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Friday, August 9, 2002

On Worldcom and Accounting


To: Obfuscus & Delay, Attorneys-at-Law

From: Worldcom Accounting Group

Re: Latest Audit Results

In re your last memo (re: "Is a team of monkeys doing your books?!?"), we would like to point out that we are a team of seasoned professionals, and restate that you are in the employ of Worldcom on a provisional basis.

As for your question regarding the status of our audits, we can now say with some confidence that, the latest $3.8 billion error notwithstanding, we finally have precise data on our current financial status. What follows is a corrected list of pertinent data:

Total Cash: $78 billion $11 and 37 Virginia Lottery tickets.

2001 Sales: $32 billion No actual sales. We did trade some old cable to Harry's Heating & Cooling in return for a Coca-Cola machine (see Assets, below).

Net Profit Margin: 18.9% IT is currently reconfiguring our spreadsheets to accept a negative denominator. Will report ASAP.

Assets: We need to modify the Key Assets listed in Supplementary Report G-119-L as follows: Strike all manufacturing facilities and sales offices. Strike all numbered Swiss bank accounts. Strike French and Italian art holdings. Strike Washington Redskins luxury boxes, limousine fleet, corporate jets and airplanes, Hilton Head suites, and Lake Placid retreat facilities. Replace with the following: assorted pencils (#2) and erasers, one partially functional stapler, and one vintage 1982 Coca-Cola vending machine, half full.

Liabilities: See attachments, pp. 11 - 983.

Employees: 23,000. 1600. 73. 4.

Finally, we are investigating whether our current shares outstanding amount to 37 million, as our in-house counsel informs us that he has been unable to locate any actual shareholders. We will continue to keep you apprised.

posted by Woodlief | link | (2) comments

Move Over, Ken

I've always wanted to be a hero. Problem is, this frequently involves shedding one's own blood, which, just between you and me, gives me the heebie-jeebies. But now my problems are solved, thanks to this business, which offers to make my very own Tony Woodlief Action Figure.

That's right, now I can leap tall milk cartons in a single bound, without the danger of pulling a hammy. What's more, you too can order the Tony Woodlief Action Figure (it would look great on your computer monitor, don't you think?). Use me to clear off that big spider web in the corner of your basement, or to give Ken the butt whipping he's been deserving ever since he let Barbie get that tattoo. You can even keep me in your bed at night, so long as you don't let the Tony Woodlief's Wife Action Figure find out. Don't miss out on the feel-good meme of the summer. Order your Tony Woodlief Action Figure today!

(Not sold in stores. Tony Woodlief Action Figure, Tony Woodlief Action Figure with Kung-fu Grip, and TonyWoodlief.com are trademarks owned by Tony Woodlief Enterprises, a subsidiary of Tony Woodlief Inc. Dressing the Tony Woodlief Action Figure in Barbie clothes is expressly prohibited by the conditions of sale. Contents under pressure. Lots of pressure. Do not submerge the Tony Woodlief Action Figure in water. Do not freeze Tony Woodlief. Do not place Tony Woodlief in the microwave. Do not taunt Tony Woodlief. Keep Tony Woodlief away from sharp objects. May be harmful if ingested. Thin Elvis and Fat Elvis outfits sold separately.)

posted by Woodlief | link | (4) comments

Thursday, August 8, 2002

Dreamy Debby

I've added a link to my "Blogs I Dig" site. It was inspired by Asparagirl's musing over what happened to the young lady who played girl-geek Jordan in Real Genius.

This got me thinking about that chick Julie, who is truly dazzling.

(Editor's Note: There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think Valley Girl is one of the greatest movies of all time, and those who do not understand life. If you are in the latter group, feel free to stop reading. If you haven't yet seen Valley Girl, go rent it. Now.)

I'm speaking, of course, of the lovely and talented Deborah Lynn Foreman, whose cameo role in Real Genius was the highlight of the film, and who with Val Kilmer had one of the funniest guy-girl exchanges I've ever seen.

(Second Editor's Note: Sand in the Gears is a free speech zone on most occasions. However, anyone posting derogatory comments about Deborah will have his IP address blocked, but only after I use it to track him down in order to deliver a sound thrashing. You can belittle my political beliefs, but not my Valley Girl.)

So, I did some checking, and it turns out that Debby has her own website. She still does a little acting here and there, along with graphic design, and some lovely hand-painted furniture work. Yay Debby. I'm watching Valley Girl again tonight.

And by the way, it really should be on DVD. Help make it happen.

posted by Woodlief | link | (5) comments

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

The P-Word

I remember watching Game Two of the 1995 World Series and deciding that Bob Costas is gutless. I came to this conclusion because Costas went out of his way, as Cleveland pitcher Dennis Martinez warmed up on the mound, to avoid describing a key part of Martinez's ritual. Martinez is a Christian, and he used to pray before beginning a game. So, while several million viewers watched this man bow his head, pray, and cross himself, Costas mumbled something about his "moment of silence," and his "time of reflection" before the game.

