Saturday, November 15, 2008

Doggie Style

I have a Maltese dog named Duchess. She is the the smartest, sweetest pet I've ever had. However, right now she is in heat. This has prompted all the neighborhood dogs to come sniffing around our house. Not only that, but these males howl and bark and whine for Duchess. It is extremely annoying.

One of these suitors is especially vigilant. His name is Winston, and he's a gray poodle. Winston does not live in our apartment complex. He lives at another complex near ours, but he does not seem to mind the commute. Winston has a jingly collar with tags that have his name and owner's phone number etched onto them. Earlier this week I was letting Duchess outside when out of nowhere came Winston. He darted over and immediately started sniffing my dog. I quickly figured out that he was a male and had to take Duchess back inside. But this did not stop Winston. He stayed outside our front door and hollered for over an hour. He scratched at the door and howled like a mad man. Not even my husband could intimidate him enough to make him go home. Finally we cornered him so that we could read his owner's information off the collar. We called them, hoping that they would come and fetch their dog, but these people were completely unconcerned that he had escaped. They said Winston escapes a lot and that he'd go home eventually. I could not believe that these dog-owners were so unconcerned. Winston is a very cute and friendly dog, and he could easily be picked up by strangers and taken away. Not only that, but our neighborhood is full of traffic, and Winston could get run-over.

Every day since then Winston has come a-calling at least once a day. And just to make matters worse, he typically escapes after 10 p.m. This means that instead of having a normal, quite night, we have to listen to two dogs carry one like crazed beasts. So not only do we have to contend with Winston's behavior, but his presence outside makes Duchess go nuts! She barks and jumps around and acts a complete fool. I cannot wait for her to return to normal. I miss my sweet, calm dog. Thank goodness that she only comes in heat once every six months!

Thanks for reading,

The Cajun Haole.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Woe the Red

Slate article:

I am infuriated with the latest financial data for our nation's economy. The widespread fiscal irresponsibility of our legislature and private industry is truly reprehensible. The publication of the latest national economic data has been like the great disappointment of Dorothy when she pulled back the curtain to reveal the Wizard of Oz was just a sad, little man. Except that no matter how much we'll try, we won't be able to get our economy back to Kansas with simple heel-clicking and hopeful wishing.

What would really make me pleased would be seeing those who ran our nation into such deep red to be strung up by their pocketbooks and dangled as bait in front of those who now suffer as a consequence. The election brought ideas of socialism into the forefront of conflict available for political fodder. It made me question the essential American attitude that capitalism should reign as king of the economy. For the last eight years, at least, the government seems to have sanctioned spending in the red as a valid budgetary practice. And as a result, private industry followed suit.

I want to know the names of the accounting agencies who failed to publish, accurately, the impending melt down of so many main-stay American businesses. Why were these companies allowed to behave so badly to the point of needing a bailout? Shouldn't previous quarterly financial statements have given ample warning to executives in time for them to make some effort at damage control? Since they chose not to do anything, the burden fell to taxpayers.
Which brings me back to those concerns over socialism. It would seem that when every citizen's contributed tax dollars are used for purposes of buying up foreclosures and taking bad debt ownership from banking institutions, that this, indeed, would be akin to every tax payer now owning a share of whatever corporation got bailed out. So if we all own a bit of this bank and that lending institution, then, assuming the bailout efforts help, once these corporations recover and regain their profitability, will every tax payer receive a dividend check? I highly doubt it.

Whoever decided that it would be alright if our national deficit exceeded a comprehensible number? I can't even imagine how much ten trillion dollars would look like, much less conceive of a way to pay it back. Didn't anyone in our elected legislature take an accounting class? Why weren't they subject to the same common sense as any commoner would be? If you do not have money to buy/fund/invest, then don't spend. Additionally I find it galling that the red, Republicans, who are supposed to be advocates of conservative fiscal spending, were the ones spending us right into the ground.

