Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wall Street, Derivatives, and Your Pension.

I'm just venting here, but if you are all mad because your 401k/pension lost a ton of money (which basically means that the "defined benefit" plan that you were under is probably going to get dumped by your current provider onto the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and your benefits will probably get cut), why get mad at Goldman Sachs rather than getting mad at the idiots that run your pension fund?

This just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Congress is ranting and railing about how the little guy is getting screwed, but they are placing the blame on the wrong person. 

True, it's probably not your fault or many other Little Guy's fault, but the Senior Investment Officer for Asset Allocation and Risk Management at CALPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System) who makes $400k/yr is the person that should have been protecting the little guy, not Goldman Sachs, they don't talk to little guys, they only talk to people and institutions with Billions of Dollars.

But take a look at the picture above, not a single Pension Fund manager in sight.  However,  what is pictured is about 5% of the total US GDP.  The collective value of the suits on these guys would feed most 3rd world countries for a year.  I really need to get in on this action.

Goldman Sachs exists to SELL RISK TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY RISK!!!  I dare you to go try to open a checking account at Goldman.  They don't deal in small dollars.  I've been inside their office at 85 Broad St. several times.  Those bankers don't buy $3,000 Zenga suits by talking to 500 people a day about their $2,000 savings accounts and wheeling and dealing to get them into a decent interest rate car loan on a used Honda.  I'm shocked they even wasted their time talking to me.  I'm shocked it took them more than 3 visits to determine that it was not worth any more of their time to continue talking to me, maybe they are not as smart as I gave them credit for.

However, it is the Senior Investment Officer for Asset Allocation and Risk Management at CALPERS who is responsible for determining how much risk your pension fund is willing to take in order to pay out your pension when you retire because the amount of cash you and your employer put in does not add up to the amount they promised to pay out when you retire and the difference has to come from somewhere. 

And lets face it, the Ponzi scheme that is basically every Pension/ Social Security scam ever foisted on "the people" is not indefinitely sustainable, but you don't care, because you get yours, let your grand-kids starve to death (you fed "them" for enough years anyway).

The best part is though, CALPERS is now making HUGE risky bets hoping for HUGE returns to make up for its dismal recent performance.  So now your retirement NANNY is taking even more risk than the last few years when all they had to do in order to take no risk and get the same 20 year returns was invest in Treasuries, which by definition carry NO RISK!

So, rather than carry no risk, they will take HUGE risk to get you back to the same place as taking NO risk would have gotten you to.  AWESOME DEAL HUH?

Oh, and CALPERS has to have this big shiny building (designed by my Little Brother's Design Firm).  Can you say "Shout Out!"  And believe me, these guys are not cheap.

But you can feel good when your pension manager tells you (from his cushy corner office of this place) you have no benefits left.  Oh, but his benefits are not being cut because he is compensated at "market rates" even though his salary and job are guaranteed by his union contract but his benefits are paid up front in cash, not on some whim of a promise by the state like you had to settle for.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I" Rock "You" All Night Long! Balboa Family Edition!

This weekend was crazy. 

There were random family get togethers with a long lost sister, in which a brother was now long lost.  Boardwalk trips with cousins, sleepovers and of course, late night Rock Band Jam Sessions!

I'm not one to brag, but I was laying down some track that even Snoop himself gets goose bumps listening to.  You can see my passion for flair as I belt out some of the great tunes of the 80's, 90's and Today!

Other members of the band contributed their own passion for the pre-packaged hits of Guitar Hero, Rock Band II and Lego Rock Band.

As you can see, Long Lost Sister can stage kick with the best of Slash and those other Hair Band Hotties.

I fail to see how she maintains her Bad Girl Image while wearing a melon top and crop pants, but if Axl and Brett Michaels (Rest in Peace) can rock the fish net tank top and still maintain the false facade of "manly," I think she can get away with rocking the suburban housewife thing.

There was some complication with the number of participants we had, so we actually split up the drum set into a top kit and a base pedal, which you would think would help thing out a bit, but I still sucked on the drums.

