A picture tells a thousand words, but most of them are lies

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Have you ever paid much attention to board game boxes? On many of them, especially if the game is advertised as being fun for all ages, there is a picture showing a family happily playing the game together. The family usually consists of a father, mother, sister, and brother, and the children will probably be close to the same age. As they sit around the table, they smile affectionately at one another or look upon the board game with joy and enthusiasm. Clearly, they are all having a wonderful time playing the said board game together in a spirit of familial harmony. This has always puzzled me. In my family, it would be highly unlikely for everyone to be simultaneously smiling over a board game. More likely, an observer would be able to tell by each player’s facial expression whether he or she has a good chance of winning.

There’s something else odd about board game box pictures. Generally, every player will have a hand on the board or will be holding a game piece. That is not the way most games are played; people are usually supposed to take turns. If, for any reason, the players had dispensed with the rule of taking turns nicely, the parents would certainly not be smiling. In my experience, parents tend to dislike anarchistic chaos.

Based upon these two observations, I have reached the obvious conclusion that these types of pictures are taken before the game begins, and the players pictured are in the process of setting up the board. They are all smiling with smug anticipation of the victories they intend to achieve, oblivious to the fact that only one of them can actually succeed. As the game progresses, three of them are sure to change their facial expressions to ones of sorrow or frustration.

Either that, or all of the people are models who are just posing for the picture, and they don’t care about the game at all. That idea depresses me and it doesn’t make the game look very appealing. Why would I want to play a game if it’s so boring that they couldn’t find models that actually care about winning it?

I have a song stuck in my head

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Yesterday was one of those weird days that I had multiple annoying songs going through my head constantly. Every song I heard would get stuck in my head, but rather than replacing what was already there, it just added a layer to the chaotic cacophony that is my brain. The all-knowing internet has informed me that the term for a song being stuck in one’s head is ‘earworm’, but I personally prefer the term ‘psychaudio compulsion’.  I like the sound of the phrase “I am experiencing a psychaudio compulsion” much more than the phrase “I have a song going through my head.”

Apparently, a good deal of research has been done on the topic of earworms/ psychaudio compulsions, but most of the results are things that everyone already knows. For example, recent studies have shown that frequent exposure to a song increases the likelihood that it will get stuck in your head. Also, if the tone of the music corresponds to your mood, that might make it continue going through your head until your mood changes. Earworms/ psychaudio compulsions can be triggered either by hearing the song or by encountering anything that you psychologically associate with the song.

What I find more interesting is the question of why some people are more prone to this phenomenon than others. I know that everyone (Or, according to actual scientific research, about 98% of people) get songs going through their head, but apparently it is a less frequent occurrence for some people than for others. Surveys have shown that musicians are more susceptible to earworms/psychaudio compulsions than people who aren’t musicians, and women tend to have them more than men do. Not surprisingly, people who have OCD also are particularly prone to having songs going through their head. It’s also associated with above average intelligence, which is my favorite explanation.

Magical Wishes

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Sadly, I have never found a genie in a bottle, met a fairy godmother, or ever been in any other situation that could result in magically having wishes granted. However, that has not stopped me from putting a lot of thought into deciding what I would wish for if I ever did get a magic wish.  At one time, I thought that the best possible option would be to wish for more wishes. In fact, when I was little I thought I was pretty clever for thinking of that, even though I now realize that it wasn’t such an original idea. But in some stories of the magical wish genre, (like in the Disney movie Aladdin, if I recall correctly) wishing for more wishes is not an option. I have considered the possibility of wishing for all of the normal things like money and fame, but as everyone who has ever watched a corny movie knows, those things are superficial and don’t mean anything. (By ‘those things’, I am referring both to money/fame and to corny movies, because corny movies are also superficial and don’t mean anything) Anyway, the point is that I have since then decided that the best way to use a magical wish would be for me to wish for everything I will ever need to be completely happy. That seems like the ultimate magical wish; I can’t think of any way of improving on that.

Now if anyone knows where I can find a magical genie, please let me know.

Black cats and Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th isn’t really unlucky. That would be illogical; thirteen is a cool number and Friday is a cool day of the week. I am tempted to estimate some statistics about how much better Fridays are than certain other days, but I doubt that my arbitrary statistics will be valid enough to mean anything. Starting next week, I intend to keep records enabling me to compare the goodness of different days statistically, but for the time being, you’re just going to have to take my word for it that there’s nothing wrong with Fridays.  The thirteen part makes a little more sense because thirteen is prime, but it just so happens to be one of the few prime numbers that is cool in spite of its primeness. If the superstition said, for example, that Monday the 23rd is unlucky, that would make more sense because Mondays tend to be uncool and 23 is not a good number. But the superstition about Friday the 13th is just silly.

