FASB Rules Changes and My Mortgage

So, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today changed the rules on bank accounting practices, specifically related to asset accounting.  Banks can now report asset values that are not in line with current market values – essentially, they can say that your $200k house you bought a year ago that now has a market price of $150k is still $200k on their balance sheet.  From the article:

The FASB issued new guidelines under the so-called mark-to-market accounting rules, which require companies to value assets at prices reflecting current market conditions. The changes, which apply to the second quarter that began this month, will allow the assets to be valued at what the banks project they might sell for in the future, rather than in the current, distressed environment.

I think, on the surface, that this is an OK idea.  Current market rate is probably a little bit different than the over time/prevailing market rate.  However, I’m gonna call my mortgage company tomorrow and ask about a refinance.. if they tell me that they won’t do that because I’m underwater on my house value, I’m going to wonder why it’s OK for the bank to take that view when I can’t argue the same for my own home’s value.

The Last 3 Months

Here’s what the last 3 months of my air travel looked like:


(Seattle – Copenhagen – Oslo – Aalesund; Seattle – London – Munich; Seattle – Houston – San Antonio; Seattle – Amsterdam – Dublin)


image The last three days (including today) I’ve been in Amsterdam on business.  Very cool city – I wasn’t looking forward to this leg of my trip, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to come here.  More pictures from the trip can be found here.

While in town, I visited the Van Gogh Museum (neat), the Rijksmuseum (meh, old art), Anne Frank House (wow, talk about sobering), and just generally milled about the city.  Weather was great during my time here, and I walked about 25km (9km on day 1 and 16km on day 2).

While in town, I visited the Global Switch datacenter near the airport.  The most interesting thing about this facility is that it used to be an IBM Selectric Typewriter facility.  It’s peculiar that as the typewriter aspects of the building went by the wayside, some enterprising individual converted the building to a datacenter.  As one of my colleagues put it, “the computer replaced the typewriter not only on the desktop but also in the factory.”

A brief interlude

I decided to take a count of how many pages the last nearly 9 years of Playboy magazines have been.  Makes for an interesting chart:

Playboy Page Counts

I think it’s interesting to see it declining over time (the black line is a linear trendline).  If I’d had more time, interest, or data, I’d try to correlate to stock prices, count up advertising, etc.  I do think it’s interesting to see that there’s typically one issue per year that’s quite substantially larger than the norm for the year (the December 2003 spike is because of the 50th Anniversary Issue).

Wells Fargo corporate trips to Vegas

In the last few weeks, I’m really surprised to read this article

Wells Fargo, which has received approximately $25 billion dollars in federal funds, is “planning a series of corporate junkets to Las Vegas casinos this month” for some of the company’s “top mortgage officers”.  The best part of this is the explanation a Wells Fargo spokesperson gave, claiming that “recognition events are still part of [Wells Fargo’s] culture.” 

I think it’s apparent to pretty much anyone watching the financial meltdown that sending a bunch of execs to Vegas casinos is pretty much a part of their corporate culture.

update! they’ve called off the Vegas trip.  I doubt I had anything to do with it. 🙂

Snow day!


We’ve got snow here in Bellevue.  Probably 3 or 4 inches overnight, and it’s still coming down.  Makes for a pretty view!


Where were you at 8pm Pacific Time on November 4, 2008?  That’s something I think I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

NASA’s Brilliance in Marketing

I’ve been following NASA for a long time.  It’s safe to say that I’m a huge fan.  NASA has always had a serious presence on the internet, but one of the things that I’ve noticed in the last few months is their huge push into the new web.  Various projects are all over Twitter, and the Mars Phoenix Lander just guest-blogged on Gizmodo.

It all started with Twitter.  If you go back and look at various NASA missions that use Twitter (Mars Phoenix, the Mars Rovers, Cassini, Mars Science Lab… the list goes on), most of them are unmanned missions that have had to fight hard for funding.  Similar projects in the future will probably have to fight that much harder for money.

Unmanned missions don’t have the same glamour as manned missions, so they don’t get the same level of popular support.  To secure funding in the future, you’ve got to have popular support.

What’s the solution to solving that? 

Personalize the unmanned missions.

Seriously.  Go back and read the Twitter histories of the missions, the Mars Phoenix being the best example.  They Twitter as if it’s a person on Mars, and people send it (him?)  her?) messages about feeling sad for it since it’s going into the Martian winter.  The outpouring of support for this little lander on Twitter is amazing.

And it’s all because NASA personified the mission.  I don’t know if this was NASA’s intent, but it seems to be working.  Great advertising.