Efficiency

August 19, 2009

Statue of Euclid at Oxford University

Statue of Euclid at Oxford University

Some people get annoyed with what they perceive as my obsession with efficiency, the more generous would characterise it as my “birthright” as a Japanese, and are sympathatic.  I would frequently cite the bullet train compensation system, where if it was late in arrival or departure by 2 minutes, you’d get a full refund (of course it’s not the case – i think it’s more like a hour – but i love the bewildered look people show).

But in reflection, there is smoke and there is fire.

* In the shower, my routine would be that I would first shampoo so that the suds stay in my hair longer, and then I could brush my teeth in the shower while taking a piss.

* I have read 80 pages of Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs (large print) while driving my car (slowly) on the highway. In fact, I read whenever I have any time – while waiting for lights to change, in the elevator, in the toilet etc.

* While driving on the highway I could not stand taking the outer lane – when making a curve, I had to always be in the inner radius – to save time, distance travelled, less wear on the car & tyres.  I once calculated that the average deviation from the mile marker and my car odometer is 3% when I do this (I tracked 200km while the car showed 206km).

* I am never consciously late, but I am never very early either.  I could make a 60 km journey through city traffic lasting more than an hour and still gauge the exact minute that a destination is reached. In fact, in many cities I have lived in (Boston, Worcester, Johor Bahru, Sao Paulo etc) I have counted the seconds in which a traffic light turns color.

* I rate time management so highly that I get annoyed if I stood in front of the house fumbling for keys when I should have taken them out and were holding them in my hands in approaching the house. This would shave off unwanted seconds.

* I have a good mise-en-place before I start cooking.

* The reason why I study quantum mechanics is because of my fascination with particle behaviour & the equations of motion, governed bythe euclidean principles of least action, least distance and least time. I apply these principles to my daily life.

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