Also, you may notice that like a real Rock Band, we had stage demands, like a bowl full of M&Ms, pop corn and assorted Fun-Size Candybars to keep up hopped up until the wee hours of the morning.  Our host and Roadie made sure that we had only the best junk food for the first stop on our nationwide tour of random peoples living rooms in search of the best virtual rock experience.

Now some of you may think that it was all grit and grime and grunge or whatever the kids call it these days.  But what you may not know, is that somehow, there is someone out there that thinks that virtual singing Jackson 5 hits is cool. 

Yep, you guessed it, it is this lady, also known as Wife.  She was belting out the mini-formerly-black-guy Falsetto like you couldn't imagine.  I almost had her pictured with an outrageous Afro (wow, the spell checker made me capitalize that, is afro a proper noun?) and giant flower covered bell-bottoms.  And now I can't get that freaking "Oh, baby give me one more chance" crap out of my head!  Thanks.

I will admit that playing Rock Band on 47" of LCD fury is definitely the way to go, especially on screen as clear as Vizio, cause you gotta feel the beats as clear as stereo, and I lay the track like I was smooth as Coolio.

Yeah, you read that right, my blog is straight up cool as Ice, but I don't take crap, but then again I'm really nice. 

In a family band you find a bit of give and take, when I'm saving my lil sis from termination wit' da wammy bar shake, till she screws up again and then the game's at stake, but i can't get too mad case she brought the cake.

So riddle me this.  Does it count if the singer is laughing and the Bass Guitar is singing? 

Also, can you get style points if you are folding your arms while singing?  David, we need to kick this up a notch next time!

Peace, Sista' out!  Thank You Cleveland!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now? Too Cute to Not Share!

In light of my spotlight this week for Twin #1 (Brooks Brothers) I thought I would share some of this weeks highlights of him, these were just too good not to share.  Enjoy.

Brooks Brothers gets his own Big Boy bed, now whether he can figure out how to use it is another story entirely.  This week I have been spending a lot of time in the room at bedtime working with them to stay in their beds.

 Can you hear me now?  He loved this little Sunday photo-shoot in the front yard and generally hammed it up for the camera. 

I was pretty low to the ground, and he was curious, so he came in for a closer look.

You have to love this smile.

What is better than getting a new bed?

Sliding down it while dad is trying to take apart the old one.

He kept climbing up and sliding down, I almost tried it out.

 Book Time? 

Twin #1 loves books.  He is always the first to grab books at bed time, and just about any time you can find him digging through a good book.


I'm not sure if anyone really likes playing with this, but it was a decent picture, I was trying to play with my focal points, and this seemed to turn out ok.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Twins Make Brooks Brothers Look Good!

Lately I have been working on new nicknames for the boys and they keep getting shot down in committee, so I think I need help trying to find the right nicknames. 

My latest nickname for Twin #1 is "Brooks Brothers", mostly because he can rock just about any outfit including Urban Cowboy.  Just to be clear, he makes Brooks Brothers look good.

I know, not exactly a cool nickname like Skippy or Butch or Lunchbox, but I thought it fit pretty well.

I tried calling him "Harvard", but wife didn't want to put too much pressure on him.  She is always thinking ahead, I pretty much go with the moment.  I understand, she has a pretty good eye for the future, so maybe she thinks there is a crisis of confidence looming for Harvard?  She also is very sensitive to the locker-room effect of any name and its nickname derivatives.

Jeff Skilling (Enron), Hank Paulson (US Treasury), Stan O'Neal (Merrill Lynch) and Rick Wagoner (GM) are all poster children for why Harvard may lose its ardent glow, so maybe wife is betting against the enlightenment that Harvard will reap after they conclude their newly announced self-conducted study to see why their graduates are disproportionately responsible for the world's suffering.

Personally, I liked the nickname "The Snuggler" but he might hear it wrong and think that he is destined to fence stolen high end fine art around the world to Dictators, Sultans and Prime Ministers, and we certainly don't want to condone that. 

