April 18, 2009

A word about opportunities.

You know, there are some rare opportunities. But do you take them because they are rare?

Being tried for murder is a rare opportunity, as is ending your life in the electric chair.

Have you ever had a rare opportunity that you were tempted to take because it is rare? Did you stop yourself or did you take it? How did that work out for you?


Peter V. Bella said...

"Have you ever had a rare opportunity that you were tempted to take because it is rare? Did you stop yourself or did you take it? How did that work out for you?"

I respectfully refuse to answer that question and invoke my rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

AllenS said...

I had a rare opportunity to become an Army paratrooper, and it almost cost me my life, numerous times. If I had to do it over again, I would. You only live once, make the most of it.

former law student said...

Rare in general, or rare for me?

I had a rare-for-me opportunity to commit adultery. I considered the long-term consequences for my family life, and declined.

Zeb Quinn said...

Rare from scarcity. Scarce because of value. High demand, low supply. Those are the ones you take.

Eli Blake said...

I once had a 'rare' opportunity to join a MLM outfit that was starting up (no not a Ponzi scheme, they were selling a real product.)

I took it.

I got less back than I had put in.

The next time someone came to me about an MLM opportunity, I declined.

So it is worth learning by experience.

When my wife was in high school she snuck into a field with some other kids and rode on a bull. Amazingly, she was thrown and kicked but not seriously hurt. She's learned by experience too-- she's never told my kids she did such a stupid thing.

dbp said...

I had two rare opportunities: In Marine boot camp, it turns-out I was an unusually good swimmer. I was offered a change in MOS to frogman. I declined since I was a reservist and would have had to to a full 4-year tour and I had planned to attend college the next year. This decision I now regret.

A couple of years later I was hitch hiking home from the train station and got picked up by a couple who indicated that they wanted to engage in hanky-panky. Something about their demeanor made me suspect that I was in the kind of situation which would end with me in a ditch with a gunshot wound to the back of my head. I am glad to have declined their invitations.

Oh, there is a third: I was offered a spot on a business case competition team when I was getting my MBA. I accepted this offer and the competition was incredibly stressful. I am glad I did it though.

Eric said...

Being tried for murder is a rare opportunity? Seems to me it would be pretty easy to arrange if you're willing to pay the price. Or am I missing something?

Now, getting away with murder... that would be rare. Eh, not that I would know, you understand.

matthew said...

I liked how Charles Baudelaire addressed a similar topic in one his prose excursions - The Bad Glazier One of my friends, the most inoffensive dreamer that ever lived, once set fire to a forest to see, he explained, if it were really as easy to start a fire as people said. Ten times in succession the experiment failed; but the eleventh time it succeeded only too well.

Another will light a cigar standing beside a keg of gunpowder, just to see, to find out, to test his luck, to prove to himself he has enough energy to play the gambler, to taste the pleasures of fear, or for no reason at all, through caprice, through idleness.

It is the kind of energy that springs from boredom and daydreaming; and those who display it so unexpectedly are, in general, as I have said, the most indolent and dreamiest of mortals.

Father Martin Fox said...

Let's see...

I entered the seminary--became a priest--I am glad I did!

While in the seminary, the rector posted a notice about spending a month in S. Korea. I jumped at it, figuring, among other things, the odds I'd ever get to Korea would otherwise be rather slim. It was one of the best adventures of my life, not comparable to Allen being a paratrooper:

Thanks, Allen, for your service to our country!

joewxman said...

13 years ago, after years of trying and giving up out of nowhere i got a job offer to work on tv in ny. it was a risk and it was a chance i might never have gotten again. i was leaving a very secure place for comeplete insecurity. I decided to take it and i'm glad i did. Had 12 great years and it was the best years of my career. Now im back in the safe secure place and i have no regrets whatsoever.

mcg said...

I received an offer to go to Japan directly after college to work for Pioneer Electronics. While the salary wasn't particularly great, I would have been given room, board, and extensive training in Japanese language and business culture for several years.