As well as being Friday the 13th, today is also my black cat Bo’s birthday. Unfortunately, since I am at college 370 miles away from him, I can’t tell him happy birthday in person, so I hope that my family is giving him extra cat treats on my behalf.

Incidentally, speaking of silly superstitions, it is only bad luck to have a black cat cross your path if it’s the middle of the night and it’s dark and you can’t see the black cat.  It’s also bad luck if a black cat crosses the board in the middle of a chess game, particularly if the cat is cheering for your brother.

It’s still Easter, people!

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Every year, at about December 26, I am disappointed and saddened to notice that most people are taking down their Christmas decorations, putting away their Christmas music, and losing interest in what is popularly referred to as the Christmas Spirit. At that point, by my count, there are still eleven days left of Christmas, a few more weeks in which to observe Christmas, and the rest of the year for obsessing about Christmas. After all, Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation, and Jesus stayed incarnate for more than a day, so there’s no reason for us to stop celebrating. I feel the same way about Easter.  Just because we’ve moved on to the next square on the calendar doesn’t mean that the holiday is over.

When I wake up tomorrow, it will still be Easter. When I have eaten the last of the Easter candy that my parents recently sent me (Thank you, parents!) it will still be Easter. Easter officially ends on Pentecost, which is May 27 this year, but the Resurrection never ends, because Jesus is still alive and always will be.

Happy Good Friday!

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Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 4-5)

 This may seem strange, but I absolutely love Good Friday. Even though it’s a sad and somber holiday, I enjoy it, look forward to it ahead of time, and consider it one of my favorite days of the church year. For one thing, some of my favorite hymns are Good Friday hymns, such as O Sacred Head Now Wounded and Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.

Of course, another part of the appeal of Good Friday is the fact that it’s just two days before Easter. When one is sitting in church singing something like O Sacred Head Now Wounded, one knows that Jesus Christ is Risen Today and Awake, My Heart, with Gladness are just around the corner. Nothing can negate the atrocity of Jesus’ crucifixion and of the sin that made it necessary, but the salvation that comes from Good Friday and the Resurrection make it an occasion that can be observed with gladness as well as with sorrow.

Basically, Good Friday and Easter each imply the significance of the other. The Gospel is not absent from Good Friday because salvation comes from the cross, and the Law is not absent from Easter because Jesus’ death and resurrection were necessitated by sin. Really, every church service has both Good Friday and Easter in it.  (‘Tis good to be Lutheran)

That’s what makes the aforementioned Good Friday hymns so awesome. They’re about sin and death, but they’re also about grace and salvation.

Here we have a firm foundation, Here the refuge of the lost; Christ’s the Rock of our salvation, His the  name of which we boast. Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, Sacrificed to cancel guilt! None shall ever be confounded Who on Him their hope have built. (Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted, verse 4)

Cadbury Eggs and Calculus

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Let us consider that the enjoyment of eating a Cadbury egg is 25 units of happiness, and the enjoyment of having a Cadbury egg to eat later is given by the function 20-3t units of happiness per day where t is the number of days since you acquired the Cadbury egg. This function decreases as t increases because of the increased risk that the Cadbury egg will melt.

a) Find the equation in terms of t that gives the total happiness coming from the ownership and consumption of a Cadbury egg.

Answer: 25 plus the integral of (20-3t dt)

b) If one eats the Cadbury egg at t=7, how much happiness has one gotten from the Cadbury egg over the week?

Answer: 25 + the integral of (20-3t dt) from 0 to 7=25+(20t-(3t^2)/2) evaluated at 7 and 0=25+(140-73.5)-(0)=91

c)If one eats the Cadbury egg at t=5, how much happiness has one gotten from the Cadbury egg over the five days?

Answer: 25+ the integral of (20-3t dt) from 0 to 5=25+(20t-(3t^2)/2) evaluated at 5 and 0=25+(100-37.5)-(0)= 87.5

d) When should you eat your Cadbury egg in order to maximize Cadbury egg enjoyment?

Answer: t=6 2/3, because that is the highest value of t for which (20-3t) is positive, and the integral of (20-3t dt) is therefore increasing.

e) When are you going to eat that Cadbury egg?

Answer: t=0.

Note to self: You’re really supposed to save Easter candy until Easter, you know.

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