Tuesday, February 24, 2009

LIFO versus FIFO

The accountants in the audience will recognize today's title as two generally accepted methods for inventory accounting. Given that back when I worked for Dunder Mifflin, I managed a few billion dollars worth of their inventory, it's a topic I know a little bit about. But since the beginning of the end for me was when I showed the clip from The Office where Michael Scott goes on vacation so he can avoid doing inventory because "inventory is boring" during our big inventory summit that people had travelled from all over the country to attend (everyone but my boss thought it was hilarious), I'll spare you the lecture about inventory accounting. Because for the most part inventory is, in fact, boring.

Instead, I'm going to talk about the LIFO method of getting dressed. But before I get into that, we need to at least set a baseline. LIFO stands for "Last In, First Out." What that means in accounting is that when determining the cost basis of an item that has been sold, you use the cost of the last of that item placed in inventory.

I've often wondered if I'm alone in using the LIFO method of getting dressed. Or more precisely, the LOFO (Last On First Off) method. As a practical matter, everyone does this to a certain degree. I mean, you can't very well take off your undershirt without taking off your coat first. Or maybe you can, but it's not practical. Unless you're a girl (have you noticed that they all know that trick for changing shirts and maybe even bras without actually taking their shirts off? It's like it's part of the female DNA to be able to do that).

Anyway, I'm very particular about using LOFO not just when it's required as a practical matter but even when it's just a matter of personal preference. I am referring of course to the rule that you have to put your pants on before your shirt when dressing and take your shirt off before your pants when undressing. If you do it the other way around it just seems icky.

The only time this is a problem is when dressing to go for a bike ride in any kind of cool weather. For instance, I went out on a short road ride at lunch today. Given that it's still February, I wore a base layer under my jersey, bib shorts, knee warmers, arm warmers, jersey, and vest.

According to the LOFO method, the bib shorts should have been the first thing I put on and the last thing I took off as I changed before and after the ride. But cold weather gear messes up that routine. It's much easier to put on the base layer and knee warmers before putting on the bib shorts, so that's what I did. And as I stood there in the bathroom stall (which any pervert could peer into just by sticking his head up to one of the gaps), wearing nothing but knee warmers and a skin-tight base layer top, I felt extremely self conscious. Not that there are wide-stanced Senators frequenting my bathroom, but still. I didn't like it one bit.

The good news is that notwithstanding the extra ten pounds or so I am currently carrying, putting road kit on for the first time in months wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be. Everything seemed to fit OK. I've got a little extra in the midsection, but with bib shorts, it wasn't constricting or anything. My knees weren't hitting my gut as I pedaled, so I was happy with that. As for the ride itself, I was able to climb all the way to the hairpin in Emigration Canyon in my big ring without too much discomfort--most of the time I was in 50x19. The best part, though, was that the muffin tops at the top of my knee warmers really didn't seem any larger than they were in the fall. I wouldn't categorize them as small, just small enough to be considered "not embarrassing."

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