Saturday, November 20, 2010

An Evening With Triple Nine Friends

The evening of Friday, November 19th was spent with friends from the Triple Nine Society. Some I have known for some time. Some I met Friday evening.

Eric Phan is a bright young man who has taken it upon himself to organize occasional get togethers of local Triple Nine Society members. He announced this event via e-mail, as usual. What made this event different was an event that preceded our usual dinner. We were invited to the Capitol Hill Club to meet with fund manager Bill Matson and Retired Admiral James Carey. Bill was going to discuss the book by him and his partner Mitch Hardy titled Data Driven Investing. Admiral Carey was going to discuss Triple Nine help with the program Government Scholars. This program is intended to interest bright young people in careers of public service.

I did not know what to expect when I arrived at the Capitol Hill Club. For those who are not familiar with Washington, the Capitol Hill Club is the Republican club adjacent to Congress. The Democratic Party has a similar club a few blocks away. I followed the instructions on how to find the Grill Room where we would be meeting. When I entered the Grill Room, I saw quite a few young people. I assumed they were were Republican staffers and workers of various kinds. After a quick search I saw a table where Eric and Katy were seated. The other two people at the table were Admiral Carey and Bill Matson. I introduced myself to Jim and Bill. Everyone seemed quite friendly. I've come to expect that at Triple Nine gatherings.

Bill began our discussions by telling us what he and his partner had learned about investing. It seems that investing in small companies is one key part of their strategy. They also try to figure out what small companies investors are not paying much attention to and when that is not warranted. The book seems quite interesting. I plan on getting a copy and reading it soon. The book is available free to Triple Nine Society members. During the discussion, Bill mentioned the graphical representation of numerical data. I chimed in at this point because that is actually one of my specialties. During our conversation I also mentioned my concern with firms like AIG that actively prevented bad news from even being distributed throughout the firm, much less to the investing public. Bill and others seemed to agree. Bill also let us know that too many people in the field of finance were simply out to maximize their own personal returns. I'd read similar things elsewhere. It was good to hear it in person from an exceptionally intelligent insider of good character.

Our discussion turned to the Washington Scholars Program. Jim Carey and others lead this effort to get young people interested in government service. Some things make this notable. Jim is clearly a conservative. The Washington Scholars Program is aimed at Republicans, Democrats and independents. Students come from across the political spectrum. Early in his description of the program he mentioned placing a student with Nancy Pelosi. I mentioned that I was involved in Maryland politics and knew quite a few people in positions of leadership in the Democratic Party. It might be possible for me to help. During our conversation I mentioned that I had told people in Congressman Steny Hoyer's office about our Triple Nine Society event. Jim, with a friendly smile on his face, said I could now report that Congressman Hoyer's name up during a discussion at the Capitol Hill Club.

During our discussion I described my interest in reforming tech fields, especially NASA. I stated that the Columbia accident investigation had revealed significant problems at NASA. I also reported how young people were turning away from science and engineering careers because of impossible demands on their lives. I made the observation that, when a young woman must choose between a career in science and having a family, that is wrong. I also noted that middle aged geeks with a clear libertarian bent in their politics are starting to complain about abusive treatment at work. One, Eric Raymond, noted that women in computing aren't abused. He reported that everyone in computing was abused.

The conversation at the Capitol Hill Club was, as I expected, thoughtful and interesting. After 7:15 most of us departed for a restaurant in Eastern Market for dinner. We wound up at Fusion, initially because the place was quiet enough for serious discussions. Other restaurants did not meet that criteria. The food was excellent, as was the conversation.

It is interesting to hear Katy discuss home schooling her children and what her life was like. She was a career Navy officer married to a Navy man. One interesting opinion we both hold strongly is that sleep is important. While our life experiences have been different in many ways, it is interesting that we have some quite strongly held views that are similar. During our discussion I brought up two of my running triumphs in October 1996. First, I ran the Goddard Two Mile Fun Run in my best time of 12:53. Then, a few weeks later, I finished the Marine Corps Marathon. I also reported that, if I had run the first two miles of the marathon at my Goddard pace, I would not have finished the marathon -- and I would have been a half mile behind the eventual winners of the marathon.

Near the end of the evening I mentioned that the St. Mark's Players would be presenting Inherit the Wind in January and proposed a performance as a Triple Nine event. Some interest was stirred.

Wow, I have written over 900 words. I'm trying to keep these postings a bit shorter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chucks, thanks for the recap of last night!

Bill's site is:

Jim's Washington Scholar Program can be found at: