Coping: Zeno and the World’s Unluckiest Man

I double-checked with my Bro-In-Law (BiL) and he said “Sure, go ahead….”

So here’s the latest on his house-search and how life works if you’re the world’s unluckiest man.

As of our last mention, everything had been moving toward a close on the 28th. But because the people in the home want to move, the real estate people want commission and Bates & Bride want to get the move done, it was moved up to the 27th.

But alas…

I was working on the old farm truck paint rub-out when Bates moseyed through the carport.

“Everything OK?” I asked being as chipper as I could while sweating like a hound.

His shoulders slumped.

No…now it’s the computer system at Veteran’s United was down and they missed the filing for today and they are now aiming for tomorrow which means Wednesday….”

I was dumb-struck.

NO ONE has luck this bad.

This is the 8th or 9th home they’re tried to buy. Most of the others were failed on inspections. They’ve spent (in the past year) nearly $6,000 on travel, lodging, meals, and home inspections trying to find somewhere to live that would be really nice.

This is like the fifth false-start at closing, too.

They have looked in the Palestine, TX area, and down in the Killeen/Fort Hood area, as well.

They started off trying to pick a home in Killeen, because homes there are very, very inexpensive. They are typically $100-130K.

Not that they didn’t look elsewhere: They seriously considered El Paso, but the real estate taxes there are going the same way they have done down in The Woodlands – where Oilman 2 lives. In that area, $8,000 a year in property tax with many people paying $900 per month in taxes – is not far from ordinary.  El Paso was about $2,700 per year which is still way too high.

I don’t know how much that adventure cost, but it came down to ready to do a deal out there when the inspection failed.

Eventually, they looked again in Palestine – a little more money on the table – since Mrs. Bates has one son still in school here, up and coming football star – and yeah, family.

In all, it’s a marvelous thing. But as Bates himself told me: “Look, I am the embodiment of Zeno’s Paradox.

One of his three  is neatly summarized as Achilles and the Tortoise:

“In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. – as recounted by Aristotle, Physics.”

It’s like if you run almost twice as fast as me on a football field. You start from the far goal line running 10 miles per hour while I run 6 but start from the 50.

In the time you have run from the goal line to the 50 yard line, I will have labored down to the 20, a gain of only 30 to your 50.

By now, I’m getting tired so we run half as long for our second sprint.

You pick up 25 yards (down to the 25) but I was at the 20 and pick up 15, so now I am down to the 5.

I win on the next sprint.

There’s a marvelous “trick question” in flying that relates to this Paradox. It has to do with headwinds.

Pretend you are flying from Seattle to San Francisco (we’ll call it 800 miles) and you’re flying 200 miles an hour.

Going down it is a 4 hour flight, coming back is a 4 hour flight. Total flight time: 8 hours.

Now let’s add a 100 MPH tailwind going and 100 MPH headwind on the return.

Now your speed down is cut to 2.667 hours.  Cool!

But look at the return leg: 8 hours! Total flight time is 10.667 (plus a personal recycling stop in Roseburg, Oregon to recycle coffee). 

The concept in sail is VMG (velocity made good [to the windward mark].

The lesson is?


Headwinds never help.

And my brother-in-law is the guy who is always running smack into the headwinds.  Damnedest thing to watch and impressive how he takes it in stride.

Still, He has SDOME Good Luck

To say “The Bates Luck” is one thing, but it is mostly held in check around the ranch by something I call “Ure’s Magick.”

Here’s a recent example of how that works.

Bates’ wife’s car (2012 Versa) started to act up. Dash warning light came on. High idle speed, odd throttle response.

He took it in to the local Toyota outfit and they said “Yessir, throttle board…estimate is about $1,000 to fix it…”

Bateses then went by one of the auto supp0ly joints and figured they could get the assembly for $250, or so…

Again, crestfallen, shoulders sagging… I know the look pretty well by now.

