Friday, January 23, 2015

You make me feel so young

This blogpost of mine is number 1400, or as we say in hexadecimal, 578.

I love hexadecimal.

Hexadecimal is just like decimal except it has six more digits. There are sixteen digits in all in hexadecimal: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F. Only then do you reach 10 in hexadecimal, which equals 16 in decimal.

It can be a little perplexing at first, but the underlying principle is just like the decimal system that you’re used to, except that hexadecimal is based on powers of 16 instead of powers of 10. That is, 100 in decimal is 10 squared, 1000 is 10 cubed, and so forth. In hexadecimal, however, 100 is 16 squared (256 decimal) and 1000 is 16 cubed (4096 decimal).

Who would ever want to count like that?

I’m glad you asked. Computer people, that’s who. Don’t ask why; just take my word for it.

Hexadecimal has its advantages. For instance, in hexadecimal, I am currently 49, not 73. And when my birthday rolls around in March, I will be able to say I am “49 and counting” for the next six years because in hexadecimal I won't turn 50 until I am 80 in decimal. In those intervening years I will actually be 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, and 4F, but it is easier to just say “49 and counting” than to try to explain it to you decimal system people.

When I turned 50, I told all my colleagues that I was only 32 in hexadecimal, so they presented me with a cake with X‘32’ written in the frosting on top. The fact that it was part of an epitaph on a tombstone, indicating that I might be over the hill, is beside the point.

Here is an equivalence chart so that you may henceforth identify your age in hexadecimal:

If you are 16 years old, you are only 10 in hexadecimal.
If you are 17 through 25, you are 11 through 19 in hexadecimal.
If you are 26 through 31, you are “19 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 32 through 41, you are 20 through 29 in hexadecimal.
If you are 42 through 47, you are “29 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 48 through 57, you are 30 through 39 in hexadecimal.
If you are 58 through 63, you are “39 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 64 through 73, you are 40 through 49 in hexadecimal.
If you are 74 through 79, you are “49 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 80 through 89, you are 50 through 59 in hexadecimal.
If you are 90 through 95, you are “59 and counting” in hexadecimal.
And only when you are 96 will you finally be 60 in hexadecimal.

I repeat, I love hexadecimal.

Today’s bit of trivia: In the movie Avatar, the Na'vis on Pandora used the octal system (base 8) because they had only four fingers on each hand.


Update, January 24th: Everyone who is bewildered by hexadecimal can just watch Michael Bublé singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" (3:06) instead. Then, at least, you will know how hexadecimal makes me feel. You should ignore the ironic fact that Michael Bublé is young and therefore singing this particular song at this particular time in his life is downright silly.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

What they don't tell you in the commercials, or Ya Gotta Read The Fine Print

It has been a little over a week -- eight days, to be exact -- since I announced my intention to take a break of indeterminate length from blogging, yet here I am, back already. Well, for today at least. Perhaps I will be posting weekly henceforth, making a yearly total of 52 posts seem not only achievable but also absolutely on-target. Please note that I did not say “I will be posting weekly henceforth,” I said “Perhaps I will be posting weekly henceforth.” There’s a difference.

Be that as it may, the reason I took pen in hand put fingers to the keyboard once again is to bring to your attention, if you haven’t already noticed, the devious ways in which advertisers in television commercials draw you in. While what they tell you may be true, they don’t necessarily tell you the whole truth. Ya gotta read the fine print.

For example, I heard a woman in a commercial this week say that she has received $900 (UK, £594) in rebates by making her purchases on a certain website. My first reaction was "Wow! Maybe that’s where I should be buying things too!" (which is, I’m sure, exactly what the advertiser intended) . My second reaction, however, was to wonder how much I would have to spend to get that kind of rebate. The commercial very conveniently did not mention what percentage of one’s purchases are refunded, but I very quickly calculated that if it were, say, a very generous 5% (which no one would ever do) , I would have to have plunked down $18,000 (UK, £11,883) to receive that particular rebate. Not very likely, at least in this household.

Caveat emptor. That’s all I’m saying.

Here’s another example: A commercial for Premier Walk-in Bath (something an old person like moi might covet) stated it could be obtained for $150 per month. Period. Didn't mention either the purchase price or for how many months, so being ever-vigilant I checked their website. Turns out that the fine print still doesn’t mention the purchase price but does say that a down payment of 1/3 of the price, whatever it is, is required, and that at an example interest rate of 9.9% the cost would be only $150 a month for (take a deep breath) 120 MONTHS [emphasis mine] . Another quick calculation on my part determined that not including the 1/3 down payment the monthly payments come to $18,000 (UK, £11,883) FOR A BATHTUB.

The nice part, of course, is that if I buy it through that other website I will receive a $900 (UK, £594) rebate.

I may be stupid, but I am not crazy.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The sound of one hand clapping

Having suddenly realized (British: realised) that not only am I becoming increasingly irrelevant in today’s world but also that we are now more than three months into what should have been my blog’s sabbatical year*, I have decided to take a break from blogging.

I probably will be back, but who knows?

Also, being of the mercurial sort (look it up) , the break may last three days or three months or three years. Again, who knows?

Certainly not I.

Until then, whenever “then” turns out to be, toodles. It’s been real**.

One thing I do know for sure. I will miss you more than you will miss me.

