April 2009 - Posts
I've been at IFRS training this month - all my skills in traditional Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are getting updated - whee. Everyone's gearing up to help companies convert their financial reporting to the new international accounting standards.
But I'm not writing about IFRS because I don't have any cool photos of IFRS to share, nor do I have any exciting IFRS-related music to rave about.
I do, however, have both photos and music from Metric I will gladly rave about; few people ever complain about my tangents, particularly the Metric tangents, so enjoy.
I have Metric's song Blindness stuck on repeat. It's an awesome bit of melancholy. I'm feeling great but sometimes it's just fun to listen to something that might on the surface be a total downer.
This may be how I can find some audit work fun. Yes, it's potentially incredibly complicated and tedious to calculate, but you can find fun in that too.
Or maybe dealing with something less than fun makes experiencing something incredibly intense and fun all that more enjoyable, like Metric's Secret Show at the Great Hall.
Joshua Winstead and Emily Haines performing at Metric's Great Hall show on April 2, 2009.
At a party over the weekend I mentioned my attendance at that
performance earlier this month which instantly generated some
good-natured jealousy. I shared the "lesson learned": when your
favorite band is offering an online pre-order for their new album, jump
at the chance to order it.
Sometimes you'll get a new album, listen to it a few times and then get bored of it.
Lately I've been driving to my client instead of biking around the downtown core which means listening to more music on the way to and from the remote audit site every day, but I'm nowhere near getting bored of the new album, Fantasies. It's important to listen to a variety of different things, but Fantasies is still on heavy rotation and that's not changing any time soon.
A new CA student blog has arisen - check out I Want to Be A CA.
It's written in a very direct style that I would place on its own point on the circular continuum of writing, if such a thing exists, and can be contrasted for fun with the West Side's Otakuness, the always interesting Life of an Auditor who I wish could get RSS to work, the young Accounting Elf - check out the clever post about tutoring accounting, and fellow Torontonian Look at Last Year's File - check out how to serve a CEO the hardcore way, who may win the "amusing name" contest too.
One of the recent posts at Want to be a CA is about the tough life seniors lead makes some valid points, but I enjoy it no doubt because I work in a good group and because this truly is where things get interesting. You get to grasp the full "big picture" of how companies and other organizations operate - none of the burrowing into your own little tiny trench, but instead you're standing on a scenic overlook, taking in the whole view.
It's where you actually get a pleasant feeling out of learning and is something no one should miss out on if they have the chance.
Randomly locating bleach next to your water? Something you should miss out on, definitely. I was perplexed when I saw this. Probably a lazy shopper putting back a selection. Was this really the best place to leave it, though?
If anyone stumbles across this helpful post, here's the link to click to get to the actual ICAO 2009 election is you have all your voter info. That link dies after May 8, 2009, so enjoy it while it's on.
Chartered Accountants are members of an Institute - in Canada there's a national Institute, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, and regionally provinces have their own associations. Ontario has its own, of course, the ICAO - the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, and the executives of these organizations end up landing in their positions through free and fair elections.
Though it feels like it's been ages, it's actually only been a year - precisely a year in fact - since I got my CA.
Anyway, due to the timing of my admission to full membership a year ago, I wasn't able to vote in the 2008 ICAO election - this is my first time receiving the Annual General Meeting and Council Election package.
Having studied the impressive biographies of the individuals running for election, I figured, the deadline is elss than two weeks away, I had better get my vote in.
So I navigated over to the ICAO's website. And promptly got stymied... because I don't expect to see what I'm looking for on the home page.
I know you need to log in. Fine, no problem, I'm logged in and on the "inside" home page.
After running around the entire website, I realized this was my mistake. The voting link was staring at me on the front page. I realized this when I finished this rant on poor website design. After writing an article I double check that my links work. Doing that I realized, "oh look, it was staring at me on the front page the whole time." I could've deleted the whole post, but if I'm stubborn enough to embark on a Quixotic adventure, I sure as heck am going to document the misadventure. Besides, my points still carry validity, even though "hey silly, it was there all along" is the first argument you can use against it. But just looking on the front page would never be any fun. Plus, I managed to find other website snafus to shine light upon.
I have just logged in. Sweet, I'm inside the members only section.
So - let's pretend that big paragraph above - let's go find that "VOTE" link.
Um, I'm still looking.
Not a good sign when airport computers are crashing either. Fuzziness of photo because cell phone cameras aren't always well, good.
It's not under "Upcoming Events" or "Leadership".
I should really just try the search function, but you probably know that's the easy way out. I want to see if there is in fact a link somewhere obvious first.
Oh look, found a link to the "FCA Elections" nomination page, but not the current elections. Ok, I give up, let's try Site Map.
No dice. Awesome.
Of course, if I simply punched in "ICAO 2009 election" into Google, I would've avoided this entire hoop jumping exercise. Just like the internal site engine, it would've taken me straight to the right page.
Mission accomplished, though it took far too long to do so.
