Just Another Blog
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
 
Overheard

I have had this conversation!

Guy #1: I hate to say it, but the guy's a really good actor.
Guy #2: Yeah.
Guy #1: I wonder why I said "I hate to say it," though.
Both: Titanic.
--72nd & Columbus

Though it almost certainly did not occur in New York.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday, November 07, 2008
 
White House Butler

I hope the Obama folks see this article and make sure Mr. Allen gets an invite to an inauguration party or some sort of later get together at the House. I think we'll probably see all sorts of celebrations or recognitions of our collective progress on racial issues over the next four years.


 
End User Agreements



You could make a million variations of this, and I would likely find them all funny.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008
 
Grammar

I like to consider myself a bit of a stickler when it comes to grammar and spelling. That may show up here a bit less than it does in my business writing, but I usually try here as well. The writing-style mavens over at the NYT have a good quiz today with 10 recent examples from the paper that slipped by without correction. Read the items as written and see if you can identify the grammatical issues. I pathetically only got a single answer correct (the blatant issue in #2). I feel that I should have gotten 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 10. 6, 8, and 9 I would never have gotten. Maybe I'd do better if I wrote more.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008
 
Voting

I voted last night and am much relieved to have that behind me. Wake me up for inauguration.

I ended up voting for Obama. I wanted to vote for Barr, but I just never got the impression he was even trying. It was as much a vote against McCain as it was for Obama. I think Obama is clearly the better man, the smarter man, and the man with the better policies. I hope McCain gets hit by a bus or is in another plane crash.

I voted against personhood at conception. If they were to define personhood as beginning once the subject can pronounce personhood in their native tongue, I'd vote for it. Earlier than that and you're nothing more than an extension of the parents - the mother at least.

I voted for higher taxes on oil companies given that Colorado has the lowest extraction taxes in the region and the oil and gas companies are getting rich destroying our outdoors.

I voted for making it illegal to force union membership. Unions were an important force in the 19th and early 20th century, but their time has passed. Today they seem to serve only to make it impossible to fire the incompetent and to abet illegal immigrants in their identity theft schemes. I was in a laborers' union at one point, and I did not like the experience.

I voted not to kill TABOR. I'm fearful that one may pass though. There just hasn't been enough in the press or even in advertisements about it. Or maybe there has. I don't listen to the radio and virtually never watch tv and don't read the local papers, so I might be missing something. Killing TABOR will almost certainly mean permanently increasing taxes in the state. Of course permanently higher taxes (on a national level) seem a virtual inevitability at this point given the mess we're in with entitlement programs, war spending, and corporate bailouts.

I voted for the removal of obsolete language that could allow for the return of saloons in Colorado. Currently, you can't sell booze here unless you also serve a hot meal.

I voted to make it harder for citizens to amend the state constitution with an offsetting measure that makes law changes slightly easier. Most of these things should be handled statutorily and not constitutionally.

I voted for Udall in the Senate because everything I've seen or heard about Schaeffer suggests he's a douche.

I voted for the Libertarian running against DeGette in Congress as she doesn't much appeal to me and I didn't know anything about the Republican.

I voted to retain all the judges. I figure there's a certain amount of efficiency gained from keeping the ones you've already got.

I didn't vote for the district attorney who was running unopposed. I can't recall why I don't like the guy, but something tells me I don't like the guy. I'd probably never like anyone in that position. Well, I guess I did like that guy that Fred Thompson played.

I voted against increasing my property taxes to pay for schools for other peoples' children.

I voted against increasing the gaming limits in Cripple Creek, Central City, and Blackhawk. This was an end run around TABOR to make it harder to raise taxes on the gambling industry. I don't care any more much one way or another about gambling. Given, however, that the house always wins and that it is an industry designed to bleed all possible money from its clientele, I support taxing the hell out of it.

Voting was very easy on a cold, rainy night. It took me 25 minutes and that includes the time it took me to drive down to the rec center and back. I'm glad I won't have to deal with any of the lines and chaos that are sure to accompany election day.

Your turn: go vote for change.


Thursday, October 16, 2008
 
Not a Sticker Kind of Guy

I can't say I was at all surprised to come out of the Magnetic Fields show in Boulder last night to find that someone had slapped an ObamaBiden sticker on the trunk of my car. I peeled it right off happy to know that such hijinks are the worst crimes one might have to fear at night in Boulder.

