aftermath

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Archive for January 2009

Sit and Stare

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After a cup of black bean soup and half a tuna salad sandwich at Panera’s with Susan and Nat, I passed through Borders. More customers than the vacuum I normally find there, but still just a single register handling the checkout trickle, versus the four kept busy at B&N, which is where I am now headed.
 
But B&N has no books on Black Monday, not any I can find. And I don’t feel like asking at the service counter; I’ll just order online when I’m to that point, or visit the library.
 
And there are no computer books that snag me this time. And they’re rearranging their CD/DVD section, so I spend no more than 2 minutes there; and I breeze past the magazine wall even quicker. But right after I zero in on A Poet’s Guide to Poetry, a seat is vacated, so I settle in for the rest of the hour. I read just enough to decide I’ll add this book to my nightstand, then just sit and stare at the stacks of books.
Back at the house, instead of delving into my new book I turn to my Turco, with some distant vague fog of maybe reaching for what would be only my second stab ever at a sestina, or at least a takeoff on that bitch of a form. It tires me to consider it even semi-seriously, since only this morning I jettisoned a light villanelle before I felt finished with it; and I’ve almost never started off another poem in the very next breath, not since Hollis’ project back in college.
 
I really should make the attempt to touch base with Hollis again. That might not be as hard on my head as struggling with the sestina, which is already striking out in a different direction than my muse had been drifting.
 
But not just yet. Right now I need to empty that pool vacuum bag. Then backwash the pool. Then sit and stare at the clouds.
Lindsey and her boyfriend will join us for dinner tonight, together with Nat and Brandon. But I’d get in the way in the kitchen, so I turn the heating pad on for those sore back muscles and work on what’s left of my frap.
 
I can’t get started on that sestina yet, at least not on Jeanette. Blasted Windows failed to hibernate properly again, so the equipment is way too overheated and needs time to cool down. That’s ok: this next poem’s only been looming there all afternoon, likely won’t even find its first concrete word for another week or so at this rate.
 
Until dinner is served, I think I’ll just sit and stare at the fire.
bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

31 January 2009 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Adrien

Tagged with

Layoff Blues

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Not just bank tellers and stock exchange clerical staff (as in, employees ineligible for receiving bailout money in the form of bonus pay), auto workers, and nearly every industry and service and profession on down to chefs and lawyers and NFL staff and orchestral musicians; but now even zoo animals are being laid off.

About the only safe occupation these days is to be a G-man.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - whatev

Written by macheide

31 January 2009 at 11:49 am

Posted in whatev

Light Exercise

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My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner.
If put on hold, my poem might lose its bite,
like me. (Excuses don’t come any thinner.)
 
It’s not as though I’m just some raw beginner
who’s better off to eat well than to write.
My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner
 
until I’m done. What diligent webspinner
spins half its web then shuts down for the night?
Like me, excuses don’t come any thinner
 
than, “To the muse’s spoils belongs the winner,”
though I’d spoil what’s for dinner out of spite.
My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner.
 
Forgive the flat tastes fit this starving sinner,
but what goes on my tongue, be it delight
like me. (Excuses don’t come any thinner.)
 
I crave a savory beauty cooked up inner –
Such hunger doesn’t whet one’s appetite.
My writing’s working out. Forget about dinner
(like me). Excuses don’t come any thinner.

 
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Written by macheide

31 January 2009 at 7:57 am

Posted in last but not least

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Pension Funded Status Up to 111%?!!

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mvapbo-1130-20042008Yes, for the small subset of S&P 500 companies with fiscal years ending November 30, the aggregate funded status of global pension plans bucked the economic meltdown and the dire doomsday forecasts for the pension universe. As indicated by this chart for the end of fiscal years 2004 through 2008, not only did pension assets (blue diamonds) remain almost level, but projected benefit obligations significantly declined. The result: for the November subset, funded status increased from 94% at the end of 2007 to almost 111% at the end of 2008!

Credit Morgan Stanley, the elephant of this subset, for most of the positive trend. Morgan Stanley is one of the few companies whose pension plan is invested 100% in bonds and other fixed income securities, so their rate of return on pension assets during 2008 was nearly 10% – positive 10%, that is!!! Far far better than the red that most pension plans will be reporting for the year.

So yes, 2008’s aggregate numbers for the entire S&P 500 universe are still going to be pretty bad. But the bad news won’t be unanimous. And because many companies were at least cutting back their equity exposure before the worst of 2008 hit, even the aggregate results likely won’t be as bad as predictions being published have been warning.

