Brewster’s Millions Paradox

Unstoppable

Spend $30 million in 30 days to inherit $300 million.  This was 1985, so today you would be spending $67 million to inherit $665 million!  The catch, at the end of the 30 days you had to have nothing to show for it.  Not a single possession could come with you other than the clothes you had on the day this all started.

His solution, run for office.  The twist, he didn’t want to be the person elected.  He wanted people to understand that they were trapped picking between two unlikable individuals who didn’t offer anything.  Welcome to 2016.

There are attributes that each of the major players possess that are of value.  And then there is just an overwhelming amount of things that make me wonder if I can truly get away with leaving that portion of the electronic ballet blank without being told I have to chose someone.

People are spending Billions of dollars to attain an office that pays $400,000.  Every economics class I ever took would tell you that is the worst kind of return on your investment you could ever find.  Even the crappy interest rates paid out by banks would gain you a profit of $85 million after four years, more than double that if you get re-elected!  Don’t even get me started with just average returns over four years with that same money invested and left alone.

Politics are personal.  Everyone has a different viewpoint for the same events.  100 people in a room would tell you a slightly different version of the same movie they sat through.  Witness statements from victims of crimes tend to be unreliable for the same reason.

No one is right and many they are just plain wrong.  And for people who truly don’t understand the very basic nature of government, this check and balances thing ensures that nothing gets done unless you have such an overwhelming number of people of the same party and same mindset.

I’m a economist and I can’t tell you want will happen 5 years from now.  I can barely make an argument for two years into the future.  The world changes and with it the variables.  Insert joke about the Butterfly Effect?  Sure why not!  A girl in Japan writes an App that takes over every other texting program and not only does Apple lose value, so does Microsoft, Facebook and WhatsApp.  Why?  Because said young lady didn’t like that her personal information was being sold resulting in odd ads popping up in her email.

In politics the next great idea rarely has the same momentum.  Too many people want to ride the coattails with their lesser ideas and welcome to stalemates.

Personally I believe we need to fire every single Senator and Congress-person and start over.  Adopt term limits?  Requires a Constitutional Amendment and you don’t want to know the process that requires!

Obama was not my guy, but I would have liked to see the change he spoke about.  The country elected a single person with a wide-ranging dream that required the people he was surrounded by to be different.  That’s where that failure falls on the voting public and even harder on those who didn’t vote.

Trump is right about there being problems in this country.  Homelessness, health of every person, violence of every kind, and the ability for every person to achieve to their highest abilities are my personal issues.  Work on those things and plenty of other issues will work themselves out in a generation, possibly two.

Hillary is also right that there are bright moments that we need to cling to.  Just look towards the number of people who come out after these violent episodes to help in any way they can.  The world is a better place when you try to understand your neighbor rather than scream about our differences.

I’ll never see how the next few years play out.  But I hope for one simple thing, [a cure for cancer?  not in my lifetime!  sorry gallows humor?].  That we get to a point where it’s more important to help each other not step over each other.  [I have learned this from years of running a business where even I admit to having adopted some sociopathic tendencies to get things done.  Not my prouder moments, but necessary unfortunately].

Bill and Ted had it right, be good to one another!

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A Gathering of Lesbian Druids Ice Skating

Natural

240 some odd years ago a bunch of white, privileged males gathered in a room to decide the fate of a nation.  Sounds dramatic?  What they really wanted was the ability to decide for themselves who they were going to hang around and what price they were willing to pay for that to happen.

Way too many people seem to get hung up on their Second Amendment rights.  That would be the one that says the government makes an exception for people to own guns to form a militia.  No army, we weren’t a country at that point!  But this was also a legal distinction that they wanted to provide since what they were attempting was to succeed from another country that had far superior armory.  History class would call that a response to the Sedition Acts passed by the British Parliament.

Anyway, let’s back track to that First Amendment.  The first thing that they addressed was the ability for people of different religions, economic backgrounds and depending on what part of the country you were living in at the time racial makeup to gather without fear of government interfering.  [They didn’t get it all right, but it was a start?]

Every now and then I see a sign that invites Lesbian Druids to gather at a Ice Skating Rink to discuss their cancer diagnosis while eating Organic Cat Food.  An exaggeration for sure, but if this group might exist, there’s no reason they should feel safe.

