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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Now That's Chutzpah

Chutzpah is typically defined as "brazenness, audacity, or shamelessness". One wag defined it as "killing both parents and then throwing yourself on the court's mercy because you were an orphan".

I now have an updated definition. A colleague just forwarded me this ad on Craigslist in the city where the Unknown Alma Mater is located (I've changed the details enough to make it anonymous):
I Will Pay Someone $$$ To Take My Finance Final Exam

I attend Unknown Alma Mater and I need at least a 60 on my final in order for me to not have to re-take the class. I am not a slacker...I am just terrible with this subject and I cannot afford to fail. The course is titled XXX and the test will be multiple choice definitions and problems. It will mostly cover the basics of financial statements, time value of money problems, valuation of bonds and stocks, and capital budgeting.

It is an online course so the professor and all the students have never come face to face yet. The exam is the only time we meet. It is scheduled for next Saturday (May 9) from 9-12 in the XXX building.

You must be a girl...just in case they check our student IDs. If you are interested or know of anyone who might be, please e-mail me with a price and any questions you may have.

Thanks!
Of course, since the chair of the department at Unknown Alma Mater is a friend of mine, I forwarded it along. My suggestion was that he have a female staff worker or grad student call them and agree to take the exam. When they get an "F" for not taking the exam and call whoever took it to complain about their grade, inform them that the "F" comes with an Academic Dishonesty bonus. Of course, make sure to record the conversation and send me a copy.

Since my readership is far more creative (and, I'm sure, vindictive) than me, I'm sure you can come up with a better option.

Monday, April 27, 2009

We Are In Final Approach

Once again, it's that happy time - the end of the semester at Unknown University.

I teach my last classes tomorrow - in one, I hand back some assignments and talk about the final (that means today is all about the grading, and in the other (the student managed fund), I hand out stock assignments for which they must come up with final analyses.

As always, the last week was crazy - the student-managed fund class makes a presentation to the Alumni at the end of every semester, and it's always a mad rush to get it done. They did it this Saturday. As usual (with one or two "foot in mouth" moments) they did a job that far exceeded expectations.

So, all I have left is a bunch of grading (for tomorrow's class) and a couple of exams to write. Then it's back to research (lots of projects to rein in) until Unknown Son starts the next round of treatment.

As my end-of semester treat, I get to fly to Washington for a couple of days for the Eastern Finance Association meeting - catching up with old friends, seeing a few presentations, and (best of all) getting a good night's sleep (Unknown Baby Boy is cute, but it'll be a while before he sleeps through the night). So, I'll take the opportunity to sleep 8 hours without interruption. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marital Insurance

I'm a flaming extrovert: I strike up conversations with people waiting in line, with the guy (or gal) in the seat across the aisle on planes or trains, and in general with almost anyone I spend some time with.

The good thing about this is that I find out a lot about people, and much of it is pretty interesting. Last night, I was on the train, and I started talking with the guy across the aisle. He was a fellow extrovert (and, it turns out a law professor at Harvard), so we had plenty to talk about. Thanks to him, I picked a great idea for all you married guys.

This guy (Dave) got married on May29th almost 24 years ago. Since then, he's sent his wife three dozen roses on the 29th of each and every month since then. I asked if he ever forgot, and he responded "no - they do it automatically and just put it on my credit card. Every month they put together a mix of different colors (red, pink, white, etc...)".

Of course, she doesn't know about the auto-delivery part of the process.

This may be one of the best things you can do for the long-term health of your marriage-- make your wife feel special and appreciated every month. And as an aside, they last a couple of weeks, so if you're covered if you screw up for almost half the month - it's pretty hard not to get the benefit of the doubt when there are flowers you recently bought her all over the house.

Think of it as another monthly bill - in your budget it should go under "insurance'.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How To Dress, How To Dress...

Since I pretty much wear khakis and button down shirts every day (and khakis and polo shorts when it gets warm, this made me chuckle

From PhDComics.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What To Call Your Professor

At the Unknown Alma Mater, some of the faculty preferred that students address them by their first name. With others, it was "Dr. So and So" until they graduated. At my current school, american PhD students go by first names, and international students go by "Dr. ___" (at least, until I can break them of the habit).

For students looking for some guidance on the issue, PhD Comics provides a handy flow chart. Enjoy.

A Quick Update

I've been a bit busy lately.

The slightly early arrival of the Unknown Baby Boy (about three weeks early) has come with the usual new parent sleep deprivation (he still only sleeps about 3-3 1/2 hours at a pop). As a result, any task (like making up an exam) takes about twice as long: it takes longer to do the first time, and then it has to be carefully checked because of all the errors I make due to sleep deprivation. The little guy is doing well, and has put on just about two pounds since birth. So, if early trends continue, we'll have a big one.

The semester at Unknown University is rapidly coming to a close. We pay significantly below the market for school at our level, but we also have one of the shortest semesters around (as one commenter said, it's like the old Soviet system - we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us). In any event, in one I have four class days left, and one is taken up by an exam. In the other (the student-managed investment fund class), we also have to prepare for a big presentation to the alumni association, but we're also done there.

The Unknown Elder Son's treatments continue. In fact, he and I are actually in the hospital at the moment. The last round of chemo, he experienced a lot post-treatment nausea, so we decided to do this on on an inpatient basis this time just in case. He's doing well, but unfortunately, my back was acting up due to carrying around the new baby (as I said, he's a bruiser). Of course, the pull-out cot in the hospital is the modern day equivalent of a medieval torture rack. But that's what they make aspirin for.

