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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Numbers
by Peary Perry

Peary Perry
If you listen to various newspaper and television media types, our lives are so much better than they were back in the Ďgood old daysí. These so-called Ďgood old daysí were not all that long ago. In most cases they are referring to events and conditions throughout our country back in the 50ís and 60ís.

While this may certainly be true in many ways such as advances in medicine, travel and other forms of modern day technology. I take issue with the declaration that we have it so much easier today than we did, say 50 years ago.

Particularly in one regard.

Numbers.

No, not just the fact that we have numbers, but the number of numbers that we are required to now have.

Let me explain. When I was a kid growing up in the 50ís our number requirement was fairly limited to the following: our home phone (no area codes) our grandmothers home phone (no area codes) our home address (no zip codes) and. Öwell that was just about it. Iím wracking my brain to think of anything else, but nothing comes to mind. Oh, wait there is one other that was very importantÖ. the combination to my locker at school.

So, here we are 50 years later, with more technology than the law will allow and what happens? We are all swamped by an unbelievable need for our memorization of multiple numbers just to exist on a daily basis. All of us have to memorize our social security number, our dates of birth in numerical order for our style as well as the European style. We canít get into our houses without having a code for the alarm system to turn it on or off. Our cars now have a code to open the doors. This is one I manage to forget most of the time.

We have cell phone numbers, speed dial numbers, fax numbers, pager numbers, PIN numbers, password numbers, user numbers, account numbers, television channel and cable numbers, credit card numbers, expiration date numbers and so on and so on. The list seems to be endless.

Most of us canít possibly remember all of the numbers weíve used for whatever need we have so we make ourselves a little cheat sheet and keep it hidden somewhere to refer back to on a daily basis. Then we get paranoid about anyone finding this vital part of our lives and we hide it so no one can find it, which then results in our hiding it so good we forget where we hid it. Then we fly into a fear and panic attack thinking that burglars and or identify thieves have descended upon us like a plague. Which Iím sure they do in more cases than Iíd like to think about.

So weíre reduced to trying to remember in our little brains such things as Ďyour favorite petís nameí or some stupid combination of 5 letters and 3 numbers, which makes absolutely no sense at all. Who, in their right mind, ever named their dog Rover406?

How am I supposed to keep track of all of these? If your Motherís maiden name was Heighenberger or Smitherson, how do you reduce this down so you can remember what part you used and what part you didnít use? There are just so many spaces on the line provided for your use.

There are web sites, which are designed to help you out by collecting and inventorying all of your secret numbers and passwords. I donít trust any of them since how do I know there isnít some guy over somewhere looking to see what Iíve written down and use it against me? I hold the same thoughts when it comes to slot machines in Vegas. I like the old ones with the spinning wheels, not the modern electronic ones. Donít ask me why, just accept that I do.

I have this theory about why this is causing all of us so much stress. I happen to believe in Creation, not evolution, but it really makes little difference when it comes to overtaxing our human brain capacity with too much information. Our brains just have not caught up with our requirements to store all of the numerical data that we carry around with us on a daily basis just to survive.

Iím thinking we may be tinkering with disaster and really messing with Mother Nature when it comes to this. Think about it, If God had intended for us to count higher than 20, why donít we have more fingers and toes?

© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
Letters From North America
- March 16, 2005 column
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This page last modified: March 16, 2005