Friday, April 24, 2020

The new normal

There are a few ways that the current global situation ends - the most extreme is that civilisation falls, the infected turn into zombies after they've spent too long injecting themselves with bleach and inserting UV lightbulbs up their arses in a futile attempt to cure themselves and spend their days seeking out the healthy in order to crack their heads open and feast on the tasty treats inside. Those who remain uninfected spend their days avoiding the zombies and trying to scavenge enough food to make it until the next day. There are no farms, utilities or power because .... well, civilisation has fallen. At least the zombies will be easy to spot if you have a UV sensitive camera or happen to be a bee (which can see in UV) because the zombies still have a UV light stuck up their arses. Fuck knows what any invading alien species will think when they finally invade and find millions of corpses with UV lights lodged in the bodily remnants of the fossils they find.

The other extreme is a return to normality. At the moment, without a vaccine and without knowing whether recovery from infection provides lifelong immunity this scenario is just as unlikely as the first.

I think we'll see somewhere in the middle. This may take far longer than most people think - I'm guessing sometime towards the end of this year but it will certainly be measured in months, and not days. It will become the new normal, at least for a while anyway - but anyone expecting things in Vegas to change will be in for a very rude awakening. I've read numerous tweets, blogs and news stories about Vegas in the last few weeks and they all have one thing in common - what will Vegas be like when we get to the new normal?

The consensus is that things will change: room rates will decline, resort and parking fees will be dropped and everything will be done in order to entice people back into town. This is rubbish, in fact I think they'll do quite the opposite - rates will increase, more fees will be implemented in order to squeeze every last dollar (forget nickel and diming now, they want paper money not pocket change).

"What the fuck have you been smoking?" might be your response but hear me out. The new normal is where economics is turned on its head - I mentioned a few blogs back what I do for a living so I (sometimes at least) think my thought process is rational and I might be on the right track. 

In a normal situation there is one thing a supplier can do to stimulate demand - reduce price. It's a basic tenet of supply and demand that demand increases as prices drop (there are certain situations where the opposite is true but these are called Veblen goods - think fancy perfume or celebrity endorsed goods, if the price of smelling like Britney Spears's Snatch is $2 then no one wants it but increase its price to $100 and it's suddenly more desirable). 

So let me get back on track - in the new normal there are still social distancing restrictions meaning that tables can only seat 3, 1/2 the slots are removed or kept dark and restaurants and bars are only allowed 30% occupancy. In short - Vegas doesn't want to be full. Far from it. They don't want 100% occupancy in cheap as chips rooms when people can't drop a few hundred bucks a day into slots or on table games. They only want to attract 2 types of people - the first being the total degenerates who come to gamble away every dollar they have and have missed the place so much that they don't care about the price (we call this price inelasticity) and for the second group we're talking about whales, Moby fucking Dick. These are the guys who will keep the lights on in the new normal. They don't want people like me there (to be honest did they ever want me there in the first place? But I wouldn't want to be a member of any club who wanted me to join!) as I don't fit into either category. So they won't try to attract people like me, if you find yourself being targeted by Vegas you're either the Moby Dick (in which case congratulations and can I please borrow a few quid?) or you've got one hell of a gambling problem. 

But I'm just a monkey throwing darts at a dartboard, what do I know? 

Please let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Chekhov’s gun

I alluded to this story a few posts ago - I was out with Mrs AC and I was telling her about something stupid which then prompted me to tell her about this blog - here is the story that I was telling her. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts I travel a lot. Now to some people (cough, Mrs AC, cough) any form of travelling involves packing 2 or 3 massive suitcases to the brim then struggling to move them at every step of their journey. Not me though. I usually travel pretty light and I can usually have a few weeks away with just a regular sized carry on plus a separate briefcase. This saves me time at airports, avoiding check in queues and waiting for bags to be delivered which can sometimes take longer than the actual flight. It also allows me to use public transport to and from airports if that's more convenient to me.

