Monday, March 21, 2016

I Wore a Heart-Rate Monitor When I Proposed to My Fiancee. Here's What it Looked Like.


Nearly 5 years ago, I asked a girl I knew down the street if she wanted to go on a date with me. I had just gotten out of a year-and-a-half long relationship and I wasn't exactly looking for anything serious. But she was cute and we were pretty good friends. Couldn't hurt.

She said no.


Strike one.


A couple of weeks later, she dedicated one of those Facebook copy-paste surveys (that are astonishingly still around) to what she thought about me. I got high marks on everything. Except she said she had no romantic intent towards me whatsoever.


Strike two.


So I upped the ante and asked her to a movie (it was high school in a town where a movie theater was/is the only happening place in a 30 minute radius):

"No commitments, no bf and gf-- nothing like that. I just want to have some fun and you seem like someone who will be fun hanging out with."
"Maybe...What movie are you thinking about?"
"That new Winnie the Pooh movie. I'm a sucker for nostalgia."
"Me too!"


This, a Barnes and Noble, and Steak and Shake was seriously our first date. 

A few months later I was on a run with my best friend. We were talking about nothing in particular when something forced me to skid to a stop. I looked at him and said: "F#*&! I'm in love with her."


"You idiot," he laughed.


(Joke's on him. He started dating his fiancee--also from our school; what the hell was in the water?-- a few months later and he cracked earlier than I did).


Two days after that, I told her of my revelation. Turns out the feeling was mutual.


Fast forward through prom, graduation, trips to and from various colleges, copious amounts of time on the phone (sorry for those bills, Mom and Dad), grad school, and enough time on Skype to justify Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase, I felt that it was time to ask her one of the most important questions of our lives.



What's your Hulu login?

And since I'm a distance runner with a penchant for empirics, I decided to do it while wearing a heart-rate monitor.


I used my Nike+ GPS watch with the compatible Garmin heart-rate sensor to get the raw data. The thing straps right to my chest and picks up on the weak electrical signals that correspond to my heart beating. It then exports to Nike+ along with other metrics. Helpfully, it allows you to look over your average heart-rate per 20 second interval. Unhelpfully, Nike+ doesn't allow you to export jack diddly so I had to take everything down by hand. I decided that I would put it into Google sheets for ease of visualization and publication. I opted to display what my heart-rate was 45 minutes before and 45 minutes after I proposed. The interactive graph below allows you to hover over the data and see how quickly my heart was pumping.




Yep. It's that comically obvious. From T-1:40 until about T-1:00, I was deciding if this was going to be the time and place. T-1:00 up to 0:00 was me taking in all of our surroundings and deciding that it will be right then and there. I got down on one knee at 0:00. 0:20 was my physiological reaction to her saying yes. 


But I'm more than just a geek for numbers. I also love making videos and exploring that as a format because not everything can be expressed quantitatively. So I rented a Ring Cam to capture the moment. It's a ring box with a little HD camera just right there on the lid. Toss in about 30 minutes of editing and I was able to whip this up. 


The joy on our faces is the accumulation of five years of happiness and incredible memories. That and the blissful realization that those were just our first steps into the forever that we get to share. 

To Stephanie: Thank you for being as much of a nostalgia geek as I am. Thank you for making me the happiest man alive. Thank you for saying: "Yes."


Peter Licari Student in Political Behavior and Elections

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