Taking a break from cooking to show you how pretty my desserts are:
Happy New Year!
Taking a break from cooking to show you how pretty my desserts are:
Happy New Year!
I don’t know if I will actually place this on my BlackBerry, but I am very happy to own it. My people know me, what can I say? (Thank you, SuperPrime, for the awesome gift.)
I keep looking at the “ask why” and cracking up. He remembered the “ask why”! I don’t know why, exactly, that is so precious to me, but it is. It’s perfect.
My friend Matthew Zachary has a truly awesome paid internship opportunity available. If you or someone you know is interested in web/social media work for a fantastic, meaningful non-profit, read on.
Here’s the dish: He is seeking a web 2.0 rock star for a hip nonprofit cancer organization based in NYC. Is your feedreader too full? Are you the kind of person that reads about a new web service and immediately signs up? Do you consistently leave comments on blogs you read? Do you use Facebook almost every day? If so, we need to talk.
The I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation (iy) has an immediate opening for a paid internship. The iy Intern will help strategize and implement our outreach efforts by utilizing social media. The intern is responsible for but not limited to:
• Increasing our blog presence and engaging the blogosphere in general
• Identify and recruit bloggers who would make excellent guest bloggers
• Maintaining and increasing iy Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Newsvine & Delicious platforms
• Engage and become a “regular” of the online young adult cancer community
• Apply SEO practices to iy Web site and continue to educate yourself and the organization on new techniques learned in the area of SEO
• Train and mentor volunteers to become Web2.0 underling rock stars
Founded in 2007 by young adult survivors in their 20s and 30s for their own generation, the I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation is a global leader in the fight against cancer working exclusively on behalf of survivors and their care providers under the age of 40. A TIME Magazine Best 50 Website for 2007, we have helped bring the cause of ‘cancer under 40′ to the national spotlight and rallied a brand new generation of activists to improve early detection, advocacy, research and support for this forgotten population. We have also attracted various key stakeholders to support our vision, including Google Health. The Huffington Post, Gothamist, Lifetime Television, Revolution Health (Everyday Health), Motorola, Novartis and Eisei – along with strategic media partners J. Walter Thompson, MTV, Ruder-Funn, Krueger & Associates, Interbrand Health and Edelman.
Note: Applicants who do not already know about SEO should be willing to commit to learning and be ready to show us that they are making headway on that front.
Application instructions: Direct all inquiries to email@example.com with “INTERNSHIP” in the subject.
CARA ELLISON: Good morning. Thank you for joining us this morning for our third-quarter analyst conference. I have with me today President Tom Marks, Chief Financial Officer Owen Kind, Chief Technical Officer Jonathan Timmons, and our Communications Director, Perry Kanaly. I am going to give some brief opening remarks, and then we’re happy to take questions.
The … the overarching picture of the company continues to be one of strong health. We’ve done a very good job of limiting the effects of the rather weak economy and we’ve taken every measure to cut costs and retain our talent. For instance, we have a 95 percent retention rate, which is about the average of the last four years…so we’ve not been too affected in that regard. Most of the five percent who have left have been voluntary….. I mean, sorry, I mean it’s been turnover from retirees, employees taking advantages of back-to-school bonuses and that kind of thing. We’ve been very fortunate indeed, and I think it shows just how strong the company really is.
We will be reporting a third-quarter loss of $120 million which is due to the American currency being slightly devalued overseas. The loss is entirely within International and we’ve taken proactive steps to correct the loss. Every domestic unit will report a strong profit this quarter, with the pipelines surpassing even our most optimistic estimates.
I see there are quite a few analysts on this morning, so I’ll open the floor for calls.
OPERATOR: Douglas Keane from Putnam Lovell.
KEANE: Good morning, Ms. Ellison and others. Congratulations on a great quarter. I’m curious if you can add some color to the loss in international….?
OWEN KIND, CFO: Hi Doug, Owen Kind here. I think when you
OWEN KIND, CFO: look at the loss, you have to take into account the entire world economy right now which…
OWEN KIND, CFO: which is self-explanatory. Our investments have experienced a slow erosion with the general decline of the economy. We have strengthened our hedges and are very optimistic that the next quarter will make up the loss.
OPERATOR: Cynthia Bell from JVS.
BELL: Good morning, Ms. Ellison. Last quarter you said there were some enormous gains in Broadband. Could you update us on the progress there?
JONATHAN TIMMONS, CTO: Hi Cynthia, this is Jonathan Timmons. You’re exactly correct. When we spoke last quarter we had just launched our test markets. We’re presently in seventeen states, and the system is working beautifully. I could not be more excited about our progress. We’re breaking ground in five more states in the next sixty days. Our plan to be fully live in six months is still on target. Very excited. Very good stuff.