The show was at times magnificent. It was not at all what I was expecting. I figured they were touring for Distortion, the latest album. While they played four, perhaps five, songs from the album, the entire set was acoustic with no distortion or enhancement at all. It was very cool. What voices! I wasn't wild about the Lemony Snicket song or the movie soundtrack song or a couple of pieces that I hadn't heard and didn't recognize. Claudia Gonson had some sort of head cold that combined with her medicine and the altitude was making her all loopy. I think there was probably a lot more on-stage conversing and rambling than they typically would display.

The Denver Post got a rare interview with Stephin before they roled into town. The interview hints at his eccentricity. Certainly the crowd at the show last night was even more eccentric than you'd normally find at an indie rock show in Boulder. And while the interview makes it clear that they, or he at least, hates live shows and touring, I'd certainly encourage you to see them if you get the chance.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008
 
No Script for Me

When telemarketers and politicos call, it is common for me to let the speaker go through their script and to give them the one-word yes or no answers they need to progress to the next line in the flow chart. The interesting part in any of these calls is in the script that the caller uses. You don't learn anything from the caller. Biases and goals are revealed from the script. The more of the script that you hear, the more you can give ending answers that are contradictory to the goals of the caller.

I received a call last night from the local Obamaniacs. The young lady introduced herself, said she was supporting Obama, and wanted to know whether I planned to vote and if so whether I planned to vote for O. Clearly the goal of the call was to encourage voting and to engage undecideds or McCain voters in a conversation over the merits of the candidates. When I told her that yes, I planned to vote that no I wasn't voting for Super-O and no I wasn't voting for McCain either but rather for Barr, her script came to a dead end. She seemed stunned. I could hear her flip a couple of pages, but the only thing left she had to say was, "Uhh, ok, thank you for you time." I guess because Barr doesn't even seem to be trying, the major candidates aren't even acknowledging him.

I still haven't decided how I'll actually vote, but I am sure going to keep responding to polls as a Barr supporter. Looking at 538, it seems like your vote and mine will make very little difference. The O-man seems to have this thing pretty well wrapped up despite the competitiveness being promoted in the media. You can't blame the media though. There's no story in a blow-out until after it occurs. You have to go in believing and selling the story that on any given day any team can beat any other. Realistically though, it looks like McCain will get clobbered.


 
But What's the Alternative?

David Brooks talks about the coming recession (yes, it still gets worse from here) and how the Democrat-controlled executive and legislative branches will respond. Granted, it isn't pretty, and it continues to grow the role of government in private lives, but what alternative is there? McCain and Palin have put forth very little information about what their answer would be. They clearly don't like the Democrats' plan, but they don't seem to offer any precise guidance of their own. Between a well thought out plan that I don't entirely agree with and an offer to, you know, just deal with it when we get there, I'll take the plan.


 
Male Spinsterhood

I've got mixed feelings about these articles (short teaser and brief article) on male spinsterhood. I certainly fit the criteria, but I'm not sure that all of the generalizations or the presumed causes of action are spot on.

When I was younger, fitter, and living with another guy, I used to worry about being perceived as gay. Now, older, living alone, and ever so slightly more financially stable, I worry more about being taken as that weird, old guy: the very worry these articles set out to promote.

Certainly having spent several prime dating years outside of any intimate relationship hurt my odds of finding a long term mate and effected my outlook on pairing up generally. But I'm not sure I'm so worried about others' perceptions as to want to do anything about it. And to some degree, I recognize that I probably am that crazy, old guy at least a little bit. I guess a big part of the question becomes how I evolve from here.

A number of the commenters in both articles hit on some good points. The economics of relationships really scare me. For a single male who is approaching financial stability with a decent paying job and a home nearly paid for, marriage is a HUGE financial gamble. After saying I do, a wife need wait only a day, say I don't, and walk away with half. It seems very risky. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Economically, he has nothing to gain and everything to lose. Throw kids into the mix and her economic leverage and his economic risk increase even further.

Marriage is certainly intriguing. My parents are just months away from their 40th anniversary, and I can certainly recognize that they have both accomplished things as husband and wife that they never would have alone. But I can't say for certain that they're really truly happy. Perhaps they're happier together than they would be alone even if they don't meet my definition of happy - a definition that I continue to struggle to define in my own life.

Seeing good friends of my own age as well as my sisters get married has been interesting too. I can see how it can be a good fit in some situations. By and large, marriage seems fine for the first few years. Hopefully for my family and good friends, it will be as successful and pleasant in the years to follow.

