Saturday, January 31, 2009


Courtesy of, enjoy this time lapse video of a playful 9 month old baby.

Don't miss the great photographs he has posted on his site either.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blood and Bones

Just nine days ago, George W. Bush was the President.

Doesn’t it seem like he’s been gone for much longer than just nine days?

Obama’s transition team certainly hit the ground running and his cabinet appointments took over the front pages in January but even back during the campaign Bush was pretty quiet. (Except when he over-ruled congress and gave the auto-makers $25 billion…)

It seems like he was content to let the heat of the spotlight shine on someone else for a while. Let’s face it; it couldn’t have been easy for him. The general consensus is that his administration has been a total car wreck. Iraq, the economy…his approval numbers have been the lowest ever. Most objective accounts place him at the bottom of the list of modern presidents.

Imagine looking into the mirror each day. Imagine looking into your wife’s eyes, or your kid’s eyes, or your dad’s eyes and wondering what they were really thinking in their heart of hearts.

You have to wonder how much the pressure really got to him. How much did it hurt? I have this sad vision of him taking his time as he packs up the Oval Office, pausing to reflect on a photograph or laughing quietly as he recalled a funny moment.

And then he pauses. And thinks about dead kids coming back from Iraq.

Does a guy like that ever have a moment where he hunches over his desk and cries?

The last we really heard from the Bush administration was that strange document called “Policies of the Busch Administration, 2001-2009” which was released in early January and was intended to highlight his successes and begin the long process of burnishing his image and spinning his place in history.

It will be interesting to see how our culture looks back on Bush and his presidency. History can be pretty kind - I remember how the coverage was mostly positive when Nixon died and history might have a make-over in store for Bush as well.

But we all should remember what it was like during the run-up to the war in Iraq. Outside of pockets in the expected urban centers, you couldn’t stand up against the idea of invasion without being considered unpatriotic and naive.

Remember how mainstream American culture reacted to the French refusal to support the invasion of Iraq? We got “freedom fries” instead of French fries in the Capitol building cafeteria. One of my whack-job college roommates announced that he was boycotting Poland Spring water because they were owned by Nestle, a French company.

Au Bon Pain, the sub-par sandwich chain even posted large banners in front of their stores reaching “A Proudly American Owned Company” lest they be tainted by association with the French.

The Busch administration ginned up a mob mentality and dissent was not tolerated in most circles. Don’t you remember that?

Of course, the French were right. And the dissenters were right but Bush did everything he could to shout them down.

Whatever else history ends up saying about the eight years that he was President, you should also remember that under George Bush, we became a country that uses torture to coerce information from captives.

Is that who you want to be?

But at the same time, he’s just a guy right? A human being. He must feel sadness or shame or guilt or envy just like all of us. He must have self-doubt. He must have regrets.

This morning I came across Errol Morris’ January 25 entry on his blog at the New York Times . He asked the photo editors of the three wire services - AP (The Associated Press), AFP (Agence France-Presse) and Thomson Reuters – to select the pictures that they thought best captured the character of George W. Bush.

It’s a great post with some classic pictures that I’ll share below but it is this series of three consecutive shots that really caught my attention. I’ll let Jim Bourg, the photo editor from Reuters, describe what he saw as he was paging through thumbnails of images from Bush’s farewell address…

Bush finished his address to the nation, went back out through the doors, and
the doors closed behind him and the national TV broadcast went off the air. And
then after the live TV was off, the doors suddenly reopened, and he came back in
to say goodbye to all the guests – his former cabinet members, his current
cabinet members, Dick Cheney, his daughters, Laura and lots of other friends and
supporters. He popped out that door, and when the door opened and he came
through it, the look on his face was like no look I’d ever seen on George Bush’s
face in my life. I actually flagged three versions as he comes through the door
and his expression changes. And I turned to one of my editors — First I said,
“Oh, my God.” And he said, “What?” And I said, “You’ve got to see this picture
of Bush. This is really stunning.” And I flipped it over to him to process and
his first reaction was, “Wow.” And I said, “If he wasn’t just back there behind
that door crying, I don’t know what that look on his face is.” Because he just
looks absolutely devastated as he comes through this door after essentially
ending his eight year presidency. And it’s just really striking. He just looks
absolutely devastated.

