Scott Laronge

Drop me a line at helloscott {at} scottlaronge {dot} com

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On My Way to Bingualism

February 21st, 2009 · No Comments

I’m listening to BBC Brasil’s weekly podcast and following along without a problem.  While I’m translating this week’s topics in my head, I’m simultaneously reading about a shelved government plan on alternatives to the federal gas tax.  And I’m comprehending both. 

This is a pretty new revelation to me, mainly because when I listen to an English language podcast and read the news, I generally pay attention to one and miss out on the other.  Either I skim through what I’m reading or I tune out the podcast and forget what they’re talking about.

Kinda cool.

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This is my Day Today

February 10th, 2009 · No Comments

1. I get an email late Friday night asking me to fill out a questionnaire for a position in Sacramento. I send it back this morning. 20 minutes later, I get an email saying they filled the job. That’s like setting a date with a girl for the weekend and find out she eloped on Thursday night.

2. I have a good session with my trainer at 24. Combine that with a stomach-flu of some sort, and we’ve got the next diet craze to sweep the nation.

3. Today was the first day of golf practice. It was 49° with 15-20mph winds.

4. Three kids didn’t come to practice. One apparently quit the team, but came out to play anyway. Four couldn’t find us and  couldn’t think to call us to ask where we were. When I did call, I gently reminded them that technology in all it’s wonderment has provided us with a method of two-way communication no longer called the carrier pigeon.  They asked if they should get a ride back there. I told them to find a donkey and start their journey. All these kids are IB. The team nickname is now A Confederacy of Dunces.

5. I had all you can eat beef ribs for dinner. These were passable. Plus we got a tenant discount because Mom works in the same complex the restaurant is located.

6. On the way home, we were rear-ended. And the guy refused to stop. After following him to his mobile-home park, he refused to identify himself or trade information. After saying “there was no damage” and driving off, I called CHP. They came out, we found the guy (helped I wrote down his info) and ultimately arrested him for hit-and-run plus DUI as his blood alcohol was over .16. Plus he claimed to have no driver’s license or insurance. He was also at least 75.

7. In order to unfuck this day, I have decided to have some chocolate-chip ice cream.

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I Finally Get to See the Commercials

February 1st, 2009 · No Comments

The bar in Curitiba didn’t have the sound loud enough (nor do I think ESPN Brasil carried them) to hear the commercials. BBC Sport showed commercials with cars driving on the left side of the road. And the “legal” sites that carried the commercials did IP checks to make sure I was in the US to view them. So I finally get the whole package. Plus I was smart enough to go to the gym and load up on baby carrots already for the festivities.

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Technically It’s “Leisure” Time

January 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

See, this is what I love about economic terms. The definition of unemployed to economists means I’m looking for work and not currently employed. People who aren’t looking for work are termed as being out of the labor pool, and people who are looking for work, but may be working part time are considered underemployed. I’m just unemployed, pure and simple. And I don’t just sit around the house all day long, I expend “leisure” time, which I feel is a nice way of putting it.

As part of my day, I generally surf around some of the blogs, and stumbled upon this today. I thought the paper isn’t as nearly exciting as the article makes it sound out to be, but did want to address one point they seem puzzled about. “That where unemployment has been higher for a long time people engage in slightly less household production.” My personal theory is that when people are employed (who we will call Emily), and know they have a limited amount of time in a given day to dedicate to household tasks, will spend a small amount of time per day to maintain the household. However, an unemployed person (who we will call Ulysses) that knows they have no other time demands will allow certain tasks to build up and then will “burst” to finish these tasks. Emily might spend 10 minutes a day to scrub down the kitchen, spending 70 minutes a week in total. Ulysses will spend 30 minutes once a week since he has greater blocks of time available than Emily in his pursuits.

As for Scott, I’ve rediscovered the library and gone through a slough of books. The amazon.com shopping cart is getting decimated through that, and I’ve realized some of the books I read weren’t worth the price I would’ve paid to get them, surprisingly enough, 1776 and The Google Story were among them. The Boy’s Golf Team starts up in a few weeks but we’ve had some conditioning for a few of the kids. Sadly it went from beautiful 68° weather (where I was wearing shorts out to the course) to a few days of much needed rain. Thankfully we’ve got renters in the 2nd house, though we had to “promote” the rent to a level I didn’t really like to. However, given that the rent reduction was equivalent to half a month of rent over the course of a year’s lease, without the prospect of a tenant moving in in those two weeks, it was probably a move for the best.

