March 2009 Archives

The Financials are posted

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"The Financials are posted."

Four of the sweetest words in my life. Four times a year, my job involves assembling financial statements for all of our investment funds, portfolio investment information for all of our investments, and a limited partner statement for all of our limited partners (375 documents this time around). It's not a one-man show by any stretch of the imagination, but the heaviest burden has been mine for the last two years... and many, many hours are spent getting all the details right. Then, finally, on deadline day, we stop making changes, and we post the financials.

Posting day is almost always stressful, but they always end so well. No matter how rotten the day was, the mere fact that the financials have been posted plasters a smile on my face. I can go home, secure in the knowledge that we can move along to the next round of stuff.

Today was a late day at work, in fact I'm writing this as I wait for our email system to process the massive email batch that distributes the documents... but once the last one is out the door, well, I'm getting for a Jamocha shake to celebrate.

Listening to: "You've got to hide your love away" - Eddie Vedder
Mood: Well rested

Article dujour: Why Card Check is Unconstitutional - WSJ Opinion piece

The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech, along with the Fifth and 14th Amendment due process clauses, to protect a variety of expressive and associational rights. The right to speak and associate anonymously is among those rights.

Who'd-a-thunk-it? The Supreme Court as a check and/or balance to a run-away legislature and executive.

Labor organizing has been one of the most contentious exercises in modern American history, often leading to violence and employee intimidation on both the management and union side. Demanding that workers state publicly (by checking "yes" or "no" on a card) whether they support unionization would involve real and immediate dangers of intimidation, and would deprive workers of their right to anonymous expression. The fact that individuals could refuse to sign a card is unavailing, since a refusal to choose, in this instance, is an effective no.

I'm a twit-ter-er

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It's really Eric's fault. He said he'd follow, so now that I have one devotee, I'm going to start twittering. Until this point, I've been resistant. I thought it was a little lame... but I've tried the concept before. So, if you want to follow me, check out my twitter page. Eventually I'll get the plug-in to post my tweets to this page, but in the meantime, feel free to become my 'follower.'

In other news, I am aware that the comment capability didn't survive the server switch. I'm trying to figure it out in my spare time, but haven't made much progress.

Link dujour: The Imperial Presidency.

Surrounded by Sound

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Listening to: Jolene by Dolly Parton
Mood: Good, but have to work tomorrow

My DVD player bit the dust last week. What's most frustrating is the player still works fine, but the remote control needed to navigate the DVD menus finally stopped working. I noticed about two months ago that certain buttons on the remote no longer worked, but when the return button gave out on Tuesday, I could no longer navigate (since the directional arrows had died a month ago.)

Long story short, this was the excuse I needed to finally break down and buy a surround sound system for my apartment. Of course, the timing was poor as I've spent my 'extra' money for a few months running on travel and this purchase was going to have to come out of my savings rather than my cash flow.

For those who are frugal (I honestly can't call myself frugal anymore), I did look into a replacement remote, but the cheapest one was 60% of a new DVD player... and I really wanted a DVD player that could "upcovert" my DVDs to 1080p... and those are sort of costly... and before you know it, it's pretty easy to justify a surround sound system. (I have been talking about it for almost two years, so it's not exactly an impulse buy.)

Anyhow, I watched the Bourne Ultimatum as my first surround sound movie... and that was pretty cool. However, my favorite part of the set-up is listening to my iPod through the system. It's phenomenal to hear the melodies in one ear and the harmony in another.

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As for other things in life? Well, I had a good weekend. On Friday night, I went over to Keystone and drafted a fantasy baseball team for Eric's brother-in-law. It was totally fun because we had eight totally nerdy guys who are exactly the type when you think about guys getting together for a fantasy league. We even had a dedicated auctioneer, and a soccer fan (Nate) to keep me entertained. The draft ran from 8 pm and I got home at 2. The best part is I don't have to manage the team throughout the season.

On Saturday, I puttered around setting up the new sound system, and then made a trip to Home Depot to return the ceiling fan and light switches I bought last month. (The electrician's quote was nearly $1,000!) The ceiling fan project has been back-burnered until a new policy goes into place in my building that will allow me to hire our maintenance man to do the work. I figured I'd return the fan to Home Depot until I have a clearer time frame on the project. Conveniently, the ceiling fan (and assorted switches) were nearly as expensive as the sound system, so it was like a trade.

Hmmm... that's about it. I did do House Dinner on Sunday and had a chance to opine on the relationship between government and business... something I love to do. I also explained economics to Michael... and I tied in Metcalfe/Reed's law, which is something that I'd never thought of in that context until I was explaining it. Perhaps I'll write a blog entry on that at some point.