(Remember, as I’ve previously disclaimed, posts such as this represent efforts of my favorite pastime. My formal work does not involve any of this, and none of it represents any position or comment that should in any way be attributed to my employer. Likewise, as always, it represents general personal impressions and should not be treated or used as formal professional advice.)

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Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 3:50 pm

Posted in άctuary

Tangle Mine

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There’s a device sync cord upstairs that looks suspiciously like the camera cord I keep losing.

But I never mistake the upstairs one as being mine. It must be Kelly’s.

This one’s mine. It’s easy to identify. Mine is always the one that wanders around on my nightstand looking for other cords to mate with.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - tangles

Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 8:24 am

Posted in tangles

Tagged with

Morning Journal

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This week’s sharp cold front is already warming back up to our usual hot Houston winter levels, permitting me to tromp shortsleeve & barefoot out to the end of the walkway to retrieve this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

Twice this month, they failed to deliver the paper. I don’t really mind – they could stop the deliveries altogether, and mainly they’d just be sparing me the recycling efforts. Yeah, I do leaf through the ones that do make it to our front yard. But even then I download and read through the electronic version.

Besides, I only have the subscription for certain 5-year data I’m collecting. When my current 6-month subscription runs out, I won’t be pushing for renewal.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 8:21 am

Posted in Adrien

Tagged with

avoiding accident

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like how i’ve done a controlled fall down entire flights of stairs, both in dream and in real life, i was floating, except for th first time ever – even in dream – i was doing it across a flat surface. with a brief running start down a street to th edge of an open plaza with a park – similar to th center of newark, nj – i discovered i could skim across th open space without touching th ground until my feet hit th street on th other side of th plaza, a distance of several hundred feet, never more than about 2-3 feet above th ground. i turned around and did it back th other way, then back again, and again. within th dream i remarked about how it felt th same as when i have done that on stairs, how it was th forward motion combined with th force of gravity carrying me through a fall to where my next step would be that made th float work, and i could still feel that here, but somehow it was working even though th plaza was flat

at first we were going to take our separate cars down th hill downtown to th same store to purchase two of th same item, one for each of us, but as i reached my car out back, i decided instead to catch a ride with you, so ran out front to stop you just as you were about to leave th driveway. we left a neighbor to keep an eye on a workman who was repairing something on th house. since we needed to pull up onto th road from a lower point, i had a better view of traffic coming at high speeds around th corner, so several times warned you against pulling out into th road yet, when doing so would have caused a collision. th final group of cars included a mustang that had suffered a tire blowout, yet the driver continued at high speed, trying to control his widely swerving vehicle. about a hundred feet after he passed us, his wild swerving began to cross into opposing lanes and th inevitable happened. i counted out th damage, “yep, there’s an accident … two accidents … three accidents … four, five accidents … six, seven, eight …” and just as it seemed all would settle down, a huge truck came from th other direction and plowed into th carnage, taking th total up to at least twelve vehicles. i wondered whether we would be asked to provide eyewitness account, but so far there were no police on th scene, so we turned to proceed about our business. back in th direction we were headed were two additional trucks, neither of which had actually collided with each other or with any other vehicle, yet had suffered just as much damage as th others simply by trying to avoid th mustang

milliman had decided that they could conduct a particular project without my support, so dropped me from that project. it was clear they were wrong, that th project would not be completed properly, but it was also quite probable that nobody would ever know or care, rather would simply adjust to th incorrect results as if that were random error instead of incorrect procedure. i shrugged and left them to their choice – i had no particular reason to need or want to remain on that team anyway. but i then resigned my participation in ehrhardt’s project, not out of spite or retribution, but simply because it would not be appropriate for me to have continued that relationship, given th severance on th other project. hanging in th air was th question of whether ehrhardt’s project would then suffer th same fate as th other project, eventually producing inaccurate information, yet never having anyone notice or care

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

Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

Bum Rush

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bum rushTo attack someone or something by wildly charging them full force with no sort of tact or skill other than one’s own momentum and possibly the backs and sides of their fists as they randomly flail them out of rage, but certainly consisting of no precisely swung blows.

urban dictionary

Sure, choosing a running mate so obviously inadequately prepared for any presence whatsoever on the national or international stage was a bone-headed decision demonstrating questionable leadership. And failure to reach toward a meaningful victory in the nation’s ill-conceived war in Iraq that might bring our soldiers home sometime in their own generation spoke of a dangerous failure to recognize the duty to govern for the people. And the failure to distance himself sufficiently from the serious failures of the Bush Administration – ranging from rampant morale problems in virtually every federal agency all the way through to an arrogant disregard for national and international law – contributed to electoral failures that extended far into the GOP’s various levels and far out into the party’s future.

