Wednesday, June 10, 2009

hump day thoughts


this morning i cooked eggs to bring to breakfast because i'm tired of eating just granola. i've talked to people before about meals - when you really think about it, you only have a certain number of meals in your lifetime. each time you skip one, or eat something quick and boring, or cut weight, that's another opportunity to enjoy life, lost and down the drain. this is why asian food, especially japanese food, is so good for the soul. the care put into creating a bento makes each meal meaningful, even if it's just a quick breakfast and lunch, and even if it is just rice and seaweed and a few other ingredients. i could cook something really tasty at home but when i bring it to work it's probably all sloshy and messy. but if i had a bento for lunch, it would be packaged just as freshly as if i had made it and eaten it right away.


phantom traffic jam. this is something i've always wondered about. why the hell does traffic slow down suddenly on the highway when we're all cruising at 65, then you pass through the congestion and the road before you is completely clear? wtf is everyone doing slowing down when there's no gruesome accident to be looking at? well now the answer is being studied by mathematicians. and the simulation is exactly as i imagined it - idiots overreacting to a slight braking action from the guys before you.

i've actually played a simulation like this when i went to a west point summer camp in my junior year. it was actually about supply chain management. a bunch of people sit in a row. from the left, you receive orders for a product. to your right, you send orders for that product to replenish your inventory. if you have enough in your inventory, you can go ahead and deliver it to your left. after like 3 turns, the inventory for each person was out of whack. some people had a huge overstock, some were completely understocked and had outstanding orders piling up. and all it took was one shift in demand. the person on the left went from a steady stream of orders of 4 to orders of 8, and as soon as the first person reacted to this change, the people to his right started making way bigger and smaller orders. of course, we were no economic experts anyway.

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