Thursday, October 13, 2011

Battery Algebra

There is a children's clothing company named Carter's that has a slogan that kind of tugs at my heart, "If they could just stay little til their Carter's wear out." Awww, now if that doesn't cause your eyes to get all misty and puffy, then you clearly have no soul. But the point is clear, they hope something "X" lasts (your kid's childhood and their insouciant sweetness) for a certain time period "Y" (until their onesie busts its seams and they go off to college). But what happens in the scenario when Y far exceeds X? This is the kind of algebra problem that will make you sink to your knees. Let me illustrate with a chilling tale from my own life.

I have a Friday afternoon group meeting at work that is slated for 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.. I don't know about you, by usually by Friday afternoon my brain is half scrambled and a long meeting only exacerbates my cranial condition. Trying to prevent my brain from spontaneously combusting takes some significant effort, especially on those occasions where my meeting goes on past its allotted time. When this happens, you can witness folks slowly edging their chairs toward the door in an attempt to escape given the slightest chance.

At my last Friday meeting, something unspeakable happened. The meeting outlasted the battery on my laptop! Now, this isn't one of those batteries from a decade ago that held power for 12 minutes before decaying into dust. This is a battery that can hold its own for nearly 4 hours before it conks out. If X represents the lifetime of my battery and Y represents the length of that meeting, X came and went long before Y ran its course. Even today, nearly a full week later, the cloud of fatigue that resulted has still not yet cleared my body.