January 5, 2007

Raisins v. Drum Set

Late Christmas Eve, my wife and I were preparing for Santa's arrival. She felt bad when she realized we didn't have much to put in our three-year-old's stocking.

I asked if I could wrap up a tiny box of raisins, just to see if he would be excited or not.

He's generally a very good recipient of gifts and as many of you know, the kid likes to eat, (ear medicine, vaseline, sprinkles, etc.) so she was on board.

You should know that this wasn't even an ordinary box of raisins. It's the tiniest box of raisins they make. There are seriously, maybe 12 raisins in it.

One present we had gotten him was a cool electronic drum set that I was pretty sure he'd flip out over. I was very curious to see how the tiny box of raisins would fair againt the high-tech competition.

It's not unlike Paul Bunyan and his trusty axe going up against the chain saw. (With the part of Paul Bunyan, of course, being played by 12 to 15 dried up grapes.)

The following is actual audio, pulled from my video camera on Christmas morning.

First, the reaction to the raisins:

The quiet part at the top is him saying, "I don't know what's in here..." as he was struggling to unwrap the tiny box.

He seemed genuinely excited about the raisins. At the end of that clip, he even happily shook the box at the camera. All in all, I'd give the raisins a 6.

Up next is the drum set...


It's not often you get to hear unbridled joy.

The drum set scored HUGE. He's was literally dancing uncontrollably as he said "I GOT A DRUM SET!"

I'll give the drums a very solid 9.

Now before we call it a landslide, consider this:

The drums cost 60 bucks. The box of raisins: 21 cents.

Based on this information, I asked my buddy Rob over at Cockeyed, to do a little number crunching for me. Here was his response:

Sure! I hope you want the long-winded version.

If your son's base level of excitement is zero, then we can calculate what the cost of each level of excitement is.

What your experiment shows is that there is not a linear relationship between price and level of excitement.

Each successive level of excitement is almost exponentially more expensive than the last level...as the desired level of excitement increases, so does the cost of breaking through to the next level of excitement.

With your two data points, I calculate that to reach excitement level seven, you'd need to spend 6.6 times as much as the raisins, which is $1.38. To reach level eight, you'd again have to multiply your expenditure by 6.6, and find a gift priced at $9.11.

As you know, excitement level 9 comes at a price of $60, and you'll be pleased to know that excitement level 10 can by bought for $396.06.

Here is the breakdown:

Excitement / Cost
1 / 0.00002
2 / 0.00011
3 / 0.00073
4 / 0.0048
5 / 0.031
6 / 0.21
7 / 1.38
8 / 9.11
9 / $60.10
10 / $396.05
11 / $2,610.03

Thanks, Rob! I can't wait 'til next Christmas to see how the raisins do. I have a feeling the price of excitement will be going up every year.

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to add this. He totally ate the raisins.



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