Yes, mostly because I'm stubborn and didn't want to type in search words. And I also jumped right past the front page. But that shouldn't be necessary - you would expect there to be an important pointer to the election available throughout the site and not just in one throw-away spot.
Agenda item number one to suggest for the next member of the ICAO Council: redesign the website to be sensible.
I know I'm channeling Homer "But Marge, anyone would miss Canada, all tucked away down there" Simpson, with this rant, but that simply makes it so much more fun to share.
Heck, my argument regains validity when you retrieve your voter link... and end up on a page that pops up out of nowhere, and offers to return ticket to the voting page.
I'll have to say "oops" for the web designer there.
If you know why the only link to the election should be on page 1 rather than anywhere inside, explain to me why I should stop thinking differently with a comment.
One of my good friends once asked me for my full mailing address. Soon, I found myself receiving a gift in the mail - The Great Crash, 1929.
Ah yes, the economic crash.
That wasn't too long ago, really, and watching the continuing implosion of the markets, it's fascinating - if not absolutely disconcerting - to see huge parallels between what happened 80 years ago and what is taking place now.
Pointing out the similarities is also ridiculously easy to do. The Wikipedia article I linked above led me to the following quote about the book and the eerie echoes of the present situation:
So I buy and read the Galbraith book and almost wish I hadn't. It's all
in there — every freaking thing that's going on right in front of my
eyes, from the death plunge of overleveraged brokerage juggernauts to
the assurances by the leaders of government and business that we've
turned the corner and aren't really speeding our way to the poorhouse.
So what do I have to add that hasn't been said already?
The longer banks and anyone else reporting on stock exchanges that "everything's fine" and "these assets are going to be absolutely Winners shortly", the less confidence anyone will have to invest in those Big Banks in Denial, and the longer this slog of a recession will last.
Is that a new thought?
Well, Google reports "Your search - The longer banks and anyone else reporting on stock
exchanges that "everything's fine" and "these assets are going to be
absolutely Winners shortly", the less confidence anyone will have to
invest in those Big Banks in Denial, and the longer this slog of a
recession will last. - did not match any documents" which suggests I'm the first one to say it online, so I win.
And by I win, I mean investors will continue to lose until the actual loser banks are outed for the sad shape they're in.
Oh wait, that might be happening: perhaps it's been done, seeing as how the CBC's chart in the above link shows Citi's dramatic fall to under a dollar, from which it has also since recovered to $3.24 as of this writing.
That's insanely far from its lofty heights - but is this new "low" the last set of lows it'll hit?
Fingers crossed the economy as a whole is hitting the "real" bottom sooner rather than later.
The problem, though, is, if you get around to reading The Great Crash, is one you'll notice quickly: there wasn't just one crash, but a series of sickening thuds that followed many attempts to convince everyone that "everything'll be alright".
Do auditors have a role to play in this? Clearly.
Keeping an eye on troubled assets like hawks and challenging any claim that an asset that's junk is allegedly still worth the inflated prices it was initially based on. That's not exactly direct UFE guidance - but if I were in the mood to guess what might be on the 2009 UFE, I think more topics on auditing in a declining economic climate would definitely be in vogue, since I doubt the exam will allow you to pontificate on which accounting standards will triumph, but that's a story best discussed on its own.
I'm tempted to quote an entire Scott Adams blog entry verbatim, but instead I'll summarize it: what's up with colleges and universities calling you up to ask for more money once you have graduated?
It's amusing to read the "donor reports" from some such schools which list out the percentage of graduates from each graduating class who are supporting the school. Those who are now retired philanthropists make the classes of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s look good: "participation rates", meaning the number of people who are donating from that graduating year, are typically anywhere from 20% to 60% or even higher. It stands to reason as people get older, they're both wealthier, and more likely to give away some of their wealth in the form of donations.
Say what you will about the School of Accountancy, but at least they don't ask you for more money once you're gone.
What's bizarre is the universities' attempts to get cash from the younger crowd, those who graduated in the past decade. The lucky few won't have student debt - so why bother chasing after them, if the participation rate is barely 1%?
Perhaps they're some bizarre logic that dumping cash on the soliciation mailings and other marketing functions keeps the young alumni "connected" so it'll be easier to suck them in 20 or 30 years down the road, when they really do have money.
But I still like Adams' response to his College's pleas for money: "On one hand I feel a strong, irrational impulse to give, just as they
somehow programmed me to feel. On the other hand, my degree was in
economics, so the rationally trained part of my brain says paying twice
for a service that was rendered once is irrational. But I'm glad the
school pumped out lots of psychology, nursing, and sociology majors to
donate money and keep the college afloat. I'd hate to have an economics
degree from a college that went out of business."
Of course, a clever reader left this comment two days ago which made me think, "yes, there's a plausible way to monetize a large audience." This is the "do it yourself" bit:
I'm going to give you the secret that will make you thousands and thousands of dollars, Scott.
Are you ready to receive the wisdom?
Once every 3 months, ask your readers to donate money to you. Make it
easy and painless to do so. Almost all of your readers will not donate.
