Joe’s 2-22-06 Column
By JOE ZELNIK
Gold is well over $500 an ounce, which is good news to me because I have a couple of gold crowns in my mouth. I’ll never starve; I just might not be able to chew.
So when county Clerk Rita Fulginiti says in a story starting on today’s front page that Surrogate W. Robert Hentges is worth his weight in gold, what does she mean?
Not knowing what Hentges weighs, I’ll use 190. That’s 3,040 ounces. Times $500, which is $1,520,000.
Hentges never mentioned a number when he told freeholders the constitutional officers should get more money, but I’m quite sure he didn’t expect $1.5 million.
I apologize to Hentges if my weight estimate is way off. The worst boardwalk job I ever had was guessing people’s weights. I lost cartons of stuffed animals before the guy who owned the concession fired me.
I went from there to a tattoo parlor where I was supposed to hold down the people getting tattoos, but I wasn’t cut out for that. I weighed 170 and most of them weighed 250.
Then came the Herald offer and the rest is history.
Not that I wouldn’t change jobs if I could find an easier one. The problem is, everything is going faster nowadays and I am slowing down.
Science Magazine reported last week that the Greenland ice sheet is shrinking faster than anticipated and the runoff from just that one part of the earth could raise sea levels around the world by a quarter of an inch per decade.
Boy, a lot of those new condo buyers are going to be surprised.
Canadian Psychologist Gitte Landgaard says we’re hard-wired to make instant decisions, including likes and dislikes. TV viewers click off a show in less than 60 seconds, people get out of web sites in an instant, and first impressions become final impressions faster than you can wipe your nose.
I, on the other hand, need at least two minutes with my wife’s chili before determining if she hit, or missed.
Young people click the profiles on MySpace and make up their minds in 30 seconds whether they ever want to “talk” to their potential college roommate.
I hear the county Chamber of Commerce is considering ending its monthly networking mixer. People will just drive by each other in the chamber parking lot. If they see something they like, they’ll communicate by cell phones.
A best-selling book named “Blink” argues that business people can make the smartest decisions in seconds. It’s called “rapid cognition.”
If that’s not your cup of tea, or instant coffee, a rebuttal book called “Think” says crucial decisions shouldn’t be made in the blink of an eye.
Open up Amazon and decide – quickly or slowly – which to buy.
Anything that takes place at the Herald is confidential so I am not permitted to tell you that the decision to build a men’s room without urinals was a result of rapid cognition.
Lindsey Jacobellis blew the gold medal in snowboardcross because of an instant decision to put on a show. She flopped, and took the silver. “I was caught up in the moment and forgot that I had to race,” she said. She’s 20. If she’d been 25, it would never have happened.
I have a theory that youth are more apt to act on impulse and older people are more likely to take their time.
My book on this will be entitled either “Plink the Kink from Your Link,” or, “The Arthritic Mind.”
The prosecutor-freeholder controversy (if you’ve been in a cave the last few months, the prosecutor wants a lot more staff and the freeholders are divided between a few more and none) is an example of the conflict between taking time and deciding fast.
Prosecutor Bob Taylor, a Democrat spent weeks preparing a seven-page report justifying additional staff. Because of my job, I had to read it. I’ve had nightmares ever since. The county is crawling with crooks, swamped with sexual predators, deep with druggies and teeming with terrorists.
And that doesn’t even include gangs. One of them is called the Dip Set Bird Gang. Honest. I thought dip set was something hair stylists did. What does this gang do, suffocate you with Dippity Do?
I’ve been so scared since reading the Prosecutor’s report that I have security take me to and from work. I stay home the rest of the time.
Freeholder-Director Dan Beyel keeps saying Taylor hasn’t justified the need for more staff. Beyel must have made an instant decision to reject the whole thing without reading it. He sleeps like a baby. For now.
Not all county government decisions are the result of rapid cognition.
The newest wrinkle – the only new wrinkle actually – in the county budget is an amendment due next Tuesday to set up a program to make grants available to municipalities for short-term, capital improvements.
This took lots and lots of thought, and give and take. The idea came from Administrator Steve O’Connor; he giveth. The doubts came from Beyel; he taketh.
My electronic listening device in O’Connor’s ashtray came up with this conversation:
O’Connor: My idea is to fund this program from the $20 million surplus.
Beyel: What are you, crazy?
O’Connor: You don’t want to use more of the surplus?
Beyel: No. Save it for a rainy day.
O’Connor: The $20 million could climb to $35 million through the year.
O’Connor: Bob Taylor will claim he needs three more people to guard the surplus.
Beyel: Let’s use some.
It could be argued that Beyel’s decision came rapidly as soon as he heard Taylor’s name. I guess that would be rapid negative.
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