So, did you miss me?
Not even just a little bit?
Some of you may have noticed that this column didn't run for a week. And to those who simply assumed Standard-Examiner editors had suddenly become more choosy about what they allow in the paper these days, I've got news: I was out sick.
And while I was out recuperating, I'm happy to report that I had plenty of "me" time on my hands. Watching "30 Rock" reruns on Netflix. Reading back issues of Garden & Gun magazine. But mostly, playing The Google Game.
The Google Game is my one and only vice. I don't know why it is, but I just love thinking about the relative significance of various things in life. And Google's search engine provides the ideal outlet for this exercise.
With The Google Game, I can measure the significance of things in "Googles" -- the number of results any one term returns when typed into the popular search engine.
So, for example, if you've always wondered, "Which is more significant on the Internet, Utah or Delaware?" Well, according to Google, typing in "Utah" returns 268 million results, while doing the same with "Delaware" nets just 205 million hits. Sorry, First Staters. You lose.
Amazingly -- or perhaps not -- I can amuse myself for hours with this game. Which gets more hits: chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream? Ford or Chevy? Paper or plastic?
Fortunately, The Google Game can answer these questions and more. For example, type "chocolate ice cream" into Google, and you get a whopping 2.79 million results. Not a bad haul, but not so fast, because "vanilla ice cream" earns a staggering 7.29 million hits. So vanilla ice cream wins that particular Google match.
As does Ford, with its 890 million hits to Chevy's 487 million. And as for paper or plastic? Plastic, 652 million; paper, 1.08 billion.
I stumbled across this wonderful time-wasting pastime when I was looking to answer an age-old question. Remember how John Lennon once claimed that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus?
Bzzzzt! Not according to The Google Game. And here's how we know:
* Jesus, 467 million.
* Beatles, 124 million.
Of course, in attempting to clarify his controversial remark, Lennon would later explain, "If I had said television is more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it." He also would have been correct, seeing as how "television" gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 622 million results on Google.
One of the most satisfying aspects of this game is that we can finally put to rest that annoying Team Edward/Team Jacob rivalry. The results:
* Edward Cullen, 7.41 million.
* Jacob Black, 4.57 million.
Ooh, or how about the Internet significance of the folks most likely to show up on your doorstep this month:
* Trick-or-treaters, 7.95 million.
* Mormons, 6.4 million.
* Jehovah's Witnesses, 3.7 million.
* Door-to-door salesmen, 1.2 million.
A few other head-to-head results:
* Government shutdown, 51 million.
* Twerking, 13.7 million.
* * *
* Dogs, 402 million.
* Cats, 280 million.
* * *
* Elvis, 101 million.
* World peace, 9.81 million.
* * *
* Beer, 341 million.
*Swedish fish, 778,000.
As for the all-time results winner on Google? I heard a rumor the top search term on Google was "sex." And while that may or may not be the most-searched item, doing so nets a paltry 1.93 billion results. By contrast, actually Googling the word "Google" results in 6.28 billion hits.
And finally, just to show we've got our priorities straight as a society, one last head-to-head Google Game match:
* World Series, 28.8 million.
* Meaning of life, 11.6 million.
As it turns out, baseball is life.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.