Projects Everywhere

If my wife wasn’t a teacher, then there’d be no reason to own a cottage – we’d simply rent.  The only real downside to renting is that you need to make sure you have a place to rent during the time you want.

Owning a cottage shared a lot of the challenged of renting.  Still need clothes, still need food, still need the little things.  The car might be a bit more packed when travelling when renting, but not all that much.

The downside to owning is that it’s like another house. I need to cut the grass, maintain the property, and there are non-stop projects.  Planning those projects is key, so that you spend more time enjoying the cottage than working on projects.  Who wants to paint a deck when it’s boiling outside?

A few this year – things that take an hour or more

  • Plant / maintain a garden
  • Repair the roof
  • Install a new rain gutter
  • Clean & stain the deck
  • Replace the water heater element
  • Get new stairs for the dock
  • Replace the floating island for the kids
  • Cut down a tree or two
  • Install some new lighting
  • Change some power outlets
  • Repair the pillars supporting the dock
  • Trim all the trees
  • Install an in-line water filter for the lake water pump
  • Replace some sinking foundation pillars

We’ve been able to do most of the things on this list, with some big ones left to do.  The roof will be done in the fall, since it’s more important to prep for winter.  The foundation work needs to be done before frost as well, and that’s likely to take a couple weekends to let the cement cure properly.

Means that for the most part, the summer can be enjoyed without too much side effort.

I’m not regretting buying a cottage at all, frankly the list of things to do helps fill up the time instead of the liver.  Just makes me appreciate it all the more.

 

A Week of Rest

Was off for a week at the cottage with family and the COVID bubble folks.  The weather in my part of igloo-ville is quite warm, with a pile of humidity.  Hovering near the 35C/95F, with an extra 5C/10F in humidity.  It’s awesome.  Even the lake water is hot, 27C/82F.  Just borderline refreshing before being more wet.

Took both kids on a canoe-camping trip on an unmarked lot and slept the night.  The activity is something my wife really enjoys (and will be teaching), so it’s nice for the girls to see her in that element.  The day was solid, with some swimming/fishing, and a nice campfire.  The night had a major heat thunderstorm nearby, so some winds and about an hour or so of thunder.  There’s something eerie about being in a tent in the middle of that.  Kids slept like rocks, which was good.

Rest of the week was water stuff.  Tons of tubing with the kids, staying up wayyy too late around the fire.  A lot of beverages.  The heart loves it when people come over, and the liver thanks them for leaving.

This week is back to work, but I’ll see if I can’t get most of it done from the cottage.  I’m only an hour from the house (which is pretty much my old commute from downtown), so there’s some up/down that’s very easy to do.  Internet isn’t as good out here, but it’s good enough to get everything but videoconferencing to work.

The best part about being away for a week is that nothing big seems to have happened.  I don’t suffer from FOMO, and being able to disconnect and enjoy the day to day parts of life is really great.

Now I need to go through a week’s worth of work emails.  Thankfully, it’s the second slowest week of the year (Christmas being #1), so it should be pretty quick.  There are some bits of gaming news that interest me, so likely fodder for future posts.

Enjoy the good times.

Teaching Math

It should be pretty clear based on my post history that math is one of my stronger subjects. I really love numbers and finding patterns.  Mostly this is due to there often only being one answer.  I live in grey, so any time I can get a pure answer, that’s great!

I live in Ontario, which about 15 years ago implemented a new math curriculum in elementary school.  Helping my kids with their homework isn’t easy, because I find the approach ridiculously overlong.  Multiplication tables aren’t a requirement, and everyone has a calculator in grade 1.  Fine though, I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt and judge on results.  For a wide variety of reasons, the general results have been increasingly trending downwards. There’s no single factor to blame here, everyone in the process has something to bring.

To me, math is like breathing and walking.  I don’t really think about it, I just do it.  That comes from years and years of exercise.  I have a habit of throwing math problems to my kids, in particular in long car rides.  At first they were simple arithmetic, but over the years they’ve grown into analytical problems.  This year they’ve learned more about budgeting.  I won’t hide it, there are parts I’ve taught them that conflict with their teachers.  So there have been some nights where we work on multiple approaches, and the kids get to see the logic behind them.  At some point, they will find their personal approach for problems solving, and the more they are exposed to, the better.

