Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Brief Look at the News, and a Story from Christmas Past

A few interesting items from the news...

CNN this morning is reporting that archaeologists have unearthed 264 ancient (1400 years) gold coins at a national park site in Jerusalem. Everyone seems to be all excited about this discovery, but I don't think it's anything special. Anyone can find lots of old coins just by pulling out the cushions from my La-Z-Boy and digging in the seams. This is, in fact, now my retirement plan, considering that I have given up on banks and financial advisors.

Speaking of banks...according to this article posted yesterday, there is no system to account for how those banks and investment houses are spending our money they received as part of the Big Economic Candy Giveaway of 2008. Consider these quotes from the article:

1. Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for J.P. Morgan Chase (which received $25 billion in bailout money): "We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it...We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to.";

2. Barry Koling, a spokesman for SunTrust Banks Inc. (which got $3.5 billion of your hard-earned dollars): "We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking."; and,

3. Wendy Walker, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Comerica Inc. (which received $2.25 billion from the government): "We're not sharing any other details. We're just not at this time."

Sleep well tonight. Your government knows what it's doing. The banks don't. You're screwed. Merry Christmas.

You can buy dolls nowadays that do just about anything: cry, pee, blink, talk, wave, etc. Many years ago, my father wanted to make his fortune marketing the ultimate real-baby doll he called "S***sy Mitzi," which would ... um ... defecate. A front page (!) article in yesterday's Washington Post (Baby Dolls Raise a Stink in More Ways than One) shows that someone has stolen poor Dad's idea: yes, Virginia, you can now buy a baby doll that poops. Excuse me if I don't run right out and buy one.

Which leads me to this story from a few days before Christmas, 1982...

Agnes and I were getting ready to fly from Berlin back to The States. Our daughter Yasmin was six years old, and we'd given her an early Christmas present to help keep her occupied during the long flight: an amazingly lifelike doll that not only blinked, but (because of a battery-operated bellows in its chest) breathed...the little chest rose and fell gently as the bellows worked. Agnes had also dressed the doll in a beautiful infant-sized dress and blanket - no doll clothes for this doll.


There we were, boarding our flight at Berlin's Tegel Airport, and Yasmin was already tired of carrying the doll. Naturally, I ended up with it. And, because it was so darned lifelike, I found myself unconsciously holding it like a real baby, gently rocking and bouncing it in my arms as we inched down the aisle to our seats. When we reached our places and Yasmin was strapped in, I asked if she wanted to hold her baby for the flight...she didn't; and so - not wishing to spend eight hours holding this doll (which, remember, was gently breathing) - I opened up the overhead compartment and stuffed it in.

There was a loud gasp from the row of seats behind us, and I looked down to see an elderly couple gaping in unconcealed horror at the despicable parent who had just cavalierly suffed his poor, breathing child in with the luggage.

Fortunately, my command of German was such that I could talk my way out of going to jail.

Nowadays, the only doll I travel with is Agnes, who is too big to fit into the overhead bin, and would break every bone in my body if I tried to put her there, anyhow.

Today is my last day of work before Christmas...after I escape from the office, I'll need to pick up the ham (for Christmas), the slices of beef rouladen (for Christmas Eve), and the last of the cooking supplies, and then hustle home to finish wrapping gifts and cleaning the house. When Leya is a little older, I'll continue my father's tradition of ostentatiously studding a length of 2x4 with nails to chase Santa off the roof.

As traditions go, it's not bad...and I can use the 2x4 on my financial advisor the rest of the year.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Malaise Inc said...

Well, I was disgusted to see some of those banks were still paying executive bonuses and provided executive prequisites. I was also disturbed that the Treasury Department wasn't releasing information with regard to who got the funds. But, inasmuch as money is fungible, it really isn't possible to provide detail tracking of how it was spent. Particularly given that some of the banks were in a liquidity crisis and needed it to operate (i.e. pay the bills).

Mike said...

"There was a loud gasp"

LOL You could do this again only this time video it. Could get you some money on whatever show.

fiona said...

Wish I'd thought of the overhead when my kids were smaller *sigh* could have saved a small fortune!

Melissa B. said...

I'm dating myself here, but when I was about 4 I had a Betsy Wetsy doll. She had a bottle that one filled with water, and when I fed her, she peed. One day I decided that Betsy would prefer OJ for breakfast. Well, I jammed up the works, but good! And, because we lived in a warm, humid climate, the bugs soon became attracted to Betsy, in all her sweet stickiness. Just before she pitched Betsy in the Dumpster, Mom saw ants crawling out of her diaper!