I thought maybe we could call him lefty (see picture above) because he freaked out when he thought that he had lost his left hand somewhere and would never be able to find it.  That was before I showed him that it was just a matter of adjusting his shirt sleeve.

For now though, I think I am just going to stick with "Brooks Brothers" until something better comes along.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Radical Right-Wing Conspiracy Instruction Manual Arrives!

So, I told you how I was personally inaugurated into the Radical Right-Wing Conspiracy (RRWC).  What I didn't tell you was that I have to start out as a low level grunt operative.  I'm not sure of the details, but they did send me and instruction manual that came in the mail last week.

It was even signed by the architect himself, who I think is the president of the Conspiracy, but it looks like the leadership is a secret and I don't have access to those levels of the organization yet. 

What tripped me out was the certificate of authenticity that came with the manual, I mean, who is going to fake Karl Rove's signature?  Is this really a high demand item on the conspiracy theorists signature collectors' market?

In addition to getting the instruction manual, I also was designated as Operative #1614 (see below), I don't know if I am allowed to share that, but all 3 of you who read this blog are probably members already anyway, so you can let me know if I use this as my name when meeting with my Republican Handler, or if I still use my real name and only use this one at the conspiracy meetings.

According to my manual, it looks like the conspiracy club is limited to 10,000 people, so if you want in you have to act fast.  I guess you don't want just anyone taking down the Fascist Global Elite Obama Regime Heck Bent on Ruining America and all things Freedom, only the best and brightest need apply, oh, and pay their $50 membership dues which I think gets you a and Anti-Obama T-Shirt and a Fake RRWC tattoo that you have to rub off really fast when you get caught breaking into Democrat Senators offices to bug their phones.

By the way, what kind of punch do they serve at the conspiracy meetings?  Last I heard, the meetings were held at strip clubs in LA, but I think that little benefit has been shut down after the little Michael Steel scandal a few weeks ago.  I know the punch is probably red, duh, but is it strawberry or cherry and do they add 7up to it?  I just want to know how crazy this ride is going to be.

Anyway, when I get around to reading this I will make sure that you know what a good RRWCist is supposed to do so you can join the fight.  I'm not sure if I have to wait for decoder glasses or something to get the code out of it, but I did read a couple of pages of it and it looks pretty boring, it basically pieces together a bunch of Fox News stories (which any good RRWCist already has memorized anyway) and appears to be narrated by by Jon Voight in his Paul Sarone voice from Anaconda.

Now I am off to pretend that people at a local Tea Party are really Republicans, I mean they probably are, although they are all old British ladies with Blue and Pink hair, and I've never seen a republican eat a cracker and call it a biscut...  Oh well, if I need to I'll just convert them, because even the Queen is a Republican, right?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Filthy Lucre... And a Clean Bedroom.

Is it really necessary to pay kids to do things they should do just because it gives them a little bit of motivation, and me a little bit less headaches, and less visits from CPS? 

Personally, I think my boys should just praise me when I walk in the door each night showering me with hugs and drawings depicting their gratitude for day in and day out keeping a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.

I even buy them Greek Yogurt!!!  I don't even know what that is, but apparently I provide only the finest for my sweet little germ factories.

But look at this picture.  I got shaken down by a 4 year old!  It is as if Al Sharpton, Michael Corleone and John Gotti all walked into my office and made me offer I couldn't refuse.  That sounds like a good way to intro a good joke, but this happened!

When I was a kid, as a way of saying "atta boy", my parents bought a 5 gallon bucket of white honey (how that differs from regular honey I will never know because I cannot even stand the smell of honey to this day) but I think that was about enough to get us to do our chores, plus the bucket of honey was backed up with a big thick leather belt, now that is what I call motivation.

But now we have to pay kids to make their beds, empty the silverware out of the dishwasher, "be good", and wake up with a dry pull-up.

