Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

The Beautiful South

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As most of you know, the first SlopeFest East was held on Saturday, September 18th at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

A few weeks ago, I decided to show up to SlopeFest as a surprise, so I told Iggy that I'd be coming, but I asked him not to mention it to anyone else. I woke up at 4:30 Saturday morning to make a 6 a.m. flight, which arrived at 1:45. I got a rental car, and I drive nearly 4 hours to Myrtle Beach.

Now, you may be wondering why I didn't select an airport that was closer to the event; there are a couple of reasons for this: first, Myrtle Beach's airport isn't very big, and so it's terribly expensive to fly there; and second, I don't get out much, and I really enjoy taking in the sights, particularly in a part of the country that I rarely visit.

I grew up in the South, so the sights aren't wholly foreign to me, but I confess that my drive was like a voyage through an alien world. Sure, there were plenty of things that were all-too-familiar sights from Generica, like the Wal-Marts, Party Cities, and McDonalds. But much of what I noticed was novel.

Here are a few items I noticed during my drive, and during my very brief stay in Myrtle Beach:

Ironic Signs – For some reason, there was a preponderance of unintentionally ironic signs during my drive. For instance, one mobile home vendor claimed on a huge billboard that it was a "Small Dealer with a Big Heart." Directly beneath that claim it mentioned that they sold "Foreclosed Mobile Homes" in addition to the new ones. I wonder what the former owners of those repossessed homes thought of the heart of this vendor.

Although there were a stunning number of empty commercial buildings during my drive, it seemed that a disproportionate number of them featured being the "Area's Biggest" or "Most Popular" on fading, weathered placards.

The funniest of all, to me, was a permanent, official metal sign at the border of one of the towns. In white letters on a green background it announced the "Task Force for Excellence". But the first word was spelled T-S-A-K.

Alien Beings – I suppose it may be unkind of me to notice, but there were some genuinely-scary looking people in these parts. In some areas, it looked like try-outs for the sequel to "Mask" might be going on. The prize had to go to the bouncer in front of Senor Frog's, who was a dead ringer for Lurch from the Addams Family.

Land of the Free – I have to conclude that land is simply given away, homestead style, in the Carolinas. I saw homesites whose size even my richest friends in California could never afford, and in the middle of the open expanse of land was………a beaten-up mobile home.

The Gender Gap – Maybe this isn't specific to Myrtle Beach, since at my age I don't exactly hang out at clubs (hell, even when I was that age, I didn't hang out at clubs). But it seems to me the self-esteem movement never was introduced to the young women of South Carolina. They were out on Saturday night, completely tarted-up and wearing ridiculously revealing clothes (which, on some of the specimans, was done to horrific effect). The douchey-looking young men at the same venue were evidently their quarry. Suffice it to say that cabal of Slopers looked more than a little out of place.

I Gave My Heart to Christ, and All I Got Was This Stupid T-ShirtWitness Wear is a retailer I'd never heard of, or even conceived as possible – – – but they sell all manner of shirts, cups, and what-not with declarations of your allegiance to the big J.C. They seem to be doing a brisk business.

Odd Bragging Rights – I've never been gung-ho about bumper stickers, but I can see why some folks might want to display their alliances or affections to the rest of the world. However, some of the bumper stickers I saw displayed during my journey seemed to advertise the strangest achievements. For instance: "Blue Collar and Red Neck". And another – – – "All My Friends Are From Low Places." I'd have never guessed.

Hellfire and Brimstone – Since I was driving to the airport on a Sunday morning, I decided to listen to some of that good old-time religion. I'll say this – – I'd rather belong to a fervant black Baptist church than one of the milquetoast white ones. The black preachers – – or the white ones that are channeling their inner black – – are passionate. These guys sound like Sam Kinnison on a bad day, and it's marvelous. Can I get a witness?

