Monday, May 7, 2012


I've got a couple of significant anniversaries coming up. Well, one just happened actually. On Sunday the 2012 Vancouver Marathon was run, so that marks one year since Erika and I ran the marathon. Yay us! The funny thing about a marathon though is that the actual event is just the slightest bit anticlimactic. We were pumped to do it but let’s be honest: By the time we got there we’d run 437 miles (just over 700km). THAT'S the marathon (for some insight on the experience of training for a marathon you may want to read my first-ever blog post, “Why Not”). The 26.2 miles at the end is just gravy. But it is the milestone. You’ve trained, you’ve run, you’ve done it. It’s a positive thing!

My second approaching milestone may appear less chipper. Actually it’s not, although it sure seemed that way to me at the time. Exactly one week after the marathon I had an uber-seizure that confirmed I had epilepsy. Yay me! No, seriously, this was a good thing. You ever had two years’ worth of 10-20 seizures a day and not know what they were? You get that sorted out and you’re pretty pumped. Now I’m looking at almost a year since my grand mal and I’ve only had one little mini-seizure since August 17th, 2011. Giddyup!

So what the heck is my point? When I was thinking about this it occurred to me that not all anniversaries are created equally. For instance, if we were to graph my excitement over time from finishing the marathon it’s going to diminish as the years go by (by the way, the numbers on these charts are arbitrary. I was too lazy to try and create any sense of coherence):

Marathon-Related Excitement

It's pretty much a linear decrease in excitement until after a few years it's pretty much just "meh". But is that how all anniversaries work? Well no, it's not. So what are the other ways we think about anniversaries?

I think birthdays are a great example of a non-linear anniversary:

Birthday-Related Giddyness

When we're little kids we're super giddy about an impending birthday. It's the greatest thing in the world! Then in middle age it's kind of "Meh... I've done a lot of these". When we get older though, it's time to have an "I'm not dead yet party"! Woot! Granted, that assumes you're in control of your brain (and other things), but you get the idea.

Another example of the parabola is wedding anniversaries. For the most part it's a big deal early on, as well as much later:

Wedding - Expected

But wait... there's significant milestones in there! Those need to be accounted for. And when we do, some interesting patterns emerge. Here, I'll put it into a scatter-plot to make it clearer:

Wedding - Happy

A smiley face! Tell me that's not significant in some way (yes, fifty is bigger than 25. So sue me, the smiley face was funnier than a dude with a pimple on his forehead). Then I got thinking though... not all marriages are happy ones. Sad, but true. What happens to those people? Well, I'd imagine that since they're sad most of the time they'd put greater-than-expected weight on even minor anniversaries. Sort of a "well I haven't killed you yet so there's that" vibe. Let's graph that one out and see where we get:

Wedding - Sad

Brrr... did anyone else feel a chill pass through the room? That's just downright creepy. Let's think about something less disturbing.

Alcoholism! Ok yeah, that's not less disturbing. But people not drinking, that's big! And it's our third type of anniversary graph: The "X number of years and counting!" anniversary:

Abstinence (alcohol-related... for sex data invert chart)

Once again, mostly linear, but now increasing over time. See, isn't math fun? Teachers in the audience, feel free to use this blog as part of your coursework.

Ok, the last one was the hardest to think up an example for. What forms an inverted parabola? Hmm... how did they describe this in school. They said that when you throw a baseball it forms a parabola. Baseball... anniversaries... BOOM! Sports records are the answer! As athletes approach a milestone people get more and more pumped until yay! They passed it. Then everyone becomes a little less excited afterwards because you're just piling on. And then they cease to care altogether. Here's a graph of excitement about Cal Ripken Jr's consecutive games streak (ending when he voluntarily ended his streak. Also, this graph was effing hard to make. Screw you Grade 11 math and the horse you rode in on. Teachers, you can just tell the students not to read that part):

Media Hype-Machine

Realistically this should be a normal curve. But you know what? Screw it, these things were hard enough to make as it is. What was I thinking? I have Photoshop! I have a stylus! I could just draw these things! What the hell is wrong with me!

Have a good day folks.

I sat on my Kindle. No seriously, right on top of the thing. Cracked the bugger up real good.

PAUL:       Hello, Amazon?

AMAZON:  How may I help you?

:       Hi there, there seems to be something wrong with my Kindle. It looks like someone sat on it.

AMAZON:  Really, that's unfortunate.

:       Well I did sit on it, so I'm not entirely surprised.

AMAZON:  Sorry, what was that?

:       Yeah, I sat on it. That's my best guess why it looks this way.

AMAZON:  Really.

:       I've pretty much boiled it down to either me sitting on it, or someone else sitting on it. What do you think?

AMAZON:  But you say that you sat on it, right?

:       Yeah, I guess the evidence is pretty damning on that front.

AMAZON:  Would you like a refurbished one?

:       Sounds great, thanks.

Just another reason why Amazon rocks.

On a related note, Erika subsequently got chocolate jammed into the charging port on her Kindle. That one may be harder to explain.