Andrew Ayers - February 2020

FEBRUARY 2020

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One More Day How Do You Make Leap Day Worthwhile?

This month, we’re observing leap day, the “holiday” that reminds us that the way we track time is so inaccurate that we have to put an extra day in the calendar to make up the difference. As a result, some people only get to celebrate their birthday once every four years, or so I hear. I don’t personally know anyone who was born on Feb. 29 — though my brother was born late on Feb. 28, 1980. He came out just in time to avoid being a leap year baby. Most years, the “extra day” that is leap day is overlooked, falling on any other day of the work week. But this year, leap day is on a Saturday, which offers the opportunity to really take advantage of the extra 24 hours. My ideal leap day starts with taking a little time for myself. It would be nice to play tennis and read whatever book I’ll be reading at the time — some me time. Of course, since it’s a Saturday this year, we’ll have some kids’ activities on the schedule. With three kids, Saturday mornings are always filled with some kind of sport. That evening, once things are settled down, I’d love to have a date night with my wife. We have a favorite Italian place around the corner that we like to stick our heads into when we can. It’s this little hole in the wall with 10 tables and no cell service where we can chat with the waiter and enjoy a great meal. It’s the perfect place to take advantage of an extra day. My leap day plans are pretty low-key, which is by design. When I think about what to do with an extra 24 hours, I start thinking of ways to enjoy some much-needed downtime. Unfortunately, downtime isn’t something we get a lot of these days with our phones and

spend that extra day at work. They talk about wishing they spend more time with their kids, with their spouse, or doing something for themselves. Leap day, with its extra 24 hours, gives us a little more time to do just that. Remember, when we’re 90, we won’t look back and think, “Wow, I wish I’d gone to work on leap day 2020.” To be honest, you might not remember this leap day at all. But if you take this extra day to spend with your family and yourself, there’s a chance you’ll have a few more good memories that you will remember when all is said and done.

gadgets. Even if we aren’t physically working, instead of letting ourselves really unwind, too many of us are scrolling through emails or social media posts. This kind of digital chatter keeps our minds from ever taking a break. No wonder so many people are stressed and tired all the time! Having an extra day of downtime would help everybody. I imagine many of my clients with retail businesses will appreciate the extra shopping day, but I would encourage everyone to make this leap day one of downtime, if possible. Sleep in and make breakfast, play a board game with your kids, or pick up a good book. I’m too young to be a wise sage, but I’ve read enough anecdotes to know that people on their deathbeds rarely say they wish they’d

–Andrew M. Ayers

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Meet Conan THE DOG WHO HELPED TAKE DOWN AL-BAGHDADI

“To me, they’re the first line of defense,” United States War Dogs Association President Ron Aiello told Vox after the news about Conan came out. “They’re such a great asset to our military today.” Military dogs are put up for adoption after 6–8 years in the service, which means a lucky civilian could take Conan in as early as 2022! Meanwhile, dozens of other smart canine heroes are looking for homes. To learn more about military and other working dog adoptions, visit MissionK9Rescue.org.

In college, arriving late to class might earn you a stern look from your professor, and turning in homework late normally results in a docked grade. For one student, however, these actions resulted in veneration from the academic community and a story that has become legend. George Dantzig, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a graduate statistics class one day in 1939. He saw that his professor, Jerzy Neyman, had written two problems on the board, and guessing they were the homework assignment, he wrote them down to solve later. A few days later, Dantzig delivered his answers to Professor Neyman. He apologized for turning them in late, remarking that they seemed more difficult than usual. When Neyman told him to just throw the answers on his desk, Dantzig reluctantly did so, fearing his homework would be lost forever in the sea of papers already there. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Six weeks later, Neyman went to Dantzig’s house and excitedly asked him to read the introduction he had written on one of Dantzig’s papers. Of course, Dantzig had no idea what he was talking about. Over the course of the conversation, however, he found out that the two difficult problems he had thought were homework were actually examples of famous unsolved statistical proofs — and Dantzig had solved them! On Oct. 28 last year, President Donald Trump tweeted a photo that quickly went viral. It showed an adorable snapshot of a bright-eyed Belgian Malinois, tongue lolling, still wearing its camo military vest. In the caption, President Trump explained that the pup, Conan, was a national hero who was instrumental in taking down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. With four years in special operations forces and roughly 50 missions under his collar, Conan was selected to be part of the team that pursued al-Baghdadi through a network of underground tunnels in northwest Syria, where the terrorist ultimately died. It’s unclear whether Conan was there to track al-Baghdadi or to spot improvised explosive devices that may have been planted on the route, but either way, he performed well. According to NBC News, Conan was injured by some live electrical cables during the mission, but he recovered quickly and was back on duty within the week. Meanwhile, President Trump invited the brave pup to the White House and tweeted out a doctored photo that showed him awarding Conan a Medal of Honor. President Trump captioned the photo “AMERICAN HERO!” and he’s not alone in his appreciation for the hardworking dogs that have been helping our military since WorldWar II.

