aftermath

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Archive for August 2008

Here Comes the Storm

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At dusk in Houston, we’re starting to see cloud cover from Gustav. I still haven’t gotten around to filling the Blue Bug‘s tank, but I don’t expect to regret my procrastination. Yes, we’ll be “wise” enough to keep an eye on the storm reports through the evening as it takes aim at New Orleans, but blame that more on the void in any other good TV than on any local weather threat. Even if the remnants veer westward, as some projections send it, we’ll be on the clean side of things and at most see a little leftover wind, hardly enough to make me worry about taking in the lawn furniture. Watch me yawn.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - mother nature

Written by macheide

31 August 2008 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Mother Nature

Thank the Gods for Gustav

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What luck! Usually you just can’t script these things so perfectly, can you?

     GEORGE:   Whew!!  Now I have a good excuse
not to show up at the convention!

JOHN: Whew!! Now he has a good excuse
not to show up at the convention!

(Equally scripted: The GOP craves political redemption from Gustav without having the truth be acknowledged that that’s what they want. Heck of a job, Georgie.)

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - jourbeau

Written by macheide

31 August 2008 at 2:06 pm

Posted in jourbeau

UH Cheer Nat

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Nat and her UH Cheer associates encourage the UH football team to a 55-3 win over Southern in the first game of the 2008 season.

(Side Note: No need to take the stadium chairs next time. But the mist fan came in handy. And if we want any snacks, it might be good to get them before the game starts.)

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - cheerled

Written by macheide

30 August 2008 at 8:48 pm

Posted in cheerled

Watching Steam Clean

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Blue watches me push the steam cleaner over the foyer rug. He should run warn his furry friends that this is not one of my steamclean relaxation moments. That I will lie in wait to find out who has been making this their private toilet. And intend to exact justice. A certain little chihuahua and his person should take heed.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - choreograph

Written by macheide

30 August 2008 at 3:36 pm

Posted in choreograph

Into Labor Day Weekend

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Today I will not worry about our hurricane plans. I will take the Blue Bug out to top off its tank, but that will be because gas prices are lower than I’ve seen in months, not because of any threat from Gustav.

Today I will help backwash the pool. And pretending that our backyard has been liberated of evil terrorist spiders, I will swim for the first time in over a week.

Today I will steam clean the foyer rug. Again. And look into getting some Depend outfits for a few of our furry friends.

Today I will attend a “real” college football game for the first time in my life. None of the three colleges I attended had football teams. And sorry UMHB, but the fledgling football team they had still so soon after going co-ed was about as close to serious college football as Palin is to being a serious VP candidate.

Today I will make some more of my best french toast ever for breakfast. Without the garlic.

And today I will try to catch up on the sleep I’ve been missing this entire month. All of it. All today. Which might mean I might not get all the rest of this done today. But there’s always to morrow.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - tomorrow

Written by macheide

30 August 2008 at 2:00 am

Posted in to morrow

Not Your Daddy’s Pension Cost

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* * * aftermath exclusive * * *

Here’s another graph you won’t see anywhere else. There’s no lack of chatter about what this chart points at; but as far as I know, nobody else has run the figures.

For fiscal years 2003 through 2007, we’re showing the net periodic pension cost (red triangles) for S&P 500 companies that sponsor defined benefit pension plans, as determined under GAAP as prescribed by SFAS 87. In constrast, we then show what the “immediate” pension cost (orange circles) would have been for those same companies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by macheide

29 August 2008 at 8:20 pm

Posted in άctuary

Only a Game

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Oh come on, John. Look your would-be constituents straight in the eye, just once, and tell them what they already know anyway. No? Oh, that’s right: everyone also knows your idea of the truth is no better than that of the failed Administration you have ever-distant dreams (our increasingly scary nightmares) of carrying on for another sad four years.

One can only hope the American voter is not as stupid as your cynical move demeans us as being. And for every weak vote this political joke swings your way, that there will be at least ten who see it for the sad display of absence of leadership and sound decision-making that it is. And that any “bump” this gives you in the polls is nothing more than the illusion that comes from hitting the car ceiling when you’ve been blind enough to steer through a huge pothole.

(And no, it is not “mean-spirited” to expect that a presidential candidate’s first major decision show some intelligence and wisdom beyond very shallow politics thinly veiled behind a pitiful lie.)

