Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reflections: July 31 (Not Really)

Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. For some reason the words are just not coming to me smoothly today. I have been trying for several hours to compose this entry. Each time it's like I can't capture the words I'm wanting to express. This is why I have not written an entry in over a week, and this has been a very good month in writing for me. Now, it's like I have faced the most giant writer's block ever. One the size of Mt. Kilamanjaro or something to that effect.

This entry was meant to be about time. I wanted to reflect on all the avenues in my life that have changed during the course of the past 31 days. It was meant to be deep and introspective. It could have gone in a very cheesy chain mail-like direction in which I suggested everyone should live in the moment and rest assured that things could get better and the like or it could
have gone in a less superflous manner.

Instead I am left writing about how I really do not feel like writing right now. However, I am pushing myself to write something, anything. The result? This entry.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Dark Knight

I know, I know!!! It's one of the greatest Batman movies ever. I know, Heath Ledger gives an unbelievable performance as the Joker. I know it has smashed box office records and that every self-respecting comic book fan SHOULD go see this movie.

With all that said, I really have no desire to see The Dark Knight.

This has made me a pariah in some sense considering my coworkers' and friends' enthusiasim over the film. I cannot explain exactly why I do not want to see this movie, but I just cannot get into the hype. (Again this may go back to that anti-hype mechanism that has inexplicable developed over the years)

I have nothing against Batman. I loved the cheesy Adam West show that use to come on when I was a kid. The giant onomatopoeias that would fly across the scene with every punch and kick is classic. I even enjoyed (Note I say enjoy not that I thought they were incredible movies) a few of the old Batman movies. However, several years ago when Batman Begins came to theaters my first thought was:

"Did we really need another Batman movie?"

As such I vowed not to watch the movie. Despite the great reviews, the recommendations of friends, and the like I never watched that movie. Now here is the sequel, and I still have no desire to see a Batman movie. In fact I ended up staying away from the theaters in general.

Despite my pariah status at work among the fans of the winged-one. I have to admit there are some people who are like me and are not standing in line to get tickets to this movie. Friends of mine who are spent the weekend agreeing that we would rather watch any other movie. Yes, I was even willing to go see Mamma Mia instead of the caped-crusader. Thankfully, I ended up not seeing that movie either.

So do not bother asking me if I loved The Dark Knight as much as you did, or the millions of other people who saw it. Instead I spent the people with a couple of people love. (Something I feel would have been worth standing in line for)

And I have no regrets.


Friday, July 18, 2008

IndyMac: An Egregious Storm

It may seem like yesterday's news: IndyMac being taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), long lines as customers run to withdraw their money, finger pointing, stock prices falling... Now very common knowledge to just about everyone. When I first heard about this situation I really wanted to jump on my blog and go on about this issue, giving my 2 cents even if no one cared. However, I decided to wait it out. To keep my eyes open and my thoughts churning to figure out exactly what I feel about everything. Now that adequate time has passed, here I go.

All around this is a very sad incident. There have been people who have or will lose their jobs, funds that are only going to be covered at 50 cents to the dollar (all amounts over $100,000)fainting spells as people wait in line, and an overall effect on the market as consumers begin to worry about the financial institution they patron. Although, many experts are quick to point out that this incident does not compare to the run on banks during the Great Depression it has its similarities. Bank runs are the result of fear and mistrust of consumers. Speculation and even facts will cause customers to quickly withdraw their money out of banks which will result in the banks loss in liquidity and in turn results in the consequence that has befallen IndyMac.

Then there's the issue of Senator Schumer. On June 27 the senator's office released a letter to the public in which the senator called into question the well being of IndyMac. After the bank take-over many people have point a finger to the senator's comments as being the cause of a bank run that left IndyMac unable to function. In his defense, Sen. Schumer has stated that the reason people have blamed him for IndyMac's failure is because "They're doing what the Bush administration always does: Blame the fire on the person who calls 911"1

I am sorry but the senator has gotten this all wrong on many accounts. 1st of all his invoking of the "Bush administration" at a time when it is completely unnecessary. This is not a party issue, or a time where shots have to be made when and where they can. We are not watching a basketball game, but rather the second biggest bank failure in American history. Now do not misunderstand me, I will be the first to say that there are many instances in which the Bush administration made horrible decisions and deflected the blame on those who called them on their horrible decision, but this is not the case in the given situation.

