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Day 48 – May 3, 2020

By |May 3rd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

In 2012, I was in L.A. to visit a movie set. The hotel was in a nice part of town; the set, perhaps not so much. I ordered an Uber, and a black SUV showed up. The destination (call it “Z”) was already entered into the app, so off we went. It was interesting to note that this driver had his car set up with at least four different phones or devices dangling from the windshield and dashboard. Uber, Nav, Music, actual phone… I don’t know.

But at one point, one of them went out of sync… and he asked, “I thought we’re going to Z”
“That’s right”, I replied.
“Well… this says we’re going somewhere else”

Odd.. some glitch… one of his devices was pointing to some location maybe 20 blocks away from Z. Call it X.

“No… not sure why. It’s Z”
“OK, because I can’t take you to X”
“No worries”

Curious though… so I asked…. “Just wondering, why can’t you take me to X?”
“Sir, I can’t take you to X”
“I understand, and we’re not going to X… I am just wondering what’s the big deal with X and if I wanted to, why you wouldn’t you take me there?”
“Sir, I told you, I will not take you to X”
“I don’t want to go to X. I want to go to Z. I am just curious… if I wanted to go to X, why wouldn’t you take me?”

He pulled the car over.
“I can’t take you to X. I can drop you here and you can find another Uber”
“I don’t think you understand. I don’t want go to X. I’ve never heard of X. I don’t know where or what it is. I am simply wondering what’s so bad with X that you wouldn’t drive me there”
“Sir, you’ll have to get another Uber”

We sat there for a moment, me trying to figure this out. This wasn’t a language issue; he spoke English perfectly. This was just a guy that couldn’t wrap his head around a hypothetical situation. Those two words, which are my favourite when put together… the two words that have led to all of the innovation that’s ever happened in history, … [Continue Reading]

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Day 47 – May 2, 2020

By |May 2nd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|16 Comments

The first Saturday in May… The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport… The Run for the Roses… even if you know nothing whatsoever about horse racing, you’ve heard of it. And if you’ve ever been flipping channels on some random first Saturday in May and stumbled upon it on NBC, perhaps you stopped and took it all in. The Kentucky Derby — up to 20 horses, all of them among the best 3-year-olds in the world.

Since 1875, every single year… through two world wars, through the great depression… without interruption… until today.

The pomp, the pageantry, the intrigue, the expectations, the finely-tailored suits, the elegant dresses, the big fancy hats, the mint juleps, the magnificent horses, the colourful jockeys, the call to the post, the singing of “My Own Kentucky Home”, the post parade and… of course… the race itself. For the first time since… ever… Churchill Downs is empty today. Louisville, Kentucky, home of the derby (and Muhammad Ali and KFC) is a relative ghost town. All of it postponed until the first Saturday… in September.

NBC, who has held the broadcasting rights to the race since 2001 and who blocked-off the usual 3 hours of coverage, managed to fill it with some excellent content… jumping between past and present day. The only word to describe the opening shots… haunting. The show opened to several pans of Churchill Downs, completely empty. Not a soul in sight. If you’d told me 6 months ago that that’s what we’d be looking at, I’m not sure I could’ve come up with a scenario to explain it, short of World War III — but even then, the previous two didn’t stop it.

There were lots of present-day isolated interviews, a re-run of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, and all of the storylines leading up to its winner (and eventual Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah. And then, the coolest part of it, especially being a tech-guy… they ran a simulated race with the best 13 of the historical winners — all 13 triple-crown winners battling each other. Their lifetime past-performances, meticulously and professionally put together by the folks at The Daily Racing Form, thrown into a simulation and rendered beautifully. I must admit, it was exciting to watch.

Secretariat won this virtual race, really to nobody’s surprise. … [Continue Reading]

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Day 46 – May 1, 2020

By |May 1st, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

One Saturday morning in the Summer of 1982, I hopped on a couple of buses and made my way to the Robson Square Media Centre, which at the time was the city’s busiest (and perhaps only) place where conventions were held, located around the perimeter of the skating rink, now part of UBC.

I was there because there was a computer convention going on… one of these pioneer computer shows, long before the rise (and fall) of Comdex.

I went around checking out the cool technology of the day, and gravitated towards a few booths with familiar names. One of them was Microsoft, and I got to chatting with a guy who didn’t look too much older than me, some geeky skinny teenager with whom a I had a great chat about the newly-released Microsoft Flight Simulator… a game which I was a huge fan of, and continue to be. I’m sure if the hours spent on MS FlightSim counted towards real pilot hours, I’d be qualified to fly a 747 by now. I had no idea about that company’s corporate structure or who this guy might be; I just appreciated that somebody “official” with the company found time to chat with this pesky little kid, and listen to his thousand questions and suggestions. Nice guy, whoever he was (his name-tag said “Bill”). A year or two later, I realized who that had been.

