Wednesday, July 21, 2004


I had an absolutely wonderful time at the Samizdata Blogger Bash Sunday night. It’s rare enough to find a roomful of such bright and easy-to-talk-to people, but I have to say it's even rarer to find so many who are able to talk about the things I find irresistable. You see, I’m a business geek – I absolutely adore business from an operations point of view and could talk the grin off a hyena about my passion. What made the night so very good was finding people who could talk about ideas, about what-ifs and about real-life problems and their solutions without considering such conversation to be hard work or a bore. I even found a co-conspirator (Adriana Cronin) to happily chat about a real business problem with. Heaven.

You see...talking about world events is nice, politics sharpens the ‘ol fangs, arts sticks my left hemisphere on the treadmill for a workout, other’s wistful recollections are a great escape and random observations about people and life are the glue sticking conversations together – but nothing, NOTHING makes me happier than generating new ideas or brainstorming solutions to problems. This is most often found in the field of business, although I have participated in some great political/philosophical discussions and even some discussions about silly things like traffic flow where it's possible to just throw ideas around and think freely on their application.

So I came home remembering afresh my unique brand of geekery and made an important discovery.

Pistachios are simply the worst food to give someone who is obsessed with systems.

Quickly, the object of the exercise shifts from enjoying a snack to refining the mechanism whereby that snack is available. I realised this after finding I had created a veritable mountain of pistachio shells in my bid to perfect the hand-to-mouth delivery system.

First, I found the fastest way to crack the nut open (thumbnails pull it open whilst middle fingers cradle and index fingers position the nut). Then I had to find the fastest transfer method to the mouth. Many were tested in MonSnak Inc.’s London Kitchenarium Labs including suction, flicking, plucking and tipping before grazing the nut out of the shell was selected. Disposal methods of shell byproduct were found not to affect the critical path minimum time, so research funds were not allocated to this area (I do realise that this would be a consideration in the long term, as several hours of activity at maximum output might produce an awful lot of shell. It’s on next year’s budget.)

Lastly, I had to find the most ergonomic way to store the maximum number of rounds in my lethal nut-cracking hands. It was a balance between relaxing the fingers enough to store more nuts in the palm and keeping them tense enough to be able to crack the nut.

All the while, I’m eating these goddamned nuts and not really noticing the taste or sensation because of being so fixated on cracking them open as quickly as possible. I stopped when I was satisfied with my little system. That’s when I realised just how many shells I’d gone through and that I felt rather full.

I told myself to stay away from pistachios and I did, easily. Then I noticed I was eating cherries and refining the fastest seed-removal-with-front-teeth-system.

So the plan is that from now on, I’ll be sticking to the easy foods – cracked nuts, raisins, rice thins, grapes, water. Things that are so very easy to unpack and eat that I’ll quickly grow bored of the whole exercise and go rearrange the sock drawer by purpose subcategory for more of a challenge.

Overall, I really don’t mind being like this – I can see exactly how to organise things to get maximum efficiency out of processes and do it with almost nil effort, have been able to since I was a kid. It’s when my wetwiring overflows to everyday things that it can get a little out of hand and more than a little weird. A lot of the time, I’ll hold back from over organizing the house because I live with two other people who wouldn’t much appreciate being handed an operations manual with headings like ‘Doing the Ironing the Easy Way’ and ‘The Bookshelf – Why We Use the Dewy Decimal System.’

So if we do ever meet, dear reader, and I stand in your kitchen rearranging your spice rack whilst talking about the weather, please understand the compulsion and try to hand the jars to me in flavour groups.


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