Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Skier's Cough?

It's the last week of November, we've gotten about 10 inches of snow in the past four days and it's grammatically correct to spell the temperature rather than writing it in digits ("four"). To make it to the dog park, we bundle the babe until it's uncertain whether he is, in fact, actually in the front carrier or if it contains only a massive Patagonia garage sale. Yes, that's right—it's another Bozeman ski season! And with the opening of the lifts at Big Sky, with Bridger Bowl soon to follow, comes the first onslaught of skier's cough, which almost certainly is the cause of the dismal attendance of my freshman classes this week (you slackers).

However, the older students are slicker in their pursuit of powder days; they know that bigger snows are a comin' and they best bide their time until the rocks below D chutes and on the Apron are covered. Heck, the blue light atop the old Bozeman Hotel isn't even flashing its six-inches-or-more warning. So as a public service to the uninitiated freshmen of Montana State University, and any others needing a little assistance with their choice of ski days, I offer the following equation:

Should I call in sick to go skiing?

D= Do you have a doctor’s note? (Enter 1 for “no,” 10 for “yes,” and 5 for “yes, but it’s written in crayon.”)
S=How many inches of new snow fell at your ski area of choice overnight?
R= Degree of responsibility in your job (1-10 with 10 being “last time my sub caused nuclear winter—which is not as good for skiing as it sounds”)
M= How many days have you skipped in the last month? (double any days you then ended up on the A-Basin video clip of the day)
N= The daily amount you pay for a lift ticket
$= Your daily wage in dollars

If SkiersCough is greater than 1, you should hit the slopes, but consider a Groucho Marx moustache disguise in addition to your goggles and helmet.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Will you make it through Thanksgiving dinner without throttling Uncle Mort?

As everybody knows, the holidays are a time when families gather in the spirit of goodwill and togetherness to reaffirm connections that lapse in the course of a long year apart. Families leave the holidays re-energized and firm in their resolve to, this year, stay in touch. Somewhere along the line, we learn something ineffable about the spirit of family and the basic idea of love.

At least that's the moral of every Charlie Brown special I've ever seen.

In fact, Thanksgiving dinner brings with it a long history of rancor, deceit and petty jealousies, dating back to 1621 and the very first Thanksgiving at which Cooks-Like-Martha, wife of the Wampanoag Chief, one-upped the Pilgrim hostess with presentation of thrice-baked sweet potatoes, thus initiating many years of bloody conflict.

In more recent times, you know there's someone at Thanksgiving dinner you're dreading—be it an in-law, successful sibling, surly aunt, or little-too-cuddly relative of whom nobody really seems to remember the lineage. I wrote an actually-useful version of this post's equation that will likely see the light of print somewhere this week (if not, I'll post it), but thought I would blog this version—the slightly fiestier, more personally vindictive one. While this is firmly tongue-in-cheek, it also spits out a quite logical answer.

Will you make it through Thanksgiving dinner without throttling Uncle Mort?

P= How mad will your significant other be if a fight breaks out? (1-10 with 10 being “make you sleep on couch ‘till next Turkey Day”)
$= In dollars, how much is this person likely to spend on your holiday present?
T= Hours you need to spend in close contact with this person
D= His or her disapproval of you (0-10 with 0 being “quarterback/doctor/CEO” and 10 being “ski-bum/vegetarian/hippie”)
V= How vocal is he/she likely to be in this disapproval? (0-10 with 10 being “will refer to you only as him, her, or so-in-so’s husband, as in ‘can you please tell so-and-so’s husband to pass me the yams.’”)
S= How sensitive are you (0-10 with 10 being “seismograph”)

GobbleGobble is the percentage chance you WILL make it through Thanksgiving without exploring alternate placements for the meat thermometer.

Notes: Generally, this equation measures how grating this person is and decreases your chances of remaining civil over time. These chances are adjusted upward (but not heavily) by how much your significant other can keep you in check and by the desirability of the holiday gift you would lose by getting in a brawl.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How many hours of sports can I watch without her getting overly pissed?

Thanks to all the geeks who searched me out in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix and Denver this past week! I have to admit that after this whirlwind week of touring I was quite excited to plunk on my couch with the dog and watch many, many hours of pro sports. Maybe football, ski videos would be nice, but really what I was looking for was a good cricket match—completely incomprehensible and hopefully extending across multiple days. Contract bridge and international chess competed for close-second.

Enter the babe. Let me first say the babe is wonderful, charming, cute, smart etc. etc. (just give me an excuse to post pictures). But at seven months old, his pro sports attention span is not yet developed. And with my wife having spent the last 24x6=144 hours with him, my ability to sink into a vegetative stupor was tempered by relationship politics. This, I think, is not an issue relevant to me alone.

One of these "not me alone-s" turns out to be Cameron Phillips of the CBC Radio program Freestyle. We had a great chat today, but didn't have time to actually run his numbers on air. So, included below is the equation that answers this post's title question as well as Cameron's numbers and his answer. Thanks for being a sport, Cameron—and good luck!

How many hours of sports can you watch today without her getting overly pissed?

L= hours spent (or will spend) with her today watching Sleepless in Seattle, strolling hand in hand, or similar
V= Generally, how volatile is she? (1-10 with 10 being “Vesuvius”)
Sy= In the past week, how many hours have you spent watching sporting events?
Sh= For how many of these hours did she enjoy watching sports with you?
I= Importance of today’s sporting event (1-10 with one being “first round Hi-Li qualifiers” and 10 being “Super Bowl”)
R= Your current standing in the relationship (1-10 with 10 being “at last night’s candle-lit dinner, you gave her a diamond necklace” and one being “over last night’s TV dinner, you gave her a Red Sox beer opener”)

Playball is the hours of sports you can watch today without ending up exiled to the couch for good.

Cameron at the CBC had the following numbers:

L=2, V=3, Sy=0, Sh=0, R=7, I=6

These numbers say he's in decent standing in a relationship with an only-lightly vindictive girlfriend, he hasn't spent the last week glued to the tube, and today's sporting event is mildly important (curling?).

According to the equation, Cameron can spend 4.48 hours watching sports today!

Equation note: The only complex variable in this equation is your standing in the relationship—good standing allows more sports (obviously), but as your standing gets into the basement, you might as well watch sports 'cause you're already sleeping on the couch, anyway.

Equation note II: Yes, this is chauvenistic. Feel free to flip the genders or mix and match as you see fit.