The provincial government announced this week a new curriculum for math.  The devil is in the details, but at a conceptual level this new model appears to address quite a few gaps of the previous.  It’s practical math, meaning that it’s in the day to day context of use.  If they can find ways to apply the math (like coding, or budgeting as listed), then this simply becomes a daily skill set.

Won’t stop me from having random math tests at home.  There are few skills more useful in life than mathematical literacy.

 

Personality Profile

I would think most people have had some sort of personality profile in their lives.  First ones are usually in high school and relate to career development.  You may have had one at work later on, or taking some random online test.  They all seem to fall into the same general category, like Myers Briggs.

The one we’ve been focusing at work is Insights.  Similar model, but a larger focus on interactions between the profiles.

 

The north/south axis is related to data/feelings, respectively.  The east/west axis is related to introvert, and extrovert, respectively.  The challenges in communication between profiles is when they are directly opposite – so someone that’s mostly Blue (introverted and data driven) has trouble with people who are Yellow (social and runs with their gut).

The challenge with any of these assessments is that they are exclusive choices.  You are presented with options, and since it’s a priority, one choice is the “best” one given your current context.  Let’s say your house is on fire, you are going to make different decisions than if you’re just making dinner.  In that sense, these are role-based assessments.

So first some work context – I work in an IT related field.  The stereotype is generally there, with a whole bunch of Blue and very few Yellow.  When I’m trying to fill a gap in the team, I often leverage this model to figure out how best to pick a candidate.  The technical domain changes all the time, but it takes a mountain to change a personality type.  Too many Red and you get conflict.  Too many Yellow and no work gets done.  Too much Green and you have people waiting.  Too much Blue and you have analysis-paralysis.

My personal assessment puts me as a very strong Red, with part of Blue. so I tend to trend between Director and Reformer.  I struggle with the Support/Helper role, I really do.  There are times where I need to take a couple deep breaths before responding.  They need to feel valued in the larger sphere of work, and their motivators are not tangible.  If they wake up on the wrong side of the bed, well, that day’s a wash.  If they wake up on the right side of the bed, then they have some sort of magical sauce that makes the team 8x more productive.

A reminder that this is role based, so this assessment is related to work.  There’s an “unconscious” evaluation, one where you’re not at work.  I still trend in the same role, but my Red trends downwards, and it’s a more balanced view across the 4 colors.  Balanced, in the sense that I actually have Green in my non-work state, not in the sense of equal values.

My wife is an Inspirer/Motivator.  She’s damn good at it too.  That means our kids are exposed to two people who are mostly extroverted (my wife much more than I).  I consciously push into the Blue to offset my wife, and she works on pushing into the Green to offset me.  That still leaves a point where we both move into a “get shit done” mode, and that only gets you so far.  So we spend some time talking over our days, seeing what worked out and what we want to try the next time.  That we’re aware of this at all is probably the most important step.  Much easier to work on being a parent as a team, than against each other.

It’s interesting to think about the genesis of this post.  I’ve covered bits of it in the past, but a recent event at work really made me take stock of my personality once again.  It’s good to write it down again, remind myself that progress is really only achieved as a team, and that for every perceived weakness, there’s also a strength.

 

Milestones

My eldest hits 10 this week.  There’s something about society looking at the X0 ages as big stepping stones.  I think it’s mostly about easier math, cause I can easily think of 2010 and what was going on.  The summer was a heat wave, everyone in the social group was having kids, and I went through a massive career shift in the fall.  With the support of my wife, in the first year I pushed extremely hard to get progress then, which I knew I’d be unable to do with a kid running around.  It’s paid off, and today I have the flexibility to spend more time with the family.

My eldest has seen some really crazy stuff.  She has little concept of a disconnected world.  For the longest time she didn’t understand that her grandparent didn’t have access to the internet.  Social Media has exploded in her lifetime, and kids her age end up watching TikTok, or some other insanity. She gets annoyed at TV ads but will accept ads on YouTube.  I think we’ve done a decent job at balancing real world and connected world, since she’s not bugging us for a phone.  She can follow, or she can lead.  She shares a lot of my passions, and has plenty of her own that I try my best to support.

The most fulfilling bit is seeing the sense of discovery in her eyes when she finds something I take for granted.  She (her sister and friends) fully dissected a fish at the cottage this weekend, and it was as if they had found hidden treasure.   The first time she rode her bike alone, her eyes were like saucers.  When she build a brand new tower in Minecraft that has a secret passage… it’s like showing me a new puppy.

