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Archive for the ‘DRAM’ Category

Not Quite the Discriminating One

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I wrote A Guide to Nondiscrimination Requirements for Qualified Pension and Profit-Sharing Plans in 30 days.

While reading the 600 pages of new government regulations on which the book was focused, which were published on the first day of that 30-day period. Along with reviewing over a hundred additional pages of separately proposed regulations that were not finalized until a week after the book was published. And revisiting previously published regulations on related topics needed for rounding out the book. And all the statutory references and other related source material. All of which needed to be read at least in triplicate to make sure nothing was missed, most of which needed to be studied very closely and cross-referenced with other readings, and none of which was the sort of reading one can just breeze through.

Without taking a day off from work – no holidays in that period, no vacation days taken, and no sick days. And while carrying a workload that included heavy duties unrelated to the book. Yes, given my position as my company’s research actuary, it was my job to read those regulations and develop internal materials. So yes, the entire night after the regulations came out, I was giving the entire package its first pass so I could give a speech the very next day on the highlights. And throughout the next month, I did continue producing internal materials on the regulations for my employer and sharing in conference calls and working directly with clients on matters related to the regulations. Yet not only were none of those reg-related efforts directly focused on the book itself, but I also devoted over 30 hours per week to work that was completely unrelated to the regulations whatsoever.

So, no family life, right? Well, the family might argue that my mind was completely elsewhere during that month, but at least I did make the attempt. Sundays were off-limits to the book entirely: no reading of the regulations, no computer files open, not even a scribbled note on the many scraps of paper I carried around that month. And one entire Saturday during that month was devoted to taking the family down to King’s Dominion amusement park – again, an entire day off-limits to the book. So technically, I wrote the book in 25 days. And not all of those 25 days stolen from the family either. I never missed a dinner that month, reserved at least an hour each and every evening to spend with the children, and left other time open every day, no exceptions.

And the writing itself. Not only did I strive at every turn to steer clear of simply regurgitating the regulations, but I set myself the goal of attempting to have at least one unique point on every single one of the book’s 350+ pages, at least one insight per page that would not be obvious from a simple recitation of the rules themselves. And typed out the entire manuscript myself, hunt-and-peck style. And managed to make only one error in the entire book (an extra zero on page 70, a blunder subsequently rendered irrelevant by legislation that repealed the rule that page dealt with).

All of that an equation that can be solved only by including only about 20 hours of sleep for the entire month. Or, since I slept about 6 hours the night we stayed at the hotel after our day at King’s Dominion, call it 14 hours of sleep spread over the remaining 29 days of that month. Yes, your math is as good as an actuary’s there: that’s less than half an hour per night. For an entire month.

Which explains why I landed myself in the hospital on the 31st day, the morning after I had sent the final chapters of the manuscript off to the publisher. Which is something we are now dedicated at avoiding as I take up my pen to work on another book.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - DRAM

Written by macheide

4 January 2009 at 10:29 am

Posted in DRAM

Dark Day

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Forty five years ago this afternoon, I was nearing the end of a day of classes in the 5th grade at Limerick Elementary School in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Bean, one of my favorite teachers throughout all my schooling even up through college, was called to the door, where an aide from the school office engaged her for a moment in hushed conversation. To this day, it impulsively chokes me to the verge of tears recalling the image of how Mrs. Bean looked instantly deflated and gray, as though she had been punched. She did pass the news to her classroom in a very brief, hollow-voiced statement as we cleared out early to our buses. Even at the age of 10, I didn’t really understand what it meant that our president had been killed, except how Mrs. Bean’s own very obvious shock felt so contagious, blanketing all the students and teachers and bus drivers in a deep quiet fog.

Our family had gone for years without TV, but two days later we did visit my grandparents to watch the following solemn procession –

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - DRAM

Written by macheide

22 November 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in DRAM

Missing Memphis

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Seven years ago today, I had a full day scheduled ahead of me, starting with an early doctor’s visit for bloodwork before I was to catch a flight to Memphis for a company meeting. I was awaiting the needle when a call came through to my cell phone from my mother, who was worried that I might be traveling. She’d just heard that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. A small plane, it was thought at that time. Perhaps a freak accident, it was hoped.

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Written by macheide

11 September 2008 at 2:54 pm

Posted in DRAM

Home Away from Home

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39 years ago tonight, it was the only television I saw all summer, save for a very brief piece of some commercial in a moment in a bar at the end of our canoe trip. I spent most of the summer apart from all family and all friends, working for 8 weeks at a boys’ camp in exchange for 2 weeks free camping.

The first of my two free weeks was spent training for the second week, when I was one paddler of eight steering four canoes down the upper Delaware River.

My working weeks were spent a week at a time in rotation through the stables, dish and latrine duty, teaching swimming, helping to construct new buildings, and other assignments. The week Apollo 11 was nearing the moon, I was an assistant counsellor for a tent of maybe a dozen younger boys. When the moon landing was scheduled, the entire camp was brought into the mess hall to watch the event.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - DRAM

Written by macheide

20 July 2008 at 8:17 pm

Posted in DRAM

Turned

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And here I’m standing naked
Laughing madly at the sun.
Though I wanted to sleep late today
The Battle’s just begun.

The Battle, BS&T

38 years ago today, home alone from high school on a sick day, my radio brought me early news reports claiming that rioting students at a university in Ohio had killed several national guardsmen. By that same evening, news reports from Kent State U had sorted out who had murdered whom, but the lies never stopped, and to this day justice has never been sought by a government which still pretends it has the right to murder its own children to achieve personal goals and vendettas of those only temporarily in power without ever being in control of their own selves.

Sandra. Bill. Allison. Jeffrey. And those wounded. And those threatened. And all those affected by the acts committed that day. Remembered, in life, always.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - DRAM

Written by macheide

4 May 2008 at 1:53 pm

Posted in DRAM

Earthy Recollections

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Thirty eight years ago today I was sitting in a park in Philadelphia listening to Allen Ginsberg playing his harmonium while reciting his and Blake’s poetry, uniting with 20 million others across the U.S. seeking environmental activism.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - DRAM

Written by macheide

22 April 2008 at 7:29 pm

Posted in DRAM