Whatever I'm Thinking

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

How not to make a Decision

Halfway through this post you are going to wonder why the world needs to hear this story. Read through to the end and you’ll see I have an actual point to make.

This fine Saturday morning I had finished my tall Starbucks coffee and decided breakfast would be a good next step. Denny’s and Village Inn were the best nearby choices but I couldn’t decide on which.

Engage the (mechanism!) decision-making processes.

I pulled out a quarter to do a coin flip. No, wait. This isn’t a 50-50 proposition because I’d prefer Denny’s this morning. Slightly. Say 60% to 40% for Denny’s over Village Inn. That translates to 3 out of 5 so I’ll do a best-of-five series of coin flips with Denny’s (heads) getting a one flip head start.

First flip is tails so now it’s tied 1-1. Denny’s advantage lost. Then comes a heads followed by a tails. 2-2.

The final flip is tails so Village Inn it will be! No ifs, ands or buts. The rules of the coin toss were decided beforehand and executed faithfully and executed with a quarter not a cheap zinc copper-coated penny. The decision is final. It’s Official. Done. Decided.

As I drove out of the Starbucks parking lot I worried that if I went to Village Inn I would end up splurging on one of their delicious pies–French silk pecan something or other. For breakfast; this would be bad.

So I changed my mind and started to turn left (west), towards Denny’s. But I then I reminded myself that the coin flip series had been constructed and executed faithfully and the issue decided fairly. Thus I changed direction, turning the wheel from left to right and proceeded out toward Village Inn.

Heading east now. Early Saturday morning. The dawning sun was low on the horizon and directly in my eyes. Dammit!! I hate that! So I made a quick right and then another right putting the sun at my back. Here I am now at Denny’s. It was an arbitrary decision, which is all right after all, when mere breakfast choices are involved.

The All-American Slam was delicious and I’m posting this while working on a fifth coffee refill.

My decision-making algorithm was ridiculous of course. Yet from what I know of the goings-on of the Federal bureaucracy I am confident that far more hilarious and spaghetti-like examples of silliness exist there. I’ve met former government functionaries with horror stories to tell.

A few days ago the Federal goverment denied permits for the Keystone Pipeline project. The first application for approval was submitted in 2008, four years ago. A long, spaghetti-like process followed. There were studies commissioned and hearings conducted by an alphabet soup of federal agencies. The Department of Energy was involved as was the Department of Interior, the Departments of Commerce and Labor, and finally the State Department because the pipeline would cross the international border with Canada.

Any project has to go through such rigamarole these days. A streamlined process would obviously be so much better, the only consolation being that in a popular republic an arbitrary decree would be so much worse.

Barack Obama made such a decree last Wednesday when he instructed the State Department to deny those Keystone Pipeline permits.

Like me, Barack Obama made an arbitrary decision because he had the sun in his eyes. He would not stare into the glare of environmentalist’s wrath in an election year.

For Obama, no processes matter. He makes his decree law, and that’s no way to run a country.

A Big and Notable Place — Lubbock, Texas

Tuesday, January 10, 2012. Downtown Lubbock, Texas.

I drove down the busy red brick pavement of Buddy Holly Avenue, past the county courthouse, and down to the old Depot District near the intersection with 19th Street to the Buddy and Elena Holly Plaza.

The Depot District, Lubbock, Texas

Completed just last year, the memorial block features a tall black statue of Buddy in his familiar pose, playing the guitar and singing.  An adjacent grassy lawn is available for summer concerts and other public uses.

Across the street is the Buddy Holly Center. There I saw Buddy’s famous horned-rim glasses displayed under glass. These were the very glasses discovered among the plane wreckage in Iowa that winter morning two generations ago. At the Center, I also saw Buddy’s Fender and Gibson guitars, his high school written exams, his Cub Scout uniform, and even the .22 rifle he shot as a boy. (No photography was allowed in the museum.)

I then watched a short film in which Paul McCartney, Keith Richard, and Bob Dylan explained how influential Buddy had been in their own music. McCartney even admitted that he and John Lennon deliberately mimicked Holly’s chords and riffs in most of the early Beatles songs.

The Buddy Holly Center

This was a cool day. I thanked the museum staff for staying a few minutes after 5:00 to allow me extra time in the museum.

Lubbock is fairly well spread out. This is to be expected in a West Texas city where land is flat and cheap and seems to go on forever. There are a few retail stores clustered around Broadway and Texas Avenue — but the town’s two large (15 stories) buildings are 6 blocks away with little in between. So much driving — it’s an eco-freak’s nightmare.

Downtown Lubbock
Lubbock County in the state of Texas

Lubbock was built on the surrounding cotton crop. Cotton was first planted here in the early 1900s, and by the 1920s cotton was big business in West Texas. Texas Tech University was founded here in 1923 in part to support agri-business. The 7-story Lubbock County Courthouse was built in 1950 when Lubbock’s population was only 70,000.  There are some art deco features in the structure but the biggest impression it gives is its bigness itself. Seven stories are huge for this part of the country. Yet their foresight proved correct and the building has even been expanded over the years.

Lubbock County Courthouse

Buddy Holly’s parents arrived in Lubbock in the 1930s, coming from East Texas looking for better work. Buddy was born here in 1936. He died in an Iowa cornfield, an international star, and a newlywed, 22 years later.

Lubbock knew long ago it was going to be a big place and a notable place. And so it is.

Statue of Buddy Holly, Lubbock, Texas

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s only a hobby — but donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.


Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Post Navigation