I don't even think I get paid for not wetting the bed.  I really need to get in on some of these scams.

Personally I think the worst invention ever is the CPS (Child Protective Services) who apparently authorized the organization of a union for children.  Now I have to negotiate with a little Jimmy Hoffa like wiseguy, and hope that the negotiations don't end with a stuffed animals head severed and stuck in my bed as I sleep.

So how much is too much?  We have a "sticker chart" and once Little Guy gets 10 stickers in any given category, he gets $1, so it is about 10 cents for each chore, not exactly breaking the bank, but still I think he should be paying me rent out of that money, in which case I would probably have to make him a subsidized loan and roll over any unpaid balance and interest into a new note every year.

Has anyone ever successfully sued their kid for rent?  If they are under 18 do I have to pay for his lawyer if I sue him? 

How young is too young to make a kid mow the lawn and is 10 cents going to be breaking any child labor laws, especially if I can get him to sign a 20 year fixed price contract and incentivize him with an upfront payment of $10?  Could I enforce that contract?

What did you find that worked?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wife Expecting Triplets?

Is it really that time again?  The twins are getting so big!

Wife and I decided that it was time for The Other Twin to move into a Big Boy Bed.  This is a big deal, and it was a tough call because Twin #1 is doing just fine still chilling in his kid cage crib.

The Other Twin however, has been jumping out of his crib for months, but recently he just wouldn't stay in it, so we were at the point where this could get dangerous.

So Little guy and I pulled out the tool box and got to work dismantling a crib.  Little guy did a pretty good job taking out bolts and holding up sides when it got wobbly so I could remove the last of the bolts.

One sticking point was deciding whether to put the frame under the bed or not, we decided just to keep the box springs on the floor, I like this because it eliminates the chance that toys will get shoved under there.

The hardest part was deciding on the comforter.  We let the boys choose between balls and trains.  It was a tough decision, but ultimately The Other Twin chose balls.

WEIRD FACT:  When The Other Twin gets out of his bed, he pulls the covers up to the pillow, every time...  WEIRD, he might not be my kid.
Twin #1 has jumped out of his crib only a couple of times, but I saw him teetering on the top edge yesterday, so we are going to have to outfit him with a new bed this weekend.

So now the pressure is on to decide whether to sell the cribs or not.  I'm thinking we try for triplets, as wife is generally an overachiever I think she will probably agree with me on this one.  And since the universe hates me, this would be the inevitable conclusion as I can't just live my dream of raising just one kid, one measly kid on pure unadulterated hand-me-downs, un-polluted by having to buy even more "stuff".
Wife, what do you think?  Make it a full half dozen?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em... Pack 'Em!

Have you ever had one of those days when you work all day long only to come home to your wife folding laundry in the formal dining room that has never been formally dined in?

Well, welcome to my world yesterday.

So this is what I have to put up with when I get home.  I literally could not stop laughing when I saw this.  I felt so bad for wife.  I guess she just could not get anything done with the twins hanging all over her so she strapped on the pack and chucked in Twin #1. 

I just had to share this picture.

Worst case scenario this is good training for our imaginary family expedition to Everest next year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Diet Coke Intervention? Or Commodity Futures Tycoon?

I think there might be a need for an intervention at my house.

Wife has been on a perpetual Diet Coke buying binge and for some reason she keeps blaming me for it.

I'd like to note, for the record, that I don't think that I have ever purchased a 24 pack of Diet Coke, let alone 5 of them.

I'm certainly not saying that I do not joyfully partake in the sweet heavenly diet nectar of the angels (wait, I thought that was Mountain Dew), regardless, I drink my fair share, but never have I given anyone the impression that I need to double fist these things 5 times a day.

Maybe she has a sponsorship deal from Coca Cola?  Maybe she is smuggling something else in the cans?  I'm not sure, but when I saw this sight in the pantry, I knew I had to say something.

