Monday, February 4, 2008

Worth Waiting For

I hibernated this weekend, including staying off line. I avoided paying my bills. This is nuts when you consider that some of that task is also getting my reimbursements together for my medical spending account. Sometimes I'm really good about it. Sometimes I'm a lump. After having fabulous houseguests for 2 weekends in a row, and my most stressful week at my new job so far, I needed lump time. Otters hibernate, right? Besides, I saw my shadow.

During my hibernation time, I actually picked up my body rev and did some arm and ab work. (I did a full leg and ab routine tonight which is 30 minutes.) I read/skimmed 3 novels in a series that I didn't particularly like, but somehow felt compelled to plug through despite TSTL moments in every one, particularly from the heroes. If I was more deliberate about it, maybe you could call a Mythbusters Marathon "meditation". I started watching the Dirt reruns in anticipation of the new season. I ran off at the mouth Friday night at some guy at the Mexican food place, making me realize I need more face to face time, or at least talking time, so if you get a call from me, don't be surprised.

There, now wasn't that worth waiting for? Don't you want to be me? Yeah, me neither sometimes. So I thought about various things to blog about that are more interesting to me than what I'm doing.

For instance: Why do toilet paper holder manufacturers have to go to such great lengths to keep people away from that second roll? There has to be something deeply embedded in the human psyche about resource comparison to drive that destruction. Plus, that behavior is seen elsewhere, like at a food buffet, although I'd normally avoid pairing those two places in one example.

On the TP, if you start from 2 fresh rolls, out of necessity someone will crack into a fresh one. With the hors d'oeurve ("HD") buffet, people circle around a freshly laid buffet for several minutes, unless food has been a long time coming, because no one wants to disturb the symmetry (or perhaps they don't want to seem hungry) until finally the instigator in the room breaks the seal and grabs that first piece.

Shortly after starting the first one (TP roll or HD tray), people only take from the one that has been started. Perhaps out of inertia, perhaps they don't want to go to the effort to undo the glue, cut that first piece, or break the symmetry. Perhaps they only want to use something that has already been found desirable.

Around the midpoint of removal, a switch happens and people start drawing on the previously untouched backup roll or HD tray. Perhaps because the first resource seems aged, or like yesterday's news, a little less fresh. (Do you have that fresh feeling?) The original "better choice" starts to become less desirable. Even seeing the trays put out at the same time, the second tray becomes all that. From this point, people still draw from both, but at a faster rate from the less-used one until both resources are consumed down to about the same level.

Around, at a guess, 5-15% remaining, people start passing over the HD tray, because who would want the leftovers? This happens even if the tray has only been out for 15 minutes and people know darn good and well the mini Bouef Wellingtons are no less fresh than 5 minutes ago. Good caterers know this and will move the dregs of one tray onto the dregs of the other tray, or onto a fresh tray without waiting for the dregs to clear completely. Or they sic me on the tray. I love me a good buffet.

At this low point with the TP, people might bypass that stall, if there are other choices with fuller rolls. They will, however, use it from necessity, unlike the lonely HDs. Unless... there has only been one roll all along with the second one being blocked off until the first is completely consumed. Then otherwise sane people turn into bears and rip apart the machinery to get at that untouched roll of "newer, better" paper. TP dispenser makers should just let go of the idea of full use of that final roll, and let people at the 2nd roll when the first hits 15%. It would save a lot of savage destruction, which eventually leads to that 2nd roll being always available but hard to dispense, or completely inaccessible.

With the genius breakout size of the enormous roll for public bathrooms, you'd think it would be solved, but no. Because when do you change it out to minimize waste? So they made dispensers with a large roll and a small roll for the leftover. You'd think this would solve the problems of running out, reducing waste, and not damaging dispensers, but no. They don't put the world's greatest minds on toilet paper changing duty, at least not for long. So you get people who see that the enormous roll is down to less than half, into the "beginning undesirable" region, never mind that it still holds more paper than 4 double rolls for a home dispenser and someone will check it again in 4 hours, so there's no risk of running out, especially since no one has touched the leftover roll yet, and still they change it out and try to cram it into the too small leftover sections. This leaves two overstuffed rolls that no one can get any paper from because they're wedged in so tightly they can't turn and those claws at the bottom tear up your hands before you can get a handful. But if you complain about it or offer as a suggestion to the housekeeping staff that if they have to force the roll on, we can't actually use it and to just let the big roll get down to a smaller size before changing it, you sound like an obsessive compulsive control freak.

Now that the leftover hors d'oeurves are broken into crumbs and I can't get the dratted paper off the roll, maybe it wasn't as interesting as I thought. But it would be interesting to figure out the psychological driver behind this behavior. I think it's from our primordial ancestors. Because you wouldn't have such a prevalence a leftover canapes or destroyed TP dispensers if this wasn't some concept of fair, safe use from way, way back and found in the mamalian? lizard? portion of the brain

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