Seeking Inspiration

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 27 Aug 2015 17:04
Position: At anchor Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island
Wind: calm morning, to light south-easterly
Weather: mostly sunny
The last few days I have spent amongst the Gulf Islands, predominantly here at Salt Spring Island but I have also spent a few days at anchor a little ways south of here at Pender Island, while writing the final essay for my philosophy unit. The philosophy unit finishes this Sunday, and I have signed up for a creative writing course that starts the following week, with the view that it might help me to make my blog more interesting, and perhaps open up my perspective a bit. Then again I do not want to become, to put it crudely, a wanker, so I am feeling somewhat ambivalent about it at the moment. I figure now that I have signed up for it I may as well start it. The census date is on the 21st so if I find that I am not getting what I want our of it I can drop out of it with no penalty.
This malaise perhaps reflects a broader problem for me just at the moment, in that I am lacking inspiration for the next leg of my journey. I have in mind to do some major modifications to Sylph's cockpit, in particular to replace her heavy and cumbersome wheel steering with a tiller. I have been wanting to do this for at least a decade and have carried a timber tiller in the V-berth for the last fifteen years waiting to be installed, but have never been able to justify going to so much trouble when the current arrangement works well enough, and there is always some risk in making such alterations that I might make things worse rather than better. However, I need to attend to some corrosion under the cockpit and it seems to me the best way to do this is to cut the floor out of the cockpit and thereby get to the hull underneath. I would also have to dismantle the steering system to get at the hull, so it seems the two project could best be done at the same time. Now the question is where shall I do this.
One option is to stay in this part of the world, or perhaps head down to La Paz in Mexico. There are of course pros and cons for each. The main advantages of staying in Canada is that I have made a few friends here who, apart from just enjoying their company, could no doubt help me with my projects, if only in recommending where I could haul out and who could do the work I could not do myself. On the down side it is coming onto winter and it might be a bit of a challenge to live and work in the wet and cold. Plus Canada is going to be relatively expensive compared to Mexico, though it is possible to live mostly swinging off the pick here, so overall the costs of staying in Canada is not too bad. Mexico on the other hand is a bit of an unknown. It is likely to be cheaper, but then there are the interconnected issues of poverty, theft and corruption to deal with – no doubt all quite manageable if one is careful and can find the right contacts and advice, but if one gets it wrong the consequences and costs might be very high indeed. Then there is the factor of staying still versus moving on. If I stay I could explore this interesting part of the world some more, maybe head back up to Alaska next summer, or, if I move on, I get to explore new seas and lands to the south of us. Maybe I will subscribe to some flipism* (a philosophy I read about in a Donald Duck comic many years ago), and let the toss of a coin decide.
I am grateful to have the problems that I do.
All is well.
* Flipism is not actually all that silly, from that font of all knowledge – Wikipedia.:
In the comic book, Donald Duck meets Professor Batty, who persuades Donald to make decisions based on flipping a coin at every crossroad of life.  "Life is but a gamble! Let flipism chart your ramble!"  Donald soon gets into trouble when following this advice. He drives a one way road in the wrong direction and is fined $50. The reason for the fine is not the bad driving but letting the coin do the thinking. Indeed, there are those who view the resort to Flipism to be a disavowal of responsibility for making personal and societal decisions based upon rationality. However, in the end, flipism shows surprising efficiency in guiding some decisions
Flipism in decision-making
… a third approach is to look at flipism as the endpoint of a continuum bounded on the other side by perfectly rational decision-making. Flipism requires the minimum possible cognitive overhead to make decisions, at the price of making sub-optimal choices. Truly rational decision-making requires a tremendous investment in information and cognition to arrive at an optimal decision. However, the expected marginal value of information gathered (discounted for risk and uncertainty) is often lower than the marginal cost of the information or processing itself. The concept of bounded rationality posits that people employ cognitive parsimony, gathering only what they expect to be sufficient information to arrive at a satisficing (or "good enough") solution. Flipism is therefore a perfectly rational strategy to employ when the cost of information is very high relative to its expected value.
Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.
Piet Hein
Now I really must get back to some more serious philosophising and my essay.