October 12, 2020

Food, water, oxygen. Those three things have something in common… which is, none of them are a big deal… until you don’t have access to them. Then, depending on how much time has elapsed, they all become a big deal. That is how it is with things we take for granted.

In the case of these three things, roughly speaking, three minutes without oxygen will kill you. Three days without water might too… and the same goes for three weeks without food.

These things we take for granted… we should think about more often than once a year… certainly, on the tail-end of this three-day (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, pandemic notwithstanding, we really have a lot for which to be grateful.

Most people reading this are living in a country that is most certainly (as it is ranked, year after year) in the top-three in the world with respect to quality of life. And of the cities in this great country, let’s agree Vancouver easily hits that top-three list as well.

There’s no deep political message today; I guess I could write about the original Thanksgiving, and its ultimate implications. Certainly, the associated Columbus Day (which is today in the U.S.) requires a deep look and an intensive re-write, a process already in the works.

But let’s keep it simple… the sentiment of being grateful for what you have; that’s word-wide and eternal. If you’re sitting around a table doing the turkey thing tonight, or did it yesterday, or even if you don’t do it at all, it’s at least a good day to ask someone (and yourself) – name three things for which you’re grateful.

I always have a tough time answering that question. Not because I can’t think of anything, but because I have too many things I’d equally rank and can’t decide what to prioritize. It’s a dilemma I identify as “a good problem to have”. And if you’re reading this, you automatically share in that part of the same problem/dilemma. As bad as things may seem these days, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

We have plenty to appreciate. We have plenty to acknowledge. And we have plenty to celebrate. With that in mind, I think I’ll go have a slice of pumpkin pie. Maybe two. Actually, given all of the above… yes… three it is. However you choose to celebrate it — Happy Thanksgiving!

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October 8, 2020

A little follow-up to yesterday’s post… and the words “abject despair” that I used.

In trying to remember a time I felt something like that, what comes to mind is the first time I ever participated in Paintball. If you’re not familiar with paintball, it’s where your shoot other people will fancy weapons that fire out gumball-sized balls of paint.. so that when you hit your target, there’s no doubt you “killed” them.

It was a large outdoor course… trees, flats, hills. Both teams start at either end, perhaps 200 yards apart, in their own little fort… which houses a flag. The idea is to attack the opponent team’s fort (10 people per team), take their flag, and bring it back to your own fort.

We strategized for a few minutes, before the horn sounded to start the game, and came up with a pretty good plan… some of us would launch a blatant attack up the middle, while a couple of other stealthier and faster teammates would try to sneak around the sides and attack from behind. A few others, known to have good aim, would guard our fort and flag.

I was chosen to be one of the “up the middle” attackers… tasked with basically getting as close to the enemy fort as possible, surviving as long as I could, hopefully killing some of them, and distracting them away from the periphery.

The horn sounded, and I began sneaking my way toward the enemy. Hiding behind obstacles where I could (rocks, trees, brush), I impressed myself with how close I’d managed to get.

But just as I was about to continue my journey from behind the rock I was presently hiding behind, a paintball went whizzing by me. Shit… I’d been spotted. And for several minutes, there I was, pinned behind the rock. As soon as any part of me moved, paintballs would fly all around me.

Even though it’s a game… even though you’re not going to really die… the despair of being trapped like that really started getting to me. I’m sure my adrenalin, heartbeat and blood pressure were all off the charts.

At some point, my brain just blew a gasket. Without really understanding what I was doing, I stood up, screaming, and charged up the hill toward their fort.

Had this been a Hollywood war movie, this would’ve all been shown in slow motion… possibly black and white… powerful classical music underscoring the pyrotechnics and explosions all around me… and on me, my chest exploding from the many machine-gun bullets ripping into me, my face a grimace of despair and pain.

In reality, I was cut down by about 10 paintballs within 3 seconds… but, might I add, it was just the distraction one of our guys needed. Right after I was "killed", I saw our guy sprinting down the side, headed back to our home fort – enemy flag in hand. Too bad that in real life I would’ve been dead and not witnessed the contribution I’d made to our victory.

