All kids' sports have some sort of silliness about them, and swimming is no exception. While you're reading this, I'm poolside at a nine-and-under meet. Sure, it's great to divide the kids up by age, as at this point the bigger and older you are, the faster you generally swim. So, in these age group meets, the date of your birthday is everything. Well, almost everything, as talent is in there somewhere.

Still, you hear a lot of parents clucking over the fact that Johnny or Laura "aged-up" right before the Big Meet. So instead of being king of the hill in the 10-and-unders, their child is at the bottom of the pack with the 11s and 12s.

Today, though, Diana lucked out: She turns 10 on May 22. Hey, it's not silly if it works in your favor!

But forget about silliness, though, because today Gary B. tackles real issues and real concerns! Or something like that. Check out my astute intellect and charm below. It's there somewhere.

Oh, and one other announcement: Starting Friday, GBS moves to five days a week. I know, I know, I'm sickening enough at four days a week. But, in response to your many requests, I wanted to tackle even more of your emails and focus on both your chart requests and also some key "charts in the news" each week. So, we'll do that Friday, in addition to the normal egotistical discussion about ME! Finally, have a question? Concerned about "aging up" yourself? I'm your man, trust me, at

technicalforum@thestreet.com .

Little Support Below ABOV

Would you look at AboveNet Communications (ABOV) ? Obviously down, but where to now? -- Robert L. Simpson

ENTS OK -- For a Small Company

I think you don't like small companies. But this one looks good to me -- I don't mean chart, I mean value. Physicians' Specialty (ENTS) is worth at least $25 and selling at only $8, according to my book (maybe not the chart). Another stock, Vari-L (VARL) , is also a good one. Does anybody care about the value any more? Is everybody buying companies that have losses only? Help, I am lost. -- Bill Chang

NRMI Shouldering a Burden

I just started reading your column and I find it educational and informative, as I am a new investor. I'd love to hear your opinion on National Record Mart (NRMI) . -- Ron Kaplan

Congestion or Accumulation?

I've been watching the chart of disk drive maker Quantum (QNTM) for some time and the chart seems to be in congestion and maybe headed for a breakout. In the past two weeks (since its last earnings report) I've seen it fall back to a support around $17.50, and I think it has gone under some strong accumulation since then. Do you have a way to trade on chart patterns that may look like accumulation, and is there solid definition of accumulation that you could provide? -- Will Cunningham

Will,

There are plenty of definitions of accumulation, based on things like money flow, on balance volume, etc. Unfortunately, I've found none of them to be reliable. I think one can gauge congestion. But to say it's "accumulation," with the next step to be an upside breakout -- well, I think that's just guessing. Let's look at QNTM, though, to see what we can figure out.

TOY Breaking Out

I enjoy reading your work. (Foul! Blatant suck up -- 15 yards.) Could you look at Toys R Us' (TOY) two-year weekly chart. It has had a nice run lately. May the force be with you. -- Tom Lyons

Tom,

I'd like to say your kissing up didn't help, but that would be lying!

Industrial Gas .Com

Please take a look at

Praxair

(PX)

and

Air Products & Chemicals

(APD) - Get Report

. These industrial gases stocks look like .coms! PX may be hitting resistance while APD has broken through. What's your take? Does one chase these stocks or give them time to consolidate?

-- Rick Victor

Finding the Right Chart

I am a longtime reader of your technical forum, and I have noticed that your charts often look different than the ones I find on common charting programs, such as MyTrack. I believe you are using exponential charts, and I'm wondering if you could explain the significance of using such charts for TA? I'm asking this because what looks so clear-cut on your charts often looks much more murky on the charts I make. -- Joe Zheng

Joe,

Excellent question. I do, in fact, use exponential charts, and this does differ from most charts you see, which are arithmetic. A quick definition of the difference: On a log chart, the distance between each price point on the right side of the chart is the same

percentage

. On an arithmetic chart, the distance is the same

value

. I use log charts, because in my mind, a $50 stock that moves up $5 is the same as a $100 stock that moves up $10. On a log chart, the size of that move would look similar since the percentage change is the same. On an arithmetic chart, it would obviously look different. Bottom line: If you're a "breakout" trader, as I am, and you want to compare apples to apples, a log chart is the way to go.

Any Time's The Right Time

I got into

@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

at 164 when it was steadily climbing, only to see it decline into the 130s and bounce into the 150s. Considering the latest round of high-speed Internet mania, how about your thoughts short-term and long-term.

-- Bruce Hancock

See Headline Above

I like

Exodus

(EXDS)

, however I am having trouble getting a hold on any type of chart pattern with all the volatility we've had. What can you make of the situation?

-- Joe Marzocco

Indicators, Shmindicators

I thought I was the only one having trouble finding stocks to buy or sell! But perhaps the reasons for my present state of concern are different from yours. I'm not so sure this market is going to go sideways as much as a serious correction may soon be upon us. My concern stems from two indicators. First, the Investors Business Daily investment adviser sentiment index looks terrible. Way too many bulls, not enough bears. Second, and what worries me most, is that IBD's public/specialist short interest ratio today hit its lowest point in the last 12 months, even lower than it was last October. So, for the time being, I am 100% in cash. I don't like this position, but I don't want to do anything too stupid. (I also heard the Warren Buffett comment last week that he was in the same position, except that he has $15 billion in cash on hand! Regrettably, I am not similarly deposited). My two questions are: Do you pay any attention to the above two indicators, or any other general market indicators? What do you think of Lucent (LU) , TranSwitch (TXCC) , Terayon Communications (TERN) and Nortel (NT) ? I like these companies but worry about the market going down -- very soon. Hence, I am reluctant to buy. Any comments appreciated. -- Ken Tartof

Ken,

My take on the indicators you talked about is similar to weather forecasts: They're interesting and I read them, but at the beginning of the day I look outside, and if it's raining, I bring an umbrella.

The translation to trading? If I have six long candidates to trade and no shorts I trade the long side, despite what the sentiment, short interest ratio, planet alignment, A/D line or any other indicator has to say. In short, the best "indicator" for me is the candidates I have to trade, and I let them guide me as best I can. More on this topic, by the way, on Monday.

As for LU, I haven't looked at that in awhile, so here's the chart.

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. At time of publication he had no positions in the stocks mentioned, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith also writes Technician's Take, which appears every Monday, and Charted Territory, which runs Wednesdays. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback at

gbsmith@ibm.net.