21 Minutes Till Curtain Call…

…and I’ll take my bows for another day in the working world.  It’s so odd to have the Stacey-job.  One minute, you’re drifting away in a pink fluffy cloud, perfectly work-free, and the next you barely have time to check your email in between DOING THINGS.  Now, most of what I’m doing right now is not all that difficult – a trained monkey could, in fact, do some of it.  But not all.  No, there are a few things I’m doing that require more than opposable thumbs, and of that work, I’m proud.

The thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve been able to maintain some semblance of writing on here as I work.  Go me!  Don’t expect as much for next week though – things are certainly already bogging me down.   I had a whole story idea planned out in my head today taht I didn’t get down on paper – er, on computer.  But that’s ok – I’d gladly sacrifice even more of my time to know I was doing something vaguely worthwhile.

All Music Is Sacred

I came across this idea in the Vonnegut book I’m reading today, and it struck me as rather nice.  Wow, music is sacred.  But then I started to wonder if it’s really true.

Of course, there’s the traditional thoughts behind this idea.   There’s ‘sacred music’, including everything from hymns and carols, to most Classical music, which is often written to interpret a Christian theme.  I think of the Hallelujah Chorus, which my home church sings together every Easter, a cacophony of sounds that ring mostly in tune.  That’s a big, powerful, faithful sound, and to me it sounds sacred.

But when I think about other music that I personally consider sacred, there are many things I don’t include.  Rap is not really sacred in my mind.  Neither is most popular music.  More mellow, reflective stuff is more sacred, or maybe songs that make you think, but often these don’t have a really pumping beat.  I can’t think of a pumpy song that I consider sacred.  Not that I don’t like popular music – I do, sometimes, find a very guilty pleasure in the dumbest forms of music.  It’s just with all that bustling about inside the song, I don’t feel the same uplift that I would from a different, more relaxed and introspective song that I would consider sacred.

Where, then, is the line drawn between sacred and secular or even profane types of music?  Is there anyone out there who feels that country music is sacred?  What about all the crossovers, like popular tunes that become hymns, or songs that really move and touch and shape us and are so popular because they are sacred?

It reminds me of the similar corollary that all children are special.  Some children are very difficult to love and cope with.  Does that mean they aren’t special?  Are some children more special than others?  Who, or what, makes that definition?

Please share your thoughts.  What could make music sacred, or not?  Is there any type of music that can never be sacred?  Why?  What about music (like free jazz) that may be very artistic, but still difficult on your hearing?  Do meaning, sound, emotiveness, and art form each carry a part of music’s sacredness, and if so, to what extent?

Out of India

A co-worker sent me this article on the recent loss of interwebbing in those countries that need it most.  Early (and therefore, questionable) reports indicate that entire continent’s internet links may have been severed by a boat anchor killing an undersea cable that could take 2 weeks to repair.  I ask you, a boat anchor?  Is technology really so frail?

Also, this may be something I just don’t get about the interweb and its high-tech structure, but how much impact should one cable between Egypt and Italy really have?  Should that really cut India’s bandwidth in half?  I get the whole idea of communications with certain areas or between certain areas being drastically reduced, but I would think they would have a few more backups or alternatives in place.   I mean, the UAE is worried about the whole thing crippling its ability to do business.  India as well, especially with all the customer service and other backups to businesses here that they provide.  It dosn’t really work without internet, and it could majorly affect international stocks in an interesting way the next few weeks. Not that anyone will be able to take advantage (unless they happen to be in these countries and can like walk to the trading floor).

We recently implemented a backup email system here at work, but what happens when the whole interweb fries up and blows away?  Do they shut down the stock market?  Sorry guys, no trades today!  Really, those Fight Clubbers should’ve just gone out and dredged the ocean floor rather than blowing things up.

My heart goes out to those lonely souls teaching and doing other service work abroad in those countries.  I remember well those days in China, when the interweb beckoned like the vision of some sort of Holy Grail.  Alas, it’s almost as bad as a power outage.  Good luck Judith!  Glad I’m not in Qatar or environs today.

