Two weekends ago, during week one of 245 of the 2009 NBA playoffs, watching Dikembe Mutombo play (and subsequently suffer a career-ending injury), I found myself saying, "He must be 60 years old." (Officially, he says he's 42, by the way.)
Because I'm a huge nerd, that got me thinking about the relativity of age... and that brought about this list.
Here are 11 ways that age is measured for people, places, animals and societies that are completely different than our traditional, boring "on your birthday you're now a year older" system.
Dog years. I figured I'd start here because it's the best-known way of calculating your age differently... figuring it out in dog years. When we're young, we all learn the quick rule-of-thumb: One human year equals seven dog years.
Well... during my research on this (yes, each 11points list is its own research project, done entirely by me, during my spare time, for fun), I found out that's not really right.
The real quick-and-dirty way to figure out your age in dog years is to count the first two years of a dog's life as 12 human years, then count every dog year after that as four human years.
The formula for cat years is pretty similar to the formula for dog years, just a little more boring. (I feel like there's a metaphor in there somewhere...) For cat years, their first year is like 15 human years, then every year after that is four human years.
Space years. This is a big elementary school trick to get kids engaged in astronomy (in lieu of just letting them run wild with Uranus jokes).
Since each planet takes a different amount of time to revolve around the sun, their years have different durations than Earth years, and that leads to all sorts of mild fun. ("As a six-year-old, you're already 25 on Mercury, but you're only nine days old on Pluto!") See? Mild fun.
The Real Age test. There was a while where there were banner ads everywhere on the Internet for the Real Age test. I'm not even sure what they were trying to sell. Books? Vitamin supplements? Life insurance? Tombstones? Nicorette gum?
Well, whatever it was, they clearly didn't sell enough of it, because you never see their ads anymore. But they still make my list, because there are no paid placements on 11points, this is a pure journalism zone.
Anyway, the Real Age test is a questionnaire where they ask a billion questions about your medical history, background, diet and habits, then figure out how many years you've really been aging for every year you've been alive. (I did it, it took about 20 minutes and I wound up having a "real age" of 26.3. And I'm 29.7 and an American. Suck on that, Surgeon General.)
Ultimately, the formula seems to boil down to your age going up if you smoke, have a disease or never exercise and your age going down if none of those applies to you. I've simplified it for my calculator below.
Presidential years. You know how it looked like Bill Clinton had aged about 400 years from when he got into office to when he left? He's not the only one.
According to this CNN article, Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic ran a study on presidential medical records and found, quote, "The typical president ages two years for every year they're in office."
The article's asking how Obama will avoid that. (Easy: Black don't crack. Also, tangent: As an add-on to the phrase "black don't crack" I've been trying to get people to adopt "Asians ain't agin'." It's only doing so-so.)
How can you avoid aging in presidential years? Well... don't become president of the United States. Channel your leadership elsewhere. I don't think the same presidents-age-double axiom applies to being the president of an Elk's Club or condo association.
Benjamin Button years. For every year you get older, your age goes down by one, from 70. Honestly, my roommate Josh had a screener copy of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and I couldn't make it through the whole three hour movie. It's impossible to watch a three-hour movie at home. In a movie theater, maybe. You're committed and there aren't distractions like Mario Kart Wii or sunshine or the fast forward button.
Seriously. Back in college it took me 14 sittings to get through "Magnolia".
Korean years. You probably have never heard of this before, but in much of Korea (North and South), along with Japan and some other Asian countries, ages are calculated very differently than they are here.
When you're born in Korea, you are one. You do not start at zero, you start at one. And after that, your birthday doesn't matter. Your age goes up one year on New Year's Day, along with everyone else's ages too.
So, in late January or early February, whenever the Korean New Year is that particular year, suddenly, everyone's a year older. And yes, if the Korean New Year is February 13th and a baby is born February 12th, that means he's two years old after two days of being on the planet.
Breaking the math down, that means your Korean age is generally your age plus two, unless you happened to be born on Korean New Year's Day of your birth year.
Dorian Gray years. Did you know "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is the only novel Oscar Wilde ever published? I had no idea. Take that trivia fact and go use it to impress strangers and, thereby, make friends.
Biblical years. You can get as deeply theological about this as you want (people were able to live until they were 800 years old back then because humans had sinned less!)... but this is a math-based list. And math and the Bible would not be matched up on eHarmony.
So we're going to go with the most popular theory for converting Biblical ages into actual ages: They were measured by lunar cycles, meaning they need to be divided by 12.37 to convert to real ages.
The Jerk years. As we learned in "The Jerk", when you fall in love, every four weeks and three days really feels like nine weeks and five days.
Here's Steve Martin breaking down some of the math behind that (and yes, I will argue for days that this monologue is better than the monologue where he takes the paddle game and the ashtray): "The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days and the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days and the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in then evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half."
The Up-With-People way. There's an old anonymous proverb that says "Count your age with friends but not with years." Sure, that means my grandma is zero and my cousin who's a sophomore in college is 848 (at least according to Facebook)... but self-help quotes are more about making people feel good than actually working logically.
Also, by this theory, doesn't it make you younger (and therefore, by basic human logic, happier) to have fewer friends? My 848-year-old cousin should be super depressed.
Dominican baseball player years. This formula took me lots of finessing, but I think I finally got it to work. To figure out your age in the Dominican Republic, go outside and throw a baseball at one of those radar stands the police put on the side of the road that display cars' speeds to try to shame you into slowing down.
Now... how fast was your fastball? For every three miles-per-hour you clocked in over 87, subtract one year from your age... and that's your Dominican age.
This post was originally published on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 12:01:00 AM under the category Misc.