Saturday, April 16, 2011

A - Z Challenge: Numbers

We have a love-hate relationship, numbers and I.  I think the best kinds of numbers are most like words.  Since words are really what I love.  Sort of like saying that the best kind of dogs are like cats - it's not a very useful comparison.

I like numbers that  have a concrete meaning.  I can weigh, measure or count and have a visual.  I think I see numbers in mind's eye like those fridge magnets for kids.  So far, so good.  I was pretty good at arithmetic in school because it's just memory anyway.  I had no trouble with that and I still don't.  Those times tables were pretty much drilled into my brain.

The trouble started in junior high school when numbers started to change.  Arithmetic turned into mathematics.  Now, we're in the world of theory and I'm still at touchy-feely.  I admit that I struggled all through high school with algebra.  I needed to have university level maths to get through my first year and that was probably what tipped me over the edge.  I could understand the formula.  I could do the calculations.  But what I couldn't figure out was when to do it.  I know that for those of you who aren't number-challenged this seems like easy stuff but it was not for me.

Naturally, being an English major, I could drop those pesky numbers as soon as I got stuck in to the right courses.  And drop them I did.  But, the arithmetic stayed with me and, just as my teachers had predicted, fractions and long division did come in handy along the road of life.  Like for doubling a recipe or altering a knitting pattern  You are getting that my life is mostly pre-calculator, right? 

And, now the world is crazy about sudoku puzzles.  I have tried  and find it too taxing for my mind.  I can do it but I have to think SO much just to figure out one line.  Only to discover that it's probably wrong anyway.  'Cuz now I've got a bunch of other lines to figure out - and oops! there's that number I already used. Trying to do these puzzles has given me more empathy with non-crossword folks, though.  I understand their frustration with the interlocking words now.

Last thought:  I wonder which came first -  the word 'numb' or the word 'number'?


Cruella Collett said...

I'm gonna guess that the word "number" in the sense 1234.. came before the word "numb", but I do suppose the word "number" in the sense "more numb" came after "numb". "I'm all deprived of the power to feel or move normally, I'm... Numb! That's what I'll call it. Ouch, now I'm even more - numb - I am numbER!"

Looking it up in the dictionary, though, I'm not so sure anymore. The etymology does have a reference to Old English. Huh.

Aaaaanyway (nice job on distracting me!), I'm numberically challenged too. I can do it, if I think really, really, really hard, but I too skipped maths the second I had the chance. Never looked back.

Joanna said...

Numbers make me numb as well. I was one who counted on my fingers when adding and subtracting. I know my times tables now only because I had to drill them into the grade four class I taught. Words now, they're totally absorbing.

EmptyNester said...

Number probably came first because the brain going numb was caused by numbers...LOL

I don't do numbers...they give me a huge headache!

Ginny said...

I'm glad school is out for me and I don't have to do things like sudoku!! Life is hard enough without extra challenges, even if they do keep your mind sharp! Give me a nice easy crossword or game of Scrabble any day! You know much more about math and such than I do, the only thing I hated worse in school was gym!!

Tonja said...

I think it's funny how the older I get, the more I forget whatever math concepts I learned when I was younger, but I never forget what I read and will go to my grave knowing precisely how to write a 5 paragraph, three point essay. :)

Angie said...

I still have to use my fingers (well, some of the time!). Naughty, noughty?

cindy said...

I have to say numb comes first and that is how \i get with numbers and math as well. Sudoku is a big thing here and they are put into the news papers as well. There is always one line that is a for sure start, I get going just right and then find mistakes, all my puzzles are started and wrong, lol

Mimi said...

Lol at the last line.
I'm a number-lover, but would far prefer to read a book than do a sudoko, except if I need numbing!
We all have our own strengths, and you certainly have a way with those words!
I do wonder, nowadays, about kids in the calculator age. I think all those tables and number memorisation gave us an understanding of numbers that is lost now with calculator use. And there are still times when a quick mental calculation is what's needed.
I think we got the better education.

baygirl32 said...

numbers make my brain go numb haha

Gill - That British Woman said...

I adore sudoku, I can spend hours doing them. Useless at crosswords though, so I am obviously better with numbers rather than words...


Rudee said...

Now I've really got your number, Stephanie!

I like yahoo sudoku, but the weekend puzzle makes my head hurt. I yearn for the easy puzzles of a new week. Takes the sting out of having to go back to work on a Monday.


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