Oh, there are days where she can drive me up the wall.  There are days where I drive myself up the wall, so that’s sort of part of the game.  I know there’s only a finite amount of time left where time together is assured.  Eventually she will spend more time with friends, have a job, and eventually university or other.  Eventually she will spread her wings and I will sit here with my wife and watch her soar, hoping I did good enough to keep her in flight towards happiness.

But that day is not today.  Today I get to appreciate the time I have, the opportunities COVID has presented to be with my family.  I can see her every day try, fall, get up, and grow.  I can share in her success and her stumbles.  And while this post references my eldest, it applies equally to my youngest… but it’s my eldest’ milestone.

And this milestone is just a reminder of how lucky I am to have a great wife and two amazing kids.

Life Can Suck

Wife and I paid our respects to a friend last night, who lost his son to COVID impacts.

This whole COVID stuff is having interesting impacts on people.  The “fluff” of everyday life is taking a backseat, and people are checking their priorities.  The need for a double americano just doesn’t seem all that important.  People are managing without awesome haircuts, and plenty of women are getting by without their nails done.  The concept of “essential” is really hitting home.

I’m not dismissing the joy of those specific luxuries, at all.  There are people that make a living providing luxuries, and frankly, provide a larger benefit to the world than any hedge fund manager ever would.  I won’t go into the whole wants / needs / rights conversation – blogs can’t convey the context required for it.

Instead I’ll take a different look here and focus on loss.  In the past 4 months, I’ve had 2 employees pass, one lost his dad, and 2 hockey buddies lose their adult children.  There’s no right way to mourn, and no consistent way either.  You could lose two uncles and one hits more than another for a billion reasons. The stages of grief may apply, but the time between them is unique to the relationship.

When the 2 staff passed, it was within a week of each other.  One numbed the impact of the other.  Was a reminder of the humanity behind the work, and that each person matters.  When my employee lost his dad, I didn’t even think to ask what he needed, I just said “take what you need”.  Some prefer to focus on work, others to reflect.  When my hockey pal’s children passed, that was a reminder to look at home and what I have here.  No parent should ever say goodbye to their child.  There’s a level of empathy here that’s made me take pause.

I’m an advocate for mental health in the workplace.  It’s easy to see someone with the flu who shouldn’t be at work.  Someone who’s suffering from mental health issues is a whole lot harder to see, but the impacts are similar.  Their productivity suffers (often for longer periods) and their situation can certainly impact others.  Taking pills generally wont fix it, just hide the symptoms.  It’s a much longer road to health.

I know when I lost my uncle a few years ago, I took a few days off to reflect and tried to go back to work.  I was not at all ready for that, and lasted about an hour before I just got up, told my boss I needed more time, and took another week to sort some stuff out.  No questions asked, no guilt trips.  Someone replacing me at 25% of my rate of work would have been better than me sitting there staring blankly at the wall.

My wife’s a teacher.  There are a significant number of kids who find refuge at school.  Not everyone has an ideal home – it wouldn’t be ideal then would it?  Same with people who work, or who socialize.  They may do it to avoid another situation.  There’s a spike in domestic violence, and people are struggling left right and center.  It feels like a boiling pot, ready to overspill.

To cycle back, this COVID stuff is making me re-think my approach to life and work.  Corners are a bit less sharp.  Making sure the foundational stuff is taken care of first, so that people feel value in their work lives.  The bells and whistles will come when they come.  For now, it’s more important that we treat each other with humanity and compassion, and realize that our neighbour needs it as much as we do.

Bit of a Rant

Within the first 2 weeks of this COVID emergency, things were a mess.  People were stressed to high hell for what was coming next (they still have stress), and there’s a wide swath of people whose income streams just dried up.  I’ve been pretty consistent in saying how fortunate I am to be able to do all my work remotely, or I hope I’ve been.

At our first team meeting in this new setting, we were all taking time to bring up concerns with the work from home situation.  Expectations and whatnot.  As added context, this meeting happened after 9 days of working 20 hours, and the end wasn’t exactly in sight.

One leader was doing their job, and raising some members concerns around entitlements – things like having an extra monitor to work from home, refunds on parking fees, monthly mass transit passes, and home internet packages.  In the best of times, I need to bite my tongue when it comes to entitlements, things that are often seen as a perk.  The majority just see it as a neat thing to have, there’s a tiny part of any group that will argue for it.  I know this leader has at least 1 member who is part of the tiny group.

