September 18th, 2008

christmas 2008

Down comes the sky...

...and the impact point is squarely at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in Lower Manhattan. It started with Bear Stearns a few months ago. Then came the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Now, American International Group is the latest financial concern to come under the umbrella of the federal government. At the same time, no such bailout was offered to Lehman Brothers, and that investment house will find itself broken and sold off.

What should we take from all this turmoil in our financial markets? I think the lesson is that some of the basic tenets applicable to life in general bind the world of business as well. That is to say, while you must take risk if you seek greater reward, taking on too much leads to teetering and ultimately to collapse.

On principle, the bailouts don't sit well with me. The people who made the bad calls with their money should bear the brunt of their decisions; the various federal interventions disconnect the consequences from those responsible for them. I'm also not a fan of what appears to be a massive exposure of taxpayer dollars to investments of questionable quality. But I concede that being here underwater, off the coast of "none of your business," I'm not privy to all the details of what's happening. I'm very interested to read up more on this once we're back on dry land.

Finally, as for my own personal finances, I note two points. For one, I'm thankful that nearly all of my assets are of the cash form, and sitting in a couple of bank accounts to which I have easy access. And for two, when I start investing for my own distant future, diversify and don't be overzealous. Slow and steady is the course I plan to take with my money.
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christmas 2008

And as for me...

...I've held up, despite the lengthy time away from home and the slowly rising stress from the impending ORSE. Some of the non-work things I've done to keep myself right:
  • Ran through The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on my SNES emulator. This was made much easier by a guide I downloaded during out last stop in port.
  • Started a new game of Uncharted Waters, also on SNES. This is a long and sometimes boring game, but it changes every time I play. You play a 16th century Portuguese trader; starting with one small ship, you must build a fleet through trading, and eventually go on treasure hunts to the far reaches of the world. And there's sea battles too. I'm fortunate to still have the maps I made back in college.
  • Wondered whether the Mets will come through as the pressure cooker gains strength. The last word is that they've slipped behind the Phillies, but after last year, a close second might be the place to be right now.
  • Been happy with the Giants' good start, but still mindful that there's a lot of season left
  • Finished off the final season of Star Trek: Voyager
  • Expanded the CIVFOR list to 104 items. I told you it'd break into triple digits!

Two recent milestones have passed. Yesterday, I passed happiness factor eight. And on Monday, I marked my ten thousandth day of existence. Both small things, and both prompts for a small bit of reflection.

At this moment, the ship is in the condition of "ultra quiet" as required by the exercise we're running. One advantage of this is that all off-watch personnel must remain in their bunks; since I'm not in the box right now, I can thus hole up here and bust out the computer. On the other hand, when I got up to relieve myself, I noticed someone else's solid waste in the stall; the need to refrain from even flushing toilets is an unfortunate consequence.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got trading routes to run and video game gold to earn...