Yr frnd,

* Wait, is a sabbatical year the seventh one, or the one after the seventh one? If the correct answer is the former, then I am already a year late.
**Actually, it’s only been virtual, but it often seemed real.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where there’s life, there’s hope

My boyhood friend Fred Stone, with whom contact had been lost for decades but was re-connected a couple of years back when his niece, June, referred him to a post I had written about Mansfield, Texas (*waves furiously in the direction of Yorkshire Pudding of Sheffield, England) and whose three wives (two of them ex-) have all been named Judy, inspiring him to name his boat (he lives beside a rather large lake) Judy, Judy, Judy so that all who refer to it sound exactly like Cary Grant (my,what a long sentence this is becoming) , sent me an email stating that he was alarmed at the decline in the number of my postings for 2014. I shot back a reply admitting that the decline in posts per annum had taken me by surprise as well.

All of which I have told you (my high-school English teacher, Mr. D. P. Morris, despised sentence fragments, but it simply cannot be helped -- well, I suppose it could but I simply don’t have the time, energy, or inclination this morning -- and since (a) he has been dead for Lo! These Many Years and (b) fashions in language do change over time it also simply doesn’t matter (*waves again in the direction of Yorkshire Pudding of Sheffield, England, a former English teacher)) as a way of saying that since it is now December 27th and Mrs. RWP and I are leaving tomorrow to spend a few days with our daughter’s family in Alabamistan, there may not be time (or energy or inclination) to produce another post before the end of the year.

Thus it is that you are reading this, my 100th post of 2014. I realize that this number pales in comparison to my former annual posting rates of 194 in 2013, 220 in 2012, 220 in 2011, 184 in 2010, 206 in 2009, 228 in 2008, and even 43 in 2007 (because I didn’t begin the blog until September 28th that year) . One hundred is a good round, three-digit number that has the added feature of not being 99, which would have depressed me greatly. So near, and yet so far, as it were.

I also realize that this post doesn’t really say anything, but that simply cannot be helped either. Truly, considering the source.

I do wish all of you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.

P.S. -- My first resolution for the New Year shall be to try to use fewer parentheses in 2015.

You know, for auld lang syne and all.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It’s Christmas! Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre plenum gratiae et veritatis

Say what?

It’s Latin. I’ll say it again:

Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre plenum gratiae et veritatis.

It’s only The Greatest Story Ever Told, the fourteenth verse of the first chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John.

Here it is in English:

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) , full of grace and truth.

A former associate pastor of mine, Wayne L., says there are two kinds of people in the world (okay, he said in the church, but stay with me, people. I’m improvising here to include everybody) , Grace people and Truth people.

Grace people think they are full of love and good will and kindness and that Truth people are too mean-spirited and harsh and combative and inflexible. Truth people think they are full of knowledge and accuracy and irrefutable facts and that Grace people are too compromise-y and weak and permissive and gullible.

Grace people think if only the Truth people could see the light and be Grace people, what a wonderful world it would be. Truth people think if only the Grace people could see the light and be Truth people, what a wonderful world it would be.

According to my friend Wayne, both groups are wrong. He reminded us that John 1:14 tells us that Jesus Christ was full of grace and truth. The real problem in society today, therefore, is that Truth people need to exhibit more Grace along with the truth, and Grace people need to proclaim more Truth along with the grace. That’s the only way any of us have any hope of ever being like Jesus -- we must, like Him, have them both. We must be full of grace and truth.

Here endeth the lesson for December 25th.

We now return you to today’s programming, already in progress.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Words, words, words, words, eating goober words. Goodness, how delicious, eating goober words.

I know it’s nearly Christmas and all (and even Kwanzaa, and Chanukah is about over) , but today I want to tell you my very favorite word.

About a week ago, Yorkshire Pudding of Sheffield,England (that’s in the U.K., you know) had a post in which he allowed as how some of his favorite words were mellifluous and nincompoop and pamplemousse (French for grapefruit) and scythe, but his very favorite word (he spelled it “favourite”) is Yorkshire, which he called “a beautiful proper noun that cascades from the mouth like the heavenly sound of angels singing in paradise.” It is difficult to compete with a retired teacher of English.

Adrian in Scotland commented that marmalade is best but he also likes discombobulate and chauvinistic, Peace Thyme Garden and Weather Station confessed that she has always loved the sound of the word cacophany, Jan Blawat likes scrumptious and Lee likes phenomenon.

Things grew more interesting when Hilltophomesteader who homesteads on a hilltop in southwestern Washington state said she likes eclectic, eccentric, frazzle, soliloquy and lots of others but she doesn’t care for words like larvae, pupil and staid. She also said that for a whole week her favorite words were lugubrious and gormless.

Librarian chimed in with persnickety. Figures.

Brian the ex-pat in Catalan mentioned whistle and whisper.

Helsie down in Brisbane likes mateship.

Hilltop said if foreign words were allowed, she has always loved to mutter dummkopf under her breath. I then revealed that dummkopf was one of my father’s pet names for me. At least I think it was one of his pet names. I'm going to continue telling myself that.

My favorite word? That’s difficult. I like so many. Boondoggle. Onomatopoeia. Indispensable. Caterwauling. Gargantuan. Indecipherable. Pusillanimous. Indefatigable. Perfunctory. Insurmountable. Yorkshire Pudding reminded me that swallowing dictionaries can cause indigestion.

But I have finally reached a decision. My very favorite word in all of English is (drum roll, please) : gazinta.


Yes, you are familiar with it. You’ve probably said it yourself many times.

As in “Nine gazinta 27 three times.”

Maybe my father was right.

Your assignment for 2015 is to become familiar with the phrase “elegant variation.”

And a very merry Christmas/Kwanzaa/Chanukah to you too.