So this question just threw me over the wall.  I am 99% certain my first sentence was something like “you’re telling me they have a well-paying job, they want an extra $100, while their neighbour can’t put food on the table?”  The rant lasted a solid minute, then silence.  I could feel my blood boiling, so I took a few deep breaths, apologized for the outburst, thanked the individual for bringing the issue to the table, and told them to not bring it up again for 2 months so that we could take stock.  If the person wanted an extra monitor – they could buy one.

2 months go by.

Leader brings the topic back up again as the staff is asking questions. This time we had done some prep work for the concern.  Since all the transport items were private organizations, employees would need to sort it out themselves.  The extra equipment (for those that didn’t sort this out themselves in the past 2 months) would be managed through a central warehouse, but with a standard offering.  Topic closed.

Campfire

I’ve retold this story quite a few times now.  My wife has as well.  It is very interesting to see the reactions from people to this story.  Most are astounded that people are even thinking about this, given the situation.  Some go quiet and avoid eye contact, through some sense of guilt.

I mean, I can understand why someone would think this is reasonable.  Their own stress, combined with a near complete lack of social empathy.  As soon as I talk about people who haven’t been able to work a day for months, it just clicks.  There is the odd chance that they are in a relationship, their SO has lost their job, and this $100 is a tough decision.  It’s a bit easier than people with zero income (CERB aside).  In the larger context, an extra monitor or a parking refund is a luxury.

 

 

Strategic Planning

There are parallels, sure, but this post isn’t directly related to current world state.

My strengths focus on strategic planning.  Which is a fancy buzz word to say “I am good at pointing to things, explaining why those things are good, building a road to those things, and convincing people to come with me.”  A lot of people think they are good at the first 2 parts.  There are people who are great at the last 2 parts.  There aren’t a whole lot who can do all 4.

A job change in the fall was meant to have me focus on this particular skill set, and I was really stoked to get going.  The original goal was to look at the service offerings to clients and then help refocus them.  What ended up happening for the first 6 months was putting out internal fires and (re)building a new work culture.  The reasoning is simple, you can’t run shop if your house is on fire.  And whooboy, was the house on fire.

There were 3 main streams of effort – human resources (people), finances (money), and leadership (people).  I won’t bore on the details, but the general steps include:

  • identify the problem
  • consult internally and externally to get perspective on the problem and potential solutions
  • determine a realistic goal, but it has to be a goal that’s worth celebrating, not one that no one knows you’ve reached
  • break it down into chunks that can be measured with SMART metrics (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-based)
  • find the culture enablers (the heart of a team) and the workhorses (the blood) and break it down into smaller pieces that can be communicated
  • plow the road of obstacles, manage the escalations, and provide a stable point of reference
  • publicize everything.  Platitudes are window dressing.  Results are what motivate people, build tr
  • measure progress regularly and modify the plan as needed
  • recognize the achievements for the various chunks

After 6 months, the HR request went from 2 hour meetings and 80% rejections to 20 minute meetings and 90% acceptance.  The finances have automation and logics rules applied, and forecasts are more aligned to actuals.  And the leadership teams have been moved from temporary folks to permanent appointments.

Looking back, I have some pride in the progress.  Some big foundational items have been set up to make life easier for everyone.  We’re saving a ton of time not arguing, just working together.

I’d like to say that the next step is the service offering change – and that is certainly one of the items I’m working on.  COVID has pushed a massive change on my services and my clients.  We already had plans to do some transformation, but this event has put that into overdrive.  What would have been done in 2 years now needs to be done in 6 months.  People are freaking out – rightfully so.   Same process as above, each of my direct reports has to articulate their personal vision and achievable plans, then we work together to mesh it all up, and publicize it.  In this paragraph, I have grossly understated the effort and impact – it’s a year’s worth of work, impacting nearly 800 people.

The other change going on at the same time is an internal restructuring to manage the load.  While I fixed part of the house on fire, I’ve been unable to replace the front door.  People keep walking in and asking for work to anyone they see, and people stop work to help them out.  The intake process is non-existent, and the people delivering the work are currently managing client expectations.  You ever tried doing something important, yet kept getting interrupted?  Takes you 10x as long to do the work if they left you alone.  That’s what I’m trying to fix.

