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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guest Editorial: Exchange Rate Conspiracy

For today's dispatch, we enjoy the clever rantings of a guest writer, namely Uncle Judlow, brother-in-law of Bruck. In it, the BILOB waxes reckless on the perils of computing exchange rates while "under the influence," throwing in a touching dash of creative paranoia to render his epistle even more bruckworthy. But I'll shut up now and let him tell the story:

I recently went on a business trip to England where I fell victim to the exchange rate and complete breakdown of my math skills. Most of the third-world dumps that I end up visiting treat American Dollars as if they were gold bars (ie, one American Dollar is worth 31 Thai Baht, 1,234 Iraqi Dinars, 49 Afghan Afghanis, 44 Philippine Pesos). At first, the fact that the American Dollar is worth about one half of a British Pound seemed like no big deal. I dealt with it and just took comfort in the fact that I was receiving per diem based on London's rates for food and lodging (which would turn out to be exactly not the case). Twenty-ish American Dollars for a decent breakfast of beans and toast, eggs and bacon, and the ever-present sautéed mushrooms soon lost its shock value, and I prepared my budget by planning to spend less on beer… really, that was the plan.

I should admit straight off that I am no math wizard by any means. Really, I suck at it, especially when I drink. For example, when I mix alcoholic beverages in my mathematical computation skills, I increasingly lose the ability to understand simple ratios such as 2:1. The current exchange rate is 2.02 USD to 1 GBP, which gave me a handy 2:1 ratio to keep in mind as I toured the pubs of Bristol, Portsmouth, Hereford, and London. It failed me time and again... as did my London per diem rate.

I could begin an evening outraged that I just paid 20 pounds or 40 American dollars for dinner, but after a few rounds of Guinness, Boddingtons, and various ciders with alcohol contents the likes of which Utah residents can only dream about (beer can only be a max of 3.2% in Utah), the outrage seemed to fade along with my math skills and soon 3 pounds for a beer started to seem pretty reasonable. In usual fashion the beer drinking summoned the "good idea fairy" who prompted me to switch to Jack and Coke for a "reasonable" 5-6 pounds per drink… you can see where this is going. It only took three or four nights of that kind of behavior followed by intense confusion and panic each subsequent morning before I came to the realization... not that my math skills are lacking and my money was gone, but that I was a victim of a cruel conspiracy against American tourists.

Bruck, I have a hunch that the British Pound is ingeniously valued to be easily confused with American Dollars when one is intoxicated. When one is faced with difficult drunken decisions such as whether or not to pay 5 monetary units for a cocktail, the easy answer is, “of course!” …when in reality, you are actually paying ten American Dollars for the drink because the 5 monetary units happen to be British Pounds. One would think that this incredibly easy ratio of 2:1 would not fail even the drunken self, but alas, I am living proof that not only does it break down under conditions of substance abuse, it reverses itself to make the most expensive things seem like great deals. “Six pounds? …does that make this drink twelve dollars or three dollars? …probably three… I’ll have a round of those for all my new friends here at the Slug and Lettuce Pub.”

Thanks for letting me vent and warn you and your readers of the dangers of mixing alcohol and math especially in England.

No, thank you, Uncle Judlow, and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future!


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