I resent that my tax dollars will be buying up bad mortgages everywhere when I do not even own a home myself. In fact, thanks to people who got mortgages and defaulted, it's unlikely that me and my husband are going to be able to consider buying a home anytime soon thanks to the credit freeze. Not that we can really try to save for one either since inflation is sky-rocketing the prices of even the basics like water and bread, and better paying jobs are like four-leaf clovers.

When I read Ray Fisman's article from about the ways political partisanship played a part in the bailout bill, I found my anger at the legislature intensify. Green should be the only color our country is concerned with instead of red verses blue. And I cannot fathom why lobbist groups are even allowed in Washington at this point. Where was the lobbyist group to protect the U.S. Treasury or the dollar's earning power? The FED should have the authority to restrict reckless legislative spending. The FED should have authority to do more than manipulate the interest rate. It is the only governmental body that has any concrete commonsense knowledge on how an economy should function. Why doesn't the government authorize the FED to act as it probably wishes it could? Because the power of the purse is the main purpose of Congress, and heaven forbid the House of Representatives take away its own ability to manipulate the market for more money.

I hope our new president-elect made all A's in his economic courses and that his favorite color is green.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome Home

As you all may know, last week I left for a private island in Tortola, BVI. I wish I could say that we had a wonderful time and that the island was everything we'd hoped it would be. But in keeping with the theme of my life lately, all was not as it was promised. Our "private paradise" was a mosquito infested, "Louisiana in late summer", with the rudest staff imaginable. Additionally, we found out that being there "not in the season", that being when the cruise ships were expected, meant that virtually everything was closed. Some of the low points included being stranded while the shuttle ferries were broken only to finally be taken back in pitch blackness on the open rough sea in a rubber dingy and having the beautiful arch, underneath which we were envisioned to be wed, was destroyed, not repaired by the carpenter, and left in pieces by the recent hurricane. So just like the wedding shower and reception, the wedding/honeymoon was a far cry from the imagination's creation. In fact, there wasn't a single thing about Marina Cay that was as advertised. We were told, after arriving, that all of the activities which were supposed to be complimentary, were in fact non-existant because the dive shop had moved off the island. So there went our fun times scuba'ing, open ocean fishing, kayaking and snorkeling. There was no wi-fi, t.v. or phone signal. Pretty much the only things we could do there was eat at a very expensive beach front restraunt, or else sit in our mosquito buffet room, or sit on a three foot stretch of rocky, coral filled "beach", or swim in the ocean. Oh and get sun-burned too all crispiness (despite ridiculous amounts of sun-screen)
And so the day after we exchanged vows, we checked out and left the island.
We went to the West End of Tortola, and we stayed at a little place called Sebastians on the Beach in Little Apple Bay. At least there were no mosquitos attacking us at all hours there. We rented a car and spent most of our remaining time exploring. What we discovered was a third world country, seriously. The roads are mostly gravel, or else if they were paved, huge pot holes and washed out areas of asphalt plagued our path; the terrain is nothing but insanely steep and twisting mountain passes which weave up and down along the coast, like the ultimate roller coaster for a car. Secondly, the electricity was unreliable, at best, meaning that if the wind blew too hard, the lights would go out. There was indoor plumbing, but no centralized sewage system. Instead each little area would have its own septic tank, and when it rained, like it did on three of the days we were there, the lovely smell of you-know-what would welcome us into each neighborhood. So while the scenery was stunning, the island's interior left so much to be desired.
Needless to say that while I may never be a true fan of Shreveport, I have never in my life been so excited about coming back to it. Nick and I promised in our vows to be there for each other in good times and bad and for better or for worse, and, just to make sure we meant it, we got a honeymoon from hell. If I had been there with anyone else, I would have just cried, whined and waited at the airport until my return flight came. I do not know how many times I said out loud that I wanted my money back and to just leave straight away. Without Nick by my side I could not have found any moments of happiness there. In a bizarre twist, having such a wretched time on the island only made me realize how incredibly happy my husband makes me. He was the only reason I smiled, laughed, or relaxed. He brings out the best in me with such ease, and I know that I will have a happier life with him as my husband than I possibly could have had on my own.
This afternoon we became lawfully wedded at a Justice of the Peace's house. Since the Louisiana law requires a "ceremony" which must, at least consist of an exchange of "I do"'s, the idea of not hearing our vows, for the first time, from each other atop a sunset panorama was just unacceptable. So we had our island ceremony first, then our honeymoon, and finally came back home to make it official by law. Regardless, I did have such a nice second ceremony with my mom and nana as witnesses. We got to have the idillic romance of a destination wedding, plus an intimate family ceremony too. And I got to feel supremely beautiful in my wedding dress, twice!


