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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Industrials (^DJI):
Transports (^DJT):
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Nasdaq (^IXIC):
S&P500 (^GSPC):
As of 08/17/2017
21,751 -274.14 -1.2%
9,152 -224.77 -2.4%
734 -5.20 -0.7%
6,222 -123.20 -1.9%
2,430 -38.10 -1.5%
YTD
10.1%
1.2%
11.3%
15.6%
8.5%
Tom's Targets    Overview: 08/14/2017
22,250 or 21,500 by 09/01/2017
9,700 or 8,900 by 09/01/2017
750 or 710 by 09/01/2017
6,500 or 6,150 by 09/01/2017
2,525 or 2,425 by 09/01/2017

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June 2009 Headlines


Archives


Tuesday 6/30/09. Tutorial Tuesday: Position Sizing. Does Size Matter?

A picture of a flower from my garden from my garden

The picture is of a bachelor button, I think, from my garden. It reminds me of a microphone or an eyeball.

I made a change to the grid at the top of this page. I removed the Russell and Wilshire indexes. Having to repeat the price targets for so many indexes became tedious. I added a market overview link since many of you want to know why I change the targets. The link will explain it in more detail.

# # #

I have always used a fixed dollar amount for money management when buying stocks. At the beginning, it was $2,000. That bought me 100 shares of a $20 stock. I thought that’s the method that everyone used. As I learned about the stock market, I knew there were better ways to size a position (money management) but I didn’t know what they were.

In the August 2007 issue of Active Trader magazine, Volker Knapp tests a system that uses volatility to determine the position size. I already use volatility to determine stop placement, so this was a welcome addition.

Percent-Risk Position Sizing

The first method, percent-risk position sizing, is well-known and it’s based on risk to determine the position size. For example, if you are looking to buy a stock with a price of $20 and a stop loss of $19, with a maximum loss of $2,000, you should buy 2,000 shares.

The formula for this approach is:

DollarRiskSize/(BuyPrice - StopPrice)

In this example, the DollarRiskSize is $2,000, the BuyPrice is $20 and the StopPrice is 19 giving a result of $2,000/($20 - $19) or 2,000 shares.

Percent-Volatility Position Sizing

This method adjusts the risk for volatility of the stock. Tests described in the article says it performs much better than the percent-risk method.

Here’s the formula.

PositionSize = (CE * %PE) / SV
Where CE is the current account equity (size of portfolio)
%PE is the percentage of portfolio equity to risk per trade.
SV is the stock’s volatility (10-day EMA of the true range).

For example, if the current account equity (CE) is $100,000, the percent of portfolio equity we want to risk (%PE) is 2%, and the stock’s volatility is $1.25, then the result is: ($100,000 * 2%) / $1.25 or 1,600 shares.

Instead of calculating the 10-day exponential moving average of the true range, I just calculate the volatility using Patternz, which provides it at the click of a button.

The downfall of these two methods is that if your portfolio is $100,000, then the trade just described would chew up 1,600 shares x $20 buy price or $32,000. Thus, you can buy just over 3 stocks, giving you a concentrated portfolio. The percent-risk method would be even worse with $40,000 used for just one stock. (Of course this assumes that the stocks share the same buy price, volatility, and so on).

One way to avoid the concentrated portfolio problem is to divide the $100,000 into $10,000 allotments (or whatever size you feel comfortable with that would lead to a diversified portfolio), one for each stock. Use the same formula to determine the share size. In the percent-volatility example, the computation would be: ($10,000 x 2%) / 1.25 or 160 shares.

I don’t know what this does to the profitability of the method because the article’s author didn’t discuss this.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Thursday 6/25/09. Inverted Roof in Gold?

A chart of gold (GLD) ETF on the weekly scale.

I have been working on the double 7s trading setup for several weeks now and I've officially given up. I thought the setup was lousy when I first tested it in March 2009 and my parameter tweaks made improvements. You can read the full article on the trading setup at the link.

