Wednesday, September 28, 2005

When things get busy, I lag on my blogging. Shame on me. Here's a quick update on things:

1. In a sure sign that there is a divine one, both Mary's and my car passed the emissions test this week, and thus we were able to get Tennessee license plates for them. I tried a couple of tricks on Mary's car because its exhaust created a film of soot on her car over the past few months. The first trick, which I learned from the internet, was to try a heavier weight oil... much heavier. I used 20W-50 instead of the standard 10W-30. The catch is that it might do some harm in cold weather, so I'll change back to the norm in a few weeks. The other trick was to buy some elixir for my gas tank called "Guaranteed to Pass Emissions Test Formula". It might have passed without all this, but I didn't want to take chances. I didn't do anything to my car, 1991 Accord with 245k miles, and it passed fine. Now, the $64k question is "Will my $500 truck pass?". Update on this later.

2. We went to Auburn this past weekend for homecoming. Of course, the football game was a yawner. We beat the no. 1 raked team in Div 1AA - Does that mean that we are now favorites for the 1AA national championship? Our friends Heath and Shanna watched Helen while we went to the game. They have a 1 year old who napped almost the whole time Helen was there.
I preached and taught the BC on Sunday and had a great time seeing old friends.

3. We have our annual Fall Retreat this weekend at Camp Garner Creek in Dickson, TN - about and an hour and 15 minutes from here. My old chum Dave Morgan is speaking. I know it will be an awesome time. I'll blog more about this later.

4. My somewhat former supervisor at the University of Birmingham, Mark Goodacre, is now at his teaching post at Duke and has several posts on the transition to America. He and I joked that we should pray that the dollar per pound exhange rate go up (and thus benefit him when he converts his money) and then go down in time for me to pay my tuition. Thankfully, the exchange rate has fallen 5 cents in the past few days, which will save me $200 or so on tuition.

5. I meant to blog about this when I was in the UK. Anyone who has spent much time in a foreign country understandds the volatility of the currency exchange market. The dollar/pound rate has fluctuated 7% in the past few months. Today it is $1.76 per £1. In theory, economists say that the exchange rate should settle to the level where prices would be roughly the same in both countries regardless of exchange rate. So what is the real value of a dollar compared to a pound (yes, this is the math major coming out in me)? I can think of 2 methods that should give a rough estimate:
I. The most clever I have ever seen is the 'Big Mac' Index done by the Economist magazine. Since a Big Mac is an item that can be purchased virtually worldwide and since it has the same ingredients and process worldwide, then it is a good tool for comparison. According to the 2005 Big Mac Index, one pound is worth $1.63.

II. A less clever but useful way is simply to compare average salaries of people in the US and UK. We'll assume that the standard of living in both countries is the same, though the edge probably goes to the US in most ways of computing SOL. The average salary for a Brit in 2004 was £22,060 per year, and the average American salary was $39,795.33 per year . That amounts to $1.80 per £1.

Average I. and II. and you come up with an exchange rate of $1.71 or so.

FWIW, the average exchange rate over the past 15 years or so has been at around $1.50-$1.60 per £1.