So when I did say something, guess what she told me...  No, she didn't say anything about that..., but what she did say was that she was hedging the future price of Diet Coke by buying now in bulk at sale prices.  So now rather than buying Oil Futures on the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange), we are going to sink our savings into a consumable, that we are actually going to consume?

So if I understand this correctly,  she believes that the price is going to go up, despite the fact that the Wall Street Journal reported that Walmart is cutting prices in advance of receiving concessions from suppliers believing that there will be a long term trend in price drops. 

If I interpret the formula above correctly, she believes that F(t) the [future price] will be greater than the [spot price adjusted for the lost investment value of the spot price over the applicable term] $4.99 times 1+.0015 [1 month Fed funds rate as it approximates the expected rate of return on an asset with no risk, in this case the remaining life of a US government debt instrument] ^1 (T-t) which is 1 month as I assume it will take about a month or 2 to make it through all of this supply before we need to purchase more).  So doing the math indicates the forward price to be  $4.997. 

This is merely complicated by the same purchase a week earlier at $5.99, so while this weeks purchase [2- 24 packs] would be a huge score [but for] last weeks purchase of [3- 24 packs]  at $5.99.  This still puts us pretty far behind when you dollar cost average the purchases and find out that we are in this for 5.59/pk.  So in order to make a "profit" in this case the profit is feeling good on a hot April day that I have gamed the retail system, Walmart is going to have to keep the price of Diet Coke 24pks above $5.60 for the rest of the summer.

So do I recommend medical treatment or trust that Wife's financial investment is going to pay off?  I'm going to have to crack a cold one and think about this for a while.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tired of Being Limited by the Free Market!

So I am tired of being limited by the free market when it comes to dress shirts.  So I have decided to Implement the MASTER PLAN and go it alone and make my own.

I figured that if I could master collars and cuffs, I could probably pull off an entire shirt, then I can order fabric from some decent textile shops in the UK and forever distance myself from the centrally controlled dress shirt cartel, also known as Jermyn Street.

So I figured I would start with the hard part, the Collar.  My first one came out really well (shown above), although it didn't fit because I screwed up on my measurements.  This one was supposed to be a 17 with a 3" point, but ended up being a 15 1/2 with a 2 7/8" point.  So if anyone has a use for a spare black dress shirt collar made out of a 400 Thread Count bed sheet, let me know.

The second one turned out OK (not pictured), but I double stitched the collar points, and when I turned it, it didn't work out very well.  I also added a button to the 2nd one just to see how the spacing was going to work and it appeared to be fine.  I made this one exactly 17" with a 2 7/8" point and it fit really snug and I didn't like the length of the point.

The third one (Left), came out just about perfect, the picture taken from my phone laves a lot to be desired though..  I did this one at 17 1/4 with a 3 1/8 point.

This slightly longer point makes it lay against my collar bone nicely, so this might be my length.

The only down-side to each of these adjustments was I had to draw up a new pattern for each one and it takes about 45 minutes to get the pattern perfect.  Putting the collar together however only takes about 20 minutes.  Hopefully, once I settle on a pattern, I can get down the production time to 10 minutes.

So Collar, MASTERED!  Move over ETRO, Brooks Brothers and Versace, you have been replaced!

As an afterthought, I figured I would throw in a picture of the pattern pieces that I drew so you could see how many extra lines I had to draw to get to this point, and this isn't even the ugliest one!

I thought that maybe I should just buy a pattern, but that would probably just confuse me, so this will be more painful, but at least I won't have to deal with that stupid pattern paper stuff.  I like doing the designs on heavy interfacing stuff (whatever this stuff I draw on is)

The top piece here is the collar part that you see, the bottom piece is the collar stand, that is the inside piece that sits against your neck.

Now off to do cuffs this weekend, so that a few weeks from now, my loyal reader Randy and I can be rolling some phat new shirts!  My label is called Beauhunks, so look for that in a high end boutique near you in my dreams. The design work below was done by Zane in about 15 minutes, nice work.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Kids Playing with Scissors... Self Haircut Edition.