Let's take a look at gold via GLD, an exchange traded fund that, according to yahoo!finance, "The investment seeks to strive to reflect the performance of the price of gold bullion, less the Trust's expenses. The Trust holds gold, and is expected to issue baskets in exchange for deposits of gold, and to distribute gold in connection with redemption of baskets."

I show a chart of the fund on the weekly scale. This looks like the top half of a diamond top chart pattern but it is actually a relatively new pattern I discovered a few years ago called an inverted roof. You might think that this is a head-and-shoulders bottom or even one from the complex variety, but it is a unique pattern. In head-and-shoulder bottoms, the price trend leading to the pattern should be downward. Hence the word "bottom" in the phrase "head-and-shoulders bottom." This picture shows the price trend moving up into the pattern, suggesting a top.

The more acquainted of you with chart patterns may squeal like stuck pigs right now, claiming that this is an example of a head-and-shoulders bottom acting not as a reversal pattern, but as a continuation of the up trend.

Don't worry about that right now. What is important is how price will behave in the coming weeks. In a study of 200 inverted roofs, exactly 50% of them broke out upward and the others broke out downward.

You might expect that the breakout from this pattern would be downward because it has tried four times to pierce overhead resistance and failed. The attempt at a new high at point A is a 2B pattern and price should drop. That would be my guess. But should price pierce the overhead resistance and move higher, it could be a worthwhile run up, like a balloon held underwater suddenly being released.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Tuesday 6/23/09. Tutorial Tuesday: Trading the Inverted Dead-Cat Bounce

A chart of J Crew (JCG) stock on the daily scale.

The doctor said that I probably don't have any broken bones from my bicycle accident, so I should be up and chasing cars again in a week or so. Everything else checked out fine, including my HDL, which was a surprise (it was 25 the last time and 42 this time).

# # #

Lessons are learned the hard way, and I am going to share one with you now. I think it's like telling a kid not to touch the hot stove. "You're gonna get burned..." you warn, but he touches it anyway.

The lesson is simple. If a stock you own gaps up by 5% or more, sell it the next day. That event pattern is called an inverted dead-cat bounce, and I am finding it to be one of the more reliable patterns.

A frequency distribution of results suggests that fewer than half make a higher high, but you can place a limit order to sell at the prior day's high and see if it hits. You will want to day trade the exit, if you can, to maximize profits.

That is the lesson. For an in-depth analysis of event patterns, grab a copy of my book, Encyclopedia of Chart Patterns, 2nd Edition, pictured on the right. I discuss 10 event patterns, including the inverted dead-cat bounce, near the back of the book.

Let's see how it applies to an actual trade.

When the Obama administration took office in late January, I remember Mrs. Obama getting press for liking J. Crew clothing, but I dismissed it. Then in April, I heard the news stories again while exercising on my treadmill. I thought, "The company is going to have a good quarter because of the publicity." So, I bought the stock as the chart shows (daily scale).

Not shown is that the stock had broken out of a congestion area setup by a three peak formation in December 2008. After that, I held onto the stock.

Fast forward to May 28. I show that as point A on the chart, the day before price gapped up. The company reported quarterly earnings after the close. Profit dropped a massive 33%, but the company predicted profits in the next quarter instead of the loss the street was expecting.

The next day, price gapped open higher. A day later, sell day (B), I thought about this situation and decided to hold. I thought the rise had legs, meaning it would continued moving up in the coming days. That happens sometimes, not from better than expected earnings, but most often from future guidance by the company, as in this case.

As you can see, holding was a mistake. I eventually sold and made 65% on the trade, but I could have done better. I sold at 25.296 but the day after the event (B), the stock ranged from 25.90 to 27.94.

The moral of the story is this: If the market gives you a gift, take it and run before it snatches it back.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Monday 6/22/09. Mental Monday: Proactive vs Reactive Trading. Part 2

A picture of a duck crossing sign at the local park.

I show a picture of a duck crossing sign from Bear Creek Park, a sign I have seen nowhere else, and one I find humorous (or at least interesting).

I think a better place for it would be at the ends of airport runways (as in duck down or get hit by a plane). That actually happened several years ago when a DC-10 put his landing gear through a car's roof on the way to crashing. Cause? Wind shear.

