Snow squall

I had a good blog idea in mind this morning, and I was looking forward to sharing it with you. But after I woke up from my nap this evening, all I could hear were huge gusts of wind on the outside and excited voices on the inside, coming from the rest of my family as they were watching the sudden blizzard.

How could I not join them? So, there I was staring out the small window in our front door, like some kind of reverse peeping tom, and it was a near complete whiteout. The snow was being blasted horizontally through our neighbourhood, causing the trees to bow under the constant pressure and the streetlights to be muted until it seemed to be the middle of the night.

I felt partly fascinated, since this is not something you see every day, even here in the Great White North, but I also felt part nervous, because the sheer power of the storm made me feel rather small and vulnerable. It was like a good horror movie, something that Hollywood has lacked in recent days, and it was being presented to us by Mother Nature for free.

I could not help but feel a bit conflicted about what I was seeing. I enjoyed feeling quite secure inside my home, safe from the extreme weather that was taking place outside. But secretly, deep down in my heart of darkness, I wanted to see something almost disastrous take place. Do you ever feel that way?

Garbage was flying around, since it is pick-up day tomorrow, and I would privately wonder if it would be picked up with enough force to fly through someone’s window. (Just not ours). A vehicle was having trouble turning around while the wind was buffeting it, and there was a small part of me that would have danced a little jig if the truck was flipped over by the invisible hand of a blustery gust. My youngest son claimed that there was a red spark trapped in a nearby tree, and although my rational mind knew this to be impossible in the midst of such winter fury, I would not have been totally sad if the tree was suddenly engulfed in flames and burned to ashes.

In time, I turned away from the door and came downstairs to begin my blog, and as I did so, reason and humanity and sensitivity returned to the fore of my mind. I was relieved that I did not witness a catastrophe, no matter how much my id might have giggled in glee, and that so far, we and our neighbours are safely withstanding the massive percussive blasts of this squall. May it remain this way for the rest of the night, until the squall dies down and normalcy returns.

If you are a bit disappointed in me and my dark inclinations, do not worry. I will pay the price. On the weekend, I have to go ride my newly built trails, and I guarantee that much of them have been obliterated by these scathing winds, and I will likely have to saw my way past more than one fallen log. Karma is a bitch.

Me, but better

I found my Doppelganger 2.0.

Since my trails have recently been finished, I decided I would officially show them to another fat biker who lives in the neighbourhood. But not just any rider. It was Gerry. Gerry was the one who first got me into making trails, not to mention fat biking in general. So, it was very meaningful that he accepted my invitation.

We headed out at 10 am on Sunday and as we rode the trails, he was constantly checking his phone. I was intrigued, since he was usually a much more focussed rider, and when I asked him about it directly, he told me that he was in the midst of planning a ride … after our ride was over.

Now you have to understand that I am no rookie when it comes to singletrack. I ride hard, I ride long, and I am typically quite tired by the end of my ride. It was a bit of an insult that he was planning something in addition to what I had planned for him. But I was mollified when he invited me to join him and the rest of his group, especially when I found out that they would also be trying out my trails for the first time.

So, we rode for a hard 3 hours, and then we briefly went to his house so that he could meet up with his friends. I rushed home for a bit to get in some lunch, and after grabbing another chocolate bar (yes, tucked into the plastic bag secured to my chest, to keep it warm), I raced back to my trailhead to venture forth on Round 2.0.

It was a blast riding with the guys, and I got some good-natured ribbing for the rough nature of my trails. They were raw and challenging, with lots of nubs (small stumps) and a very narrow singletrack that had them stopping more frequently than they would have liked.

But what blew me away was Gerry. All he had was a couple of bagels before our morning ride, and then a power bar at 1 pm, and this kept him powered up for over 6 hours of intense riding. I had to bow out at the 5 hour mark, since I had to return to my family and recover from the intense exertion. But he was the Energizer bunny, showing no signs of tiring, leading the pack the entire way.

And then I considered how he was so much like me … but more. I too was known for being indefatigable, being able to exercise all day – but he was just a bit better. He too liked making trails, but his were better than mine. He loved technical riding like me, with plenty of challenge and balance and climbing, but he was just that much better. Even his house, being in the same neighbourhood, was better than mine.

This could have been depressing, but then I realized an important detail. He was also an old man like me, but just a bit older. This made me feel better.