‘Course, people have built up their own domains and claimed kingship over them.  There are verticals everywhere, with people who don’t want to talk to others.  My job now is to break all of that down, rebuild it functionally, and establish a sense of trust between the leaders of those teams that working together is going to be more effective.  Convincing someone that they need to let something go and trust that someone else will keep their interests at heart…that is a really tough ask.  It takes years to build trust and minutes to lose it all.

It’s a much easier conversation handing someone a $5m invoice for peaks in consumption or scope creep than it is to change a broken culture.  There are a few key aspects that I’ve found very useful.

  • Find the enablers.  These are the positive social glue.  The ones that instigate a watercooler conversation.  Get them into the plan early.  They are the health and pulse of the work.
  • Find the disablers.  These look near identical to enablers, but they actively work against change.  It’s possible (and ideal) to covert them to enablers if they help build the plan.  If you don’t, then these people will derail you.
  • Find the workhorses.  In most organizations, 10% of the workforce does 80% of the work.  I don’t mean the day to day stuff, I mean the above and beyond stuff.
  • Take every punch thrown and don’t retaliate.  Have those conversations in private.  Change is tough in the best of times.
  • Focus almost entirely on the goals and let the experts manage the details.  They are experts for a reason and you need to trust them.

Seeing as how I’m repeating the same process again and again, I figure it would be best to “package” that plan as a teaching tool.  And that’s my personal career goal for the next year.  I’m still working out the broad strokes, but I figure if I’m able to do it well, then I should be able to teach it to others in some fashion.  And I should at least try.

 

Cynicism in Trying Times

(More of a diary than a dialogue.)

I am (mostly) conscious of my inherent privilege.  There are doors that open for me that will barely budge for others.  I am allowed to make a serious amount of mistakes before paying a price, while others are not provided that same leniency.  It’s systematic, it’s cultural, it’s tightly woven into some fabrics.  At the global scale, there are places where people will outright kill each other in a lost war of hundreds of years.  No reason other than “it’s always been this way”.

I make no excuses for this.  I have no ability to be articulate on the specific issues at hand as I’m barely impacted.  I won’t even bother to do so.  I’ll take a larger societal lens instead and let the experts dig into this complex issue.

This post is not a global post, it’s focused specifically on my southern relatives.  What’s going on now is the build up of years of events.  It’s built on the foundation that one life is worth more than another’s.  That there are “others” in our midst.  That isolation and division is a better way forward that working together.

There’s no one root cause just like there’s no one solution.  America’s version of capitalism is a warped affair that only benefits the already-rich.  It’s not possible to become “wealthy” in that sense without being an athlete, artists, or getting an insane amount of seed funding / gift (which has it’s own gates).  The simple matter is that you become richer by getting the money from people who have less than you.  The lack of tools for the social masses effectively makes the US remain a state of servitude to survive.  How the “best country on the planet” doesn’t think affordable health care for all is a good thing is amazing to me.  Even more folly when you consider that the US is beaten by Cuba in health scores.

It’s a social dissonance to claim to have ethics and morals, only to not hold your elected officials to the same standards.  The concept of trusting the person representing a group of people is just plain lost.  That gerrymandering is not only allowed, but encouraged is disgusting.  2 party systems don’t work, there are enough historical examples of it.  Pendulum swings cause larger and larger after effects, and there is only 1 outcome – social upheaval.  Sure, you may have a dictator (self-appointed leader) installed in the interim (like say China or Russia) but the end result always ends in the same place.  As long as you think of people as “them”, then there’s no real progress to be had.

Being a first responder is a calling, it is not a job.  They are meant to represent the best of us, a position of trust at our weakest points.  In Canada, all first responders go through a psych assessment prior to deployment.  I won’t say it catches everything, but I do know that it filters out a lot.  When something does happen (it will eventually), there’s an inquiry and they are treated with the same laws as everyone else.  It is not perfect, but it says something that in 2019 7 people have died in Canada to law enforcement, compared to 132 in the US (403! in 2018).  There are deep seated cultures in law enforcement, and it only takes a tiny percentage to exemplify the worst of those qualities to bring out the marches.

Now we get to the cynicism part.  Peaceful protests are ok, but kneeling is not.  Respecting all values and lives is ok, but supporting Hong Kong is not.  Taking no responsibility but claiming all credit.  Abortion is wrong but letting seniors die is ok.  Supporting businesses in need is ok, but first you need to pay your friends.  It’s ok to have white folks with guns charge a government building, but people walking in the streets deserve attack dogs and to be shot.  You can have one or the other, but not both.  Speaking from both sides of the mouth means you can’t actually do anything.

