Archive for September 26, 2007
The second part in a series of correspondence received from a (sister)/sister missionary in L.A., who is bound to become a stalwart contributor to IRF upon her return home in February 2008.
From an e-mail entitled, “Answer: What is the Best Preparation Day of my Rumpled Life?”
Today I asked Alex Trebec, of Jeopardy, a question that stumped him, then he gave me an answer, warmed up to me and shot me a smile.
Today my zone went to Jeopardy (a connection from a Hollywood Ward member). i had the time of my life. We watched three thrity-minute segments get made that will air December 17th. The contestants were fascinating, one must pass a lengthy test to even be able to get onto the show. We were VIP guests, so we got front and center seats. I will most definitely be on television. During down-time, we were encouraged to ask Alec questions. he enjoys some light mingling with his guests. We were warned not to answer questions out loud, by Jonny (picture an elderly, tucked, man in a red button down underneath a beige satin jacket which read Johhnny on the front, and Jeopardy on the back, no doubt a clever Christmas cast gift for him from the 80s). If any of us spoke, they would have to pick another question. Apparently Alex Trebec does not like to be asked how old he is (he’s been tucked…), or how much money he makes. Soooo… OTHER than that, we could ask him any question.
Alex waltzed over to us, looked at us with confusion (we had removed our name tags) and said, “You’re from an organization. Let me see if I can guess…Hmm. Mormon missionaries!” Alex, mind you, has a very dry sense of humor. The kind of creativity that flows from the rock of manic depression. One woman asked him, “How do you stay so fit!?” Response? I drink. Another guest asked, “Why did you shave your mustache?” “I felt like it. Just like my Mother.” Alec’s tongue is sharper than the guillotine! I thought I better not get my rumpled fingers near his blade!
A few segments later, i mustered up some courage to ask a question. I proceeded to ask, “Which modern invention do you feel we would be better off without?” Alex looked like he had just been doused with a super soaker water gun. He went speechless. The audience fell dead silent. He started to pace, back turned to the crowd. “Hhhhmmm,” he pondered. “I have never even considered such a thing…” He paused over the crew table and said “Well, having two teenagers I would say the cell phone, but I see its necessity. Hmmm.” After a few more awkward seconds (which in TV time is about an hour), he said “I’ll have to think about it and I’ll let you know before the end of the day.” Another segment later, Alex went to his private quarters for a wardrobe change, and I knew, serious contemplation. My missionary friend turned around and said, “You stumped Alex Trebec!”
Segments more passed, he walked back tot the crowd to answer more questions, shoot some more people down, then before turning to the stage he looked me dead in the eye. I slightly ascended heavensward in my seat. He then flipped around, like a young sassy super model taking her first turn on the catwalk, looked at me and said, “The electric can opener.” He coyly smiled like a fourteen year old girl in her first pair of high heels walking past construction workers.
i raised my soft arm and pointed straight to him. He said, “My house has had an electric can opener built in to the kitchen for seventeen years, and it has never worked. I have to use the old hand job, the manual.”
Later on in the show Alex asked us some useless questions about “the gold man on top of the Temple” and the price of BYU tuition. Then I shot him another question. i asked him which career he would pick for his teenagers. More contemplation. he then told me that Emily, 17 has a knack for design, she’s organized, she would make a good architect, and Matthew, 16, has none of those things, but he is build like a rock. He had encouraged him to be a telemarketer, so that he could experience what it feels like to have someone hang up on you over dinner. (“Serve a mission!” I thought quietly.)
Every job has its perks. Mine enables me to attend the annual All Candy Expo. Chicago’s McCormick Place is taken over by wall-to-wall confections… and I get paid to walk the hallowed halls and sample the newest innovations. Gum, Candy, Snacks… Last year the biggest trend was dark chocolate and printing the percentage of Cocoa on the package. This year the flavor that EVERYONE is trying to get a piece of is Blueberry Pomegranate, which I find to be a lovely combination.
As I walked down aisles 1 and 2, each little piece of Fudge, each sample of hard candy was an utter and complete delight. I filled my bag like a overgrown, under-dressed Trick or Treater. Aisles 3 and 4 came and I was still excited, but walking faster, taking fewer samples, and my excitement diminished with every aisle until I finally ended up skipping the last couple aisles. My coworker one time referred to this phenomenon as the Law of Diminishing Returns. I said, “More like the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility.” Like the cool kid that I am.
So, by popular request, I am addressing the difference between these economic laws. Since I am not a economics expert (other than knowing the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility when I see it), I went straight to IRF reader, Masters of Economics Candidate, Mikel, who quoted from his MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics:
Diminishing marginal utility is exactly like the candy example, usually though it has to do with purchasing something, but same idea. The more you have of something, the less valuable an additional unit is to you. The law of diminishing returns is more specific to production. So, if you have fixed capital and keep adding labor to it, your marginal and then average returns to labor will diminish after some point. You get less output out of an additional unit of labor, as you add more and more labor. Instead of too much candy, this would be like having too many workers and not enough computers. So, it is usually said “diminishing returns to labor” or “diminishing returns to labor with respect to capital”. They both describe curved functions, and the measure of the slope of a curved line. So, graphically they look similar, even though one is describing an individual’s utility function (convex), and the other is describing a production function (concave). They both measure the changing slope of a curved line. I think that pretty much explains it.
So there you have it. Your first piece of candy is more highly valued than your 10,000th. The law didn’t stop me, however, from topping off my bag with Almond Joys and Pomegranate Jelly Bellys (and Lemon Heads for Joey). The Willy Wonka Soundtrack has that effect on me.
Thanks to Mikel for doing his part to educate our loyal readers on this important subject. And I’m here to answer any questions about gum and candy.
Posted by LeMare