Saturday, April 30, 2011


In some VH1 rockumentary about the Who, Pete Townsend said something like: "Keith Moon is a bleeding genius, Roger Entwistle is a genius, and I'm some kind of a genius, but Roger Daltrey is, well, just a singer." I thought that was kind of an odd thing to say.

Then I got my first copy of Live at Leeds, a week or so back. The first song, Heaven and Hell, pretty clearly shows what he's talking about. Entwistle sings lead. Fact is, even Townsend is in the back seat here. This song is basically an excuse for Moon and Entwistle to go wild. Maybe the best jazz/rock fusion ever.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Judaean People's Front or the People's Front of Judaea

Got an email at work today very reminiscent of Monty Python:

The National Employment Law Project is currently promoting a research brief which claims minimum wage mandates don’t reduce teen employment. The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) completed a new analysis demonstrating how the study uses faulty methods to promote the activists’ agenda. Below is a press release and statement from EPI on the analysis.

Spokespersons are available for interview. To schedule, please email or call me at blah blah blah blah

"The Employment Policies Institute, no no, we don't have truck with those wingnuts, they're sitting over there!"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Conversations in my head

All too often when I am out exercising (OK, I suppose that itself doesn't happen all too often) I find myself arguing in my head with my boss. I suppose it may have been worse in former jobs, when I actually saw and had to deal with my boss more frequently, as opposed to now, when he's on the other coast, but still.

This is a bad sign. I am 45 years old. Exercise is supposed to be a time of clearing one's mind, getting away from all that, like Calgon ("take me away!"). I suppose the best plan would be to lose the boss, but then I would lose the income stream.

The next best plan, which I put into action today, was to go have lunch with friends, which invariably puts things into context and actually gives ideas as to how the boss, over time, might actually be lost. Stay tuned. Though, of course, the lunch made it all too necessary to get back out and exercise, delish though it was.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unread email count hovers near 666

This has been going on for months. I have flirted with the dread number of the beast, off and on, for some time in my personal email account. Each time I see the number pop up I instinctively rush in and cull my unread emails, harvest the junk, get it down in 600 range, but then it creeps back up on me.

I know if I went in and got it down to 400 or so I'd feel better. Or do I derive some sick pleasure by this dalliance with digital Mephistopheles?

Last week in Vegas I was in room 669, in the "Roman Tower." Across the hall from me was, you guessed it, room 666. Gee, if I were designing a hotel, I'd think of skipping that number, along with floor 13, right?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Best Blog Ever

Somebody I hadn't been in touch with for some time, someone from grad school, told me today that mine was the best blog he had ever read. This warms the cockles of my little blogging heart, I must tell you. It is ever harder to write a blog, when so little happens in my life, when I must spend so much of my time cobbling together words about such exciting subjects and insurance and technology, when my ears and mouth work so hard with the telephone and the so-called electronic mail, so little room is left for the soul.

Or, rather, I have to keep digging down looking for it, but it is there, and I do try to put it here, and all without drilling in detail into the personal lives of family members (no mean feat). Surfacing the soul from the narrow confines of the four walls of my office, with the comfortable chair that I so rarely sit in, with all those books, some of them worthwhile, others merely useful, that I so rarely read, consumed as I am with churning through the ephemera of risk management and the digital piping that subtends it, putting myself forward as an expert because, by all means, there need to be experts.

Some years ago, when I first found myself dabbling on the edges insurance, long before I knew enough to even fake a description of it, I went out and bought a slim volume of Wallace Stevens, who was of course an insurance executive by trade. I still haven't read much of it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

nicknames of our cats

Rascal is also known as Nunu or, simply, "bottom kitty", primarily because she likes to have her butt scratched but also, in truth, because that's the role she plays with Leon. Leon, the dominant, is also known as Ruru.

Another singer

Aside from the New Pornographers record, I also got The Crane Wife, from the Decemberists. An interesting comparison. As I said, AC Newman doesn't impress me that much as a singer. Maybe he has pipes, but you can't tell because he's hiding behind the ladies who, for some reason, always sing along at the same time.

Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, on the other hand, is clearly not a great technical singer.  And he looks an awful lot like Dwight Shrute, from The Office.  But he is a wonderfully expressive and human singer, he lets his passable if imperfect voice hang out their naked, and it works. And when he gets a great singer in (say, Shara Worden), they just let her rip. And, in the end, the Decemberists are a better band with greater vision.


It is difficult for me to get to my office without passing a major construction site which has closed at least one lane. Time was, I would have considered this a pain in the ass.  In 2011, I recognize it as a sign that I live in an area that is doing OK economically, and so am cheered.