Anyway, the point of all that… I learned something about the human animal that day; we all have our instinct to survive, and we all have our breaking point. That was my moment of abject despair, and I hope I never feel it again. I hope none of you do… and as bad as things might get, like I said yesterday, there’s always somewhere to turn; somewhere nearby, your teammate is in the same predicament.

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October 7, 2020

After the NTSB investigation into US Airways flight 1549 – the one that was so rudely interrupted by a flock of Canada Geese, and plunged into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 – the pilots were asked if they would’ve done anything differently. Notwithstanding the whole episode was one of heroic achievement (“The Miracle on the Hudson”)… nobody died, the movie (Tom Hanks) was made, and so on… still, it’s a question worth asking. First Officer Jeff Skiles had an answer: “I would’ve done it in July.”

Sure, if you’re going to plunge a plane into a river, the warmer summer waters are preferable to the icy winter alternative. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that choice.

Similarly, nobody chose the starting date for this pandemic… but if we’d had to have made that choice, chances are, around here, we would’ve picked almost exactly what we got; right at the start of spring, as the weather gets better, the air is warmer and the skies are bluer. We would’ve chosen that, because, at least, it’s a more gradual descent into the sort of unpleasantness that now awaits us.

There was never any chance of this going away by the end of the year; the “12 to 18 months” thing was an ambitious take, already factoring in the corner-cutting and fast-tracking that would otherwise take years… but, six-plus months into it, those estimates are looking pretty good. The unfortunate part of this is that it’s not going to go away “suddenly”. It’s not like the virus will one day sign a surrender to the allies and we’ll all be dancing in the streets. But, after all this time, much has been learned about treatment. In the coming new year, eventually, we’ll all have immunity. There will be vaccines… probably numerous ones, all landing at the same time. A few will get the big OK from Health Canada and over time we’ll all have access to them, and, slowly… things will head back to normal.

The point of all that is a crucial one – and one we all need to keep in mind, especially since we haven’t managed to get rid of daylight savings time yet – that soon, it will be dark and cold and depressing, and this holiday season, already a stressful time for anyone that’s not a kid, will be worse than usual. It’s easy to say, “Hang in there”; it’s harder to actually hang in there, and the mental health toll of this pandemic is becoming evident. But the crucial point is this – as hard as it is to believe it sometimes – and that is… that there *is* a finish line… that there *is* a normal world on the other side of it… and we *will* eventually get there.

Dr. Henry has etched into us a slogan that we’ll never forget… but there’s more to “be kind, be calm and be safe” than just being polite to the stressed-but-socially-distanced crowd at the supermarket; it’s just as much an inward-facing mantra that you deserve to hear and you deserve to live: Be kind to yourself. Stay calm. Do what you can to remain safe. That is all very much the starting point to coming out of this is one peace, because it’s not just a matter of healthy lungs. A healthy brain is part of it too. And remember, the way you’re feeling – some days ok, some days abject despair… you’re not alone. Someone nearby, someone you know… is feeling the same way.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to them. They’ll be happy to hear from you, and happy to share with you the same things you’re feeling. These are the people with whom one day you’ll be sitting in a crowded restaurant, laughing and rolling your eyes, and every sentence will begin with, “Remember when…” or “Remember how…”

Hang in there. We’ll get there.

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October 5, 2020

In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate president Ronald Regan. He opened fire from short range, seriously injuring both Reagan and, even more critically, White House Press Secretary James Brady. Also caught in the crossfire were police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy.

Tim McCarthy wasn’t even supposed to be working that day. When an extra agent was needed, he and a co-worker flipped a coin. McCarthy lost the toss, and he was the one who, when the shooting started, got in front of president Reagan, made himself as big a shield as he could (while another agent shoved Reagan into the car)… and then, literally, took a bullet for the president. That is indeed part of the job description, and he did it admirably and heroically, for which he was greatly admired and celebrated. It takes quite a mindset and commitment to serve and protect in that capacity.

