Efficiencies at the Watercooler

My bottle was half-filled with water, but since I’d pass by the watercooler while on my way to the washroom, I decided to fill it up.

After filling my bottle to the brim, I took a few gulps and refilled the amount that I’d just gulped down. But for some reason or another, before I made my way to the washroom, I found myself asking if what I had just done was the most efficient way. I took a seat and started thinking.

The hypothesis: The fill-then-drink method is the most efficient way of achieving two things: (1) to quench my (immediate) thirst; and (2) to fill my bottle fully

I had filled the bottle up before taking a few gulps, after which I re-filled the bottle. But what if, I asked myself, I had drunk the water before I filled it up? Would that have been more efficient?

Imagine for a moment that the bottle is halfway filled. To drink the water from a halfway filled bottle would mean you’d have to tilt the bottle at least 90-degrees in order for the water to come out in any reasonable measure. To drink the water from a fully filled bottle would require a tilt of less than 90-degrees: quick and easy.

It seemed to make sense, and I was pretty certain my initial procedure was the best. The efficiency of fill-then-drink couldn’t be denied.

But I hadn’t yet thought about bottle-refilling, the second part of the equation. In terms of filling a bottle, their efficiencies should more or less be the same. To refill an empty bottle, water has to travel the full length of the bottle. To refill a halfway-filled bottle, water only has to travel half the length of the bottle. However, this is done twice: once before any water is drunk, and once after the water is drunk.

Whatever way you choose, water has to travel approximately the length of the bottle in total.

However, to fill a bottle twice requires an inefficient duplication of effort. You have to move into “water-refilling” position twice in the fill-then-drink method, as opposed to just once in the drink-then-fill method.

Will the efficiencies of less drinking tilt in the fill-then-drink method then not be negated by the inefficencies involved in having to fill the bottle twice? Actually, if you ask me, they’re more than negated. Refilling twice is a terrible efficiency waster.

Then there is the fact that water in the drink-then-fill method enables you to have the freshest possible watercooler water in your bottle. I don’t know if this is important to you, but it is to me (mixing different batches of water somehow makes me queasy-uneasy).

So perhaps I was wrong: Drink. Then fill. It’s the way to go.

Run Forrest Run – My fundraising effort for World Vision, through GIVE.sg

I’m currently raising funds for World Vision, through which Lix and I are sponsoring a child called “Chippo” (a girl who loves drawing onions too much in our opinion). My fundraising is through GIVE.sg, and you can find my fundraising page here (please take a look, and donate :)), called “Run Forrest Run!”, named after Forrest Gump, my favourite runner! I’ll be running the full Standard Chartered Marathon this December and will be dedicating my run to them — for every minute I run below 5-hours (my previous marathon timing), I’ll pledge $2 to the cause!

On Catholicism, science, and being good. Amen.

I was just thinking back to the days when I’d I used to pray each night like the semi-devout catholic I was. Semi, because I wasn’t so much into catholic traditions and beliefs, but more of a “being good is what I want to be and Catholicism just so happens to be the most accessible way I know how” kind of way.

I remember praying for peace on earth, corny as that may be; protection and blessings for family and friends, with name-specific mentions for people whom I felt most on need of divine help; and I’d ask for blessings for myself too. I also remember praying for my grandma (on my mom’s side) and my grandpa (on my dad’s side), the latter of whom I’d occasionally met when young, and the former who’d taken care of me through my primary school days.

And, if you’d believe it, I’d also ask Good to bless my enemies and people whom I’d disliked, and the strangers I hadn’t met as well as those I had. I’d end it off with a “and please bless everyone else here on Earth” for good measure, making sure everybody got a serving of divine help.

Every night I prayed without fail, even when terribly tired. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let the world down.

But as I grew up I started approaching life with a skeptic’s mind; I believed only in things backed by science and proof and I’d developed a strong need for evidence. God slowly left my life. (Do prayers work? Is religion rational? Can miracles be proven?)