Mrs. Courtney Nelson.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fear of Flying

I am leaving on Tuesday to fly to the British Virgin Islands, specifically Tortola. For any of you who might not know where Tortola is, it's diagonally to the right of the top hump of South America. Christopher Columbus discovered and named it the "land of the turtle dove". Probably because these turtle doves were migrating from Africa where Wikipedia says they normally live. Regardless of why Columbus picked a turtle dove to be Tortola's namesake, I think getting married in the land of the turtle doves sounds romantic and movie-magic perfect.

But, I hate flying commercially, especially discount commercially. I would say that I hate flying in general, but since I've never flown in a private aircraft, I'll have to assume that my dislike for flying is, in some part, due to the annoyance of today's commercial airline incarnation. I do not like arriving some place up to three hours earlier than I need to arrive there. And it's not like they provide any comforts to me as a customer after I get processed and have to sit and wait so long. And every single item you might like or need to purchase while you are waiting has been marked up at least 30% in price. Why? Because the merchants realize that you are being held hostage in the hangar until your flight leaves! Technically, you could leave and go buy whatever you'd wanted outside the airport, but then you'd have to stand through all those waiting lines one more time! Then assuming your flight departs on time, you get to be herded like cattle onto a big metal tube and hurled through the air. While you're in the air, you are forced to inhale the recirculated germ-laden stinky air, that's always either too hot or cold. Flying, in economy class from Houston to Puerto Rico, takes almost five hours. Then we have to fly from Puerto Rico to Tortola which isn't too long, less than two. So, in total, I'm going to be flying for about 7 hours! Many of you may be thinking you have taken far longer flights than that, and I have, too, before, but I still cringe when anticipating how fun-filled my Tuesday will be.

The last flight I was on, from Dallas to New York City, was supposed to be a simple one-way hop. I thought I was going to die on that airplane the experience was so bad! First we don't leave anywhere near on time; then once on the plane, we don't get cleared to take off until almost an hour later; then once we are flying, we circle, in bad turbulence, for so long in a forced holding pattern in the air that we had to detour and land to get some more gas! Of course we finally arrived, alive. Nonetheless, these commercial airlines seem to be so clueless as to why they're not earning a profit. Could it be that they have no sense of hospitality for their hostages? Lets face it, when you are miles above the ground, no matter how poorly the flight is going, there's not a single thing you can change or help for yourself. Besides prison, I can't think of a single other instance in life where this is true. And as a final insult on top of the rest of it, airline prices are higher now than ever before. Buying our airfare was the most costliest expense of our entire wedding, including the whole resort stay! Hmm, a seven hour flight costs more than a seven night stay on a private island?! I wish I could say it wasn't so.

Thanks for reading,

(the VERY soon to be)
MRS. Cajun Haole

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's wrong with being greedy?

