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Work Bucket

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practical lessons in actuarial scienceOne of the key items on my work bucket list, which holds a fast-dwindling collection of things I wish to accomplish before my work life is over:

Click on the image of this book’s title page, then enlarge that if need be, and you’ll find this second edition to have been published by The Spectator Company in 1905! As in, 39 years older than the Society of Actuaries. As in, the book is some 13 years older than our dear neighbor, who celebrates his 97th birthday next week. As in, if the book had been born in the year it was published, then it would now be 10 years older than the last age given in the mortality table given in the book!

Which if nothing else demonstrates that good word survives its own author’s breath. And does still get itself read. And put to good use. ‘And “Miles” to go before I sleep . . . ’

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Written by macheide

25 January 2015 at 9:22 am

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On Whose Didn’t Sayso

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2014-11-25 09.49.34A colleague tells of a tax court case that cited a professional conference she attended, then pointed to indications that she had not objected to a position that had been presented by other attendees at the meeting. Apparently by her silence having the power of authority.

That, during a discussion of whether training materials constitute legitimate basis for taking a position in the absence of any other authoritative reference. It not being completely insignificant to the discussion that the position being promoted is not right, or reasonable, or good or whatever we choose to use as our guide for judgment. Without going into detail that should be left to future public pronouncements, let’s just say that if the position being promoted by some promoters were to prevail, it would be a very short matter of time before even Congress would step in to make things right, even given how bad Congress’ record is on taking concrete action on things that really matter.

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Written by macheide

25 November 2014 at 11:11 pm

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Iff You See Her Say Hello

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I doubt I’m improperly disclosing too much about my work to tell that I was recently involved on a project that included discussion about whether a piece of emerging regulatory guidance might want to use the word “iff.” In the sense of the second definition stated at my link given here: the mathematical term of art. I had to smile: one of my favorite hobbies involves collecting iffs.

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Written by macheide

15 November 2014 at 5:44 am

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These Questions Three

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  KEEPER:      Stop!  What is your name?
  GALAHAD:     Sir Galahad of Camelot.
  KEEPER:      What is your quest?
  GALAHAD:     I seek the Holy Grail.
  KEEPER:      What is your favorite color?
  GALAHAD:     Blue.  No yel--  Auuuuuuuugh!

One of these days a year or two from now, maybe I can come back and fill in some of the details on this one. Not today, not while I remain where I am. Even the hint of a whisper I give in this post is perhaps more than I should be saying out loud.

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Written by macheide

10 October 2014 at 8:30 pm

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Smart ID

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So, I have me a new smart ID for work.

Smart IDs. Smart phones. Smart cars. Smart bombs.

Everything is going smart. Except me.

I’ve always said I was never all that smart from the getgo. As I understand it, I tested barely above what they used to call “retarded” on IQ tests given early in youth, and I’ve always had difficulty thinking things through. All along, the only way I was ever able to keep up was learning to use those strange loops and extra dimensions I found inside my head. Now, since my shananigans, those voices have fallen quiet and I haven’t been able to get them back. Leaving me with an identity not all that smart.

They tell you they don’t want you to smile when they photograph you for these smart IDs. Hard not to, given the irony of it all. Oh well, I only expect to wear it another year anyway.

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Written by macheide

29 September 2014 at 2:26 pm

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M-3 Ammo

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Delivered the first work-related presentation I’ve done in a while today. And in several respects, this one was unique from most of the presentations I’ve recently done or might normally expect to be doing these days –

  • Audience – Instead of speaking to actuaries, or even pension lawyers or other pension professionals, my audience was IRS agents who generally had zero knowledge of pensions or employee benefits.
     
  • Topic – My basic topic was the difference between the accounting applicable to pensions under U.S. standards versus international standards. That topic would not have been odd at all while I was at Milliman – in fact, I wrote two separate pension accounting articles for the Enrolled Actuaries Report within my final 18 months there. But at the IRS, accounting issues have been as distant from my work as some distant galaxy light years away, so far off that I have felt completely comfortable keeping my spreadsheet “hobby” separate from official work.
     