# # #

This was an exciting weekend. My Saturday interview on Market Traders Radio (thanks hosts Mike Siewruk and Jack McPherson!) went off with just one hitch. I didn't expect to cover all 10 event patterns, so an hour before the show, I discovered my oversight and scrambled to put together notes on the missing patterns. When the show started, my voice sounded hoarse due to "cotton mouth," (dryness) which is caused by stress. I sucked on a cough drop and guzzled water but that didn't help.

Yes, I am a wuss.

And no, we didn't cover all 10 patterns and I was able to chose the ones I wanted to talk about anyway. In other words, I was fully prepared for the show well before Saturday and panicked for no good reason.

After the show was over, I felt stressed and knew that exercise would help. So, I grabbed my bicycle and went for a ride. On the way out, a mile from home, I was turning into a subdivision while riding on a surface that transitioned between pavement and concrete. I show a picture of a similar situation.

A picture two uneven road surfaces.

I was riding down Road A, wanting to turn onto Road B. What happens is the front tire of the bicycle steers following Direction D but the back tire has a mind of its own and follows Direction C. The back of the bike whips around and down you go.

When this happened 12 years ago, I fell backward onto my left shoulder, snapping my left collarbone like a twig, puncturing my lung, and breaking several ribs in the process.

Saturday, it happened again.

This time I went down on my right side, smashing my shoulder into the bike or pavement and bending the back wheel rim. I didn't snap my collarbone nor break any ribs nor puncture my lungs. But I suspect a hairline fracture of the collarbone. Either way, it hurts. Aspirin and ice packs off and on for the first 2 days will reduce swelling, I'm told. That will take me to Monday, when I scheduled a doctor visit a month ago for an annual check up. At least now we will have something to talk about.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Thursday 6/18/09. Bullish Doji Star in the Dow.

A picture of IEs screen compatibility view.

For those of you that have downloaded the new Microsoft version of Internet Explorer, IE8, and tried to view the RSS file, you may get an error. If you click the compatibility view near the top of the browser, it will load the RSS file properly. Otherwise it complains of a page load error. If anyone knows how I can fix this (easily), then let me know. Send an email to My signature.

Thanks to Keith Newcomb for alerting me to this problem. As always, if you find any broken links or pictures that do not display properly on ThePatternSite.com, then please let me know at the above email address.

# # #

A chart of the Dow industrials (^DJI) on the weekly scale.

In today's email, Justin F. asked why I changed the price targets for the indexes. This blog entry takes a closer look at the Dow industrials to answer that question.

I show the daily chart of the Dow and where I believe a support zone resides. The red lines highlight the area. A small congestion zone started in May and extended through much of the month. Then price broke out upward from this area, but moved horizontally soon after. Now, the index is descending, peeking into the support zone.

On June 4, I wrote that I thought the S & P 500 index would throw back to the support area before climbing higher. The first part of that has happened, meaning the throwback is complete and the index is headed lower. It looks similar to the Dow chart.

By zooming in on the candle pattern, we can find a clue as to what will happen tomorrow (Thursday, since I am posting this late Wednesday evening).

I am using my book, Encyclopedia of Candlestick Charts to identify the candle pattern and give you some statistics. At the back of the book (page 919) is the visual index which makes candle identification a snap. You just match up what you see on the chart with the pictures in the book. The page reference tells you where to look next.

I highlight in the blue inset the last four candles in the series on the Dow. Circled in green is what appears to be a bullish doji star. It is a tall black candle in a downward price trend followed by a doji. In well-formed bearish doji star candle patterns, the shadows on the candles are short but that's not the case here. The open and close on the doji must remain below the prior day's close, which it does.

If you imagine what will happen tomorrow, then a tall white reversal candle could transform the pattern into a rare bullish abandoned baby. Again, it would not be a perfect example because the shadows overlap and an abandoned baby does not allow that. However, it is close enough for government work, as they say.

