As an engineer steeped in the culture of my Fortune 100 sawmill, I am data-driven. In fact, I horde data. Collect it in raw form because I know that, through the power of pivot tables and frequency analyses and causation/correlation studies, it can be an endless pool to draw conclusions upon. Interpreted the right way, data can justify spending, get people hired, get people fired, win arguments and lend credence to points.
In fact, at the sawmill we place so much emphasis on data-backed execution that it’s become part of my life. I can’t stop seeing data, craving data, generating and storing data. I do it for things like my finances, my diet and exercise, my personal time. I try to make decisions based on data, and work to capture and store useful data for that very use at a later time.
I guess most folks, analytical folks, do this sort of thing anyway. It’s pretty much a subconscious human behavior. Going to a new restaraunt, ordering the fish while your wife goes with the lamb. Realizing, after the inevitable sharing-of-bites from each other’s plates, that the lamb is fantastic and that the fish is, even without comparison, nothing to write home about. Realize it or not, you’ve just created a file on this in your brain. You have a piece of data which says that, based on prior experience, it’s better to go with lamb than fish at the Overton House. Maybe later along you have an opportunity to talk to someone, whose opinion you value, about their dining experience at the Overton House and they, unlike you, thought the fish was fine. In your brain you may file a “minority report,” or some “note of doubt” against your personal fish-at-Overton-House experience. It’s all data; we all do it; I just think I see it for what it is because it’s what I breathe all day at work.
I spent those paragraphs setting up my data-driven nature so I could talk about Keaton turning five. It happens before the month’s out, and the milestone has been on my mind more and more as the day approaches. Five years old. Wow; I find that… simply amazing. I was writing a mail to my mom the other day and had the occasion to muse, “When I was fifteen or so I can remember thinking it seemed like forever until, as a kid, you turn eighteen and get to go out on your own to college. Now I find myself thinking eighteen years is a pittance to spend with my kids, and get downright sad when I realize my little girl is already almost 30% to that point.” It’s that bit about 30% that got me a-thinking on the data-driven nature of my thoughts (great sentence, that one). At the time, I hadn’t actually done the math – but my mental wizardry told me that five was at least a third of fifteen, so it must be something close to 30% of eighteen.
Turns out five is actually about 28% of eighteen (check my math, I’m not so good at it). And, for that matter, 28% is pretty close to 30% (uh-oh, I’m heading down that slippery slope of strategic-estimation to make things appear better or worse; my brother used to be able to convince himself that his birthday was “tomorrow” by deciding that the day before, the current day, maybe tomorrow, and other chosen days simply “didn’t count”). So, I wasn’t that far off. My little girl is some 30% through to that arbitrary age where we think of “kids” as”adults.” Without having their first solo lion hunt and kill; without getting the tenth ring around their neck or walking across the hot coals; without being proven in battle or bedding the village wise-woman. Coming of age tied to naught but the right to vote and serve in the military (poor gits can’t even drink in most states).
I’m not really sad about it; I know we still have a lot of great time together to be had… I’m just intrigued by the statistic of it. With any luck, I’ll live into my nineties and therefore still have the better-side of 50% to spend with this family we’ve created. God knows I’m pretty much 200% in love with them all.