How Many Times Did You Wash That Dish?

Updated to compare the put clean dishes on bottom option!

I put dishes away a lot – every day, it seems. From time to time I wonder – should I put the clean dishes on the bottom, in order to make sure I use them evenly? Or does it really matter – I do use all of them from time to time, so maybe that mixes them up enough?

Since my math is far too poor to do this analytically, I built a simulation. And since my primary “language” appears to be web pages, I built it in javascript on a web page.

This simulation models what happens when you use a random number of plates from the cupboard, wash them in your dishwasher, and put the clean ones back in the cupboard in random order. Do you end up using some more than others?

You can choose how many plates are in the stack, and determine whether the number of plates used each day is drawn from a uniform distribution (default), or from a normal distribution.

dishes in stack Use normal distribution, with parameters:
standard deviation

The stack of dishes below represents the current stack in your cupboard, top to bottom, and the number represents the times the dish in that current position has been washed.

Times washed:
Stdev is normalized

It appears from running a few variations of the parameters that you can end up with some relatively unused plates even after several years worth of wash cycles, especially if you model the dish usage on a normal distribution. Uniform distributions recycle things pretty efficiently after 100 days or so. As one would suspect, putting the clean ones on the bottom gives you almost perfect uniformity!

NYT lifestyle alert: potbellies?

Usually I’d chalk this up as another one for the annoying Times lifestyle file, but it’s just too damn weird!!!

THIS summer the unvarying male uniform in the precincts of Brooklyn cool has been a pair of shorts cut at knickers length, a V-neck Hanes T-shirt, a pair of generic slip-on sneakers and a straw fedora. Add a leather cuff bracelet if the coolster is gay.

In truth this get-up was pretty much the unvarying male uniform last summer also, but this year an unexpected element has been added to the look, and that is a burgeoning potbelly one might term the Ralph Kramden.

And this “trend” – in men’s fashion, no less – no wait, men’s casual fashion – no wait, men’s casual fashion with freakin’ potbellies! – somehow warranted 750 words.

via Noticed – It’s Hip to Be Round –

Slate’s callout: The Bogus Trend Stories of Summer

And for those looking for a more typical Times kind of lifestyle story, they’ll have to settle for the Post, which explores the recessionary suffering of Westchester in a 5-page (OK, that’s Post online pages) article “Squeaking By on 300,000”  Can’t say I could drag myself to the end.

Before College, Costly Advice Just on Getting In –

I’m not sure if this is for the “annoying NY Times lifestyle” file or for the crime file (or, perhaps, for the fashion police file)…

Yet the proposed “looks” — a young man in seersucker shorts, a young woman in a blue blazer over a low-cut blouse and short madras skirt — appeared better suited for a nearby yacht club. After Jennifer Delahunty, dean of admissions at Kenyon College, was shown photos of those outfits, she rendered her review.

“I burst out laughing,” she said.

via Before College, Costly Advice Just on Getting In –

Cursing and Pain Relief

Damn right! I guess my kids must be going through a particularly painful period right now :)

On average, people were able to withstand the pain for significantly longer if they cursed than if they did not. Swearing also increased heart rate and decreased subjective reports of pain.

And before anyone criticizes me for Tierney’s politics, he’s not the author of this post.

via Cursing and Pain Relief – TierneyLab Blog –

Why Are Southerners So Fat? – TIME

The headline definitely catches the eye. The article concludes:

So there you have it. Southerners have little access to healthy food and limited means with which to purchase it. It’s hard for them to exercise outdoors, and even when they do have the opportunity, it’s so hot, they don’t want to.

The image is kind of alluring, too, at least in the foreground:

French Fries

via Why Are Southerners So Fat? – TIME.

Most Managers are Logical Sloths

OK, so this press release came in on a google alert (entirely unrelated to anything, but how often do you see the word “sloth” in PR?

Most Managers are Logical Sloths, says New Rotman Research

Strategic managers, lacking training in how to build their own situational models and reasoning strategies as opposed to “implementing” blueprints and recipes, tend to choose easy problems to make sense of their predicaments and use sub-optimally simplistic methods of framing complex problems, shows new research from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

via The Public Interest Newswire.

I think this sells most managers (including yours truly) short. We are sloths in many respects, not limited to our logical optimization. Not only do we see complexity and recourse to blueprints and recipes – we see hard work and call in sick, we avoid conflict, defer difficult decisions, punish the innocent and promote the undeserving, marshall evidence to support whatever we’ve already concluded, extrapolate from insufficient evidence, and miscommunicate efficiently so as to confuse everyone who takes part in a project.

I’m just getting started!

Marketing 201: Williams-Sonoma meets Billy Mays

So, here’s the puzzle. How do you turn this:

into something thoroughly respectable, ideally in a melange of shiny stainless steel and earth tones? Well, here’s a hint:

Respectable Sliders?

Respectable Sliders?

Thomas Jefferson – wow.

Maira Kalman pulls out a beautiful work, again, for us in the Times. Jefferson is one 0f a kind – this example just stuck out for me as evidence for his, well, uniqueness. This chart of vegetable availability in Washington, DC, was evidently based on Jefferson’s observations over the eight years that he was president. Imagine any of our modern presidents monitoring Eastern Market’s wares!

Time Wastes Too Fast – And the Pursuit of Happiness Blog –

To fight deflation, abolish cash. Could Japan make reality of ‘science fiction’? – Times Online

This is a great idea – abolish cash entirely – I hope it comes to the U.S. too. Heck, I’d be happy if they just got rid of the penny and the dollar bill!

With recovery elusive, a population doddering into old age and perhaps a decade of deflation in prospect, Japan may start mulling the most radical monetary policy of all — the abolition of cash.

To fight deflation, abolish cash. Could Japan make reality of ‘science fiction’? – Times Online.

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