Returning to the bullish doji star, the name is a misnomer because my tests reveal that the candle acts as a bearish continuation pattern 64% of the time, ranking 16 out of 103 candles, where 1 is best. That is a good score.

Will price reverse tomorrow or continue lower? If it closes below the lowest shadow of the two-day pattern, then the prediction of a bearish candle will have come true. That occurs in a median (middle range) of 3 days but it takes a total of 6 days for the trend to end. Based on this prediction, we have more down move ahead. It suggests the Dow will probably touch the bottom red line before rebounding. This is a guess, of course.

This type of analysis is why I changed my upward target to a downward one. I think the downward move is more probable than an upward move, but I also do not expect the downtrend to last long.

And if you find such candle analysis of value, it came straight from my Encyclopedia of Candlestick Charts book, on sale in the lobby. The studios are thinking of making it into a movie...

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Tuesday 6/16/09. Tutorial Tuesday: How To Make 80% and Feel Like a Loser

A picture of a smooth green snake.

On today's bicycle ride, I got up the courage to take my camera along. I strapped it to my chest like you see in some baby pictures and then spent 2 hours riding the trails and shooting some of the most awful pictures you can imagine. When I was done, my water bottle was empty and I had 249 pictures ready for the print shop. Fortunately, electronic media has done away with the cost and time involved in getting prints. I just look at them on my monitor and delete most of what I see.

This smooth green snake has a very creative name, which I discovered when I looked it up on the internet. It's called, wait for it, a smooth green snake. I found him (or her...I wasn't willing to check) on the bike path along Big Bear Creek hiking from a nearby water puddle back into the woods. They are harmless, eating spiders, insects, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! When threatened, they freeze but dash away at an opportune moment, according to the blurb I read. Fortunately, my presence turned him into an ice cube while I pulled out my camera and grabbed the shot.

I also checked up on my monument. It is a vanity exercise, of course, but I still think it is way cool, dude (or dudette). The really neat thing about it is I didn't have to die first to get it. Recent storms have split trees, one about 20 feet from the marker. I wonder how many years these markers will last? This plaque is from 1993 and already two of the board members listed on it are dead, one just last week.

# # #

A chart of Coldwater Creek (CWTR) on the daily scale

Let me tell you about a trade I made in Coldwater Creek (CWTR, daily chart).

By late April, many stocks had doubled in price and were bumping up against overhead resistance. I show the stock hitting such resistance by the green line at point A.

When price closed above this region, I pounced and bought the stock. Since I was and still am concerned about the market, my position was just 1/4 of what it used to be.

The stock moved sideways for several days as if trying to decide a direction, but then it found its legs and shot up. Midway though the rise, I doubled my position.

Since I was buying stocks often during that time, I did not fill in some of my notebook for the trade, so I do not know what my target price was.

If you look at the longer-term chart (weekly, for example, going back a few years) you will see a loose congestion area from 3.40 in January 2008 to a high of 8.31 on September 2008. My guess would be a climb to 8, which is also the site of a small knot of congestion in October to December 2007. That tight area would concern me.

If I wanted to hold the stock for several years, then I would expect it to push through and top out at 19. That is where numerous valleys bottom starting in late 2005. Buying at 3.50 and holding to 19 sounds like a worthwhile endeavor to me. Of course, the stock, the company, the market, and the economy would all have to cooperate. That is a tall order but in three years, who knows?

Anyway, I let the stock flop around and then it started the second leg of what looked like a measured move up chart pattern. Notice that leg B nearly matches the slope and extent of leg C. If the measured move up plays out as expected, price will retrace back to the corrective phase -- which is the horizontal movement between B and C.

I looked at the chart and took a tip from my day trading experience. I saw three candles with little overlap (the three days before the black candle when I sold). That means a strong price run has begun. I placed a stop loss order a penny or two below the low of the white candle (the highest one on the chart), expecting to trail the stop upward as price climbed.

The next day, I was stopped out when the f%^*ing thing hit my stop. I felt as if I was cheated out of a profit. Today (Monday night as I write this), the stock has rubbed salt into my wounds by closing up 2.4% even as the Dow has tumbled 187 points.

