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  December 11, 2015
Keeping the Streak Alive...

 
 

Crash Davis: I never told him to stay out of your bed. 

Annie Savoy: Yes you did. 


Crash Davis
: I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak... because it doesn’t happen very often... and Annie you know that...

          Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon
          Bull Durham - 1988


At one time my brother Joe and I had a friendly competition going...

Which one of us could complete the most "Free Cell" games without coming to an impasse and thus losing the game?

For those of us who are old enough to remember, Free Cell was one of the free games that was included in the freecelloriginal Microsoft Windows software along with solitaire, minesweeper, hearts and later 3D pinball.

Each day, Joe and I would call each other and announce our current win streak.

When we found ourselves on a long winning streak, it meant that we no longer played the game in a casual manner. Instead we would carefully plan each move and perhaps multitude of moves beyond the next move as well...

Extra time and attention was made as to not break the streak.

However, once the streak was broken, then was a matter of simply playing haphazardly without any real motivation to perform better.

Some streaks, good or bad, are simply a matter of luck predetermined on the laws of probability such as flipping a coin or rolling dice.

About 20 years ago, my friends and I were driving from San Diego to Lake Powell in Utah to begin a 10-day vacation rafting down the Colorado River. The half-way point was Las Vegas so my friends and I decided to stop for lunch at one of the casinos downtown offering one of those $1.99 prime rib deals (20 years ago they were still offering deals like that to bring in gamblers).

As we were on our way to the restaurant, I passed a roulette table and quickly noticed that the display showing past rolls, indicated that "black" had come up 14 times in a row...

I thought to myself... there is no way that it will come up "black" again, so I swiftly removed $20 from my pocket and played "red".

Sure enough... when the wheel stopped... the ball was embedded rouletteon a black number...

"This is crazy", I thought to myself, "the odds of being black fifteen times in a row was nearly 32,000 to 1... and the odds of it coming up black again are 64,000 to 1"

So I plunked down $40 this time... only to watch it come up black yet once again.

$80 was played the next time... $160 the next... $320 the next... black... black... then green 00...

I had but $400 left in my pocket, but I was sure that the next roll would get me close to even... the odds of it being black once again was now over a million to one...

Black

I couldn’t believe that I had lost a thousand dollars on a few spins of the roulette wheel.

As it turns out... I would have lost a considerable amount of more money had I decided to keep playing as a red number didn’t occur for another seven spins of the wheel... 27 spins with the ball landing on a red number... 137 million to one (actually a bit less when you consider the 0 and 00 numbers).

This was a streak for the ages... I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time...

I had taken statistics in college... but I suppose I didn’t learn my lesson... this time my tuition payment to "the school of statistical probability’ cost me just over $1000... and it’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten since.

Streaks can be an unlikely source of motivation.

A local basketball team is currently riding a streak of winning the game when they are ahead of the other team with 5 minute left on the game clock. The statistic is somewhat obscure with no official record of this stat being kept by the NCAA... but the team knows... and so do the fans...

As of last night’s game, the team’s 5-minute winning streak is now at 152 games... that’s a span of over 5 years!

The team plays hard all game... however if the team is ahead at the 5 minute point... then they find just a little more effort to seal the deal and win the game.

Every streak, like records, are there to be broken... so one day this streak will undoubtedly end.

Although some streaks have ended... they may never be matched or broken.

64 years ago, during the summer of 1941, Joe DiMaggio got a hit in 56 straight games. That record still endures with the closest person since being Pete Rose in 1978, hitting safely in 44 games.

It is said that Joe DiMaggio’s streak is a record that will never be broken attested to by the fact that even in the "steroid era" of baseball when so many other records fell by the wayside... this record was never in jeopardy of falling.

The wonderful thing about streaks is that once the streak is over... another streak can begin immediately.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to go door-to-door, accompanying my daughter and a few other young girls, in the attempt to sell Girl Scout cookies door-to-door in our neighborhood..

My daughter and her friends were relatively shy (at the time at least), so approaching a strange house in order to persuade the homeowner to purchase relatively expensive cookies took them far outside her own comfort zone.

After a few wins and losses, the other parents and I decided to make the kids’ selling effort a game instead of a chore.

We quickly agreed that a prize would be given to the girl selling the most boxes of cookies, the girl who sold cookies to the most customers, and the girl who had the longest streak of consecutive sales.

After a short while, the girls quickly realized that the key to winning all of the prizes was winning the "streak prize"... the gauntlet had been dropped and it was "on"!

After a few "wins"... the girls became masters at closing the deal... absolutely refusing to take no for an answer as it would interrupt their streak...

I actually felt sorry for the homeowners who had to deal with the endless pleading (and in one case crying) on their doorstep...

Soon there were only two results from ringing a doorbell... either the resident was not home (fortunately for them)... or a sale was made... no excuses were accepted... the girls were on a streak after all...

As many of us reflect on the year that has just past, we should wonder what could have been had we the discipline to start and stay on a streak...

Even if we broke the streak... the benchmark has now been set... so we begin a new streak... intent on exceeding the former one and creating a new mark to build upon...

On our last diet, we lost 11 pounds... this time I want to lose 12...

I went 6 days without smoking... this time I’ll make 7 days... then 8... then 9... one day at a time...

Being on a streak continues to give us the added motivation to keep going.

A streak can’t go on forever... and all record streaks can be broken...

Now is the perfect time to start your new streak... whatever it happens to be...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse as we are completing our 5th consecutive year of larger growth...



Jim Kalb Jim Kalb President

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com 
Twitter - @OptiFuse


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