On every trip I have my list of essentials such as laptop, chargers etc but sometimes I have to get some laundry done mid trip – this isn't as much as a PITA as you think it might be though as I usually find a hotel that has a laundry room or even a public laundry where I'll drop my things off, head for a couple of beers and return a couple of hours later. No sweat. On some trips I have to pack a few non essentials like a dinner suit and shoes but I still manage to get away without checking bags. I'll scrimp on a spare pair of shoes or not take gym kit if need be if only to accommodate my one absolute, definite, must have item. But I've not always packed this item – I only started doing so in the last few years – and I'll explain why now.

A couple of years ago I'd returned from Spain and was staying in a small hotel in London for a couple of days before heading somewhere else. I'd never needed this particular item before and it certainly had never crossed my mind to have packed it, in fact I'm not entirely certain that I owned this at the time.

It's the middle of the night and I'm slowly waking up in unfamiliar surroundings because I'm busting for a piss – I'd had a few beers the previous evening with a friend but it certainly wasn't a heavy session. As I come round I'm trying to work out where I am and where the bathroom is, but for the life of me I can't find the light switch on the table next to the bed. In fact I can't find the table which should be next to the bed and I'm not actually in bed at all. I seem to be on the floor. I also seem to be in a corridor rather than in my hotel room. And still busting for a piss. Really, really busting for a piss. Did I mention that I'm naked as well? Suddenly busting for a piss doesn't seem to be so important now.

So having come to my senses I need a plan. I stumble through the corridors to find my room, desperately hoping that my door hasn't slammed shut behind me but I'm way out of luck. The hotel isn't big enough to have any need for a phone on each floor and there's no bathroom anywhere without going through the lobby. I'm glad that it's 4am as the chances of anyone other than hotel staff being around are pretty minimal.

It's also pertinent at this point to come back to a very minor detail that I explained earlier in the story – that I'd just come back from Spain. This invokes the principle of Chekhov's gun that every minor detail included in the telling of a story must be relevant or discarded if it's not necessary Where I'd been in Spain had plenty of mosquitos and I think every single one of them had taken a bite out of me during my stay there. I mean every single one as I've got dozens and dozens of bite marks over my body – bizarrely none on my face or head but my torso is literally covered in bite marks. I'd been back in the UK for a few days – earlier in the week I'd probably have looked like a plague victim but now I just look like I'm recovering from the plague. So I'm naked, busting for a piss and look like I've recently had the plague. And I'm locked out of my hotel room in the middle of the night. 

Luckily there are a couple of room service trays outside a few of the rooms on my floor and I fashion a makeshift modesty protector out of two of them. I head down to the lobby and poke my head out of the lift to make sure that the place is deserted before I go to the reception desk. I explain that I've been sleepwalking and I'm in room 1234 and I'm handed a replacement room key. I'm shocked. I've not been asked for any ID so surely anyone could pull this trick to gain entry!! 

I head back to the room and I put my case against the door to try to prevent me doing this again – hopefully I'll fall over and wake up before getting out of the room if I have another unplanned walk. 

So the one, must have, unforgettable item I now pack is a simple pair of pyjamas – I've not found myself in this situation since but if I do manage a repeat at least I won't be naked.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

That’s mature

If I asked you to guess something personal about me I can virtually guarantee that no one would predict what I'm about to tell you - I make my own cheese. I've been doing it for a few years now - not overly regularly but one thing I do when I'm bored is learn something new. And a few years ago I learned how to make cheese. I've had a few hits (mozzarella, cheddar) and a few misses (a Brie which ended up harder than a hockey puck and one which I left in the garage to age but forgot about and by the time I found it had produced a swarm of flies and maggots of biblical plague proportions) over the years.

Last week I went to the supermarket for the weekly shop (just to get essentials and with no thoughts of buying 30 pints of milk) and they had an absolute fridge-load of full cream, non-homogenised (that's important - you can't make cheese with homogenised milk as the fat globules are too small) milk so I decided to pick some up and make some cheese as I've got quite a bit of time on my hands at the moment.

So when the cost centres went home after the weekend I told Mrs AC that we were gong to spend the day making cheese - stilton in this case. She initially thought this was hilarious and that I was joking - nope. You get to be the cheese maker's assistant I told her - chief job being timing and pouring the wine. The wine having no relevance to the cheese making process other than making it more fun!

