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Scratching, Gnashing, Reflecting and Smiling



December 19, 2008 – Comments (6)

Greetings Fools!

I've spent a good part of this morning trying to think of what to write in my blog today... looking for something meaningful, helpful, insightful, or maybe even humorous to write regarding stocks or investing.  I even toyed with the idea of doing a song paradoy of The Twelve Days of Christmas that would be somehow related to the economic and stock market news of the day.  After spending a bit of time I got about as far as "Five golden parachutes" -- although after realizing that 'parachutes' has way too many syllables I abandoned the idea.

So, lacking anything regarding investing that's either meaningful, helpful, insightful or humorous to blog about, I suppose I'll just list a few of the things that have been occupying my mind this week... things that have me scratching my head, gnashing my teeth, reflecting with solemnity, and smiling with joy.

Scratching my head:

On my morning drive I was listening to President Bush's address regarding the U.S. automaker bailout.  One of the reasons behind the bailout, according to the President, were that the automakers needed time to prepare for an orderly Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, if that were the ultimate outcome.


I was under the impression that giving the company time to reorganize and restructure in an orderly way was one of the major points behind Chapter 11 filings in the first place.  You know, keep the creditors at bay while the company restructures, and pay those creditors who can be paid in an orderly, court-supervised fashion.

Gnashing my teeth:

The Governator of California recently said that he's going to veto a bill passed by the California Legislature that had, if I recall correctly, about $18 billion in new taxes (which, among other things included increasing the gasoline and income taxes, which are, to my understanding, already the highest in the nation).  While I applaud the veto, I'm gnashing my teeth in anger at not only the legislature's slight-of-hand, but also the Governor's refusal to even address it.

You see, in California it takes a 2/3 majority of the legislature to raise taxes.  The legislature, however, passed this particular piece of.... legislation (I wanted to use another word, but I'm trying to control myself) with only a simple majority.  They decided to simply to play a little word game and call these revenue increases fees instead of taxes -- thereby avoiding the supermajority rule.  As angry as this makes me, when the Governor was asked about the potentiall illegality of these new 'fees', he said, to paraphrase, that he doesn't get into that debate and leaves it for other people to decide.

Other people?!  Umm... aren't you the chief executive of the state who has to sign any and all budgets?  You leave it for other people to decide whether or not the budget meets state constitutional requirements?

Reflecting with solemnity:

Those of you who read my blog back in September may recall that an acquaintence of ours, "Mrs. Smith", had been diagnosed with late-stage cancer.  She passed away this past week.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of those she has left behind -- particularly her husband, who now faces the challenge of raising their small children without his wife.

I can't help but reflect on how things might have been different had my own cancer not been caught at an earlier stage.  While all my tests keep showing no signs of recurrence, there are no gaurantees for me... or for any of us -- and I am reminded, once again, to focus my time and energy on those things in life that really matter, and at least try not to take so many things for granted.

Smiling with joy:

Earlier this week our four year old daughter danced in an abridged version of the Nutcracker ballet (for those familiar with the ballet, she did the 'dolly dance').  Sure, as a four-year-old she had a little trouble remembering exactly how to do all of the movements, but she danced with a smile that seemed to convey not only sheer joy, but also a sense of pride...  it was if her smile were saying, "Look what I can do!"

After the performance, the dancers and their families were invited to linger for cookies and juice.  As my wife, my mother and I were preparing to leave, our daughter ran up to her dance instructor and gave her a big hug...

Little Eldrehad:  "Merry Christmas!" (said with the pure, unreserved joy)

Dance Instructor:  "Merry Christmas to you too!  You did great.  I'm proud of you."

Little Eldrehad (beaming):  This is my grandma (indicating my mother).  My grandpa is with the angels.

Dance Instructor:  I'll bet he was watching you tonight, and applauding!  I'll bet all of the angels were applauding.

Recounting this story is making my eyes well-up a bit as I write.  The tears aren't of sadness at the loss of my father though... but rather stem from the joy of watching my daughter dance, learn, and grow -- and knowing that at least in some small way my father lives on in me, and will continue to live on in our daughter after I have gone.

Best wishes to you all.


Russell (a.k.a. TMFEldrehad)


6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 19, 2008 at 2:26 PM, FleaBagger (27.52) wrote:

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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#2) On December 19, 2008 at 3:00 PM, glfor (36.26) wrote:

Merry Christmas Russell and keep up the great blog. Our sympathies to you and yours for your friends passing. We also lost a dear one this past year and can relate.

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#3) On December 19, 2008 at 3:27 PM, EnigmaDude (60.92) wrote:

Thank you for reminding us all about what is truly important in our lives!  Merry Christmas!

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#4) On December 19, 2008 at 8:20 PM, nuf2bdangrus (< 20) wrote:

And God Bless you and your family this Christmas.

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#5) On December 20, 2008 at 2:44 PM, BigFatBEAR (28.28) wrote:

Thank you for sharing, Russell. The story with you daughter is touching indeed!

Regarding the govenator's actions, he might have been tight-lipped for political reasons. In general, I support taxes as a means to incentivize good things (or de-incentivize "bad" things)...   take a look at Mankiw's invitation to join the Pigou Club.

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#6) On December 29, 2008 at 2:56 PM, specktest004 (< 20) wrote:

Great story, Russell!

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