Risk Management

Risk taking, like athleticism, is apparently not part of my genetic makeup. For as long as I can remember, I have looked askance at my daredevil peers and assessed their feats with the observation, “Well, that’s stupid.” Perhaps my criticism is rooted in the jealousy I feel when I see people accomplish things that I cannot do myself. But I prefer to think that my risk aversion is due to a practical appreciation of consequences. That stage you’ve heard of when teenagers supposedly think they are immortal? I never experienced it. Rather, I was keenly aware that serious injury and death lurk on the other side of “Hey, watch this!”

I remember the day I saw my friend’s older sister with a cast on her arm. Sue was a few years older than us at an age when such a difference seemed like a deep and unknowable chasm of time. She was proudly offering her white, plaster cast for signatures. “How did it happen?” I wanted to know. Apparently she had been at the playground just a block over and had made a failed attempt to jump from her perch atop the jungle gym to the distant monkey bars. I looked up to the sky and envisioned the scene, recalling the layout of the playground and noting the wide span that made such an act highly inadvisable, and all I could think was, “Well, that’s stupid.” Read More

Dumb And Dumber


“I think something is burning…I think something is burning…”

The following accounts are true.  The names have been changed to protect the guilty.  This week we present the culinary offenses of two brothers for your consideration.  No partners in crime, they committed their transgressions independently and inadvertently decades ago.  Despite having moved on to competency in the kitchen, the siblings have not forgotten what they once did, nor have they ever stopped arguing about it.  At issue is the question of whose kitchen mishap is the stupidest.  As both jury and judge, you will see for yourself that there exists no debate whatsoever as to whether each unfortunate cooking decision was stupid, for you will soon observe that this is a given.  Rather, you must weigh their relative stupidity.

The defendants would prefer that you take into account their youth and inexperience in the kitchen before rendering a verdict.  They were raised in a coddled and protective environment by a generous and solicitous mother who saw to it that they were provided with delicious and nutritious meals on a daily basis.  Thus, when left to fend for themselves at ages somewhere between late adolescence and early adulthood, they encountered what the general public might think of as common kitchen situations for the very first time.  In the spirit of fairness and impartiality, and to spare them further embarrassment, you shall learn of their crimes without direct reference to their age at the time of the incidents.  Nevertheless, the defendents reiterate their pitiable excuse that their actions were understandable because they were young and inexperienced, and hereafter they submit themselves to the mercy of the court. Read More

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