Tag Archives: numbers

The Lockdown by Numbers

49 Number of days at/in Level 4 lockdown.

3 Number of times I commented about adding an extra day, just to crack the half century, before eye-rolls commenced.

1 Number of times I asked whether we are ‘at’ or ‘in’ Level 4 before my question appeared to cause physical pain.

7 Number of novels grabbed from the school library shelves the day before lockdown.

7 Number of novels returned unread 49 days later.

2 Number of novels read! Discrepancy attributable to the fine Murakami novel that’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, for 14 years (and 7 house shifts). And the library book, loaned by the wife.

6 Number of whacky family activities devised to pass the time.

0 Number of times we played charades in French or cards in Te Reo. Or, indeed, passed a fine evening reading Dickens aloud to one another.

0 Number of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals I had watched pre-lockdown.

6.001 Number watched during lockdown. Because they were streaming on YouTube, and it was a bit of a Sunday night treat with dinner on your lap. Don’t judge me!

0.001 Number of viewings of Lloyd Webber’s ‘By Jeeves’ required to prove it is absolutely unwatchable.

27 Number of times the wife or I shouted at the kids to stop blooding singing bloody ‘Phantom’ tunes while they did the dishes.

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2 Number of birthdays celebrated with a nice walk and homemade takeaways. The lack of consumerism produced two songs, and one dance, in celebration. And one spookily accurate portrait built in Lego.

3 Number of nights out toasting marshmallows under the stars, watching Elon Musk’s dumb satellites whizz overhead.

16 Number of sudden, inexplicable emotional outbursts or meltdowns. Because… yeah.

6 Number of family kick arounds at the park followed by lining the kids up against a wall and throwing a small ball at them.

9 Number of times we wondered what the hell we were doing, and swore to tell no one.

2 Number of times someone in our bubble had to get ‘the tickle’ because they may have the Rona, maybe.

12 Number of various types of rashes, aches, tingles and sudden lumps on the neck that manifested while waiting for the (negative) results.

1 Number of times I called my friends, just to ‘check-in’.

57 Number of times I felt fucking useless for not calling friends or family.

270kms Distance biked or run up and down the river, so I stopped feeling fucking useless, according to my exercise app.

38 Number of times I felt weirdly excited seeing unfamiliar faces when I exercised.

Withheld Number of chocolate bars I didn’t need to buy, or eat, but did. So there.

52 Number of feature stones transported from the river up to our garden, as a direct result of family walks down to the river.

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49 x 3 Number of vigorous tummy rubs demanded (and received) by Thomas the cat.

4 Number of times Thomas the cat bit me because I was ignoring his demands.

2 Number of unfinished novels I finally had a chance to work on with all this spare time.

2 Number of such novels totally untouched due to carrying rocks and worrying about strange tingles and odd lumps.

6 Number of new stories written and submitted to competitions here and abroad.

1400 Total number of words in those 6 ridiculously short stories.

Heaps Number of times I suddenly hugged a family member, just because.

Slightly less than heaps Number of times I got a ‘what are you doing?’ look in response.

1 Number of songs I wrote!

60 Number of times I practiced the song over 2 days, because I was so nervous. Singing and playing guitar at the same time? Gah!!!

321 Number of times I said ‘What are you doing?’ during home schooling when the child was ‘just checking’ something on the computer.

321 Number of times a child was ‘arsing about’ on the computer, with good reason.

321 Number of times I asked myself ‘What am I doing?’ by even attempting to keep them on task.

1 Number of times I wore a mask at the supermarket. Felt such a dick.

4 Number of times I held my breath, and awkwardly burst bubbles with a stranger, in the narrow underpass out of Kelson before deciding to use the scuzzy horse underpass instead (even though it seems like a great place to get knifed and lie unfound for days).

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36 Number of cut-price Easter eggs purchased and scoffed in the month after Easter.

25 Number of days I wrote in my daily lockdown diary over the 49 days.

0 Number of insightful observations about life under lockdown in said diary.

100% Percentage of days where I just list what I ate and what we watched.

18 Number of times I did an online BodyBalance class with the wife and felt 100% happier, healthier and infinitely more chill.

Withheld Number of times I reached out in the darkness of the night to my beautiful, kind and patient wife just to feel the reassurance of her warmth.

Also withheld Number of times I reached out in the darkness of the night for a slightly different reason.

