This certainly gets attention...

I'll bet this will show up on Dave Barry's blog, if it hasn't already.


'X' or 'Y'?

Check out this comic.

(HT: Tim)


Gas prices

I've been meaning to post something about gas prices since I read an article the other day whining about the record profits being reported by big oil companies. (I did finally find an article that has something to say about their profit margins, comparing them to those of Google, Yahoo and eBay. As interesting as those figures are, I'd still love to dig up some stats comparing the profit margins of oil companies to their own margins from previous years.)

(Favorite quotation from the above article: "You as a consumer have three options. You have car keys, light switches and a thermostat. Use them judiciously." -- Robert Ebel, Center for Strategic and National Studies)

I recently read a great article that actually pinpoints what is probably the real issue behind the rising oil prices: not collusion between oil companies, not price gouging, but supply and demand. (HT: The Bard, of The Mercied.)

I wonder, our are elected officials so stupid that they don't understand basic economic principles, or are they too clever to admit to the general public that some of the problem is the government's fault, and some of it is consumers' fault, and some of it is just economic principles at work?


Cherry Cordials and Cough Syrup

I bought a few tiny cherry cordials at the Fresh Market last week. Unfortunately, they're disgusting. The liquid that bursts out of the chocolate shell when I bite into the candy tastes very similar to cherry-flavored children's Tylenol... or maybe children's Benadryl, or cough syrup. Or maybe all of the above.

I'm quite disappointed.


This makes me happy.

When I graduated from high school five years ago, my church gave all the graduates a piece of paper that said "Congratulations, you're graduating." (That's a paraphrase...)

Tonight, they gave all the graduates a copy of John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life.
I'm happy, because it's a lot more useful than that piece of paper. Besides, it almost always makes me happy to get a new book--especially when I don't have to buy it for myself.

I have a problem now, though: My bookshelf is full! Nice problem to have, eh? =)

I'm in trouble now!

This blog got a hit last Thursday from the Pentagon.

Recruiting! (concluded)

Last but not least, the Big 4...

Deloitte wins points for a cool water bottle. They also gave us a pen. And a nice plastic bag for carrying the stuff.

Another cool water bottle from Ernst & Young. (It's almost identical to the bottle I bought at Starbucks while on ministry team--just different colors and different companies.) E&Y didn't give us a bag, but they did fit everything into the bottle: the highlighter, the pen, both containers of Jelly Bellies (which were a bit tricky to extricate from the bottle), and their printed information (which was rolled up and protruding from the top of the bottle). Instead of giving us all a bazillion individual business cards, E&Y printed the names and contact info of each representative on a card, which was hole-punched and tied with a ribbon to the top of the bottle. Good thinking!

CD case from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Different from the usual gifts, which was nice. They also gave us a plastic cup. The gifts and some printed info were all in a bag.

KPMG's "big blue bag." I give them points for having a "goody bag" with a theme, encouraging us to "Think big with KPMG." The contents of the bag included a t-shirt (I've already given it to my mom, so it's not pictured here), Post-Its, a big blue pen, and a tube of lip balm. I'm excited about the lip stuff--I'm a Chapstick addict, so it's definitely something I'm going to use! I'm not convinced that t-shirts are a great idea for generic gift bags for a large (in number) group of people; my shirt was size large, which means I could almost wear it as a dress. ;) I assume that the same size shirt was put in each bag, which means that probably a lot of people were not able to wear it. (I suppose that the shirt was continuing the gift bag theme--it was big and blue!) I definitely liked the fact that the bag was labeled as being both big and blue. It made me smile.

Again, I appreciate all the companies (and the individuals) who made the recruiting event possible! Don't take any criticism personally... it's meant to be constructive. I promise.

Recruiting! (continued)

The Reznick Group was the last firm I met with. They had a pretty good set-up; three circles of chairs, so they could split our small groups into even smaller groups to talk with. One guy in particular seemed to take pride in his company's "goody bags." Reznick was one company that provided a nice shopping-type bag. Their gifts included a squishy die, a plastic cup, a spiral-bound notebook with a pen, a highlighter, and Post-Its.

BDO Seidman wins points for creativity and for keeping the typical college student's lifestyle (particularly his eating habits) in mind with their bag of microwave popcorn, labeled with the company's name. They also gave us a plastic water bottle, a pen/highlighter, Post-Its, mints, and something (bottle opener?) on a keychain.

