I get flack from friends and family from coming home from the office and regaling them with absolutely non-sequiter information. This has created the impression that I spend all day at work reading “weird trivia fact books” or something. In reality, I often pick up bits and pieces of information which continue to grate at me in the back of my head as I do the more tedious tasks of my day.
Case in point: In cleaning out my Google Reader cache last night I saw an article at Puck Daddy about how a Chicago Blackhawks Fan won $1,000,000 at a game on Tuesday. The promotion, with the Illinois Lottery, was that a randomly chosen fan at each home game could win $1,000,000 if the ‘hawks scored a goal at exactly the 10-minute mark of the second period. Only five days after the promotion started, Martin Havlat made some lucky fan a millionaire.
The article also had a quote from a Darren Rovell article at CNBC about the odds of such an occurrence where Greg Esterhai, a representative of an insurance company, said the odds of such a promotion would be about 1 in 25, per season.
So today, while I sat on hold on the phone, I wondered if I could recreate this calculation before my call got answered:
- A NHL game is 60 minutes, or 3600 seconds
- A quick Google search turned up the 2007 goals-per-game average: 5.94
- That would make the odds of a goal at any particular second 1:606
and given 40 home games in a season (40:606), approx 1:15 that someone would score a goal at any given second in a season… which is significantly different than the odds that Mr. Esterhai quoted.
Not only could I not figure out what mistake I had made before I had to turn my attention back to my actual call, this discrepancy drove me completely bonkers grating in the back of my head all day. One obvious flaw is that I’m sure the distribution of goals isn’t entirely equal over the course of the game (I suspect more goals are scored at the beginning and end of periods… also more goals during the first and third period seems to make sense)… but the quote was pretty clear that the calculation was for a goal during any second in a game… not particularly at a specific time – so a simple even distribution seemed most appropriate for a napkin calculation (in this, it turns out I was right).
I make no claims to being a math guru (first year economics in University just about handed me my ass with the calculus required) so I finally decided to write my dilemma down in a post to see if anyone out there could show me what mistake I was making… however in the process of writing my problem out long-form, my (completely stupid) mistake becomes glaringly obvious.
No, I’m not going to tell you what mistake I made. You can either gloat in smug superiority, or share my pain. Either one works for me.
During the contentious 2008 US election we were often bombarded with variants of a very basic Republican speaking point: You don’t actually buy the hype do you? For all the talk of change you don’t expect you will magically open your eyes into a mystical new wonderland should, against all odds, a black man named “Barack” get elected to the highest office in the land?
Oddly, I had assumed this was just the usual pundit pedantry – intentionally making shallow word-play out of the broader social and international importance of metaphorical “change”. Heck, I think I probably argued that the act of such an unlikely election, in and of itself, would encompass of more national “change” than, perhaps, the entirety of the previous several presidential terms.
Ironically, the promise wasn’t nearly as metaphorical as I’d thought:
1130h EST, January 20th 2009 – Barack Hussein Obama II was inaugurated at the 44th President of the United States of America.
1200h EST, January 20th 2009 – I find myself in Puebla, Mexico officiating a press conference between Captain Henry Morgan and the famous Mexican wrestler, El 1000 Por Ciento Guapo, Shocker.
Now that’s change you can believe in!
(en espanol, but here’s a mildly comprehensible auto- translation)
I decided to mix up festivities this year by apparently toasting in the new year with a large glass of influenza virus. In retrospect, I think I can see why “champagne” is probably the more traditional medium, as “general discomfort” really doesn’t do justice to the past few days.
I have trouble reading when I’m sick, but managed to squeeze some of my “unexpected bonus vacation” time to read through several collected Scary-Go-Round volumes I received over the holidays. Like clockwork, I’ve been rewarded for my diligence by John Allison turning his laser sharp pen to five brilliant panels which sum up the entirety of Canadian politics.
- Cons: Allison may be in the back pocket of the monarchy – trying to reassert it’s colonial grasp
- Pros: Heroic send-off for StÃ©phane Dion, Allison manages to avoid using (then subsequently having to define) the term prorogue.
“Happy Halloween, Everyone!”
(The preceding message has been approved and paid for by the Gourdy Pumpkin Political Action Committee, and WordPress for iPhone)
No I’m not above shameless self-promotion, so I’ll point out there’s only five days left in public voting for the Canadian Comedy Awards. If you’d care to vote for “the Waldo Ultimatum” in the Web Video category, I certainly wouldn’t stop you.
I was picking up my pull list at my local comic haunt last week (confidential to readership: If you don’t know what a “pull list” is, this story is probably not for you) and ended up in line behind a mother and her young son discussing which comic character he would dress up as for “Super Hero Camp.” “Wolverine!” was his instant, choice. “No, that’s too scary for some of the younger kids – pick someone more friendly.” The boy started scanning action figures lining the wall across from the counter “The Hulk! Hellboy! Lobo!” Each met with a similar complaint. The young gentleman clearly screwed down his thinking cap to give the issue some major thought – and then you could see the lightbulb go off over his head – “The Joker!”.
Mom beamed. “That’s a much better choice!” At this point I came dangerously close to doing a spit-take. May I present a common comic-shop dillema: Should I volunteer an opinion that no one has asked me for? Read more
I think I inadvertently insulted someone today, with one of those odd reminders of how some tech terms haven’t quite permeated the general lexicon as much as I think they have.
I was talking about an upcoming meeting, one involving a few people involved in a much larger meeting later in the week as a kind of “trial run” to hash some things out first. “Gotcha,” I said “it’s like the beta version of the actual meeting“.
After a moment of silence I got the somewhat strained reply “In that it will last shortly and then fade into obscurity?”
I honestly didn’t know how to reply.