Believe in the silver lining. I dare you.

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

I didn’t shoot a guy once. I was doing a stint as a start-up editor for an outdoor magazine in Michigan, when my phone rang one morning. The guy on the other end said he had invented some kind of new, bullet-proof cloth. The magazine had become very popular, he said, and he wanted the editor – me – to come to his shop and shoot him in his new armour for the PR value. He further said I could use any weapon I chose in any caliber – handgun, rifle or shotgun. He also said he would sign any kind of waiver I wanted.

He was also very pushy. Our family again watched the holiday classic A Christmas Story, featuring Ralphie, the kid infatuated with getting a BB gun for Christmas. The “shootee” was Schwartz in the schoolyard, rapidly upping the ante from a simple dare to the sinister Triple-Dog-Dare.

I can honestly say the thought never crossed my mind that it would be fun, interesting or excusable. I do, however, recall at the time imagining myself standing over a corpse with a smoking gun, explaining to a policeman that I had permission. It just sounded stupid. Later, after thinking about it for a while, I also wondered whether the guy was serious, or whether he was trying to dupe me into helping him commit suicide.

In any event, I declined. In retrospect, it was just another of life’s quirky forks in the road. It was odd at the time, but ended up telling me something about myself I didn’t fully know. I’m a skeptic.

I had lunch over Christmas with an advertiser, and he has a different take. He says he perceives me as an optimist. I see myself that way, as well, but I wonder if skeptical optimists are common. I think so, and I think a lot of them own manufacturing companies.

At lunch, we were discussing the future. You would think we’d get over that, given the events of the past. Fortune-tellers lack credibility as the result of their performance. Nonetheless, we were looking at the current state of the industry and speculating.

Of course, “current” in terms of economics, is as unknowable as the future. We are living in this day, but we don’t know the macroeconomic meaning of this day until Statistics Canada tells us. For our purposes, when I say “current,” I mean the most recent reports. In this case, we were focused on October building permits. Canada’s October Building Permit Report from Statistics Canada was reporting record highs. Our October permits were at $7.5 billion, which is 15 percent above September, month-over-month, and up 17 percent year-over-year from October 2011. If those permits become starts in the next few months, my crystal ball says 2013 should be lucky for more people in Canadian flooring than ever before.

StatCan is not the end-all for analysis. However, it measures what it measures and provides a timeline. We have every right to be in a major boom. To the extent we are not, we are the victims, not of the economy, the Americans or imports, but of our own inertia.

Over the past four years, economic uncertainty has invited us repeatedly to try out one version or other of its high-tech-fabric-du-jour. We don’t have to pull the trigger to know the ideas won’t work. There are new stories to tell, new fields to conquer and a new year to write in history. Go on. I Triple-Dog-Dare you.

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