Joe Ganley
Writing code since 1979
I have been a professional software engineer for over 10 years. I have written many kinds of software, but my particular strengths are interactive graphics applications, compilers and interpreters, and algorithms.

I also enjoy writing, woodworking, and home improvement. Also this.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Optimizing the preschool carpool line

Helen started preschool this year, and her preschool has the same carpool system that Megan's preschool did, so I find myself once again trying to figure out an optimal dropoff strategy. Cars begin arriving at 5 or 10 till 9:00, and form a line. At 9:00, the teachers start letting kids out of their cars and bringing them inside. Once there are no cars in line, the teachers go inside; if you arrive after this, you have to park and bring your kid inside yourself. So, if you're early, you won't have to wait for the line, but you have to wait for 9:00 before they let your kid in. The perfect situation is to arrive just as the second-to-last car is pulling away; that way, there's no wait. But that timing is delicate; if you miss, you have to spend several minutes bringing your kid inside. What's the optimal strategy? When Megan was in preschool, I would generally just be 10 minutes early, turn off the engine, and play with her in the car until 9:00. However, with three kids now, I am often running too far behind for that. Probably the smartest strategy is to stop being such an
optimizer and just roll with it.

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