Archive for July, 2007


Dear Squirrels

Hello there!Dear squirrels who run out into the street just ahead of me,

I’d like to have a chat with you about statistical probability. Hey, don’t worry. I won’t get too technical. You’ve got a lot of nuts to gather, and a lot of suburban neighbourhoods to overrun. If anything, this letter is intended to empower you to keep on doing your thing. But in order for you to keep on doing your thing, you need to stop darting out in front of me, man. For real.

Look, I understand that the occasional slip of the mind might happen. Maybe you saw an incredibly moist-looking acorn, or a stinkin’ chipmunk sniffing around your territory, and you felt compelled to protect your interests by bolting across a busy street. It happens. But like, I said: statistical probability. You and your brethren seem to have come to a consensus that when confronted with the threat of being crushed by an automobile careening toward you, the best option is to hesitate, then run in a zig-zag formation toward the curb then back in the direction you originally wished to go—often stopping multiple times directly in front of the path of my tires. I assure you, this is not the most sensible option, statistically and mathematically speaking.

You see, squirrels, when you run across the road in one direction, you create a vector. On this vector, there are theoretically infinite potential points of contact. When I drive down a street, my car tires create two more vectors (for simplicity’s sake, let’s ignore the thickness of my tires—this is squirrel-level mathematics after all). These two new vectors will intersect with your vector and create two new points of contact. Think of them as “death-spots”.

Let me illustrate this in terms you can grasp. You’ll be the walnut, and my tires will be the pounding fist.

Squirrel Scenario One

See me coming up on ya? That’s right: I have two fists, and you have one line. You may suggest that the scales seem tipped in my favour. Here’s where it gets interesting. I can only hit you one time on that line. Sure, I get two chances, but once you’re past that second fist, you’re home free, rolling in plush-tailed chiquitas and balling all day, if that’s your scene. If it’s not, I’m sure you have a nice nook somewhere.

The problem is, you’re not giving me one clean line, bro. For whatever reason, you’re doing this:

Squirrel Scenario 2

Let me tell you, as quick as you may be, statistically, you’ve upped the ante. Is it out of fear? Look, I already feel guilty enough that, because of our roads and cars, you’re forced to face soft rolling death from above every day. But am I to infer that because of humanity’s horrid influence, you’ve permanently lost the ability to differentiate between away and towards? Because if that’s the case—if we, as a species, broke your brain—then I don’t think I can cope with that guilt.

Just like a real fist pounding a real walnut—sure, it hurts the walnut plenty, but it hurts my fist too. Except in this case, the walnut is you, and the fist is my heart. Don’t make me punch myself in the heart, little hamster, cause it’s a battle we’ll both lose.


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