Take Randa and Stuff It

[[ Written monday, but I did not get around to posting it then. Since I do not feel like applying a modal time-shift operator to the text, I will publish it on tuesday, even though that introduces some temporal disparities.]]

It is almost 3pm. At three, the presentations from the Randa attendees will start, where each team or individual will present what they want to do for the week, and what they need from other attendees. So I’ll say “Calamares needs to support orca”. Short presentation, but then I’ve not had much time to prepare.

It’s almost 3pm, I’ve been up since 6:45 and have spent half an hour at my laptop. The rest of the day so far has been in the kitchen. Because keeping the meeting running, so that the attendees can do their thing to their full potential, takes a lot of logistics and effort. Let me give an example, based on profession software-engineers who are not professional cooks, doing the logistics.

Breakfast is from 7:30 to 9:00, which means that at 7:02 the kitchen opens. Coffee machine on. Dishwasher on. Tea kettle on. Send a minion to fetch the bread from the bakery. Dispense jam, nutella, peanut butter into bowls. Slice butter. Prepare muesli and yoghurt. Slice bread, together now that the minion has returned. One person runs the cheese / sausage slicer for 15 minutes while the other sets out cutlery, plates, cups, gets milk and orange juice ready. So at 7:30 when the first breakfasters show up, we’ve already put in one person-hour getting it ready. Hang around during breakfast, getting more bread, butter, refilling the coffee machine, slicing more salami. Once the last breakfasters are done (they show up at 8:50 for a quick bite), there’s three loads of dishes to do. The dishwasher is fast — less than two minutes — but everything needs to be put away, and the tables wiped down, and the slicer dismantled and cleaned, and the kitchen cleaned and swept.

So the “human cost” of breakfast is roughly 4, maybe five hours for non-professionals. Granted, there’s some time lost just in finding the way in the kitchen during the first day.

Lunch is a hot meal at 13:00 sharp, so preparations start at 11:00. Collecting today’s ingredients. Starting the stove and the oven. Starting 6l of water to boil for the rice, and another 6l of water for other parts of the meal. Cracking 15 eggs and whisking them. Cleaning, rinsing, and chopping 6kg of vegetables. Starting two pans of peanut sauce. Making a giant omelette. Waiting for 2kg of rice to cook. Shuffling six pans across five giant electric hobs. Setting out the chafing dishes, cutlery, plates, places again. Filling all the water pitchers. Checking the coffee machine. We — Grace, Scarlett, and I — had everything on the table at 13:05. And the cleanup cycle repeats, but with about six loads of dishes because of pots and pans. At 14:30, the kitchen is clean and tidy again.

The “human cost” of lunch is about six hours.

Dinner is scheduled at 19:00, which will have costs similar to lunch. Tallying up, it takes about 16 hours a day to keep everyone fed and happy (“it takes 30 people with their feet on the ground, to keep one man with his head in the air”). Today, we are doing it ourselves, because it is also a really fun way to work together and it’s a good team-building exercise. And while we’re sure to get more efficient, it’s just not efficient to actually do the cooking ourselves. I’m very happy to have worked together with Grace and Scarlett and Christian today, but I’ll be happy to hand over the chef’s hat to Hadrien tomorrow.

(O yeah, lunch was pretty expansive and tasty, so we’re stuffed. And in Randa.)

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