Also, it slightly extends the time I can listen to music in my car. Just traded in some old boox at Nice Price and snapped up a live Cream record and the Who's Live at Leeds for the car stereo.  Yes, I know, I am old, but so what.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wasting Asset

Just got the New Pornographers' most recent, if not quite new album Together.  Here's what I don't understand.  They are a good band, with a good sound, and an admirably egalitarian ethos. A.C. Newman writes some good songs.

But the times when they really soar and shine is when Neko Case steps up front and belts. She's the secret weapon that makes them into a great band at times. She's the only one whose voice has a lot of meat and texture.  So why is it that there's only one track on the record where she really fronts the band?


Friday, April 15, 2011

Sergio Ramos is a thug

In both of Real Madrid's Champions League games against Tottenham, Ramos was on Gareth Bale like something out of Mad Max. He should have gotten cards both times. And Bale still schooled him a couple of times.

On the other hand, I've come to enjoy watching the curly-headed Marcelo work.  That guy has craft.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Back from Vegas

I had the distinct displeasure of heading out to America's fetid armpit in the desert, Las Vegas.  God, what a dump. At least I was able to do some worthwhile business there and had at least one decent meal, which really isn't as easy as all the hype would lead you to believe.

Tuesday night I walked from Caesar's Palace to the Venetian to figure out where I was supposed to meet somebody the next morning. To do so I had to pass by Casino Royale and some restaurant with an all-bacon theme. I saw a rail-thin woman in heels and a tight black dress walking along as if she had just chugged a gallon of paint thinner, staggering and barely staying upright with the support of the guy who had surely plied her with it.

I rode to the airport in a stretch Hummer that showed up at just the right time when the taxi queue had gotten too long at Caesar's.

I flew to Memphis, and was delighted to spend an hour and a half at this modest little airport with decent pulled pork barbeque (thought the sauce was too sweet).  While I was there there were two announcements that people had lost things:  first a woman left some silver earrings at the security checkpoint, and then someone else left a cellphone in the bathroom. That's more like it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good Hair

Usually when we rent documentaries I get bored, but I had been pushing to get Chris Rock's Good Hair for some time, and finally, this weekend, it arrived.  Watch this movie. It's funny, but not all that funny.  Rock is serious about this subject, about protecting his little girls from feeling shitty about their hair, and he uses the influence and access that comes with being a very famous guy to go out and make a serious, engaging, unrelenting movie. He leaves very few stones unturned.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Our open-minded girl

Natalie, on her choice for desert tonight:  "I'm not picky like you, mom.  I'll eat Hershey's chocolate."

Monday, April 04, 2011

Sublet changeover

So my subletter moved across the hall into his own office late last month, and the guy through the wall from me took over his space. In my mind, my first subletter was very fortunate that his space was taken over with no effort from me.  I released him from the next month's rent -- which I was not contractually obligated to do -- but then he wanted me to prorate and get rent from the other guy for the days that I let the other guy took over his space.  He calculated the amount that he should be paid as $53.16.

I laughed at him, told him that he was lucky that I wasn't enforcing the one month's notice thing, and told him that if he wanted the $53.16 he could ask my new subletter for it.  Well today me and the other guy finally executed a a sublease and I got a deposit and a check for April's rent, and I couldn't help but notice that he had also cut a check for $53.16.  Hmmm, I wonder who that could be for?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The decline of the NCAA

A short piece in the New Yorker this week spoke honestly about the decline of the NCAA as a stepping stone to the NBA, as the NBA D-League and European leagues become better places to play.  Oh well.  I'm sorry, but living in a place where college basketball dominates the landscape and has for my entire lifetime, I can live with that.  Universities with big teams have drifted too far from their core missions.  Big money sports were not supposed to be what the university was all about.  If college basketball becomes less relevant to the ongoing operations of the university, that's OK.  It would certainly be preferable if the same thing happened to football, since football really sucks.

Universities can think up a new funding mechanism other than headline sports. If, in states like my own North Carolina, that means that the flagship university (Chapel Hill) ends up getting marginally less money as other universities (UNCs-Charlotte, -Greensboro, -Asheville, -Wilmington, etc.) develop stronger donor bases, that's OK too. The university is not about sports, and it in particular is not about one specific sport.

What we do want to have is a strong public higher education ecosystem with a healthy mix of public and private funding sources.  California public education is hurting now.  Texas just realized it had a $27 billion fiscal hole. North Carolina must retain its leadership position.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Hearth fried pizza

Grabbed a couple of slices from Whole Foods today.  When I was getting them out of the car at my office, some dyslexic optical illusion made me mistake "hearth-fired pizza" for the altogether more impressive "hearth-fried pizza."   For a moment, I thought it was love.