I don't really have any idea what the future holds for me. A happy spinsterhood would be preferrable to a miserable marriage, but I'm not quite so cynical as to believe those are the only options remaining.


Thursday, October 09, 2008
 
Spyglass Points In

I hate what this country has become under Bush. I never believed that he wasn't listening to Americans. He was: to the Red Cross and to Doctors without Borders and to horny housewives separated from their husbands by a wrongful war.

There are cameras on every corner, at every entrance, and in every hall. Every email is captured, and many are read. They hear every word on the telephone. It's a wonder there aren't more people like Tim McVeigh out there trying to make a difference.


Monday, October 06, 2008
 
Classy Obama

The current character and personalities of those running for president are clearly important. But it's also interesting and arguably important to understand what kind of people they used to be. I haven't read any of McCain's or Obama's books, and I probably never will. The Rolling Stone piece on McCain told us a lot about the kind of guy McCain used to be. Here's a brief story that tells you a little bit about the kind of guy Obama used to be.


Friday, October 03, 2008
 
John McCain

Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone provides this outstanding review of John McCain's rise to power. This is a long article, but you need to read it. At this point, it is likely that you still don't know how big a douchebag John McCain is. John McCain, as it turns out, is a HUGE douchebag. Nothing in the tale that he tells about his life is true. He is a criminal, a hothead, an adulterer, a scumbag, and a douche. I hope this story is even bigger than the Swift Boat stuff that brought down the last douchebag. Of course, in retrospect, Kerry could only have been better than what we ended up having to endure.


 
More on the VP

I can't believe the easy treatment that Palin is getting in the press. The NYT has the harshest criticism I have seen yet, but I think even they give her too much credit. This woman is so clearly unqualified it is shocking to me that people are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. This is not The Apprentice; this is for the vice presidency of the frickin' country. I feel fairly certain that Gov. Palin wouldn't even make it long on The Apprentice (though I haven't ever actually watched the show).

The following is from the beginning and end of their editorial review of the debate.
After a series of stumbling interviews that raised serious doubts even among conservatives about her fitness to serve as vice president, Ms. Palin had to do little more than say one or two sensible things and avoid an election-defining gaffe.By that standard, but only by that standard, the governor of Alaska did well.
.
.
.
In the end, the debate did not change the essential truth of Ms. Palinís candidacy: Mr. McCain made a wildly irresponsible choice that shattered the image he created for himself as the honest, seasoned, experienced man of principle and judgment. It was either an act of incredible cynicism or appallingly bad judgment.
Update: Arianna Huffington, who watched the debate with some of the brightest and most influential women in America, gets it right too. She noticed a number of the annoyances that I did. Here are a bunch of her comments without any context - not that any is really needed here.
She is so obviously not equipped to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, it takes your breath away that McCain picked her.
...
The only thing Palin proved herself good enough for is starring in her own reality show.
...
Watching Biden and Palin on the same stage was like watching a tennis champion walk onto Centre Court at Wimbledon only to find himself facing an over-eager amateur from the local high school.
...
Palin's grasp fluctuated between wafer thin and skin deep.
...
Throughout the entire 90-minute debate, Palin came across as an over-wound windup doll, sporting a pasted-on-smile expression that never varied, except when she winked. Which she did repeatedly -- and pathetically. It was the folksiest appearance since Hee-Haw went off the air.
...
My patience with Palin is waving the white flag of surrender.
Agreed, agreed, agreed.


Thursday, October 02, 2008
 
I Won

IMG_3916

Amy entered this photo in her employer's photo contest. Top three vote getters go in next year's corporate calendar and get prizes. Each employee could submit multiple photos; everyone got three votes. 113 photos were entered. Mine won. I get, err, she gets a $200 visa gift card. Awesome.


 
VP Debate

It is not cute, and it is not folksy, and it is not acceptable for a vice presidential candidate to not understand and not be able to explain the kinds of things that Gov. Palin did not understand and could not explain. Unacceptable. It is so damn scary that McCain would actually put this country at that kind of risk. If she gets the job, it's not some miniseries where she' gonna get her lines from the producers; she'd actual have to be the chief executive officer of the whole damn country. Scary. It's enough to make me consider voting for Obama. I do wish Barr would try a little harder. Ron Paul (my first choice) seems to be all over the place talking financial reason, but I never seem to see anything from the Barr team.