For a variety of reasons I think I did the right thing. For one thing, the offer came in before the collapse of the Tokyo stock market in the 90's. The opportunities I've had here in the States have been pretty great, too.

Lem said...

I had a rare opportunity to sleep with a friend once. Well, maybe 'sleep' is not the right word. I didn't take the opportunity. I really dont know why.

She went on to 'sleep' with another friend with whom she had a beautifull child.

commenter said...

I gave up paying for health insurance because it wasn't in my budget. Traded health insurance premiums for jogging and eating organic expensive foods and much less meat.

End results not in yet. Hopefully not until i finish whatever i was meant to do in this life.

Lem said...

Well I guess I could venture that I resisted because what she wanted was a kid, and what I wanted was a shag.

Divergent interests

Lem said...

Rare from scarcity. Scarce because of value. High demand, low supply. Those are the ones you take.I had the opportunity to leave my job for another.. I used the opportunity to bargain for a raise .. I got the raise and stayed.

Ron said...

I had an opportunity to invest in something I had a lot of faith would succeed. I was persuaded to not do so by people who had done more investment experience than me. But I would have made a pretty large amount of money in roughly 3 years had I done so...~$4 mil.

Freeman Hunt said...

How odd. I took up a rare opportunity today but not because it was rare. I'll let you know how it works out...

Freeman Hunt said...

I did once have the rare opportunity to spend a summer studying Arabic in Morocco for free. After reading the travel guide, I didn't take it. Good call.

Richard said...

"Opportunity," denotes something positive to me, so I take opportunities because they're positive chances, not because of their rarity.

Meade said...

"Being tried for murder is a rare opportunity, as is ending your life in the electric chair."

I once had the rare opportunity to become King of England but I turned it down.

I chose romantic love instead.

Then Hollywood called and I said "no." At the time, keeping my private life private seemed like a rare opportunity I didn't want to give up.

Oh, I almost forgot - then I was asked to run for Vice President but I decided I wanted to spend more time with my family.

In hindsight, I'm glad I turned down that king gig. The pay wasn't all THAT great.

Christy said...

Opportunities abound when we are young, but we are too inexperienced to know how rare opportunity can be. We think they will come along regularly and we can pick and choose.

I turned down a job opportunity once because I thought they just wanted me to fill a quota. I didn't think I'd earned it yet and I would be damned before I let anyone say of me "she just got it because she's a woman." I now know better.

I am sorry I turned down the chance to write a nuclear medicine textbook with a colleague at Hopkins. I had too much on my plate at the time and I figured the opportunity would be there when I was ready. Never happened.

I'm much more comfortable with opportunities I seek out. Someone comes to me with a great opportunity and I usually run the other way as fast as possible. For the most part, this has been a good policy.

traditionalguy said...

Was it the Me and Bobby Mcgee lyrics that say "having nothing means having nothing left to lose"? The young 18 to 22 age unmarried will jump into all kinds of risky things just to say they did them. But the real acts of courage come from risking all for another when you are old enough to know how easy it is to lose your life. There is a special kind of confidence that gets inside you from repeatedly taking that kind of risks. Young Airborne troopers and young Marines have characters that stick out like an obviously different breed of man when you interract with them. Could this be the real cause of the rivalry of publicity drunk liberal political figures with the Military?(None of this comment is about suicide for kicks, which is a mental illness).

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Quite often you don't recognize that there even WAS an opportunity until the window of opportunity has passed.

I don't worry about it. Carpe diem. just in case.

Lawgiver said...

I had the rare opportunity to become a Russian linguist with Air Force Intelligence instead of a computer programmer in the late 70s. Some people have a gift for linguistics others have to work very hard at it. I was the latter. I did it for 15 years often it was interesting and exciting, most of the time it was very boring. I wish I had gone the programmer route.

Synova said...

When I graduated high school my brother was invited to go to Mexico to stay for one week with each of the three boys who had stayed with us on a summer exchange program.

I decided that I needed to work to earn money for school over the summer.

I didn't make nearly enough to make a difference and I missed a rare opportunity to visit Mexico.

I took the opportunity to join the military, which isn't *rare* but does have a pretty strict window of opportunity. Glad I did that.

Sort of disappointed that I decided not to put in for EOD, which I'd considered, but I decided to be practical instead.

commenter said...


is your name tony? if so, we know each other.

wow, i hadn't thought about that guy in more than 25 years.

chickenlittle said...

I once had the rare opportunity to become King of England but I turned it down.Was that King or Prince Consort? I didn't know you was royalty.

AJ Lynch said...

Althouse you saw an opportunity when you created your blog.

Do you ever wonder how many people have your blog set up as one of their favorites in their browser?

AJ Lynch said...

When I was in high school, they were considring adding Russian to the foreign language curriculum. That was viewed as an opportunity of course due to the presumption Russia would be the next big military & commercial power for 100years or so.

That was in the late 1960's. How'd that work out? Never forget to factor in lady luck.

Lem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

I chose romantic love instead.Good call Meade.

Greetings from Julio 'If love calls on your door'If love calls your door
let it find it always open
never close it, let'm in ...

Open up, don't get distracted
don't let'm go, dont miss it
you don't know when it will call again ...

If love calls your door
let it find it always open
tomorrow is another day, it's God's will ...

Let love be welcome
Today I will stay with you
For a Gifted night without end ...

I want to be more than your friend
it is all I ask
and that you give me a chance.
(painstaking translation by Lem)

Lem said...

There is something wrong with Blogger. The preview makes it seem it's ok and the post is all wrong.

chickenlittle said...

I noticed that too Lem, last night. I put in spaces between lines, check on preview, but it comes out looking all shoved together like a tweet.

Maybe extra spaces help?

Lem said...

A rare opportunity to peak at top secret that we keep.

Greetings from Al qaedaI hear the secrets that you keep
When you're talking in your sleep
I hear the secrets that you keep
When you're talking in your sleep

When I hold you in my arms at night
Don't you know you're sleeping in the spotlight
And all your dreams that you keep inside
You're telling me the secrets
That you just can't hide

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

It's all in how you define "opportunity." It's euphemistic. As in, I'm giving you the the "opportunity" to do field sobriety tests. Err, no thanks.

Windbag said...

I get calls all the time offering me rare opportunities. I usually end the conversation by asking the solicitor if he's offered this rare opportunity to his mom, and if she bought in. If he doesn't hang up on me, I'll ask him why he's calling total strangers with this rare opportunity rather than all his friends and family.

About 15 years ago or so, when IBM was trading in the $30 range, I thought it was ripe. My only regrets are that I didn't borrow everything I could to buy more than I did, and that I didn't hold it longer than I did.

The original question was whether we've been tempted to take a rare opportunity because of its rarity. Never.

PatCA said...

I always said I wanted to move to California, so a friend offered me a ride a long time ago. I didn't want to appear to be chicken, so I accepted. The rest is history.

Oh, and I advised him not to drop out of college just to follow his crazy dream of being a comic. He ignored my warning and became a pretty big star, LOL!

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

Have you ever asked a question designed to elicit a certain response, while being so vague about the issue that no one has any basis for disagreeing with the intended conclusion?

Peter V. Bella said...

Shhhhhhhhhhh. Mom is gone. We can tell dirty jokes and sing bawdy songs.

Sully said...

Meghan McCain

whats' in a name u say?

everything it seems.

she's got a built in audience and.

Lem said...

There have been opportunities for Andrew Sullivan to make amends but... I doubt he will.

Greetings from Andrew Sullivan.. (if only he would take the opportunity)

I am the son
And the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular

You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and i need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Zachary Paul Sire said...

I wouldn't call any of the things I've done opportunities. Nothing has ever just appeared in front of me for me to accept or reject. Everything I've done as been of my own making, and thus I don't define them as "opportunities." It really does depend on your definition of the word I suppose.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Oh, there's a lot of opportunities

If you know when to take them, you know

There's a lot of opportunities

If there aren't, you can make them

Lawgiver said...

Everything I've done as been of my own making, and thus I don't define them as "opportunities."I feel sorry for you man, serendipity must have really screwed you. But I guess that depends on your definition of serendipity and screwed.

Sorry commenter, I'm not Tony.

Lem said...

Here is a rare opportunity that may become commonplace.

Greetings from a New England WaterlooI know all there is to know about the crying game
Ive had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
Youre sayin goodbye

One day soon Im gonna tell the moon about the crying game
And if he knows maybe hell explain

Peter V. Bella said...

Two Irish men are leaving a bar.

It happens you know.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Don't feel sorry for me. Know that it's just my way of telling myself that I have complete control of my life. I need to have that control, but it doesn't mean that many wonderful things haven't come into my life, because they have. And I willed them to happen in one way or another.

Some might see these as opportunities, or serendipity, but I see them all as my actions leading to results. I've never really been in love, and maybe when/if that happens, I might have to change my mind though. I look forward to changing my mind.

Lem said...

Here is an opportunity that was all about the rarity.........

Greetings from the New Order - True Faith..........

I feel so extraordinary
Somethings got a hold on me
I get this feeling Im
in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I dont care cause Im not there
And I dont care if Im here tomorrow
Again and again Ive taken too much
Of the things
that cost you too much
I used to think that the day would never come
Id see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...

blake said...


1. a) A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.
b) A favorable or suitable occasion or time.
2. A chance for progress or advancement.
I do not think the word means what you think it means.

Few people miss opportunities if they perceive them. Perceiving them is the trick.

I lived for several years in a friend's house at a very cheap rent, on a very nice bit of property in the Santa Monica mountains. When I was moving, I had a friend try to dissuade me. He was convinced there had to be a down side. Legal liability. Something.

Lem said...

This has to be a rare opportunity to study human subjects. This one is as rare as it could be controversial.......

Greetings from the king of pop - Leave me Alone........

('Cause There's A Time When
You're Right)
(And You Know You Must
Who's Laughing Baby, Don't
You Know
(And There's The Choice That
We Make)
(And This Choice You Will
Who's Laughin' Baby

So Just Leave Me Alone
Leave Me Alone
(Leave Me Alone)
(Leave Me Alone)
Leave Me Alone
(Leave Me Alone)
(Leave Me Alone)
(Leave Me Alone)
Leave Me Alone-Stop It!
Just Stop Doggin' Me Around
(Just Stop Doggin' Me)

rhhardin said...

Opportunity is management code for undesireable assignment.

MC said...

Oh, yeah! I've got a great one! This one time I was.. ah, wait, that wasn't me, that was someone else.

Never mind.

downtownlad said...

I take opportunities because they are interesting, not because they are rare. You only live once, and I don't want to be one of those boring people who does what society expects them to do.

And yes - I have taken rare opportunities. I've worked in four different continents, despite knowing nobody in those locations.

rhhardin said...

You only live once, and I don't want to be one of those boring people who does what society expects them to do.

You'd need gusto in there if you ever plan to do beer commercials.

srfwotb said...

God, I almost pimped out my rare opportunities and regrets/lack thereof.

Glad I stopped myself. ;-)

Paddy O. said...

I'm going to be in Chicago on a trip. She is going to be in Chicago on a trip. I learned about her trip from an online update.

Her last day in town is my first day in town.

She's nice and all, but I don't really see any future. I have a lot of friends already.

Do I tell her I'm going to be in Chicago at the same time. We haven't talked in a few weeks. I could totally go there a week, and she'd never know. Kind of a hassle to meet up and hang out, if there doesn't seem to be anything.

This is my chance to meet her in person. Maybe my only chance.

Online friendships are fine, that's all I was really wanting anyhow. Real life friendships carry baggage and expectations. I don't want her to get the wrong signals.

