GUEST POST from Don: Fractions Matter!


Some of you know what ISO means.  The initials stand for “The International Organization for Standardization.”  ISO standardized the size, shape and use of thousands of things.  You can blame them for the problems of distribution due to COVID.  They are the group that standardized shipping containers (all the same size), which lowered costs associated with shipping from overseas, and thus, made us more likely to purchase junk made in places like China.  Then, when COVID hit, we were so dependent on China for simple products like face masks that we could not get what we needed when we needed them.    

For telescopes, microscopes and other higher tech devices even tiny fractions matter a great deal.  
In fact, auto manufacturers have been improving engines and body panel fit by micro-fractions.  The result is cars that can hold up to more miles with lower fuel costs and less maintenance.  When I was young it was unusual for a new car to last to 150,000 miles and still look and drive like new.  Now, even 4 cylinder toys seem to be able to do it.

I once attended church with a brick mason who was so aware of fractions that he was known to tear down a wall he had just laid if it was off by more than 3/8 of an inch.  His last name was Perry and he was a mason 🙂

On the other hand, I have inspected (for termites) new homes which had footers so far off that it was impossible to build a straight house on them…and the builders built the houses anyway.  (Is that nuts! Or what???)  

Soldiers have been saved by fractions of an inch.  My dad, who served in the Pacific theater during WWII, heard an incoming round and he hid behind the only thing he could find…a 4 inch tree.  The tree took shrapnel (and he didn’t).

Mortgage Interest
Interest is figured with fractions (or percentages…same thing, really).  If you bought a $300k home with $90k down at 5/100 interest (5%) you would pay about $200,000 in interest over 30 years.
Merely changing the fraction to 6/100 would cost you $48,000 more and increase monthly payments by $130.  Fractions matter.

Weight Loss
I am NOT a dietician.  Let’s say you want to lose weight.  You could go on a diet.  (Yuck!  No one likes them)  Or you could improve your lifestyle fractionally.  That is what I did.  I lost 40 pounds over 10 years by cutting out the equivalent of 5 tsp of sugar per day (without the yo-yo effect of being on a diet).  I did not go hungry or even notice it (except when there were doughnuts).  Instead of eating 3 cookies, I would eat a carrot stick and 2 cookies.  I learned that replacing the high calorie stuff daily by the equivalent of 1 tsp of sugar equaled about 1 pound of body weight over 365 days.  Small fractions = weight loss.  So I merely reduced high calorie sources (like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and sugars) and replaced them with slightly healthier choices.  I allowed myself all the lean meat, raw vegetables, and fruit I wanted.  I also experienced a natural reduction in triglycerides without medicine.  I am hoping to lose another 20 over the next five years.  If you pick up a hunk of iron that weighs 20% of your body weight you are instantly looking for someplace to put it down.  My knees are happier, I’ll tell you that!  Fractions matter.

I am by far the oldest tech where I work, but I average more revenue per day for my employer than those half my age.  I look for fractions of wasted time and eliminate them.  I also probably drive fewer miles.  (Windshield time is wasted time.)  I spend less time texting or talking on the phone than others.  (Texting steals production time.)  If I can cut 25 minutes of non-productive time out of my day I can do an extra stop.  (Guess what!  Part of my pay is based on production…so I put more production dollars in my pocket than anyone else.)  Fractions matter.

As odd as it sounds, fractions matter MOST in relationships.  Your partner’s mood and enjoyment may be  improved by you doing something fractionally better, or more often.  I do fractional stuff that my wife does not ask me to do.  I unload the dishwasher, fold a load of laundry, randomly massage her shoulders…with no expectations of anything in return.  Meaningless stuff?  Hardly anything?  Don’t bet on it.  This is where fractions pay large dividends.  Relationships don’t work if both partners ONLY do 50%.  One study I read recently suggested that merely adding ONE positive comment or behavior per day results in a verifiably happier relationship.  

So, what do you get when you do a “half-decent” job of being a loving partner?  Right!  A divorce!

Then, what do you get when you do a better job of being a loving partner?  A much better future!

Fractions are incredibly rewarding in relationships.  “Happy wife, happy life” is not just a saying (same with “Happy husband, happy life” except that does not rhyme).  Reality is that it works just the right way in most cases.  

There is a story (probably apocryphal) of a wife who had a bad marriage and wanted to divorce her husband, but she wanted it to HURT him badly.  So she began to be much more pleasant.  She complimented him when he remembered to take out the trash.  She prepared his favorite meals.  She was nice to him in the bedroom.  She never complained about him in front of others.  … And he responded by being nicer, he helped dry the dishes, listened to her, brought her gifts, and stopped being angry at a moment’s notice.  On the day she had planned to see the lawyer, she found herself humming while getting dressed, then she started to cry.  She loved him.  He saw her crying and asked what was the problem.  She told him, “I love you.  I can’t divorce you.”  He was stunned.  He said, “I can’t divorce you either.  I was going to go today to see a lawyer.  But you have recently become the wife I married.  I love you as much now as then.”  

You may not have to change your life to be satisfied, just improve it by a fraction.

Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley


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