OPERATOR: Jason Katz, Valiant.
UNKNOWN: [ Unintelligible. ]
ELLISON: Hello Mr. Katz, what’s your question?
KATZ: Ms. Ellison, thanks for taking my call. I was looking at the filings and they seem incomplete. I was hoping I could get a cash flow statement with your earnings?
ELLISON: Mr. Katz… you…you
PERRY KANALY: Katz, you’ve asked five times
ELLISON: Kanaly, thanks. I’ve got
KATZ: You’re the only financial institution that can’t produce a balance sheet or cash flow statement with their earnings.
ELLISON: Oh fuck you, Katz.
KANALY: ….withhold those.
TOM MARKS: …pausing for a moment? Convene in
KATZ: No, fuck you, Miss Ellison. You treat all the analysts like
ELLISON: Shut the fuck up, you asshole. You call here
KANALY: Perhaps other calls?
JONATHAN TIMMONS: Is this for real?
ELLISON: You call in every damn quarter asking
KATZ: Because you won’t give them to me!
ELLISON: We don’t do that at Cara Ellison Corp!
KANALY: perhaps arrange
ELLISON: Fuck you! You want to come here, to the office
ELLISON: I am on the fiftieth floor, you can come here any day and I’ll have accountants
KATZ: It’s all bullshit! Your accountants don’t
KANALY: Please, let’s
UNKNOWN: I’m not sure
KATZ: know what they’re doing. How could they… don’t even have a cash flow statement!
ELLISON: Look, bitch
KANALY: Oh God
ELLISON: you can keep lying
TOM MARKS: Please
ELLISON: Fuck you. Fuck you, asshole…. Short seller
KATZ: Because your accountants don’t know shit!
KANALY: This is not… important
OWEN KIND: I have no idea.
KATZ: They just do what you tell them!
ELLISON: Bullshit! [CROSSTALK ] Could have called me… could ask to speak to OWEN or TOM or… or…. Anyone, and instead you do this drive-by shit
UNKNOWN: That’s it, I quit.
ELLISON: What? Who quit?
KATZ: You don’t take calls from me
ELLISON: Katz, you’re a short seller trying to devalue
KATZ: That’s your paranoia
ELLISON: Fuck you
TOM MARKS: Hang up. Operator, please
ELLISON: Fucking kill you, asshole.
UNKNOWN: Jesus Christ
ELLISON: Who quit? Who else? To quit?
JONATHAN TIMMONS: I quit.
ELLISON: No severance! Nothing! Who else? Anybody else? Okay then you get raises. Fuck you Timmons
JONATHAN TIMMONS: Lost control. You’re completely
ELLISON: Fuck you
KANALY: Deep breath…calm down
ELLISON: Shut up Kanaly
ELLISON: Fuck you
KATZ: Anytime baby
ELLISON: Shut up, asshole
KATZ: You ever gonna give me the cash flow?
All these were taken today.
I liked how Enron was grouped in with other companies that failed – somehow lends credibility to the growing body of evidence that Enron was not criminal.
I love running gloves; I’ve had these since I lived in Portland. Many years. And I was so excited to wear them today I snapped a picture.
Self Portrait One
Self Portrait Two
Flowers in bloom, on December 28.
I love it when I am minding my own business and the world starts to speak to me:
I don’t expect very much from the Enron Recovery Corp. But I did hope it could at least keep a website up. Even the Obama transition team can do that.
Today in 2005, Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey pleaded guilty to a single charge of securities fraud related to the Greyhawk transaction. By pleading guilty, Causey was spared the 36-count indictment, and accepted a sentence of five to seven years, forfeited $1.25 million, and promised to cooperate with investigators.
At the center of the Enron Broadband Services case is an analyst conference on January 20, 2000, which spooled off hundreds of counts of fraud and conspiracy for five Broadband defendants (Joe Hirko, Rex Shelby, Scott Yeager, Kevin Hannon and Michael Krautz). It also caused problems for some of the guys in Corporate.
The government alleges that CEO Jeff Skilling allowed Enron to inappropriately recognize approximately $85 million in earnings from the increase in the value of its stock after the conference. The earnings were recorded through a partnership interest Enron held in JEDI (one of Fastow’s partnerships) that held, as one of its investment holdings, Enron stock. In connection with the January 20, 2000 analyst conference, Enron and JEDI purportedly executed a series of transactions, known as Project Greyhawk that allowed JEDI’s income to increase as the price of Enron’s stock increased. Project Greyhawk allowed Enron to recognize, through its partnership interest in JEDI, approximately $85 million in earnings as a result of the increase in Enron stock from the statements – which the government allege are false and misleading – at the analyst conference.
