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Just across campus

September 24, 2011

Barring a few lab meetings and talks a week, I set my schedule.  Since my wife had the kids and because most talks really start 10 minutes after the published time, knowing that it took me about a half an hour to get to campus was good enough.  Pre-school and my wife’s job are changing this.  Being late to pick up your kids is not only demoralizing for them and unfair to their teachers, but financially punitive for you, with fees increasing (literally) by the minute.  In order to squeeze the most possible science into my day, I need to know *exactly* how close I can cut it, so I started timing my commute, including the individual components: walking to/from the bus or train stop, wait times, time on transit.  Surprisingly, walking across campus accounted for between a quarter and a third of the total commute time.

It is widely known that walking places takes time, but the amount of time it takes to walk across campus is often largely unappreciated.  This result explains a previously mysterious observation.  If I leave my biology lab just a couple minutes early to get to my physics lab meeting with the idea of stopping to pick up a coffee at the cute little cafe on the way, en route it becomes clear that if I do so, I will be late and as it is, I’m going to be stuck with the onion bagel.  This study prompted an analysis of googlemaps which confirmed that although these two labs are not on opposite ends of campus, they are separated by almost a mile.  When the actual transit time is included in the decision process of when to leave for lab meeting, I arrive, on time and properly caffeinated.


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  1. DrugMonkey permalink

    Properly caffeinated being, naturally, the entire point of this post.

    • upon refection, maintaining the properly caffeinated state is not only the entire point of this post but possibly also one of my long-term goals.

  2. Sxydocma1 permalink

    I am new to the blog and love it. When I first started my post-doc, I timed everything on my G-shock. The time it took to get everywhere via multiple routes and different combinations of each component of the routes so I would know at what very second I had to leave the building to be in time to pick up my daughter. It’s nice to know that someone else did this too.

  3. I’ve chilled out a bit, but I even have enough data to know the average and standard deviation of the elevator component of the commute.

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