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Politically Incorrect

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Politically Incorrect

The numbers month

I’m not a fan of math. It’s not that I can’t do it—it’s that it’s not intuitive for me, so I consider it work. Nonetheless, I find I’ve been surrounded by numbers in the last month.

For example, take 1,080,000 (one million, eighty thousand). That’s how many times, roughly, I listen to a huge, hydralic battering ram bang support columns into the ground for the new bridge in Clark Fork every single week. One ‘pound’ per second (I have timed this), sixty seconds to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, eight hours a day for a five-day work week. I am not giving them any credit for time off (they don’t take much) because they often start at 7 am and work beyond 5 pm—that’s so rude I feel they deserve no breaks. According to encyclopedia.com, the word for this—loud, repetitive noise, that is, not rudeness—is “yammer.”

A brief search shows me that noise pollution can increase blood pressure, stress, fatigue, headaches, annoyance, aggression, anxiety and speech problems, as well as cause stomach ulcers, which would explain my desire to drive down to the bridge and rip someone’s head off.

My sympathies to those in Sandpoint who will undoubtedly get to enjoy a similar accompaniment to their day as the bypass makes its way through downtown. How long did they say that construction was going to take?

Another number making an appearance in my month is 28.75. This one came about when I couldn’t find one little piece of paper in my office. Not finding one little piece of paper is a common occurrence in my office, because I absolutely stink at dealing with paperwork, and there are piles and piles (and piles and piles!) of it all over my office. Partly, this is due to the fact that all my filing cabinets are full, which is due to my difficulty in throwing anything away.

So I decided to throw some stuff away. Actually, in my never-ending quest to make every job a leviathan project, I decided to completely re-do my office while simultaneously sorting through 20-some years of paperwork, including the filing cabinets full of the River Journal archives.

The River Journal first printed in December of 1993, and has printed since on a sporadic schedule that featured twice-monthly publication for the greatest period of time. And for some reason I believed I needed to keep at least 50 copies of each issue for my archives, explaining in part why my filing cabinets were full. Approximately 16 years at 24 issues per year, times fifty... yep, over 19,000 copies of newspapers.

So I decided there was absolutely no reason to keep more than 10 copies of each issue, an amount I later lowered to seven. Ruthlessly culled and filed in order, I now have 28.75 linear feet of archives, and room in the file cabinets for all my other paperwork. (Also in the process of being ruthlessly culled—after all, I probably won’t need all those copies of Washington Water Power bills which, by their name, have to be at least ten years old or more!)

Then there’s this number: 67,331. I’m as bad with computer files as I am with paper files so I spend a lot of time searching for things on my computer... especially pictures. Fed up with my second hour of searching for a photo I knew I had taken (but couldn’t remember what I might have named it) I decided to take the computer time to have Picasa recognize the photos on my external drive, so they would be easily searchable. Yep, 67,311 of them. No wonder I can’t find anything!

How ‘bout these numbers? Thirty-nine weeks, 1.5 centimeters dialated, 5 percent effaced. Yep, my new granddaughter should be fully “cooked,” so to speak, though as of this writing she has not yet decided to make an appearance. Although Lauren (her mama) doesn’t want to hear this, I think baby Keira is waiting to be born on my own birthday, October 3. After all, her Aunt Amy was born on January 3, and her Aunt Misty on March 3, so the girls in my family do seem to have an affinity for the third. At 39 weeks, this baby is now officially full term, but many babies aren’t born until week 40, and some like to wait (don’t tell Lauren this as she’s tired of waiting) until week 42. (Web note: Keira made her appearance at 4:11 pm on Monday, October 5. More numbers: she weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 21.5 inches long.)

Nonetheless, I expect that by the time anyone reads this column, my second grandchild will have made a spectacular appearance in the world and will undoubtedly be beautiful, gifted, and will talk early and often. And if she does happen to come on my birthday, she’ll have a grandma who’s exactly 17,154 days older than she is.

Eighty. That’s how many pictures of people reading the River Journal I have uploaded to Google Maps. (There’s lots more to go... maybe they’ll be there by the time you read this!) You can check ‘em out by following the link here: www.riverjournal.com/vivvo/trjworld.html.

Six. That’s the number of automated PDFs of River Journal issues I have uploaded to our website. (Follow the link on the homepage for PDF archive to check ‘em out.) Yes, it will take a while to get current with this one, but while going through all that paper in my office, I did discover that I have a copy of the very first River Journal ever printed, on 15 December 1993. That was a nice surprise, as I thought the only copy in existence was probably somewhere in Mama Nicholls’ house in Richmond, but there was one right here in Clark Fork as well. And that is also on the website for people to view. The look has changed a bit in 16 years.

And that begs the question... why are we on volume number 18 with the River Journal? I don’t have an answer for that, but will put discovering it on my ‘to do’ list.

Speaking of the RJ website, today’s numbers show that since we put up the new site with the new software (sometime last spring) 354,000-plus articles have been read. I’m guessing it’s time for me to start putting some effort into selling advertising on the website.

With this issue of the paper, my archives will expand again (though not as much as before) and once Keira is born, the number of photos on my hard drive will undoubtedly increase. The bridge will keep yammering, at least for a while. But I have one number left to comfort me—eight. That’s how many hours I sleep every night, a place where numbers don’t plague me at all.

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Landon Otis

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grandchildren, Keira, math, numbers, Clark Fork, construction

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