincts as an investor. Rapidly, he moved out of mutual funds into individual stocks. He could see the future and it was the Internet. Specifically, @Home. Or perhaps CMGI, an incubator of nascent Internet companies, none of which made any money. What could go wrong? For a little while there in the late '90s, sandy beaches and early retirement beckoned. Due to circumstances beyond his control, the portfolio unaccountably lost more than 80 percent of its value just after the turn of the century.
Undeterred, spinach moved what remained of his fortune into a single, couldn't-miss development-stage biotech because he needed to make up that 80 percent -- and fast! Northfield Labs had a revolutionary blood substitute that would save lives on the battlefield and change the face of trauma response. This investment unaccountably lost more than 90 percent of its value. Something about heart attacks in a Phase III trial. Talk about bad luck.
Neither sandy beaches nor retirement beckon anymore. Luckily, spinach never quit the day job. After five years of concentrated Foolishness, he is beginning to think this diversified portfolio thing might have legs. Scientific studies have shown that he has derived much more value from The Fool than he has contributed. Privately, he suspects the Feste nomination notice was sent to the wrong email list, but he has no intention of pointing it out.
I previously worked for an S&P 500 builder in both land acquisition and finance.... the experience I gained there allowed me to flee the homebuilding crisis and work for a private developer/sponsor. On the side I do consulting for private equity companies looking to buy distressed builders and developers. This consulting consists solely of valuing assets.
I grew up in Michigan, lived in Cali, Atlanta, Orlando and Germany...a lot of my travels were a result of being a financial auditor early in my career.
I don't necessarily like blogging, but I like to get the truth out on builders' true valuations because the market is very good at tricking people into believing one minute an industry is going bankrupt (mid Jan builders) and then all of a sudden the industry has hit a bottom and they are a stellar buy (15 days later!!!) This type of whip sawing of investors due to Wall Street greed and stupidity makes me want to help the CAPS community out.
I also hope to win 3 cases of monster energy drink for being a top 20 blogger (currently #1 recommended), a top 20 caps player (currently #20), a top 20 favorites (currently #23) and a top 20 pitch writer (currently #35). Wow that would be something if MF crowned me Festivus winner and awarded me 3 cases of monster energy drink...
Thanks to everyone who voted and to all of our nominees for being such great contributors to the Fool Community!