Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dan Wald named to Efficiency Hall of Fame

by Tim Wilkening

Earlier this week, Dan Wald of Los Angeles, California, was named the newest member of the Efficiency Hall of Fame. I caught up with Dan at his home to see what makes this human model of efficiency tick. During the interview, Dan remained focused on his dual-monitor computer, frantically working on machine schematics.

Tim: “Mr. Wald, how does an obsession with efficiency affect your day-to-day life?”

Dan: “I have done several things in my spare time. The one I am most proud of was a perpetual motion machine I built out of Legos and empty milk cartons. I had to scrap it though because Brad said I had to obey the laws of thermodynamics. Other projects include traffic lanes for shopping malls. I also have a cologne.”

Tim: “Rumor has it that you sleep 20 minutes per day. How is it that you sleep so little?”

Dan: “I’ve spent a considerable amount of time learning to compartmentalize my brain and to control its use. The human brain comprises 2% of a normal person’s body mass, yet it consumers nearly 20% of its energy. This is an unacceptable efficiency ratio! I just mimic what a shark does when it’s sleeping. And right now, during lame-ass interviews like this, I shut down 90% of my brain in order to conserve energy. After awhile I’ve stored so much extra energy I don’t have to sleep.”

Tim: “After winning this prestigious Efficiency award, what will you do next?”

Dan: “I’ve considered numerous things that would improve my Personal Efficiency Factor, or ‘PEF’ as I call it. I’ve decided not to use many of my ideas, however, usually because although they would save me time in my day, they come at significant opportunity cost. Automation for the sake of automation usually isn’t a good idea. Marginal return must be considered. MARGINAL RETURN!”

The ‘PEF’ improvement that put Mr. Wald into the Efficiency Hall of Fame was an RFID [radio frequency identification] chip implanted into his neck. It transmits information to a nearby mainframe such as location, walking speed and biological information, such as thirst and hunger. Surrounding machines make the appropriate adjustments to maintain Mr. Wald’s optimal efficiency. For example, the lights in Mr. Wald’s home turn on when he is in the room, and turn off when he leaves. This annoys the shit out of his roommates, but it saves approximately $0.06 per day in energy costs (depending on the time of year) and considerable time saved operating light switches. Lights will turn on in advance depending on how quickly Dan is walking—the machine is programmed to infer when Dan is in a hurry and it will make guesses as to where Dan might be going in order to minimize lost time due to dark rooms.

Tim: “What is it about efficiency and productivity that you value so highly?”

Dan: “Productivity is a way of life—a moral code. It is a constant process by which I acquire information and transform my surroundings according to my mind. Cleanliness is NOT next to godliness. Fuck cleanliness. Efficiency! Productivity!”

The reader should note that at this point in the interview, Mr. Wald paused for approximately 0.7 seconds—the maximum length of time Mr. Wald allows himself to pause in normal conversation. After this point, Mr. Wald responded to questions only by raising one finger or making a fist. I can only assume Mr. Wald’s PEF evolved during that 0.7 seconds, and now all answers are simplified to a binary response--a 1 for TRUE or 0 for FALSE.

Tim: “Congratulations again, Mr. Wald. I hope you agree this has been a worthy use of your time and brain resources.”

Mr. Wald continued to work, only raising his hand to make a fist, indicating a FALSE response. After awhile, Mr. Wald raised his middle finger. Perhaps he reconsidered.


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