42 and Mostly Harmless

Photograph of book titles "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: six stories by Douglas Adams"
An awesome trilogy by Douglas Adams.

My sophomore year of college I had anticipated having a roommate I knew, a friend coming in as a freshman. Only later did I find out that another sophomore had signed up for the empty spot in my room, since she didn’t want to get saddled with a frosh roommate. Going in, all I had was her name. I got there first, unpacked, and set out to buy books or find my classes or whatever. When we finally met, she said she knew it was going to be alright because of the Douglas Adams The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide omnibus on the shelf above my desk. I guess you can say, she decided to not panic.

So, today is my birthday, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m turning 42. Douglas Adams has provided this as the answer to the ultimate question through book one, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us…” he paused, “the Answer!”

“The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?”

“Life!” urged Fook.

“The Universe!” said Lunkwill.”

“Everything!” they said in chorus.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, chapter 25

Deep Thought took its task seriously, and settled in to mull it over for seven and a half million years. On the Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day: The Day of the Answer, seventy-five thousand generations later, the two men who were selected at birth, trained to be the recipients of the answer, went to see Deep Thought.

“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.

“Tell us!”

“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”

“Yes…!”

“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.

“Yes…!”

“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.

“Yes…!”

“Is…”

“Yes…!!!…”

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, chapter 27
Maintenance cover with the number 42 spray painted on, surrounded by leaves
This year my age is the answer the the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Unfortunately the answer was pretty useless without the question. Deep Thought then set out to build a more advanced computer, with organic life as part of its system, to calculate the Ultimate Question. And it was called Earth.

Photo of Earth from space, with part of the planet in daylight, and part in nighttime
The computer created to discover the question to which 42 is the answer.

The problem is, what is the question?

So, for my birthday this year, I decided to have fun with the fact that my age is the Answer, and I will answer the first 42 questions I receive either as a comment to this post, via facebook, or via twitter (@weylyn42). I may even answer them truthfully.

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