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Saturday, October 4, 2008

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 10/3

I've decided to do my write up early this week- just in case something else happens right after I hit "publish."

After European banks started falling last weekend, everything else started falling apart when everyone realized that this credit crisis was not limited to the US. On Monday, Wachovia made a deal with Citigroup with the help of the FDIC to buy their bank deposit arm for $2.16 billion.

On Tuesday, Bailout plan #1 was rejected by Congress, and the Dow Jones fell over 700 points, hitting a record low since the October Market Crash in 1987. It was actually quite exciting- it is definitely not everyday that we see history in the making! This also served as a good shocker for congress members who voted against the plan. Many of them were worried about the "unpopularity" of Bailout plan #1 with their voters, since many people viewed this plan as a bailout plan for Wall Street (many nay-saying congress members are facing re-election this November). What did they think was going to happen if the bailout plan doesn't go through?

With this record crash in the market, people finally realized that this was a bailout plan for the people. This is not a time to place blame and punish those who did wrong (I mean, if we're really going to place blame, I think the people who borrowed the loans knowing they cannot repay them is equally to blame as the banks who made the loans to begin with). This is a time to take action before the effects of the credit crunch affects the rest of the economy. It would be irresponsible for the government to do nothing. Call me selfish, but right now, as a worker and member of the society, I'm more worried about the adverse effects this will have on my job (the just reported the biggest job lose in 5.5 years!), my 401K, my ability to get a loan (not that I'm planning to buy a car/house any time soon, but IF), and just my way of life in general. Even if you don't invest, have a 401K or have/need a loan right now, businesses you're linked to may close down because they are unable to get a short term loan to fund their business operations or their prices would go up because it will be more expensive for these businesses to get a loan and operate.

Good thing voters and congress members finally realized this on Friday, and voted 263 vs 171 for Bailout plan #2, which was created in record time. It is basically the same as Bailout plan #1, except with an extra $150 billion put aside for random tax packages (way to take the "load" off our future generations). They ramped up the FDIC insurance limit to $250,000, put more oversight on the execution of the $700 billion, gave the SEC authority to suspend the "mark to market" accounting standard (so firms don't have to mark down their assets just because the market is crazy these days) and a gazillion little tax breaks benefiting the environmental friendly, middle class, natural disaster hit states, homeowners,educators and businesses. Basically something for everyone- even people with mental health needs and the makers of "certain wooden arrows designed for use by children" (I don't even know what that is). It sounds like basically the same plan to me, except policy makers decided to take this opportunity for "quick action" to randomly put in policies they've been meaning and wanting to pass, to make it sound like a better plan. Oh well, I guess it works out for everyone in the end.

Unfortunately, now even the bailout plan isn't good enough to restore confidence and the market continued to fall after Bailout plan #2 passed on Friday. It's going to take a while for the bailout to take effect. At least there's hope. I'm thinking it is not a good time for Mr. Schwarzenegger to be asking for a $7 billion short term loan to weather CA out until tax comes in, in spring.

On the other hand, while the current economical situation is being compared to scary sounding things like the economic Pearl Harbor, the Great Depression and at the edge of the abyss, Mr. Buffet went on a shopping spree. After buying some of Constellation Energy for $4.75 billion and Goldman Sachs for $5 billion in September, this week, he also bought 10% in Chinese battery and automotive maker, BYD, for $230 million and more of GE for $3 billion. Even though this may sound shocking in this market, Buffet is actually a very sensible shopper. While fashion trends go in and out, the classics will never go out of style. Goldman Sachs and GE definitely qualify as classics, one being THE top bank on the street and the other being literally the backbone of the American economy, dabbling in a bit of everything. One is Hermes and the other is Bergdorfs. And the best part is that he's buying all these quality investments at a BARGAIN price. Another good shopping philosophy is to invest in emerging talents before they're famous and mainstream. BYD with its rechargeable green batteries and electric cars is definitely part of an emerging market. I'm not sure in which category Constellation Energy fits in, perhaps a bit of both? Either way, Buffet is a very sensible fellow shopper. As he said, "I like spending...The cheaper things get, the better I like it. This is a good period for us..go ahead." I can definitely relate to that. If only I knew the market classics as well as I know the fashion classics and had the capital to act on it. Another Buffet philosophy that I agree with, "there's no way a smart person can go broke except through borrowed money. All borrowed money does is help you get it a little faster, but (it also will) help you get poorer a whole lot faster." Credit card debts are definitely not pretty.

