26 September 2008
News and Such
So many things in the past week and a half. L.A. trip + reunion with good friends far away + beautiful wedding = happy smiles (see above, looking very Dawson's Creek/90210).
Two items of newsy interest passed on by the lovely Miss S. (now on blogspot!) this week: check out the Personalities of States and revel in the neuroticism or lack thereof (if you're from Oregon) of your home state. And for the future professors out there, enjoy the total lack of rationality in relying on student evaluations for tenure decisions.
Of course you've all heard about the Washington Mutual badness of last night -- as a WaMu customer I was of course concerned and immediately logged on to their site to ensure that my negative checking account balance was adequately protected. I do enjoy having no investments or income capable of being lost. Actually, I went to their site last night to see what they said about it, and this letter was posted there instead, from Monday:
To Our Valued Customers:
September 22, 2008
As WaMu's new chief executive officer, I am writing to discuss the extraordinary economic environment for all banks in the United States and why you can count on us to continue to serve you safely and soundly.
When I was recently approached about the opportunity to lead this great company, I did my homework to satisfy myself that WaMu has the capital, the liquidity, and the business plan to serve your needs and protect your money through these challenging times. Let me explain why I felt good about joining WaMu.
All financial institutions have been affected by the turmoil in the mortgage and financial markets, but WaMu is very different from the investment banks, such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, that you may have read about. Those firms have very different sources of funding than we do. WaMu's business is funded largely through the deposits that customers like you put with us. We also borrow billions of dollars from the Federal Home Loan Banks system.
Most importantly, your deposits are insured to the limits established by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). (WaMu partners at your local WaMu store are happy to work with you to maximize your FDIC insurance coverage.)
Capital ratios describe the financial strength of a bank. Our ratios continue to be well in excess of the levels that government regulators require of "well capitalized" institutions. We also have an ample supply of funds on hand to meet your needs and the needs of our other customers and our day-to-day operations.
These strengths, combined with our tradition of superior products and services, are why we continue to welcome new customers every day.
I also expect that comprehensive and constructive plans recently announced by the government will shore up confidence in the U.S. banking system considerably. These plans, if approved by Congress, would remove up to $700 billion of troubled assets from the balance sheets of American financial institutions. There are also provisions to protect financial companies from disruptive rumors and speculation that are fueled by abusive stock trading practices.
Other government actions are already underway and are expected to lend even more security to the nation's financial system. The Federal Reserve announced that it will open its discount window to financial institutions to enable them to purchase certain assets from money market funds. This provides increased financial flexibility. The Federal Reserve also recently granted requests from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley that will allow them to take deposits, thereby increasing the resources available to both companies. A more stable national financial system is good for WaMu and good for customers.
I came to WaMu because I think it is a great bank with a strong franchise and a solid financial position. We take very seriously our role as the stewards of your hard-earned money. I want to personally thank you for your loyalty and the opportunity to serve your needs.
Chief Executive Officer
I had to repost this here because it was of course taken down between last night and this morning. Hee. And yeesh. And ouch. And that's all I have to say about that right now.
Finally, on the victory garden front of the economic devastation, I would like to encourage you to make the following tomato sauce. It is like crack. Like delicious, delicious, addictive sauce of crack and tomatoes and garlic. I've made five batches so far that are now stored away for winter hard times. Didn't actually have much choice given how many tomato plants I put in this year.
Take a dozen or more tomatoes (they don't have to be the prettiest or ripest either), cut them in halves or quarters, squeeze gently to get the wateriness down slightly, and lay on cookie sheets (takes two) cut-side up. Take two or three heads of garlic, peeled, and scatter the cloves on the tomatoes. I also add about half a loosely chopped red onion, and then put salt, pepper, olive oil (don't skimp), a dash of balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of sugar, and any herbs you have lying around (I've used thyme, basil, parsley and some fresh oregano). Put it in the oven at around 250 or 275 for between an hour and an hour and a half. When everything looks soft and golden, crank it to 400 for about 10-15 minutes to fully set the caramelization. Remove. Blend or stick it in the food processor until creamy/chunky. Yum.