  • Geography – Do I get “travel comp” time for the commute up the Gulf Freeway? This speech was delivered at the IRS building in downtown Houston. At least I didn’t need to struggle with GovTrip paperwork!
     
  • Prep Time – Rhonda phoned me about doing this speech less than 2 weeks ago. Although of course I’ve had enough background on the topic to feel comfortable with the material, the absence of focus on accounting issues during my IRS tenure did mean that I needed to dust off some rust and double-check for any updates during the past two years; so I did not finish my preparations sufficiently to actually prepare my slides until this morning!

All in all, I think it went well. As usual for my presentations, I instantly knew there were some things I will be changing if and when I deliver this presentation again (which might actually happen, given emerging developments in pension accounting). Notably, I think the presentation would do well to center around a structure building a reconciliation between the two standards that would focus specifically on the six components of pension cost under the U.S. standard (including the different places in a financial statement that those items can land, since the profit statement won’t always be the target any longer).

And perhaps some actual M-3 illustrations. Since the Schedule M-3 was the premise for the 2-day meeting of which my 30-minute presentation today was part. That corporate income tax return schedule giving rise to a concern I afterward expressed to my own manager: that I worried that many of our own pension actuaries might think an M-3 to be some type of rifle, thereby failing to be in any position to provide any support to our agents on any pension-related M-3 questions. My manager responded by saying that I was “it” – another sign that this is unlikely to be the last I see of this topic (and leaving me scratching my head as to why it took them until less than 2 weeks ago to let me know this was all coming up).

Written by macheide

5 August 2009 at 1:10 pm

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Split Shift

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I recognize it, I admit it, I confess it: Were it possible, I would love to let last week’s episode – our country’s top senior pension attorney unexpectedly folding, accepting the position I had established – would mark a very fitting end to a very full and satisfying career.

That single event echoing and balancing out all of the singular events in my early work, and providing more than ample proof that I had not simply gone on coast a decade ago. But I need no further confirmation, no further additions to a resume I no longer need.

And I am finding no further interest in my work after that moment last week. Not yet, anyway.

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Written by macheide

10 June 2009 at 9:55 am

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413(b)’s Blessing

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The effect of 415(b) is to justify actual (or anticipated) contributions that would otherwise be nondeductible, rather than to require redistribution of the deduction among the employers who are party to the plan.

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Written by macheide

8 June 2009 at 2:34 am

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413(b)’s Blessing

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The effect of 413(b) is to justify actual (or anticipated) contributions that would otherwise be nondeductible, rather than to require redistribution of the deduction among the employers who are party to the plan.

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Written by macheide

8 June 2009 at 2:34 am

Posted in deskjob

413(b)’s Blessing

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The effect of 413(b) is to justify actual (or anticipated) contributions that would otherwise be nondeductible, rather than to require redistribution of the deduction among the employers who are party to the plan.

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Written by macheide

8 June 2009 at 1:45 am

Posted in deskjob

Study Desk

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With several interruptions for personal business relating to the roof.
 

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Written by macheide

24 February 2009 at 6:33 pm

Posted in deskjob

No More Thursdays in 2008

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Insomnia. I’ve been awake since just after midnight: petty worries taking aim at the day’s work. Wouldn’t be rude to ask. Just that I won’t talk about that side of my work.

After about an hour trying unsuccessfully to sleep, I puttered a while through high-end parts & pieces for the labyrinth, including reinitiation of offline mirrors and elimination of naked URLs. Long enough for Curse of the Golden Flower to play in its entirety in the background while I kept doing just one step more than the one step more than I’d intended. Then 90 minutes of deep rest – but still not sleep – before third alarm, after muting the first two.

Was ragged enough to forget my teeth when I left for the office, despite remembering all other routines that ought to have reminded me. But did remember to get the garbage out to the street. Chilly, it was at 5:39am.

