Maplehurst Ramblings

(1) Enron.
Lets start on an uplifting note - and what could be more uplifting than the largest corporate bankruptcy the world has ever seen (so far, anyway!)
You have probably all heard about how Enron went belly-up spectacularly a few months ago so I won't bore you about the finer details here - I'll leave that for later! Before the dust had settled the bone-pickers decided to hold an auction of all the UK assets in the corporate headquarters and a few of us decided to pop along for a brief look. After all, Schadenfreude is great when it is someone else's problem!!
Buckingham PalaceThe premises were positively leviathan - several floors overlooking the gardens and lake of Buckingham Palace, quite stunning really for a company that was effectively buying and selling second hand electricity.
In order to keep numbers down, entry was by a 50 catalogue only. Unfortunately that didn't deter anyone.
We eventually managed to gain entry to the premises and spent a few hours poring over such weighty corporate assets as 50" plasma screens, 33 foot long hardwood tables and even a Lehmann train set that was definitely bigger than "O" gauge (i.e. massive). Having left the viewing it was easy to see where all the shareholders money went.
The day of the auction came and immediately people were well and truly caught up with auction fever. Second-hand lots were often selling for sums 30% in excess of their value when new. The auctioneers could have held their own in any livestock mar, such was their quality. It was actually quite awe- inspiring to listen (via broadband internet) to some fine specimens of e-pond life (i.e. muppets with an internet link and credit) go berserk in the chase for the next "bargain").
A comment in The Times last week spoke volumes for these sorts of companies. It also offered some rather erudite investment guidance:-
AT LAST, Wall Street analysts are using new methods to assess the financial health of the companies they write about. It may be rather sad that analysts can no longer rely on published financial results (at least, not the kind that require 234-pages of footnotes to explain how a $4 billion loss became a $789 million "pro-forma" profit), but it can only be a good thing for investors.
But the analysts do not seem to be going far enough. Merrill Lynch, for example, will simply focus on financial statements that conform to "generally accepted accounting principles", instead of using dodgy pro-forma figures. How very thorough of them.
I suggest an alternative system that would involve downgrading a company's stock if it met any of the following criteria - all based on activity at big US companies.
One: have live elephants ever been brought to a sales conference (Enron)?
Two: do lower-middle managers earn enough to collect and race classic Ferraris (Enron)?
Three: does the chief executive insist on running his company from Beverly Hills so he can meet Julia Roberts in Starbucks (Global Crossing)?
Four: is the company connected to any member of the Bush family? Enron, Global Crossing).
Five: has any executive ever earned more than half a billion dollars in more than one year (Global Crossing, Walt Disney)?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes", investors should sell.
So simple, its brilliant.

(2) Missing Dog.
A week ago Fred Harries who lives up at Dry Buildings in Lower Sedgwick Park (Nuthurst side) lost his devoted little Jack Russell Terrier called Tiger. Apparently some tradesmen turned up to do some work on his house, left his gate open and allowed poor Tiger to wander off. Sadly Tiger is almost 18 years old, is nearly blind and deaf. Janie and Penny Bullen turned up late last week with four dogs to look for Tiger but could find no sign of him.
If anyone has seen a miniature JRT in the area with a brown body and a grey/white head can they please let either Fred or me know. Alternatively, if someone has found Tiger but he did not have any identification on his collar can they call. Sorry to put something so depressing on the website but Fred is family as well as being a friend of mine.
Simon's Quiz at The White Horse Maplehurst(3) IQ
Have you tested your IQ recently? Those who entered my pub quiz last year would probably think so! Anyway, there is a rather interesting website which tests your IQ with a range of questions and then tells you what it is. Excellent fun on a wet evening. Here is the link for the test:- 
(4) Conies Farm
Pay attention those of you who have pets. Conies Farm Pet Supplies is opening a shop in the near future. Their deliveries will be unaffected by this new venture. I received a complete list of everything they are going to supply - the files ran to over 5MB in size! No way could I put the list up here - it would cause a meltdown. Anyway Conies Farm do everything from cans of meat to dog chews.
Their premises will soon be up and running. Contact details as follows:-
Conies Farm Pet Supplies
Tel 01403 864483 (see also classified ads)
 (5) NFU Magazine - gadgets for sale.
There are two very good gadgets for sale in this months NFU Countryside magazine:- 
Firstly an excellent little device which is part extending dog-lead part torch. Not cheap at 23.99 (+ P&P) but worth the money for nocturnal dog walkers. Contact UK Covers 01869 242224. 
Secondly - the must have welly washer for idle buggers (like me) everywhere. The device looks like an outsized beer glass washer and looks built to get even the toughest boots clean. Expensive at 150 (+P&P) but an absolute must! Contact James Keyser Products 01285 712206 (bring round as many wellys as you like and I will clean them for 149. DT)
(6) Camelia Botnar obelisk
Full marks to the young Turks at Botnar Towers for coming up trumps for a change. She Who Must Be Obeyed has been looking for a 5' steel obelisk to support one of her climbing roses. After days of searching we turned up nothing suitable so it looked as if yours truly was going to have to don the welding mask and borrow Clive Warrens arc welder for a spot of design "magic". Thankfully Janie remembered to see if Camelia Botnar Enterprises sold them - they did. We got it for the bargain price of 26 and they even included a finial on top for us.
(7) Soil compaction Problem
If you hear a series of strange explosions over the next few weeks, don't worry its only a compressed air aerator. I have got a major solid compaction problem which is causing my lawn not to grow properly. HSS hire have got just the tool - a ram that fires air at God only knows what pressure into the ground. Apparently the soil up to 1M away from the probe gets aerated instantly. This is far more fun than digging by hand.
Quite seriously, though, if there is anyone out there who can tell me how to solve the compaction problem in a NON-INVASIVE way I have a bottle of quality claret for you. Best solution (use the forum) wins the grog.....(any solution given by Jean Griffin I claim half the bottle. DT)
Incidentally I will need a research assistant for a few weeks to help me with the excavation work - if there are any college students out there who are not afraid of hard graft call me on 01403 891525 and we can begin the recruitment process immediately. (My college days are long over otherwise I would be there. DT)
(8) Colorgenics
Yet more Internet madness, well I've been ill recently and I have spent too much time surfing the net - check out the personality test.
(9) Point to Point
Don't forget the Parham Point to Point this Saturday -  I am running the Geoffrey Sparrow Hunt Club bar and a warm welcome is extended to all. We will be selling a selection of quality wines and ciders, punch and soft drinks too.
See you there
(10) Another quality illegal gadget.
No its not a man trap, but it is possibly as much fun - Go to the following website and check out the products that Global Gadget UK are selling.
The device is known as a Wave Shield and kills all known mobile phone signals dead! I have seen one work (don't ask me where because I can't remember.....!) on some pratt screaming into a mobile on a train. Funny doesn't describe it well enough. These devices should be banned (they are actually). Get one before the company is closed down.

Simon  McClean 19th March 2002     last months MR's


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