It brings to mind the guys currently tasked with the job, who might be wondering when they signed up for this particular detail, if taking a bullet from the president was part of it. Throwing a couple of secret service agents into a hermetically sealed and bullet-proof car, as masked and protected as they may have been – just so the president can go for a joyride? Not the heroism they were expecting.

The lunacy of all of this has brought up comparisons with movies; all of them comedies. “Weekend at Bernie’s” comes to mind; how long they’d maintain the charade if he actually died, taking a page out of the Soviet dead-leader playbook. As stated, it’s hard to figure out the truth. The cocktail of medicine administered to Trump has the flavour of “throw everything at him” despair… the antibodies, the remdesivir, the dexamethasone (which has been shown to be life-saving in the sickest of C19 patients, but risky and potentially dangerous if taken earlier in the course of the disease). All of that on top of the other vitamins and medicine he’s been on, perhaps still hydrochloroquine. And don’t forget the Clorox/Ajax/UV IV… all of this implying he’s really sick; on the flipside, he’s demanding to go home, and might already be back at the White House by the time you read this. If this were a movie, you’d be walking out of thinking… “this would never happen.”

Actually, another movie that comes to mind is the 1993 movie “Dave”, with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver, where the president falls into a coma and a temporary look-alike suddenly finds himself in a more permanent role.

But my favourite movie, on this related topic, goes back to 1988 – a movie called “Moon Over Parador”. If you haven’t seen it, there’s tonight’s movie for you. Richard Dreyfuss, Sonia Braga… and many surprising cameos.

Indeed, all of these movies are comedies… and while Abraham Lincoln never actually said, “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet”, he did say this: “I laugh because I must not cry”

It helps to laugh, if for no other reason than it deflects attention away, at least briefly, from the emerging multi-faceted tragedy that the president seems to like to mock… and ignore.

Closer to home, let’s not ignore the rising numbers… which unfortunately we may have to get used to, as the weather gets worse. Canada was averaging less than 600 new cases a day at the start of September. That number is now over 1,800.

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September 30, 2020

I should take a step back writing about Donald Trump. I’d been planning to watch the debate and then comment on it, but of course, there was no debate. There was a schoolyard bully, flailing around aimlessly, aggressively, disgustingly and frighteningly. I know the majority of people reading this were as horrified as I was, watching that shitshow… and for those who think otherwise… well, there’s really nothing I can tell you. In talking about Trump, I’m either preaching to the choir or talking to a brick wall. Either way, to a great extent, I’m wasting my time discussing it. All I can say is that if you still support that deplorable, awful excuse of a president, there’s nothing anyone can say that will change your mind. Therefore, I will leave it at that, with one final point:

I’ve said before I don’t watch a lot of TV – not because I don’t want to, but because I just don’t have time. I’d binge watch 12 hours a day for a few weeks, given the opportunity. My “to watch” list grows a lot faster than I can get through it.
As a result, at the moment, I’m a few years behind… and watching the second season of the excellent adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale”.

It’s very good… and very relevant. It deals with a dystopian future, where the first season’s episodes flash forwards and backwards – dystopian future/normal past… but, unlike most SciFi of that genre, the dystopia is not in the distant future; rather, it’s probably no more than 5 years apart… and it all takes place “now”… it could be 2005 to 2010 or it could be 2018 to 2023.

A lot has changed in those 5 years, and the differences are made clear in the first season. But now, in the second season, it’s starting to fill in the blanks… how exactly do we go from a normal society, to a messed-up fascist military occupation based on religious zealotry?

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t take long. It’s frightening to see the fiction of the show and compare it to the realities of the U.S. today. While it might sound a little alarmist, if things really derail, it will be impossible for anyone to actually say, “Jeez… didn’t see that coming.” All of the signs are there… signs that history has seen time and time again.

Let me assure you, when the president is doing the wink-wink-nudge-nudge to a group of neo-nazi white supremacists who’ve waited all their lives to unleash their violent hatred… well, unfortunately, anything is possible. And he’s so arrogant, so flagrant, so unapologetically offensive – because he knows he can get away with it. Because it empowers him. Because that’s the kind of person he is, and because it’s what his unshakable core of people want to hear.