But almost any citizen or commentator half awake through this past election would at least grant, if not vigorously agree, that what most killed McCain’s chances in the 2008 presidential election was his utter failure to suggest any cohesive strategy for dealing with the economic crisis. Just keep your faith in the basic underlying strength of the U.S. economy, blame any problems on “whiners,” and keep repeating meaningless old insults against the other side, without ever once enunciating a clear, cohesive policy of your own.

The American voter made it quite clear what we think of such a stay-the-course do-nothing stance.

Yet just like the charge of the light brigade, there go the House Republicans galloping pell mell right down the cliff trail blazed by McCain & Co. So in the end, McCain lost the battle but wins the war: the got-no-solution camp takes over the reins, doing their worst to block anything from being done to reverse the freefall. Tens of thousands more lose their jobs day after day after day, while with no solution of their own, all the congressional Republicans can come up with is leftover McCain campaign rhetoric.

So just like how Rove’s antics lost Congress for the GOP in 2006, then Mcain-Palin ticket lost even more in Congress while losing the White House in 2008, the remaining GOP congressional survivors seem bent on making Custer’s Last Stand look like a charity ball.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - jourbeau

Written by macheide

29 January 2009 at 4:00 pm

Posted in jourbeau

Sudoku 09-1

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Bleah, it’s been a while. This one’s only moderate difficulty, yet I had to wing a guess midway in order to complete it. (The guess is the bold “1.” Close inspection from that point out reveals that I penciled the rest in from there, just in case it was wrong, then went back and inked in the course I’d followed for the pencil draft.)

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - sudoku

Written by macheide

28 January 2009 at 1:02 pm

Posted in sudoku

Rough Morning?

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Some days it’s just not worth rolling out of the nest, eh?

Stepping out the front door this morning to look for my morning paper (undelivered again, second time this month), I noticed a bird sitting on the grass off to the right, near the border of our yard. Even with peripheral vision through the bush, something looked odd about the way he was sitting, so I took a step forward to get a better view.

It was a hawk. Which promptly flew off when I took that step. With part of his breakfast still in his beak. Leaving behind him only what’s shown in this post’s snapshot.

Yes, I know, the hawk was only doing what he had to do to eat. So I would not wish the hawk warts. Still, my heart is with the turtledove. I know the feeling, far too well.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - vagblanc

Written by macheide

28 January 2009 at 7:58 am

Posted in vagblanc

Tagged with

Sharp Cold Front

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Rarely have any cold fronts moved through the Houston region more abruptly. On my outbound commute from the office around 5pm, the radio noted that although downtown temperatures at that hour remained at 74°, the temperature up at Conroe had already dropped to the high 50s, suggesting a sharp wall to the front.

Shortly after 6pm, a weather map on the television showed Conroe at 41°, downtown Houston down to 58°, but Pasadena near us still up at 73°. Not only a sharp wall, but moving steadily south.

Sitting out in the back yard, the front could be both felt and seen. Wind gusts have taken the temperatures down more than 10° during less than half an hour. And a clear line can be seen between dense clouds being pushed down toward Galveston and crystal clear skies to the north over Houston.

Today our high temperature reached 78° without setting a new high for the day. Tomorrow we’ll see one brief day of what Houston calls “winter,” on overnight lows barely brushing the high 20s, then with the high temperature tomorrow afternoon only reaching 48°. But by Thursday it will be warming up into the 60s again, and don’t be too surprised if we’re back into the 70s for the weekend.

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

Written by macheide

27 January 2009 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Mother Nature

New Mobile Phone

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I usually hang on to a cell phone until it’s worn down into the ground from age. But fatigue or carelessness or some other gremlin grabbed it from my hand and threw it to the concrete floor of my office parking garage last week, breaking off a chip where you can see the yellow peeking through the device’s corner in this video clip. The poor thing hung on courageously for a week, but this morning started refusing to remain closed.