Lately while I've been trying to plan the wedding, honeymoon, and reception, I've become very stressed out about money. I really do want the most romantic and relaxing ceremony and honeymoon, almost to the point of a cheesy romance movie, and I really would like a reception filled with family and friends and lots of "eat, drink, and be merry"-ing. But all of these events require a substantial budget. Because I've been very ill lately, I finally had to decide for my health reasons to cancel the reception. I had to realize that producing the facade of a happy family and playing the role of a blushing bride, just wasn't in the cards for me. My family does not share any resemblance to any of the iconic TV families of the past, but I still had such a hard time letting go of this unrealistic expectation of "an Autumnal evening outdoors reception on the lake". And regardless of how hard it was to take off my rose colored glasses and see my family for what they are, its actually quite easy to be happy about the decision for one, main reason; not having a reception is saving me lots of money.
I'm an accounting major, not because I love math or numbers, but because it's a highly skilled profession that pays very well and has a strong job market. I think moving out on my own when I turned eighteen really set the foundation for me to become the type of person who counts pennies, so to speak. So why would wanting to keep my own money in my own pocket instead of shell it out for this and that for other people to enjoy be viewed as selfish? Doesn't my money being in my savings do me more good than an expensive party? I was surprised to hear myself called greedy, even stingy. Realistically, I know that no one I know would pay for my rent if a disaster were to befall my life. So since it's a dog-eat-dog situation in today's economy, I would think that these "friends" who are calling me greedy could at least appreciate the sound rationale behind my financial conservatism. I was really taken aback with some of the reactions I've gotten after letting the guests know not to expect a reception. I thought telling them that my health is poor right now and so physically I cannot produce such an affair would be enough to make them see my point, but they are quite stubborn in accepting that a couple would willingly choose to not have a wedding reception. It seemed black and white to me. Aside from my health, the only other thing which keeps me feeling secure in life, is money. I really hate to admit that, but I cannot deny feeling a sense of a better well-being I have when my savings versus feelings of vulnerability and insecurity when it is depleted. I wish being greedy weren't viewed as a terrible character flaw. I think its just being smart. I think that looking after the best interests for me and my husband first, before any others, will help everything be okay. As for what these others have decided to perceive as my character's flaws, I will celebrate as evidence of my own genius.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Terrible Sickness

Last weekend, particularly on Saturday night, I started having a sharp pain pierce through my left lung. I have been struggling with bronchitis since the start of this semester, so I assumed that this pain was some sort of rebound development related to the prolonged bronchitis. Sunday the pain got so much worse. It was like having a serrated knife stabbed into and then pushed all the way through out my back every time I took a single breath. TRUE AGONY! By Monday morning I thought I was surely having a heart attack since the pain centered on the left side of my chest. I decided to sacrifice my seven hours of time up at the LSU Fast track ER clinic so that I could find out what in the world was wrong with me. They did the usual battery of tests, as slowly as possible of course, blood work and a chest x-ray. They decided that I have something called pleurisy. Pleurisy, I learned, is an inflammation of the lining of the lung whereby it is filled to a certain degree with fluid and expands to rub up against the chest wall and cause pain. If it was the worst case scenario then the only real remedy is to open the chest and extract the fluid by sticking a huge needle into the space between the lung and lining. How terrifying does that sound?! If you don't have such a dire condition, the pleurisy just makes your life a living, breathing torture. They prescribed Naproxin which is just Alieve for its anti-inflammatory properties and supposedly because it also helps with the pain. It most certainly does not help with any of this awful pain. If I could not breathe, I would. But since you can't "take a break from breathing ever" I'm forced to anticipate that raging stabing pain with everey little breath I take. Forget if hell is made of fire or ice, for me, it would be eternity suffering from bronchitis and pleurisy. And naproxin?! seriously?! I'm like sobbing in tears when this doctor explains that they will not opt to prescribe a stronger anti inflammatory medication or something that is specifically for pain either. What kind of medicine are these fine folks peddling? Mind you I am grateful to be able to go for treatment eventhough I have no medical insurance, but when you are a patient there they seem to forget you are also a human being with real feelings and a real life that will continue on whether or not I can breathe without wanting to scream in pain. In the end after my breakdown subsided, I left glad to know I wasn't having a heart attack or a pneumonia, but still very distrubed that pleurisy's treatment, according to them, was just to take Alieve and wait until it goes away. Oh how I'm praying for the time to fly by!

