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Monday, August 22nd, 2005
12:00p - Good News
So, they've decided to give me more responsibility at work. Currently, I'm the point of contact for all things EDL related, which effectively puts me in charge of how all our online content is packaged (EDLs are the files used to generate the web pages on which the content is displayed). My bosses are apparently impressed with how I've done, because this morning they told me that they've decided to turn hard-copy packaging over to me as well. I will be responsible for proofing back-of-DVD-case descriptions, selecting cover images, closed captioning, and keeping tabs on all the contractors used to fill in for the fact that our tiny staff cannot possibly come close to doing that work for more than a few percent of our releases.

Sure, it's more work with no increase in pay, but my hours aren't changing, just getting more full, and I'm satisfied with how much money I'm making (I know, that's an incredibly un-American thing to say, but it's true -- roughly half my paycheck is going into savings because I have no idea what to do with it). The important thing is that this increases the chances of getting transferred to permanent staff, and really spiffs up my resume.

Later today I'll be putting up a post about the trip I took over the vacation. It had highs and lows, and was pretty interesting. Since many of these highs and lows were connected with my 4.5-year-old nephew, Benny, it has helped solidify my musings on breeding.

current mood: tired

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1:07p - The Trip -- Married/Engaged Friends Should Read!
The next four paragraphs are about my trip, and then I transition into a discussion of the arguments against having kids, which is a topic on which I am very serious. Society puts a LOT of pressure on people to have kids, spewing nonsense that your life is somehow not complete otherwise. I wish to propose a counterargument -- I hope that those of you who are married or engaged, and therefore will soon be experiencing enormous pressure to have kids, will at least consider my points.

[Edit after posting: I didn't realize how long my argument would be, so I snipped it. If you want to skip straight to the discussion, just scroll down to the lj-cut; if you aren't interested in it, don't click.]

So, over the weekend I went on a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country with my brother, sister-in-law, sisters, and nephew. It included a great deal of fun -- Dutch Wonderland is a nice, somehow peaceful, little amusement park aimed at young kids, and I was able to enjoy it vicariously through Benny (the nephew). Especially the water slides -- we went nuts on those.

Sadly, I did not achieve my primary goal for the trip, which was eating Amish-made pie. On the other hand, I did get roughly $150-worth of fireworks for about $70, and successfully smuggled them across Maryland. Fireworks laws are silly: in Pennsylvania, you cannot set off fireworks without a license, but you can own or sell any fireworks except rockets -- but only if you guarantee you won't sell them to Pennsylvania residents! Meanwhile, in Maryland, possession, use, sale, and transportation of fireworks are all illegal. The result: Phantom Fireworks, a supermarket-sized fireworks store (with comparable variety of selection) right on the Pennsylvania side of the Mason-Dixon line, that requires an out-of-state I.D. before they'll let you in. They had a great sale: buy anything, get another identical item for 99 cents. Even better, right before my birthday, they're going to have a buy one get one free sale. My next birthday will involve MUCH burning.

I got a couple of things I hadn't seen in years -- the things that spin and shoot sparks while unfolding into pagodas! Best of all: THE TANKS! The ones that shoot fire out the back, pushing them forward, then stop and spray sparks out of the cannon? I got eight -- I intend to form them up into opposing rows, then light them all at once, and see how many of the plastic soldiers on top survive.

However, thanks to Benny, sleep was impossible all weekend. Thanks to a screw-up at the hotel, we all ended up sharing a six-bed room, and Benny was *impossible*, throwing tantrums from bedtime until 11 or midnight, then popping up at 6 a.m. to play -- extremely loudly, of course.

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8:55p - A Somewhat Distressing Calculation
So, on the way home today, I worked out a method to calculate the percent chance that I will find a compatible romantic partner in a given-size group of appropriately aged heterosexual women. This method, and the resulting calculations, follow.

1) Let us define a "potential partner" as demographic matches -- people of the desired age range, gender, and sexual orientation, who likewise consider me to be within the desired age range, gender, and sexual orientation.

2) Let us make the rather generous assumption that there are only two prerequisites for a romantic relationship to occur: meeting (defined as sufficient contact for both parties to determine their interest in the other) and mutual interest.

3) Let us assume there are two factors in interest: emotional attraction and physical attraction.

4) Let us therefore define four factors in determining the chance that my meeting with a randomly selected potential partner will result in a romantic relationship:
a) Shallowness: The percentage of potential partners I find sufficiently physically attractive to be acceptable as a romantic partner (S).
b) Choosiness: The percentage of potential partners I find sufficiently emotionally attractive to be acceptable as a romantic partner (C).
c) Attractiveness: The percentage of potential partners that find me sufficiently physically attractive to be acceptable as a romantic partner (A).
d) Personality: The percentage of potential partners that find me sufficiently emotionally attractive to be acceptable as a romantic partner (P).
5) The percentage of potential mates with whom I can have a romantic relationship (W)is therefore given by the equation (express percentages as a decimal): W=SCAP.

6) Given a particular number of potential mates (N), the chance that I can have a romantic relationship with at least one of them (R) is given by the equation R=1-(1-W)^N.

So, calculation time. I find roughly 60% of potential partners physically attractive (S=.6), and roughly 5% emotionally attractive (S=.05). I will generously estimate that roughly 5% of potential partners will find me physically attractive (or not care; A=.05), and that roughly 10% of potential partners will find me emotionally attractive (P=.1). Plugging into the equation in step 5, we find that I can have a romantic relationship with an estimated 0.015% of potential mates.

I am rather introverted, and not an easy person to get to know, so in the 10 years or so I've been looking, I've "met" (using the definition above) perhaps 5 potential partners. Let us generously assume that my rate of meeting potential partners over the rest of my life will be double what it's been so far, and that I will live another 50 years. That gives us a pool of 100 potential partners I'll actually meet (N=100).

Plugging into the equation in step 6 above gives us the final result: I have a roughly 1.5% chance of getting into a romantic relationship over the next 50 years (R=.014). My chances of having had one thus far were .0007%, so I've apparently been extraordinarily lucky.

Another calculation: in order to get R=.5, I need to set N to 4625. In other words, in order to have better than a 50% chance of having a romantic relationship within any given time period, I need to meet 4,625 potential partners in that same time period.

Of course, this doesn't even take into account numerous other limiting factors: a significant number of compatible potential partners will be unavailable; a significant percentage of romantic relationships will ultimately fail due to any of a variety of circumstances; and most of the above estimates were extremely generous. It seems likely that my actual chances of having a successful, long-term romantic relationship are far lower.

As a result of these calculations, it seems clear that my best course of action is to refocus my attention away from dating and toward making the other aspects of my life as fulfilling as possible. I obviously don't want to reject the possibility entirely, but spending energy actively pursuing an event with such low odds is a waste of time.

current mood: resigned

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