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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.
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Written by macheide

31 January 2009 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Adrien

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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.

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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.

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Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 8:24 am

Posted in tangles

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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.

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Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 8:21 am

Posted in Adrien

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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

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Written by macheide

30 January 2009 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra