Friday, April 18, 2008


I have a slight obsession. I realize that sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not. For instance, if you were obsessed with paying your taxes exactly one day early every year, the obsession would not cause much disruption in your life. That is what I mean.

My obsession is efficiency in movement. Suppose that you live on the northeast corner of the block and your friend lives on the southwest corner of the block, along the diagonal. You could walk down the street to your friend's house. You would walk two blocks.

What if you could cut across, along that diagonal? Assuming you could walk straight there, the distance you would walk is about 30% less than the two blocks (about 1.4 blocks). I won't go into how to use the Pythagorean theorem to figure that out.

Anyway, I am conscious of such things. When I walk in the door to my building, I take a route the minimizes the number of steps that I take to my class. If I have to go to my office first, the route can change. If I have to go to the departmental offices, too, the route can change again.

The efficiency obsession takes other forms too, but still, it is not an all encompassing thing--really, it's not. Really. A friend once laughed at me because I said that tomato soup is a good breakfast because it can be sipped from a cup while standing--no need to sit down with a spoon, which is less efficient.

I have blogged about The Jetsons before. I hate their futuristic, inefficient technologies. They fly to work instead of walking, but they seem to fly on a two dimensional plane (geometric plane, not airplane), and not use the third diminsion--height/altitude. They live up on perches with nothing underneath. It would be more efficient for them to live on the ground and drive cars, since they do not really make use of the third dimension.

Enough about The Jetsons. When I miss an efficiency trick, it bugs me. Like if I have to make two trips to the grocery store, when I could have only made one with better planning. Or if I take an hour to complete something that I know I could have done using a different method in 30 minutes.

But it's not a really big deal. Really. I'm serious.

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