Solving the Unsolvable THE BEST CONSEQUENCE EVER FOR ARRIVING LATE TO CLASS

Neyman published the first of the two proofs soon after. Then, a year later when Dantzig was struggling to decide on his doctoral thesis topic, his professor just shrugged and told him to wrap the two problems in a binder. Neyman said he would accept them as his thesis. Dantzig’s story has been retold in various versions over the years often as an illustration of what a person is capable of when they think positively. After all, Dantzig may not have solved these proofs if he believed they were “unsolvable!” However, even though some versions might lean more toward urban legend, it’s still an impressive story of the best consequence a student ever received for arriving to class and turning in homework late.

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TAKE A BREAK

FROM ZERO TO 300 Meet the Women Who Pioneered Motor Sports

While Danica Patrick and Courtney Force are well known as modern faces in motor sports, they’re far from the first women to cross the finish line. Since the early 1900s, women have been a constant fixture of automotive racing, including the following three who each left their marks on the sport.

SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY Shirley Muldowney is professionally known in the drag racing community as “The First Lady of Drag Racing.” In 1973, she was the first woman to earn a Top Fuel license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and, despite backlash from competitors, went on to win the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series an unprecedented

three times. Twentieth Century Fox documented her trials and accomplishments in the 1983 biopic

“Heart Like a Wheel.”Muldowney famously loathed her own characterization but still lauded the film as required viewing for anyone interested in the sport of drag racing. JANET GUTHRIE Janet Guthrie had her sights set on the stars from day one. A skilled aerospace engineer, she began her racing career in 1963. After taking home two class wins in the famed 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race, Guthrie became a well-known figure among racing gurus. In 1976, she became the first woman to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series when she finished 15th in the Coca-Cola 600, then called theWorld 600. To date, Guthrie’s storied career has landed her in the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Automotive Hall of Fame. DOROTHY LEVITT Dorothy Levitt is known for her driving skills on both land and water, setting the first water speed record and an early women’s world land speed record. Her motor racing career started slow in 1904 due to illness and various car troubles, but Levitt eventually went on to garner a reputation for her speed and earn the nickname “The Fastest Girl on Earth.”When she wasn’t racing, she spent her time writing. In her book “The Woman and the Car,” Levitt recommended that women carry a small mirror with them for driving in traffic, effectively inventing the rearview mirror five years before it went into production. If you want to learn more about these women and others in motor racing, pick up Todd McCarthy’s book “Fast Women: The Legendary Ladies of Racing.”

DATE TRUFFLES

Inspired by The Minimalist Baker

Valentine’s Day is all about love … and chocolate. Enjoy these chocolate peanut butter date truffles with your date this Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 lb medjool dates, pitted (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Warm water

Directions

top of balls. Freeze balls for another 20 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, in microwave, warm chocolate with coconut oil until melted. Stir well. 5. Coat balls in chocolate and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 6. Top with additional salt and freeze for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

1. Using a food processor, blend dates and sea salt until dough can be formed into a ball. Slowly add enough warm water to mixture to thicken dough. 2. Roll dough into tablespoon- sized balls. Freeze for 20–30 minutes. 3. In microwave, warm 1/4 cup

peanut butter for 30 seconds, then drizzle peanut butter on

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1

What to Do With an Extra 24 Hours

Meet the Dog Who Helped Take Down al-Baghdadi The World’s Hardest Homework Assignment

2

Date Truffles Fearless Women Who Pioneered Motor Sports

3

4

A Slippery Crime

STEALING MISS HELEN ‘OCEAN’S 3’ ATTEMPT A HIGH-STAKES HEIST

The Animal Welfare Act, which was adopted in 1966, is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Interestingly, it only applies to warm-blooded animals, so if Miss Helen had needed further protection, she would be left out in the cold.

The aquarium staff was grateful to have Miss Helen back unharmed, despite her ordeal. “She’s a tough little horn shark, I’ll tell you that,” affirmed Jamie Shank, the assistant husbandry director at the aquarium. NO MINOR CRIME While many animal lovers might disagree, animals are considered personal property, so stealing them is a crime of theft, not kidnapping. The penalties for stealing animals vary depending on each state’s laws, and some states have specific laws regarding animal theft. In Texas, larceny law designates the theft of property valued between $1,500–$20,000 as a felony. In the case of Miss Helen, who’s valued by the aquarium at $2,000, the thieves committed a felony. Also, transporting certain animals requires special permits, which led to additional charges against the three thieves.

On a hot summer day in late July 2018, three people entered Miss Helen’s home, forcibly removed her, put her in a stroller, and ran toward their getaway vehicle. This might sound like a typical kidnapping story, but Miss Helen is no ordinary person. She is a 16-inch horn shark living at the San Antonio Aquarium. Fortunately, their fishy behavior didn’t go unnoticed, and someone alerted the aquarium staff. One perpetrator drove away with Miss Helen in tow, but the other two were stopped by aquarium staff, later confessing to their involvement. Thanks to some observant witnesses and aquarium surveillance, police were able to identify the third thief and obtain a warrant to search his house. As it turned out, he had an extensive aquarium in his home and possibly hoped to add Miss Helen to his collection. After being identified, Miss Helen was returned home safely.

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