Slippery solution

Maybe it is the dry weather that comes with an Edmontonian winter, or maybe it is the frequent hand washing to mitigate the risk of getting Covid, but I am finding that three fingers of my left hand are getting very dry. Why it is those three fingers, and not the rest of that hand, or the other hand for that matter, is beyond my understanding.

Whatever the reason, these three fingers have become so dry that they are beginning to affect my life. When I floss in the morning, I use two of those fingers to guide the narrow piece of nylon (?) from location to location in my mouth. When the skin gets dry, it also becomes brittle and prone to slicing under the high pressure with the string. Now I think all of my readers know how much fun a paper cut is, and I am happy to inform you, it is equally enjoyable when the paper is replaced by a razor thin nylon garotte.

My typical go-to strategy in the past has been to moisturize every night with Aveeno, and I have been doing that religiously for months now. And it has been quite effective up until this point. But lately, it has not been enough. Again, I have no idea why it is particularly bad right now, but it is. Aveeno just cannot tackle such a super-cutaneous problem.

But I have found a solution, and it came from my wife. She has sworn to the effectiveness of simple Vaseline. When she mentioned this, I scoffed at it as far too elementary for my aching dermis. I use it for my nether region while cycling, and it prevents abrasion since it is so slippery. But to moisturize the skin? I would think that aloe and its cousins would be a far better option.

But I had to be scientific about this and give it a try. And do you know what? The elementary solution appears to be the most effective solution. It works like a charm, far better than Aveeno, even though Vaseline has no inherent moisturizing properties. How can this be?

Well, according to my substandard knowledge, it seems that we have our own moisturizers under the skin. Vaseline simply seals off the skin, protecting it from outside scourges, and then the inner moisture can trickle its way from underneath and restore it to its pristine condition.

Who knew?

So, keep this in mind if you ever have a bout of really dry skin on your hands (or of course, if you suffer chafing in your nether regions when riding a bike). Vaseline, the same substance that was used by a Grade 12 class on every doorknob in the school during a memorable grad prank and which caused no shortage of headaches for the cleanup crew, is also a skin saving topical that can lead to baby soft skin that is pliable and strong.

Hot chocolate

According to the meteorologists, this weekend will offer the last warm days we are going to see for quite a while. The polar vortex is looming, and it is threatening to cause the temperatures to plummet to -30 degrees or colder. And really, we are certainly due. We have had an incredibly warm winter so far – I think I heard that it was the third warmest on record – and our Canadian pride demands that we get into a deep freeze so that our igloos remain intact.

Since this will be the last of the great warm weekends for a while, I have naturally decided to enjoy it as much as this 50+ year old body will allow. So, I made plans to ride for longer than I usually do on my fat bike. But if I was going to ride for 4 or more hours, my typical peanut butter and honey sandwich would not be enough fuel to sustain me. It was time to bring out my big guns, the food that I eat when I do my summer marathons in the river valley: Snickers. This is my go-to chocolate bar, since it is packed full of calories and it keeps my body going for hours.

But there was a problem. In the cold, Snickers goes rock hard and becomes almost impossible to eat on the trail. I needed a way to keep the bar warm, but how could I do it? My typical storage location just would not do. The pocket in my backpack, where I have my sandwich, is only a thin layer away from the subzero temperatures and would only act like a freezer. Where else could I put it?

My inspiration came when I thought about butter. You know when you are at a smorgasbord or some other dinner function and they provide butter for the dinner rolls, but the butter is near-frozen and is almost impossible to spread? Clever consumers put the packets of butter into their pockets, and thus, while they are selecting food to place on their plates, their body heat radiates into the butter and begins to soften it. By the time the person gets back to their table, the butter is spreadable and the problem is solved.

In my case, though, the pocket is not the best location. The pocket for my cycling tights is small, and it is already occupied with my MP3. Also, it does not remain that warm in there, because again, there is only a thin material between it and the colder outside temperatures. I needed a location that would be much warmer.

The best choice, in my mind, was to place it under my coat and close to my chest, since I knew that as I ride my trails, my torso often gets warm enough to sweat. This would be the ideal near-tropical environment to keep my chocolate bar warm. But how would I keep it there, since I don’t have any pockets in that area?

My first idea was to go to the closet that contains the many lanyards I have received over the years. I remembered that some of them had a plastic sleeve attached at the end, a small bag that provided a place where an identification card could be stored. I figured I could just place the Snickers bar in the bag, which happened to be just big enough, and then I could hang it around my neck. Perfect, right?