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There’s a limit to society’s patience.  It’s like a wave of change, and the dam that people in power put in to try and change the flow, or reduce the impacts.  That dam works for a while, but eventually the flow becomes too much and destroys that dam. Now the cynic in me says that this is a phase, and that a new dam is being built because of a lack of leadership & power in that wave.  The people that could implement meaningful change simply don’t want to because it means less power for them. (I am bitter about electoral reform up here).

The video of the Canadian PM reflects my own ability to digest and respond to these events.  That 20 second pause says more than everything else that follows.

Sometimes, the house just can’t be renovated anymore, and you need to build a new one.  The US hasn’t seen that for 200+ years.  Dozens of countries have undergone it in the last 100 years.  All of them, without exception, were triggered by social unrest.  I would be surprised if that was the case today, but it’s not far off.

Opportunity Costs Everywhere

This post was drafted a while ago.  This blog is as much about gaming as life, and it would be ignorant of me to not point out the sheer insanity going on around us.  It would be further folly to say that this wasn’t the obvious outcome of a seemingly infinite amount of factors.  I’ll come back to this point in a more fulsome view later.

Opportunity cost is where you lose the opportunity to do something while doing something else.  This is, impressively, one of the pillars of society.  You can’t have workers if you don’t have farmers.  You can’t have artists if you don’t have workers.  You can’t have X without Y.  Games like the Anno series are examples of this system of dependencies and plateaus.

At the micro scale, it can be something as simple as the time you spend prepping food vs. buying pre-made meals.  The former is certainly less expensive if you look at it from an ingredient perspective.  Where it gets more complicated is in labour costs.  Even though you may get paid more per hr, odds are the service costs are higher because that takes into account a bunch of overhead costs.  So for argument’s sake, let’s say making a gourmet burger at home costs 8$, picking it up costs $15, and getting it delivered is $20.

The opportunity costs is the time it takes for you to do this, giving 3 cases.

  • Making it yourself : 40 minutes @ $8
  • Ordering and picking it up: 20 minutes @ $15
  • Ordering and having it delivered: 3 minutes @ $20

Then you look at what you could have been doing during this time.  Learning to play guitar.  Spending time with the kids. Washing the car.

Again at the micro level, people see this come up everyday, multiple times.  In my neighbourhood, over half of the folks pay for someone to plow their driveway during the winter, yet none of them have someone mow their lawn (so time is less of value here than effort & comfort).  I could paint my house and spend a week doing it, or pay professionals who will get it done in 1-2 days.

I tend to classify these choices into two categories, the large and small.  The large ones are where I have a choice to not work and do it, or pay someone to do it.  Those choices are much simpler as my pay/hr is motivating.  When I was working part time as a kid, this was even easier as I could do it for cheaper.

The smaller ones at the individual level are actually the hardest to do because they appear to be convenience but often have much larger impacts.  Using the food example above, the one-off is fine as long as it fits in the budget.  Making a habit of it has health impacts (since 95% of ordered food is not healthy choices) and financial ones (since most people are not offsetting the financial impacts of the choice).  Something as simple as a breakfast sandwhich and a coffee before work is $8.  Do that every day in a month and it’s $160, or close to $2,000 a year.  Prepping it at home is closer to $1 per day.

I like to fish, and that costs money for bait.  Worms are $7/18, and plastic baits (with hooks) come out to around $1.50 each.  I can get through the worms in a weekend with the kids, and 10 plastic baits.  Each weekend can therefore cost me $22 in bait.  Breeding my own worms is $40 of material investment, but reaping is nothing for 6 weeks, then a limit per week (to maintain breeding).  Making my own plastic baits is $120 in material investment (then ~50c in material per item) and an hour of effort, but I can’t make hooks.  My napkin math says I’d need to make ~200 baits to get a return on investment – or 20 weekends of fishing (2 seasons).  If I used more bait on a regular basis it would make sense, but for now the costs are entirely manageable.  Right now, it would cost me more in time than it would in money.

I know this isn’t a common viewpoint.  It doesn’t account for the emotional aspects of an activity, the skill growth, the expertise, or the networking benefits.  But if people take a step back and think about why they make certain choices, they will realize that they likely apply this thinking instinctively.  The entire concept of convenience is based on it.

Cause really, I can always make more money, but I can never truly buy back time.