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Showing posts from 2009

They "Madoff" With It...

Bernie's not the only fella who "Madoff" with his investors' money...during a recent family roundtable at Komang's home, the topic of a small bank paying over 300% interest to depositors over 4 months came to the forefront of the discussion. This particular bank pays interest and returns the principal on $300 in the form of a $1,200 scooter or even cars for larger deposits. "Not possible", I piped up. Her brother laughed in agreement, and her parents, despite having friends who have successfully "invested" were skeptical enough not to take it seriously.
I explained that in order for the bank to pay such interest, it must find investments of its own that pay returns in excess of those it provides its depositors. Then it hit me...Bernie Madoffs and ponzi schemes are alive and at work, even in small villages in Indonesia. This particular bank had been open for a couple of years, and apparently had no problem attracting myriads of new money as it…

Don't Fall Asleep

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I've spent the past two weeks scuba diving in Bali, Indonesia. This week, I'll be working towards becoming a certified rescue diver, which will include three days of underwater and surface rescue exercises among other required certificates. A prerequisite for the rescue course is to obtain certification as an Emergency Responder. So yesterday, Mark, my New Yorker-turned-Balinese scuba instructor, and I sat in the gazebo at my hotel reviewing my completed coursework and rehearsing responses to endless potentially life-threatening scenarios...from serious auto accidents to impaled persons to strokes and heart attacks to drowning victims.

Had I not taken such a keen interest in diving, chances are that I would have never considered becoming an Emergency Responder. After all, how many of us have actually had to respond to a situation where a life is at stake? As such, I initially viewed the course as a means to an end. But as I first leaned over "Annie" and delivered 30…

Making Music Again

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From the new Blackberry phone ring the words of Lieber and Stoller sung by Sam Cooke, summoning feelings of nostalgia as I try to shake the jet-lag which has held unconsciousness captive since I re-crossed the Pacific 3 days ago. I'm lying on the floor of my cousin Laura's and friend Jamie's apartment in the southern coastal city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest and warmest. Despite the relatively warm weather year-round, most Kaohsiung apartments are chilly in the winter months as central heating is uncommon. I periodically open up a game of Texas Hold 'Em on the handheld and nearly mindlessly cycle through a few flops, nervously hoping to pick up a 3-of-a-kind or even a 2-pair to confidently yet inconspicuously swell the pot around the turn and into the river. There's no real money involved, but it seems like a fairly healthy way to feed this sleep-deprived anxious state. Hold 'Em originally captured my interest after naively inching toward an $11,00…