I don’t know if biology, society, or a random flip of the coin this morning is behind how people turn out.  But that also shouldn’t matter.  While religion is not a part of my life, I do believe that people really shouldn’t point fingers at others.  Maybe for the person dressed as a clown, juggling sex toys standing outside a Whole Foods might be worth the chuckle.  But I can walk in the other way rather than pick up some piece of garbage and throw it in their general direction.

Sure, I’m tall, white, overly-educated and came from a privileged household.  It’s easy for me to make statements like this without fear of others.  But I have also read as much as I can about my uncle who was present during those Colonial times.  He was in the room and all of the letters between him and my aunt are public documents (that would be anything about John & Abigail Adams).  There were so many times he wasn’t sure they were doing the right thing and she called him on it.  Do the right thing, even if not easy.  [another reason why I have a fascination with strong women, history taught me well.]

There are several life lessons I have drawn from their conversations held via the postal service.  Imagine if they had email or even worse Twitter?

To be clear, I’m not against guns.  I learned how to handle them as a kid.  Do I think someone needs a weapon like a AR-15?  I’m not sure.  I don’t see the point.  But some people buy $300,000 cars to drive on public streets.  Overkill?  Poor choice of words…

Is it ironic to find that in order for some groups to gather and talk,  not plot to kill, not smuggle children in for repugnant activities, just sit across the table and find a way to advance their own thoughts; they some times need armed guards?  Heavily armed people to protect speech.

We no longer want to hear opposing views, just our own?  How can I possibly learn anything.  Would the world still be flat?  That we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around the Earth?  Zeus is ticked off and throwing bolts of energy?  Until we understood why these things happen, we tried to at least explain them.

I’m very sorry some families had to learn that their brother, sisters, children and friends didn’t get a chance to come home simply because someone didn’t let them.  It’s not the first, won’t be the last.  And there’s nothing I can suggest that will stop it either.

But I will be willing to stand at the door and tell others that the people inside have ever right to gather and enjoy music, poetry, a lecture, movie or anything in the world.  They should have gone home and thought about the nice time they had.  The new people they met.  They should have seen the sun come up.

So the next time a bunch of Asian Power-lifters want to gather and dress in togas to re-enact the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, let me know.

French Toast Alerts

( YAWN )

My news feed on my tablet looks like the end of the world.  Pictures from people and news sources that show shelf after shelf devoid of food.  People panicking as if their neighbors are going to show up with a gun and rob them of a dozen eggs or a cup of milk.  Endless new cycles of people smiling while reading from a screen some horror stories concocted to justify their own salaries.  Maybe they own stock on one of the companies that produces bread?

It doesn’t matter if it is 12 inches of snow, two feet of snow, someone is currently writing new theme music to be played while a graphic meant to shock scrolls at the bottom of your screen while you jump from channel to channel hoping that maybe International Wheelchair Bowling will break up the silliness.  (sorry for the wheelchair reference, but you get the point.  Anything to stop their insanity!)

I get warning people.  That is the job of the news, but days on end of buildup?  Not helpful.  I’m currently streaming the local news from Washington, D.C. because someone in my office is standing in for me.  I don’t want them doing something stupid because I’m in Boston.  For some reason this had to be someone giving the talk face to face.  Over the internet wouldn’t do!

The French Toast Alert System was created by some person who saw the insanity of people running out, buying food and praying that the power stayed on to keep things cold.  Sure in the winter, this isn’t an issue.  Go stick some eggs in the snow and you’re good.  In the summer?  Well you just can’t find the right place to keep your 4 dozen eggs and 3 gallons of milk when the temperature is 90 degrees and the power goes out for 3 days straight.

This is my break to tell people that using vegetable oil rather than butter makes for better french toast.  It burns at a much higher temperature so you get that lovely browning effect rather than darken bread.  Challah bread is my preference, but to each their own.  And cinnamon raisin goes well with peanut oil, sort of a odd Peanut Butter flavor!

The weather on Sunday is supposedly going to be snow.  Most people in New England will be watching football at home anyway, so the roads should be less congested.  But if you can’t hunker down in your house for 36 hours without ending up like a updated version of The Shining chasing your family around with an ax, you might want to reconsider therapy.

Somewhere, somebody in Minnesota is laughing at you and saying “Only a foot?!!  So Schools will open an hour late!”

So let’s calm down, act like rational people and remember that somehow the species has continued despite radio or television.  People spoke rather than tweeted.  The good old standards of a book or board game might be better for you.

