Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Maximizing utils

One thing that I do a lot, and don't know if other people generally do, is try to anticipate what other people might say the next time I talk to them, and think of clever responses to it. It's really too bad that I can almost never successfully anticipate what people are going to say—I mean, except when I'm using my well-documented psychic powers—because otherwise I would seem extremely witty. Often this also results in me not saying something that I might have otherwise said on the fly if I hadn't planned it in advance. This is one of those things.

So, in preparing to schedule my little holiday party, I asked a group of friends to tell me which of the potential days (December 23, 24, 25, or 26) would work best for them. Before doing this, I didn't realize that, should conflicts arise, picking a particular date over another would essentially be choosing a person over another, since I had already said that all four days worked equally well for me. Luckily, it hasn't yet become an issue. The first "clever response" that I had thought of in case there was a conflict and we had to finalize a date was to say that I had assigned everyone point values based on how much they would contribute to the event, and I would simply optimize the date to maximize the utils produced over the course of the evening. I then realized that this (1) was only mildly humorous, (2) would make me seem like a huge jackass to anyone who didn't find it funny, and (3) wasn't really as clever as I initially hoped. With that potential line of conversation blackballed, I no longer know how I would respond to such a question.

But just now, I realized that I basically do exactly that internally; it's just not something that one would normally admit to. I mean, I can think of several times where I've thought things like, "well, if we did that, Luke and Wobbles couldn't make it, but Clay could, so I guess that's the best day." (Of course, those are completely fictitious names, but you can extrapolate that story to actual people that I know.) I'm not quite anal to the point of assigning actual point values to my friends, but I guess I really do have some kind of implied hierarchy set up in my labyrinthal [warning: may not be actual word] mind. I wonder if that helps to qualify me as a bastard.

10 comments:

Matthew Beermann said...

Labyrinthine.

Luke said...

Wobbs and I got the shaft.

Travis said...

Oh yeah. I knew there was a word along those lines. Maybe I should spell-check my posts or something.

Luke—joke. :)

clay said...

I love you, Travis. :)

Anyway, maybe you should shift your friends to a skill-based system. You could have each one make some sort of check to see if they deserve the invite to the party.

Modified by their charisma, of course. ;)

Luke said...

I know :)

Travis said...

I figured you did. :)

Anonymous said...

I read this off an on and I have to say: you are prehaps one of the most socially awkward people I believe I have ever encountered (well ok, read about). I'm not a professional by any means, but I think you might want to consider getting some professional help; the potential that you have a mild form of Asperger's Syndrome seems quite high.

Travis said...

I love the fact that you actually said that, but not the fact that you didn't sign your comment. You should let me know who you are, dammit! I also find it entertaining that it is THIS post that brought about your comment.

Actually, you're not the first person to suggest that I suffer from some mild form of autism, but I'm not sure that I quite fit the criteria. I do exhibit several of the symptoms, but what I think I have is just an extreme case of introversion and a tendency to approach things that aren't scientific with a pseudo-scientific mind. The main social situation that I find difficult is meeting people; once I get over the first hill, I quickly become quite comfortable around them. One of the facets of AS is a resistance to change; the only change that I'm really resistant to (I think) is meeting people and visiting places with a lot of new people. What I don't like is specifically being the one who initiates conversation, not just talking to new people—I enjoyed myself when I cashiered and worked at the deli, probably because they came to me, not the other way around.

[The probability of my manager or manager's manager entering my office when I'm typing a blog post or response seems abnormally high.]

Travis said...

Since originally posting this comment, I've made a follow-up post, conveniently titled "Asperger's Syndrome."

Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know, my hunch is that you actually knew who said that then you wouldn't love it nearly as much.