I was waiting for three thousand. So that I could thank you all for the 3,000 hits I have got on this blog since I ‘formally’ moved to WordPress: September 29, 2006 to be precise. A month and thirteen days. 46 days.
4,600 hits would have been a good number to blog about on this day. 2,300 would have been good too. There would have been some relational mathematical presentation as much as my BODMAS skills could attempt to experience short lived pride. But 3,000 was what I was waiting for.
Of course all of you have received the Club 99 forward some day, but I am not talking of being content or happy. There is always 5,000 and ten and the number goes on.
Even if we need 1,200, we tend to withdraw 1,500 at the ATM. I recall Peter Kay once asking why we set an alarm for 8:00 or even 8:05, but never for 8:02 or 8:08 (or something like that). I have known friends who perform rigorous calculations when adding a tip on the credit card slip to round off the bill to the closest multiple of five, ten, fifty, or a hundred. It is actually easier to add a ten, twenty, fifty, or a hundred to the existing amount.
It is the classic rounding off trap.
Why are we unable to think in terms of “odd” numbers? What is this fascination we all have with the rounding off? One thought that comes to mind is that it is probably easier to ask someone, “What would you do if you had a million?” rather than asking, “What would you do if you had 999,999?” I guess it’s just easier on the tongue – the number of syllables – the oh-so-many clashes between the tongue and the palate behind the walls of the teeth. So, does it boil down to laziness, this business of rounding off? A certain friend of mine who works with numbers, would point out to me that “rounding off” is a generalisation. There is a ‘round-up’ and there is a ‘round-down’.
Or perhaps it is about beauty, Buckminster Fuller said, “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” Perhaps, a rounded number looks beautiful to us – but then it seems we seek it – and unlike Mr. Fuller, we most likely think about beauty when we work with a problem.
There is one instance, however, when the number is never rounded, yet it is easy on the tongue and it is beautiful.
The one time I know when the number isn’t rounded – a critical number at that, being the countdown timer of a nuclear warhead or such – is when he defuses it.
Now, I wonder why.