The words we’ve misplaced.

I’ve started reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut today. That may be weird to those of you who knwo I’m an avid reader. And I like Vonnegut – I do – I just had never gotten around to this one before. There are lots and lots of them, you know. But when a friend decided to give up their worldly possessions, including books, I jumped at teh chance to possess a copy. Ahh, possessions.

So far I’ve just read a bit, but it’s good. I’ve already been reminded of things forgotten: Armistice Day, and prosperity. How I miss these words in my everyday speech! How I wish they would return to me freely, perhaps unannounced. Thus far, they have not.
I read a post online today as well that mentioned this problem. The lost word? Frankfurter. Wouldn’t we all be better people, wouldn’t the world just be a better place, if we said frankfurter a little more often?

More Noises about Private Equity and Debt.

So now it’s time for everyone’s favorite time of day again – that time when I try to sound intelligent and well-versed in all things investing. I was ‘reading some interesting information’ (aka doing my job and editing boring investment reports) when I started thinking about some stuff the common man might not know about private equity, and I thought I would share my thoughts with him.

First of all, private equity is all that investment action that you, the common man, can’t get in on. It involves trading of stocks not on the public market, usually involving company takeovers and large-scale investments that even the upper middle class will never be able to afford. So. Why do any of us really care, unless we become billionaires? Debt.

I’ve written a bit before about my own skewed view of the current debt and mortgage system, but private equity is a part of that system in a big big way. Basically, a private equity investment company works to develop existing or start-up companies and corporations.  This doesn’t always involve debt, or buying out an entire company, but it can.  A private equity company usually researches a particular market – say, software – with a specific target in mind. Let’s give an example. Let’s say Geronimo is an investment management company in the home appliance market that is targeting undervalued and underperforming companies. That means they look at all the cheapest private companies that make home appliances and try to figure out why those few companies are doing so badly. Then, if they think they can improve the company and generate some money from it, they buy it out, change it around, and sell it for a profit. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work out like it’s supposed to. Even in a strong market, there could be so many companies that no amount of improvement in one is going to lead to large profits. Or, the market could take a sudden dip, leaving our sad Geronimo with no profit for all its hard work.

The buyout system usually works because the investment companies like Geronimo make enough in one investment to fund months of research and bargaining for another. Plus, once a company like this gets known for its successful work, it gets easier to make attractive buyout proposals to private companies.

The problems we’re facing right now due to a slumping economy increase pressures for private equity – there’s less of a guarantee that an investment will post significant gains. Research becomes even more important. In addition, since the majority of these takeover involve large infusions of capital, many of these private equity companies use debt to make the initial purchase. Which means, of course, if they don’t make good on their investment, they’re actually short of cash due to interest on those loans. Which means, in times of scarcity, the normal private equity players may be more reluctant to taake on a questionable investment, meaning that more corporations may be run inefficiently, which certainly doesn’t improve market conditions. One great big circle yet again. Yay!

The Conherency of Mormons

As I struggle in my own faith, I am troubled by a variety of belief structures different from my own. Vehement atheists who I picture as scary for their anger. Mormons who come a-knocking. Scientologists. And then, I am occasionally struck by shades of light from these different faith traditions, struck that they too may have valid reasons for their crazy beliefs and that I should not be so quick to judge without knowing more.

I have known a few Mormons in my day, and I can attest to the fact that they aren’t all crazy. Some of them are even intelligent. That doesn’t mean I haven’t found all the beehives and golden plates a little off-putting, but it means that I have approached new Mormons I meet with a degree of rationality I might not have with others. And then stories like this one remind me why that approach is valid. I wanna talk to this guy. I think he’s someone who would give me a reasonable understanding of his own faith and teach me about what Mormonism could mean, rather than the stereotypes I have regarding it. It gives me hope for a faithfully discerning world, despite differences of religion or belief.