His 2nd mistake is in his choice of an analogy. In sending out a letter of concern to bank regulators, Senator Schumer did act as one calling 911. However, his release of the letter to the public does not follow his analogy. His actions are more equivalent to the premature revelation of an organized federal sting. By announcing his actions to the public he contributed to the federal government's inability to prevent the closing of this bank. Once investors heard of the possibility of bank closure they rushed to withdraw their funds. The result? A loss of more than $1 Billion in liquidity for the flailing bank. Now Senator Schumer gets to gleefully exclaim I told you so, when he contributed to the bank's takeover by exacerbating their existing problems. What a shame. (Lucky for the senator, he has 2 years left to his turn. That's a reasonable amount of time for voters to forget about his role in this incident....he should hope.)

On Monday, when the bank opened, lines of people wrapped around IndyMac trying to withdraw their funds. Although, many news outlets in various forms of media assured consumers that their money was safe and business could be conducted as usual their was no way to assuage their fears. Tempers ran high as waiting times grew, lists were lost, and the heat bore down on these drained fearful consumers. However, by Thursday most people found the answers they were looking for mostly via cashiers checks issued by the FDIC covering their account balance and the closure of said account.

Then another issue arose. With cashier checks in hand, many former IndyMac customers attempted to open accounts with other banks. These banks informed these potential new customers that their funds would be placed on hold for at least 8 business days. Already exasperated with banks in general this is not increasing the trust of consumers and in turn is contributing to the decline in bank stock. The irony comes in that according to the FDIC, should the customers continued with their accounts at IndyMac they would have full access to their funds as if the collapse never occurred. Instead, those who left the bank have become the ones with no access to their money.

As I have indicated before this is a very sad occurrence. No one triumphs in a situation like this. Jobs and money have been and will be lost by many, tax payers will have to pay the losses of the bank (estimated somewhere between $4-$8 billion dollars will have to be covered by tax payers2), consumers are leery of all financial institutions and an already unstable economy is taking another devastating blow. All we can do as a people is stay alert, and attempt to ride out this storm.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Great Grimace Mystery Revealed!!

Ever since I was a kid I would see this big purple thing in the McDonald's commercial. He reminded me of a purple Popsicle or something and had a funny name. Grimace would become a very common topic in discussion of pop culture. It became apparent that no one really knew what Grimace was suppose to be. Sure there have been many parodies, comedic guesses, assumptions and random back stories created to explain the history of the purple marketing agent. However, nothing really seemed logical (or as logical as a story on a fantastical commercial character could be.)

Last night while coming home with a bunch a friends the topic of Grimace came up once again. Heads were scratched and hypotheses discussed regarding the origins of Grimace. Finally, I decided to do something that for some reason I never thought of doing before. With today's technology it's very simple to look things up on the trusty Web, and you know the information discovered would be authentic because EVERYTHING posted on the web is true (*smiles*)

According to Wikipedia Grimace is:
"large, anthropomorphic taste bud with short arms and legs; he is known for his slow-witted demeanor. His most common expression is the word "duh."1


This was the reaction I got when I read this description to my car riding companions, except there were question marks in addition to the exclamation points. Granted, in retrospect Grimace does look like a purple tongue but even that goes beyond peculiar 80's advertising and into just plain bizarre and borderline creepy. Ok, it's creepy. Someone actually had to sit through an advertising meeting and say "Hey, you know what we should have? A giant purple taste bud." Then there had to be someone or a group of someones who said "Yeah! That's a great idea."

