Tone at the Top and other things

I’ve been absent far too long – I would love to blame it on “why write if no one reads” mentality but I just kind of forget about it while I’m busy doing other things. I finally got passed a difficult test (thanks to family, friends, and co-workers) so I’ve enjoyed the month of December getting back to basics such as trivia and reading. At least the reading is going well. This blog isn’t supposed to be about books but that’s what’s on my mind right now and I can’t seem to shake it.

The first book I read was “The Smartest Guys in the Room” by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind; it’s based on the rise and fall of Enron. I also saw the movie based on the book but I wouldn’t go there if I were you…I was highly irritated and that’s an hour and 50 minutes I won’t get back in my life. It wasn’t because it was so far off the book but just that it was unnecessary. Plus, there’s a part in the book (and okay, spoiler alert but if you don’t know how the story of Enron goes, I’m worried) where they basically paint the picture of the whistleblower as she’s in it for herself (of course so was everyone else that worked there) and not for the good of the company as most whistleblowers are motivated. But in the movie, she herself was in it and painted herself as doing it for the good of the company. The book also was leaning towards blaming Enron for the whole energy crisis in California. I’m not saying they didn’t significantly contribute to the problem but Gov Gray Davis (at the time) wanted to solely blame Enron and the federal government. I guess he wanted to overlook the fact that his government screwed up the implementation of deregulation in the first place!!!! This whole thing made me think that you can really apply the following problem to almost every scenario: if person/company A implements a poor plan/policy/idea, and person/company B takes advantage, would you solely blame person/company B? Of course not (at least I hope not)!!! Bottom line is – I get why we have to do SOX testing (I still don’t like it) which is basically because people had a great leadership job and got paid way too well and screwed the system over and the other people who had a cushy board seat didn’t even ask any questions. I mean, seriously? How much of an idiot can you be not to ask a question? I will say this – I’m definitely a more well-rounded auditor because of this book so I guess that’s something. Also, if I every saw any of the poeple in the book in person, it would take a whole lot of effort for me not to kick them in the shins and run…

The next book I read was Catcher in the Rye – the infamous book by JD Salinger. I had never read it – and I spent 3 1/2 years in honors english and it was never required reading (we read Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen). Let me say this first – the first Salinger book that I ever read is “Franny and Zooey” which for some reason is basically a book about a brother and sister and the brother rambling on and on about random worldly thoughts. It’s actually two short stories thrown together but it works so who am I to argue. When I first read that book, I honestly thought “Who in the world would actually write this???” but it grew into almost an obsession with me and now I keep a copy on the second shelf (my bookshelves are organized, I’m a nerd, shoot me – but the second shelf on the already read bookshelf is 2nd in importance to me). But it’s been awhile since I read it and I forgot how Salinger writes. But this floored me. At least Catcher seems to have some point to it (although, I’m still trying to figure it out) (SPOILER ALERT!!) – this is probably the only time I hope somebody reads this so that at least someone can tell me – was he in the hospital/asylum the whole time and imagining the whole thing or was he in the hospital just at the end? Also, if you don’t like cursing, don’t read this book. I’m not a prude or anything but I try to keep my cursing to a minimum since my niece and nephew repeat every single stinking phrase I say. So I tried at first to try to skip over the curse word (I can sometimes do that if I focus really hard) but the only problem with that is, as soon as I thought I was in the clear, there’s another one! And another, and another. I personally thinking cursing should be saved for those very special occasions when you are seriously upset/ticked off/so shocked nothing else will simply do. But this Caulfield character (no pun intended), that is ALL he did! He’s trying to get something across to the reader but I think his vocabulary was so limited that he only knew how to describe things with “damn” and “gd damn” and so on. It was highly irritating…I would recommend you read it though just so you can say you did if you’re the kind of person who cares about that sort of thing (like I am).

The next book I was supposed to read (according to me anyway) was a short book on Canadian history. This was supposed to prepare me for the great Trivia Summit on Friday since the question writers all appear to either be from Canada or huge fans of that country. But the problem is, I’m on this trip about corporate wrong doing so I’m going to read “Extraordinary Circumstances” by Cynthia Cooper, the WorldCom whistleblower. I’m already on the fence about this based on the reviews and I get the book in the mail the other day, opened up the package, and dropped the book. She’s wearing a red suit and I have this thing about the color red. I don’t mind wearing it (it contrasts with black nicely) but I’m leery of people in top positions in a company who wear it all the time. I blame a former boss who almost always had red talons (nails) because “red represents power” – I promise that’s what she said. I’ve only been away from her for just over a year but she had an impact on my life too and I’m still not sure if it was positive or negative, all I can say is it was somewhat traumatic. So I’ll read this, go play trivia Friday (watch out OTTO/GENERL :)), update the blog one more time before I crawl back down into my study hole for one more test in February. Cheers and happy holidays!!

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About jenvolk5

Bank auditor by day, trivia and knowledge hound all other times.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tone at the Top and other things

  1. Jay says:

    Al, that’s nice, but… Whatever became of Baby R????? 🙂

    I agree on the Enron book, although I enjoyed the documentary as well.

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