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Bridget Galassini | Monday, September 10, 2012

Ratios. They’re important. They’re relevant in almost every situation. Parties – boy to girl ratio. Food – apple to peanut butter ratio, mac to cheese ratio, peanut butter to jelly ratio. Drinks – coffee to cream ratio. It always has to be perfect. And when it’s not, it’s bad.

Last Sunday, I was in the dining hall eating my breakfast at 2 p.m. as always. That day, the delicious apple slices were in little bowls, instead of in the serve-yourself bin. I grabbed one of the bowls and put my usual amount of peanut butter on it. Little did I know, the bowl contained more apple slices than I normally put on my plate. To my dismay, I watched as the peanut butter dwindled away, leaving me with about 10 apple slices and no more peanut butter. It’s not that I can’t eat apples without peanut butter; I can. It’s that all of the other slices got to have peanut butter, so why didn’t these ten? (I assign humanistic qualities to food very often. When I was little, my mom or grandma or someone would constantly tell me if I didn’t eat the last two baby carrots or the last three strawberries, they would feel left out and cry. So I thank them for this.) Also, apples taste better with peanut butter anyway. This caused me to get up and go get more. An inconvenience, albeit a necessary one.

This brings me to my point: People will go to great lengths to fix ratios when they are off. For guys at parties, this means girls getting in free, making the “odds be ever in their favor.” For colleges, this may involve hiring enough teachers to bring down the ever-important teacher to student ratio. For students, it’s balancing that triangle we’ve all seen with “enough sleep,” “good grades” and “social life” in the corners and “pick two” in the middle. It’s an exaggeration, but like all exaggerations, it contains some degree of truth.

Some intellectuals have been fascinated with a particular ratio for thousands of years – the golden ratio, the value of which is an irrational number called Phi, equal to about 1.618. This should sound somewhat familiar to readers of “The Da Vinci Code.” All of the applications and occurrences of this number are crazy. It even has its own website, www.goldennumber.net. There, you can see all the different places it is found in nature. Phimatrix.com offers even more – including the Nissan and Toyota logos and the shape of Pepsi bottles. Saturn’s rings, a human arm, plant leaves – it seems there’s an unspoken language between everything in the universe that says to employ this ratio in some way. For all I know, maybe there is. I don’t understand how it shows up so many times, but it shows me the golden ratio is pretty important.

But as humans, our lifestyles don’t come equipped with the perfect ratios already laid out for us. So, what do we do to get our ratios right? We experiment, we sacrifice, we choose and we decide what ratios work for us. We practice until we get the hang of it. As a freshman, I have to learn to give my schoolwork enough time – but it’s really hard being as popular as I am. People are constantly knocking at my door, trying to get me to sacrifice my grades for going out. Or maybe they’re just knocking at my door because of the stash of Nutella and pretzels I have in here. Regardless, I always give in and drop my schoolwork to socialize. I have to learn to make the ratio of going out to doing schoolwork closer to 1:1. It’s just hard when I’m so cool, because everyone wants to hang out with me constantly.

So, ratios matter – for plants, planets, companies, us. We all choose the ratios that will benefit us most in every situation. For us, the situations are varied. Most of my interactions with ratios relate to food (just because I love food), so I spend a lot of time either thinking about food or eating food. But different people deal with different ratios every day. And once we find that perfect ratio of peanut butter to jelly, cake to frosting, boy to girl, work to play, skin to clothing or family to friends, we’ll do whatever we can to keep it.

Bridget Galassini is a freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.