NUMBERS

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My dad was a whizz with numbers.

He was comfortable whenever he was around them. He wasn’t a patient man but I can remember him helping me in my later years of high school. He was self taught because he had to leave school at the end of year ten because his father died suddenly and his family needed his income.

He was one of those people who can compute in their head and occasionally we would compete. I was almost as fast as him but I had to work very hard, for him it was second nature.

In a world of uncertainty and betrayal, it is comforting to know that numbers will NEVER let you down.

Two plus two ALWAYS equals four.

No ifs no buts, always equals four.

Considering this magnificent certainty, I find it amazing that so many people dislike numbers; or should I say they dislike Maths. This is probably more a reflection of the deficiencies of the Maths teachers, but fortunately, I had a few good ones along the way.

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31 emails and a dog’s paw.

Our entire world is made up of numbers. 

Even the stuff you cannot see can be described in numbers.

The computer you are reading this on now is heavily reliant on numbers.

The way that people use written numbers is interesting to me.

Because I like to take photographs I am constantly on the lookout for interesting things to shoot.

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For example; when I was sweeping my back deck before heading to the cafe that I’m sitting in now, I noticed that the young man who had done some work for me recently (the same young man who rebuilt the deck) had written some computations on one of the railings. He rubbed it out when he was finished but I could still see the faint outline of the numbers. I’m not sure what he was working out, it just seemed interesting to me that this post was rattling around in my head and for the first time in nearly a year I notice these numbers.

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This house has changed hands three times since the ‘no junk mail’ sign went up. I wonder if the current owners feel this way?

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House numbers are probably the most obvious example.

In our society as numbers are rarely used here (Australia) as street names. I follow a WordPress person who is posting a house number a day for 365 days. The whole 365 days thing is not really for me but I still like this idea.

You will find that a few of my numbers will be house numbers but not in any particular order. They will be there because I liked the look of them or because of their location.

It’s the way that people use numbers that makes it interesting, boring, sinister or scary.

On the way here I dropped off an old tape of an interview I did in the 1980s. The bloke in this ‘really interesting shop’ is going to clean it up (literally and acoustically) and make a digital copy. I promised to send a copy (if I ever found it) to the National Film and Sound Archive*. When I dropped the tape off I noticed that the arcade had two number 13s, and no number 15. The owner of the shop said that he constantly gets mail for number 15 and there is no number 15! You hear a lot about the number 13. Some building don’t have a thirteenth floor, but this arcade has two shops with the number 13 on them and to make it worse they are opposite each other!

One wonders how long this has been going on and how much longer it will continue. Things like this, where no one in particular is in charge, tend to keep on keeping on.

More numbers: the aforementioned tape was an interview with a man who was involved in the manufacture of Pianola Rolls. All piano rolls have catalogue numbers as well as the name of the song. It’s similar to the way that books have a number as well as a name. Sometimes you have to look inside to find this number and other times it has a different number on the outside when it is in a library.^

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I’ve also discovered that light and telephone poles have numbers, which makes sense.

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Most electronic gear has some sort of a serial number. 

They do this so that you can write it down and quote it to the police after some a***hole has nicked it from your house. The police will probably quote you a number to represent your chances of ever getting your stuff back and it may look like this; about a 1000000 to 1, which is a little disheartening.

One of my favourite numbers is the one that appears on money. 

Interestingly, when my country switched from cotton to polymer for the manufacturer of money it was decided that the largest denomination would be $100. The reason being that larger denominations would encourage the cash economy. Those of you who know what the ‘cash economy’ is will know that it does not need any encouragement!

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It’s also interesting to note that the $100 bill is now worth slightly more than $60 some twenty plus years later. (I just read this post to my wife and she said that she thought that the $100 note should be worth more not less…………. I give up!)

*  The interview is with a man who worked for Broadway Music Rolls in Collingwood. He worked for the company (he was it’s sole employee) until the founder of the company, Len Luscombe, died in the early 1950s. Luscombe was a talented musician and very well known in Melbourne. The gentleman I interviewed was very old at the time and I was excited that I had tracked him down. He was very sharp and was also excited that someone was interested in his past. He was a living time capsule of a time long past. He was living with his son and daughter in law and they were bemused as to why I was so keen to speak to this old-timer. As often happens with old people, those around him never thought that he would have something to say that anyone would be interested in.

^  In the olden days people used to read books and sometimes they were gathered together in places called libraries.

On another subject altogether; what do you think it looks like?

http://barcaupthewrongtree.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/looks-like/

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7 thoughts on “NUMBERS

  1. Great post. What amazes me is the way mathematicians can be so creative with numbers. Are they able to use their imaginations in this sphere in spite of the rules or because of the rules. I am not a mathematician but have known some and they have been like artists, just using a different language. Fascinating stuff!

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    • Artists see our world though different eyes and I think you could say the same for mathematicians………. and yes it is fascinating stuff.
      Thanks for the comment.
      Terry

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  2. Pingback: Looks Like? | Understanding Your Dog

  3. Great post. I thought about this in grad school. I studied Interactive Design. I would always think if I studied math it would never change, ie, the 2+2 philosophy, whereas I studied something that seems to change every day. Remind me to never do that again… 😉 Cheers.

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  4. I love this post. I love numbers, too. Math was always one of my favorite subjects growing up. I really enjoy your photographs of the numbers, not just because of what possible things these numbers signify, but the typography as well. It’s always interesting how numbers are placed in particular fonts that fit whatever the number signifies; numbers for addresses always seem a bit fancier. And you are right, math never lets you down! 🙂

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