It was, until I actually placed it around my neck. Since the Snickers is packed with nutrients and calories, it is not the lightest chocolate bar out there and it was yanking down on my neck. This was unacceptable. As much as I enjoy a warm snack on my ride, I am not willing to suffer a constant nagging tug on my neck for the entire ride. The ride is the most important thing and it cannot be sacrificed for any reason.

But then I realized there was another way. I removed the bag from the neck strap, and then I went to my office desk and grabbed a medium sized binder clip. I then clipped it to my undershirt, and it anchored there very solidly. I then tied the plastic bag, containing the Snickers bar, to the binder clip so that it would hang off my chest. It was not going to win any awards for fashion, but when I wore my coat, it snuggled into its place very nicely and within moments, I didn’t even know it was there.

And that proved to be the case for my entire ride. My coat kept the package from bouncing off my chest, and so I was able to remain totally focussed while on the trails. And at the moment of truth, when my hunger pangs came on and it was time to eat, the Snickers bar was still warm and chewy. Big success!

In the future, I think I will replace the thick plastic bag with a thinner sandwich bag, since this will offer even less weight hanging off my chest. But otherwise, this biking hack really worked and it will allow me to expand my diet while riding in the winter. There have been times when I have finished a ride so depleted that I can barely keep my eyes open on the stretch back home. Having a second source of calories will ensure that I will remain fueled and energetic for my entire ride.

In the dark

Sometimes a plan can work way too well!

When we had our house renovated a few years back, one of the changes my wife put in place was to switch out the doors to the back of the house. One of these doors happens to be in our bedroom, giving us access to the back patio – nice for when we want to go relaxing in the summer sunshine, and possibly get a bit of a tan. But instead of a regular, opaque door, she wanted to shake things up by having a door with built-in blinds, allowing us to be able to see outside by the pull of a switch.

Now, I am all for seeing the outdoors, but the problem with this design is that it does not perfectly block out the light from the outside. During the day, the sunshine is quite bright, even when the “inner blinds” are fully closed, which has made my afternoon naps a bit of a challenge. And during the night, the light from nearby streetlamps penetrates through the blinds and through my very eyelids.

Lately, my sleep has been less than ideal, with me waking up frequently through the night. So, as a scientist (or at least, a science teacher who like to think of himself as a scientist), I decided to conduct an experiment. We took an old black t-shirt and cut it until it formed an opaque sheet, and then we stuck this shirt over the top of the door blinds using masking tape. You can imagine how beautiful this looks within the bedroom. We might take a picture of it and send it in to Home and Garden Magazine, so we can inspire other aspiring home decorators.

Anyway, we have conducted this little bedroom experiment the past few days, and let me tell you, it has worked far better than I ever could have dreamed … or better yet, it has worked so well that I have had nothing but dreams. After teaching a full day at school and eating a filling supper, I have planted myself into my Ikea reading chair and when the lights are turned off, plunging myself in almost total darkness, I have proceeded to sleep like the dead. My naps used to be 15 minutes long at the most, but now, I am napping for 30 minutes or more.

This sounds like a big success, and sure enough, I feel more refreshed these days than I have in recent months. But the down side is that I am sleeping right through my blog time. I usually blog right after my nap in the evening, since I am then refreshed and bursting with ideas that need to be “penned” in my virtual journal. Well, that hasn’t worked out at all. I may be bursting with ideas, but I have had no time to write them down.

So, here I am at 5:00 a.m., refreshed from a good night’s sleep, and I am writing in my blog. I have vowed that the blog will continue, come hell or high water … or refreshing but protracted nap … and I will keep that promise by writing in the wee hours of the morning, if I have to. My only concern is that I am a pretty loud typist, pounding on these keys like I am trying to abuse the keyboard, and I hope that this will not wake up anyone else in this house.

Gratitude attitude

Today was my first day back in the classroom, with real students. And the way I introduced my lesson to my second class is worth mentioning again.

Have you ever suffered a serious injury and been denied a basic and vital function? I am reminded of my wife’s friend, who took the garbage out to the driveway, viciously broke her ankle in the process, and will not be able to walk normally for 6 months or more. Tragic!

But can you imagine what it will be like for her when she is able to walk again? What was once a skill she took for granted would suddenly be the greatest ability ever! Every step would be a blessing and a source of amazement, much like a child who is walking for the first time. Her face will be painted with a permanent smile and her eyes will be shining in constant joy.

