Sunday, March 29, 2009

We Single '40-Somethings'

by, Mark Baker

Hmmm, for whatever reason, it seems that lots of us Baby Boomers (1946--1964), especially those towards the tail-end of the boom (1958-1964) married BADLY! Perhaps we were naively imprinted by the idealic environment a vast majority of us experienced in our formative early years: Our Mother's were at home, 'Pong' hadn't even been invented yet, so we spent hours on-end 'OUTSIDE' with our friends playing sandlot games, riding our bikes, shooting BB-Guns, 'Lawn Darts/Jarts,' Hoops, etc. We reluctantly 'came in' only after our mothers hollered at us for dinner (or we’d taken a Lawn Dart in the thigh, lol), and then we had to scrub-off the top layer of grime before we helped Mom set the table and go fetch Dad from the watching Walter Cronkite, or fiddling in the garage. After dinner we (if we were the oldest kid, which I was damn-it) cleared the table and washed the dishes and then joined the rest of the family for TV (if our ‘homework’ was completed). We together watched (what a lost concept) the likes of 'Gunsmoke,' 'My three Son's,' 'The Wonderful World of Disney,' 'Mutual of Omaha's WILD KINGDOM' (remember how Marlin always had poor "Stan" do all the hard work for him, then he'd 'step-into' the shot to look victorious (I NOW FEEL THAT THIS WAS A SUBLIMINAL WARNING TO US, THAT IN OUR FUTURES, WE WOULD ENCOUNTER SUPERIORS (Boomers born before 1958) WHO BEING UN-IMAGINATIVE, UNETHICAL PRICKS, WOULD TAKE CREDIT FOR OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, lol).

This grand incubator primed allot of us to expect a safe, idealic world and life ahead of us. We were mistaken. Not all of us shared this naive worldview, because they were the ones we married, "For Better & Worse" (Bata vs. VHS), "Through Sickness & Health", "Forsaking all Others..." (this is where the mates of us who married very badly, would later 'DIVIATE' from the game-plan on us (who'd of ever pictured Mike or Carol Brady 'Shaking-up' on the side?').So, then, with that realization, like a few others (who'll know what I'm saying here), I dedicated myself to being the best parent I could be, and raising my kids to be as strong as they could be having come from a 'broken home' (a term the PC world has banished). Now, with my youngest on the cusp of graduating high school and leaving the nest, I find myself at a place where I can consider the possibility of finding HER. 'She,' wherever she is (and I am old-fashioned enough to still believe that a good man and women can find each other). What I will not do however is continue to be so naive to allow myself to be hemmed-in by conventional wisdom that states that she necessarily be from my home state (Michigan), or even necessarily the United States itself.

While physical beauty is something I'll admit DOES play a role, I wisely no longer necessarily equate it as a primary factor of attraction. Rather, a woman who possesses integrity, wisdom, autonomy, passion, discretion and a good degree of HUMOR is a rare woman indeed. She may be white, black, Asian, or Polish/Italian, whatever. She could be next door, across town, state, country, or ocean. But regardless of any of that, the women I'm seeking fits the following:

She wakes with a smile and considers what she has before giving thought to what's missing in her life.She is comfortable with who she is, and the hand that she's been given to deal with.If she has them, she puts her children’s needs ahead of her own and NEVER resents having been blessed with them.She isn't caught-up in the neon-glow of the world we find ourselves in, but instead carries herself with dignity and grace driven by an in-dwelling desire to please the Lord. She thus possesses the inherent intelligence (or has learned through grand revelation) that 'the world does not rotate around her (or any person for that matter), and that we are all at our best when we pause to consider the needs of those around us.She is physically active and enjoys activities outside the home; a hike through a forest or along a secluded beach is far preferable to her to "hitting the bars." She is an 'Observer' of people, their actions and motivations and has developed a strong sense of discernment as to who's sincere and those who may not be.She has a strong sense of autonomy and self-respect, and although she'd prefer to have a man in her life, she isn't willing to "settle" for just anyone who pays attention to her, but instead has been holding out for the man she wants. She is PASSIONATE in love and with her affections toward the man she loves.She has a strong desire to travel and see so many places that she's yet to visit, but ultimately would love to do that with a man she loves and who loves and adores her.She is loyal and dedicated to her friends, but not led-astray by them because she has a strong sense of self-worth and autonomy; she values her extended family and maintains contact with them. She has a good HEALTHY SENSE of HUMOR and can laugh at herself and the folly of mankind in general. Wherever she might be, -on a 'date-site;' in another state or country (hopefully New Zealand or Italy, then, lol), SHE'S the women I'm seeking.

I'll start by stating that I think first dates are WAY over-rated actually. My experience (and I'll trust that it's the same with smart, discerning women) is that you generally know (or seriously suspect) within the first 10-15 minutes (sometimes less then 2!) if they’re someone you're truly interested in? Now, even IF you ARE interested in her, 'Murphy's Law' dictates that she may well NOT feel the same vibe for you, or visa-versa (that's what 'Restraining Orders' are for, lol). I guess courtship is a bit analogous with making sausage, 'It NOT a pretty process, but we're attracted to it nonetheless.' But still I like my odds better then that of a male Black Widow Spider (those guys have it WAY worse).