On the job search…Well, since I have enough time to read studies on how the unemployed spend their leisure time, and comment on it, you should be able to draw your own conclusions.

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Certainty

December 8th, 2008 · No Comments

In business, it is entirely acceptable and almost guaranteed that clients that spend more money are given steeper discounts. During my time at E*Trade, we had multi-tiered pricing for clients depending on how much they traded with us. $19.99 for regulars and $9.99 for the high volume traders, ie The More You Trade, The More You Save! Restaurants give out free desserts to their regular clients, and I’m sure bartenders occasionally give out a round or two to their usual clients, the ones that are known to spend money. In business, you want to take care of your highly-valued clients, the ones that spend the most money at your place. This is usual.

What I don’t understand is why it’s suddenly taboo to think this way for government. An article from The Economist stated that “More than half of all revenues to the general fund come from income taxes, and half of those taxes are paid by just 144,000 wealthy taxpayers.” California has something like 36.5 million residents, so basically 25% of taxes are coming from 0.395% of residents, but yet California’s main response is to increase taxes, usually quoted as a 1% increase on the top 1% of earners. Were this a business, as an executive, I’d be finding ways to make sure these 144,000 clients were kept happy by lowering their prices/taxes and finding alternate revenue streams, but this is not an option for government. After watching President-Elect Obama’s interview on Meet the Press this morning, he indicated that taxes will go down for 95% of taxpayers. I do feel somewhat for the other 5%, but one statistic I would love to see is what the 144,000 equivalency is for the federal government’s receipts, as corporate taxation probably has a much larger impact than just individual returns.

On other taxation news, I found out that the restaurant I play trivia in on Thursdays, the SacBrew has a dual pricing structure for beers. Clients at the bar pay $4.75 flat for a pint of beer, while those served in the restaurant (literally 4 steps away and not a separate area) are charged the same rate, plus sales tax, essentially a 7% difference in the price for a brew. Even my server didn’t notice this discrepency until I asked her about it and her manager had to tell her. My guess is that bartenders didn’t want to have to deal with changing pennies, and could more easily just give back a quarter.

At least now I know about this pricing differential, and it annoyed me to the same extent when I found out my Brazilian supermarket was charging more for sodas that were cold than warm ones on the shelf (at about the same price difference too.) But those saying I’m being too stingy should well remember that one does not become a millionaire by spendingмебели money.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27th, 2008 · No Comments

Other than the usual platitudes about Thanksgiving that I’m sure everyone’s already heard from everyone else, I got a nice reminder of it today. Mom told me this was the first Thanksgiving I’ve been home for in the past two years. I had spent it last year in Munich visiting a friend, since a Lufthansa ticket from CLT to MUC was about on par as a ticket from CAE to SMF. The year before, I stayed in SC since I was finishing the first year of the IMBA program.

Last year’s dinner was ribs and nachos at the Munich Hard Rock Cafe, and since their “turkey” dinner looked a little limp, the ribs/nachos combination wasn’t too bad of a choice. This year, we’re doing the usual turkey (though Mom deboned it to make turkey broth, and it looks deflated), cranberry chutney, kimchi, stuffing and cornbead. The chutney turned out well, though I’d suggest more sugar and less ginger. But nothing like kimchi with turkey to remind me of the plight of the pilgrims.

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I’m Calling It

November 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Not for our new President, but the aftermath. With California (plus Oregon and Washington) being Democratic, McCain would need to win three of the four of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Florida. He got Texas only; once Ohio was in the (D) column, it was over. Here’s the predictions:

Bill Clinton is our new UN Ambassador.
Warren Buffet has a senior economic role, if not SecTreas.
Colin Powell is the new National Security Advisor.
Bill Richardson comes back as SecEnergy.
Ted Stevens is re-elected in Alaska. He then resigns and Sarah Palin names herself the new Senator. In spite, she is placed on the same committees as Al Franken and a new political sit-com is born.

Rudy Guilianni will come back to run in 2012, as will Mitt Romney. This time, they’ll just campaign together and perhaps the (R)s will have a chance.

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I already voted

November 4th, 2008 · No Comments

Just to let everyone know. I’m surprised to hear declarations of how long someone waited in line early (or probably hear enough tomorrow) just to vote. Since I’m in one of those technologically advanced states, I got my absentee ballot weeks ago and returned it the day after the third debate. That made my life easy enough that I could ignore the rest of the political discourse and not feel bad about it.

