Inside Track

Sticky Situations

Sticky Situations

By Eric P. Harding

I like to drink zero-sugar tonic water. No potent potables in my glass—just the mixer. (I find the bitterness from the quinine quite bracing.)

I returned home from the grocery store the other day with a few bottles of my favorite bubbly beverage in tow. They had been on the grocery shelf, and I drink them cold (I’m not a savage). I wanted one with dinner, in about an hour. So I put a bottle in the freezer to chill.

Then promptly forgot about it … until I heard the dripping.

The bottle had partially frozen, expanding the plastic until the cap popped off, spilling the precious elixir all over my freezer. I have a freezer-on-the-bottom type of fridge, so the tonic water had spilled out the back and onto the floor.

Reader, my chicken cacciatore went cold as I sopped up the spilled contents of that one-liter bottle (amazing how much area a liter takes up when it’s only a few millimeters tall). Then I sprayed the freezer with an all-purpose cleaner, inside and out, further diluting the sticky mess. Then I mopped the area in front of the fridge where I had been kneeling (it was in the splash zone).

Throwing the bottle into the recycling bin, that’s when I realized—ice. I have an ice dispenser. Next time I want a cold beverage, I won’t make the same mistake.

All our features this month touch on how to tackle sticky situations.

In “Are You Up for the Challenge?” Academy Senior Pension Fellow Linda K. Stone introduces the world to a revamped Academy tool intended to help untangle the thorny thicket of financial challenges that the Social Security system is facing. The Academy’s Social Security Challenge (formerly the Social Security Game) explains the various reform options Congress has at its disposal, details how they would affect certain populations, then lets users try their hand at “fixing” Social Security’s solvency problems. Think you have what it takes to make this vital public program sustainable for generations to come? Read on, then take the Challenge.

The Quest for Quantum” offers an easy-to-understand primer on another difficult subject—quantum computing. Far from theoretical at this point, yet not quite mainstream, the world of quantum computing can be challenging to parse, especially for multinational corporations aiming to keep up with the latest technologies. Author Srivathsan Karanai Margan first explains what quantum computing is—and is not—before diving into the insurance company use case. This article is required reading for any enterprise risk management professionals out there, and as Margan explains, the case for quantum computing goes well beyond that.

Finally, we have “The Roles of the Actuary in the Selection & Application of Actuarial Models.” This paper, authored by the Academy’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and reprinted here for the benefit of our readers, provides a ground-level look at the different tasks an actuary might take on in the development, selection, and application of actuarial models—the bread-and-butter of many actuarial functions. As you might imagine, these different roles all require actuarial judgment, so this paper serves as a reminder for readers to consult the appropriate professionalism resources as appropriate.

Thank you for reading. Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’ll make myself a cup of piping-hot coffee. What could go wrong?

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