So, we roll our dice and try to partake in the grand game that is Courtship in hopes of finding that ONE SPECIAL person (a TRANSCEIVER if you will) who both 'receives' our vibe and 'transmits' us theirs. Courtship is an ART, not a science. Some art is beautiful, timeless and classic, while other art is...NOT. So to answer this silly, obligatory question, I'll state that a successful 1st date is when both he and she CLICK (Transmit a mutual positive vibe). THAT seed is all that's necessary to usher-in something far more relevant then a 2nd date, but rather the ingredients for a new life together; a thousand walks on the beech at sunset, and many times that, ‘coy glances’ to each other in crowded places, and countless trips to bed hand-in-hand at the end of a day… That’s all I’m really waiting for .

*UPDATE, March 1st, 2011: I found my 'Transceiver.' Actually, she found me, but that works fine with me. Her name is Annette and we graduated High School together back in 1980. She's amazing in every way and we're re-discovering 'Life' the way it should be... -Mark

'Mark-to-Market' Accounting Practices must stop

The practice of mark to market as an accounting device first developed among traders on futures exchanges in the 20th century. It was not until the 1980s that the practice spread to big banks and corporations far from the traditional exchange trading pits, and beginning in the 1990s, mark-to-market accounting began to give rise to scandals.
To understand the original practice, consider that a futures trader, when taking a position, deposits money with the exchange, called a "margin". This is intended to protect the exchange against loss. At the end of every trading day, the contract is marked to its present market value. If the trader is on the winning side of a deal, his contract has increased in value that day, and the exchange pays this profit into his account. On the other hand, if the market price of his contract has declined, the exchange charges his account that holds the deposited margin. If the balance of this accounts falls below the deposit required to maintain the position, the trader must immediately pay additional margin into the account to maintain his position (a "margin call"). As an example, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, taking the process one step further, marks positions to market twice a day, at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.[1]
Over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives on the other hand are formula-based financial contracts between buyers and sellers, and are not traded on exchanges, so their market prices are not established by any active, regulated market trading. Market values are, therefore, not objectively determined or readily available (purchasers of derivative contracts are customarily furnished computer programs which compute market values based upon data input from the active markets and the provided formulae). During their early development, OTC derivatives such as interest rate swaps were not marked to market frequently. Deals were monitored on a quarterly or annual basis, when gains or losses would be acknowledged or payments exchanged.
As the practice of marking to market caught on in corporations and banks, some of them seem to have discovered that this was a tempting way to commit accounting fraud, especially when the market price could not be objectively determined (because there was no real day-to-day market available or the asset value was derived from other traded commodities, such as crude oil futures), so assets were being 'marked to model' in a hypothetical or synthetic manner using estimated valuations derived from financial modeling, and sometimes marked in a manipulative way to achieve spurious valuations. See Enron and the Enron scandal.
Internal Revenue Code Section 475 contains the mark to market accounting method rule for taxation. Section 475 provides that qualified securities dealers that elect mark to market treatment shall recognize gain or loss as if the property were sold for its fair market value on the last business day of the year, and any gain or loss shall be taken into account in that year. The section also provides that dealers in commodities can elect mark to market treatment for any commodity (or their derivatives) which is actively traded (i.e., for which there is an established financial market that provides a reasonable basis to determine fair market value by disseminating price quotes from broker/dealers or actual prices from recent transactions).
SAMPLE LETTER (Cut/Paste & Personalize) YOU CAN SEND/E-MAIL:
March 29, 2009

The Honorable (full name)(Room #) (Name) House Office BuildingUnited States House of RepresentativesWashington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

I am writing today to inform you of the dangers of mark-to-market accounting and the disastrous effects it is having on our country’s financial system. Instead of focusing on spending trillions of dollars and nationalizing banks, suspending mark-to-market accounting could fix the major financial problems we are facing at no cost.

The history seems clear. Mark-to-market accounting existed during the Great Depression and according to Milton Friedman, it was responsible for the failure of many banks. Franklin Roosevelt suspended it in 1938, and between then and 2007 there were no panics or depressions. But when FASB Statement No. 157 went into effect in 2007, it reintroduced mark-to-market accounting, and look what happened.

At the root of our financial problems are securitized mortgage pools. The price of many of these pools is well below their value based on cash flows, meaning the market is pricing in more losses than have actually, or may ever, occur. Mark-to-market accounting rules force banks to take artificial hits to capital without reference to the actual performance of loans in these pools. This affects our entire economy and undermines the banking system, increasing the odds of asset fire sales and making markets even less liquid.

Suspending mark-to-market accounting is a cost free way to stop this downward spiral and contrary to popular belief will not allow banks to sweep bad loans under the rug. Not suspending it, while allowing massive government interference in the economy is a recipe to undermine future economic growth for years to come. I strongly urge you to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to suspend FASB Statement No. 157 and mark-to-market accounting altogether.