Ok, I'm back

This morning I woke up to an email alerting us to the fact that Oliver's school was delaying its opening until 10:30 with his pick-up still at noon. While I understand the whole threat of freezing rain concern, 90 minutes of school is just such a bad tease for parents, especially those who work, had something scheduled, and so forth. As I had none of those issues, however, zen it was and zen it is. We had a little Bob the Builder date, a walk with Percy, lots of ice-crunching-in-snow-boots, and so forth. And now, with my 85 minutes of free-time, I'm working through my usual Monday morning clean and noodling on things to make today. The white shroud outside (we coined this term in college, and it's as apt a description of the DC sky today as it was of the Evanston skies for seemingly months on end) feels oppressive, cold, as if it's begging you to enjoy a fire -for both warmth and light- and a warm blanket, while the smells of hearty soup and fresh bread pervade your home. As such, I think I'll keep the pizza stone in our oven, get some bread dough rising and when the boys are both home later, treat us to a yeasty loaf. Warm bread with honey is such a treat! ~~

In the car yesterday, I heard a conversation on NPR about behavioral economics; the authors of the study, the Sextons, focused primarily on determining how much the unique styling of the Prius contributes to the impressive market share of hybrid cars it occupies. A quick history: before T went to business school, I avoided economics like the plague. In many respects unfortunate, I managed to get through 4 years of college and 2 of graduate school without ever taking the most basic course on econ or even statistics. But during his B-school tenure, one of his courses brought up theories of behavioral economics, and these I found fascinating. They sure provided a new understanding of why the word "sale" made me so much more willing to buy a pair of shoes I still didn't need. The most simplistic of incentives can dramatically shift our behavior, even when the resultant decisions go against what's in our best interest or make very little sense.

So back to this study. The Sextons found that the Prius' singular look greatly impacts those considering buying one, especially if they live in eco-conscious areas. Making a public statement about your values in a community of like-minded individuals is appealing and alters our actions. Not a surprise, but it was interesting to hear how Toyota has played to this so successfully. The Prius is awfully similar to the Honda Civic Hybrid in every way but style, but you see a lot more Prius' on the roads.

A secondary discussion showed the sillier flip-side to such behavior: while Berkley isn't known for being a super-sunny place, folks there are still quite supportive of installing solar panels on their roofs. Great, but contrary to the advice of the installers who plead with owners to put these on the sunniest portions of the roof, owners instead often choose to install them on the street-side. Shadier and thus less effective and certainly less cost-effective, BUT everyone can see them.