Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Prank

This Thanksgiving, I'm either going to be at my sister's home or with the parents of my girlfriend. Either way I thought of a prank that I want to play.

Wal-Mart's sells Cornish hens that are about the size of your hand for two dollars. One plan is to sneak one of those hens into the oven along with the turkey. When it's time to deliver the feast onto the table, I want to be that helpful soul who takes the heavy turkey from the oven to the table. Except, instead of the large, well cooked turkey, I walk into the dining room carrying the Cornish hen and say, "I think you cooked the turkey too long. It shrunk!"

Option two. Again, as ever the helpful boy, I offer to stuff the turkey. Once our turkey is cooked and on the table, I begin to take out the stuffing as I usually do. And then, as the family sits in eager anticipation of the feast, I pull out the small cooked, Cornish hen from inside the turkey. With a look of disgust and dismay, I say, "Oh my goodness! You cook the baby too!"

If I don't survive this holiday season, I'm sure you'll realize that something *fowl* probably happen to me. As long as it involves gravy and lots of whipped cream, I won't mind too much ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trickle Down Scrooge Effect

It's going to be a tight Christmas this year. And I don't just mean that Santa won't be able to fit down the chimney. This year my list of who's naughty and who's nice might as well be on the same sheet of paper. Since my bosses aren't giving up anything, I won't be able to give anything. Maybe if I start donating plasma for the next six weeks, I might be able to hand out cheap, funny t shirts. Otherwise, I am part of that great economic principle known as the trickle down Scrooge effect where one man's cheapness is another man's poverty. It kind of makes you want to define the holiday spirit as any liquid that is 75 proof or more. Happy Christmas, Marry New Year ::: hiccup ::: !

Flake Fury, Snow Flurry


Well, it's that time of the year. Trees are bare, wind is brisk, and pipes inconveniently freeze just before that morning shower. Not only that but yesterday I saw my first flake. That's right! One of our previous owners stopped by the plant. I should have kinder words but what else can you say about a guy who successfully cheated his employees out of millions of dollars.

Oh, shortly after he left, we also had our first snow flurry of the year...

Friday, November 21, 2008

How To Put Your Job In Jeopardy

One of our new engineers, a rather arrogant guy fresh out of college, got invited to play at a charity golf tournament in Florida along with his boss, his boss's boss and some very important clients. He was definitely excited about this chance to kiss up with the big boys and score those all important brownie points. But before he got a chance to play, he turned a sweet opportunity into sour grapes.

Instead of waiting to put his golf clubs on the plane with his other luggage, he shipped his golf set to his sister in Florida so that she would bring it to him when he arrived. You're probably thinking it was a smart move. I would certainly trust a shipping company with my clubs more than I would the airlines. But the stupid thing was that he sent them at the company's expense -- $300 round trip. Compare this to the extra baggage fee of $60 that the company paid for two golf bags of his boss and his boss's boss.

Between the time our young engineer mailed his golf equipment and the day of the charity event, the company sent him to Michigan on business. While he was up there, his boss gave him a call and told him not to bother flying on to Florida. This new employee said he was told that they suddenly decided to cut back on travel expenses and that they didn't need him to play. We're all pretty sure that the new VPs heard what happened and let their displeasure be known.

What surprised me in this entire incident was the reaction of this newly hired, college educated worker once he returned here at work. He angrily told us that he was tired of being told what to do and was looking for another job. What?! Has this guy never had a job before? Even so, he knows very well about the penny-pinching mode that our VPs have us under right now. How he thought he could spend $300 instead of 30 is beyond me. Oh well. Either way, I guess our new recruit is teed off now...

UPDATE: Surprisingly (or not), he was fired two weeks later as part of the new downsizing. I think the nail-in-the-coffin moment was the week previous when he become extremely belligerent with the VP of operation during a meeting. Good luck, Eric. You might want to take a Dale Carnegie course or two ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Loss For The Heaven's Gain

You would think with all the daily aggravations and worries, I would have no concern about how much the earth lovingly pulls me to her bountiful bosom. But lately her love -- a love that I easily measure in pounds -- is reaching record highs. Yes, I like the old girl. Yet, I think I like the noncommittal weightlessness of the heavens even more.

