A tattoo as permanent resource.September 25, 2008 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I have some space available for my next tattoo that I'd like to fill with some sort of reference piece (i.e. a perpetual calendar, a conversion table), but I'm having a hard time thinking of anything beyond that. Any other ideas?

The only guidelines are that the design must be informative, able to fit in a roughly 2" x 3" rectangle, and perpetual (a dollar to euro conversion is out of the question). So what say you mefites? What informative tattoo would you like to have branded on our forearm?
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) to Grab Bag (54 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

How about medical information of some kind?
posted by box at 8:52 AM on September 25, 2008

A pancake recipe!
posted by a3matrix at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

The Navier Stokes Equations, the equations which govern all newtonian fluid motion.

or get your blood type.
posted by warriorengineer at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lines for a to-do list that. That way you can just take notes on your arm in an orderly fashion.
posted by piedmont at 8:57 AM on September 25, 2008 [11 favorites]

The formula I have to use ALL THE TIME but that I never remember is percent change. (This year - last year) divided by last year. It would be handy to have it on my arm.

I am also a graphic designer, and I have to know the decimal equivalents to inches. Half is easy (.5), but when you start getting into 3/8's, it gets more confusing. (At least to me.) I'd love to have that table of equivalents on my arm.

I like the idea of a perpetual calendar, but I think your space is much too small for it.
posted by Futurehouse at 8:59 AM on September 25, 2008

How about the formula to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

http://photos-c.ak.facebook.com/photos-ak-sctm/genericv2/1859/68/01AwcAX0iLcl4AAAABAAAAAAAAAAA:.jpg
posted by zeoslap at 9:03 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

pi to as many digits as you can fit.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:03 AM on September 25, 2008

Cricket chirps to temperature ? Temp = CPM/4 + 38

Where CPM = Chirps per minute and temp is in Fahrenheit .
posted by zeoslap at 9:07 AM on September 25, 2008 [5 favorites]

Weight to volume baking equivalences.
posted by jeather at 9:07 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ruler with inches/centimeters. Especially if you're bad at estimating measurements, like I am.
posted by giraffe at 9:08 AM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've been wanting to get an "L" tattooed on my left forearm for "left" and an "R" on the right for "right" forever, but that's because I'm an idiot when it comes to following/writing directions.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2008

How about a DNR order or a copy of your medical directives?
posted by AngerBoy at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2008

A map of your city, either of the streets or of the more permanent mass transit (like, subway).

Personally if I were looking for something like this, I'd go with a recipe for one of my very best baked goods. Most food I can throw together at a friend's house without a recipe, but biscuits or cake require more exact measurements.
posted by vytae at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2008

A pioneer plaque, via this somewhat similar thread (though...it's for business cards, not tattoos).
posted by hooray at 9:11 AM on September 25, 2008

Or, if you want to just throw together a bunch of helpful conversion rates, I think you'd be well served by a few english-to-metric formulas for various scales, as well as fahrenheit to celsius.
posted by vytae at 9:12 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

This question asked for similar suggestions, albeit for a different purpose. You may find it useful.
posted by fidelity at 9:13 AM on September 25, 2008

You might also find some fun ideas in the Pocket Ref. Tables of morse code, how to tie knots, semaphores, melting points of various metals, the periodic table, names of the currencies of different countries... The list goes on and on.
posted by vytae at 9:14 AM on September 25, 2008

Radio Alphabet: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc...

Periodic Table.

Chart of numerals in English, Chinese/Japanese, Arabic, Roman, Devanagari, and Hebrew.

Metric/English conversions, cooking conversions for weight to volume.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:18 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

List of major cities, their GPS coordinates, UTC offsets, altitude, currency and languages spoken.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:21 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Volume formulas.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:22 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

A note reminding me it's okay that not everybody wants to be my friend.
posted by waraw at 9:23 AM on September 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

Tip calculator
posted by hworth at 9:23 AM on September 25, 2008

A doneness chart for various meats (beef, medium rare = 130F, etc). Include human meat.
posted by bondcliff at 9:24 AM on September 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

Instructions for escape in the event of being swallowed by a whale?

What are you interested in? Should it be useful in addition to being informative?
posted by contraption at 9:30 AM on September 25, 2008

Mathowie, Jessamyn, and Cortex's e-mail address and IM handles.
posted by WCityMike at 9:31 AM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you are an American: The First Amendment (or whatever one you like to point at and seem righteous).

I've always wanted Maxwell's equations, as they're both beautiful and central to our understanding of the universe.

An abriged version of the Photographer's Bill of Rights.
posted by chairface at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've seen rulers with multiple sets of scales e.g. inches, centimetres, ems, picas, or miles/km at common map scales.

Given the size of space you could make something that looks like lots of different ruler scales but acts as a conversion chart, with the scales representing, °C /°F, km/miles etc. It would only give you estimates, but you could include a fair amount of info with out having lots of numbers: if you know what they stand for you just count off the marks.
posted by tallus at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2008

The first n prime numbers.
posted by contraption at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of a perpetual calendar, but I think your space is much too small for it.
Here's a diagram of a perpetual calandar (scroll down about half way) based on a patent application by WJ Sidis....but agree, you may not have enough room.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2008

Nutrional information. Of people. Don't know where you'd get the info though...
posted by sephira at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2008

2.99792458 x 10^8 (C)

It's one of the only physical constants that is "perfect". It's not a measurement; we've redefined our meter in terms of the constant, so it'll, um, never change. Lots of other physical constants have some measurement error -- they are "as close as we can get" and have a tolerance like +/- 0.00004. C has no such tolerances.

