thinglets: Top Ten Numbers from Zero to Nine

1) One - Yeah, I know, it sounds trite, but One is the irreducible primary and indicates superiority in many ranking systems. It also echoes a homonym of such achievement because you can be "Number One" if you have "won". It may be the loneliest number, but that's only because it can stand on it's own. Now I know some of you will argue that you can't have One without Zero, and I'd agree that from a purely relativistic sense you're right. But I would also say that Zero becomes irrelevant without One. At this point many would probably argue that One is nothing without Zero, and I'd say shut up and let me get on with the rest of my list.

2) Zero - Here you go all you Zero lovers. While I'm not about to revel about the sole existence of zero, I am quite content in extolling its virtues at carrying on the numbers above nine. Being a child of a schizophrenic education between imperial and metric in urban Canada, I've decided that metric makes far more sense than base eight. Without the Zero, metric is nothing. Without metric I am nothing... sorry, a little Full Metric Jacket reminiscence there.

3) Two - If only to establish the pattern of Even and Odd numbers for gambling and other purposes. Also, to provide an adequate starting point for a rhyme that will end with "Who do we appreciate?" It is also helpful to have Two relatively close to One in the list as the W which fell off the phonetic start of One is uselessly dropped in the middle of Two.

4) Six - Normally I wouldn't put Six so high, but I do so in tribute to the greatest television show of all time, The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan chose 6 as the number of his unnamed village protagonist simply because it was the only number that, when inverted, became a new number all on its own. It is also essential to the Six-Pack which all of you fitness buffs might strive for ON you, while the rest of us strive to get a six-pack IN us.

5) Five - The only number on the list that belies its own ranking. Five is incredibly important for its contribution to popular culture in such hand affirmations as Gimme Five or High Five, such soft drinks as Five Alive or a fifth of scotch, and military jargon like Five by Five. Of course it would also be difficult to celebrate Dave Brubeck's Take Five while actually taking five from your job at the Five and Dime.

6) Eight - Even though the imperial system of measurement became redundant to me after the first few years of school, eight is still important in many aspects of our daily life. First of all, it looks like a snowman - which is pretty cool in itself. Eight also consumes our daily commutes around the neighbourhood in resplendent red glory. Eight can bring up negative connotations like when you're behind the Eight Ball, but Pieces of Eight was a pretty cool Styx album. It's also cool because of it's 90 degree relationship to the infinity symbol which is about as far from eight as one can be. Try to not think about eight next time you pull out a tape measure with inches and feet - don't even get me started on 15/16ths.

7) Three - I find it a bit confusing that 3 is really half of 8 reflected on itself, but is somehow less in value. Three might be a magic number, but ask H.G. Wells and he'll tell you it stands for all things unnatural. The reason he made his monsters in War of Worlds have three legs is because he could not think of a worldly creature that didn't have appendages in pairs. The thought of three became outworldly to him. Considering the supernatural mysticism in much of Chirstianity surrounding the trinity archetype, it's not small wonder Three fell down the list. It's not that it's an unattractive number, it's just too freaky most of the time.

8) Nine - Much in the same way Three is a freaky number, Nine (as the sqaure of Three) also holds some pretty creepy qualities. Nine embodies the creepy multiplication table where the first number goes up by one while the second comes down by one. It's also the sum of any number multiplied by it (except 11 and multiples of 11). Just kind of occultish all around. And who could ever forget the lingering strains of The Beatles' White Album with the incessant "number nine" mantra being repeated for minutes on end? It also means NO in German, which has been used to much stereotyping effect in WWII films.

9) Seven - The over emphasis of luck placed on this number has made it fall so far down the list. Mostly evolving from shooting craps, the average pair of dice will hit Seven more than any other number when rolled. But if you've ever played craps, you know that Seven is often the LEAST likely number you want to come up. Especially when your down to your last $5 playing 50 cent craps at the El Cortez, swigging down bad well whisky like it's going out of style and inhaling the smoke of a thousand packs of filterless Pall Malls that are entrenched in every felted surface of the dingy casino floor... Oh yeah... I am LOVING when a Seven comes then!

10) Four - The reasons to love and hate Four are numerous and often inter-related. The four beat has given us some of the most beloved songs in popular music. The four beat is, however, also responsible for almost every horrible song in pop music as well. The 4X4 truck is a useful tool to help people get in and around off-road trails and natural formations. 4X4s are also the biggest eyesores on the road. How many people who own a 4X4 have NEVER gone off the road with it and only use it for carriage above a beyond a normal car or van maybe once a year? Calling someone Four eyes is just mean, and as cool as people think "Four score and seven years ago..." sounded, why didn't Honest Abe just give it up for the 87? Was he tryin' to be cool or somethin'? Four is just a bore.

I'm lucky I didn't go to Eleven, because 11 is one messed up number. Remember what it does to Nines? There are Two number Ones, which should mean Two, but actually mean way more... I don't even wanna get into it. Trust me. Stay away from Eleven good readers.

thinglets: Oh, the Blinking Lights

I remember, as a child, watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind and being in partial disbelief that any intelligent alien species could expect humans to derive message from the synthesized light show echoed by the mothership. (See video clip below if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) I'm starting to think that, alone at my desk, the concept of the blinking light has become a de facto medium that we derive a whole bunch of message from even though we do not realize it.

My television, cable box, and surround sound system all have a steady red light on to indicate they're off (a bit paradoxical don't you think?) My cable modem has alternating flashing and steady green and orange lights to indicate throughput and connection, and even in the dark without seeing or remembering the faint, small abbreviations underneath each light, I can usually determine the health of the connection. My wifi router has a more cosmic icon set of cerullean blue symbols of which I recognize the unclosed circle and vertical line indicating power and the radiating wifi waves, but there are several I have no clue about except that I think I would be able to tell if and when something bad was happening.

My monitor has a steady green and my mouse a steady red. The USB hub and microphone mixer are congruous in a solitary steady blue indicator. My USB microphone has a small rectangular steady red peering into my soul like the HAL9000 on a vision quest. The cordless phone a steady red. The PC, as a small solar system snapshot, of a large blue circle overtop the flashing smaller red circle which indicated hard drive workload.

All of this light, all of these icons, all of this meaning create a sort of inverse to Plato's cave analogy. If this room was bathed in ambient light the indicators would become less noticeable and lose some of their meaning. Instead, the darkness has focused the knowledge and the message.

I somehow have the urge to craft a model of a mountain from my mashed potatoes.