Causey allegedly misled investors when he (and others) didn’t reveal the $85 million increase in the JEDI investment came from the increased value of Enron stock.
After years of fighting the allegations, Rick Causey turned against his two co-defs, Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay. Incredibly, at his sentencing in which he pleaded guilty, his lawyer said repeatedly that Causey believed he was acting appropriately. He would never intentionally commit fraud or conspiracy. The attorney stressed that Causey was a good guy, a religious family man who never personally profited from any particular Enron transaction.
Mr. Causey is serving his sentence at a prison in Bastrop, Texas; he is expected to be released in October, 2011.
The party was in the ballroom of a downtown hotel. We arrived when most people were on their second cocktail, which was exactly where I wanted them. Though I don’t really drink, I like to know that others are. I tend to seize up in very large social situations. Drinking people are chatty people, and that works to my advantage.
Superprime found his people and introduced me. All the wives were lovely and looked slightly, indefinably out of place, much like I must have looked. And I wasn’t even a wife.
I took a glass of chardonnay and looked around. The company had splashed down some money on the shindig, which made me very happy. Not because of the money, but because in this age of bailouts, deficit, and recession, it’s heartening to see an organization actually acting like there is something worth celebrating: its employees.
After a while, Superprime’s boss joined the group. Over dinner – which was actually quite good – I began to relax a little better. His boss’s wife is Marla; I was seated beside her and we ended up having a lot in common. Conversation with her was easy, and within minutes, I felt like we were friends. So when she invited us and approximately forty others back to her house for an afterparty, I had no problem mustering the enthusiasm to accept.
When we walked through the door of their home, Marla grabbed my arm and said, “I have the best drink. I call it a Redheaded Slut. You’re going to love it.”
I looked to Superprime, who smiled encouragingly. At the bar, Marla handed me a martini glass full of a red liquid. The fumes coming off the drink nearly burned the film off my eyes. “You’re going to love it. So Christmasy,” she was saying, and poured herself one. “To new friends!” she chirped. I admit: I was completely charmed by her. I though she was an interesting person, and a genuinely kind person, and I could totally see us going out for drinks without the men. It was all very auspicious. Indeed, to new friends.
I clinked her glass and took a tiny, tentative sip. The red fluid was sticky and tasted like Hawaiian Punch and high octane jet fuel. I had a mild attack of tachycardia, followed by my ears burning – and possibly bleeding. The intense sweetness of coconut and banana was apparently designed to cover the disgusting taste of whatever evil alcohol she had used in the drink. I forced myself to swallow.
“Great!” I said, smiling with tears in my eyes. The room was starting to spin. I get tipsy very easily anyway; I am lampshade-on-the-head-dancing-around-in-my-underwear-drunk after half a light beer. But this wasn’t that silly kind of drunk. Instead, I felt like I was falling down a very long, vertical elevator shaft.
Two other women had arrived at the bar, and Marla busied herself making two of her Redheaded Sluts for them. I looked across the room to Superprime. He was talking to his boss, and the lights from the Christmas tree behind him created a sweet frame – this great guy, this man. I felt a wave of such tender affection for him that I don’t know how I remained standing. He felt the weight of my stare and looked over. He was smiling. Something coded and intimate passed between us.
I said to Marla, “I see Superprime, I’ll be right back.”
I set the drink on the bar and sidled up beside him as he was talking to his boss. There was a group of seven guys – his coworkers and boss – and they seemed tight. Watching him interact with the guys was an interesting experience, something I would have to jot down later in my anthropology notebook. I sort of leaned into him, my stamina mysteriously sapped from the drink. His arm came around me, and he pressed a kiss to my temple.
Marla was busy passing out her Redheaded Sluts. I was trying not to meet her eyes. Then she walked over, holding the glass I had left on the bar. “Is this yours? Did you not like it?” She looked so incredibly sweet, all blonde and blue eyed and endearingly proud of her drink. I imagined her practicing her Redheaded Sluts for days before the party, asking her husband and neighbors and kids if it tasted okay. Maybe she’d substituted gasoline for Belvedere Vodka because she ran out at the last minute and all she could think to do was siphon the Super Premium from the BMW in the garage.
I looked at Superprime and his boss, all his guy friends, and the women who were drinking elegant flutes of champagne. He and the guys looked so much like a team. There was just something about them that intrigued me, cohesion and respect and something male. But in that moment he was separate from them. He was looking at me and something delicate flickered in his eyes. Images kaleidoscoped through my mind: feeding me cupcakes in bed, the sweetness in his eyes, the softness of the skin of his chest, the way he traces his fingertips over my back when I am going to sleep, the way he takes care of me when I have a headache. The guys – his team – and his boss – were watching.