Didn’t feel like waiting for a new pot of coffee to brew by the time I made it downstairs after early morning routines, so put up with decaf. Don’t tell anyone, and I promise I won’t make a habit of it. Work cruised along relatively smoothly, even those damned timesheets. I have a major goal I’m going to push through for next Monday, but nothing worth a panic attack. Although I did pop an aleve mid-morning, preventatively so.

Thursday means my late morning was spent on another long conference call. We already know what’s coming next year and what won’t come before then, obviously. Last Thursday of the year, today turned out to be, although the month does still have a few Mondays left.

Taking the remainder of today remote.

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Written by macheide

4 December 2008 at 1:52 pm

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Study In Gray

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Written by macheide

2 October 2008 at 12:25 pm

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Office Closed

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The automated message on my governmental employer’s emergency notification service notifies me that our office will remain closed at least through the remainder of the week. But we still have no Internet access at the house. And even hitchhiking via wireless won’t help me get back on track for most of my work: I need a secure cable connection to my job’s network. So with dim hopes that my building’s network might be up and running despite the office closure, I commuted in this morning.

Morning traffic was only mildly lighter than would be expected of an ordinary weekday rush hour. Most of it probably Ike recovery traffic, heading for a gas station or grocery store or hardware store or POD. None of it headed to my office building, for which the garage had no more than half a dozen other cars keeping my Blue Bug company.

No luck with the office network. So after two quick business calls, I headed back out to the office garage for an early outbound commute. Snapping a pic of the only visible Ike damage to our building: broken glass panes in the corridor between the building and the garage.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 7:39 am

Posted in deskjob

Dimming the Lights

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Jeff will be giving notice today.

sms from a former colleague

Jeff having picked up where I left off at the desk where I used to serve. Will they even bother wasting their time on the futile attempt to find a replacement? Or simply have the corporate communications operation swallow up the remnants?

My record remains intact: every desk I have ever left throughout my career has been for an organization that shortly thereafter disappeared, all in much the same way as is inevitable for my most recent former employer.

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Written by macheide

22 July 2008 at 1:14 pm

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Unusually Quiet

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unusually quietOK what memo did I fail to get this time? I know, I’m always the sole one on the floor when I make it in here by my scheduled 5:30am start. But today I’ve been at my desk over two hours, it’s 8:42am, and still I’m the only one here.

And don’t try telling me it’s the second coming of Christ. Sure, maybe they don’t accept actuaries into heaven, but I doubt they’d take up this particular floor of government bureaucrats first. Those who know where I work would vigorously agree.

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Written by macheide

2 June 2008 at 8:42 am

Posted in deskjob

“This Is Major Tom To Ground Control”

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remote officeThis pic is left over from two mornings ago, but could just as easily have been taken any of the past three days, when I have saved myself the commute in favor of carrying my current heavy deskload along here at the house.

I almost wasn’t able to avoid the office today. Our government-issue computers are frequently updated through the network, and sometimes those updates require the local machines to be rebooted. With as busy as I tend to get and with as much as I prefer to keep open on my computer desktop session to session, I tend to put off rebooting until my computer is dancing up and down outside the locked bathroom door, about to wet itself, whereupon it eventually reboots itself. This time, it seemed to want to connect to the network after reboot to finish its update, but of course being out of the office I could not reconnect to the network until I signed on through the remote line, which the computer seemed hesitant to do because it had not completed its update. *rolls eyes* “Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom?”

So this morning I was up and ready to make the trek down the highway, but dressed and packed up ready to go, at the last instant decided to attempt the connection again. This time it went straight through. Fickle machine!

So I’m plugging away here already, saving myself another two hours off the day, still with a pile up over my head to shovel through (today including timesheet admin chores, which I always love pushing aside real work for . . . not!!), but once again moving right along. Off to some spreadsheet work, like recess time for this head. *big grin*

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Written by macheide

22 February 2008 at 8:05 am

Posted in deskjob