Haircut Optimization

Here is the truest autobiographical comic that I have ever written.

2018.7.23 haircuts

I find myself thinking in these terms all the time.

Grocery stores? One trip per week, maximum. I will eat dubious cupboard combinations (it’s apple-olive-tortilla time!) to avoid a second visit.

(Also, when at the grocery store, doubling back towards an aisle I’ve already passed causes me deep psychic pain.)

Refueling the car? Unacceptable until it’s below 1/4 of a tank.

Clothes purchases? Approximately once per rotation of the Chinese zodiac.

The one place I buck the trend: catching flights. I always arrive early. You’ll occasionally hear the argument that, if you never miss a flight, you’re leaving too much time. I find that profoundly silly. Hanging out at an airport is perfectly pleasant, a chance to read and stroll. Arriving too early is virtually costless; arriving too late is worse by an almost infinite ratio!

17 thoughts on “Haircut Optimization

  1. I’m with you on the airport rule. I hate panic-driving. I feel so much better when I show up at the gate 45 minutes before boarding, just knowing that if anything had gone wrong, I had plenty of margin for error.

  2. Ben, I love this one. I actually struggle with this hair cut question regularly! Car…gas tank…don’t like that to go below 1/2 should we have a big snowfall and yet then I would Barely drive. Such problems! I hope you and Taryn are well and enjoying the holidays. Wishing you and all Orlin’s a Happy New Year. Love, Marcie and Marvin

    Sent from my iPad


    1. I’m with you on haircuts completely and nearly the same place on gas. One exception: in Minnesnowta, one does not want much room for condensation in the tank when it is really cold (below 0°F), so filling at about 1/2 full works better midwinter.

  3. In NYC, of course, most of us have to carry our groceries. Consequently, we shop every couple of days. Delivery helps, but the delivery guy has the same constraints, so we can’t order that much at one time, not to mention there’s nowhere in our couple-of-closets apartments to put lots of food.

    What counts as optimal and what counts as pessimal depends strongly on local constraints.

  4. My dad is a believer in the haircut theory. I don’t go for it. Even the best stylist doesn’t have a good model for differential hair growth. The equations are non-linear. This makes it hard to optimize 10 days out.

    As for the rest of it. With a few exceptions, I don’t buy gas until the needle is on empty. The exceptions would be that it is a friends car, or if there is somewhere that I know I have to go later that day. But that is just the time value of time. A minute right now is more valuable than a minute in the future.

    Now, I am driving electric, so I only go the gas station when I need air in my tires.

    I only buy the groceries as I have menus planned. There is never any surplus food in the house.
    The cupboards are generally bare, and the fridge nearly empty — but what is in there, I know is fresh.

    Catching flights. I missed a flight a couple of years ago. All flights from JFK to SFO were over-booked for that day and the next day. It made for a 48 hour delay. That means that leaving a half an hour sooner for the next 100 flights just to break even.

  5. I fill up with gas often because I like having a full tank, also I seems like when I “need” to get gas it comes at the worst time.

  6. If I went down a grocery aisle and didn’t put something in the cart from that aisle, my son, beginning when he was about 3 years old, would mutter, “Why did you come down this aisle? We didn’t need to. You didn’t get anything.”

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