The real question looming on the horizon for that potentially-soon-to-be-formerly-great country is pretty simple, and it will be answered on election day… just exactly how many people out there want to see it all crash and burn? Hopefully, the quieter majority (who most definitely do not)… will finally stand up and do something about it.

For the moment, the U.S. is still a democracy, one that many people lost their lives creating and defending. To see it slip away, especially like this, would be unforgivable.

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September 25, 2020

There’s that old parable where, suddenly, people can’t bend their arms. There’s plenty of food to eat, but people are starving… because they can’t reach their mouths.

The parable goes on to explain how, actually, it’s only the self-serving narcissists that are starving. The good people have figured out that all they need to do is feed each other, and everyone will be ok.

To some extent, we’ve been told that masks are sort of like that; you wear one, more than anything, to help others; to avoid you infecting them with your sneezes and coughs… and, as long as everyone is doing that to help others, we all benefit.

For a lot of my life, I thought catching a cold or flu was like getting pregnant; you’re either pregnant or you’re not. Similarly, either you have a cold… or you don’t. Certainly, you can be 7 weeks pregnant vs. 7 months, and it’s a very different experience… just like you can have a mild cold or a really bad cold.

The subtle difference in my mind was this: Once you have a cold, how bad it is depends on that particular cold virus. Some hit you really hard, while some give you little sniffles. Some years it’s really bad, some years… not so much.

What I didn’t understand was the whole concept of viral load. It’s not necessarily the severity of the strain of the virus… it’s also how much of it you got. The actual level of dosage, the actual number of little virus balls you inhaled… like, how badly you were infected… has a huge influence on how it affects you.

This is becoming very evident with the analysis of C19 patients; those exposed with high viral loads have a much more difficult journey. In fact, viral load at the time of diagnosis seems to be, on its own, an independent predictor of mortality.

All of this goes back to masks, and a recent article that pointed out something that should be pretty obvious, but perhaps hasn’t been made abundantly clear: If you wear a mask, you’re not only protecting others, but you’re protecting yourself. Your chances of receiving a lethal infectious dose are dramatically reduced if you’re wearing a mask.

Further to that – a very promising conclusion that follows from that is that by wearing a mask, you may well be creating immunity in yourself. As we know, a vaccine simply stimulates an immunity response… well, guess what… you may already have done that, in small doses. We also know that 80% of cases are asymptomatic, and that may in large part be due to the low viral loads that caused them in the first place. Perhaps the small amount you got from a distant sneeze. Or, perhaps, the small amount you got from someone nearby… but your mask took the hit, and all you got was 1% of the potential viral blast in your face.

And one final (also promising) conjecture… it seems that even tiny viral loads in your body may stimulate strong immune responses. By the time the vaccines roll out, you may already be immune… and only because you’ve been wearing a mask, self-vaccinating yourself in small doses.

I’m not sure any of this will change the minds of the ardent anti-maskers, for whom this whole issue is entangled with political (and other) agendas… but if you know any somewhat-reasonable anti-maskers who think it’s not worth it for medical reasons, feel free to pass this along. Or maybe to that “me me me” narcissist who doesn’t feel the need to benefit others, at the expense of their personal comfort. Well, guess what… it may benefit you greatly.

And for the rest of you reasonable people, just keep doing what you’re doing… and wear your mask with the knowledge that your little contribution to the greater good may actually be doing a lot more good than you think.

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August 29, 2020

No AB or BC numbers today (or tomorrow)… so, like waiting for that final “river” card in poker, we wait to see how the hand plays out on Monday.

Indeed, poker is on my mind because I’ve spent the better part of today (and will continue into the night) trying to advance a bit further in the World Series of Poker Main Event. It’s all online this year, which has its advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest advantage of course is being able to sit at home, comfortably, and scream at the computer and throw your mouse at the wall in frustration when appropriate to do so. I haven’t done the latter, but plenty of the former… certainly something you can’t (and wouldn’t want to) do in a real cardroom.