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - jourbeau

Written by macheide

29 August 2008 at 2:47 pm

Posted in jourbeau

loose partial

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i see my partial lying on th pavement near th diving boards. i almost step on it, it’s not where one expects to chance upon one’s teeth. next time through there they are again. i had not realized they had fallen out again. must be getting too loose

a brown spider scrambles around on my styrofoam coffee cup. doug j thinks at first i’m being silly to avoid drinking my coffee, since he had not seen it scurry and believes i’m just being paranoid about it hiding inside th coffee cup lid. then he and another companion see it hiding and realize it to be a poisonous species whose bite would have been bad. when they carefully lift th cup to take all its hiding places away, it jumps at me. check for me please, is it lurking behind me? is it on my shoulder?

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - oneirra

Written by macheide

29 August 2008 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

2008 PBO FS Down, As Expected

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As has been widely expected, the funded status of defined benefit pension plans has declined during 2008. This graph shows the market value of assets (blue circles) and the projected benefit obligations (red squares) for the subset of S&P 500 pension plan sponsors with fiscal years ending June 30 that have released their 2008 financial statements by today, showing aggregate amounts as of the close of fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

As noted in a previous aftermath post, the PBO funded ratio for companies with 6/30 FYE has been lower than that for the entire universe of all S&P pension plan sponsors. But as had been the case for the entire S&P 500 universe, the funded status had steadily improved during recent years through the close of 2007. The 2008 economy has reversed that trend. For this particular subset, asset values were almost flat during the past year, while liabilities as measured by the PBO increased. The result for this subset was a decline in the PBO funded ratio of about two percentage points, from 91.9% for 2007 to 90.0% for 2008.

Unless markets reverse the experience of the first half of calendar year 2008, expect to see a drop of 2-5 percentage points in the PBO funded status to be representative of the entire S&P 500 universe for 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by macheide

27 August 2008 at 8:20 pm

Posted in άctuary

P is for Portability

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A current employee . . . [is] eligible for special enrollment . . . if— (A) The employee . . . [is] otherwise eligible to enroll . . . [and] (B) When coverage under the plan was previously offered, the employee had coverage under any group health plan or health insurance coverage . . . .”

45 C.F.R. § 146.117(a)(2)

Common sense conditions apply, but the gist of that is that if you declined health insurance coverage with your current employer because you were already covered under some other health insurance, and then you subsequently lose that other coverage, your employer’s health insurance plan is required to provide you a special enrollment period.

Some rude health insurance company employee wants Kelly to believe that it’s “against state law” for them to allow him to come into his company’s plan now, upon losing coverage under his dad’s company’s health plan. Against state law? Since when did state law trump HIPAA? Not!

Kelly’s situation is one of the simplest illustrations of what the P in HIPAA stands for. A health insurer’s employee should not be acting as a representative for the insurer without knowing that very basic rule.

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - paterfamilias

Written by macheide

27 August 2008 at 6:05 pm

Posted in paterfamilias

Cougar Pride

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Here, Nat has her first pep rally on the UH cheer squad, classes for the fall semester having started this week and the first football game coming up this Saturday.

For future reference, should we decide to mingle with the college crowd at any future UH pep rally: the best views are on the second or third level, standing by the railing (a spot for which one need not arrive as early as we did for our ground-level seats).

Also, no matter what month of the year it is, bring that water bottle with the fan. Whoever had dreams of hosting summer Olympic games in this town must have been sitting out too long in the Houston heat without a hat.

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - cheerled

Written by macheide

27 August 2008 at 5:47 pm

Posted in cheerled

Spitting Image

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“spitting in wine glass”

Huh? Well, so last night I reinstated a practice I’ve not done for years: keeping a pen and some blank paper close at hand on my nightstand, then jotting down notes as I drowse half-awake during the night, sometimes an idea for an image of a poem, sometimes something I might want to sketch, sometimes an idea for my work, but usually just a scrap of a dream. Typically limiting the note to the bare essential of what I figure will trigger my memory the following morning.

So, this morning’s scribble was supposed to be enough to flip the switch on for a dream I had during my first two hours of sleep. At the time I wrote it, I remember holding out hopes that I would also remember the preceding dream sequence, which at the time was still fresh enough to feel like an obvious prelude to the spitting scene. And then a whole series of followthrough sequences, all of which felt too obvious to me at the time, so even during drowsing moments I felt no necessity to write down anything further.

Alas and alak! Now, all I have is a tangled bedhead that distantly senses that the spitting was a sacred ritual, accepted and expected by the recipient of the wine, not at all meant as an insult. But none of the rest of last night’s dreaming survived. All ran off, laughing at that scribbled note left on my nightstand.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - bedhead

Written by macheide

27 August 2008 at 7:41 am

Posted in bedhead

DOB

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What was your most recent memorable birthday?

meme from susan

A

My 0th. The one before my first. I’ve forgotten all the ones I’ve had since.

