The Longest Now

Supersimultaneity – piling up of events
Tuesday June 29th 2004, 9:05 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

So, there are hours and days and weeks and months where nothing happens. Or where things endeavour to happen but never in any sharply time-delimited fashion. And there are weekends when fifteen different crucial things happen, all magically fitting together, and 90-hour stretches when there isn’t enough time to catch a breath or sleep. And sometimes there are four-hour periods during which five or six different unreschedulable nonrefundable irreplaceable events take place — in the middle of a week in which no others do. Is this a natural property of life? A quality of certain environments? A taste of karmic circumstance? I can’t be the only one to whom this happens; fess up.

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sounds awful, but i’d like to hear about it, if nothing more than to offer advice on how to avoid it, if i could help in that way.

for instance: it’s rare that those things happen to me. i’m the one that wakes up right before class starts and gets there four minutes late; takes 15 minute naps when intended. karma? i don’t know, i also chronically overplan. and something i learned from you: checking to make sure that each worst case scenario is still something acceptable, each step along the way.

Comment by Tuyen 06.29.04 @ 10:23 pm

I’m fessin’. When it rains, it pours and all those other cliches about things always happening at once.

Comment by j 06.30.04 @ 12:03 am

Hmm… I don’t find exogenous clumping; more Poisson arrivals with highly variable service time. Recognizing this I try to load balance by adding non-time-critical activities in slow times (catching up w/ neglected friends and subjects, etc.).

But, of course, that assumes a perfectly rational me. There is also, I suppose, some endogenous effect: when fun things happen one gets geared up and tends to get involved in more things. Similarly, when things are slow one can be less bothered to stir from a quiet room.

In closing, if I may offer a little thought: I find a key tool in peak-load management is an initally-conservative but subsequently-flexible view of peak capacity. Thus, one can be pleasantly surprised to discover the capacity-expanding effects of adrenaline / red bull / cheap Jet Blue flights.

Comment by Patricia 06.30.04 @ 12:13 pm


Comment by Tuyen 06.30.04 @ 2:13 pm

an idea stems from patricia’s post, of perhaps energy/synergy spawning: marginal cost of adding even unrelated events to a cluster of events (because of people, location already together) can be less. this assumes they already know of one major event, not if they’re completely unrelated but lots of things are, even tangentially. event planning can give good experience here.

Comment by Tuyen 06.30.04 @ 2:24 pm

To clarify — magically packed weekends and breathless 90-hour strecthes are /in contrast/ to supersimultaneity. That’s what *normally* happens when there is clumping of activity.

Supersimultaneity isn’t something awful… it doesn’t happen with deadlines or obligations, almost by definition, since those can be planned for. It happens with personal invitations and emergency requests and finally-proffered rain checks, all requiring attendance during a short period of time, which timing is peacefully outside the control of foresight.

For instance: this evening, after dinner, I have four specific invitations – to which I would gladly have devoted four nights but can only accept one (and each of them will make me miss most of my one planned dinner of the week).

Poisson arrivals, eh? I wonder. It certainly doesn’t feel like it. You’re right about taking a conservative view of one’s capacity, of course; it helps to have a little leeway. But at best, that allows being in two places at once…

Comment by sj 07.01.04 @ 10:31 am

We missed you, but perhaps you didn’t miss much tonight by not being there.

Comment by j 07.01.04 @ 11:47 pm

Don’t say that! I’m sure I missed plenty. I didn’t have the stomach for food, though; somehow couldn’t eat anything but a donut, and then only after lots of coffee…

Comment by sj 07.02.04 @ 1:35 pm

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