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Archive for February, 2010

A demolition derby pyramid scheme?

February 24, 2010 2 comments

LYONS, N.Y. — (AP) Authorities said an upstate New York man angry with his wife used a backhoe to demolish more than two dozen demolition derby cars. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said 29-year-old Michael Fagner caused about $40,000 damage to 30 cars parked at a business in Savannah, 30 miles west of Syracuse.
Police said he used the backhoe’s bucket to crush most of the derby-ready cars and flip over one vehicle Friday afternoon. Deputies said the backhoe belonged to the business.
Authorities say Fagner believed someone at the business was having an affair with his wife.
Fagner was charged felony criminal mischief and later released on $5,000 bail. Fagner’s phone number wasn’t listed. Prosecutors didn’t know if he had a lawyer.

Rocky wonders exactly what happens when a “demolition derby” car is demolished before the derby? Will anyone notice the difference? How does one calculate the damage amount at $40,000? Does one carry collision insurance on demolition derby cars? If the perp had stacked the cars vertically, would that have been a “pyramid scheme?” And, if bail is set at $5,000 on a $40,000 loss, then Madoff’s bail should have been $6.25 million instead of the original $10 million.

Scottish Terriers and the Stock Market

February 18, 2010 5 comments

Rocky fired up his X-22 Computer and discovered that when a Scottish Terrier wins Best of Show at the Westminster Kennel Club, it’s a bullish omen for the stock market.

Rocky submitted his remarkable findings to both Daily Speculations, (the website of Victor Niederhoffer) and to the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis.

Recognizing the importance of this seminal research, Daily Speculations immediately published the study. (Click Here.) In contrast, Rocky has not heard back from the editors of the JFQA.

[Disclosure: Despite their lack of stock market acumen, Rocky prefers “Westies” over Scotties. Remember also that Rocky does not provide investment advice. See: Disclaimer.]

The pet insurance crisis

February 17, 2010 3 comments

While the rest of the nation watched Sadie, a Scottish Terrier, win Best of Show at last night’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Rocky lamented the growing population of uninsured pets.

“How can such a wealthy nation turn its back on underprivileged pets?” asked Rocky, as he swerved his car to avoid an unwanted, discarded furry stuffed bear on the shoulder of his local highway. “It’s a national disgrace.”

The Times of London recently featured some harrowing tales of pet health insurance claims. The full story is here: http://timesbusiness.typepad.com/money_weblog/2010/02/the-10-most-bizarre-pet-insurance-claims.html

These animals were the lucky ones because they live in a country with socialized medicine. The uninsured American pets never made the headlines — instead they seek medical care in dark alleys and makeshift clinics, staffed by unscrupulous get-rich-quick quacks. Or they just suffer in silence.

From the Times of London:

1. Alfie, a greedy chocolate Labrador, ate a wooden spoon while his owner was baking cakes. Having mixed the batter, the owner noticed that the mixing spoon was missing and saw that Alfie was showing signs of discomfort (and apparent guilt). He took the distressed mutt to the vet, who located the spoon in pieces in an x-ray and later operated to remove it.

2. A cat required an operation after swallowing a set of five rubber witch’s fingers. The costume fingers, which were part of a little girl’s Halloween get-up, had to be surgically removed.

3. A claim was received for medical treatment for a staffie called Busta who ate a rubber duck. The dog had been playing with its owners’ children when he swallowed the squeaky bath toy, which showed up clearly on the x-ray (pictured above).

4. In another case of a dog’s eyes being bigger than its stomach, a bulldog ate most of a wooden chair. When his owners came home, they found what was left of the chair in splinters, and the dog pining for a trip to the vet.

5. A Jack Russell terrier was playing with children in the garden and bit off more than he could chew when he swallowed a rubber chew toy. It was removed – and he bounced back.

6. An English springer spaniel got very unlucky when he impaled himself on the stick he was carrying. The dog was playing fetch in a local park, stumbled and dropped the stick, which caught his neck and punctured his throat. He was rushed into emergency surgery and made a complete recovery.

7. A hungry Labrador retriever was out with its owner on a fishing trip when he took the bait – and swallowed a fish hook.

8. A curious mongrel ate a whole pack of ibuprofen, causing a headache for his owner, who rushed him to the vet for treatment. The dog was put on a drip and kept under observation (reducing a potentially inflammatory situation).

9. A female Schnauzer was operated on after eating several sanitary pads.

10. A male Vallhund – a breed favoured by the Vikings – received treatment after being bitten on the lip by a rat.

Are you now, or have you ever been?

February 11, 2010 13 comments

The other night at dinner, the discussion turned to inter-racial marriage. A relative at the table made a comment directed at Rocky’s daughter — and Rocky (perhaps impolitely) asked the guest to refrain from making such comments in his house, at his table, to his daughter. (Rocky respects everyone’s right to an opinion, however, there are also boundaries on indoctrination of one’s children, and the guest’s comment stepped over Rocky’s line.)

Rocky’s exact words were, “I find your comment extremely offensive. Can we please not discuss this.”

Needless to say, a heated argument unfolded, where the guest claimed that Rocky was not “listening” to the guest’s “entirely reasonable” exact words. Whereas, Rocky claimed that the guest was oblivious to the unspoken meaning of the words, and in any event it was disrespectful to lecture his daughter after Rocky expressed discomfort with the subject.

As the temperatures rose, the guest’s wife, suddenly blurted out, “Rocky, you know what you are? You’re a … [dramatic pause] … a DEMOCRAT!”

In the interests of full disclosure, Rocky is not now, nor has he ever been a member of the Democratic Party. Yet — that the word “Democrat” would be hurled as an insult towards Rocky speaks volumes about the current political climate, and even more about his guests’ respect for those who hold different opinions.

[Disclosure: Later that night, as Rocky tucked his daughter into bed, his daughter asked, “Daddy, are you really a Democrat?” Rocky’s answer, “No, child. But I also know that neither you nor I need lectures about personal matters. If I want a lecture about the ‘right’ answers to life’s questions, I can always visit the blogosphere.”]

Leggo my eggo!

February 4, 2010 3 comments


Kellogg’s Company stock dropped sharply today as production problems at their Eggo plants in Georgia and Tennessee “caused a waffle shortage.”

The Company said the waffle shortage lowered the company’s fourth-quarter sales by 2 percent, and the stock is down 5%. See: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aqjyWpquFFmI

Rocky noticed the signs at his local grocery store that apologized for the Eggo shortage. Luckily, as part of his Y2K disaster preparation, Rocky kept a stockpile of waffles and Tang in his generator-powered underground bunker.

He’s currently checking the prices on Ebay to see whether he can unload his waffles at a profit.

A representative of the National Waffle Association, (yes, it exists), declined to comment on Rocky’s arbitrage activities.

[Disclosure: Trophy Wife is not fond of frozen waffles for breakfast. She’s strictly a fresh banana and Special-K kind of gal.]

A salute to our local groundhog

February 1, 2010 11 comments

Rocky took this snapshot of the local woodchuck (aka groundhog) in his backyard last summer.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Since there’s no chance that any sensible critter will emerge through the snow and ice, Rocky offers a “shout-out” to the cute fellow alternatively known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig, land beaver, and Marmota monax. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog

[Disclosure: The groundhog is one of the few species that enters into a state of true hibernation. As Rocky’s daughter watched the too-loud Grammy Awards last night, Rocky went to bed and wished he could hibernate like a groundhog.]