45 Number of times I got up in the middle of the night to read countless in-depth articles about what was going on.

4 Number of times I shared my half-baked recollections of what I had read.

3 Number of times I watched the daily 1pm briefing from Cindy & Ashley. Daily numbers tell you little.

580 Number of screws and nails and gap-fillers of various sizes and types bought in the mad chaos of Mitre 10 the day before lockdown.

6 Number of long-term maintenance projects I could now complete with all the spare time and 580 screws and nails etc.

580 Number of screws and nails etc still unused 49 days later. But who’s counting?

37 Number of history podcasts about historical plagues/pandemics listened to that gave me a greater understanding about what’s happening (and what will follow).

23 Number of ‘More or Less’ podcasts on COVID statistics that underline the countless words wasted trying to describe the numbers.

2 Number of times I stayed in bed in the morning. It just felt too depressing and devoid of luxury.

99% Number of nights I stayed up way too late, avoiding the prospect of another day being positive and undaunted.

Zero Number I times I wanted be somewhere else.

Incalculable Number I’ve been thankful to face all this with the patient, kind, loving people I have.

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Camping by Numbers: A Listicle of 48 Numbers. Derived in Caravan and Tent. At Beach, upon Mountain and by River

 

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47 Number of times I will hit my head on the caravan door frame before I punch the caravan (or devise a cunning way to stop doing it).

9 Number of $2 coins the wife will ask for to do one load of washing, as it’s still not dry.

36 Number of snarky/comic names bestowed on fellow campers to amuse the wife. Like Damon and Jemima, who parked their giant motor home in the middle of our sea view and proceeded to cook mussels and sear broccolini for young Tarquin and Sapphire.

99 Number of times the hunting enthusiasts next door shout ‘Logan! Mason!’ each morning as the toddlers shoot at us with their new toy guns.

Zero Total number of segments of Terry’s Chocolate Orange I can successfully sneak from each of our 3 kids.

360 Average number of minutes chocolate is safe in the fridge before it mysteriously disappears.

7 Maximum number of minutes I get to write before someone wants or needs something.

Like $2 for the machine, or to account for some missing chocolate.

4 Number of days before the kids stop wearing sandals, jandals, kicks or scuffs whenever they walk on any sand or grass, and are happy with bare feet.

3 Number of days I can go without a shower, by swimming in the sea instead.

2 Number of minutes I can handle the shower going cold before cracking open the door to press the button for more hot water.

4 Number of mothers and small children sitting outside, staring impatiently at the crack.

0.25 Number of places I can safely change into my togs without flashing someone, somewhere.

9 Number of bum cracks visible at any one time within a thirty metre radius as beach folk adjust and strut.

3 Number of tubby kids who can squish onto a tiny camp chair to stare at a phone while their mothers do the dishes.

∞ Amount of entertainment possible to derive watching other campers set up and pack down.

13 Number of times the wife tells me to shush! each day in case the neighbours hear me making up fake dialogue for them.

You can’t park that there.

That’s never level.

The awning’s fine, it’s my groundsheet that’s fucked.

I see you have the Classic. Mind if I have a look inside?

0.75 Maximum number of intimate acts achievable before the caravan starts to wobble (or a child appears).

58 Number of times I covet the food the Chinese campers are cooking by the ablution block with theatrical flair and giant flames.

3.5 Number of days in a row you can eat sausages before you reach peak sausage.

5 Number of books taken away to read.

0 Number of books read.

4² Number of books the kids have read (factor due to them rereading their books with glee).

9 Number of days unable to locate the can of CRC you are sure you packed in the fixit kit.

9 Number of minutes it takes to locate the old can of CRC after buying an overpriced new one.

19 Number of times I can smile at the same person on the way to the ablution block without saying a word.

17 Number of times I can mention the weather when forced to talk to a stranger before having to find a different topic.

6 Number of hours between the Christmas Eve ‘weather event’ and the Christmas day thunder storm.

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36 Number of minutes it takes for a web page to load on the camp site Wi-Fi when it’s raining.

5 Maximum number of hours I can hold off going to the toilet in my last set of dry clothes when the rain is still horizontal and my raincoat is still soaked.

4 Number of incredibly loud farts the smallest child can release in her sleep after being rescued from her tent during the Christmas Eve storm, and snuggled down into the caravan.

5-6 Number of days it takes to forget how many days you’ve been on holiday.