Usually, I would keep it around for another few years of service, keeping it closed by laying it on its lid instead of on its back. But I never much liked this model anyway. And our wireless provider, Verizon, demonstrated once again that when it comes to good customer service, they believe in real action, not just the false marketing of their major competitor. So although not yet eligible for a new phone – normally I’m still on my old one years after eligibility – Verizon made it so.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

26 January 2009 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Adrien

in need of a ride

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several miles out of town at a strip mall bordering three sides of a parking lot. i loitered near the opening of a deep doorway that was colored deep purple, dressed myself all in purple, softly singing an old song while you kept up th harmony several doors down. patty had been sitting with friends in a car near th door, but gave no sign of recognizing th imitation of one of her own songs. th sign would have been obvious if she had looked or heard. i walked back deeper into th doorway to intensify th purple, but they had driven off

time was getting late, and i didn’t have a ride to th main church back in town. i went to th church annex at th southeast corner of th strip mall inquiring when th youth choir leader was expected, a janitor told me not until 10pm, th choir leader was on th shift currently active back at th main church. i thought briefly of walking back to town, but it was at least 3 miles back and i only had about an hour, and th city lights against nighttime clouds indicated that town was up to th north instead of to th south where i would have headed, so i wasn’t sure walking would work out. i mingled with some of th people gathering for a meeting at th annex, hoping to find someone who could give me a ride. i shared some of my leftover beef jerky with jim, but kept th homemade bread, which kept growing larger with each bite i tore off th one large lump. th message presented at th meeting had something to do with special personal commitments made by football stars and th related pledges made by members of th congregation. i saw carol z come in so knew she could be my ride if nobody else had a spare seat open, but anticipated that th leaders of th meeting would ask th whole group if there were any visitors needing rides, or that something would turn up once people began leaving

sheila was there. nothing eventful came of her presence

told there might be a problem with seats on th bus, they’d oversold tickets for camp, had over 1000 scheduled to attend, that we’d better get in line early if we wanted to be sure of a place. i inquired as to whether i could simply give up my own ticket, would rather just stay home for th week, but my request was ignored. tried to return to our dorm room to be sure i’d packed everything, but they had th hallway back to th rooms closed for getting ready for th next group. i made it on th first bus, scooted along th handrail without my feet touching th ground as th line moved to get us through more quickly, got myself a window seat center right

at a rest stop we were instructed to evacuate th bus. some ultra-rightwing gang members had showed up threatening our people in th rest stop building, and bombmaking equipment had been discovered in th car of one. i shielded my laptop against th concrete block side of th building in case th bus exploded. when all clear was signaled, i crawled over th passenger who had made it back to th middle seat in our row before me, retaking my window seat

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

Written by macheide

26 January 2009 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

Cat 101

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cat 101All feline-inclined creatures in this household take note: This is a proper manner in which a cat true to his species may sleep.

Not stretched out like someone has you on the rack. Not belly up to the sky like roadkill. Not in any of those doglike positions your fur feels like plopping down in, your legs all helter skelter, your tail flying off wherever.

This cozy curled-up pose is acceptable. Or sitting up with your paws tucked in front.

This is your final warning. Kitty demerits and other pet penalties will be meted out for further offenses.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - monarda

Written by macheide

25 January 2009 at 5:39 pm

Posted in monarda

Tagged with

Chicken Soup for the Stale

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Yes stale. When I’m feeling fine, I can stay in one corner of my room for days without so much as a blink. But catch me a cold, and I catch cabin fever faster than my nightstand can clutter itself up with my orange juice and soup bowls and all. So my bed’s stale, this room’s gone stale, and it’s all rubbing off on me.

That’s my version of a cold remedy there: Campbell’s canned cream of chicken soup with a can of whole milk; shredded cheese; two generous soup spoons of sour cream; a can of V8 juice; plenty of pepper and a dash of salt. Yum.

Settling down to let it recuperate me to freshness while I watch Lance Armstrong cycle his way down under.

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Written by macheide

25 January 2009 at 3:29 pm

Posted in termite

Tagged with

down under thunder

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ar

‘down under thunder’ was what crossed my mind to characterize th session we were planning when our counterparts showed up here instead of teleconferencing from their own place

you were working on a design of my initials that i could use as a logo for my spreadsheet and other productions

i was to describe and discuss th field where our brightly colored vehicles had turned, where armies of people carrying banners had become like th arrows indicating wind forces on a hurricane map

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

Written by macheide

25 January 2009 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

Zen Tracks [32] Dylan: Talkin’ New York

Zen Vision MTalkin’ New YorkBob DylanBob Dylan
[3:19] * * *

Nobody at the Greyhound Station to greet him, no ticket stub preserved, so the exact date remains a question mark. But near today 47 years ago, Robert Allen Zimmerman first set foot in Manhattan and headed down to Greenwich Village to make a name for himself. Or songs for us. Or a friend or two. Or somethin’ worthy of New York.

A lot of people don’t have much food on their table,
But they got a lot of forks n’ knives,
And they gotta cut somethin’.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - zen

Written by macheide

24 January 2009 at 11:12 am

Posted in vision:m