Anal-retentive people (such as me) like numbers.
We like to use numbers to analyze things and measure things in order to make decisions that ordinary folk would just make on "gut-feel". This satisfies our preoccupation with details and organization. It feels good to us.
How do you decide whether to go to a particular regatta? You probably take into account such factors as the likely weather, how attractive the sailing venue is, who else is going, how much fun it will be... and then just go.
Not me. Not anal-retentive people. We need to work the numbers first.
It all started after that invitation I received to sail in the Asia-Pacific Laser Masters in Thailand next year. I wrote about it in the ironically titled Small World. "Ironic" because as I wrote the post I was actually thinking, "It's not a small world at all. Thailand is a hell of a long way to travel to go Laser sailing. How many hours would I have to spend cramped up in an airplane?"
Ahah. I had asked myself a question with a number as an answer. I could put a number on the "to go or not to go" question. And for that matter I could work out how many hours of traveling vs how many hours of sailing are involved for any regatta I might be considering.
Ahah. A ratio. Even better than a number. Anal-retentive people love ratios.
So I built myself a spreadsheet to calculate the hours sailing divided by hours travelling for all the potential sailing practices, clinics and regattas that I could conceivably attend.
Ahah. A spreadsheet. Even better than a ratio. Anal-retentive people love spreadsheets.
So now I can read off the S/T ratios and decide which sailing trips I really want to do. Here are a few examples. (A higher S/T means more sailing and less travelling and is a "good thing").
As a baseline I calculated the S/T for two sailing activities I have really enjoyed in the past...
- frostbiting at Cedar Point YC in Connecticut travelling from my former home in New Jersey
- Saturday afternoon practice at Lake Massapoag in Massachusetts travelling from my current home in Rhode Island
So then I looked at a couple of other options for sailing locally...
- solo practice for a couple of hours somewhere very local
- one day regatta at one of the relatively nearby locations around southern New England
What about driving longer distances to regattas?
- One-day regatta in Vermont or New Hampshire. S/T=0.667
- Drive to Florida for Laser Masters Week. S/T=0.640
Wow. That's bad. What a shame. I really wanted to go and sail in some of those other New England locations, and that Florida Masters Week sure sounded like fun. But the numbers do not lie.
How about overseas travel to regattas? (For the sake of simplicity, in this calculation I counted airplane hours and car hours as equally painful and monotonous, and just added them together.)
- Caribbean Midwinters and pre-regatta clinic in Cabarete. S/T=1.050
- 2010 Laser Masters Worlds in UK. S/T=1.500
And what about the regatta that started all this anal-retentive obsessive-compulsive decision making by the numbers orgy?
- 2010 Asia Pacific Laser Masters in Thailand. S/T=0.420
Of course this way of looking at the issue will only make sense to other anal-retentive people. I'm sure this post is going to attract lots of comments from so-called "normal" people who think I'm crazy to analyze things this way, and who will urge me to seize the opportunity to travel all over the world to see exciting places and meet all kinds of new people, and who will tell me how the actual physical travel is all part of the experience and not to be seen as something to be balanced against the sailing, and who will chide me that if I took my analysis to its logical conclusion I would never travel outside of my tiny little state of Rhode Island.
Of course you are right. You are normal. I am not.
My name is Tillerman and I am an anal-retentive.