6-7 Number of days before you start counting how many days remain.

19 Number of different exercises the two blonde twins in front of us do in perfect unison each morning.

3 Number of minutes before the wife realizes what I’m counting.

364 Number of little coloured bits of rubber strewn across the campsite after sudden water bomb fights.

363 Number of bits of rubber that remain on the grass two hours later.

1 Number of people sitting on the ‘occupied’ chairs by the pool.

180 Number of seconds a mother sitting down with a good book by the pool will look at the book before picking up her phone to check something.

88 Percentage of particulates in the pool that are not water or chlorine. Or leaves. Or rubber.

1 Number of times I have banged my head on the door frame of the caravan since writing In and Out on the caravan step in order to aid traffic flow.

2 Number of people who suddenly appear out of the shadows after I fart loudly on the way to the ablution block at 5 am.

7 Number of times the wife and I suspect we’ve been approached with the secret campground swinger’s code.

She’s in good nick.

I see you’ve got the Classic.

Have you been to the end of the beach? There’s a lovely spot in the dunes.

I had the beef. The wife prefers the fish.

You’re very good with your morning stretches.

7 Number of invitations to socialize, or have a wee drink, the wife and I have non-committedly dodged in order to sit in the caravan and look at people.

Nice. Lovely. We’ll have to see. I’ll ask the wife.

1.5 Number of snoozes desired each day.

0 Number of snoozes achieved after 15 days of rest.

1 Number of days remaining before wondering if we can extend the holiday.

24 Number of seconds it takes to decide that we can do another day. Yay!

1 Number of nights left before we pack up and head home. Boo 🙂

 

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A Number of Things

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At work yesterday a colleague asked me what 47 and 5 was. I thought it was a trick question. Or, more likely, she was pointing out that I had incorrectly added those numbers. I may have; it was a hot day and I was tired. Hearing the exchange another colleague said to her, you should know that, you’re Chinese! She replied, that’s a stereotype, I can’t do maths!

 

Maths is a small but crucial part of my job. We’re always having to write down start times and add elapsed durations. It’s pretty easy, most of the time. The only bits that trip me up are when long durations have to be added to the 24 hour clock. Adding 113 minutes to something like 15:46 always causes me to stop and think it through (especially in the fuzz of the mid-afternoon). Some of my older colleagues use a calculator in such instances.

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I was asked to check some addition the other day. We then discussed how we did the addition. In that example I rounded up then back. My colleague just added up the bits.

It got us talking. She asked me what my favourite times table was. I looked blankly at the question. Favourite? Most people like something like 11, she said, but I love 9. She then ripped off a piece of paper and showed me a nifty trick that revealed a beautiful symmetry to the 9 x table, writing 1 to 9 down the page, then 8 to zero beside those numbers. Each pair added up to 9 and was an ascending total of the 9 x table. She couldn’t believe I had never seen it.

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I can’t wait to show my 9 year old this. She’ll love it. She loves maths and has just started learning algebra. When she told me last week I mentioned that algebra is named after the Arabic mathematician who invented it. Wow, she said, I’ll tell my teacher. Immediately I became unsure. Was it algebra or algorithms?  It’s one of them, I smiled uncertainly. Heard it in a podcast.

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After work yesterday I listened to a podcast about Maths in the Early Islamic World. It seemed a good dry subject to get me around the harbour and lagoon on a 30 minute run on a stinking hot day, rehabilitating my knee after a recent arthroscopy.

 

It was fascinating, full of the stuff I had been trying to tell my daughter. Babylonian and Greek maths were taken up by the House of Wisdom in Baghdad in the 800s where the great mathematician and astronomer, al-Khwarizmi (Latinized as Algoritmi i.e. algorithm) solved quadratic equations with something he called al-jabr (algebra) using Indian decimal numbers (which later made it to the West in translations of his work).

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Algebra was poetry in this world, and fabulously wealthy patrons paid for the House of Wisdom to explore its beauty.

It wasn’t till the 1600s that Descartes replaced the words with symbols giving us the algebra we know today.

And now algorithms rule our lives. Deciding what news we should see, what we should eat, who we should consider loving.

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My running app sent me an email this morning saying I ran my fastest 4-6 km run ever yesterday. It’s a handy thing to know.

But it’s the podcast about the House of Wisdom, and the infinite beauty of numbers, that have made me write these words.

 

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