On the first trade, I made 83% and the second one I made 61%, but I still feel as if I lost big.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Thursday 6/11/09. Is Sliver Tarnished?

A chart of SLV on the weekly scale.

T-storms threatened the area this evening with several tornados touching down or at least strong (75 mph) winds tore shingles off roofs, pushed over fences, and did other damage. Fortunately none of that was to my house.

After the storms had passed, I turned on the light because a day without sunshine is like night. The light flickered, so I tried another and then another. With the power questionable, I decided to post this entry later. It is now after 10:00 and the storms are back, so I will make this quick.

On the weekly scale, I show a chart of SLV, an exchange traded fund that tracks silver. According to yahoo!finance,

The objective of the investment is to reflect the price of silver owned by the trust less the trust's expenses and liabilities. The fund is intended to constitute a simple and cost-effective means of making an investment similar to an investment in silver. Although the fund is not the exact equivalent of an investment in silver, they provide investors with an alternative that allows a level of participation in the silver market through the securities market.

The red line is overhead resistance setup by prior price action in early to mid 2008. Drawing a green line down from the two peaks, the trendline intersects SLV within the past week. Both lines suggest SLV has completed its rise. Thus, I would look elsewhere for a more promising opportunity.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Tuesday 6/9/09. Tutorial Tuesday: A Close Look at the 2B Pattern

If you have been around chart patterns long enough or are widely read in the subject, you may have heard of the 2B pattern. It is less a pattern than it is a way for swing traders to take profits.

Victor Sperandeo in his book, Trader Vic--Methods of a Wall Street Master describes the 2B pattern this way.

In an uptrend, if a higher high is made but fails to carry through, and then prices drop below the previous high, then the trend is apt to reverse. The converse is true for downtrends. This observation applies in any of the three trends; short-term, intermediate-term, or long-term. A chart of American Superconductor Corp (AMSC) on the daily scale.

A 2B on a minor high or low will usually occur within one day or less of the time the high or low is made. For 2B's on intermediate highs or lows preceding a correction, the new high or low point will usually break within three to five days. At major market turning points, long-term 2B's, the new high or low will usually break within seven to ten days. In the stock market, after the new high is made, the failure to carry forward usually occurs on low to normal volume, and the confirmation of a reversal occurs on higher volume.

I prefer to think of a 2B as one in which price begins to form a double top. It may not confirm as a double top (meaning that price may not close below the price of the valley between the two peaks) but price approaches the level of the first top and then reverses.

Let's turn to the chart. I show American Superconductor (AMSC) on the daily scale. Price forms a peak at B then drops and curls around, returning to the summit at 2B. From there, price drops and it appears to be headed lower. How long this downtrend will continue is anyone's guess.

If you think that it will confirm the double top by price closing below the horizontal red line, then I direct your attention to point A. The situation is almost identical. Price climbed up and formed a peak at C, then dropped down only to rebound up to A. Two days later and price was clearly headed lower, terminating in a southern doji. A southern doji acts randomly according to my tests (it is a bullish reversal 52% of the time. Excuse me while I yawn).

After the doji completed, then what happened? Price reversed. In just three days, it was making a new high. Incidentally, both points 2B and A are 2B patterns.

The behavior of price at A begs the question, how reliable is the 2B pattern? When I wrote the first edition of my book, Encyclopedia of Chart Patterns (the second edition is pictured on the right), I found that double tops failed to confirm 65% of the time. In other words, price failed to close below the horizontal red line on the chart in two out of three cases. Each of those were 2B patterns. Thus, the failure rate of the 2B pattern in detecting a trend change is 65%. Yuck.

Having said that, I have used the 2B to exit positions in a timely manner and saved myself a lot of money. If the industry is showing weakness or the market is trending lower and your stock forms a second peak topping out near the first one, then consider taking profits. This tip applies mostly to swing trades. If you buy-and-hold or even position trade, then waiting for price to recover is the better choice (65% of the time, at any rate). But that other 35% can really damage your wallet or purse.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Monday 6/8/09. Mental Monday: Learn How to Trade Decisively, Part 2!

