An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘food

Microeconomic Life Lessons: Sunk Cost

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Imagine: My friends and I are at an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant celebrating a tournament win. We are stuffed to capacity and cringe at the thought of putting another piece of food in our mouths. An uneaten roll taunts us from the table. The sushi can’t be wrapped up and taken home. We do what the average American would do -the ladies are spared as the big guys at the table eat themselves to near-sickness. Their argument for eating the last roll is that they would not get the full value of their initial payment if they didn’t. To my surprise – they finish the roll on the table and order a few more. Then dessert. Then someone throws up.

This episode occurred before I took my first economics course. An understanding of sunk cost may have helped our over-eaters make better decisions.

Wikipedia entry on sunk cost:

In economics and in business decision-making, sunk costs are costs that have been incurred and which cannot be recovered to any significant degree…Economics proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence one’s decisions, because doing so would not be assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits….For example, when one pre-orders a non-refundable movie ticket, the price of the ticket becomes a sunk cost. Even if the ticket-buyer decides that he would rather not go to the movie, there is no way to get back the money he originally paid.

When we saw the roll on the dinner table we had two options:

1. Eat the roll – causing discomfort.

2. Let the roll go (and learn not to waste food in the future by ordering smaller portions).

No matter which option is chosen – we have already incurred the cost of the meal. Therefore, the information about the price we have already paid is irrelevant. A rational actor would choose the option that provides the greatest happiness (utility). In our case, leaving the roll on the table with a big tip and going home with a “I just ate sushi” glow on our faces, would have been a much better alternative to leaving an even bigger tip after a watching friend throw up in a restaurant.

I’ve been taught never to waste anything (especially food) – I’ve been known to use questionable bread for French Toast, pick brown pieces of lettuce off out of the bag, and prefer information from a “smell test” to to written expiration dates. My knowledge of sunk costs has helped me realize that I should buy less and order smaller portion sizes to avoid these situations altogether. Sunk costs should be barriers to entry – people should think about costs that cannot be recovered no matter what course of action is taken and factor that into their decision-making. In situations where I have to make the choice to suffer or let it go – I’ve learned to just let it go.

This concept can be applied to other situations:

– Choosing whether or not to go to a lame party after you’ve bought the non-refundable tickets and attire.

– Deciding to downgrade to Windows XP after buying Vista (I offer my sympathy to Windows users who have to make these tough decisions…).

– Exiting the Iraq War


Written by TeacherC

16 June 2008 at 2:39 pm

Eduhacks for Your Health

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A few years ago, I spent my summer vacation volunteering full-time at an alternative school located within the walls of a juvenile detention center. During the first few weeks there, I realized that my new insight into the juvenile justice system and teaching came with a few pounds.

The culprits were everywhere (no pun intended). I would stress eat like crazy.  A few students attempt to jump someone during your first period math class –> Hungry? Why wait for a Snickers. You witness a student get beat up on the bus and the police tell the attackers that you are the one who identified them –> Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar. A student successfully smuggles a stick of dynamite into the school –> Nobody had better lay a finger on my Butterfinger. Teachers and administrators would fill the lounge with cakes, cookies, candy bars, sodas – any food indulgent enough to drown sorrows. On top of that, I ate the same breakfasts and lunches that the students ate (they were free and I had to be frugal). The students of the alternative school at the same meals as the students in lockdown. They were designed to provide the most calories at the lowest cost.

I started running. By the end of the summer I ran for 2 – 5 miles each day. It was therapeutic. I lost a few pounds.

It’s three summers later and I’m about to start an intense MA+credential program. On most days, the co-teaching carpool leaves at 6:45 am and my university classes don’t end until 5 or 6 pm. This is great training for my future life as a teacher – I’ll probably keep the same hours.

I read the Elementary Educator’s post entitled What To Work On This Summer: Creating Habits of Intelligence. My goal is to create “habits of health” that I can master now and integrate into my busy schedule.

1. Bento Boxes.

I stumbled on the Disposable Aardvarks, Inc. blog. A vegan mother of three crafts bento boxes for her family. Bento boxes are widely used in Japan. Parents create easy-to-carry lunches that are healthy and visually stimulating. The box sizes keep portions small. Also, the process of creating a bento involves (fun) design and healthy thinking.

Links: and Cooking Cute Blog: A site with recipes, links to online supply stores, and how-to guides.

Disposable Aardvarks Inc: Mentioned above.

My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch: Bento photos and recipes. Handbook: Along with recipes and photos, this site has a great how-to guide for newbies. The author explains how to start make quick, inexpensive, and healthy bento boxes.

2. Changing my relationship with food.

I’ve had a turbulent relationship with food since childhood (childhood obesity). I still need to loose a few pounds. Instead of focusing on dieting, I’ve changed the way I think about food.

I stay away from processed foods and opt for whole/natural goods, cook meals using amazing recipes, savor every bite, and make sure that my indulgences are worth it (homemade pine nut rosemary shortbread cookies instead of 2 bowls of cereal). I’ve also adopted a vegetarian lifestyle.


GoVeg: An article about the meat industry’s impact on the environment. My favorite food blog…mmmm…..poppy seed pancakes….pine nut rosemary cookies…homemade black bean burgers…

Simply Recipes: I’m trying the sauteed zucchini with Gruyere recipe tomorrow…

Delicious Days: Quirky recipes.

3. Exercising.

I feel great when I exercise. I lift weights 3 – 4 times per week and make sure that I do some form of cardio 6 days per week. I’ve tried to fit my workouts relatively short time windows.

ExRx.Net: A great site for information about weight lifting (and fitness in general). I use the 2 day split (upper/lower) workout template. An indispensable resource about weight loss and fitness. John’s BMR calculator is an easy to use tool to figure out how much exercise and eating you should be doing. I love his focus on lifestyle change rather than dieting.

Tae Bo: Billy

4. Connecting with others via SparkPeople.

SparkPeople is a great website that features innovative web communities along with free exercise/weightlifting/eating plans, online exercise videos, a database with how-to demonstrations for each exercise, and calorie tracking. I use this site to keep track of my eating and exercise, share advice, and cheer on others. There are even a few spark teams for teachers.

Time for my hour of cardio…

Written by TeacherC

5 June 2008 at 10:24 pm