This is part one in a three part series of places where I explain my mathematical thinking in real life. I’ll try to keep the math simple, partly because I don’t want to confuse my readers, and partly because I’m not that good at math.
Yesterday I was making a hummus sandwich with Tofurky. I pulled out hummus, bread, Tofurky, red pepper, and honey mustard and began making my sandwich. After smearing on the hummus and honey mustard and placing on the red pepper, I attempted to tear open the Tofurky packaging only to fail. It looked as though I wasn’t going to grace my hummus with slices of soy protein. Then I saw the scissors sitting on the counter.
I now had to make a tremendous decision. Was I to make the trek to the cutting device that had, thankfully, been left out by someone in a rush, or was I to deal with a plain sandwich that had honey mustard and hummus mixing on bread as opposed to in my mouth? Really the decision was based on two variables: How much worse my sandwich would be without fake meat (x), and how much extra work it would take to use the fake meat (y). If y>x, then “fuck it. ” If y<x, then “It’s Tofurky time!”
So what goes into y? The work involved would be getting the scissors (g), cutting the bag open (c),, wrapping the Tofurky (w), and putting the Tofurky back in the fridge (f). If I don’t use Tofurky then my work is just (f), so the difference in work is y= g+c+w+f-f -> y=g+c+w. The difference in taste is harder to figure out. I haven’t tasted the sandwich, but the lack of protein sans Tofurky, and my knowledge that I wasn’t going to make another “meal” for 6 hours at least. Put x at 10. 10 is a good number.
Cutting the bag (c) is a 5, wrapping the Tofurky (w) could range from a 2 to an 8 depending on where the closest saran wrap was. Luckily there was a plastic bag next to the Tofurky. w=3. Getting the scissors (g) was either a 1 or a 3 based on whether or not I could reach them from my current position. I reached. I grabbed the scissors! 5+3+1=9! 9<10! Tofurky time! I went to cut the packaging open only to find that the vacuum sealed packaging made cutting open properly somewhat difficult: more like a 7 or 8 than a 5.
7 or 8+3+1=11 or 12 which is > 10.
I made the wrong decision.