Another bee picture

I show a picture of a bee visiting my salvia plant in my back yard.

I worked from 9 AM to 2 PM on Thursday to replace the rotten board that let the bees in. As luck would have it, the hive must have been just days old because I could not find it in the wall partition.

I used excess paint to coat the chimney boards and side of the house where hail stones keep rubbing off the finish. Lunch, caulking, and trying to keep the neighbors dogs from eating my supplies took the rest of the time.

I was hoping to return my unused rubber gloves to Home Depot, but Marley, the German Sheppard, tore into them. No, he didn't eat them, just pulled off a rubber ring around the end of one glove.

Don't tell the neighbors, but when I was removing my ladder after finishing the job, Major -- a small white mutt -- took off through the open gate into the front yard, so I had to lasso him. If you ever need a hole dug, Major is your man (so I'm told).

# # #

This posting is now located here.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Thursday 6/4/09. Hope For S&P

A chart of the S and P 500 index on the daily scale

I was hoping that the large advance on Monday would begin the second leg of a measured move up chart pattern. That reading applies more to the Dow industrials than it does the S&P. However, I highlight Monday at point A on the chart.

I show the S&P 500 index on the daily scale. Outlined in red is a descending triangle. If you know about chart patterns and can look closely at the figure, this descending triangle is not a good example.

Why?

The bottom horizontal trendline begins in the middle of a price run, not anchored on a minor low. That means only two touches of the bottom trendline occur, not three. The top trendline has two touches also. The candle that begins the gap does not count as a touch. Only minor highs on the top and minor lows on the bottom count as touches. Although two touches of each trendline is sufficient, I like to see more.

The two trendlines outline a congestion zone, a region where price moves horizontally. Price is resting here, gathering strength for the push to the summit. On Monday, point A, price gaps open above the prior close, leaving a breakaway gap on the chart. As the name suggests, breakaway gaps occur as price breaks away from a support or resistance area. Breakaway gaps do not close quickly. The average time to close a breakaway gap is 136 days, which is 4.5 months.

On the chart, shown in green, is what I expect price to do. I forecast a throwback to the triangle boundary. In a descending triangle, a throwback occurs 37% of the time. Judging from the chart, it suggests another few days of down move yet to come. After that, I expect the index to rebound and move higher. If may not, of course, but both my portfolio and I expect greener (the color of money) pastures ahead.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Tuesday 6/2/09. When Bees Invade!

A picture of the hive entrance

Let me tell you what happened over the last few days.

On Thursday, I received an email from Jack McPherson asking if I would like to be a phone-in guest on the Market Traders Radio talk show in Detroit. I said sure. File away that tidbit for a moment.

Later that evening, I was playing fetch with my dog, inside, and switched on a light. Almost immediately, the sound of a 747 started above me. My flyswatter made short work of the bee. I remember thinking that I must have left the outside door open too long, allowing it in.

On Friday, after breakfast, I found another 747 inside my guest bathroom, making a loud noise as bees tend to do.

Finding one bee inside was unusual, but it happens from time to time. Peeling back the shower curtain revealed a few more aircraft. Definitely not a good sign.

What did I do? I filled a bucket of water and poured it down the bathtub and sink drains, of course!

A picture of the hive entrance

I don't use the guest bathroom, so any water that usually sits in the drain trap (a u-shaped dip in the pipe) will evaporate. When that happens, sewer gasses and critters can get inside. From the roof vents, bugs can drop down, follow the piping until they come out the drain (if the gasses don't kill them first). I had two sparrows fly down my clothes dryer roof vent, so I know it is possible. In fact, I heard a bee buzzing around inside the tube that connects the dryer to the wall, but I digress...

I have the two drains plugged up with their stoppers, but I was worried about the faucets. Now that I think about it, the bees couldn’t be coming in from there. The faucet connects to the water pipes. So, my water-boarding torture was not a solution at all. Alert the media.

The bees found their way to my bedroom, so I popped open the screen and let them outside to try and find their way in again. Think homing pigeons here, only in a smaller size.