Monday, September 29, 2008
 
More on Tim

I've been getting lots (relatively - lots here only means 10+ in a couple of days) of hits over the past two days from people looking for information about Tim. The following if from an email that was sent around at work.
The Celebration of Tim's life will be held on Tuesday, September 30th at 4:00pm at the Chapel at Cherry Hills Community Church, 3900 Grace Blvd, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126. A reception will follow from 5:00 to 7:00 in the church Atrium.

In honor of Tim, a memorial fund has been set up. Donations can be mailed to the address below or taken directly to any First Bank.

First Bank
Attn: "The Tim Erzinger Memorial Fund"
9205 S. Broadway
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
That's all I know.


Thursday, September 25, 2008
 
Who Makes the Monkeys Dance?

FTA: "Treasury has raised concerns, but much will depend on how the markets react to this phased-in approach to the funding."

(This was the second article I saw today that referred to Paulson's bumbling.)


 
Bush Speech

Atypically, I watched the speech from the President last night. I was unimpressed. I didn't hear anything new. While I thought the synopsis of how the problem came to be wasn't bad, I thought it was very poorly delivered. The speech had been written such that the problem was explained in very basic terms and very broadly. Still, the President seemed to have a very hard time reading the speech as it flowed across the teleprompter. Doesn't this guy have an MBA? Shouldn't dumbed-down financial topics roll off his tongue more smoothly than that? I feel quite certain that the overview of the crisis was written by someone other than GWB, but I'm not quite sure he understood what he was talking about.

The talk from the President and similarly from Paulson / Bernanke always cites in the very broadest of terms the dire consequences of inaction: harder to borrow money for cars (who gets car loans from investment banks?), harder for parents to borrow for kids college (student loans are ultimately based on the student's ability to pay), decreasing 401k balances (how do they know how I've chosen to invest my 401k funds?), increased unemployment (but not clear that this would be true anywhere other than Wall St.), and rising interest rates (which is to be expected any way after several years of historic and generational low rates). All these terrible things are implied to be inevitable, and yet there is never a chain of causation presented that shows how not removing convoluted derivative assets from the books of a handful of financial services firms will cause this vast catastrophe.

I am still not buying it. I don't think the banks deserve a bailout. I don't believe that a recession or a depression would be the worst thing in the world. I don't think the Japanese are so terribly poor-off today after their stagnant 90s; I don't think we'd be so terribly poor-off in a decade if we faced 10 years of depression. The special interests of Wall St managers, hedge fund employees, and baby boomers seem to be demanding that we ensure their current financial domination at the sure cost of future stability. I'll take ten years of recession starting last year over fifty years of 50%+ taxes and decreased government ability to support its citizenry.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008
 
Do You Get It Yet?



That's good stuff!


 
R.I.P.

If any Merrill folks still read this, I have some sad news to share. Tim Erzinger died this morning.

Tim came to work here about two years ago when he moved back to Denver. I happened to run into him on the morning of his interview and was able to encourage HR to bring him aboard -- though another former Merrill person had recommended him here and probably had a lot more to do with him getting the job than I.

Tim had just gotten married a couple of weeks ago. He also recently had knee surgery. He - according only to rumors - complained of his knee bothering him one night, took something for the pain, and never woke up the next morning. He was in a coma for a few days, and they removed life support just yesterday or the day before. The story being told this morning is that Tim suffered from sleep apnea and that the combination of pain killers and the apnea resulted in him being too sedated to breathe properly and essentially suffocating in his sleep.

I was never close with Tim, but he was sure a good guy. I worked more closely with him at Merrill than I did here, but I know that he was very well liked at both companies. I'm sorry to hear that he's dead, and wish his friends and family strength and fortitude in the days and weeks to come.


Friday, September 19, 2008
 
I Don't Like It

So, we can spend a trillion dollars to remove a dictator we didn't like in Iraq. And we can spend a trillion dollars to bail out our financial system after a handful of greedy financial innovators make bad bets. But we can't agree to even work on health care provision? For a trillion dollars, I'm thinking we could have full and free coverage for every resident in the country or at least for every citizen. I don't like the bailout. No one bails me out when I make a mistake - say slipping off a rock. One little mistake and my financial situation is ruined for years and years, but Wall Street gets richer and richer year after year and when things start to get the slightest bit shaky in comes Uncle Sam with free money for the already rich. I don't like it. Not one bit.