According to Wikipedia, it use to be even worse:

"Originally, Grimace was the "Evil Grimace", with two pairs of arms with which to steal milkshakes. After that first campaign, the character was revised to be one of the "good guys", and his number of arms was reduced by two. Commercials and merchandise generally portrayed him as a well-meaning simpleton, whose clumsy antics provided a comic foil to Ronald McDonald."1

So, yeah Grimace was suppose to be evil...and he's a giant taste bud. This is a perfect example of how marketing has change. Nowadays we have a talking gecko and sophisticated cavemen hawking car insurance, a giant king promoting hamburgers, and various screaming vendors trying to push everything from citrus based cleaning products to headache salves. I am not saying that today's characters are better. I'm just saying they're very different.
Then again, maybe that marketing team was on to something. After all, I have dedicated a whole blog entry to the history and evolution of their fictional burger character more than 20 years later. I really don't know if the same will be said about the Geico cavemen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Frustrations Run High

Today I had one of those days where I literally felt like banging my head against the desk. In fact there was actually a point where I got off the phone and just started banging my head against the desk. The incompetence of some people simply staggers me at times. I mean people who have spent years in a particular position and yet, act as if its there first day.

Granted I have to admit, there are times where its not so much incompetence, or ignorance, as it is laziness. There are those who prefer to push things off on other people and then give good lip service to make it seem like they are actually working. These people usually get by on this type of responsibility pushing. However, I am so sick of doing work for other people that goes way beyond the parameters of job description. If I'm doing work for you, then you better be signing a check for me. Otherwise, we have a problem.

I am being very vague in this post, and for obvious reasons. My blog is public and may be prone to various eyes. Another reason is because names and descriptions are unnecessary. It does not matter who is treating me this way. What matters is that days like this have become a very common occurrence. I have talked to my supervisor and his thing is to just deal with it. That's how she is. Great advice, huh?

Is it no wonder that I dreamed last night that I was offered another position. What's sad is that in my dream, my co-worker Megan and I were both offered positions within our current place of employment. I really didn't like the type of work, but due to my desperation I agreed to take a trial run of the position.

I know that things can be much worse. There are so many people right now who are without work and have no means to support themselves and their families. I know that I'm very blessed in that I have a steady income and not working 2 bone crushing jobs like I use to do not so long ago. However, whenever I try to maintain a sunny disposition I end up having people trying to undermine my positive attitude.

I guess I will just have to try harder.


It's Coming!!!!

My views on IndyMac and the predicted bank crisis.

Stay Tuned.

~~Posted From My Blackjack

Monday, July 14, 2008

J'ai Une Déclaration À Te Faire

Ever since I was a child I wanted to speak French. While in the 4th grade I had a teacher who taught French at a university. So throughout that wonderful year I learned phrases that I still remember to this day ( commet allez-vous? and the like)

However, that was all so many years ago, and though I use to be fluent in Italian, I never progressed beyond the days of the week in French. I think its time I did something about that dream of mine. I can't change oil prices, assuage consumer fears regarding our national banking system, or make my job more enjoyable.

How I will do that, I have yet to decide. I'll update as I make further plans.

À bientôt à tout à l'heure.

~~ Posted From My Blackjack

The End of the Weekend

It's almost 12am. Despite the fact that I have to be up early in the morning to get gas before work, I really do not feel like sleeping yet. I guess it may be the fact that by turning in I am conceding to the end of the weekend, and why would I want to do that.

I have heard of people who really love their jobs. People who look forward to the weekdays, those who have careers as opposed to jobs.

Unfortunately, I have yet to reach that point in my life. As such I will continue to stretch the weekend and milk Sunday night for all I can.

~~Posted From My Blackjack

Sunday, July 13, 2008

See [Phoebe] Jane Read... Finally

After so many days (or maybe its been months) of trying to figure out which book I should review first, I finally settled on one. As such I have my first book review posted on my reading blog. I decided to simply go with the book that inspired me to begin said blog. Check out the review here:

More reviews are on their way. Here's a fair warning. My reading tastes are very eclectic and as such there will be a very diverse and seemingly random selection of book that I will review. Ideally I will be doing a book a day. However, I will be aiming to do no less than one book a week.

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. It always seems to fly bye too quickly.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Your iPhone is Crowding My Network

It started Thursday evening, but I blamed it on the encircling helicopter scrambling the signal. Then on Friday at work it was very obvious. I could not get on the internet from my phone.