Plus, you can count of the news reporting in October about the slight uptick in the birthrate.  Maybe people find even better things to do?

Synergy of Really

Morphing

Okay , I hate the overuse of both of those words.  “Really” has become the new “fuck”.  For someone who studies economics and businesses hearing the word “synergy” makes you want to utter either “Really” or “Fuck”.  When I hear “Synergy”, I tend to close my ears because whatever follows is going to be bullshit!  So to quote Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”

Language for me is a simple subject.  Being forced to learn multiple languages for a variety of reasons, I try to be careful in the words that I pick.  Choice wisely or the person across the table from you might be offended and leave.  It was funny the first time I had dinner with the family I lived with in Holland years ago.  Dutch is not German, I wished I had listened when people told me that.  When Temporary Dad spits his food out and laughs so hard he’s crying, you might have picked the wrong phrase!  A theory tested later during that trip when someone wanted to try their English out on me. “Ever had sex with a cheeseburger with lots of melted cheese?”  I don’t even know what he meant, nothing about that phrase makes sense.

There are words that hopefully will be retired in the future.  Cancer should go back to being a sign on the Zodiac.  But that’s more of a dream than a current reality.

And for selfish reasons the name “Abigail” should be among the list of choices no longer available.  I’m content with my daughter being the last one.

Not being one of the cool kids in well, any level of education I have attended; words were passed down.  There’s something funny about a middle age white guy talking like a inner city youth.  My father heard the term “double-bagger” which is a reference to a person so ugly you have to place two bags over their head before having sex with them.  I’m still not sure if he truly understand what he heard!  But he uses it at the most odd times, so my brother and I just nudge each other and snicker.

So what the the point of this prompt?  Morph a word!  Ah, I don’t think I’ve done a good job of that.  Maybe just a few silly anecdotes about my family?  Okay, one more…

My nephew is like a sponge when it comes to words.  Most 7 year olds are like that.  If we get rid of obvious words like “Fart”, “Butt”, and “Lick my nose” (that last one I have no clue where it comes from!), his go to is “seriously”.

Sereiously is his Really, so hopefully that will change with time as well…  The Circle Complete?

 

Paint-By-Numbers, Only Bigger

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/teach-your-bloggers-well/”>Teach Your (Bloggers) Well</a>

The entire day could be spent with me teaching you the basics of Behavioral Economics, getting you to the point where you could better negotiate some situation.  But that’s not an important life skill, not like painting a room.  I’m sure at some point everyone has tried and worked hard at perfecting their space, but let me give you a few tips that I learned form the two summers I spent working as “unskilled labor” during college.

Why painting?  My family thought I would learn something that wasn’t going t be picked up from sitting in an office all day.  And I’ll freely admit, it was hard work painting interiors and exteriors of businesses and residential homes.  The pay was better than I would have gotten interning, so that was a plus.  And I got a decent tan!

Materials – Don’t buy the cheapest thing you find at the local Home Depot.  The results won’t be right.  I’m not suggesting a cart full of tools, just think about spending about $3.00 U.S. for each roller cover.  The actually doesn’t matter, just something that feels comfortable in your hand.  Also that cut brush you’ll be using to do the edges, an simple angled brush made from natural material [cleans up easier!]  And don’t forget some edging tape for those window sills!

Did I leave out drop clothes, trays, liner for the trays and possibly a six pack of your favorite malty beverage.  Of course, but those you know.  I personally have never used a drop cloth and I have hardwood floors in my house.  But I can teach you a trick a bit later.

Getting Ready – Take your time putting the tape around the floor boards and window sills/door jams.  It can be annoying to anyone doing this, but If you have white trim and blue walls, life-saver.

Painting – Hold the brush you bought for the trim between your thumb and index/middle finger perpendicular to the floor.  Now when you place it in the paint, just go 1/4 of the way up then bristles, wiping just one side of the brush.  Place that brush against whatever surface and let it fan out just slightly as you drag it downward.  [Work in only one direction, top to bottom if possible!]  to that for all the edges and corners where the walls meet.

Now the harder part, that roller.  Get it good and wet with paint.  Not dripping as you walk towards a wall, just run it back and forth 3 or 4 times in the pan before each stroke.  Paint a “X” in front of you and fill in the area.  If you hear the roller making that slurping sound like velcro being pulled, stop and go get more paint.  Your undoing your own work at this point.  Obviously there will be a few areas where you can’t paint an “X”, just us simple strokes about the length of your arm and continue.