If you’re only familiar with the game of poker from what you’ve seen on TV, you might have a bit of a misguided notion… but here’s the deal: Poker is not a game of cards which you play with money. Rather… it’s a game of money which you play with cards. It’s a subtle distinction, but it makes a huge difference.

Watching on TV, you’d think most hands are people throwing their money into the pot and hoping for the best as the cards get dealt. Certainly, that does happen… perhaps one out of ten times. The other nine times, all the poker playing takes place before any cards are seen… or just a few. It’s 80% luck, 15% mind games and 5% math.

Everyone knows the math, and the 80% luck aspect can be rolled out of the equation… other than it serves to level the playing field to the extent “good” amateurs like me can go toe-to-toe with the pros for a while, but eventually they’ll get caught by that intangible 15% of mind games. There’s a reason that, after 5,000 people have entered a tournament, you always wind-up with a lot of familiar names in the top 500… the guys who can stare at you from across the table; stare into your soul and make you think exactly what they want.

To some extent, not having that be a part of it… helps a bit. Nobody can tell what’s going through my mind while it’s counting down, waiting for me to do something. For example, at this moment, for the last two minutes, I’ve been typing here while some guy in Italy put me All-In and is waiting for me to Call or Fold. I already know I’m going to Fold, but he can wait.

If we have to wait till Monday to know what's going on, he can wait 120 seconds extra.

And with that, the break is over — I will gratefully accept your wishes of good luck and let you know tomorrow where I'm at.

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August 23, 2020

On one hand, I’d like it if B.C. and Alberta, like they used to, reported numbers over the weekend… it’d help keep things up to date… and I like accuracy. On the other hand, if one or both resorted to that, it’d imply things are getting out of hand enough that it’s important to do so… which means, for now, I guess we’re happy to have to wait for Monday. Even today’s U.S. numbers look suspicious (I’ll correct everything later, or tomorrow).

Even so, unraveling the weekend data into component bits isn’t always easy when, sometimes, single clumped numbers are reported on Mondays. “356 new cases and 5 deaths since Friday.” Great… Where? Who? When? This is like the mechanic saying, “Yeah, we fixed everything… that’ll be $4,500” and you asking “What and why!? What did you do? Where’s the breakdown of the parts and labour??” and they say, “Yeah… well, don’t worry about it… it’s kind of technical and very complicated.”

I do worry about it; even if I don’t understand what they’re talking about… even if it’s complete B.S…. “Yeah, see… the muffler bearing was rubbing up against the flywheel bracket… and your car… it’s a model without an exhaust impeller, so we had to machine not only the suspension elbow and rotary pistons, but also replace the fuel pump linkage.” I’d prefer that nonsense to just a single final obscure total.

Speaking of cars… here’s the story of my first car…

I bought it in 1986. I’d been saving up money over the years, and was actually still a couple of thousand short for what I wanted… when, that Summer — and all the racetrack people here will appreciate this – I hit the Sweep Six. This is the wager at the track where you try to pick the winning horse in six consecutive races. It’s obviously hard to do, and very lucrative when you manage it. The few thousand dollars I picked up for that put me over the top.

I paid cash, exactly $9,200 for that new red Ford Mustang LX, and over the next 12 years, put over 280,000km on it. I could write a book on all the memories that car provided me.

By 1998, it was time for a new car… and I’d been so happy with this one, the next one was also a Mustang… a blue 1998 GT.

The old one sat in my parents’ driveway for a while… my intention was to sell it privately, thinking I could get a lot more for it than the trade-in value that I’d been offered. It sat there for weeks… months… my parents over time wondering when I’d remove it, gently asking when I’d sell it, implying in stronger language that it’s time to get rid of it, and finally telling me to get it the hell out of there already.

One summer morning in 1998, I decided it was a good day to do this: I would drive up Kingsway, which is littered with used-car lots, and simply sell it to the first place that would offer me what I was after. I wanted $2,000 for it (yeah, I know, ha ha).