At least I chose the best hour of the best day of the best month. Can’t promise my birthday will ever get much more memorable than that.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - not me

Written by macheide

27 August 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in not meme

Fool Me Once

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“Free”? Verizon must have practicing their impression of the Administration on how to twist the English language (as in, we’ll set you “free” by putting our next several generations deep in debt). According to a very rude customer rep after an hour’s wait at their Baybrook store, we’d be paying upwards of $300 for their “free” Blackberry device, even before getting around to the extra monthly charge we figured would go with the upgraded service.

The Baybrook rep thinks good customer service means dismissively shrugging that this interpretation of “free” is the same one can anticipate from any other wireless service provider. Like, “Take it or leave it, sucker,” with attitude. There, at least, they have a point. An AT&T executive arrogantly claims, “Good service is not what you pay for,” as if I would then continue to pay just for the privilege of the bad service he acknowledged of AT&T. (In that case, I would rather pay to leave – and take many others with me – than continue to pay to get the nothing he promised if I were to stay.)

But a tip of the cell phone to Verizon’s Jason, reached quickly through a call to Verizon. Instead of the Baybrook store’s kiss-off, Jason took the time to work through a complex web of tangled arrangements to come to a resolution. Still not free, so Verizon’s text message staff need a lesson or two in the seriousness of false advertizing. But whereas we were rather close to redeeming the waste of our time at the Baybrook store by seeking a new wireless provider, credit Jason with making us feel like renewing our contracts for the foreseeable future.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - umop3pisdn

Written by macheide

26 August 2008 at 6:20 pm

Posted in umop3pisdn

UnDisNonAntiHandy

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It happens every single time. If there is a handyman task to be done around the house, I can always find the wrong way to do it. Doesn’t matter even when I read the instructions, which I admit to doing on this simple task – didn’t help me avoid my usual bloopers.

This task: mount three towel hooks on each of three upstairs bathroom doors. First minor blooper: attempting to drill holes in a wooden door with a plaster drill bit. Second blooper: attaching the mount to the door horizontally, when it was supposed to be mounted vertically. The instructions neglected to mention that, no doubt assuming that my type would never be permitted to threaten the house with my special talents.

Worst mistake: failing to cool the bathrooms down before starting what ought to have been a 15-minute task, but which I managed eventually to complete in what was it, an hour and a half?

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - homeowner

Written by macheide

24 August 2008 at 3:57 pm

Posted in homeowner

broken bike

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at tlr preparing for a long day’s bicycle trip, a century maybe. taping up th handlebars in black. it’s dark and quiet when i set out north

down th hill past wartman, letting th rush carry me up to th crest at greenshire. only there, when i pause to turn my bike for a final glance back up to th house, do i realize that my left hand is gripping th handlebar stem, not a handlebar – my bicycle is missing its left handlebar

i walk th bike back toward th house, watching th road at every step, looking for where th handlebar might have fallen off. turns out it is back up in th garage, hadn’t noticed it had fallen off before i left

th family is up by now, gathering at th table for breakfast. i come into th room to explain what had happened, saying “i ride bike like shit…” everyone finds this hilarious. i take offense at their laughter and tell them they can figure out what happened for themselves

[and yes, th subsequent round of dreaming did feature huge cobwebs that i walked into but were too strong to walk through, infestations of huge spiders, some sort of despicable worm, and endless attempts to clean th place of th mess all these evil pests left behind]

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - oneirra

Written by macheide

24 August 2008 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

Arachnophobe

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Little Did You Know: Spiders stalk me.

The last time I was in our pool earlier this week, I swear I could feel myself being stared down. And threatened. Very dangerously so.

I do not have a snapshot of the one they have found lurking very near to where I was sitting then. I don’t want to see the picture of it if someone else goes to snap a pic. And when Nat takes special time and effort to research the damned beast on the Internet, and when Susan ominously says I don’t want to know the details of what they have found, I can only imagine how bad that is. Nor does it help to hear that the other day when Susan was over next door borrowing flour for some baking Nat was doing, our neighbor took the opportunity to ask if we were having any problems with spiders.

I hereby amend the answer I gave for this past week’s not-meme post, as to where I would like to retire. Make it: someplace that does not have any spiders!!

And for now, just aim a flame-thrower at our backyard foliage.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - dossier
aftermath cross-references:

Written by macheide

23 August 2008 at 10:03 pm

Posted in dossier