Buffet also made a deal with Wachovia this week, through Wells Fargo (which he owns a lot of). Yes, the same Wachovia that I said earlier in this post, that had just made a deal with Citi on Monday. Wells Fargo upended Citi's offer and offered to buy (the whole of) Wachovia for $15.1 billion without government help. Previous agreements and honor of word aside, this is definitely a better deal for Wachovia and the government since they don't need to help anymore. Wells Fargo is actually one of the few banks that is weathering this market out quite well, having had less exposure to bad debt (they have a much stricter credit requirement- as they should!). Citi, of course, is miffed that their government sponsored bargain deal has been thwarted and are thinking of suing them. Do I see a banking bitch fight coming? Probably not, the government would probably do something. This market doesn't need anymore drama... but it would've been fun to watch :P. It's no wonder that CNBC reputedly has had the best ratings these last two weeks since earlier this decade!

Mail Bombs Part 2: JLo's Dress for Less + Men's Style!

Sorry about the delay!
Mail Bombs will be a bit abbreviated today...hope you understand!
First up, Claudine writes, "I'm sure you're going to get several e-mails about J-Lo's white Gucci form fitted dress..."
"... A more affordable option would be perfect for me at my wedding rehearsal dinner. Can you help?"
Well these might not be quite a Gucci, but these strapless styles give off the same figure flattering effect:
1. Black Halo Strapless Bustier Dress, $325. 2. David Meister Strapless Dress, $160. 3.Corey Lynn Calter Michelle Sweetheart Dress, $159.
In a male Mail Bomb, Terrence says, "I was wondering if you could tell me where to get this jacket Common is wearing…""...if there is a lower cost option that’d be good too... but I’m digging the sleeves & over all look. Thanx!"
Channel Common's Neo-Soul swagger with these high and low priced options:
1. Oak Orthodox Marquez Leather Jacket, $878. 2. Shipley & Halmos Milton Jacket, $695. 3. Juicy Couture Shiny Hypr Cire Jacket, $298. 4. Cheap Monday Nic Jacket, $148. 5. G by Guess Ferson Jacket, $110.
In other Male Bomb, Sher says, "Can you tell me who TI is wearing, mainly the vest and the shirt???"
"... He wore this to the Music in Motion Tour party at Marquee on September 29, 2008 in New York City."
Adriana found that T.I. is wearing this $295 Rag & Bone Hunting Vest:
For a similar military style shirt, go with these options:
1. William Rast Military Shirt, $178. 2. Banana Republic Slim Fit Solid Dress Shirt, $60. 3. Triple Five Soul Drill Military Shirt, $30.
Lastly, we have a wardrobe query!
Sandra says, "I'm a plus sized black women who absolutely LOVES your site. I'm going to a wedding on Oct 26th and I'm in DESPERATE need of finding a purple ruffle blouse/top that is a size XL, for PLUS SIZE WOMEN....I have no CLUE where to find this online or in the stores...can you PLEASE HELP???? you know of any WIDE WIDTH Online shoe websites for women that carry really cute heels (strappy, ankle strap heels, peep toe heels)???"
Adriana stepped in to find you these plus sized ruffled beauts:
1. Purple Short-Sleeved Ruffle Button Top, $44. 2. Purple Ruffle Front Banded Bottom Top, $44. 3. Sadie Ruched Top, $68. 4. Reese Ruffle Wrap Blouse, $68
And here are a few shoe pics:
1. Type Z Coren Strappy Sandal, $80. 2. J. Renee Brianna Pump, $88. 3. Stuart Weitzman Stitchup Pump, $206.

Beach wallpaper

Fruit wallpaper

Mail Bombs Part I: Rihanna's Angel Wing Earrings

Hey lovelies,
Claire's making some moves at the moment, so I'm going to step in and give you a little taste of Mail Bombs until she brings you the full flavor later today.

Fashion Bomber Amara writes, "I love the earrings that Rihanna is wearing here. Who makes them, and are there any less co$tly options?"

Amara, we weren't able to find the designer of Rihanna's gorgeous earrings, which appear to be fashioned after angel wings. Try these on for size, though:

1. 2.

