Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bit once, my fault

As some articles were published on follow up of the Madoff thing, I recalled reading of the 1937 scheme by some senor members of the venerable nationwide pharmaceutical supply firm McKesson Robbins.

Remaining profitable during the depths of the Great Depression a decision was made to expand into Canada.

Several million dollars was "spent" setting up warehouses and sales offices. An additional millions followed for inventory.

An accountant traveling in Canada decided he would visit one of the facilities. He found a rented office with a secretary whose job was to transfer paperwork she received by envelope to envelopes mailed from Canada.

The property, inventory, and $9,000,ooo in receivables were were all part of a scheme.

Following the startling revelation, two new "McKesson standards" were incorporated in accounting audits:

1. All inventory must be physically counted preferably by a disinterested party.

2. Accounts receivable must be documented by confirmations of the owing parties.

Imagine my surprise in refreshing my mind via Internet to find that McKesson was again stung in 1999 when they purchased a company called HBO (not the cable company).

An auditor with Deloitte and Touche made a random call to a customer to confirm a $20,000,000 order.

It was not active.

The auditors found that in anticipation of the sale customers were offered cancelable orders and future orders were booked as in the bank to the tune of millions of dollars.

Bit twice?

What was it our ex president said about trust but verify?


Sunday, March 20, 2011

I guess it is not profound to say that life is a continual learning experience.

Jean recently purchased a 2010 Hundai based on a recommendation from nephew Sam. Jean and I are both happy with the choice.

The car features the current shtick, a key less ignition.

There is a slot in the dash for the remote but if you have it in your pocket it will do its job.

Last night we were invited to dinner at the Jackalope, a very upscale restaurant in Indio. Our friend Herb generously offered to drive us there in his 2010 car.

At the end of the evening Herb and I went to the valet stand to reclaim his vehicle while the ladies hovered in the lea of a wall to avoid the cold desert evening wind.

We waited and waited as parades of cars went by. One of the valets noticed our situation and went to look for the car.

As he walked back toward us, Herb reached in his pocket and produced the remote. Apparently, as long as the engine is running the remote does not have to be in the car but to start it must be there.

The first valet not being able to start the car went on to the next one without bothering to tell us.

So, please remember if your car has a key less start the dash slot is there for a reason.

On the other hand I think it may be possible to lock the car with the remote still in there.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Everything old is new again

Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz

My friends all drive Porsches I must make amends.

June 10, 2011, I became the adoptive father of a two ton 1988, 560SL coupe.

It has three options, a fiberglass top, a manually operated convertible soft top, or the blue sky above me.

It came about in a rather strange manner. In the morning my dog Sparky and I walk in the neighborhood.

One of my neighbors had a dog named Tinker. Sparky generally avoids other dogs but he loved to romp with Tinker whose owner was a spry guy in his nineties.

A few days ago as we walked by the house he had his garage door open and visible inside was the red coupe.

He joked, "Would you like to buy it and named a ridiculously high price"

I responded that I would go home and get my checkbook but he withdrew the offer.

A friend suggested I make an offer more in line with the current value of the vehicle.

Another friend suggested I make it in the form of a letter. I posted the letter. Then began having buyer's remorse remembering the thing that dogs love to chase cars but what would they do if they caught one?

I caught one! Within days after I posted the the letter, the little man passed away and shortly after I received a call from the administrator of his estate informing me that I had bought the car.

Wednesday it goes to the shop to be detailed.

The car has appetite for 91 octane gas to feed its 200 plus horsepower on the other hand with less than 32,000 miles it was built to be more or less trouble free for 200,000 miles.

It is not considered a true classic but was a a popular fun car for the wealthy at prices that ran in the $60,000 bracket twenty years ago.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Life in "the Desert"

Often when I tell people that I spend the winter n Rancho Mirage otherwise known as the Palm Springs area people ask, Do you play golf? Do you play tennis?

What do we do?

Of course one thing is the people. On one occasion at a luncheon my wife was seated next to a former singer who during his active career had been featured several times on the Ed Sullivan show.

At a small bet poker game the player next to me was a former governor of his state. Not that everyone is a star but most are people who lead an active life and have put aside their business suits or whatever uniforms they wore in exchange for the relaxed life we enjoy.

Early on I joined a discussion group. When I became a member we were climbing to to thirty participants. The next year I came back and the group had grown to sixty.

In most communities there is a constant quest for volunteers. With few exceptions here you put in a resume and wait.

Because people are retired or vacationing, there is an endless round of celebrities living in or passing through performing in various venues.

Two nights ago we attended a free program at the Rancho Mirage Public Library. The feature was a duo. Joel Hochberg who does award winning documentaries showed a seventeen minute documentary he had filmed of John Bayles, a concert pianist who normally plays forty concerts a year around the globe, who suffered a debilitating stroke two years ago.

Following the documentary John Bayles came onto the stage and continued the interview then he play complex melodies he had revised to be played with one hand. It was concert quality.

The new Rancho Mirage Library is limited to four hundred spectators. It was at its limit even after some became discouraged with the size of the crowd and left.

The next night the library featured the Yale Wiffenpoof Glee Club. Again a full house.