In addition to all this, I've been trying to get some research done. Since I handle the 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. feedings for the Unknown Newborn, I actually have managed to get some things done on a couple of projects (somehow, writing SAS code in the wee hours of the morning feels right - it's like being in grad school again). With a little luck, I might get to pieces out the door by the end of June. I feel good about both pieces - they're on interesting topics, use new data sources, and have pretty good results. So, they could potentially go to pretty decent journals, and could both be the start of new research agendas. Luckily, my coauthors have been extremely patient, and willing to take up the slack.

And on top of this all, my 79 year-old mother had a heart attack two weeks ago. It was quite a scare for the whole family. She's only a couple of hours away, so I've been able to see her a couple of times since the attack. She had bypass surgery, and is now in a convalescent home for the rehab part of things.

So, that pretty much sums things up in the Unknown Household. I'm sure blogging will pick up a bit now that I'm through the worst of the last month of crazy time.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Repo Markets in Everything

I'm by no means an expert on Jewish Law (in fact, I know almost nothing). But this caught my eye.

I'm talking about repurchase agreements tonight. For the unitiated, a "repo" is a form of short-term borrowing where party A sells a security (or a good) to party B, and simultaneously agrees to buy (i.e. repurchase) the item/security back a short while later at a higher price. In effect, it's a short term loan from B to A, with collateral.

Marginal Revolution (it's part of their "markets in everything" series) points to an unuaual example of a repo: every year, an Arab hotel manager signs a repo agreement with the chief Rabbis of Israel to purchase all bread, pasta, and beeer in Israel until the end of Passover. At that point, the title of the goods reverts back to the Israelis. This allows the Israelis to satisfy the requirement of the Jewish religious law without making costly transfers of the goods in the spot market.

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Rough Week, and A (Small) Pleasant Surprise

A rough week in the Unknown Household. My sister and mother were planning on driving down Sunday to see the Unknown Baby. Then Saturday, I got a call that my mom had had a heart attack and passed out on the floor. She's all right, and is currently resting comfortably (??) in the ICU waiting to have surgery (she has four "minor" blockages). The surgery will be either Wednesday or Thursday. So, yesterday I drove the two hours to the hospital to visit her. With the Unknown Baby-induced sleep deprivation, it took a fair bit of effort to make it safely there and back.

Today, I taught my classes, and was just getting ready to head back home for a much-needed nap (man - these midnight feeding are getting old very quickly) when I got a call from two coauthors (a former colleague and a former student). They told me that a paper of ours had been accepted at the American Accounting Association (AAA) annual meeting.

It was particularly good news because I didn't even know (or more likely, had forgotten) that it had even been submitted. So, it's like found money. Not a big deal, but I'll take it.

Ah well, it's midnight, and Unknown Baby has input/output issues.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Still Teaching At 96

I have a colleague who is sixty nine years old. He just finished his 39th year teaching, and last year he was awarded the researcher of the year award by my college. I've always been impressed by his passion, energy, and enjoyment at being an academic going into his fifth decade in the university. Now I know why - compared to his father in law, he's still a relative rookie.

The New York Times has an interview with said father-in-law - Professor Ernest Kurnow. of New York University. At ninety six years of age he still teaches a class or so a year at NYU. That's right - at ninety-six. I'm not that ambitious - I only plan on doing this gig for another twenty five years or so.

Then I'll retire at the relatively tender age of seventy five.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

In the course of my career, I've spent time in the rural Midwest, a heavily military-influenced town in the Mid Atlantic, and the fairly deep South. In addition, I grew up in a Northeast town with a NASCAR racetrack. So I realize that White Trash is not just a Southern thing. Many of my friends (and a few family members) raced small cars called quarter midgets, and a half-dozen or so had made their own go carts (with the help of their parents).

But this is something that's worthy of being included in Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck" routine. A guy in Ohio gets arrested for drunk driving on a motorized bar stool. And it can do 40 miles an hour. In case the story gets taken down, here's a picture:



It looks like something a few of the gearheads I went to school with might have made. But I'd attach a small section of a bar to it - just in case.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Quick Update

I just realized that I've gone 11 days without posting - the longest stretch since I started the blog. First off, Unknown Baby and the rest of the Unknown Household are doing fine.

Not surprisingly, having Unknown Baby around has been time consuming. We've done this twice before, but I was much younger then (Unknown Daughter is now eight years old, and I was 40 when he arrived). The sleep deprivation isn't nearly as bad as it was for Unknown Son (who might be upgraded on the blog to Unknown Elder Boy) and Unknown Daughter. I'm a night owl, so I've been taking the 10 p.m. and 1 p.m. feeding. This way, the Unknown wife can get some sleep (as they say down South, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"). Unfortunately, I seldom sleep past 7 or so, so I end up about an hour short of sleep every night. Not great, but livable.

I've discovered that third kids are much easier than first one, because you're not nearly as stressed out about breaking them. Here's one example: The other day, Unknown Baby managed to mess himself while I was changing him (he seems to do that often - usually with what looks like a smile - Stewie Griffin watch out). Unknown Wife wondered whether or not we should give him a bath, since he had a doctor's appointment in about an hour. I just picked him up, took him to the sink, and hosed him off with the attachment. We didn't have his little baby towel, so a dish towel worked just fine. Unknown Wife was a bit surprised at my solution, but Unknown Mother In Law and Unknown Father In Law (they're visiting for the week) just laughed. Hey - it's a guy thing.

In any event, I'm still trying to get my research out. The only difference is that a lot of the SAS programming now takes place in hours between 10 and 1 while I wait for the little guy to wake up for his feeding. Surprisingly, I get a lot done.

Ah well - enough for now. Back to SAS coding.