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The game's afoot

March 5, 2014
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

There is a theory known as "the game theory" that proposes that intelligent decision makers will make predictable decisions, which can be forecast with mathematical formulas. I'm here to dispute that.

My theory is that people do dumb stuff all the time. Take me for instance. I recently bought a new laptop computer and took it home without letting the store people transfer my stuff into it. I figured I could do it, or I knew a guy who could do it. That way I could save money. Dumb move. My guy first tried to do it remotely. It didn't work. Then he came to my house and tried it in person. Didn't work. I'm not much help. I asked him how to attach one of my columns to an email and he said, "scruntch it, then glue and drag what you cut from the directory into the netherland until you're blue in the tooth" or something like that. I can turn it on and off, and sometimes I can check my email. Sometimes it tells me to "back away from the keyboard." I may have made it mad when I labeled it "Hal." (Anyone remember "2001, a Space Odyssey"?) The computer and I have a difference of opinion about which of us should make the next intelligent decision. It's a game, and I haven't conceded yet. Don't tell Hal.

Then there's the guy who got us to diagnose his "check engine" light, and we told him he needed a canister purge valve for his evaporative emissions system. No charge. He thanked us, went out and bought a canister vent valve and installed it himself. He then came in complaining that his light was still on. He had bought and installed the wrong part, but was mad at us because it didn't fix his car. I guess he wanted the money back that we didn't charge him. It's a strange game, but I haven't conceded yet.

Then there're the people who buy home exercise equipment. Here's some free advice. Buy equipment that has lots of hooks on it. That way the clothes you hang on it are less likely to falloff. You can always drag it out on those Mondays when you start those diets. Another strange game. I conceded this one.

Some people are adamant that they don't want to fix a car right, because they are going to sell it. "Just fix it enough so that I can sell it," they say. "I don't want to put any more money into it," they say. After patching it up, I see them driving it. When I ask how the selling is going: "I can't sell it now, I've got too much money in it," they say. "By the way, that repair you did on it is not holding up. You'll have to do it again," they say. The game continues, no concessions in sight.

I hung some bird feeders on an oak tree that has a family of squirrels. There should be a squirrel Olympics. These guys can run down a twig and jump a dozen feet through the air, without skis or snowboards. They demolish bird feeders. I make them stronger; they break them anyway. I hang them lower under the tree; they jump from the ground. I put one on a skinny metal pole; they shimmy up the pole. I know it's not a fair fight between equal intelligences. After all, they have me out numbered three to one. Relying on my mechanic's training, I greased the pole. He hit it on the run about three feet from the ground and slowly slid to the bottom. He looked confused. The game's afoot.



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