The Art and Science of Making Decisions Using Choose Wisely; Dissatisfaction; a Little Bit of Tolstoy; a Twenty-Two Year Old to the Rescue; Comfort Versus Service Dogs

Today is an in day for, although in San Francisco, I am facing a day of no friend visitation, no appointments, nothing. I am also in pain, cannot find Adam’s magic potent and have a slight cold. So I am in bed with my trusty computer. I find a New Yorker article on making decisions and am fascinated. Goodness knows I am a major decision maker. This quote is hilarious. The author Joshua Rothman gives examples of rather sloppy decision making styles and notes: “We’re hardly more advanced than the ancient Persians, who, Her’odotus says, made big decisions by discussing them twice: once while drunk, once while sober.’ Hmmmmm, I wonder, is that my style? Perhaps.

Rothman’s article Choose Wisely centers upon his ‘decision’ to have a son. “This past summer, my wife and I had a baby boy. His existence suggests that, at some point, I decided to become a father. Did I, though? I never practiced any prudential algebra; rather than drawing up lists of pros and cons and concluding, on balance, that having kids was a good idea, I gradually and unintentionally transitioned from not particularly wanting children to wanting them, and from wanting them to joining my wife in having them. If I made a decision, it wasn’t a very decisive one.” He makes the interesting point that no person really knows what parenthood is going to feel like as there is no way to know ahead of time. One can relate to nieces and nephews, change diapers and observe children but that really does not describe your particular circumstance. He also discusses the difference between people taking a course in classical music because one is ambitious (getting an A in the course as it is easy) versus a person inspired to learn more about the subject so they can have a greater appreciation of classical music. The article stimulates thinking about my own decision making processes, particularly the recent decision to return to study in London. It was born in part by dissatisfaction with life in Vancouver. Perhaps dissatisfaction shall be the word of the day, The thesaurus translation is huge: discontent, discontentment, disappointment, disaffection, disquiet, unhappiness, malaise, disgruntlement, frustration, vexation, annoyance, irritation, anger, exasperation, resentment; restlessness, restiveness; disapproval, disapprobation, disfavour, displeasure, grievance, disregard, disgust; regret, chagrin, dismay. But it was not disgruntlement, disapprobation and discontent alone that drove the decision. I have knowledge of what it was like to live and study in London and I was amazed by the depth and breadth of feelings that my London friends felt toward me (and I them). They deeply cared about me and longed for my return. {Well most of them anyway, with some notable exceptions.). Exploring my decision making processes made me feel more comfortable with this life-changing turn of events.

Further, it seems both ambition and aspiration are coming into play – more aspiration as the Sotheby’s Art Institute offers an amazing program which will lead to an enhanced appreciation of Fine Art. Ambition does rear its ugly head as it is ambition to accumulate Master’s degrees; but far better that than to accumulate Masters. I have successfully elicited the support of a twenty-two year old to help me make a decision regarding a certain man in my life. The twenty-two year old wisely opined that the age gap between me and a man (the object of my affections) is too huge,. Obviously I am the older party because if you add huge years to my sevenry-five any guy would be dead.and gone. But the twenty-two year old was most helpful and accommodating volunteering to meet with the man in question and give his blessings if his misgivings could be overcome and view the situation as fine and appropriate. Now that certainly helps the decision making process because it is highly doubtful that the man in question would take the time to travel to California for such an interview. i do laugh as I write. So the matter is out of my hands, in many ways, but I am fine with that. One can not control another’s behaviour but it is possible to establish some terms and conditions. The intent is just to go with the flow and see what happens. Whatever will be, will be the future is not ours to see etc. etc. etc.

But back to more traditional ways of decision making found in the Rothman article. “In War and Peace,” Tolstoy writes that, while an armchair general may imagine himself “analyzing some campaign on a map” and then issuing orders, a real general never finds himself at “the beginning of some event”; instead, he is perpetually situated in the middle of a series of events, each a link in an endless chain of causation. “Can it be that I allowed Napoleon to get as far as Moscow?” Tolstoy’s General Kutuzov wonders. “When was it decided? Was it yesterday, when I sent Platov the order to retreat, or was it the evening before, when I dozed off and told Bennigsen to give the orders? Or still earlier?” Unlike the capture of Moscow by Napoleon, the birth of my son was a joyous occasion. Still, like Kutuzov, I’m at a loss to explain it: it’s a momentous choice, but I can’t pinpoint the making of it in space or time. For Tolstoy, the tendency of big decisions to make themselves was one of the great mysteries of existence. It suggested that the stories we tell about our lives are inadequate to their real complexity.’

All of this may be true but having a twenty-two year old screener might just simplify matters and he did volunteer and he is quite sensible.

Today was not altogether a stay at home day. There was Alexis on the Streets of San Francisco enjoying the pleasures of Hayes Valley with the friendly, exuberant people, visiting the fascinating little shops, stores and restaurants. Much different than Vancouver where Yaletown specializes in brow, eye-lash extensions and belly fat reducing salons. I did have brunch at my favourite Monsieur Benjamin – a delicious frizzy and lardon salad They have an interesting policy whereby 20% is added to the bill and shared equally amongst all staff. It works like a charm because there is such cooperation amongst all of the staff members, a sense of sharing and a relaxed atmosphere. It is much different than Vancouver restaurants, particularly Mott 32, the Italian Kitchen, Wild Oak etc. etc. etc. .

The photograph attached to this blog was taken at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and explains adequately and clearly the dog policy. It is a gem of legal writing as it covers everything clearly. I do love the distinction between comfort dogs and service dogs. Comfort dogs are for whimps. Hahahaha. Comfort dogs are allowed into grocery stores in Vancouver. it is a ridiculous policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *