Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The mistake budget

When I was in the investment management business, my firm modeled itself after a very successful firm run by a fellow named Dean LeBaron, the primary differences being that Dean had better mathematical models and a hotter wife than any of us. One day Dean offered to share some secrets of his success at a Boston Security Analysts Society meeting, and my boss and I decided to go. While he did not reveal any secrets to building better portfolios, he did elaborate on a very interesting idea. He stressed the importance of trying things, and suggested that all of us should plan to fail more often and build a mistake budget into our fiscal plan.

I dipped into my mistake budget this evening. Remembering the good fortune of the chamber concert I walked into a couple of nights ago, I bought a ticket to the “Liszt & Dvorak International Piano Festival,” which featured an orchestra called the Prague Dvorak Symphony Orchestra. I wasn’t particularly skeptical when I bought the ticket because I figured the city government would have the good sense only to allow a serious orchestra to play at their serious new hall in the Municipal House. I’m not sure why I had such an optimistic idea of what the City Fathers would allow or not allow, and in fact the orchestra was decidedly mediocre in spite of the high ticket price.

I mistakenly assumed that an expensive ticket would lead to a good concert, but in this case the ticket led to a nearly-empty hall. The empty hall freed the orchestra from any concerns over developing a bad reputation and they took good advantage of that freedom. Honestly, I think the attorneys in the Boston Bar Association Orchestra played at least as well the last time I heard them, and their concert was free.

Fortunately, the day began so well that the closing concert did not damage it. I started out in the Museum of Applied Arts, where I gasped over and over again at exhibits that delighted me. The exhibits included glass, textiles, woodwork, clocks, porcelain, and other crafts presented in an extraordinary building. And at the museum I met a very interesting couple from Boston, with whom I enjoyed an equally-delightful lunch. Finally, I got lost and found myself rescued by a gentleman about my dad's age who walked me over to the Mucha Museum and then toured the exhibits with me. After all that, the closing mistake bothered me very little.

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