I smiled as I took the glass of the sticky Hawaiian Punch and jet fuel and in one long gulp, I drank it all down.
I read a lot of Joyce Carol Oates and those dog-awful sex novels by Shannon McKenna. I read poetry – and of course hundreds of biographies of my beloved Sylvia Plath. Fiction can be found in every room of my house; I especially love Nelson Demille, Tim O’Brien, and Douglas Coupland. My shelves are bursting with travelogues. In my bedroom, you’ll find shelves full of F Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, my copy of Moby Dick – the classics – interspersed with Anne Rice, biographies of Anne Rice, and criticism of Anne Rice.
But on my bedside table, you will find something else completely.
You will find the most gripping reading in the entire history of language. You will find: Enron trial transcripts.
I read them before sleep. They keep me awake, but I read them anyway because I seem to retain more of them if I read them before sleep instead of, say, in the middle of the day. Sometimes, to switch it up, I read affidavits and motions from the Broadband Trial or the Nigerian Barge Trial. Sometimes I print out news reports and mark them up like an angry professor grading the paper of a particularly imbecilic student, jotting in the margins: “source?” or: “NOT TRUE!!!!” or “WTF?”
The news reports are rare, actually, and I don’t actually enjoy them. The reason I read the transcripts, over and over, for years now, is because the people are speaking directly for themselves – which they can not do through the filter of a news report. In his answers on the stand, Jeff Skilling develops a personality you just can’t interpret from watching YouTube videos. He shows a marvelous sense of humor, that cutting, cold, brilliant intelligence, and …well, innocence. He speaks about his company like it’s a child, the source of all pride, the thing that will endure – or should have endured. He loves it, even now. You can hear the fondness. He pushes back against Sean Berkowitz, he is emotional, he is funny, he is innocent. He is just like any other person, talking to you about his experience.
I know it’s an obvious thing: Jeff Skilling is a real person. Yet I think people do tend to forget it because he’s become a symbol of something else. It is easy for detractors to discount his humor, his kindness, all those many stories of spontaneous and heartfelt generosity. This isn’t true only for Skilling, of course. It’s universal among the Enron executives who have found their lives upended because of the collapse of the company.
I guess reading the transcripts helps keep their humanity forefront in my mind. Meaning: they have lives outside of Enron. Often, in the transcripts, you can see those lives. You read about their families, their pastimes, their enjoyments. And you see that this alleged criminal behavior makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in the whole of their lives. Jeff Skilling did not care about money. He grew up in a modest, middle-class household – probably less affluent than the one you grew up in. He began to make money very early because he was talented and smart. But his motivation was actually not the money – it was about the pursuit of greatness. Creating – which is plenty of motivation for some among us.
So when the Enron Task Force accused him of fraud and conspiracy, you have to ask why he would do such a thing. The answer suggests itself: he wouldn’t.
Enron hired the best and the brightest. Perhaps it is too simplistic to claim that everyone was as pure as Skilling, but in general the kind of personality that was attracted to Enron was very creative, very dedicated to the process of work – figuring out problems, creating something big, watching the world go Kaboom when their product launched. Enron Broadband Services was perhaps even more intensely populated with those kinds of people than elsewhere. It was a place that was on the cutting edge; they were trying to accomplish something, build something, that had never been accomplished before. Pioneers, we used to call them.
And look at what is left. The company is gone. The ideas are shelved. Men are in prison… these brilliant men who contributed so much, are in prison. It’s like a Greek tragedy, but I can’t find any overarching meaning in it.
Yet I remain hopeful. These are good men, and strong men. I understand the plea deals, and I accept them and I don’t even really register a loss of respect for the men who take them; I know the pressure the government can exert.
But the men who don’t… those who keep fighting… Like Skilling, and Dr. Lay, and more immediately, Rex Shelby from EBS… these are the men, I think, who personify the very best of Enron. The very best of humanity.
For eight years now, these men have been telling their story. For eight years, they have endured trials, and sentences, and have had to suffer the fallout of friends and co-defendants who succumb to the pressure and accept a plea deal and testify against them. For eight long years, these guys have been trying to tell us what really happened at Enron. It’s all there, for anyone to hear – anyone with an open mind, anyone who bothers to pay attention.
So every night, when I lie my head down upon my white feather pillows, I read their words, and know they are speaking directly to me.
I’m still working on it, but this is it so far.
Also I’m trying to think of a good title. The working title is:
On The Side Of Angels: The True Enron Story
But that could change.