February 8, 2011

A joke from The Fed

Hat Tip to The Economist Free Exchange Blog:

DALLAS Fed President Richard Fisher is an entertaining guy to listen to. He likes to tell jokes, as he did to open his latest speech on current economic conditions. This one is borrowed from Ronald Reagan:
Paddy McCoy, an elderly Irish farmer, received a letter from the Department for Works and Pensions stating that he was suspected of not paying his employees the statutory minimum wages and that an inspector would be sent to the farm.
On the appointed day, the inspector turned up. “Tell me about your staff,” he asked of Paddy.
“Well,” said Paddy, “there is the farmhand. I pay him 240 a week and he has use of a free cottage.”
“That’s good,” said the inspector.
“Then there’s the housekeeper. She gets 190 a week, along with free board and lodging.”
“That sounds fine,” said the inspector.
Paddy went on. “There’s also the half-wit. He works a 16-hour day, does 90 percent of the work, nets about 25 pounds a week when all is said and done, but takes down a bottle of whiskey and, as a special treat, occasionally gets to sleep with my wife.”
“That’s disgraceful, Paddy,” said the inspector. “I need to interview the half-wit.”
“Well,” said Paddy, “you’re looking at him.”

February 6, 2011

Poets and Writers Ball

Last night we went to the Inprint Poets and Writers Ball, their main fund raising event for the year. (My sweet ever lovin' is on their Board of Directors) It is one event that she doesn't have to drag me to - I enjoy this evening.

It is held at the Houston Country Club (fancy!)and the event is really a celebration of writing, with a focus on local writers. They have cocktails from 6:30 to about 7:00, then the crowd divides into three rooms, and local writers read from their most recent works.

During the drinking part of the evening Doreen introduced me to Jeff Smisek, the CEO of Continental United. (His wife is on the Board of Inprint as well). I chatted with him a little, saying how I hoped that he would make United more like Continental, and keep the level of service as high as it used to be. He assured me that they would. I told him I flew 150,000 miles on CO last year and he asked me if he could shine my shoes (While that sounds odd, it was surprisingly nice). We talked a little about Gordon Bethune, the charismatic CEO that rescued CO from oblivion a couple of years ago. Smisek said Gordon was right for his time, but that the company needs professional management now. I can't say that I disagree. This is one of those things that we just need to wait and see what happens. I will keep flying Continental and I will keep letting you know how it goes.

The three writers last night were Antonya Nelson, poet Martha Serpas, and Austin-based author S. C. Gwynne.

Serpas is from Galliano, LA and read some poems about the flat, sugarcane plantations, and water of South Louisiana. She was very intense (she is a trauma chaplain at Memorial Hermann Hospital) and an excellent reader. He two books of poems are called Côte Blanche and The Dirty Side of the Storm. I will look them up.

Nelson read a funny essay about getting a tatoo at 46.

S. C. Gwynne read from his book Empire of the Summer Moon, about the Comanche Indians. Excellent! I bought it this morning.

The main course was Colum McCann, who wrote Let the Great World Spin. He talked about how important stories are in our lives. He is Irish, and mentioned that he wanted to get the crowd singing. I was disappointed that he did not. So afterward, I went up to him and we sang a couple of verses of Irish Rover (much to the amusement of all concerned)

I went into a tavern I used to frequent,
and I told the landlady me money was spent
I asked her for credit, she answered me nay!
Such a custom as yours I can get any day!

and so on.

Finally, as we were leaving Doreen introduced me to Justin Cronin, the author of The Passage. I told him how much I enjoyed his book, and I guess that was still new enough to him that he wanted to talk. So we chatted about the book, the science behind it, the complex social relationships that he had to take care of, and when the next two books in the trilogy will be coming out (1 year and 3 years). His wife was standing by, looking bored so we eventually moved on. But I am pretty sure that he would have stood there and chatted all night.

It was fun.