So a few weeks ago, I began to lessen my absorption of mother Earth's bounty. Sadly, I learned that simply eating less is not easy. As my bathroom scales showed the lessening of her weighty love, my hunger grew until mother Earth invaded my dreams with sweet fantasies of rich chocolate that begs to be tasted and those feathery soft marshmallows that teasingly satisfy your tongue for a quick second before tormenting your cravings for even more.

I awoke a couple of mornings ago after one of those gluttonous nightmares and discovered my hunger gone ... as well as my two feathery down pillows. Since then, I feel great (aside from burping up feathers or being a little down in the mouth)! Gravity's attraction toward me is slipping away more each day! Those agonizing dreams of food have ceased. I think I may have discovered the best diet pills in the world, or at least, the best diet pillows ever made.

For now I don't know when I will replace my fluffy headrests. After all, because of inflation even the price of down is up. And, as the Earth's love melts away ounce by ounce, I may find myself floating up amongst the weightless stars soon enough ... maybe snacking on a Mar's bar or a Milky Way ... mmmmmmmmmmmm

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Days! Gas At 6.5 cents a mile!

It was only a few months ago, that I was paying 15 cents a mile for gas. Yeah, I know how everyone talks in terms of dollars per gallon. But since I know how far I have to drive, my budget works in cents per mile. Last Wednesday, the station close to home broke through the $2 a gallon mark. Today, it was selling regular petrol at $1.869 per gallon. For me, that is a sweet 6.5 cents per mile. ::: big smiley sigh :::

It has been years since I've been this rich ... figuratively speaking. Now, it looks like January's outgo will be only slightly negative instead the bank busting negative cash flow projected for my December (and that was with no Christmas spending.) At 6.5 cents a mile, real food (instead of that Ramen noodle food substitute) is back into the budget. I'm lovin' it ... I can eat and get gas!!! Oh yes, Happy Days! Happy Days!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is Satellite Radio Now Losing Orbit?

Until recently, XM radio stock was trading at over $8 a share while Sirius stock was under $2. XM also had millions more subscribers than Sirius by offering more commercial-free and unique radio channels than their competitor. Then came the merger. Last Wednesday (Nov 12th), both XM and Sirius subscribers got to listen to the new broadcast lineup. What did you think? I know I was sadly disappointed when several of my favorite stations were no longer available. Judging by blog posts across the Internet world, I'm not the only one who has discovered a loss of quality programming.

Usually in a business merger, the new resulting company strips away ineffective practices of its former entities and focuses on better ways to bring in their customers' money. I think that all listeners of the satellite radio realm knew that there would be a change in programming. What caught us by surprise is that the new XM-Sirius company canceled channels that had gained both business loyal customers in the past. In order to get quick cash from advertisers, XM-Sirius simply added more commercial filled, AM/FM type radio stations. Get for the short term but isn't that the customers who give longevity to a business?

So, are you surprised that "Canceling my subscription" filled most of the comments to blog posts about the new satellite radio company? Is it a coincidence that Sirius stock was around a quarter on Friday? It seems that instead of the merger being the best diet pill a company could take, XM-Sirius has ingested the best poison pill -- ignore what your customers want.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Comes Out Of Vegas ... Isn't What He Expected

And so our victorious sales team returned from the SEMA show in Las Vegas. While the owners were anxiously awaiting news of record-breaking sales leads (which they didn't get), one of our new young employees was waiting like a kid on Christmas morning for surprise that the sales team had promised they would bring him. "They said they had a stripper map for me!" he excitedly told me. I guess he had more than enough of testosterone flowing through his body to mess up his hearing. What they gave him was a las vegas strip map, complete with landmarks circled and handwritten notes written such as "Saw a gorgeous woman ... here", "Too bad you weren't ... here", "I wish you could have seen her ... here." The map also had places like Sherwin-Williams circled with a note of "great paint stripper ... here"; Home Depot with "the greatest wallpaper stripper ... here", the Hospital with "the most incredible candy striper" and a Steakhouse, "the tastiest strips ... ribeye, of course."