Did you miss it? I said "almost" all will not donate. Meaning that some will.
This will add up, over the next few years, to thousands and thousands of free dollars. Why is that?
I have no idea, but bums figured this out years ago. No matter who you
are, no matter how pathetic you look or for what reason you need the
money ... if you ask a group of people for money, almost everyone will
not give you any.
But some will!
Clever - as long as your shameless, it has great potential.
Since I know you have a sense of humour and won't draw a silly connection between the above quotation and what I'm actually doing, I'll share the following with you: I'm currently raising funds for an actual real charity for an important health cause that's close to me from now until the end of May. If any readers would like to contribute click to contact me and I'll send you a link to the secure donation page. You'll get a tax receipt which will, of course, be valid for your Canadian tax return but everyone is welcome to donate.
Well Happy Easter to older CAs and everyone else for that matter.
One could come up with some clever analogy about rebirth, and
emerging from the tomb of busy season too, but that's a bit too trite.
Hopefully you get to enjoy the weekend with family and have time to celebrate the Resurrection; T1s and other rituals for the taxman that can wait until later.
Though if you're paying American taxes the three business days remaning until the deadline are nothing to laugh at - good luck.
This year I'm enjoying springtime as a CA for the first time, which
means I get to vote on the updated 2009 ICAO bylaws and in the election
of 2009 ICAO Council Candidates. There are eight candidates running to fill six spots on the ICAO's council, but I'm not here to talk about the election - though reading the biographies of the candidates definitely is an impressive way to answer the CA student's question, "what exactly will I do after I get my designation?"
Instead, I'm going to look at the fifth of five amendments being proposed: Bylaw Five of 2009.
In summary, it will "remove the references to the vague and subjective
requirement that advertising not contravene 'professional good taste',
while retaining the requirement that advertising must not be false or
misleading or make unfavourable reflections on the competence or
integrity of the profession or any member or firm." (Emphasis mine)
Another classy beer ad
Neil and I have both commented in the past about the advertising programs the CA profession embarks upon, and that this is one of the more amusing rules that all CA students should be aware of - you can't bad mouth the competition, and for now, the Rule of Professional Conduct states that advertising by CAs must be in "professional good taste."
My accounting profs in university explained that this is why in Ontario you don't see ads by CAs that make you roll your eyes in disgust, like those "slip and fall" ambulance chasing lawyer ads you'll find on the back of the Yellow Pages or on TV, usually being broadcast from Buffalo. Lawyers are fine people, but a few of their kind make the rest look bad with garish ads which CAs have been fairly good at avoiding.
My little headline is of course a joke - the provision that you should not allow people to have an "unfavourable reflection" on any and all CAs effectively means that the ad should be in good taste, in the sense of honesty.
Technically all this allows you to indulge in, assuming the bylaw passes this spring's 'referendum' vote, will be garishly designed but honest advertising.
Judging from the incredibly pointed response CAs had for the new branding and the designation's own marketing campaign, though, it can be easily argued that CAs are an unusually stylish bunch who would never stoop to associating with anything cheesy or truly tasteless.
So our senses are safe for yet another day. At least until the next federal election campaign gets underway - political ads are the worst thing I end up seeing these days.
I have to spend more time away from the clackety computer keyboard and back at the piano.
Emily Haines rocking out with Jimmy Shaw turned away with his guitar at the April 2, 2009 Secret Show
I have a hearty backlog of things to write about. My need to catch up on sleep and also follow up on my vow to get back into music mean that the backlog won't be pared down quickly. Sifting through photos won't help either, but at least it helps encourage me to write more - nothing like finding a good topic to write about with a vaguely related illustration to go with it.
684 pieces of spam hit me in March.
One of the funky blurry pictures from Metric's Thursday April 2 secret show. The good stuff is loading up and will get shared soon.
That's an increase of 42 from last month. Wonder if April's massive worm attacks will exacerbate matters?
But the information on that last link pointed me to an interesting article about Google's server containers - the computers are stored in a shipping container, making the whole operation nice and modular.
If you take 4 of these containers you have 4640 computers that can draw a peak load of a full megawatt.
Impressive - especially considering they have much than a mere four units running their very fat corner of the internet.
In comparison, the entire province of Ontario uses anywhere from 16000 to 27000 megawatts of electricity at the daily peak point
It's always fun to read the paranoid comments in response to an article like this - the news came out on April 1, and there's a tradition of excellent G-hoaxes, but Google confirmed it's not a gag the next day.
And I was simply way too busy this week to write something like this or that. Note - the former is apparently a real device. Wild.
That Metric show at the Great Hall was beyond amazing. The fancy deluxe edition of their new album Fantasies is now officially declared the Best Purchase Ever.
Lead singer Emily Haines, rocking out.
I'll keep myself from gushing on and on, but... wow. I'll just leave it at that for now.
Photos will follow in the next day or so - my data transfer gear is sitting securely at work at the moment, and sleep won't come too soon - wow, it's only Thursday.