How am I? Don't ask. The Business Press Maven's soul feels like it's lost in a howling desert. If you think the business media is ridiculous for constantly parroting the excuse by retailers that "the weather ate my sales," we've now seen worse.The new reigning most creative excuse maker is Sallie Mae ( SLM), the troubled student-loan lender. When reporting a net loss of $344 million vs. a profit of $263 million a year ago, its chairman said at a shareholders meeting that ... the pending buyout made him lose his concentration. "It's clear that the deal distractions are significant," said Albert L. Lord. "They cost us earnings momentum." The Business Press Maven will now pause for a moment for comic effect. Heck, let's give it two moments. Out of the greater than half billion dollar swing between last year's profit and this year's loss, actual expenses related to the contentious merger drama with J.C. Flowers and others ran in the teens. So a half billion minus less than 20 equals ... uh, about a half billion dollars. So, uh, the actual mental distractions involved must have been pretty heavy, huh? Chairman Lord must have been forced by these distracting circumstances to take his hand off the company wheel, which promptly careened into a ditch. Even taking this excuse as legitimate (and I'll do it only to make a point), what does it say about the concentration ability and basic competence of Lord that he can even pretend to make the claim that distraction contributed at a level that was even worth mentioning toward a half-billion-dollar profit swing.