Greer & Walker: Super-nice people, but I ended up walking away from their table with only printed information. Not that I think that's bad, but they did have a bit of other stuff there which nobody really encouraged me to take. I'm sure I'll get around to reading the company info eventually, but at this point all I've looked at is the "stuff" from the different recruiters; I'd almost forgotten about Greer & Walker. So, if you're a recruiter, it would probably be a good idea to strongly encourage recruitees to take at least one small item with your company's name on it. Honestly, I'm probably not going to use most of the stuff I got, but so far, it's helping me to remember the companies that gave it to me!

Edit: I almost forgot to mention one other company, SPX. (I forgot them because I have no "goodies" from them.) They have a really interesting program where they let people do "rotations" in finance/accounting. Each rotation lasts 6-9 months. Basically, it lets you get a feel for different jobs in the finance/accounting area, so you can see what you like best. I kind of like the concept.

Dixon Hughes wins points for the really nice water bottle, the "chip clip," and the metal clip that I wish I'd had at camp last summer. It was also nice of them to include a pen, a pencil, and a highlighter; that pretty much covers the average college student's writing needs. The foam drink insulator I really have no use for, because I don't drink anything that comes from a can. (Until they start selling canned water...)

Hughes Pittman Gupton: Way to get the name on your gift in a noticeable way! A coffee mug is probably something that just about anybody will use, and of course adding the candy is never a bad idea.

Grant Thornton scores big with a gift that nobody else was handing out: a card caddy set. I can now say that I'm "playing with a full deck"--two full decks, actually. (Unfortunately, the only card game I know at present is Solitaire. As soon as I get a chance, however, I plan to have my brother teach me poker.)

Although it's a fun gift, I have to wonder about the gambling association... taking unnecessary audit risks, perhaps? ;-) (I particularly wonder about this since one of the firm reps told me that, basically, the firm is Arthur Anderson with "a different sign on the door.") =)


Friday, I had my first experience with a recruiting event. I traveled 3 hours to the town where, Lord willing, I will be moving in August for school.

The agenda for the day included a luncheon with representatives from the firms that are starting to recruit for next January's internships, and then, all afternoon, meeting in small groups with each firm.

I didn't realize how tiring it would be to just talk to people for three hours, but by the time it was over, everyone looked as exhausted as I felt. Contributing to the exhaustion were the "gifts" that the firms were giving to all of us recruitees.

For your information/entertainment, and for my future reference, I'm posting some pictures of and comments about the "goodies" from each company. I want to note that I am grateful to each company for taking the time to meet with us and for the gifts they gave us; I don't want to come across as criticizing any one firm, but I hope that my comments will be helpful to any readers who, in the future, will be the ones choosing the stuff to give to recruitees on college campuses.

The loot:
This is all the "stuff" (except the KPMG t-shirt). I didn't bother to photograph the printed information that each company gave or, in most cases, the bags in which the "stuff" was given. (I did very much appreciate those companies that provided some sort of bag for the items they gave us; and I was very thankful that I visited one of those displays early in the afternoon!)

A nice pen from Navigant Consulting. (Only one person from Navigant came; the rest had their flights cancelled. The guy who came didn't even know how to put the display together; he also didn't have most of the stuff that he was supposed to have. I thought he handled the situation quite well, all things considered.)

Some skinny Post-Its and some candy from Merrill Lynch. Thanks to the ML rep for having chairs at the display! I have to admit that I didn't really hear much of what she said; it was late in the day, and I'm not particularly interested in the lines of work at her company. But she was nice, and strongly encouraged us to take some candy so she wouldn't have to eat it!

Plastic cup, drink insulator, highlighter, and gum from Wachovia. (There may have been candy in the cup as well; it got mixed up before I took a good look at the contents of the cup.) Nothing terribly exciting here, but they were nice.



Quote of the Day

Mom: Does it bother you kids that I didn't finish college?
Me: No.
Brother: I cry myself to sleep every night.

Public Service Announcement

Over the past several months, I've begun to realize how great the gap is between the general public's expectations of independent auditors and what auditors are actually required to do. I thought I'd take this opportunity to clear up some things, before I grow up to be an accountant and get sued because of the ignorance of a member of the aforementioned general public.

Generally, those without an accounting or legal education seem to expect that the auditors of a particular company's books will find any incident of fraud or error that has occurred during the year. But guess what? That doesn't always happen. It's not even an auditor's job to provide assurance that financial statements are 100% accurate.