Thousand bucks to fix it…”

No, that’s just not right. So I took Ure’s Magick to the Youtube video here, figured out it was likely rust or corrosion of the fixed metal shaft the transfer gear sits on, and announced the fix.

Bates is damn handy with tools. So good with small engines, I’ve called him Sling-Bates if you remember the Billy-Bob Thornton role.

I drilled out the first rivet and then nonchalantly handed him the Makita cordless.  He only hesitated briefly and then went for it with me telling him  “It doesn’t work now, so it’s we’re wrong, we haven’t lost anything…”

Oftentimes a fellow needs confidence in ripping into something.  That was the case here.   

He disassembled the zillion and one parts, cleaned up the stationary gear shaft with wet or dry sandpaper, lubed it with long-life silicone grease and you know what?

Fixed…or nearly so.

It would still idle a bit high…but after driving it a day, or so, it was settling down nicely. Smooth as glass, too.

Still skeptical of his good fortune now as turning a $1000 bill into a couple of hours of work, he dropped by a mechanic in town (NOT the dealer) for a second opinion.

Codes are all cleared from last time…no errors anywhere…sounds perfect if you don’t mind my saying so…”

And so it has been: The car is working perfectly again, I’m out six 4-40 screws and nuts (with a dab of Elaine’s red nail polish in lieu of lock washers) and the unit should be good for another 70-thousand miles. Cost me…what? 50-cents in parts that were gathering dust!


Oh, I don’t know as there is any particular one except that we are coming into a very hard time/economic depression. And as one of our readers (Kaiser) said, “Buy old, buy refurbished, fix it ourselves.”


I’ve been using red nail polish as a lock washer for years on electronics. A dollop on each of your SAE or Metric tools makes life easier, too.

Also works for marking Phillips or slotted screwdrivers. And for high power ham radio antennas, it’s cheaper than anti-corona dope.

What??? You don’t have a bottle or two of MG Chemicals 4226 Super Corona Dope in your shop? What the hell kind of start-up/gypo wannabe fixit-shop are you running?

Hell, you probably don’t even have a decent $8-dollar180-Piece Rubber Grommet Shop Assortment do you?

Don’t start me on the takes tools to save money but it’s true.

Sure, you can buy MacGyver – The Complete First Season but if TSHTF there won’t be a video player around and you’ll be SOL..

The only library that will be open is the one between the ears, right?


Write when you get rich,

16 thoughts on “Coping: Zeno and the World’s Unluckiest Man”

  1. Hey George,

    Sounds like the Universe is trying to tell Panama something… Maybe he’d be better off investing in a good/nice truck and fancy 5th wheel. At least then, he wouldn’t be bound to any one location by keeping his interests mobile. And, he can offer up his straightest middle finger to the property tax man.

  2. So Panama has had incredible bad luck finding a new home. Yet, he is back safely from a very dangerous profession. Universe balances. From this 68 year old’s perspective, he’s done okay.

  3. Like I said once before, if you don’t get what you want in three chances you are not supposed to do it. Bates had 9 chances? Whats it take to make him understand. Sounds like the guy caught in the flood and had multiple chances to be saved before he drowned. When he got around to chewing out God, God said how many chances did you need to be saved?

  4. Looks to me like the universe is telling Panama to stay on your property–maybe build an addition to the building he’s been living in. When TSHTF, you’ll be of great help to each other.

  5. Maybe – or – just possibly the universe is trying to tell him to simply buy some acreage and build his place himself….

  6. I’m going to weigh in again — He is d*mn LUCKY the closing was shifted from today back to Wed! Why? Because today is a Void-of-Course Moon all day! As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, trying to do anything as important as a house closing under a VOC Moon, everything will come to nought. Just as it did when the Vet’s computer went down.If that had not happened, it would have been something else.

    May I also suggest that words, especially those we use to describe ourselves, such as anything after “I am….” are powerful. If one continues to see themselves, and describe themselves as “unlucky” then the Universe responds back: “And so it is!” We DO create our personal reality. That’s not just a saying, it’s the LAW. Want to change anything about yourself, change what you think, say and hold expectations that that hits directly on your identity. And don’t allow others to also describe you in negative ways.