We pause now for that first malty beverage…just not the whole thing otherwise if you’re painting more than one room we didn’t buy enough and we’ll be falling down drunk by the end of the project!

Oh that boasting about not using a drop cloth, that’s why you bought a decent roller cover, they tend not to spray the world with little dots of paint.  But by all means if this is your first attempt at painting, spend the extra $10.

One of the other bits of advice, find something relaxing to listen to while painting.  I’m a big fan of baseball and it moves so slowly that I’m not getting wound-up unless the pitcher has screwed up his wind-up!  If you keep you mind duly occupied, you don’t get nervous.  I like my Hard Rock, but it only gets me jumping around and overly energetic to finish, like having too much caffeine for some people.

The other piece of advice, don’t paint a room with another person unless you absolutely have to.  When I was working at this for those summers, everyone picked a different area to work on.  It seems odd, but it only means you don’t trip over one another.  Plus it might let you keep speaking to your significant other later that day.

Painting is simple if you just let yourself go for a bit and relax.

Now I won’t tell you much about the lunatic doctor who bought a building but was too cheap to just replace the wood paneling with drywall.  I spent TWO WEEKS putting joint compound into little cracks and then sanding down roughly 10,000 square feet of offices.   In economics we have a word for people like that, idiots!

 

Final Eviction Notice Served!!!

Yesterday I signed the paperwork that will start the process of evicting the roommate.  We, and by we I mean my advisors, told me that there wasn’t any more time to waste hoping that he would get the hint.  The blasting of waves into my surroundings hadn’t sent the proper message, and only by cutting to the chase were we going to get anywhere.  So Mr. Acoustic Neuroma come Friday morning you and your possessions will be leaving the building hopefully to never be seen from or hear of again!

Where is he now?  Take two fingers and place them at the base of your right ear, now you know.  And as the television says, knowing is half the battle.  The other half being doing something about it!  Where will he go?  Cold storage and then out into the wilderness that is the pathology lab at Mass. General.  Boston University doesn’t have the tools required, so we changed venue for the fun stuff.

It will be interesting when he has left.  The ringing might be replaced with nothing.  And by nothing I’m talking about the absence of sound.  So while we wait for that result to hopefully not occur, Friday was picked so I could do something completely selfish, watch a football game with my family while we sit around hoping A.N. doesn’t try to hide in a closet once he realizes what is going on.  I’m a Patriots fan, you can feel free to hold that against me.  We’re not talking about cheating scandals or deflated footballs!  Read the reports for yourself…

It’ll be the first time I’ve watched a game with my niece.  She’s not going to school Friday because well, she’s not going to concentrate so why go?  Missing a single day doesn’t matter, how much Algebra can one learn in 30 minutes?  My parents are coming up Saturday because they have an obligation that we agree needs to be met.  Sitting in a room doesn’t change that.  But I’m really looking forward to watching Susie enjoy herself for a few hours.  She’s a bright kid, and this is tough on her.

There’s also this little bit of me that is going to listen to some music.  I’ve avoided it for a long time now, but this is a reason to reverse course.  I want to hear those songs that make me smile and the ones that don’t.  Just in case.  There’s a Polish composer named Michał Mierzejewski who rewrote some music that I’ve been meaning to listen to.  And I certainly know “Along for the Ride” by Dream Theater is a must for reasons I’ve written extensively about {daughter issues!}.  And I might be the only person who is hoping for a severe thunderstorm to roll through just to hear that once again.

So there are things to do today.  Some paperwork for the office to wrap up before we get started on our extended weekend adventure.  A couple of lectures provided by Dan Ariely over at Duke University on Irrational Thought that I’m hoping my brain absorbs during the sleepy time!

In the end, I just want to be able to walk a straight line without looking or feeling like someone who partied a little too hard last night!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Retrospectively Funny.”

You’re Keep Her Where?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Slash and Burn.”

Last night the family tried to make a concerted effort to stay away from any conversations about medical procedures.  A night where we just pretended other things were funnier, more important, or maybe we just felt like a little avoidance would be appropriate.  So the conversation turned to the impending internment of my great-aunt.  [how that is less morbid than talking about cancer, I have no idea.  But it gets better!]