Aight, I've gotta work in a few hours. Tuesday is March 31... and I can't wait until we publish our audited financials. Our first (fiscal) quarter is amazingly tame for an accountant, but I still hate the stress of year end... and that officially ends on Tuesday. Of course, Wednesday is the first day of closing the first quarter, but we'll deal with Wednesday when we get to it.

Finally, I believe I've got a deal with 'the Rooftop guy' that might let me see about forty or fifty games this year. More to follow when I get a signed contract!

Great Weekend

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It's been a great weekend. I ducked out of work 10 minutes early on Friday because I felt like it. I had dinner with Ma & Pa at Maggiano's, went home, watched a few shows, read a book (Atlas Shrugged), and got a good night's rest.

On Saturday, I spent a lazy afternoon reading and doing laundry. I got every dirty piece of clothing, towels, sheets, even my scarf clean in the process... and then Purdue was playing Washington in the NCAA tournament. Purdue won, then I left for the Globe and watched the Fire win their season opener 3-1.

Today was church, some more reading, and a little work on HPRotS with the NCAA tourney on in the background. Tonight, Team USA takes on Japan in the semifinals of the WBC. Hopefully they'll win, and that will sort of make up for House dinner being canceled this week.

Yes, it's been a quiet weekend, but I'm enjoying myself, the bright sun, and the fairly warm weather. I can't wait until it's summer again!

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In other news, I wanted to point out this fairly sensible op-ed piece written by South Carolina's governor, Mark Sanford.
Adam asked me what I thought about the latest round of AIG bonuses. For posterity's sake, I'll recap the situation... although you've surely been avoiding the news if you've not been inundated with coverage of all the politicians on their soap boxes this week. The facts are that AIG granted bonuses to certain employees in their derivatives trading business (the very business that caused AIG to fail). The bonuses were granted before Lehman crashed, spurring the government's bailout of AIG. The government has now given AIG four rounds of capital, but now that it's time to pay out the bonuses, the newsies have picked it up, and the politicians have done their best to denounce it as loudly as possible. This article has a good explanation.

So my thoughts? I think the one thing that needs to be said is that we're talking about 'only' $165 million (with an m)... and they were awarded before the bailout. Sure, the bonuses were probably fool hardy, but that speaks to the incompetence of the former AIG management team. The facts haven't changed in months, it's just in the news now.

To put this in context, Merrill Lynch paid out $3.5 Billion (with a B) after their first bailout... and those bonuses almost assuredly forced the second round of capital infusions. (I read an article that said that NY AG Andrew Cuomo is investigating allegations that all the Merrill traders took massive book (paper) losses after their bonuses were awarded so their performance would look better next year. So the $15 B loss during the 4Q 2008 would be $3.5 in bonus compensation and a certain amount for unnecessarily conservative accounting.)

For further context, let's remember that Congress just passed a $792 Billion (with a B) 'Recovery and Reinvestment Act' that most assuredly included more than $165 million in wasted taxpayer dollars... but I don't recall Representative Barney Frank's outrage at the time.

Lets see, last week we witnessed the passage of the omnibus (budget) bill for 2008. The bill was over $400 Billion (with a B). Let's also remember from last week that President Obama condemned the presence of Earmarks in the bill... but still signed it anyhow, breaking a campaign promise. The earmarks in the omnibus bill were over 1%, or $4 Billion (with a B)... but I'm don't recall hearing too much outrage from Senator Chris Dodd.

So yes, it's bad that we've wasted, or misspent another $165 million (with an m)... but after $700 Billion (with a B) for TARP (Remember the extra $110 Billion (with a B) we spent on that?), $800 B for 'Stimulus', and so much more... can we please have a little perspective? I'm calling it now. Somebody's got an entire log forest sticking out of their eyeball, but they're damned confident that they can spot the speck at AIG.

Found some editorial cartoons you might like.







Burp

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Every so often, I'll flip through the LOLCats at ICanHazCheeseburger.com on my lunch break. I thought this was mildly amusing, so I'm sharing it with you.

Link

Fire 2009

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Earlier this week, I called up my ticket manager at the Chicago Fire and purchased two season tickets for the upcoming season. The seats are in the general admission upper deck and were half the price of my tickets from last year. So, the good news is that I'll be dragging my friends to a handful of games this year.

If you want to scream with me when Calen Carr scores his next goal, let me know!


Back to the way it was

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I know some have been disappointed with my lack of blogging... and other people are unamerican because they don't like the Chicago skyline... but the blog is back to looking the way it used to, and so maybe I'll start blogging again. The only major change is that this blog is now technically 'iByron' rather than 'eByron'.

I'll go into it later, but the last two months of website stuff in my life has sucked... but I bit the bullet and spent several hours getting templates moved from one server to another and reconfiguring them. If it weren't for the 'template search' function in MT, it would never have happened, but I've got about half of my websites up and functioning again, so that's good.

More later. Meeting with Rooftop Guy tomorrow. Hoping to sell some advertising.