So what is an auditor's job? Here is a link to auditing standards. Click on "AU 110," which contains information on "Responsibilities and Functions of the Independent Auditor." This document reads, in part,

The auditor has a responsibility to plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether caused by error or fraud. Because of the nature of audit evidence and the characteristics of fraud, the auditor is able to obtain reasonable, but not absolute, assurance that material misstatements are detected. The auditor has no responsibility to plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance that misstatements, whether caused by errors or fraud, that are not material to the financial statements are detected.

Basically, the auditor cannot and does not guarantee that financial statements are completely accurate. He cannot always detect every incident of fraud. But that isn't his job description anyway. His job is to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement.


Taxes and Congress...

I guess this is why tax laws are sometimes referred to as "accountant and attorney full-employment acts."

From the article:
Three of the four top lawmakers on the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, which are in charge of writing tax laws, pay a professional to file their annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

According to IRS statistics, that makes these members of Congress much like the public. More than 60 percent of taxpayers turn to a paid professional to prepare their returns. The number typically increases a little each year.

As long as Congress doesn't reform the tax system (and I expect that the chances of that are rather slim), I should be able to repay those student loans I'm going to have to get relatively quickly...

Happy Easter

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:3-11 (ESV)


Time Management

It looks like I'll be getting a lot more done than usual until April 24.

That's probably a good thing; I need to be cleaning the house, planning a bridal shower, and doing some research so I can write an essay by April 30 for a possible scholarship. Not to mention figuring out where I'm going to be living next fall and how I'm going to pay for it.

Why I Love Ironwood: Quotes from Mr. Walt

"A preacher's ... job is to figure out what God said and repeat it."

"You just can't make enough rules to cover everything."

"[Standards] can be different without being wrong."

Post 100!

To celebrate this blog's 100th post, I am sharing a random quotation from one counselor's testimony at the end of a week of camp last summer:

I had one camper that was a strayer. ... So I shared with him the story about how the shepherd would take a little sheep and break its leg and carry it on his shoulder...

I had to wonder whether the camper thought that was a veiled threat!


Dallas and Charlotte.

That's what I ended up picking for my internship location preferences.

I don't know that I'll definitely end up in either of those cities, but I guess there's a reasonably good possibility!

Now, to get a few hours of sleep before work at 8 a.m.


Narrowing it down...

I've pared my list of potential internship cities down to four: Charlotte, Denver, Dallas, and Chicago.

Now I have until tomorrow to eliminate two more. (I'm pretty sure that Charlotte will be my second choice; one of the others will be my first choice.)



This is an interesting suggestion regarding the immigration issue.

(HT: to the blog commentor who left a link to the article. Sorry, I don't remember where I found the link.)

Misc. stuff

Another long day... went in to the office at 8:30 a.m., left at 8:15 p.m. I did take a "lunch break" for an hour or so--I went looking for a new interview suit (I found a great suit at Dillard's, but unfortunately it's not quite the "power suit" I had in mind) and snarfed down a junior hamburger and small fries from Wendy's (total: $1.97) at various stoplights and on the interstate on my way back to work.

I'm still thinking about my upcoming internship... I'm thinking about Phoenix. I have some relatives there, as well as some friends from camp and from school... and it has nicer winter weather than, say, New York or Boston or Philadelphia or Chicago...

Now, I just have to come up with a second possible city for my internship.


Oh my head.

Speaking of disturbing fashion trends...


All right, my mom asked me about 15 minutes ago if I was worried about grad school. "No, not yet, but I'm sure I will be," I replied.

I didn't think it would happen this soon.

As part of my master's degree program, I have the opportunity to complete an accounting internship for, I think, 10 weeks, beginning next January. I get to list my top two choices of cities in which to do this internship. My choices, along with a little biographical info and a picture of me (and all the same stuff for the other MS students), will go in a brochure that the school distributes to the firms hiring interns. I've known all this for a while. But I thought I had plenty of time to decide on two cities to top my list.

Until I checked my email tonight.

I have to let them know my choices by Friday.

And, a week from Friday they have a recruiting event for next fall's incoming MS students. It's not required, but I'm thinking I really ought to get there if I can. That means I need to find a new suit, see about getting off work that day (and the person I need to ask for permission is out all this week), get my parents' permission, figure out when to plan my best friend's bridal shower that's at my house the next day...

So, I'm panicking a little bit here. :) I need to go read my Bible and pray, but right now I'm not going to be able to concentrate on anything. (It didn't help to find all this out after a 12-hour workday... let's hear it for tax season!) I think I can pretty much forget about sleeping tonight...