My aunt died on January 17th of this year and has remained comfortably ensconced in a warehouse since that point.  There was a church service, so it’s not as if we just pulled a National Lampoons Vacation and tied her to the top of the car.  There had been talk about how to transport her from Worchester, MA to Greene, Maine.  I was all for putting the casket in the back of my dad’s SUV.  Volvos aren’t really built for that kind of work!

If Barbie had been in the room she would have been laughing the entire time.  When she smiled you knew you had her involved in a story.  Both my father and I were the benefactors of her cooking when we were in college.  I learned to bring people, I just couldn’t consume the volume of food she would prepare.  Even then, the guys in my frat were taking home doggie bags of their own.  Ever seen someone prepare a cheesecake on a jellyroll pan, those huge 1/4 sheet things most people just use for cookies?  She used to deny doing it, until you pulled out the pictures.

If Pinterest or Instagram had been around, she would have had quite the cult following.

Why wait so long to inter the body?  Well as of last week, when they sent a picture of the headstone, there was still ice on the ground.  Even though the cemetery is a family one, run by one of my cousins, they close for business between Halloween and May 1st.  No one wants to walk around in the piles of snow, and the winter was a nasty one in the New England area.  Imagine having to plow a path through 10 feet of snow to carry a casket.  I’m seeing us all being buried somewhere in there with her.

So she’ll be placed in the last remaining quadrant of this particular plot.  Joining her husband, who died long before I was born, on one side.  With her parents resting on the other.  The family will gather, at least those who are willing to make the trip.  There’ll be the typical lunch served at a local restaurant, and yet more stories will be told.

Hopefully I’ll be able to make the journey.  I had to skip the service since it fell on a day when the doctors suggested it was better if I not get on a plane.  And if I don’t my aunt wouldn’t be upset anyway.  My father was her favorite in this world and later I filled his shoes.  Her picture sits on my dresser at home, but my mind is filled with tons of memories of whale watching in Dorchester or walking the National Mall with her to see the Arboretum.  Sitting on the sun porch as a child and listening to Red Sox games just as she did with her father her entire life [she has a vial of dirt from Fenway Park in her casket, don’t ask just a friend who helped me out!]

Love you Barb!

Now let’s edit.

Last night the family made effort to stay away from any medical conversations.  We just pretended other things were funnier, more important, or maybe we just felt like a little avoidance would be appropriate.  The conversation turned to the impending internment of my great-aunt.  [how that is less morbid than talking about cancer, I have no idea.]

My aunt died January 17th this year and remains comfortably ensconced in a warehouse.  There was a church service, it’s not as if we just pulled a National Lampoons Vacation and tied her to the top of the car.  There had been a talk about how to transport her from Worchester, MA to Greene, Maine.  I was all for putting the casket in the back of my dad’s SUV. Volvos aren’t really built for that kind of work!

If Barbie had been in the room she would have laughed.  When she smiled you knew you had her involved in a story.  Both my father and I were the benefactors of her cooking when we were in college.  I learned to bring people because I just couldn’t consume the volume of food she would prepare.  The guys in my frat took home doggie bags of their own.  Ever seen someone prepare a cheesecake on a jellyroll pan?  She’d deny doing it, until you showed pictures.

If Pinterest or Instagram had been around, she would have had quite the cult following.

Why wait to inter the body?  As of last week, they sent a picture of the headstone, ice still on the ground.  The cemetery is a family one, run by my cousin, they close for business between Halloween and May 1st.  No one wants to walk around in the piles of snow, and the winter was a nasty one in the New England area.  Imagine having to plow a path through 10 feet of snow to carry a casket.  I’m seeing us buried somewhere there with her.

She’ll be placed in the remaining quadrant of this plot.  Joining her husband, who died before I was born.  Her parents resting on the other.  Family will gather, at least those who make the trip.  There’ll be the typical lunch served at a local restaurant, more stories will be told.

I had to skip the service, the doctors suggested I not get on a plane.  If I don’t go, my aunt wouldn’t be upset.  My father was her favorite and later I filled his shoes.  Her picture sits on my dresser, my mind filled with memories of whale watching in Dorchester or walking the National Mall to see the Arboretum.  Sitting on the sun porch, listening to Red Sox games just as she did with her father. [she has a vial of dirt from Fenway Park in her casket, don’t ask who helped me out!]

Love you Barb!