Was our boy happy with this? Let's just say, I haven't seen him come out from his cubicle yet.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Was The Credit Crisis Caused By A Bucket?

Have you wondered what this global credit crisis is all about? No? Oh, you have better things to think about. I don't so here's what I've found.

Imagine that you take out a $10,000 life insurance on me for, say, $10 a month. (No, I don't know what the actual insurance quotes would be. I'm just picking an easy number for this example.) Now let's say that 99 of your friends also take out that same policy on me. So here we have a hundred people betting that I'm going to die. (Let me tell you, you're one sick bunch.) As long as I'm alive, insurance company is collecting a thousand bucks of easy money a month. (I get nothing except 100 invitations to poisoned dinners.) All is well until that fateful day when I kick the bucket ... which breaks my big toe, which causes an infection, which kills me. Happy now?

I'd like to think that the insurance company would be very sad about my death. But the fact is that they now have to pay out $1 million. Truly a sad moment. And, unless that company was able to collect on me for more than 1000 months, their sadness will amount to a major depression (which is worth a bucket of tears in today's economy though not the same bucket that caused my demise.)

So what can our poor insurance company do while I'm an absolute perfect picture of human perfection and longevity? ::: cough cough ::: They talk to another company and say, "We will pay you $500 a month. If our client dies, you will pay us $1 million." The second company looks me over and enthusiastically agrees that I am an absolute perfect picture of human perfection and longevity. (Did I mention of modesty too?) Since they believe they can make money in this deal, our second company agrees to the terms.

This is basically what happened in the investment community. In the beginning, it was like one person buying a life insurance on another. But because covering investment risk isn't called "insurance", this arrangement wasn't subject to any regulatory oversight. With economic times being good, this risk protection -- known as credit default swap (CDS) -- was quite profitable. This led to investment companies to start using CDS more as an investment tool and less as financial protection. One business would buy "insurance" from another company, who buy the same from a third company, who do the same with the fourth and so on. Soon, we had the same scenario as the one where 99 of your friends took out insurance on me. And then ... that bucket got in my way.

So that's what happened. I unexpectedly died and started the entire credit crisis. Like a row of falling dominoes, one company failed to pay out on its "insurance" policy, which caused the next company to not be able to pay out, and so on. Sorry about that. Oh well. The nice thing about being dead is that I don't have to worry about any expenses now ... or buckets.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Globe is Warming! The Globe is Warming! Oh, never mind...

Let's see if I got this right about the events of last month:
- The Swiss lowlands were blanked with the most snow for any October since records began.
- Zurich broke its record of 14 centimeters set in 1939 by receiving 20 centimeters.
- Steamy Ocala, Florida shivered with its second-lowest October temperature since 1850.
- I guess I shouldn't mention that the International Arctic Research Center reported that there was 29% more Arctic sea ice this year than last.
- The picture on the left is of New Zealand's Mt Ruapehu with its largest snow base ever (courtesy of

I'm sure someone, somewhere is blaming humankind for this worldwide cooling that has been going on since 1998. But I don't want to alarm the alarmists. So whatever you do, don't look at the declining solar activity and other natural factors. That tends to make the 'humans as evil viruses on the planet' argument rather silly.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Is the Election Over Yet? Are We There Yet?

I will be very surprised if Mr. J.M. wins over Mr. B.O. on Tuesday. For these past couple of months, every time I watch the news or listen to NPR, their unbiased reporting on the latest B.O. campaign rallies have been dangerously close to being nothing more than free commercials. Then, when the news stories do a J.M. sound bite, you get "Hi, I'm running for president" followed by "And next in the news, is J.M. causing cancer?"

Maybe some good will come from a President B.O. You know those people that complain how they've been kept down by the Man because of their skin color? And how their life is so terrible because they have a genetic tan and their ancestors were sold into slavery a few centuries ago --- which is kind of funny because they never talk about the part of where their African countrymen sold their relatives to Muslim slave traders who then sold these human wares to other Africans and Europeans. But this will all change after Tuesday. When these self-made victims whine and play the race card, you only have to show them a picture of their beloved president and ask, "So what's your excuse again?"