Lost in Translation

April 9, 2008

I try not to post about school too much… but I can’t help myself today.

Yesterday I had an exam in Multi-National Corporate Finance… yep, a whole class dedicated to making money by doing silly, ethically debatable little tricks internationally with money (in Finance, we call this “arbitrage”).

In any case, it was probably the most difficult exam I have taken in my whole life. It was mostly concerned with hedging against transaction, translation, and economic risk using forward contracts, options, money market hedges, interest rate swaps, and currency swaps. A brief example:

You are a U.S. based company who sold a piece of equipment to a company based in the U.K. for 100,000 pounds. The company in the U.K. has to pay in 365 days… you face the risk of the British currency (the pound) depreciating before they pay (if the exchange rate is $2/pound, they currently owe you $200,000… if the pound depreciates to $1.75/pound, then they are only paying you $175,000, a loss of $25,000). Since this is a possibility, you can mitigate the risk by entering a forward contract that locks you in to a price of $2/pound, or you can use the money market to hedge the risk. For example, if the interest rate in the U.S. is 8%, and the interest rate in the UK is 5%, you could borrow 95,238 British pounds from a U.K. bank (with interest, in one year you will owe the UK bank 100,000 pounds), exchange it into dollars at $2/pound to get $190,476, and then invest the $190,476 in the US at the US interest rate of 8% to get $205,714. When the UK company pays you, you would use the 100,000 pounds to repay the British bank. As you can see, this is not difficult, but can be confusing.

As with the first exam of the semester, I feel that I did very well on the quantitative problems, but I have no idea how I did on the multiple choice stuff.

Anyway, to get back to the point of the post, as I was sitting there trying to keep everything straight and figure out some difficult quantitative problems, the fire alarm went off… we went outside and waited until they gave the “all clear”. After about 5 more minutes, the alarm went off again… we went back outside for about 5 minutes, then they gave the all clear. Upon getting started again, the alarm went off… again. This time we relocated to another building and took the exam in the noisy college cafeteria (it was dinner time).

So there you have it… I took the most difficult exam of my life in a college cafeteria… proof that when it rains, it pours.


The Bike Shop

April 4, 2008

I have never taken the time, nor had the inclination, to post anything about the job that I had prior to my current job. This, of course, does not mean that nothing occurred at the Bike Shop that was worth writing about, as those six years provided me with a lifetime worth of material. The following is a true account of a sequence of events that unfolded that would stupify even the most hardened individuals…

The day began normally enough… I was polishing a bicycle on the showroom floor while watching one of my co-workers empty the garbage containers outside the plaza. The plaza was home to the bike shop, a pizzeria, and a coffee shop, and since the owner of the bike shop owned the whole plaza and rented to the other stores, we were responsible for any garbage containers located outside of the doors of the stores.

On this particular day Jeff was handling the garbage duty. I noticed that as he emptied the garbage outside the coffee shop, he reached into one of the bags and pulled something out. After staring for a minute and trying to figure out what he was holding, I recognized the distinct shape of a can of Pringles chips (to this day, I still haven’t determined whether going through the garbage he was emptying was a regular practice for Jeff).

Jeff completed the job and came back into the bike shop, still carrying the can of Pringles.

“Dude, you aren’t gonna eat those, are you?” I asked as he walked toward me.

“No way, are you f**king nuts?” he replied. “Look inside here.” He removed the cap to the can, revealing a can about half full of chips, cigarette ashes, and what appeared to be some soggy, cappucino looking stuff. He blew into the can, sending the ashes flying into the room as he smiled and exclaimed “Follow me!”

I followed Jeff through the door on the showroom floor that leads back to our service department, getting a sense that Jeff was going to ask a mechanic if he wanted some Pringles… but to my surprise, Jeff walked into the service area, walked right past the mechanics, and set the can of Pringles down on Kurt’s bench (Kurt, a newer mechanic, hadn’t arrived for work yet). Jeff turned and walked back out the service department with me in tow.

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“Dude, I can’t give a can of half eaten, disgusting chips to a mechanic… if I offer them and they eat them and get some disease or something, they will try to hold me responsible…. nooo way. I ain’t that dumb.” he replied.

“Then what was the point?” I asked, still not understanding the situation.

“Just wait.” Jeff replied.

About two hours passed, and I walked into the service area to grab a bike to deliver to a customer, and the Jeff’s plan had begun to unfold before my eyes… Kurt was working on the bike, chewing a mouth full of Pringles.

“Kurt, where did you get those chips?” I asked, dismayed and disgusted at the same time.

“They were sitting here on my bench when I got here… are they yours? Sorry.” Kurt replied.

“No, they aren’t mine.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him… so I ran and told Jeff what was going on.