As always, thanks for reading and stay well.

The Cajun Haole

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bailout B.S.!

Recently the entire country has been shocked to learn that our financial industry is in a crisis. Apparently the government has decided that it needs to bail them out of this situation. $700 Billion worth of a bailout!
Now as an aspiring accountant, I have huge problems with this plan. Firstly, as a tax paying citizen of this country, I do not think that spending this much taxpayer money to rescue irresponsible business is ethical. Ask yourself this, if you go out and overspend then find your bank account overdrawn, do you think for one second that Uncle Sam is going to come to your rescue?! Heck no! The government has never been there for its citizens in that capacity. If you mismanage your funds, you should suffer the consequences.
The media and our elected legislature wants us to believe that if they do not pass this bailout then there will be a world wide financial crisis. But why? I have yet to hear a single satisfactory answer to this question. Why would WaMu going under threaten the global economy? It doesn't. What it does threaten is my poor grandmother who was unfortunate enough to have a high yielding savings account with them. And the only tangible result to be seen from WaMu's demise is that now my grandma's accounts are owned by J.P. Morgan and Chase. So what?~
I know that WaMu isn't the only financial institution to be affected by the mortgage catastrophy, but seriously, isn't it the bank's fault to a large extent for giving less than truely qualified people these huge home mortgages? Since when should the average taxpayer have to suffer because someone down the road wanted to keep up with the Jones' and buy an extravagently expensive home? And furthermore why did an entire subsection of the economy, the housing market, allow itself to undergo an astronomical value increase for no reason? Just because some real estate agents got greedy and some speculators had the cash to throw around, I do not understand how this is now my problem as a taxpayer.
And lastly I ask myself who were these auditing firms that did such a poor job of informing the public of an impending financial melt down. One of the basic principles of accounting is called "the going concern". Not to give you all a lecture, but the jist of this tenent says that if an auditor does not believe that the company its auditing will continue to be functioning, if the going concern is not met, then there is a duty and responsiblity to disclose this information. I don't think anyone had any idea that the financial market in our country was so close to such a huge disaster like this. Not a single auditing report has trickled into the media which would have validated that these auditors honored the going concern with regard to these company's precarious financial positions. WHY IS THIS? Why are the auditing firms not being asked to repay the $700 billion? Isn't it largely their fault that the American public invested in bad companies? I say it is. And what about these huge CEO/CFO/COO bonuses which were given out like free peppermints on a pillow? Why doesn't the government make those A'holes pay back the money and salvage the economy by throwing those guys under the bus that they set into motion? Or how about getting the bailout money from the top 2% of Americans who could actually afford it?
The majority of our elected officials have gone to college. And as you all know, economics is a required course for all business majors. Now granted not every politican was a business major, but seriously, have they never heard of the basics of economics? Why would they ever think that allowing our government to buy out bad debts from financial institutions would help? Its absurd and illogical. And furthermore, it pisses me off. I am not a bleeding heart liberal nor am I a Bible thumping conservative, but honestly, I do not care if WaMu and its counterparts go out of business. Yes, it is sad for the unwitting employees who were simply doing their jobs, but the top executives had an obligation to prevent these types of disasters. They spent their companies funds irresponsibly and now the American public is supposed to sacrifice its wellbeing for theirs?!
So I will end by asking anyone who reads this blog to email your congressman, senator or any other elected offical. Let them know that you DO NOT WANT TO BAIL BIG BUSINESS OUT!
I'm not optimistic enough to think it will actually work, since the Senate passed the bailout bill earlier this week, but at least we, the taxpayers, can know that we tried to get our voices heard. Too bad we're just ordinary people and not lobbist groups or special interest affiliates or CEOs because it seems Washington only has ears for those with deep pockets. This is not democracy~

As always, thanks for reading and stay well.

The Cajun Haole