Friday, May 22, 2009

I have a "two body problem" but I don't know what I'm supposed to solve for

Let's say TE and I each get jobs at each of the 3 places we are looking now (I know, it was 2 a week ago--another one just popped up . . .). Say each job can be assigned a number value corresponding to how good it is. Where would we go?
True, I can't really assign a coherent single number value to each job offer, but my main concern is that I don't even know what I should be trying to optimize.
I could:
a) Maximize the sum of both jobs (this sounds obvious, but maybe too simplistic)
b) Minimize the difference between the jobs (probably not, but at least one person wouldn't feel as much like they're trailing the other)
c) Maximize the geometric mean, or some other combination of the numbers, since presumably having a bad job is worse than having a less than ideal job
d) Maximize the highest offer (at least one person would be happy)
e) Maximize the lowest offer (at least niether of us would be too pissed off)
f) Weight the offers somehow by person, then maximize the sum, geometric mean, or other combination (perhaps me getting a better offer is more important than it is for TE, as he seems to think because my career goals are more specific, or perhaps TE getting a better offer is more important because I am a more optimistic person generally and will be happy with anything)

This is why the real world annoys me. It's hard just to clearly define the problem. How are you supposed to solve anything if you don't know what the goal is? In this case, I wonder if knowing the goal may actually be worse, because instead of just thinking "we made the best choice by randomly guessing what was best", if we had a rationale such as f) it might continue to weigh on us in future planning . . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is that a real question?

Do you really have to call me to find out if I authorized a charge that is more than an order of magnitude greater than my credit limit? Is it even possible for people to charge more than six figures without some fancy specialty credit card? Do the three zeros in the middle of the number make you suspicous at all, or do you just call people and ask ridiculous questions all day?

Not that I am mad or anything--I think they are cute--but it just seems like the system isn't working very well when they can't figure these things out on their own.