    Wishing Mr & Mrs Bates all good luck for a successful closing TOMORROW.

    • my youngest daughter paid off her house this year and wants to buy another one and they wouldn’t allow her to and I told her to wait till next year when the housing prices really drop maybe that’s what’s happening with Panama maybe he has an inter feelings and it’s not right yet

  7. Tell him this could be a blessing in disguise- IF after Oct 1 when the Yuan comes into the IMF basket and there’s a currency crash and reset..he might be the world’s luckiest man.
    I’m worried sick because my 20-something niece closed on a house last week. Luckily, it was a contract-for-deed sale and didnt involve the banking system.

  8. My brother was a Ranger too. One of the traits I see in many Rangers, apart from steadfast refusal to quit, is that if there is a hard way to do something, they seem to be drawn to that way. Panama may be manifesting his “luck” as a way to keep having to overcome obstacles. Which is what Rangers do. Just sayin’.

  9. The ONLY place one would ever use ‘corona dope’ is the High Voltage flyback of a color TV CRT. They don’t make those anymore. Has your MG chemicals bottle hardened solid yet? Last one I saw was a 40 year old bottle on the back shelf of the TV station that retired me.

  10. Panama has the greatest gift he could want – a beloved bride!

    Houses can be built or bought, but without a bride, he will only have a house, not a home. The wife makes the home, and it can be anywhere, even a tent.

  11. “What??? You don’t have a bottle or two of MG Chemicals 4226 Super Corona Dope in your shop?”

    It’s butyrate dope with a fresh label and a 4x on the pricetag (so’s nail polish, FWIW…)

    I’ll see your rubber grommet assortment and raise you two marine heat-shrink assortments and a 205-piece copper washer assortment!

    Have you ever noticed the “assortments” contain 8-10pcs of exactly what you need (except you’ll need 12-16pcs) and dozens or hundreds of pieces you’ll never use — ever!?? Have you noticed eye connector assortments don’t contain 6mm/¼” eyes in any wire gauge, but go from #10 straight to ?”, or that heat-shrink assortments contain dozens of 1mm and 2mm tubes, but only a few 4mm and 5mm (5/32″ and 3/16″), the two sizes required to fix 98% of all wiring issues in vehicles, trailers, ATVs and boats…?

    Honestly, I’ve started playing the “need a dozen, buy 100″ game at Mouser, Newark, and Digi-Key. I’d just a helluva lot rather have 88 extra, useful, female spade terminals or 62 extra #14×14 lugs, which WILL ALL eventually get used, than 4doz #18x½” eyelets, which’ll never EVER be used for anything, and will just waste space…

  12. $900 a month is insane not counting home prices. What does that city spend it on? I spend less than that a year on my local taxes.

  13. >NO ONE has luck this bad.

    There was this documentary on a 1 eyed cyclops called “Hee-Haw” dedicated like the show “jackass” to making fun of rural people which stated “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

    The only way to avoid the meddling of Government would be to pay cash for the item. Because “unsophisticated consumers” ‘need’ help/protection these ‘roadblocks’ exist. He has 3 years to play “beat up the bank” via rescission of the loan if he can find fraud later. Depending on the depth of the Ure projected depression, he may find a better place for less in 3 years.

  14. Maybe it’s time for you to request a George Noory from your readers to get your b-i-l past this spate of non-house nonsense.

    Post a request for your readers to imagine a time very shortly into the future where they’re reading an update from you that Panama’s house has successfully closed and he and his wife have taken the keys, and the house, as their own. Hallelujah and praise be, all is finally well.

    We’ve seen you experiment with collective projection in the past and you’ve claimed the outcome was as you predicted. Let’s see if we can help P&B get past this artificial barrier and into their new home.

  15. My thoughts exactly. God is telling Panama that he should just stay right where he is and enjoy the country living.

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