That is how I have felt when I returned to school today. I have been denied this environment for a month or more, confined to online and the so-called virtual reality, and it has been extremely difficult for me. But I am back home in my classroom, surrounded by my many posters of physics propaganda and by live students. Ahhhhh, it has been so wonderful!

I will treat each day with my students as a real blessing, and I will soak in the experience, exulting in it, for as many days as I am given. It might last for only a month, or even a week, given our present Covid climate, and this only makes the experience that much more poignant and important.

Teach each day as if it is my last. My students better brace themselves for an insane amount of energy and enthusiasm from me.

Altered mindset

I am sure you have heard the motivational statement: “You could do anything you set your mind to.” Parents will say it their children, teachers will say it to their students, actors will live it out in movies, and speakers will say it to all of us, providing we pay the entry fee and earn access to their auditorium and their platitudes.

Now of course, I understand why they do it. Nothing ever gets accomplished when people think that they cannot do it, and so this is to ensure that people will have the confidence and self-belief to take risks. It lifts people out of a compromise mindset and encourages them to shoot for the stars.

But honestly, I cannot think of a more dangerous philosophy. Because the truth is, you CANNOT do whatever you put your mind to.

Have you gotten over your shock yet? Are you wanting to delete this blog right now, worrying that I am going to depress the crap out of you and leave you without any desire to achieve anything in life? Well, I encourage you to continue reading.

For those who truly believe you can do anything you put your mind to, all I need to introduce is the ambition to be the fastest sprinter in the world. Imagine you have the greatest motivation and desire to achieve this. Not only that, let’s assume you have more than enough financial backing, so that you get the highest quality education and coaching. You get the best equipment, state of the art facilities, and the best biomechanical analysis by the top professionals in the world.

You start your training very early in your life, to ensure that you get the best head start. Then, you train religiously each week, getting plenty of rest and the best nutrition in between. Your body is constantly monitored for innumerable variables, and your progress is tabulated and analyzed in detail.

With all of this, would you win the World Championship for the 100 m? Absolutely not, because there are some key components to success that you cannot alter through training and education. Essentially, you need to have the genetics. There is a lower leg to upper leg ratio that is consider optimal, there is an ideal fast twitch muscle fiber percentage, and each of these (as well as many other subtle factors) is determined by … your parents.

This can easily be extended into the realm of education. Students have been indoctrinated with the idea that if they listen in class, complete their homework, and study hard for their exams, then they will do extremely well in the class. They can do well in every subject, providing they put their full mind and effort into it.

Is this so bad? Does this not encourage them to work hard in each class?

Certainly, but here is the problem. What if they did all that they were asked to do, and yet, when the exam is given, they performed far worse than many other students in the class, far worse than they deserved to do, considering how much they put into their preparation? I mean, based on the philosophy that we can do anything we put our minds to, then if students end up failing an assessment, then what is the only conclusion possible? There is something fundamentally wrong with the students themselves. The test has revealed that the students themselves are absolute failures with fundamentally weak minds. This is devastating … and completely false.

My philosophy is quite different. It is my opinion that we all have a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, and it is the point of education … and of life itself … to reveal these qualities within a person and to lead this person to the proper life intended for them. The marks that students get on exams does not reveal the inherent worth of an individual, but rather, they give evidence of talents and weaknesses – both of which are very useful in helping make a decision as to what to do in a future career.

I need only think of my own situation. I have a certain natural talent in math and science, not to mention athletics, and with applied effort, I can perform very highly in these subject areas. But, no matter how well I listen in class, no matter how many hours I work on the homework, and no matter how well I study, I will never excel in social studies, the arts, in music, or in the workshop. Now, does this make me a failure? No, not at all. I was never designed to have a career in those latter areas, and my low marks in those areas made this crystal clear, helping me make sure I did not choose a career that was never meant for me.

So, what are we supposed to say to our children, our students, and the people who are seeking our advice about how to strive in life? Some might think that since I am espousing the revelation of natural abilities, then there is really no need to try at anything. If it comes easily, then it is something worth doing … if it is a struggle, then avoid it like the plague. But that is not my proposal at all.

Instead, and this is something I learned from a former step-mother, it is very important that we place our full effort into all endeavours that are placed before us. This reveals good character, which is a very admirable trait to have in this world. I have ever strived to uphold this as a father to my two boys. If one of them scored a 98% on an exam but did not really apply themselves, then I would be seriously disappointed in him – the mark meant nothing, since it was merely natural ability, but the lackadaisical effort revealed a deficiency in the character, which needed to be addressed immediately for their ultimate benefit. However, if one of my boys scored a 70%, but put their whole heart and soul into the preparation, then I would be so very proud of him.