I hopped onto my computer and read another email from Jack. I replied that I did not receive his attachment, but did receive a half-dozen bees. No big deal.

An hour later, I found more bees downstairs, buzzing around the windows, yelling to get out. More were upstairs in my master bedroom, and bath. Despite a search, I could not figure out where they were coming from, but they were growing in numbers. I guess the reconnaissance patrol that I let go an hour earlier had reported back and received reinforcements.

I was standing outside my office, pondering what to do when I saw one. The bee exited the air intake beneath my central air conditioning unit. I found some cardboard and placed it against the grill, leaned some weights against it, and hoped I had it blocked. Then I went into the guest bedroom and did the same thing to that vent as well. This is not the A/C vent you have near your ceilings to cool/heat your house, but it is the intake vent that provides house air to the unit.

Having sealed up both of those inlets and reassured myself that I had sealed them well, I let out the remaining bees flying around inside the house. Then I crawled onto my roof and place window screen mesh over the sewer pipe/vents and also put mesh over the attic vent as well. While up there, I even saw one drop inside one of the vent tubes. It reminds me of Star Wars when Luke fires his torp and it takes a quick turn down the shaft of the death star.

When I finished risking my life on the roof, I returned inside to find even more bees flying around. I let them out either by removing the window screen or placing a coffee mug over them, sliding a piece of stiff paper underneath, and carting them outside.

A picture of the hive entrance

By this time, panic was setting in and I emailed Jack that I would have to postpone the radio interview. I feared for the safety of myself and my dog, and could not even be sure that I would be home the next morning. I expected the evening and next morning to be much worse (because the bees are out foraging during the day) and they might return in the morning/evening by the thousands.

Throughout the day, I got nothing done except for capturing then letting out the bees that found their way inside. I suspected that they were coming down from the attic, so I placed grocery bags over the bathroom exhaust vent and light fixture. Not one bee dropped into those two bags.

On Saturday morning, my neighbor knocked on my door. "Did you know you have a nest of bees on your house?" she asked. Her husband was removing brush from the side of my house and they spotted where the bees were nesting. That is the top picture. This is between the first and second floor, where two boards join. The wood, as you can see, is rotten. Since bushes obscured the wood, I did not even know there was such a problem.

The bees are underneath the flashing (upper left circle) and under the board (lower right circle). My neighbor offered to kill the bees, but I think they are worthwhile insects, so I was not too keen on that. He wanted to continue cutting down the bushes (which is a good thing since there is supposed to be a 3 foot easement around my property), but his wife suggested he continue from the other end while I dealt with the bees. After thinking about it, I decided to hire a professional hit man.

At sunset, the team of two terminators arrived. I was told that they would place a bag over the opening and then pump in gas to kill the bees, but that is not what happened. Instead, they sprayed shaving cream (I'm not kidding) over the holes (second and third pictures) and then inserted a wand to pump in the gas. From inside the garage, you could hear the hive trying to find a way out. Over time, the sound of buzzing diminished and fell silent.

According to Colin, the man in the red shirt, the bees fly into the shaving cream and the acid in the cream kills them. The bottom shot shows some of the dead bodies trapped in the shaving cream.

As I am writing this, it is almost 10 pm and a bee just flew into the room. Oops. Guess they didn't get them all.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Monday 6/1/09. Mental Monday: Learn How to Trade Decisively!

A picture of a red flower from my back yard

Earlier in the year, I sprinkled a packet of wildflower seeds along the ground and this red flower, shown here, is one delightful response. In the full size version of the picture (not shown), the hair on the stems below and above the red flower are backlit silver threads. Very nice!

Unfortunately, the plant is being sucked dry by spider mites, a recurring problem in my garden.

I also planted 45 tomato plants from seed and much to my surprise, some of them lived! They are less than 2' high and that is about 3 feet shorter than they should be. Soon, when they are ready to produce, it will be too hot, and they will close down. Then the spider mites will discover them and you can guess the rest.

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This posting is now located here.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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