Sixteen years later, I was sitting at a $1/$2 limit hold’em table in The Mirage poker room in Las Vegas when the PA system paged “Bill for one-two, Bill for one-two”. And shortly after that, Bill Gates sat down a few seats away from me with a few hundred dollars in chips, just like any other regular Joe. And for the most part, he was treated as such; just one more person trying to play his game. I said “nice hand” to him at some point, after he outplayed me and took some of my money. But that was the extent of my interaction with him, and that was the last time I saw him in person.

My definition of knowing someone might be: When you bump into them on the street (6 feet apart these days!) and you both know each other. There are problems with that definition, because … [Continue Reading]

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Day 45 – April 30, 2020

By |April 30th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

On my list of lifetime achievements, there’s one I’m particularly proud of… because it’s one that many people have attempted, but very few have succeeded… and it’s this: I fought a speeding ticket in court, and won. Not because the cop didn’t show up; he did, and we had a nice chat before we went in to the courtroom. I outlined exactly what I was going to say to the judge, and the cop listened thoughtfully to everything I said… and then unilaterally decided to drop the case. We walked into the court, he announced that that crown had chosen not to proceed on these charges, and aside from a rather curious look from the judge (I guess this doesn’t happen that often), that was it. Case dismissed, and I walked out of there 3 points and $138 wealthier than when I walked in.

I had a lot of arguments that I threw at the cop, but I think the one that resonated most was this… that while I was indeed speeding as measured against the number painted on the sign at the side of the road, so was everyone else. In fact, when he stopped me, I asked him… why me? Everyone is going the same speed here. And he agreed; he even said so… “I could’ve pulled over any one of you”.

If you assume, for the most part, that the majority of people aren’t idiots, then you can rightfully assume that, for the most part, people, when acting in their own self-interest, might be mirroring what’s in the best self-interest of the greater good. Yes, I do understand the other point of view… because I often feel it while driving… that guy who’s driving slower than you: idiot. That guy that speeds past you: maniac. Those are the two types of drivers that exist, besides you, who’s the only one doing it properly. But the reality is that at any given point, we’re someone else’s idiot or maniac… and when you average it all out, most of us are in the same boat.

If the speed limit is 50 — well, actually, forget the posted limit for a moment. Granville St. on a quiet sunny Sunday morning at 7am in the middle of Summer… vs. Granville St. at 6pm on … [Continue Reading]

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Day 44 – April 29, 2020

By |April 29th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

It’s an interesting thing, this North American attitude… often found in sports. The great American pastime, baseball… there are no ties. The game can go into extra innings, which in turn can end up going on longer than the original game itself. In playoff hockey, same thing… full 20-minute periods until someone scores. Recall the famous Canucks/Stars playoff game that went into a 4th overtime — more OT than the 3 periods that preceded it. And hockey is a good example; there used to be ties in the regular season. And then… no, let’s decide this… they added overtime… and for a while, if the game ended in a tie after overtime, it remained a tie. But that wasn’t good enough… so, shootout. There will never be a tie again. There must be a winner. The most American of all games… the NFL actually allows ties, but there’s OT, with rules that make it almost certain one team will win. The only reason it can’t go on forever is that after more than 4 quarters of football, injuries are far more likely. There’s maybe one tie a year in the NFL; It’s rare, and nobody likes it when it happens. And NBA basketball? They will play overtime forever until there’s a winner.

On the flipside, the most popular sport outside of North America — soccer (fútbol!) — allows ties. What’s the difference in attitude?

I used to think it was attention span. Soccer holds your attention, sometimes for several minutes, between whistles. Hockey, same thing, which is perhaps why it’s not as popular as some of the others (especially in the U.S.). But football, baseball and basketball… endless time between action; time to discuss what just happened. Time to analyze it. Time to replay it, in slow motion, from different angles. That’s what I used to think, but no. What it simply is…. is that we just like to have a winner. After the big battle, a tie is just too unsatisfying.

It’s going to turn out that this virus is not as lethal as we initially thought… but, also…. it’s nowhere near as safe as a common cold or flu. The typical flu kills 0.1% of those it infects. COVID-19 seems to be somewhere between 0.4% and 3.4%. Let’s call it 2% … [Continue Reading]

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