There is another reason why the students need to put their full effort into each of the subjects. Only then can the marks they receive give them valuable guidance into a future career. You see, if the student does very little and performs poorly on an exam, well this is would be simply because they were lazy or unmotivated, but it has little bearing on their ability or potential in the area. Only when they put in their best effort do the marks have any value for future decision making.

Many times, as a teacher, I have met with students who were heartbroken because they did all I asked of them to prepare for exams and they performed far worse than expected or wished for. They would look at me with eyes that express betrayal (my advice proved to be ineffective) and self-castigation (since they failed in their objective), which is so very heart wrenching for me as a teacher who cares so very much for their success. What startles them is that the first thing I would say to them is how proud I am of them for working so very hard, for doing their very best. I would applaud their character and remind them that if I was a boss or manager, then they would be the kind of worker I would want on my crew, since they have proven themselves to be reliable and hard-working, which I value higher than innate intelligence.

But I would not leave it there. I would also mention to them that receiving such a low score may in fact be directing them in a clear manner towards a different area in life. Physics might not be the career for them. Now I am careful not to make such a pronouncement too early, since there is always a chance that things can change over the semester, year, or decade. But I encourage them with the idea that the marks are merely guideposts, indicators of possible career options for the future. It is their job to observe them carefully and use them to find the best path. A fish out of water fails in every way imaginable, but put it in water and it is nothing short of magnificent.

So, can we do anything we put our minds to? Absolutely not. We tell this to children to bolster their confidence and to encourage them to strive to be their best. But as the children grow up and become teenagers, this message is nothing short of poison that could lead failing students to depression and despair.

Far better to know that we are all full of strengths and limitations, and it is the wise person to become aware of them all, so that they can be guided to a future that suits their unique nature and leads them to complete fulfilment. Success and failure in school should never be associated with a person’s self-worth. A person’s value is instead better represented by their character, their work ethic and determination, things that they have control over and that can be improved.

I felt compelled to share this message in my blog, and I truly hope that it reaches at least one of you when you need it most.

Free rent

Please don’t judge me. I went a little out of control today.

Early this afternoon, right after I finished an epic fat bike ride, my wife informed me that the online golf game that I play was offering free equipment rentals for the entire weekend.


I dropped everything I was doing at the time, and I immediately grabbed my iPad and went to the Pro Shop. It was time for a renting spree!

Like a starving man who is suddenly given free access to a smorgasbord, I gorged myself on clubs. I sought out the highest quality 3 woods, fairways woods, and irons, and without thinking at all, I clicked rent, rent, rent … until the button pretty much wore out. It was like a second Christmas and I sated my greed with glee. If I could have rented high level clothes, tees, and heck, even a golf cart, then I would have done so. I was completely out of control!

When there was nothing left to rent, it was time for me to test the equipment out. I knew I would only have them for 24 hours, and so I gave myself permission to play golf way more than I usually do on a Saturday. I swear I wore a new hole in my Ikea chair, so long did I sit there and hit shot after shot. My eyes were going buggy, all bloodshot and itchy, but this did not deter me in the least. I had to fully test out these clubs, to ensure that if I did purchase them in the future (with earned coins), I would be making the right choice. Sure, it might have been obsessive behaviour, but it was also responsible consumerism, so my conscience is clear.

And wow, the new clubs are ridiculous. I am a veritable Tiger Woods out there on the course, hitting shots that were previously thought to be impossible. I felt unbeatable, superior, and worthy. This has been better for my ego than any psychotherapy session. But I might still need the couch, since my chair has practically worn away with overuse.

Short on time

I swear, I have every intention of writing in this blog. But I am finding that life is getting far too busy for me. After a long day at work, I then have to go play some online golf and scrabble to chill out and relax. After supper and some family time, I then need to get in some reading, and since my book is seriously exciting right now, I have a tough time easing down enough so that I can have my nap. So, my nap gets pushed further and further into the evening, and when I wake up from it, it is suddenly time to watch TV or movies with my wife.

Where am I to find time to write?

But then I receive emails from former graduates of my school. They are doing post-secondary full time, and despite the wicked workload imposed on them by the evil professors, they inform me that they are also fully employed as online tutors, they are involved in competitive a capella singing, and they may also be writing their own blog.