We ended up making these 2 beauties - unfortunately I didn't have any different culture so had to make 2 Stilton rather than waste the milk.

So now the waiting begins - the book says to let them mature for 6 to 8 weeks but given the current situation I think we’ll still be in lockdown by the time they are ready.

What’s the weirdest activity that you’ve been doing whilst in lockdown?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Honesty is the best policy

When I'd just started seeing Mrs AC I told her I needed to make a confession. Her immediate reaction was that I'd lied and was actually still married and was using her as a bit on the side given I travel a lot. Nothing that bad I told her - I've never understood why people want to run the stress of a double life, one woman in your life is hard enough work but 2 would be a complete nightmare (I did once casually date 2 girls at the same time but it was made easier by them having the same name).

The previous night we'd been to watch basketball with a couple of friends of hers. Of all the sports in the world basketball must be near the bottom of my list that I'd choose to watch. I'd rather watch paint dry. There's a central Asian sport called buzkashi (not what you think it is!) that is higher up my list - it's a bit like polo but uses a goat carcass as the "ball" - I've never actually watched it but it sounds better than basketball. It's not that I don't appreciate the skill or athleticism of the players - it's that there's too much scoring. When 1 score can be worth less than 2% of your total then each individual score has a diminished value - what's the point of cheering a 2% increase when it means nothing - just play the last 5 minutes and let everyone go home. Even the crowd know this as no one really gets excited until the last couple of minutes. If I was given the option of only watching basketball it would be a bit like offering me unlimited beer for life - but the only offering being Bud Light, I'd honestly rather have none. But anyway - I'm rambling.

Mrs AC asked why I was happy to go out to watch the game. Firstly there was beer available and secondly (I might have reversed the order when telling Mrs AC) it's because I told her I wanted to spend time with her - even now (I wrote this pre lockdown and we've now spent 3 straight weeks together and she hasn't murdered me yet!) we still don't see that much of each other and I told her I was prepared to go through the tedium of watching basketball if it meant I got to spend time with her. She thought this was sweet. So since then we've always had a policy of being honest with each other - if one person asks a question then it has to be answered honestly, however embarrassing the answer. Neither of us is the jealous type and she's laughed herself silly hearing my stories about being pounced on by cougars and my drunken adventures in Vegas (especially when someone she knows was in town and took a few of us out drinking for the weekend).

Which is why I'm writing this up now. I've told Mrs AC about this blog. It's not that I'd deliberately kept it from her but that it had never come up in general conversation - it's probably not top of any questions to ask people when you get to know someone.

But just after Christmas it came up over dinner - I was recounting one of my stupid stories (bizarrely not poker or even booze related but I've promised to write it up) and Mrs AC asked whether I'd thought of writing any of my escapades down. Errr. Yes. I already have! So I showed her.

She read a few entries and laughed at some of them before telling me that I was a bigger idiot than she already thought I was - given that this is her regular friendly insult for me I know I'm not in the doghouse!

I've deliberately kept this blog anonymous (albeit there are a few very subtle clues along the way - stories that involve beer obviously!) due to the nature of my work, on the off chance of a client coming across this I might find myself with a bit too much spare time on my hands if I'm easily identifiable.

So welcome Mrs AC - you'd better behave yourself from now on otherwise your drunken idiocy might get recorded for all of 4 people to read about. But is anyone interested in the time you came in from a girls' night out and I found you asleep in the bathroom at 3am? Then proceeded to admonish me for "not paying you enough attention" the previous evening despite me not having been out with you!! It seems I've got a challenger in the drunken idiocy department - game on 😍

I wrote this a couple of months ago and now it seems the end is nigh - there's no sports on TV! First English football postponed their fixtures, shortly followed by F1, NHL and the majority of sports across the globe. I hadn't realised how much sport I watch but it must be a lot given how much I'm missing it - and that's only going to get worse as it looks like there's going to be nothing on for the foreseeable future. I miss sports so much that at this moment I'd actually watch basketball - but only if the world paint drying championship is not being televised at the same time!