“YES!!!! IT WORKED!!! WHAT AN IDIOT!!!! AWESOME!!!” Jeff shouted, trying to hide his excitement well enough not to draw attention from the managers. He immediately headed to the service area.

“Kurt, where did you get those chips?” Jeff asked.

“Huh? Take that Jeff! Leave your food on my bench and it is fair game!” Kurt said, proud that he finally pulled a quick one on Jeff.

“Kurt, those are garbage chips!!!! Nasty!” Jeff exclaimed, laughing and shouting at the same time.Over the next couple hours, Jeff was sure to tell everyone in the store what had occurred, even successfully repeating the experiment on one of the managers. Everyone thought it was hilarious, except for Kurt.


Are you kidding me?

April 4, 2008

I am almost ashamed to say what I am about to say…

Today is my dog’s birthday (as best any of us can tell, seeing as how we adopted her).

Let the festivities begin.

Some quick background info:

We adopted Aries, a mix-breed Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd, about a year and a half ago from the Humane Society. She was about 6 months old. My girlfriend decided that since she was about 6 months old, and since April was about six months before we adopted her, and since her name was “Aries” (the astrological sign dominant in April), that her birthday should be in April. She then chose the 4th of April as the day, since 4/4 is easy to remember (very scientific, huh?).

So today is Aries birthday. She will be showered with attention, food, toys, etc… until midnight, and maybe even through tomorrow.

On my birthday, I think I may have heard a couple people jokingly ask how it felt to be “a quarter century old”, and may have gotten a hug… I guess I just don’t measure up to the dog.

So here is to Aries… Happy Birthday, and many more!


Hey Billy, pass me a cold one!

April 4, 2008

Question: How old do you have to be before you can legally drive a car?

Answer: 16 years old in most states, although there is some variation.

Dangers involved: Numerous, probably too many to list. Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most of us engage in on a regular basis. Severe injury and death are certainly possibilities.

Question: How old do you have to be to enlist in the U.S. military?

Answer: 17 years old (with parental consent), 18 years old otherwise.

Dangers involved: Quite a few, but not nearly as many as driving… If, by chance, you actually see combat you could be severely injured or die. Heck, I suppose you could even be injured or die outside of combat, considering the general nature of this line of work.

Question: How old do you have to be to purchase cigarettes?

Answer: 18 years old.

Dangers involved: Lung cancer, emphysema, burns, other types of cancer, death (long term).

Ok, so what is the point, you ask? While watching the idiot-box last night, I happened upon a show that followed the daily activities of police officers working in spring break hot-spots. I was surprised to see that their job basically consisted of going from one party to another looking for underage drinkers, and it got me to thinkin’…

I am not going to re-hash the cliche argument that goes along the lines of “if I am old enough to be drafted or take a bullet for the country, why the hell can’t I enjoy a beer?”…

But seriously, if someone is old enough to take a bullet for their country, why the hell can’t they enjoy a beer?

I am sure that some “Mother Against Drunk Driving” is going to read this and come back with a million reasons detailing the dangers of under-age alcohol consumption… but is it more dangerous than walking onto a battlefield? Better yet, is it more dangerous than driving a car or smoking? But again, the MADD person will probably say that smoking doesn’t put others at risk to the same extent as drinking…

You can get a CDL and drive a semi-truck in most states at the age of 18 (not in Ohio, my state of residence, unless you are going to drive ONLY in Ohio). Read that again: the guy driving the semi-truck next to your compact car may be 18 years old. Why is this ok? Because he has passed a course and been “licensed” by the state to do so (and more importantly, he has paid the price of a CDL to the BMV). This made me think…

One great way to fund alcohol rehabilitation programs would be by “licensing” people to drink at the age of 18… Basically, the 18 year old pays some cash, takes a few courses on the dangers of drinking and how to drink responsibly, and is then “licensed” to drink at 18 years of age. The proceeds from the licensing fees could then be used to pay for alcohol rehab programs, clinics, etc…

Would the government actually do this? Heck no! Why? Because it would make too much sense (and be costly… think of all the lost revenue in bail money for the 19 year old who just got caught getting blitzed following finals week).

Much as we are trying to “medicalize” everything into a medical condition, we are on the road to criminalizing everything as well…

Seriously, I would like someone to explain to me why a 19 year old can’t legally drink… Is it because they are too immature to make the right decisions (if so, should we really let them behind the wheel of a car, or arm them with a tank on a battlefield?)?


SAD, CISD, RLS, and other wonders of the world of modern medicine.

March 28, 2008

I think I have SAD, RLS, and CISD… it looks like my medical costs could get pretty expensive…

WARNING! This is a rant! Doctors, people studying to be doctors, and people who are easily offended should RELAX before reading this post (it is, after all, intended to be humorous)!

