Zeroes and Ones

Have you ever stopped to wonder why our society puts so much value on big, round numbers?  Especially when we’re talking about the passage of time?

The length of a day is set at how long it takes for the planet to spin about its longitudinal axis.  The length of a year is set at how long it takes for the planet to make one revolution around the Sun (give or take a leap day).  Most cultures have arbitrarily defined a “day” as 24 hours, even though we could have said there are five or ten or a thousand hours in a  day just as easily.  A year takes something like 365 and a quarter diurnal periods, give or take some leap-seconds.  Months can have 28, 29, 30, or 31 days.  Meanwhile, there’s 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 5280 feet in a mile, 16 ounces in a pound, 2 pints in a quart, and 4 quarts in a gallon. It’s all pretty arbitrary.  Thankfully, the metric system is based on far more sensible, less esoteric base-10 mathematics.  But we could have just as easily standardized on base-2 or base-16 or some other numerology.

Just like the metric system, our society puts a lot of emphasis on 10th anniversaries and 100-year centennials and 1000-year epochs.  There’s something about big round numbers that appeals to us, even though time scales are largely an arbitrary human construct.  It even carries over to our fascination with automobile odometers, thousands of dollars, millionth online customers, and so on.

A few events have transpired in the Craven Hermit household lately that rolled over the digits on various virtual odometers.  Previously I’ve bored you to death with details from various hikes around town.  Today’s 20.00 km walk (yes, I watched the odometer roll over on the way up the driveway) was fairly unexceptional, except to say that according to my Nike+ app I’ve now surpassed the 1000 km cumulative mark.  I picked up my Bluetooth token about 20 months ago, and I don’t always use it for every walk or hike, but there’s still something kind of neat about rolling over into quadruple digits.  When I finished my walk today, Paula Radcliffe even appeared in my headphones to congratulate me on my (dubious) achievement.  Which is nice, I guess, despite having only a vague idea who Paula Radcliffe is.

Well I know we should take a walk
But you’re such a fast walker, oh-whoa, well all right
I know where I’ll be tonight, all right
Outta mind, outta site

– Wilco, “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”, 1996

Today was a good opportunity to test out my new headphones.  I finally retired my trusty Sony in-ear buds; they survived an accidental ‘journey of discovery’ through my washing machine, but they don’t sound quite right anymore.  I picked up some new Klipsch s4i headphones on sale yesterday, and they sound really nice.  The bass is subtle but tighter than my Sony’s ever were, the midrange is clear, and the highs are crisp and precise.  With these new ‘phones, the acoustic guitar on The Shins’ “New Slang” actually sounded like a resonant wooden instrument.  The staccato guitar and percussion on Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” seemed to be coming from right inside my head.  Even the bleeps and bloops on Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” were beautifully synthetic, just like Ralf and Florian would have wanted.  Not bad for $80.

Meanwhile down at the local wetlands, the pelicans were having a field day chasing around a school of minnows.  So it was a good day for people and our feathered friends alike.

This blog has also experienced a milestone of sorts.  Early yesterday, the Craven Hermit blog experienced its 2000th unique hit.  This is pretty remarkable, considering that I have never really publicized this blog anywhere.  I sent a link to a half dozen friends of mine, people that I thought might be bored enough to occasionally spelunk the inner machinations of my musically-wired mind.  Other than an email here or there, this page was designed to lurk quietly in the shadows (much like its curator).

The vast majority of visitors to the Craven Hermit blog arrive via Google search.  Based on the spam I get, a fair number of my site’s visitors are mainly looking for opportunities to market boner pills to dysfunctional fifty-five year olds.  I think of these interlopers as the ‘One-and-Done’ crowd, because they must realize pretty quickly that this blog is actually about popular music.

Thankfully, a good number of the people that stumble across this site take a few minutes to poke around and see what’s up.  A few brave souls have even signed up to receive regular updates from my blog, which is pretty cool and really gratifying.  This form of communication sure beats shouting into a gale-force wind, which is kind of how real life feels for me sometimes.

In February, WordPress rolled out a new feature that shows which countries your visitors are arriving from.  Not surprisingly, Canada and the USA dominate the charts.  But in amongst the usual suspects, there have been visitors from exotic locales like Libya, Greenland, Cambodia, Sudan, Fiji, Belarus, and Djibouti.  Not to mention pretty much every country in the western hemisphere.  They come from many places where English isn’t even the predominant language and where popular music is a completely different kettle of fish than my local airwaves.  It makes the world seem like a much smaller place.

There’s no one rhyme or reason for why people check out my blog.  One of the most popular features is my monthly preview of upcoming releases.  The Charlie Brown themed blog seems to attract a lot of attention, mainly for the cartoon image.  My feature on Roger Waters’ tour for The Wall got a lot of hits from all over the world, which was fun.  Even those photos of my vinyl records bring people to the site.  If you ever have any suggestions or ideas for future blogs, please let me know.

Whatever set of circumstances led you to this site – thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say.  As I laid out in my original mission statement last October, I’ve tried to make this blog informative and entertaining and honest.  Hopefully that comes across in the words on your screen.

Oh, right, one last thing.  This is my 100th post!  Yet more arbitrary zeroes and ones to celebrate.

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