December 12: Can’t Hardly Kuwait

Let me preface this by saying that I know better than to send out this letter. And yet, in a burst of unalloyed optimism, I am passing along unsubstantiated oral information as if it were fact. Perhaps I can make it so through sheer force of belief.

Dates have been announced. It is claimed that I’ll be heading to Germany for training on January four4th, in the glorious upcoming future year. It is further claimed that I’ll be doing my anti-terrorist training on the nineteenth of that same month, following which I will head to Kuwait to begin my new life as a pseudo-expatriate and LAN administrator.

Note my near-total lack of sarcasm! I am buoyed by the giddy feeling that this may be true, unbased in reality though it may be. If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here clapping my hands. I do believe in fairies! I do!

As this was an exceptionally short email, I’ve decided to also include my LiveJournal entry for that day, so that you’ve got something slightly more substantial to read this week. Only slightly, though.

Transmission follows:

In my ongoing quest to unnecessarily quantify my life, I have defined a new measure for entertainment. It’s based off of a unit that I suspect many people use: the movie. Movies are fairly solid sources of entertainment, especially in the theater. Before I lay down my $9, I have to be fairly sure that I’ll be entertained by the movie, or by the company I’m going with, at least.

On a side note, I’d like to complain about the fact that it’s now $7 to see a matinée. Back in college, we used to go see matinées for $2.50! Admittedly, this was with the student discount, and we had to drive for forty minutes to get there, but that was okay because gas was cheaper then, too. Also, these kids weren’t on my lawn all the time. Where are my teeth?

Anyway, back to the point at hand: going to see a movie in the evening costs slightly less than $10, generally lasts for a bit under 2 hours, and is in my mind a fairly good exchange of money for entertainment. Through the magic of rounding, I have therefore concluded that if I spend $5 on something, it should bring me one hour of entertainment—or, breaking it down further, I’m willing to spend $1 for 12 minutes of entertainment.

This is not actually particularly useful for determining what I should do ahead of time—except in the case of things like Lazer Tag, which costs about a dollar a minute and which I should therefore clearly avoid, and which equally clearly I will not, but I will complain afterwards about how much it costs. I’d have to complain for quite a long time to really make it balance, but at least I can recoup some of the expense that way, as I do love to complain.

Mainly, what this system is good for is determining in retrospect whether I got my entertainment money’s worth. For example, last night I played poker for two hours and spent $4, plus I got a free beer and an invitation to Ultimate Frisbee on Sunday. This was clearly a good investment, coming in at a 5:2 on what I was willing to spend versus what I spent. The positive ratio helps make up for the $5.03 I spent on a shower curtain the other day, which is almost certain not to provide an hour’s worth of entertainment.

Similarly, this system lets me know that in order to achieve parity on the racquetball equipment I bought the other day, I’ll need to enjoy it for seven hours and twenty minutes. I don’t think I’ll have any problem with this. I’ve already played several hours of racquetball, plus I’ve harassed my dog with the racket a bit and I’ve spent at least half an hour laughing about the fact that not only is the racket named “Wrath,” but the protective eyewear is called “Vendetta.” I think someone got a little carried away in the marketing department.

The way I see it, I’m awake and therefore requiring entertainment for about 6,200 hours a year. Clearly, then, my goal should be to drop my expenditures to $31,025, or $5 an hour. If I could manage to spend that amount or less, then I’d be getting entertainment value out of every single dollar I spent. That, I think, is definitely a mark of a life well-lived.

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