The first place offered me $500 cash. I was offended and laughed at that. The guy laughed back.

The next place didn’t want it. Nor did the place after that. And after that… place after place, not interested, or ridiculous low-ball offers like $100 or $200.

By then, I’d reached the intersection of Kingsway and Victoria. That’s the intersection where the McDonalds is, but kitty-corner to that, there used to be the best Indian food in town, a restaurant called Rubina Tandoori. I had a sudden idea… for sure I was going to spend a bunch of money there in the future; why not trade the car for some Rubina credit?

So I wandered in there and spoke to guy who greeted me, and explained my offer… $1,000 of Indian food credit for the car. He didn’t know what to think, but he went and got his father, the owner of the place.

Then the three of us went outside, where the two hummed and hawed and inspected the car… they popped the hood, literally kicked the tires, scratched their chins, hummed and hawed some more, but ultimately… decided they didn’t want it. I dropped my offer down to $500 worth of credit but they still didn’t want it. And that was that.

I did U-turn, went back to the first place, and told the guy I’d take $500. Nah, he said… I changed my mind. I don’t want it.

So back on the road I went, past Rubina, heading towards Burnaby and New West, and zero luck. I got all the way to the end, and to say I was upset about how this day had turned out… would be an understatement.

Give up or continue? It was now late afternoon… I decided to give it one more shot, and crossed the bridge into Surrey. I stopped at the first lot I found, and while waiting for someone to attend to me, an older lady who was there looking for a car approached me. She offered me $400 for the car. I’ll take it, I said.

“Well, I only have $200 cash with me, but I can give you some post-dated cheques.”

“Sure”, I said… “No problem.” Ha ha.

Conveniently, she had all the necessary papers to sign over the car… so we filled it all out, right there on the hood of the car, signed everything… and that was that. I sold my car for $200 in cash, $200 in cheques, and a ride to the SkyTrain.

But the story doesn’t quite end there.

First of all, the cheques all bounced, and I was unsuccessful in tracking her down… so I guess I actually sold the car for $200. But that’s not all.

About a year later, I got a frantic call from an insurance agent in Surrey. Apparently, this woman was trying to renew the insurance on the car… but couldn’t, because the car was still in my name. Whatever paperwork we’d done didn’t properly transfer the car to her, and she’d somehow been driving my car, with NO insurance, for a year. I hightailed it over there and signed what was needed.

Many great memories with that car… and I still have the license plates, hanging on the wall in my garage: SWEPT 6

Look, I managed to write a whole update without mentioning Trump… and barely mentioning the pandemic. Sometimes, it’s nice to set aside the present day and dig up some good old memories. There are plenty to choose from. And there are also plenty of new ones, waiting to be made.

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August 19, 2020

When I was a little kid, we took a family trip to Britannia Beach and did the tour of the mine… which I highly recommend. Every aspect of that Britannia Mine is impressive. These days the museum has been re-done (they did extensive upgrades just before the 2010 Olympics)… and there is plenty to see and do.

One thing you could do back then (and still can today) is pan for gold.

They had a little fake river set up, and you’d take your pan and sift through the sand, and maybe find something. Indeed, you’d always find something because it was a tourist trap and they wanted you to leave happy… so for $5, you’d probably walk away with 50 cents worth of gold flakes that they’d salted the sand with.

For what it’s worth, panning for gold is a very Zen thing to do. Whenever I find myself on the banks of a river, I wish I had a pan with me. I really should throw one in the car, just in case. I’m unlikely to ever actually find anything, but… you know, it’s the journey, not the destination.

So… those many years ago, once I’d finished panning, the guy in charge fished out the few specks of gold I’d found and put them in a little clear plastic vial… full of water, and my little gold.

My father – the mining engineer – always had with him a couple of little gold nuggets that he had taped inside his wallet. Just something cool to carry around. One of them was perhaps half the size of a penny, and he took it out and put it in the vial. “There, that looks better”, he said.

