Wednesday, 28 August 2013

#33 Ligação 

Have you ever met somebody that really understood you and accepted you in a way that nobody else could? There are levels to a person's character. Many of the people that we meet throughout our lives bounce happily across the surface like a stone skimming on a lake. Others stick around for a bit and get to know most of who we are as a person. Still, some people penetrate the outer layer of our personality and sink deep into the mechanics of who we are. They understand us. They might even tinker with us. I say "some people". I think what I mean is "few people" and by that, what I mean is "very few people indeed".

It was like being on another planet. After one particular conversation, I pretty much just wandered around in trance-like state of happiness for a day. It was a little bit weird really, perhaps because I was also feeling tired, hungover and obsessive at the time. My head feels clearer now.

I suspect that not everybody has this situation. Some people might be quite simple to understand. Others less so but equally less willing to open up to anyone, others still complicated but incredibly vocal and expressive of all of their component parts by default. 

At some point in recent time, there were two people that needed to find and speak to each other and they did.

(This post covers that which would have been written during the weekend of 31 August... It's early).

Sunday, 25 August 2013

#32 Bank holiday weekend

The August bank holiday weekend in the UK originally occurred under the 1871 Bank Holiday Act, which was later superseded by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971. To celebrate the extra day off, some colleagues and I headed out for a drink.

Project Black Box was a covert, unauthorised work social planned several years ago by a member of staff that has since left the firm. The code-name Black Box, like many of the confidential projects on which we work contained a loose hint about a key aspect of the job. In this case, nothing other than the fact that we really didn't want anyone who saw it in the calendar at 1pm on a Friday to know what it entailed. In the end, despite positive feedback, the project was abandoned due to low uptake. We're quite a busy team and it turned out that most people didn't actually have the time to hit the pub at midday and not come back.

The legitimate and above-board use of project names for nights out after work was later developed during the early part of the twenty first century by a man named Ashish Patel, who adapted the concept by using the names of professional footballers such as Pascal Chimbonda and Sulley Muntari. In doing so, Ash created a series of legendary and memorable nights, attended by representatives of several teams within the company and extended to friends and family. Due to the most special and express request made by Mr. Patel that he be featured in this blog, the names of no other attendees have been disclosed.

The trouble with describing the proper history of events is that sometimes one loses the space and time to write up the experience of the event itself. I wonder. In August, the weather was just about good enough to stand outside the Fine Line, gazing up at the Monument for the first pint or two. After turning up late and smacking the palm off Mr. P (actually it wasn't one of our best high-fives but at least it happened) we settled in to the surroundings and mooched north. Tucked away beneath Minster Court is a place called Agenda, by day a very unremarkable faceless bar. By night, the Ibiza of Fenchurch St. So we danced (yeah I did for a bit) and had tequila and the beats were awesome and the people were pretty. At one point, G was queuing at the bar and since he happened to be sporting a grey jacket embroidered with blue anchors, two blonde girls managed to sneak up behind him while one took a photo of the other licking one of the anchors on his back, without him noticing. Maybe I should get a phone that has a camera on it. Apparently they do them now.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

#31 Light technical session

A commutation is a deal where the holder of one or more insurance policies agrees to sell those policies to another company. The price is, or should be, broadly speaking, based on the value of all actual and potential losses that have been and might be claimed against those policies, multiplied by the chance of such claims being made.

When you take out an insurance policy to protect yourself from a risk, the insurance company often insures itself against the risk of you making a claim by taking out a reinsurance policy with a reinsurer, who may in turn insure itself through retrocession, which is essentially a further level of reinsurance.

There are three parts to a commutation of reinsurance. Imagine two insurance managers having lunch and discussing the value of each one of these parts during each of the three courses and you've caught a reasonable glimpse of one of the few parts of the financial sector that still occasionally gets business done in that way. Why haven't those claims been paid? Because they haven't been notified to the reinsurer. Who's job is that? The broker's. Why haven't they done it yet? It's not at the top of their priority list. What's the next step? We're taking the broker out for a massive curry.

The first part consists of "unpaid paids" i.e. claims paid by the insurer but not yet paid in turn by the associated reinsurer. The second part consists of "outstandings", i.e. claims notified to the insurer but not yet paid by anyone and the third part consists of "IBNR" i.e. claims that have been incurred (I use this word loosely, in an indirect sense and in association with the philosophical concept of causality) but not yet reported to either the insurer or the reinsurer, let alone paid by either one of them. Valuing this third part of the deal inevitably involves some guesswork.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

#30 Azeroth

I'm not sure that I could go back there even if I wanted to. The pull from the real world is much greater these days. I suppose it has to do with growing up, something I can be good at avoiding, in some ways. Still, they were all adults in the guild, each with some kind of life to attend to. I remember when Mayflower asked me to be the Nightwalkers' raid leader, after I led a fairly large party through a dungeon during a number of hours. Even raising a sufficient part-guild, part-general public group to embark on the missions required skill and persistence in those days, together with a certain amount of charm. I declined on account of occasionally having to work late and occasionally having to have a life, which involved little more than wandering up to the Oak Tree with Jim and Kev for a few pints.

One of the criteria for addiction is that it interferes with other areas of your life. I tend to disagree with this. Many people successfully balance their habits with their working, social and married lives for years, which is not to say that they should. It was so very carefree, running around Elwynn Forest at night, maybe with a companion or two, especially when much of the old world remained unexplored. A typical day might involve getting up, getting dressed, riding the horse up to the city, learning some magic, making some crazy purchases in the auction house, catching a gryphon flight, underground railway or a boat off to a distant land, battling dragons or forming a delicately balanced group of people with the right skills and abilities to tackle a particularly complex quest, maybe mining some precious minerals. It could all be traded, gambled, stored or passed on to another person. When you reached a new level, you shouted 'ding' in the chat channel and a dozen people would respond 'gz', which is short for 'gratz', which is obviously short for 'congratulations'.

I suppose you could call it a hobby.

Friday, 2 August 2013

#29 The wheat and the chaff

So apparently chaff is like the outer casing of a seed of grain and people can't eat it but animals can. I bet someone ate some chaff once though. They probably said to themselves "actually, this chaff isn't really that bad". 

My Dad's thirty years older than me but he listens to some of the kinds of tunes that you might have heard on the radio during the last decade so when I meet up with him and he recognises one of them, I have to point out that there's a good dubstep version of it and that he doesn't know what dubstep is.

My house mate completed GTA about three months ago. He then collected everything and completed all the secret missions. Tonight, he and his fiance are in cooperative mode practicing reverse parking.

UK residents performed fairly badly in a recent survey of how they managed their finances. About half were struggling and 16% of the people asked were unable to identify the balance on a bank statement, which goes to show that most people with an ounce of sense stopped participating in voluntary surveys quite a while ago.

One or more people in most of the groups with whom I interact regularly have been cancelling on me lately. It's a coincidence. I try to brush it off at first and then feed back calmly to them at a later date that I wasn't entirely happy about it. I think this is the right approach. Plus it's not like I've never let anyone down before.

Have a good weekend.