See it? For just a second, self-doubt, regret, sadness. A little bit of that might have been useful back when we put our heads down and charged into Iraq.

Anyway, there are lots of other interesting shots on the blog that you might want to check out. I have included a few here along with the original wire captions. ..

IRAQ, AL-ASAD AIR BASE : US President George W. Bush waits behind a camouflage curtain before being announced to speak to the troops at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq’s western al-Anbar province 03 September 2007. Addressing cheering Marines at the base, Bush rejected intensifying pressure from the Democratic-led Congress to start pulling troops immediately out of the unpopular war in Iraq. “Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground, not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media,” the president said.

ETATS-UNIS, ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE : US President George W. Bush is caught in a sudden rain storm with a faulty umbrella while walking from Marine One to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland 01 June 2004. (Tim Sloan/Agence France-Presse)

President Bush’s Chief of Staff Andy Card whispers into the ear of the President to give him word of the plane crashes into the World Trade Center, during a visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

.S. President George W. Bush jokingly makes a face as he tries to open a locked door as he leaves a press conference in Beijing, China, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

U.S. President George W. Bush delivers a speech to crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished” as the carrier steams toward San Diego, CA, May 1, 2003. Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on Thursday and called the six-week war “one victory” in the campaign against terror. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Black Monday

The Washington Post reports today that US employers cut more than 55,000 jobs yesterday. In just one day!

The New York Times reports that more than 75,000 around the world disappeared yesterday. The Los Angeles Times adds it all up and notes that 187,550 jobs have been slashed so far this month.

USA Today reports that some economists expect that 3 million people will lose their jobs this year.

Caterpillar announced that 15,000 jobs would be eliminated by the end of this week and 5,000 more by the end of the first quarter. Among the other companies that announced job cuts were Sprint Nextel, which shed 8,000; Home Depot, which cut 7,000; and Texas Instruments, which made 3,400 positions disappear. Pfizer announced cuts of 8,000 jobs, General Motors cut 2,000 more.

And it’s not just big companies padding the total. Small companies with up to 49 employees shed 281,000 jobs in December. Medium-size firms with 50 to 499 employees cut 321,000. Large companies with more than 499 workers lost 91,000.

And for an optimistic, upbeat view of the near term, let’s hear from Richard Yamarone, director of economic research for Argus Research in New York: “There is nothing in the economic tea leaves that suggest someone is going to be hiring. This is a broad-based economic slump. From pharma to industrial to housing to telecommunications, every aspect of this economy is in a free fall. There is no safe haven."


So, thinking about going into work today and telling your boss to fuck-off? Might want to put that idea on hold for a while…

Monday, January 26, 2009

More Swanky Office Outrage

Joan and Sandy Weill. You hate them already right?

You remember Citigroup don’t you? Well you should. You recently transferred $50 billion from your kid’s college funds to their coffers in the form of two federal bailout payments.

And yet, they reported a loss on Friday of $8.29 billion which brings their total 2008 losses to $18 billion.

So what did we get for our $50 billion? Well, they laid of 60,000 employees so many of you got a tougher, more competitive job market to endure.

And they just announced plans to sell a majority stake in Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley and revealed plans to divide the bank into two pieces. This will surely make it easier to account for our $50 billion.

Let’s see what else did we get for our $50 billion? Oh! Well they just took delivery on a new $50 million Dassault Falcon 7X private jet. So that’s something. This baby seats up to 12 in a plush interior with leather seats, sofas and a customizable entertainment center. It can cruise 5,950 miles before refueling and has a top speed of 559 mph. There are just nine of these top-of-the-line models in the United States.

So, you know…awesome. The executives responsible for an $18 billion loss, the same guys we just gave $50 billion to, the guys who are so brilliant and whose time is so unbe-freakin-lievably valuable can avoid taking their shoes off in the security line.

Sweet. 60,000 unemployed people and a kick-ass new jet. What else did my son’s college fund buy for Citibank?

How about a $21 million annual lease for an office for retired CEO Sandy Weill? And before you totally flip out, you need to understand that this truly is a kick-ass office. One of the most spectacular in all of New York. He's a floor below Carl Icahn and one floor up from Ted Forstmann. So, you know the neighborhood right?