I’m also bored at the moment. Golf season ended last week and I’ve gotten one of the houses rented. To explain further, I was coaching girl’s golf at my old high school and the last official match for them was last week Monday. Three of the girls qualified to go to the playoffs, which was a good accomplishment. While there, our future number one player had a career round but was 5 shots out of going to the next level and had three other players in front of her. Perhaps a goal for next year.

I’m also now officially a landlord. I just need a top hat and a sack o’money. My Dad and I bought two houses about a month after I got back into the States since the real estate market was (and still is actually) pretty lousy. Finally got a renter into one of them, so the cash flow will switch to the positive side. We’ve spent loads of time improving them, mainly working on the backyard.

This is what it looked like before we started (clicky to embiggen the photos.)
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This is after “tilling” the ground with a pickaxe and garden claw:
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This is after digging trenches for sprinklers:

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2988408872 59A7A69D41

Then we put down 7 cubic yards of topsoil:
2988470554 1829992B57
And turned on the sprinklers:

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So all of that was a bit of sweat equity. We decided on using a property management firm in the area, mainly because we wanted someone else fielding the call at 4am that the toilet was overflowing because their kid flushed the Heidi/Spencer Barbie. That and we’d like to be as hands off at this point as possible, just want a rent check coming in every month and a mortgage payment going out.

Anyway, one of the houses is rented and golf season is over. The other house needs nowhere near the amount of work done the other one did, so we’re now waiting for that to get rented out.

In other news, I’m still gainfully underselfemployed. The ditchdigging responsibilities have been completed and there’s little more I can do for the homes. Thus I went to a job fair hosted by monster.com in San Francisco, here’s a part of the confirmation email:

Don’t miss this chance to interview with companies from the following industries:

Accounting/Auditing
Administrative and Support Services
Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations
Banking
Consumer Products
Customer Service and Call Center
Finance/Economics
Financial Services
Hospitality/Tourism
Insurance
Real Estate/Mortgage
Restaurant and Food Service
Retail/Wholesale
Sales
And many more employers hiring for positions from all types of industries. All career seekers in all fields are encouraged to attend. Admission is free! Come dressed for success and bring plenty of resumes.

Granted, they didn’t specifically say they were hiring for MBA level positions and the lack of a list showing which companies were coming might have been a clue. I steeled myself by thinking they’d just have such exciting careers such as security guard, border patrol or registered nurse. I, however, was wrong. Border Patrol wasn’t there, but SFPD was…

It was about an hour and a half drive, a half hour BART ride from the East Bay into SF proper and another twenty minute walk. Then a twenty minute wait in line, and I was inside the ballroom for less than two minutes. I saw Directv was hiring installers, Ameriprise and one other pyramid scheme were looking for “financial advisors,” two hospitals were looking for registered nurses, the California Franchise Tax Board and teaching English in Japan had booths. Plus there were two different areas for entrepreneurship advice, one was selling franchises (Signs 4 U, Banners R Us, etc) while the other was literally a consultancy trying to drum up business.

Sad.

There was another MBAer in line behind me, he got his from Wharton. I let him know what was in there and then hightailed it back to Berkeley so I could have lunch at Spenger’s. Honestly, that was my main reason for going in the first place; I have in the past just gone down there to eat because it was too hot in Sacramento and thought the marine layer would be a change in ambience.

Just remember to vote early, and vote often.

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Nonvirtouous

October 14th, 2008 · No Comments

There are few things that should be enjoyed over time. A tall glass of vinho do porto on the Douro shoreline. A long kiss goodnight. Nights that last for three days.

Waiting for a callback about a job is not one of them. Not even for an offer. Just for another round of interviews.

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My Morning Conversation

September 26th, 2008 · No Comments

-”Larry?”
-”No”
-”Where’s Larry?”
-”I dunno. But I just hung up on you”
-”Hey douchebag, get Larry for me”
-”Hey, I already hung up on you once”
-”Hey, what kind of car do you drive? Cuz I have a Ferrari, and that’s where I am.”
-”What’s your broker CRD? You sit in a boiler room selling stock to old people. Yeah man, that’s where I want to be.”

Freakin hate pitchmen. And yeah, even though I don’t have a job yet, I still have standards. There’s somethings I’ll never do.

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