I also like maxwell's equations for propagation in a vacuum, but they take a lot more explaining.

/high school physics nerd
posted by zpousman at 9:50 AM on September 25, 2008

Your public (or private?) key.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:59 AM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

When I was in quality control, I really really wanted to get a tattoo of a scale (small ruler) on the inside (palm side) of my index finger, because I was constantly forgetting mine, and thought it would be nerdy and inconspicuous.

Now I think I want one with US/Metric/Pixels on it. Hold it up to the screen when I need to adjust a website..
posted by Jonsnews at 10:08 AM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Would a periodic table fit in that space? Probably not, based on these, but maybe the noble gases would.

Hexadecimal reference

Ohm's Law Circle (halfway down the page)

Cooking conversion tables and metric reference
posted by misha at 10:26 AM on September 25, 2008

I'm with AngerBoy: DO NOT RESUSCITATE
posted by rhizome at 10:29 AM on September 25, 2008

In the aforementioned Pocket Ref is a page on the comparing strengths of different hardwoods. I mean, when wouldn't that be helpful?
posted by 8dot3 at 10:29 AM on September 25, 2008

Any kind of ruler is probably a bad idea, unless your standards for accuracy are pretty low. The dimensions won't change much, but they'll change. And any piece of information that would be both useful-to-you (as opposed to useful-to-others) and capable of being fitted into a 2"x3" tattoo, well, I think you'd wind up memorizing it pretty quickly, thus diluting the utility.
posted by box at 10:30 AM on September 25, 2008

If you gamble you could use a blackjack reference chart.

How about an RGB chart?

A family tree(may not fit). The biological classification chart, no one can ever remember the order of that amirite?

I like plant(or tree)diagrams. Also, I can never remember where each region of the brain is located. Of course, you could just use a right/left side, creativity/logic image

A time zone map. The Richter magnitude formula (include the approximate TNT equivalent if you want). The rain cycle. The Kinsey scale.

There's always The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, or the Ten Commandments.
posted by trueluk at 10:33 AM on September 25, 2008

A barcode. That way, you could always tell people it meant something different.
posted by grateful at 10:41 AM on September 25, 2008

How about the longitude and latitude of the birthplaces of Angelina Jolie's children?
posted by agentwills at 10:42 AM on September 25, 2008

I second a tip calculator. Something like this.
posted by kidbritish at 10:46 AM on September 25, 2008

A graph of data from the COBE Mission, as presented on the 'Science - It works, Bitches' comic and shirt from XKCD
posted by pupdog at 11:09 AM on September 25, 2008

Any kind of ruler is probably a bad idea, unless your standards for accuracy are pretty low. The dimensions won't change much, but they'll change.
Actually, it might be kind of cool to know this. You could use it as a reference point: When I was xx years old, this was one square (inch, centimeter) of skin here. Twenty years on, it looks like a rectangle, and I can measure how much I've drooped.

(OK, it might also be kind of cool not to know this.)
posted by Killick at 11:38 AM on September 25, 2008

Science tattoos

White and nerdy.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:46 AM on September 25, 2008

A list of all the two-letter words playable in Scrabble
posted by hydrophonic at 12:04 PM on September 25, 2008 [8 favorites]

In case time travel is invented:
Graph of geologic time scale
Directions to the time traveler's convention (Technically, you only need one.)
posted by hydrophonic at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2008

Sexual response cycle graph paired with an anatomy illustration

Bristol stool scale (NSFW)
posted by hydrophonic at 12:16 PM on September 25, 2008

I'd love the two-letter-words suggestion, except that it's not perpetual. It wasn't that long ago that 'ZA' wasn't on the SOWPODS list, and now it is.
posted by box at 12:29 PM on September 25, 2008

You're going to memorize this tattoo in about two weeks, thereby negating its utility. You must go larger.

A large tattoo, like a fully-informed periodic table is one thing. Even my dad the chemist has to check sometimes. If you're a geek or scientist of some kind, a set of equations might be nice--I'd get 3D vector math equations, but I'd need about twenty-five of them at least. The finger or forearm ruler isn't a bad idea, assuming you can find an artist with an attention to precision--don't put on pixels, though, since that's actually really variable.

But, I don't think that what you can fit on a 2x3 tattoo is going to stay useful to you for very long--remembering that the legible resolution of a tattoo is worse than a ballpoint pen. You can get texture that's smaller, but not really letters.
posted by Netzapper at 12:42 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

How about a working slide rule tattoo pair (or triple)?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:36 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Find graphic/geometric representations of information that you can work out stuff from, not just a tattoo crib sheet. Something like the unit circle or the musical circle of fifths might work.
posted by casarkos at 1:41 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

A circle.
posted by Mephisto at 6:31 AM on September 27, 2008

A slide rule, if you have another surface available to tatoo the complement.
posted by lostburner at 7:44 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Tips/Tricks to subconsiously sell my house!   |   A question about timing, my 401K rollover, and the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.