Nightly prayers became weekly; then disappeared altogether. Church, which I attended occasionally, was attended to even less (never). But life continued as normal, and nothing seemed to have changed.

Every once in a while, though, while lying in bed, I’d wish for someone to talk to. Someone to listen as I blather about the state of the world and the state of my life. The God I prayed to each night played this role of cheap psychotherapist and friend brilliantly, but I found I couldn’t remain true to my scientific self and continue with my prayerful nonsense. These days I’d find it harder to push Him away than to embrace the beauty of religion. But still I did.

It was then that I’d realise that life had changed. I’d realise too that ever since I stopped calling myself a catholic I’d grown that little more selfish; that little more “bad”. Conceit, narcissism, concern for oneself; these feelings took over. No longer looking through compassionate eyes, the mind took over where the heart once ruled.

But it’s part of who I am now, and I don’t think much about it anymore.

A pity really.

But like how you never can quite tell when exactly the sun has set while you’re watching it, my becoming “less good” happened without my knowing when; maybe it had something to do with my abandonment of religion, but then again, maybe not. Maybe I just grew up.

As I lay on the bed tonight, I reconsidered my position on religion. Maybe it’s unscientific; maybe irrational; maybe ridiculous. But if it helps make me a better person, would that not make it worth scientific scorn? To give in to my temptation of prayer… yes, I don’t believe in a God; yes, I pray each night. Deal with it.

It reminds me of a philosophical debate I  recently had with myself regarding the merits of charity: would it be better to give (to the needy; to charity) with selfish intentions, or not to give at all?

Though I didn’t finally settle on an answer, I was leaning toward the camp that was pro-giving no matter what. Who cares if your intentions are selfish? If it helps the world, if it doesn’t make anyone worse off, do it.


(Some shamless self-promo: I’m currently raising funds for World Vision, through which Lix and I are sponsoring a child called “Chippo” (a girl who loves drawing onions too much in our opinion). My fundraising is through GIVE.sg, and you can find my fundraising page here, called “Run Forrest Run!”, named after Forrest Gump, my favourite runner! I’ll be running the full Standard Chartered Marathon this December and will be dedicating my run to them — for every minute I run below 5-hours (my previous marathon timing), I’ll pledge $2 to the cause!)

And I’ll remember you in my prayers tonight.

The Running Life

I just completed a 20 minute run. I had intended to go for about 35 minutes, thought about whether or not it was worth it, decided it wasn’t, and turned back. Would that additional 15 minutes of run have brought me that extra omph? Or could that 15 minutes be put to better use? I wasn’t too sure, but I decided to cut short my run. Perhaps that extra 15 minutes saved could be used to write. Hadn’t quite posted on WordPress for a while now.

I’ve lately been increasing my weekly running mileage. As of last week, I’m at about 35km; but I’m not quite done yet. Before the marathon in December, I’m hoping to hit a weekly mileage of 40 to 50+km.

But I’ve discovered a problem: Running takes time. Lots of it.

On a typical long run, the run itself takes about an hour and a half, maybe two (maybe more). The post-run cooling down/stretching period takes another half hour. The shower and post-cooling down cooling down (yup, that’s right, post-cooling down cooling down) takes up yet another half hour. All in all, that’s almost three hours gone.

If I start my run at 7.30pm (as I normally do), just half an hour after completing my meal (not recommended, but necessary for the time-starved), I get to bed only at about 11pm to 12 midnight (after being on the phone for a little bit with Lix, of course!)

Being an eight-hour sleeper, this has meant that I’ve been getting less sleep than I’d ideally get. It’s probably affecting me somehow, all negative and all, thought I can’t quite tell where or how. I’m certainly wishing on most mornings that I could sleep in, especially on work days. The good news is that I’m probably not crapping too much at work (if anything, maintaining). The bad news is that post-work I’m too tired to do anything beyond work, like living.

I just keep thinking there’s a way for better integration between running and my life. Is there a way to combine running, work, socialising, and rest? Another arrangement in which these elements could be balanced out in some superstring-the-universe-in-a-grain-of-sand way?