As happy as I am for them, I am left with a distinct sense of unworthiness. Am I so inefficient when compared to these students? Am I an old dog who has lost his bite, bark, and most of his hair (according to my sons)?

I will not go down without a fight. I am making an even stronger pledge to write in this thing, come hell or high water … or pure laziness on my part. Because hey, I love doing this and I do not want to have it fall to the wayside. I will find time, somewhere in my day, to make sure that my blog is done.

In fact, I am writing this blog while I am at work. Now, don’t get too offended, thinking I am taking advantage of the online educational environment and neglecting my students. They are currently working on a project, and I am not needed. Also, I wake up at 5:15 am and start work then, so I am getting in more than enough hours to justify my substantial salary. Haha.

And what is cool is that I am currently getting paid for doing this … indirectly. My dream has come true – I have become a professional blogger. Yes!!! I knew all of that hard work would pay off.

Inevitable chance

Ordinarily, this would be a dangerous thing.

It has been a few days since I have written in this blog, and before then, it has been a bit more sporadic than I would have liked. In the past, this would have indicated a waning interest on my part, likely portending the blog’s demise.

But not this time. I have had good reasons for being unable to fulfil my daily writing obligations, as you will soon read about. And not only that, my desire to write has not flagged at all. During this past week, I have wanted to write, and I have been filled with possible ideas to write about. So, the creative bug continues to infect me, and there is no fear that my days as a writer are coming to an end.

With that being said, let us now get to the point of the blog, shall we?

My youngest son has been really struggling with a crucial stage of life – choosing a career. We have been having some intense discussions about it, and I have dispensed wisdom whenever I have been able, but in the midst of this guidance, he asked me a question that kind of rocked me to the core.

“Is it just a matter of luck to get a career like yours?”

I wanted to shout out my defiance of this statement, since I do not want to admit to being subject to the wanton vicissitudes of blind chance. Far better is it to claim that I have been the sole orchestrator of my personal symphony and the captain of my ship as I sail through time and space. My reasons for this are not just due to pride. In addition to this, I would love to be able to tell my son that if he works hard and really applies himself, all the while maintaining solid character, that good things will come his way. And in fact, this is exactly what I told him on a recent walk, and when it was all said and done, I congratulated myself on making such a stirring speech and prepared myself mentally for winning the prize for Father of the Year.

But when I consider my own life, this is actually not the case. Although I did work very hard, and I strived to be the best person I could, my career success was more the result of fortune than determinism. First, in the midst of my failures in post-secondary, I managed to meet a woman who somehow saw some potential within the many flaws and despite being given many reasons to walk away, she stayed with me and financed our little family for a couple of years until I got on my feet. Without that, I would never have been able to have emerged from my slough of despond and find the initiative to venture forth into a new and demanding career.

Second, I happened to have a friend who was a teacher, and he saw some potential within me to share in this noble profession of pedagogy. I still have no idea how he saw this, since being a teacher was the last thing on my mind at the time, but his faith in me and his connections within the school he worked at gave me an opportunity that I would otherwise have had no access to. He opened the door that I had no keys for, and when I got in, I took up shop and never left it ever since.

So, was I in fact the architect of my own fate? Absolutely not. If it was not for my wife and my best friend, I would have had very little hope in this life and I would not be enjoying this idyllic life that I am presently basking in.

As fortunate as this is for me, what advice can I then give to my son? He is convinced that he is the unluckiest person in the world, and he has many arguments that make for a pretty strong case. So, in his mind, if he must rely on luck to achieve a career that would match his particular strengths and interests, then he is ultimately doomed.

But there is one small sliver of light in the midst of this dark prophecy. I too suffer from more than my share of bad luck in many ways, and yet, I was blessed with some wonderful angels in my path who have helped me ascend to the realm of self-actualization. And if this could happen to me, then could it not also happen to my youngest son?

That has to be my hope. Sure, it is not as definite as the message of self-reliance and a deterministic world that bends to the will of the earnest and most hard working individuals, but it is hope nonetheless. Life has far too many variables to allow for definite and guaranteed solutions, and a wise person must be aware of this. But this does not mean that we give up in the midst of the confusion and unpredictability. Instead, we must necessarily ascribe some benevolence to ambiguous reality and some direction to chance. We must believe that there is some general skew to the randomness, that rewards those who diligently pursue their dreams. Otherwise, there would be despair.

So, my boy, don’t give up. Keep striving towards a meaningful and satisfactory career, and never stop doing so. Chances are, you will be successful.