Anyway, I'm going to stop rambling and try to pull myself together a little bit here. :) I would appreciate your prayers, if you think about it. And I'd also appreciate input about what cities would be good for an aspiring accountant to try out for 10 weeks! (I have a mental list, but narrowing it down to only 2 will be a problem! And then I have to think about what's going to be practical, what's going to be reasonably affordable, etc. I mean, I'd love to go live in San Francisco or Seattle or Denver or Orange County, CA for 10 weeks, but I'd need a car out there, and I'm not too sure I like the idea of trying to drive my car across the country with its track record of unexpectedly leaving me stranded...)

One reason this is a semi-big issue to me is that accounting internships have a habit of leading to job offers. So, where I do my internship could end up being home in less than two years!



... I just looked at a ringtone website, and I'm feeling my resolve never to use an obnoxious ringtone weakening. I've always prided myself on having the maturity to select some sort of simple beeping noise as my cell phone ringer. But there's so much out there to choose from--John Williams, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Casting Crowns, the Beach Boys, Jeff Foxworthy, even some of this type of music (not these songs specifically, but others that I've been blessed to hear at work). How can I resist???

Update: The 1812 Overture! They have the 1812 Overture! (However, they don't seem to have anything by the Carpenters...)


What I Did Today:

* Slept through two alarms
* Worked 6 1/2 hours
* Ate one slice of pizza and a lot of cookies
* Got a new cell phone
* Picked up a paycheck and checked my schedule at my second job
* Ate dinner
* Read the newspaper
* Folded laundry
* Did a minimal amount of planning for an upcoming bridal shower
* Balanced my checkbook
* Did my parents' state tax return and filed it online
* Blogged


I find things like this disturbing.


Just for the record...

I did not go to this for a variety of reasons.

But, while I'm still not a huge fan of CCM, I don't think I would have minded attending...


What I'm Doing Right Now

I'm using my mom's Homedics foot spa to try to help my feet survive tax season--standing at a photocopier 20-30 hours/week while preparing materials for mailing...

The foot spa has options for a "massage" (i.e., it vibrates) and/or "heat" (it allegedly maintains the temperature of warm water--I'm not convinced that this feature works as promised).

While pampering my feet, I've been catching up on e-mail, doing a bit of blogging, and listening to the Carpenters' CD "Interpretations." (I like it better when I don't listen to the lyrics too closely. Some of them are a bit startling to a person who has grown up in "the bubble.")

I'm about to attempt to transport the foot spa from my room to the bathroom for emptying into the bathtub. I'm hoping to avoid spilling the water on the journey. (Yeah, it's probably about 15 feet away. But I'm a klutz. Or however you spell that.)

From the Quote Book...

Bible Doctrines professor: [Illustrating the intricate designs in nature, tells the class that North America contains more than 3500 species of bees.]

My friend: "How awful."

Me: [Laughs--silently.]

My friend: "I hate bees."

Me: [Laughs harder.]

Exciting new feature!

Those of you who know me well (or not so well) probably know of my "quote book" habit. (And yes, I know that technically it's incorrect to refer to a quotation as a "quote," but we'll try to get over that, won't we?)

I've decided to start posting some of my quote book material here and on Frittering Away.
The quotes on Frittering Away will generally be more positive than the quotes here (since Monica suggested instituting "a rule against anything smacking of cynicism").


Monica, you asked for it...

I have a couple more (I don't really know why), but I think this is enough obnoxiousness for one day.

I suppose I should add a disclaimer--I do not endorse the views represented by the above images...


A Case Against Allegorical Preaching

Interesting article on SharperIron a couple days ago. (Of course, I liked it. I tend to like things with which I am at least mostly in agreement!)

Here's the opening sentence of the article (just to whet your appetites a bit):

Is it possible for a preacher to rail against apostasy and encourage the brethren to fight for truth all the while compromising truth and teaching his audience to do the same?

I couldn't help but think of things like, "And the last giant isn't named. That's because God wants us to apply it to whatever area of our lives...."

And like the story my pastor related recently, from a book he'd read. A preacher read the O.T. story about the widow whom Elisha told to borrow vessels and to pour oil from her container into the borrowed vessels, and the oil filled all the vessels; the preacher said, "Oil in the Bible always symbolizes the Holy Spirit," and proceeded to preach about being filled with the Spirit (or something like that). Supposedly, on their way out of the service, some young men were discusses whether, based on that interpretation of that passage, it would be OK to sell the Holy Spirit.

More Easter Bunny Trauma