Weill also has a deal with Citigroup that provides him with a generous fee for any advisory work he does (up to 45 days a year), a full-time car and driver, and health and life insurance for him and his wife, Joan. The agreement also guarantees Weill lifetime access to Citi's fleet of jets—for both personal and business travel—a perk he "unilaterally and voluntarily" agreed to "reduce" in 2007 after objections to the arrangement were raised.

Did you catch that? He “unilaterally” agreed to “reduce” his use of Citigroup’s corporate fleet of jets! Unilaterally!

What leadership!

What an asshole!

Just in case you’re curious, in 2007 Forbes listed Weill’s net worth at $1.3 billion.

Louisville Sluggers anyone?

Friday, January 23, 2009

John Thain IS a dick-weed!

Remember last December when I posted about Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain?

Of course you do. The post was titled "What Tremendous Balls” “ and concerned Thain’s bid for an additional $10 million bonus after Merrill Lynch lost $11.7 billion in one year and after the stock price dropped by 73%.

By the way, the $10 million bonus was on top of his $17,307,610 compensation package.

And remember how I pointed out that Merrill Lynch had accepted $10 billion in public bailout funds? And remember how I also pointed out that Bank of America, who bought Merrill Lynch, accepted $15 billion in public bailout funds?

And remember how I said that Thain was the biggest dick on earth because he was trying to get his filthy, stinking hands on $10 million dollars for running a company that you and I just bailed out to the tune of $25 billion?

It makes me crazy just thinking about it again.

And remember how I said that we should gather all the villagers and march to his mansion with pitchforks and torches, rend him limb from limb and burn his riding stables to the ground?

Remember all of this?

Well, my commute to work this morning was brightened considerably by the news that John Thain was summarily fired yesterday.

Turns out that this fucker spent $1.2 million dollars redecorating his Manhattan office – including $87,000 for area rugs, $25,000 for a pedestal table and $68,000 for a 19th century credenza.

And all of this is happening just as Bank of America last week got the Federal Government to agree to give them another $20 billion in capital (that’s $45 billion so far in case you’re keeping count) as well as $118 billion in asset guarantees.

You should be taking this personally because John Thain has reached right into your wallet and your kid’s college fund and ripped you off. This is nothing less than sneaking into your house and threatening your family.

And you know what? You cross my kid and you cross me. I want a piece of this fucking shit-wad. I want to take a baseball bat to this piece of shit and show him what happens when you bring harm to my family.

Knowing that he lost his job isn’t really getting it done for me. I want blood.

And you know who else I want to see drawn and quartered? Amy Borrus, Deputy Director of the Council of Institutional Investors. Of Thain’s redecorating she said “Spending company money on a lavish re-do at a time when Merrill’s finances were rocky sends the wrong message.”

Sends the wrong message? You fucking apologist asshole Amy Borrus! Sends the wrong message? This is a fucking high crime! Sends the wrong message?? Amy, welcome to the asshole club.

You know who else gets a lifetime membership in the asshole club? Clinton Howell. Want to know why - other than his arrogant fucking name I mean? Clinton Howell is an antiques dealer who says that Thain’s decorator is “a very smart guy and he buys very good things. It’s very likely that what he bought was worth the money.”

He went on to say “What John Thain did with his office is a little like noting that somebody failed to turn on his blinker before driving into a train,”

Hey Clinton Howell! Fuck you too!

But fuck John Thain most of all. Bring him to me. I want to see that fuck standing before me and begging for mercy.

And I will look back at him and laugh and laugh. Batter up you piece of shit!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Preparations

As always,’s Big Picture blog has some great images today. The focus is on the preparations for Barack Obama’s inauguration which is expected to draw over 2 million people to Washington DC.

America’s first black president will be sworn in at noon today and then the monstrous task of living up to expectations begins.

I am also newly employed so I know what it’s like to try to find your footing in a new job. Of course, I don’t have to fix Iraq. Or the economy. And the salesman before me wasn’t running the most insular and secretive sales office in the history of the company.

And while I didn’t take an oath of office (I do solemnly affirm that I will faithfully execute the office of sales rep…), I know how nervous you can be on your first day at a new job!