The guy running the panning station was pretty amused, and they had a good laugh and talked gold for a bit… and, as they were talking, a busload of Japanese tourists showed up. They began looking around, and one came over to see what we were up to. The guy explained the whole panning-for-gold thing… and then my dad showed him the vial.

This tourist looked at the vial with great astonishment, and yelled out something in Japanese… which brought over more people, all of them looking at the vial with excitement. And then… they all wanted to pan for gold. There was only space (and pans) for maybe 10 people, but now there was a whole line up. My dad (and, for sure, the guy running it) were greatly amused.

So many metaphors and sayings you could attach to this little story. Certainly, the first one that comes to mind is… not everything that glitters is gold. The irony, of course, is that in this case, it literally was gold… but still, not the gold you’d expect. Pay attention to where the gold comes from. Pay attention to what you’re being shown. Be careful what you believe. I’m pretty sure none of those Japanese tourists walked away with anything close to what I had in my little vial. I wonder how many of them felt hoodwinked.

Yes, it’s election season down south, and there will be a lot of glittery golden messages being thrown around. They’ll look and sound so big and shiny and impressive. My American friends… and I realize the vast majority of people reading this are actually Canadian, but to those it reaches… like those Japanese tourists who probably didn’t go back to try a second time…don’t get hoodwinked. Once was enough.

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By |2020-10-08T01:09:45-07:00August 19th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Sports & Gaming, Space & Astronomy|Tags: , , , , |12 Comments

August 8, 2020

The famous Stanford marshmallow experiment of 1972 dealt with delayed gratification. Basically, kids were offered two options… a treat right now, or wait a bit… and get double the treats. Note that the average age of the participants was around 4½… the idea being to figure out if something so simple as this version of “seeing the bigger picture” might be a useful predictor of future outcomes for these kids.

What they found was that those who were patient and would wait it out… turned out to have better outcomes… as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment and other measures. It stands to reason, at the most basic level. If you can’t see more than a move ahead, life looks a lot different. Indeed, consider a chess game where the opponent can’t think much past what they’re about to do. They move a piece, you take it. They move another piece, you take it. Jeez, this game is hard… and life, like chess, looks a lot different if you don’t consider that big picture. And while those kids were 4½, you see this thought-process in adults all the time.

I’ve talked about parking before, so let’s talk about it again for a moment. Back in the day, if you didn’t mind walking a few blocks, parking for the racetrack was a lot cheaper if you parked in some person’s driveway. You know the crowd, if you’ve ever approached the PNE from the residential side; the people all yelling “Parking! Parking!”, trying to hustle you into their driveways or garage for $10 or $8 or $5 or whatever.

There used to be this Italian guy… with a convenient driveway, very close to Renfrew St. Two bucks to park, and we parked there frequently. This was from April to late August, a few times a week.

Then… the actual PNE fair rolled around, and things got busier… and when we went to park, he’d jacked his prices… from $2 to $10. Hey buddy, it’s us. Nope, $10. Are you kidding? We’re your best customers! Nope, $10. OK, you know what… if you don’t let us park here for $2, we will never park here again.

The simple math… he’d make up that amount in less than two weeks of us parking in the future, plus the entire future ahead of that. Nope, $10 or forget it. OK dude, forget it.

And we never parked there again. What we did too, incessantly, is drive by his place slowly as if we were going to park, then wave at him and park somewhere else. Eventually we got tired of mocking him, or perhaps we got tired of his rude gestures towards us. A bit of both.

Hey, it’s summer! And I should be free to enjoy it as I like! Masks, social distancing, whatever, who cares! Live for the moment; the future, why worry… what’ll happen will happen and we’ll figure it out eventually. Que será, será.

Well, that’s how some people think. The same people who as kids, snagged the candy now instead of waiting a bit for twice as much.

It’s not just this summer. It’s next summer too. And the decades beyond that. Short-term pain, long-term gain.

It’s pretty obvious to some people, but what’s also pretty obvious is that some people are incapable of considering things on those terms. That’s what comes to mind as I see these numbers creep up. Let's get it together, people. There's no free parking.

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