Has anyone noticed that anything and everything that goes wrong is now a medical condition? I was struck the other day when I stumbled upon some information about “caffeine induced sleep disorder”… it turns out that doctors have decided that this is a real medical condition affecting a huge number of people… the cause? You guessed it! Drinking too much caffeine before you try to go to sleep! Heck, if you’ve got a bad enough case of CISD, you can even be medicated for it! And here I thought that the easy fix for this one was the advice mom gave me when I was 3 (“If you drink all that sugar and caffeine before bed, you won’t be able to sleep, and when you finally get to sleep you’ll piss the bed!”).

Next up: SAD. This gem stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”… If you have SAD, then you feel normal for the whole year but get depressed in the winter… they even have “reverse SAD”, where you feel normal the whole year but get depressed in the summer. I definitely have this. As a matter of fact, anyone who lives anywhere that has a winter has this. If you live in Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, or any other northern state and you don’t have this, you are either a total weirdo or a real jackass (sorry, I refer to people who like Ohio’s winter as jackasses). I thought that the explanation was that winter sucks. I’ve usually dealt with SAD by going out with my friends, getting drunk, having a conversation going something like “Man, winter sucks… I can’t wait for summer”, getting up the next day and going about my business. It turns out that this approach is all wrong… evidently I need medicine. Let’s face it: Winter is no fun, and you better damn believe that medicine designed to make you feel better will make you feel better, so why deal with a shitty winter ever again?

Finally, we have reached my favorite… RLS. “Restless Leg Syndrome”, or perhaps better known by its common name of “The Jimmy Legs”. This is another one that I have had since I was about 3. I thought it was from consuming too many “Monster” energy drinks, 3000 calorie burritos, and “nuclear” squirms (sour gummy worms, my favorite) and not being able to keep my hyped-up legs still. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and continuously move my feet, and I seem to be unable to stop… a sure sign of the dreaded Jimmy Legs. I used to treat this by running, jogging, or lifting weights, a sure fire way to burn off the excess energy that I have always thought caused the Jimmy Legs… but it turns out that I need medicated for this one too! They even treat this one with opioids, such as oxycodone and methodone (what the hell?!!)! Ironically, CISD can be a cause of RLS!

Another interesting fact: the occurrence of autism has increased drastically since 1980. Has the prevalence of autism actually increased? Doctors are divided on this one. But they can all agree that the medical community has broadened the definition of autism, which by default will raise the prevalence of the condition.

Here is my point: If we try hard enough, we can probably qualify anything as a medical condition. I wonder what made-up conditions will be affecting us next… I can see the headline now…

Have trouble getting to work on time? You may have CLTW, or “Chronically Late To Work” syndrome, caused by depression associated with having to show up at the same place at the same time everyday.

It may not exist yet, but I can GUARANTEE that some sort of chemical reaction takes place in my brain at just the thought of work, and it ain’t too different from depression, and it is only a matter of time until a doctor or drug company capitalizes on this.

Do we really need all of these “conditions”? I’d be more comfortable to know that my kids will grow up knowing that winter sucks, just like I did, rather than thinking that they have been “afflicted” with SAD. And that is not to mention the rising cost of health care… could it be partly a result of insurance companies having to “pay up” for people affected with the Jimmy Legs?

What is the world coming to?!?


Nice Job, Glenn!

March 14, 2008

If you read this blog regularly, you have probably noticed a recurring theme: That I am ashamed of the lack of personal accountability shown by my fellow citizens of the United States.

Having said that, here is a really good article by Glenn Beck from “Headline News”:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/14/beckfloridamichigan/index.html

It is nicely written and makes some really excellent points… Nice Job, Glenn!


Tuesdays with Tyson – March 11, 2008

March 12, 2008

Hi all! Here is another quote from Mr. Tyson, this time about religion:

“I feel like sometimes that I was born, that I’m not meant for this society because everyone here is a f**king hypocrite. Everybody says they believe in God but they don’t do God’s work. Everybody counteracts what God is really about. If Jesus was here, do you think Jesus would show me any love? Do you think Jesus would love me? I’m a Muslim, but do you think Jesus would love me … I think Jesus would have a drink with me and discuss … why you acting like that? Now, he would be cool. He would talk to me. No Christian ever did that and said in the name of Jesus even … They’d throw me in jail and write bad articles about me and then go to church on Sunday and say Jesus is a wonderful man and he’s coming back to save us. But they don’t understand that when he comes back, that these crazy greedy capitalistic men are gonna kill him again.”

Wow… I’m not sure what that means…

Next week there will be no Tuesday with Tyson… I will be on vacation, but the series will resume the week of the 25th.