Do I let her know I'm going to be in Chicago?

No. She's nice and all, but no sparks. I decide not to tell her.

Ah, I'm thinking too much, I say to myself later that afternoon. Just get it out of the way. Hang out. For an afternoon. No big deal. Just do it. Thinking too much never helps.

Yes, I decide, I'll tell her I'm going to be in Chicago on the last day of her trip.

We meet up. Hang out in Wheaton, IL. Go to an Irish pub for dinner.

That was late September 2007.

She and I have now been married 3 1/2 months.

kentuckyliz said...

A diamond dealer from Geneva offered me $6k for a HJ.

I said no, and laughed too. Mister, you've got the wrong girl!

Even though I was broke at the time.

Dignity: priceless.

kentuckyliz said...

An extremely wealthy man wanted to marry me.

The only problem is, if you marry a rich man, you end up married to a rich man.

I can't hide my lyin' eyes.

I am so glad of my decision.

Integrity: priceless.

kentuckyliz said...

The "opportunity" to be tried for murder, or executed, doesn't really sound like an opportunity.

The person doesn't have a choice whether or not to pursue these activities. These things happen to him or her.

No agency.

amba said...

My whole life since 1972 has been a rare opportunity to take care of and be taken care of (and dominated and monopolized) by a rather unusual displaced person (variously described as a traumatized survivor, "stray tyrant," "male earth mother," "last of the Titans," etc.) instead of having a normal life. Adventures and demands instead of a home, kids, financial security, and an undistorted career. At the time I almost felt I didn't have a choice, but that was a choice. I gained a lot and lost a lot. Go figure.

lewsar said...

20 or so years ago i had a job offer to work at JPL as a caltech employee. for those that don't know, JPL is *the* place to be if you're interested in exploring the solar system.

at the time, i was finishing up my work on the magellan program, and could have started working on what became ulysses.

i couldn't convince my then pregnant wife that it made economic sense to give up our jobs in denver and move to the LA area (mostly because it didn't make economic sense).

so, i didn't take the job, even though i knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

while i've always regretted turning down that opportunity, my wife and i will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this june.

on balance, i made the correct decision.

campy said...

Last fall I had the opportunity to make an ostentatious display of my anti-racist credentials by supporting a person of African descent for high public office. I chose not to do so because he didn't seem ready for the job.

(Neither did his opponent, but that's another story.) :(

Eric said...

A diamond dealer from Geneva offered me $6k for a HJ.

Six thousand bucks!!! You must have real purty hands.

Methadras said...

I had the rare opportunity to join the Marine Corp at 17. I had scored a 100% on my ASVAB in 15 minutes. My recruiter more or less told me I could have any job I wanted in the Marine Corp. so I asked him if there were any spots to become a Marine Aviator. There were 2 open. I took one slot. Because I was 17 my parents had to sign for me. I already graduated high school with honors, but I wouldn't be 18 until February of the following year. My dad signed the paperwork, my mother didn't. I was pissed.

The recruiter told me to come back when I turned 18. I told him I would. I was really mad at my mother, but she took my anger in stride. By the time I was 18 my life was completely different. I still regret not having served my country in that way, but I hopefully found another way to have done it by becoming an engineer and contributing to it in some small way. That is life, we don't get what we want and I think that a true test of ones character is how you handle it.

ricpic said...

Paddy O's comment is heart warming...genuinely so.

kentuckyliz and amba: both comments are mesmerizing and I want to know more...but am resigned to not being told more.

I knew a woman for a short while who was that rarity, a great beauty, and had been married to a wealthy man (sold to him?) when she was quite young. When I knew her she had been divorced for a decade but they still had an "arrangement." And she still retained his surname.

amba, you might want to read a poem by E. A. Robinson, Eros Turranos.

srfwotb said...

@kentuckyliz : I think I love you - in a totally heterosexual girl crush kind of way.

(And your posts remind me of these guys in Hawaii....)

@paddyO: Well I already love you from before, in a completely non-adulterous way.