1. Eve's Addiction Angelic Sterling Silver Wing Earrings, $35 2. New Outlet Angel Wing Stud Earrings, $10.
More soon!!

Goo Poh's Foochow Yellow Chicken Curry

Three generations of my family had loved Goo Poh Yuk Ging to bits. My father would spend hours chatting with her in the living room in the Hua Hong Ice Factory house each Sunday when she came to visit. She would take the sampan to cross the Rejang to reach our little settlement on the island called Kerto. My siblings and I grew up in Sibu and never have her too far away from us. And my girls went to her kindergarten and were given the "special" Goo Poh treatment.

She left us many fond memories and with gratitude we would often think of her. Sometimes we feel that she has not even passed on! And every time I cook her Yellow Chicken Curry her presence would be with me.

This very old photo was taken around 1954 and the two ladies in cheong sam are my two Goo Pohs (Grand Aunts). Goo Poh Yuk Ging is the first on the left and I am the little girl standing next to my other Goo Poh Yee Lang. This photo was taken when Goo Poh had to look after me for a short while as my mother had to go to the clinic. I thus became a "gate crasher" of this graduation photo.

Garlic-tumeric or kunyit -curry leaves - chilli padi

My cup used for measuring water.

Wedges of big onions.

Yellow curry paste made from tumeric powder and curry powder and water.

Coconut powder from the packet for the busy career woman. Just add some water to make coconut cream although it is not as good as the freshly squeezed coconut milk from the local market.

Potato cut into "fairly big" sizes. Although very often we would just cut each potato into two for what we Foochows call "good size". Size if often subjective to dialectic differences.

Beautiful fresh long or string beans.

Chicken pieces marinating on a plate. I have used the large pieces of sea salt which I find to be more tasty than the fine salt. I used one tablespoon of curry powder (Baba's Curry Powder for Meat) and two tablespoons of kunyit powder.

Goo Poh's Foochow Chicken Curry

1-2 Stalks fresh lemon grass
l inch piece of fresh kunyit
2 Tbs plain kunyit powder and a little chili powder for marinating or 2 Tbs curry powder
4 Tablespoon yellow curry or kunyit powder mixed to a paste
Fresh ground black pepper
1 ts Sugar
4 ts Salt
2+ kg Chicken, cut up
7 tb Vegetable oil
some long beans cut into 3 inch lengths
6 Australian or local potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces
4 Cloves garlic, chopped

some curry leaves if you have a tree in your backyard

4 large Bombay Onions, cut into wedges, -separated
3 c Water

2 c Coconut milk (squeezed from one coconut or use the packet cream coconut)
1 c or water *

Goo Poh (Ms. Tiong Yuk Ging) was one of the first women to help teach in the Methodist Church Institute for Women in home economics. She could cook very well and was a meticulous housekeeper.

We will always remember her Chicken Curry with fondness because it was where we first started to develop taste buds for other non Chinese dishes.

It can be served with noodles. But when it is just a family meal it is eaten with white rice. We later learned from the Malays how to eat curry with bread.


If you are using fresh lemon grass, simply remove the outer leaves and upper two-thirds of the stalks, then cut the remainder into 2-inch lengths. If you are, using, it must be soaked in warm water for 2 hours, then drained and chopped fine.

Combine the curry powder, black pepper, sugar, add salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil and fry the potatoes over high heat until brown. (It is not necessary to completely cook potatoes at this point, only to brown them.) When well browned, remove from the pan and set aside until ready to cook the curry. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving 2 tablespoons for cooking the chicken.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high flame. Fry the garlic for a few seconds,then add the curry paste. Stir the paste until the oil separates from the paste. Then add the onion, and lemon grass; stir briefly and add the marinated chicken, stirring long enough to sear the meat slightly. Add the 3 cups of water , then cover and bring to a boil. Add the beans last.

Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes; uncover and stir, then cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add the prefried potatoes, the coconut milk, and the milk. Cover again and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with rice,noodles or bread.

Note:+ We also found that this curry tastes better the next day. So we usually make more of the soup by adding more coconut and water. Add more salt and pepper too.

+Those of us who like the curry to be hotter we use dried chilli powder or just add a few fresh chillies.

+ Instead of chicken you can use pork but do slice the pork into 2 finger-wide and 1 finger thick slices.

+ Foochow curry is rather "watery". You can therefore add more than 4 extra cups of water for this recipe.
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