I'm reminded of this as I read about New York City's planning of ceremonies to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The Washington Post and The New York Times dutifully report that New Yorkers will reflect, remember, commemorate, memorialize, hearken back, and eulogize. They will light candles, read names, honor the dead, celebrate the living, sing songs, cry, read speeches, and have moments of silence.

But in this flurry of activity nobody, apparently, will pray. Instead, houses of worship will be encouraged to ring their bells, like the happy, unthreatening nuns in The Sound of Music.

I'm fairly sure there will be prayer, if not from the podium, then from the throngs of citizens too unsophisticated to have abandoned their childish faith in deity. I'm equally sure that, should some dignitary let slip the G-word, or -- heaven forbid -- the C-word, considerable Internet bandwidth will be absorbed on September 12th by the lamentations of atheists with bruised feelings debating which aggrieved them more: the previous day's religious displays, or the Presidential Inauguration. What's funny is that while there will be prayer, major news outlets seem afraid to mention it in their laundry lists of activities to be engaged in by mourners. This goes for two television news broadcasts I heard on the same topic.

Do they really not know that average people pray, or are they simply afraid to say so?

posted by Woodlief | link | (5) comments

Monday, August 5, 2002

I don't have any illusions about the most popular part of this site. It isn't my insightful social commentary, or my witty dissections of twisted authority figures. It's the little guy in the pictures at the bottom of the page. So, here's a little Caleb for you.

As we settled into our flight last week, I removed the latest New Republic from my bag and put it in the seat pocket in front of me. Wishful thinking, of course, the notion that one can read while seated next to a two year-old who provides a running commentary on the people around him ("she's sleepin' daddy"; "that man's goin' to the potty, daddy"). The magazine had a caricature of George W. Bush on the cover, with a sneaky look on his face. Caleb pointed at the cover and announced, "he's naughty." Then, in a louder voice, he asked, "can I see the naughty magazine?"

The people in front of us turned around. I laughed nervously, and announced so all around us could hear: "Honey, it's not a naughty magazine, it just has a man on the cover who looks funny."

"Can I hold the naughty magazine?"

"It's not naughty. Stop calling it that."

"Can I hold the naughty book?" Now other people were casting glances at us. My wife, across the aisle, pretended not to know me.

"It's not a book, it's a magazine."

"Can I hold the naughty magazine?"

"Stop calling it that." More loudly, I announced, "We don't have naughty magazines!"

I could read the minds of the people around me: Sure, you pervert.


We visited a church while out of town. It was communion Sunday, and this is one of those churches where they bring the bread and grape juice (oh, to be in a church without hangups over alcohol!), to worshippers in their pews. Caleb was feeling a little hungry, and I had to restrain him from helping himself to a piece of bread when the plate passed. Since we weren't familiar with how things are done in this church, we held our bread and surveyed the crowd surreptitiously, trying to discern whether we were supposed to go ahead and eat the bread, or wait until everyone had been served. The entire time, Caleb was standing between my knees, trying to bite the bread in my hand while I move it around to keep it out of his teeth.

Next came the juice, and a similar look of betrayal from Caleb once he realized he was to be denied this as well. Once we were done, we all sang "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." Caleb quickly developed his own song, adapted to the tune of the hymn. It went something like this:

"I want some grape juice, I want some ju-uuuuce Please I want some grape juice, Daddy can I have the juice, Pleeeeeeeese, ju-uuuuuuce."

As my wife often observes, people go to church when they are thirsty. So it was a nice metaphor. A little embarrassing, though.


Sometimes when traveling, I lose my discipline as a parent. Some samples:

"Daddy, I want an apple."

"Not until you finish your french fries."


"Daddy, it's bedtime."

"Not yet, honey. We haven't gotten ice cream yet."

I'm a bad, bad father.


We went to a nice, quiet little Italian place I know in the city we're visiting. None of the waiters speak English very well, and they all like Caleb. Caleb likes nearly everyone, especially people who bring him food, so it makes for a good relationship. My wife and I were enjoying the last of a crisp Pinot Grigio. Caleb, long since finished with dinner, was getting restless, so I let him slither out of his chair and crawl out from under the table to stand beside us. He loitered there, participating in our conversation in the fashion of two year-olds (Wife: "How did your meeting go today?" Me: "They're all good contributors." Caleb: "The fire truck goes round and round."). After a few seconds I realized that Caleb had drifted a couple of feet to the table behind us. He had his shirt pulled up to his chin.

"Caleb! Come here." Caleb walked back to our table, his shirt held high. "What are you doing, son?"

"I'm showing my big basketball belly!"

"I don't think people want to see your belly."

"It's a big one!"

"That it is, son."

"I know!"

If you've not seen your grinning two year-old happily rub his chubby belly after a nice meal, you haven't lived.

posted by Woodlief | link | (4) comments