antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

john stossel’s show last night

want to reduce gas consumption?

Buy better tires.

I referenced Seth Godin earlier today in regards to investment in developing countries.

Why is it, then, that a marketing blogger would talk about wanting to reduce fuel consumption? I think it’s because it’s easier to relate to than streamlining other processes you may have in your business or development cycles. It’s something we can relate to directly.

If we assume that all the cars drive the same number of miles, which would be a better investment:

  • Get new tires for all the Suburbans and increase their mileage a bit to 13 miles per gallon.
  • Replace all the Priuses and rewire them to get 100 miles per gallon (doubling their average!)

That’s right – spend a little bit of money on the Suburbans, and cut fuel usage more than you could by doubling the efficiency of the already-efficient Prius.

Why? It’s because we think in MPG rather than GPM. What does thinking in miles-per-gallon do to our brains that gallons-per-mile would make clearer? Well, here’s the math:

  • Let m be number of miles driven by a car…
  • Let s be the gas consumption (in gallons) for Suburbans (= m/10)
  • Let p be the gas consumption (in gallons) for Priuses (= m/50)
  • Let T be the total consumption (in gallons) (= s + p = m/10 + m/50 = 6m/50 = 0.12/m)

So in Scenario #1, we have T = m/13 + m/50 = 50m+13m/650 = 63m/650 = 0.097m

And in Scenario #2, we have T = m/10 + m/100 = 11m/100 = 0.11m

Scenario #1 reduced consumption by 0.12-0.097 = 0.023; Scenario #2 only by 0.01; Scenario #1 is 2.3x more efficient!

This is due to a power-curve relationship early on in the MPG table, where a minute improvement (1 MPG on 10) is a huge percentage improvement (10%) at the front end whereas later-on it’s minuscule.

I thought it was neat 🙂

Original article – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/08/not-so-good-at-math.html

The math as to why it works – http://www.onpreinit.com/2009/08/mpg-illusion-seth-godin.html or http://charliepark.tumblr.com/post/169016492/in-seth-godins-post-this-morning-he-talks-about

store brands are sometimes better

I shop at various grocery stores, and the cashiers generally look at my purchases a little askance: clementines, milk, ice cream, pot pies, beer, Ensure – they seem to get confused when I checkout with my selections.

I was raised with a thrifty mindset, but am not afraid to spend money for better quality.

For years I’ve preferred store brand cereals – corn flakes, raisin bran, cocoa puffs, cocoa crispies, rice crispies, and chex are all indistinguishable to me when comparing store brand and name brand. Some I can distinguish and just like the store brand more. Cheerios is the only notable difference – fake cheerios are NOT the same as the ones from General Mills.

Trader Joe’s raisin bran, for example, is cheaper than the name brand, has fewer calories, and (I think) tastes better than those from Post or Kellogg.

I don’t go out of my way to buy organic foods to make a statement. Many times I think they taste worse, or the relative percentage change in quality does not match the price percentage shift. Trader Joe’s raisin bran happens to be organic – but the fact that it tastes good and is inexpensive is more important.

I’ve been bitten several times by trying store brand macaroni and cheese. I picked-up a batch from Lowes Foods recently, and am hoping they’re not hideous like the ones from Winn Dixie were. But if they’re decent, then I have a source for less expensive than Kraft mac and cheese. My favorite is Prince brand, but those aren’t purchaseable in NC – and therefore I tend to stock-up periodically when I go home to NY.

Also, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the high quality of the canned strawberries I can get at my local dollar store. Yes. A dollar store. Most of the food they sell is high enough in sodium to make road ice quiver. But the canned strawberries at my local Dollar Tree near NC55 and NC54 are downright tasty – 90 calories per serving, with only three servings per can. That lines-up with my home-made applesauce for caloric value, and makes a nice shift.

They’re also not those supersized strawberries you find in most produce departments of grocery stores; the ones at Dollar Tree are about 1/2″ in diameter rather than 2″. The smaller size makes for what seems to be a more strawberryish strawberry than the giant ones from the supermarket.

Such experimenting has made me want to do more, and so now when I go shopping I try to compare not merely price or calories – but the taste quality. It leads to a lot of sampling, but being able to shave 10-50% off my grocery bill is a nice [eventual] payoff.

the best middle name. ever.

While I typically don’t repost, Seth Godin’s post was awesome.

The best middle name ever

It’s not Warren or Susan or Otis or Samuel or Tricia.

It’s “The.”

As in Attila The Hun or Alexander The Great or Zorba The Greek.

When your middle name is ‘The’, it means you’re it. The only one. The one that defines the category. I think that focus is a choice, and that the result of appropriate focus is you earn the middle name.

Jordan’s Furniture in Waltham was the place to go for that sort of thing. Bocce Pizza and the Anchor Bar were the places in Buffalo when I was growing up. Google is more appropriately called Google the search engine.

Seek the.

Of course, Winnie the Pooh is the exception that proves the rule.”

nucleation – the secret to maintaining a good head?

I had a Beck’s this evening with dinner.

The special Beck’s glass, like the Samuel Admas Perfect Pint Glass, has a small segment at the bottom that forces the dissolved CO2 to form bubbles, and yields a [near] constant head on the beer.

For those of you that saw the Mythbusters episode dealing with Mentos and Diet Coke, you’ll recall an extensive discussion on nucleation. According to the wikipedia article, “nucleation is the onset of a phase transition in a small region. The phase transition can be the formation of a bubble or of a crystal from a liquid.” Indeed, the SAPPG terms its laser-etched ring at the bottom a ‘nucleation site’. None of the other beer-specific glasses I have seen explicitly use this term.

Certainly, though, watching the bubbles constantly streaming upwards, at differing rates depending on local eddy conditions, is entertaining in itself. But the fact that it helps beers that otherwise appear quite flat to maintain their fizzy head.

I don’t know if it always makes a difference on taste, but it certainly does for Beck’s and Sam Adams.

kelly johnson’s 14 rules of management

Johnson’s famed ‘down-to-brass-tacks’ management style was summed up by his motto, “Be quick, be quiet, and be on time.” He ran Lockheed’s Skunk Works by these 14 rules.

Kelly’s 14 Rules:

  1. The Skunk Works manager must be delegated practically complete control of his program in all aspects. He should report to a division president or higher.
  2. Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the military and industry.
  3. The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a small number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).
  4. A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.
  5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.
  6. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program. Don’t have the books 90 days late, and don’t surprise the customer with sudden overruns.
  7. The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than military ones.
  8. The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by both the Air Force and Navy, meets the intent of existing military requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don’t duplicate so much inspection.
  9. The contractor must be delegated the authority to test his final product in flight. He can and must test it in the initial stages. If he doesn’t, he rapidly loses his competency to design other vehicles.
  10. The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important military specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.
  11. Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn’t have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.
  12. There must be mutual trust between the military project organization and the contractor with very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.
  13. Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.
  14. Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.

Note that Kelly had a 15th rule that he passed on by word of mouth. According to Ben Rich’s book Skunkworks, the 15th rule is: “Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don’t know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy.”

please stay home next week tuesday

if you’re undecided. If by now, with a week left, you haven’t picked who you’re going to vote for as President (and I almost don’t care who you pick [I do, but that’s another story]), don’t vote.

I’d like to tell you to vote for the guy I want to win, but I don’t like even most of the third, fourth, and ninth party candidates this year.

I’m going to write-in, as long as I can get back to the state to vote on time.

But honestly, if after the past two years of campaigning you haven’t been able to make up your mind, you shouldn’t vote – or you should write yourself in.