Now my phone is still pretty new. Not even a month ago I upgraded to the Blackjack II. I was actually very diehard about getting the iPhone, but after some investigating (and my penchant for going against trends) I decided against it. I mean the Blackjack had 3G and I loved it and upgrade to a newer and faster model at a much lower cost was more than enough.

So I upgraded less than a month ago and now this. iPhones went on sale Friday and since then I have found that the 3G network is NOT holding up to the onslaught of new users. Places and times when I usually have great signal have become 3G "dead zones." All these people with their new phones are bugging me!! How can I catch up with MSNBC & CNN news if I can't even connect to the internet??

AT&T must have seen this coming. I am sure that a corporation that big must have people who forsee these types of scenarios and create action plans to remedy the situation should this occur. However, I am sure that such a plan (most likely consisting of network upgrades and the like ) is very costly and so AT&T is waiting for as long as possible to implement such plan.

I'm going to need them to hurry up. Maybe there will be some negative press regarding the network drag times that will encourage them to step it up.

Although I highly doubt that will hapen.

~~Posted From My Blackjack

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mobile Blogging Take 50

I am trying mobile blogging once again. Honestly, I'm not holding out much hope for this. It was very disappointing to find that all my previous mobile posts were missing.

What I don't understand is why it is that blogger doesn't allow one to post from the mobile web. However, Google has all types of other mobile web services, including a downloadable version of Google Maps for cell phones.

Well, I will not write more fear of losing all my thoughts in the mobile abyss.

I guess I will go handwrite my thoughts. Now that's the old fashioned way.

~~Posted From My Blackjack

Layouts & Widgets Galore

Summertime calls for some sprucing up and for me that includes all things blog. I rearranged page elements and switched out backgrounds. Then I discovered that when the html for the template is altered then you lose all your widgets...and I just spent all that time with the page elements! Grrrrr.

I really need to get a new computer so that I can stay on top of my blogs more. I have a decent enough computer but it runs on a Celeron operating processor (yes, I know. boo celeron)Every now and then I do jump on my sister's computer, but there is something to be said about having your own computer.

The work pile is not disappearing with the power of my withering glances. So, I have to either get them done or brush up on my inner Jean Grey.


Thursday, July 10, 2008


So here I was thinking that all these posts I have been sending through the whole mobile blogging were getting posted and enjoyed by those who enjoy my random ramblings. However, I get onto my page "the old fashioned way" and find that NONE of those posts are here!!!! No!!!!!!!!!!

They are officially floating the abyss that is random postings or text messages or something.

Wherever they are, they are not on my page and that makes me sad. Oh well, I will get over it.

Yesterday, I had a nice day off thanks to my dental appointment. The appointment itself took less than an hour and was in the late morning. So I had a good chunk of time left to just simply relax, and (who am I kidding) be a bum. Oh, mid-day tv programming. I remember those days of getting ready for class while I watched whichever court room drama was on at the time. I cannot believe that Jerry Springer still has a show. I can believe that Maury is still doing paternity tests. As long as there are people who are willing to sleep around and there are guys who are willing to go on national tv and deny their children, then there will always be talk shows with paternity tests...sadly.

It is sad that I was so excited to get gas for $4.39/gal. Atleast gas prices have been slowly dropping. Last Friday the price of oil dropped more than a dollar a barrel. I mean it is still high, well over $100 a barrel, but as long as it is slowly dropping, gas prices will continue to decrease. Great for us gas consumers, sad for certain countries (ahem, Iran) whose economy continues to survive only as long as gas prices remain high. This is not the for every middle-eastern country, however, there are a few who have been able to inject a boost into their inflation riddled country through the increase price of oil.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying America has it right as rain by any description. When I have to decide between a gallon of gas or a gallon of apple juice....thats sad.

Since I got so serious with politics and economics (yes, I was a business student ;) and a GOOD one at that!) I will end this entry with a picture that reminds me of innocent days...days when the price of gas did not matter, and I did not care about apple juice as long as it was in the fridge. A time when the most serious question was not how far will they go but rather another question. The question that rocked our generation. Where's Waldo? Enjoy!!