Giving yourself a haircut is just par for the course at our house.  So when Little Guy took the shears to his own hair, nobody even blinked.

Wife thought Little Guy just snuck off to eat some recently looted Easter candy, little did she know that he was in our bathroom trying to get the hair out of his eyes (full disclosure, his hair was nowhere near his eyes, but it was touching his forehead, so that was probably a little too close for comfort).

I wish that I could have gotten a really good picture of the mess he made out of his hair, however, wife got to him first and worked her "scissor magic" on his skull, heaven only knows whether it helped or hurt. 

His hair is so light that none of the shots came out, so much for paying a lot for a good camera, I thought this thing had some kind of artificial intelligence that would make the 4th dimension appear if I put it on that setting.

At first Twin #1 thought that the clippers tickled, then he just got annoyed by them, this kid is just so mellow sometimes, I have no idea where he gets that.

It was a tough call whether to do this haircut myself, or to subcontract this out to a professional, and by professional I mean someone that has products and tools generally identifiable for the explicit purpose of giving haircuts that don't look like Edward Scissor Hands on an acid trip performing interpretive dance style hair cutting on a 6 year old chia pet.

He has really curly hair, but it is really thin, so clippers are a dangerous option.  It seemed to turn out well, though I had my money on a disaster.

This kid (Twin # Other Twin) is a riot.  He likes the clippers, he hates the clippers, it is really all good.

As long as he gets to keep stuffing his face and his forehead with strawberries, he will pretty much sit through amputation without so much as a sigh.  I love kids you can bribe cheap.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Weekend at the Balboa's

What an awesome Easter Weekend.  I think I am going to let the pictures do the talking today, but you can only imagine what I would have to say, if I was inclined to tell you all about how I drove 2 hours just to have some over-sized gang-bangers dressed up as boy scouts block our entrance to E-Rock based on some arbitrary volume limits.

I could also tell you all about how hot wife was giddy to have her picture taken in a sea of Blue Bonnets, you would have to be a Texan to understand, I guess.

I could probably go on for hours about our fun trip to Pedernales Falls after our failed attempt to hike at E-Rock. 

The little guys had a blast jumping off of rocks and climbing up rocks and trying to escape the grasps of their mother in order to get closer to the rock cliffs to jump into the cool water to quench the heat and lack of sunscreen.  (in wife's defense, she thought we were just going to hike up a big feldspar and quartzite granite dome, not hike on limestone near the water, see the difference?)

If I was so inclined, I might then share a giddy ruse about Little Guy flying his first kite that he got for his Birthday a few weeks ago. 

But you probably don't want to hear about how the wind was perfect in our cul-de-sac and how everyone including the Littler-Guys joined in on the fun and trying not to get swept away by quick gusts of wind and taken off to some far-away land where they would be adopted and used as child slaves to make T-shirts.

You actually might want to hear about that, because that is one of the strategies I'm considering as health care cost start to skyrocket.

The way I see it, if I can unload the little guys on some 3rd world factory for a few years, not only will they learn a practical skill that will be useful as the US becomes the equivalent of Haiti, I will actually save a boatload of cash on healthcare costs.

Then when they hit 26, which is when they will no longer be able to successfully sue me to keep them on my health insurance plan, they will have also lost any interest in going to college so bonus, no college fund necessary! 

I love the Brave New World, I am saving lots of cash!

Twin # Trouble still thinks he is big enough to ride it, I hate to be the one to break it to him, so I won't, I'll just laugh and take pictures, and with the new camera, the pictures actually come out better than they did historically, so bonus for you.

Check out this pic of him looking at his gauges and plotting his next  tarmac assault.

Twin #1 is had a blast pushing the yellow/red car thing to the top of the driveway, getting in and then racing to the bottom.The Big-Wheel is also back in action this week. 

He is gaining a lot of confidence lately, he no longer hold onto my hair when he rides on my shoulders, and he likes going fast, all the time. 

I think he actually believes he is Lightening McQueen.