Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How big is BIG?

I’ve found that people have trouble with large numbers.  I don’t mean numbers up to one million.  I think everyone has some frame of reference to what a million is.  For example, a high-end Mercedes costs about $100,000.  So I could buy 10 of them with $1,000,000.  I could also buy three $330,000 homes for $1,000,000.

But I’m not talking about one million…

With all the yada yada about Baker Hughes and Halliburton going on, I thought I’d put things into perspective—into terms and analogies most folks can grasp.

Baker Hughes has a market cap of $27.5 billion.  Market cap…or market capitalization…is the total dollar market value of all of a company's outstanding shares.  It’s a pretty easy number to calculate, but the calculation is irrelevant to this post.  The $27.5 billion is what I want you to keep in mind.

Now let’s look at Halliburton.  It has a market cap of $41.1 billion.

If I add the market value of BHI and HAL, I end up with a total dollar market value of $68.6 billion.  Sounds like a lot of money, right?

But exactly how big is $68.6 billion?  Well, I know it’s this big:

That’s pretty big.  But it really doesn’t put things into perspective.

To help wrap your head around $68.6 billion, let’s consider the $100,000 Mercedes I mentioned earlier.  With $68.6 billion, you could buy 686,000 of them.  That is not a typo.

What about the $330,000 house?  Turns out you could buy 207,878 houses if you had $68.6 billion.  If you lived to be 80 years old, you would have to visit seven of your houses every day of your life to see them all.

Or how about this? The average person's stride length is approximately two-and-a-half feet long.  That means it takes more than 2,000 steps to walk one mile.  If you were to take 68.6 billion steps, you’d walk more than 34,300,000 miles.  To put that into perspective, the distance around the earth is 24,859.82 miles.  If you took 68.6 billion steps, it would be like walking around the earth 1,380 times.

What if I gave you $68.6 billion in one-dollar bills?  If you counted $1 per second every second of every day (no breaks…just counting 24/7), how long do you think it would take you to count all 68.6 billion one-dollar bills?

[insert dramatic pause here…]

It would take you more than 2,175 years to count them all.

And let’s say as you were counting all of the one-dollar bills you stacked them neatly on top of one another.  How high would a stack of 68.6 billion one-dollar bills be?  Well, you’d need quite a ladder to stack them all, because your stack of one-dollar bills would be more than 3,789 miles high.  Yes, miles.

And if you didn’t want to stack all the money, you could give it away.  If you had $68.6 billion, you could give every person in the world…and I mean all 7.125 billion people on the earth… $9.63.

Just give me a $10—you won’t have to count ones…and what’s 37 cents in the grand scheme of things anyway?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

100 - 94 = 6

So let's say your wife gets several packs of card stock. And let's say there are supposed to be 100 sheets in each pack. Let's say your wife is suspicious that there are not 100 sheets in each pack and counts the total number of sheets in the first pack. Let's say there are only 94 sheets. Given my experience, I think it would be safe to assume your wife will not be happy.

And now let's say your unhappy wife asks you to help her count the number of sheets in the remaining packs. What do you do?  How can you show your support?  How can you exceed her expectations in a situation like this?  

The answer to this is so obvious I'm surprised I even have to tell you. But it turns out some wives think you're supposed to literally help her count the sheets in each pack...as in 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. And believe it or not, I found out there are guys out there that agree.

Are you kidding me? Is that how you exceed your wife's expectations?

So let me detail the blindingly obvious solution so everyone is on the same page.

OK husbands, here is what you do:

Go to the garage and get your dial calipers.

Turn on the air compressor, wait for it to build up pressure, and then blow any dust off of the dial calipers with the air hose.

Get a micro-fiber towel and apply a very light coat of machinist's oil to the towel and lightly wipe down the calipers.

Next, completely close the calipers and check the zero reading.  If the calipers are not reading zero, recalibrate the calipers to ensure the initial reading is zero (you might need to do this a couple of times).

Once your calipers are ready, go back into the house and listen to your wife tell you to "forget it"...she's "already counted the remaining packages." Knowing she is just saying that because she knows you have many other things to do and doesn't want to bother you, you completely ignore her and measure the thickness of one sheet of card stock.

"0.016 inches." you tell your wife. She will stare at you with a face that clearly says 'Oh wow..please tell me more!' Use this opportunity to explain the process to her so she understands exactly what to do in case this happens in the future and you're not there to help her.

As you measure the thickness of the entire stack of cards in the package, explain to her that if there are 100 sheets, the dial calipers will read 1.6 inches. If the measurement is less than 1.6 inches, tell her the math is easy enough. I found providing a written example left her speechless.

You may understand better if I share the remaining steps from my personal experience.  I think it also adds credibility knowing I have already been through this exercise...

As I was coming back down the stairs with the piece of paper from the upstairs office printer, I started explaining how the first stack measured 1.44 inches.  Then I scribbled out the following while giving a verbal explanation of what I was doing...

1.6" - 1.44" = 0.16"
0.16" / 0 .016" per sheet = 10 sheets.

I explained to her the pack was short 10 sheets. Her words, "I know!" filled my heart with joy.  I was so happy to hear she understood what I was saying. And I knew she understood, because as she walked into the other room she said, "Yeah...I got it."

So I measured the next pack and ran the calculations.  I yelled, "This second pack is short 6 sheets."
Her loving voice came back with, "Yeah, I know.  I already counted the sheets in that pack."
"Oh...", I said. "Well, you were right!" I called back to her. She said something, but I wasn't quite able to hear it clearly.  It sounded like "No dip, ducking genius."  Since I could clearly make out the word "genius", I knew she approved.

When I began to measure the third and final stack, my wife said, "I bet it's short 6 as well." as she walked by me towards the bathroom to get something out of her eyes.  I noticed earlier her eyes were bothering her because she rolled them back into her head a few times.
Well, interestingly enough, after my measuring and calculating, she was right!  It was short 6 sheets. Unbelievable!  Unbeknownst to me, I taught her how to use her eyes as calipers!  I mean, she just looked at the last stack and knew it was short 6 sheets. And she was so confident in her abilities, she wanted me to throw the calipers away.  She called out from the bathroom, "...stick the calipers in the grass." ...or something like that.

So there you go, husbands. If after all that your wife is not obviously happier, show her how to use a micrometer to solve the same problem in case the calipers are broken. I cannot tell you how much my wife appreciated that (because she left while I was out in the garage waiting on the air compressor to build up pressure again...).