The early-morning caller told me that he had stumbled into an incredible opportunity and that he couldn’t wait to share it with me. This was about a year ago and the caller introduced himself as a friend of a friend of mine. He went on to say that this was a real chance to get in on the ground floor of what was sure to be a bonanza for the early players and adopters. Now I’m not against making money although I don’t think anyone that knows me too well would refer to me as an early adopter, so I listened. The concept being promoted to me had to do with the development of a new and revolutionary way of handling the world’s monetary system. This new wave approach revolved around a new form of global currency called Bitcoin and it was predicted to eliminate all of the craziness in international money valuations and to transform the way goods and services were bought via an Internet virtual currency model. And of course, the people who came in early and bought their Bitcoins first would stand to get the biggest returns.
My question … to my new best friend who couldn’t wait to help me become wealthy … was somewhat straight forward. Specifically, I asked him if I owned some of these Bitcoins and got hungry while watching that Saturday’s Blackhawks game, if I could pick up the phone, order a cheese and pepperoni from Aurelio’s Pizza (my favorite) and pay them for the pizza with my “virtual” Bitcoin holdings. The response was that someday I probably could but not quite yet. Now don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate it when people I don’t know all that well want to help me become wealthy, but I decided to take a pass.
This past week, the entire virtual reality currency scheme collapsed and it was reported that investors were on track to lose at least $300 million and that millions of Bitcoins were missing … I looked for some in my computer but could not find any.
However, not all is lost here, for me anyway. You see, after researching the whole concept a little farther, I think these people might have been on to something so I have now decided to organize and start a new, can’t fail virtual currency system which I have decided to name Ponzi-Coin. And if you want, send me money (cash only) and you too can get in on this new, ground breaking virtual currency program. Remember, the early adopters always make out the best! And you know you can trust me … can’t you?
An IRS Comment or Two
I watched about 15 minutes of the IRS – Lois Lerner hearing on TV this morning and Ms. Lerner again hid behind her Fifth Amendment rights, which she is certainly entitled to do, when questions were directed at her. But it sure makes me (and I would think a lot of other people) believe she is hiding from something. And why would she want immunity unless she was shielding someone or something? Wild stuff I think.
I have been audited three times personally and one time professionally by the IRS over the past 25 years or so. Each time, I came out clean and no money was due the government but the last time I was audited, I spent over a thousand dollars in CPA costs and other expenses to defend myself. Do you think I could have simply pleaded the Fifth and walked away? The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth and yes, I know this is a bit of a political statement and I have promised to stay away from such, but as an ordinary, tax paying citizen, I find myself getting more and more upset with our government as the days go by … sorry, everyone!
Ah Spring – A Most Wonderful Time of Year
Today is Wednesday, March 5. The clocks get moved ahead an hour this weekend for daylight savings time and according to my calendar, official spring starts in 15 days. But then I look out the window and the snow is once again falling and the weather people are predicting another two inches of fresh snow between now and the end of the day. The largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the western suburbs of Chicago is scheduled to take place just a couple of miles north of me this Saturday and unless we have an incredible heat wave (and one is not forecast), I have no idea how (or why) the parade would go on. Usually people pull up some lawn chairs or spread out some blankets for this annual parade and temperatures are typically in the mid-50s at least. Forecast for this weekend parade is 31 degrees and snow and there are already mountains of snow everywhere. The parade will go on of course – the Irish are not about to give up their day – but good grief, will this winter ever end?
Of course the answer is yes and I remain confident that spring and then summer and fall will arrive eventually … I am right here, aren’t I? Please, quick, someone tell me I’m right! I don’t think I can take this anymore!!!
Farmers Almanac 1 – Government 0
Just in case you care, according to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicted temperatures would be “above normal from November through January across most of the lower 48 states.” Now, unlike most governmental agencies, the CPC actually grades its performance. The CPC uses this thing called the Heidke skill score which ranges from 100 (perfect accuracy) to -50 (no better than playing pin the tail on the donkey while blindfolded). The CPC’s average score for October through January = -22.5.
But then again, who could have possibly gotten this year’s prediction right? Well, the nearly 200-year-old Farmer’s Almanac did!!! Last summer the Almanac predicted that a “winter storm will hit the Northeast around the time the Super Bowl is played in the Meadowlands of New Jersey” (which it did) and they also predicted a “colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the country and heavy snowfall in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England.”
Now I have no idea what it cost we taxpayers to pay for the government-run Climate Prediction Center (CPC) but it seems to me that this is yet another case when the government should stay out of the way and let private enterprise do what it does best. And you know, the guys at the Almanac have been making their predictions (which are based on planetary alignments, lunar orbit projections and sun spot activity) for almost 200 years now and have maintained an accuracy level in excess of 80 percent.
The Sports Thing
Don’t know if you have seen this or not but Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith and Budweiser (the Beer guys) are promoting a campaign that includes a petition at whitehouse.gov to make Major League Baseball’s opening day a national holiday. In order to get a formal response from the White House, 100,000 signatures are needed. Now the logic for this … according to Major League Baseball … is that the results of a recent survey showed that 22.2 million Americans 21 years of age or older have (at one time or another) skipped work or other duties to go to an opening-day game. I don’t doubt this and in fact I know a couple of guys who have taken off early from their jobs using some of the lamest excuses of all time to make it to opening day games at Wrigley Field for years. However, I am firmly against this on principal alone. I love baseball and I am all for getting another day off work but, a study conducted by The Shamrock Society of North America just two years ago found that not less than 37 million American adults skip out on their work and other duties on a certain day in March every year and many of them fail to return to work the next day as well. So before we declare opening day a national holiday, I say we declare Saint Patrick’s Day a national holiday first!!!
The Quotable Thing
This week’s quote was submitted by Dave Jackson and he gives credit for it to Roger Sterling (from the popular TV series “Mad Men”) who tells his sales team as he leads them into a very important meeting with Chevrolet Motors …
“I want you to know I’m 100 percent for this, unless it doesn’t work.”
Have a Wonderful Week, Everyone!