Late Night video games

Last night for me was a night of distinct putzing.  True, I did clean up the bathroom a little, which needed major work, and a I got a load of laundry done.  But I really feel like I did less.  Why?  Video games.  Specifically, Bioshock, which has evidently won lots of video game awards.  If you’re like me and don’t really follow computer games and don’t really care about what you’re missing, here’s a nice article on why you might want to care.  Maybe.

Granted that Bioshock is a good melding of genre types, with enough shooting for hard-core first person shooters, but enough other stuff for people like me who haven’t really been into similar games since Kings Quest and the first-generation Carmen Sandiego games, I still find it oddly attractive outside its video game role.   Why?  Perhaps because I don’t really play it.  Mike does.

When I was a kid playing KQ with my sisters, there was always a fight about who got to be in the driver’s seat.   If you were playing together, of course you all wanted to be there when various plot points unfolded, but it was always more exciting to solve the puzzles and discover things yourself, rather than watching someone else do so.  With Mike and Bioshock, this isn’t really the case.  I suck at first person shooters, and I don’t care to experiment with the different fun ways to kill things very much.  Is it amusing when you accidentally throw a corpse at an enemy?  Yeah, probably, but not that amusing.

The real fun comes from  getting to boss Mike around without actually being mad at him.  Comments such as “You haven’t gone down that hall to your left yet.  No, no your other left.  Go back!” or “There’s an Eve hypo on top of that rock.” or “B! B!  You need more health.  Nope, you’re dead.” are perceived as helpful, rather than pissy.  I get to yell with drama, rather than anger, which is always fun.

For that, I will stay up till midnight even though I was sick and meant to get to bed early.

The Babe with the Power

Ok, so some of you do not know my admiration of and fascination with that wonder of movies, Labyrinth. Not only does it have some of the best special effects ever (That baby did all its own stunts. Really. And there’s no puppets here. No strings.), it also showcases the talents of powerhouses David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. And if you haven’t played the Labyrinth Drinking Game, you have never properly felt the power of The Sack. Molly, I’m speaking to you here.

If you are unaware, you may even have missed the pop culture significance of this movie and its presence with us today. While I was unable to secure a photo of the Bowie Impersonator (aka Cristen) in action, I will add one soon. In the meantime, you’ll have to be contented with this.

But wait, there’s more:

cristen-bowie.jpg

The Bowie Impersonator has arrived!

And Now I’ve found the Answer…

To all my job-time blues.  Since E’bess was kind enough to post the link to the Glarkware site, I have discovered this shirt, which seems to indicate that giant things do not fit well in your garden.  While it is a quaint and humorous little thing, it has led me to a solution which will solve all of my financial troubles for the rest of my life.  It capitalizes both on the Texan and American love for things bigger, and the stupid people love for kitsch.  The answer: GIANT gnomes.

Now I know some of you are thinking who would buy a GIANT gnome?  I wouldn’t.  At least not for purposes other than investing in the gnome market and reaping a hefty profit.  But then, you, my reader, are smarter than the average bear.  Or American.  And therefore, you cannot be taken as a true indicator of the market system.  These things are going to bigger than beanie babies and Tickle Me Elmo put together.  Literally.  And what better way to show the awesome driving power of your new behemoth SUV than by loading it up with a GIANT gnome that completely takes over your tiny yard?

If anyone is looking to make a timely investment in GIANT gnomes, please let me know.

TEAL reigns again!

I noticed today in my little google tracker that someone had visited my blog as a result of a TEAL search.  That’s right, they actually typed in “typo eradication and advancement league” as their search terms.  What is going on in the world?  Has the word of this miraculous mission spread into public approval?  Have the  rampaging masses finally stopped and recognized the wickedness of their ways?  Has the general public finally called out for a spelling and grammar savior?  Have we all gone mad enough to finally become sane?

I think not yet.  But still, it gives me pause.  And then gives me hope.

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