Discover Your Inner Economist has this quote from another economist to the effect that, "A person who has never missed a flight is someone who has spent too much time waiting in airports." I was recently in a conversation with some friends in which the women were bragging about how of course they have never in their lives had they ever run out of gas while the men, at one time or another, all had. I wish I would have been in touch with my Inner Economist enough to retort that "A person who has never run out of gas is someone who has spent too much time standing in gas stations," as I think this is exactly right. As much of a pain as it is to run out of gas, if you imagine the extra time spent by someone who always refills at 3/8 versus someone who refills over 1/8, the former goes to the gas station 14 times for every 10 times for the latter person. If we budget getting gas at 7 minutes per stop and saying the latter runs a 1 in a 1000 risk of running out of gas, then running out of gas would have to be enough of a pain that a person is willing to trade 46.6 hours of their time to avoid it. So being proud of never running out of gas is like being proud of having spent a week of vacation time standing at Citgo.
This is the prelude to an anecdote that ends, improbably enough, at Uranus, but that will have to wait until later.