Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No. 0021 - Traffic Strategist

Invention warning: this is a long one!

I drive roughly 22 miles to work everyday. I take Oracle all the way down to Speedway. Hit I-10 and off I go. 35 minutes later, I'm sitting in my desk. However, as some of my Tucsonian friends have also realized, multiple I-10 off and on ramps will be closed for a freeway widening project for the next 3 years. We're not talking about just one exit, we are talking about multiple of exits in which effectively cut of all access to I-10 from the city of Tucson (real smart! the person who made that decision should be sentenced to hug a cactus for a year). For as much frustrations this project stirs up, the reality is we all have to deal with it and find new ways to get to work cutting through town; this is the job for the traffic strategist!

I tried a new path yesterday morning cutting through town, it took me 1 hour, ridiculous! However this morning, I've applied some simple traffic strategies in chosing and executing my new path, I made it to work in 40 mins (25 miles - not bad for cutting through town). I'm not petitioning to be a traffic strategist but wouldn't it be nice to have a such a person to consult with? This could be a career thing by holding classes and seminars. Here is a sample of some lesson topics and strategies that you might see in the syllabus.

Choose the fewest left turns in your route:
I drove the entire 25 miles through town with only 2 left turns.

Try to drive through retirement communities:
Old people don't work so rush hours don't apply to them. There are fewer cops there too. As I was speeding through Skyline 10 mph over, people were still passing me, amazing!

Take the middle lane:
An all too common trap as the middle appears to be the most backed up, yet it is the most consistent. You might get ahead for a short while on the side lanes until you will either run into an unprotected left turner (on the left lane) or a public bus (right lane). Another great thing about the middle lane is there are suckers that would fall for these traps and leave the middle. That's is when you drive right up against the next guy and block them from coming back in (it's a cruel world out there. . sorry). I'm not saying avoid all side lanes travel, but just use it sparingly.

Choose carefully which lane to put yourself in as you come to a red light (advance coursework):
If there are multiple lanes and each has one vehicle stopped at a red light, it is common sense to not put yourself behind the dump truck but behind the Mustang. But what if there are multiple of cars? One semi truck vs. 3 soccer moms? Who would you bet on then? How about a grandpa driving a V8 Jag vs. a bunch of teenagers joyriding with their parents' van? These are all very complicated choices to make you know.

Spotting and following skillfull drivers:
There is a difference between stupid speeders and skillful fast drivers. Skillful drivers are good to follow because they do all the dirty work for you in trail blazing and pressuring all the slower cars to move aside. They often blast through a path such that you may enjoy "the fruits of their labor" by following them. They often don't care if you follow them, however it could be a difference of running a yellow or be halted by the red.

And the lesson goes on. I would totally hire a traffic strategist (at least for the next three years) as DOT officials are hugging cactuses (grrrr). But I must say, the only downfall to this new path that I'm taking is that I will be getting into work from a different access point, which means I won't get to wave my badge to this very cool old security dude at the old gate anymore. With his cool Oakley sun glasses, this 60 year old is the coolest old dude I get to meet all day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No. 0020 - Microwave Network

Everyday around 11:30 pm at my work, without failing, there is promised to have this aroma that generates from the vincinity of the copier; that area happens to be where our microwave situates. And within the minute of this first scent, there is also promised to have a queue of frozen dinners and left overs lining up on the table. This is the exact reason why I usually have my lunch slightly before the "microwave rush". However, on this one day, I failed to beat the rush so I actually ended up second in the queue. Luckily, my cube is close enough to the microwave where I can hear the beep, so I can actually get back to my cube and work while the microwave is cooking. But on this particular day, this lady before me must have been cooking a turkey or something (those were my exact wording in my thought. . . . . ironically also the same words my cube-mate used on her just a few days after this incident) because she ding'd her frozen dinner like 50 times at "forever" intervals. Each time I hear the ding, I would get up to find out she is putting it back in which kind of frustrated me a bit.

Now we all live in an age of neighborhood networking and internet; how about linking up our office microwave to the network too? Here is what I'm thinking. There can be this little window program where it will indicate the time left over on the microwave so people can time themselves accordingly. Better yet, how about have the queue on the network where the program will have pop up messages that will warn you when you are up in "approximately 30 seconds" or "now serving ticket No. 34". If networking is too difficult, then how about those devices they give you at restaurants when you are waiting for a table, where the device will vibrate and flash lights (basically freak-out on you) to tell you that you are being summoned. Honestly, with such a device, it would save me from all the anxiety and false alarms that the "turkey lady" puts me (and my cube-mate) through.

Side note: this invention idea is dedicated to Claire for this is her last week at her office. Like many of us, she have also suffered similar "turkey lady" situations (for bathrooms instead) and offered this solution. Bravo!

Monday, June 4, 2007

No. 0019 - "Communist" the game

I was over at some friends house tonight for a game of monopoly as a fine Sunday afternoon hangout. I've always enjoyed a good game of Monopoly with my friends, however, some have brought up the point that such game could be quite contentious. I thought about it and I can't help but to agree with them. Afterall, it does depict, in a smaller scale, of the political economy that we live in; a dog-eat-dog world. In essence, we all are immersed in an economical Darwinist society where business "survival the fittest" does apply. Why wonder this game is contentious?!

This is why my invention idea would suit those that would perfer a less competitive, less contentious Sunday afternoon family game - "Communist" the game. Instead of having the great value distinction (classism) between the slums of Baltic Ave to the ritzy Broadwalk, the board would be ridden with rice paddies, blacksmith shops, and coal mines. All places would cost the same and as soon as a player makes a profit on anything, the money must be equalized between all players or go to the central government. Instead of having "Chances" and "Community Chest" cards in the middle, it would have "Corruption" and "Coercion" cards. Corruption would have cards like "Pay the central government $100 yuan for your DVD bootlegging establishment". As for coercion, it would have cards like "Face the firing squad for having capitalistic ideas" or "Go to labor correctional camp for going to church". There are no such thing as free parking in China. When you pass GO, instead of collecting $200, you have to instead rehearse a verse from Mao's little red book. Instead of having only one going to jail spot at the northeast corner of the board, this game would have at least six. Now of course the "get out of jail free" card would have to come from the corruption pile. I can even picture the pewter character pieces already, instead of having a car, a shoe or a thimble, the "Communist" game would have characters like Joseph Stallin, some random Chinese guy, a sickle, a hammer, even Sputnik! Now such a game you can imagine would last quite a while and probably be pretty boring. I guess the only way the game would end is when you buy the expansion set to the "Communist" game where companies like McDonalds or Cadillac are allowed to build restaurants and factories on your rice paddies, then things would really start to shake up.

P.S. - Props to Killen and Andy for encouraging me to put this up.