By Kevin Meyer
A few days ago I told you the remarkable story of Bangkok Airways, which I encountered while on my recent three week vacation to Thailand, Cambodia, and Hong Kong. Today I have another – and I apologize if you're eating breakfast.
So that's one of the stalls at the public market in Siem Reap, Cambodia. There are many more like it, as well as others selling everything from clothes to toys to pharmaceuticals. It really didn't surprise me as I've visited Asia many times and also spent nearly ten years in South America – open meat markets are common. But my lean-infused mind posed a question and observation:
1. Is refrigeration a waste? These types of markets are everywhere outside of the highly-developed countries and there isn't mass death and contamination occuring. How much do we spend on refrigerating (and cleaning?) every tiny piece of meat? I know up until a couple years ago I believed eggs had to be refrigerated – until I learned from a guy at work who raised chickens that they'll keep just fine on the counter. Where is the line between excessive, wasteful refrigeration and cleaning and necessary hygiene and sanitation? Beats me – I'm not an expert. But what if we've gone too far and we're wasting resources as an "evolved" society?
2. Notice the subtle visual management. All the parts of the pig are laid out exactly where they would be on the pig. If you want a snout you know where to go. Hooves, pigs knuckles, ribs, loins, even back to the tail which I hear is a potato chip like delicacy when fried. How often have we gone to the store with everything nicely pre-packaged asking "what the heck part of the animal is that?" Not here. You know what you're getting – and perhaps you can even gauge the relative quality by looking at other parts – or the expression on the beast's face. I saw the same visual layout with chicken parts, cows, large fish, you name it.
Here's one more photo of a relatively new building near the Grand Palace in Bangkok:
Perhaps a little hard to tell, but there's an identical air conditioning unit in every single little office. Hundreds of them (it's a large building). I saw similar examples with large apartment buildings.
Is central air a waste? Sure there's some production efficiency in large-scale utilities – wait did I just say that? But how much of that efficiency is wasted when it is delivered to areas that don't necessarily need it. Would smaller units that can be easily turned off create greater aggregate system efficiency? Aggregate "actual in use" efficiency vs. the "large scale production efficiency"? It's the same issue that electric cars and makers of single-home power plants (solar, geo, etc) are wrestling with.
Just some thoughts for your Friday morning. Have some bacon for breakfast!