Amex? iPhone? Huh? – I was in a popular, well-traveled vacation resort in the United States. This wasn't the third world, but some of the most common elements seem to catch others by surprise. I stopped by Kroger's, a big grocery store, to buy a comb (I get uneasy without my comb; add that to my list of quirks). I swiped my MasterCard, but it didn't seem to be agreeing with the machine, so I used my American Express instead. The clerk there mentioned, "Wow – American Express. In all my time here, I always wondered what Amex stood for." Hmmmm.

One other oddity was at a bar we briefly attended. I had my iPhone out, and I was swiping through some pictures. As I was swiping my finger across the screen, this somewhat inebriated fellow stumbled up to me: "What are yew doin'?" Ummm, I'm looking through some pictures. "Do yew do that all day long?" No, no, I don't. Hey, look, gang! A table has freed up! Let's go! (scamper scamper……..)

I'll close by saying that SlopeFest is starting to take on a life of its own. There's chatter about Las Vegas and New York Slopefests coming up next Spring. Maybe we'll even branch out and get some international events going.

I would like to give Iggy a huge thank-you for putting together SlopeFest East. Everyone had a great time, and I know from experience that putting these things together is a lot more work than it may seem. He even had commemorative cup holders and name badges made for the event! So thanks, Iggy. The group owes you a lifetime supply of bacon.

Slopefest-II, 2010 (by Leisa)

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Bacon (This was Iggy's breakfast this a.m.)

Hopefully by now all Slopers who made the pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach are safe at their homes. My effigy of Tim was quite realistic.  I bet you couldn't tell him from the real thing! Unfortunately, I did not have my laptop with me, so I was unable to post.  Due to the labyrinth of  complex security levels on the Slope, those with laptops were unable to do a post.   So while I have the power to zap the blog into infinity, I cannot moderate.  And moderators cannot post.  It is likely a good segregation of duties.

First, thanks to Iggy for instigating this get together. He did all of the planning and put together coolie cups and name tags.  Second, thanks to Ms. Iggy who worked tirelessly behind the scenes (to include being conscripted into tin-foil haberdashery).  Third, thanks to the Slopers who carved out some time in their off-line lives to make the journey, and their intrepid, "why-the-hell-are-you-doing-this?" traveling companions.  As you can see from the smiling faces in some of the pictures, everyone had a great time.  Slopefest is truly about friendship and camaraderie.  Slopers in person are just weird enough to be interesting and not a wit more weird than that!

Thanks to Tim for journeying forth to visit with Slopers.  Tim's blog is a labor of love, and if you don't know that, then you've not been paying attention.  He has created quite a community here, and this second Slopefest was a chance to celebrate that community.

Photos are being compiled, edited for taste and suitability for this audience (oh, nevermind!). They'll be compiled in an eye-pleasing way, accompanied by ear-pleasing music and available at a budget-pleasing price (free!).

We raised a glass to toast all of our great Slopers here.  Clink!  Clink!

Here are just a FEW pictures…..

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3 


Sergio has nothing on TK–babe magnet.



  I've not labeled these as I do not know the preferences of individuals for names. 

Chart on BMY (Mike Paulenoff)

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Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) has climbed to a new recovery and new 2 3/4-year high at 27.26 (so far) today, which has triggered new projections into the 28.00-29.00 target zone in the upcoming weeks and months.

The BMY situation just could be a perfect storm: strong fundamentals coupled with bullish technicals. Indeed, just yesterday Barron’s Weekday trader posted a very supportive article concluding that even though BMY is trading at a relatively high multiple (for Big Pharma) of 12 X forward earnings, the premium is “well deserved,” largely because BMY has one of the industry’s strongest pipelines and lots of cash.

From my perspective, it is always better to have bullish fundamentals supporting the chart pattern, which appears to be the case with BMY. From a near-term technical perspective, as long as the recent two-week support area, in general — and today’s pivot low at 26.89, in particular — remain intact, I will consider BMY to be extremely bullish.

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