Putting the final touches on the inauguration seal.

A ticket to the Inauguration ceremony. (I got a golden ticket! I got a golden ticket!)

Official expect Washington DC's mall to fill "beyond capacity."

A practice run for the Presidential motorcade.

A week before the inauguration, many employees of the previous administration packed up their desks and offices and submitted their resumes to

President Lincoln's inauguration. March 4, 1861.

Friday, January 16, 2009

For Arkay’s bike…

In 2007 there were 43,000 bike accidents in the US resulting in 698 deaths. Good data is available showing that bike lanes are effective at reducing accidents but they are expensive to install and like all things governmental (except the banking industry bailout), they takes forever to implement.

Altitude, Inc. has designed a laser system that mounts onto a bicycle and creates an illuminated, easy-to-avoid bike lane visible to drivers.

Dude! Frickin’ laser beams!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yikes! NINE days...

I wish that being unemployed didn’t come with the pressure and anxiety of being umm, unemployed. Take away the obligation to provide for your family and unemployment is actually pretty damn enjoyable!

During my time out of work, Littlefoil and I would have an almost leisurely breakfast together. I would read the paper and we’d chat about the day’s events – how I was going to apply for some jobs that I wasn’t qualified for and how he was going to make a collage with beans and glue and sparkles.

Only I couldn’t really enjoy it because behind that sunny morning picture I was constantly doing the math in my head. This much savings less a mortgage payment due in eleven days leaves “X” more months before the house is at risk divided by the unemployment rate times first time unemployment claims divided by “X” amount of layoffs plus the total number of applicants for a single position times the car payment…

Now my worries about the car payment have been replaced by a completely new set of concerns. But that’s fine. I said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m happy to be working again.

But unless I start blogging from work (a bad habit of which I am at this very moment guilty), it’s going to be hard to keep TMUOTF current and happening. Not impossible but hard…

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bright eyed and bushy tailed...

Well, it had to happen. I couldn’t stay unemployed forever. I’ve got bills to pay.

I’ve talked about the job market it in posts over the past couple of months and every week brings worse news. 533,000 jobs lost in the US in November. One week – one week – in December saw over 586,000 first-time unemployment insurance claims.

Ye gads. The unemployment rate in November was something like 6.7% and that number doesn’t include “forced” part-timers and other “edge dwellers.”

Make no mistake; there are jobs out there to be had. Not nearly as many as there usually are but companies are still hiring. But the number of applicants – seekers – is just insane. Competition is fierce and it's a buyer’s – that is, employer’s – market.

So I am grateful to have received an offer and happy to accept it. All in all, it appears that we’ll be able to weather this economic shit-storm without major damage. The house is safe and we've got health insurance so we can hold catastrophe at bay!

But I do feel like we were right by the edge there. I mean, disarray and chaos were right there with us for a little bit. The storm surge came right up to the back porch before it receded.

And tomorrow morning we unleash the new routine. Earlier wake-up for everyone. No more leisurely morning breakfasts with Littlefoil and the paper. Straight out the door to day care and then straight into the mine. Oh those home-office days are over!

So, things will change. And the most predictable change will be less time for blogging.

OK. Flash forward about 20 I hours. I wrote that last night. And the funny thing is, Jillfoil read a draft and astutely noted how nice it would be if I were lamenting less family time just as much as less blogging time. A valid observation. I’ve got to work on that.

But the bottom line point of all this is that my ROP is probably going to go down. (What? “Rate of Post.” Duh.)

I’ve had the goal of dropping a post about every other day. In other words, at least 15 posts over the course of a 30 day month. I was usually comfortably above that line but those days may be over.

But I’m going to do my best.

One last entirely un-related thought. ..If the people who say that the current economic crisis is the worst since The Depression are right, do you think that living through this will mark our generations in a kind of indelible kind of way?

Like when people tell stories about relatives who lived through The Depression and how it changed their character in fundamental ways.

I wonder if, 30 years from now our grandkids will be telling stories about us and joking about how our austerity and thrift came from being in the generation that survived the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008-09?

You know what the craziest part of that thought is? That our generation will become known as austere and thrifty. Not bloody likely!

Oh my god. Going back to work tomorrow. Just a little scattered...