The time has almost come. By next week it will have passed.
While I should be performing other tasks and thinking about other things, my mind keeps wandering back to the fact that I was born 60 years ago on Thursday. The number addict in me observes that 60 = 22 * 3 * 5 is a special number. But we all knew that, didn’t we?
Sixty minutes in an hour, so a minute is minute (small). And a second is called a second because it is 1/602 part of an hour…second power. Magic number…as is 360 (= 23 * 32 * 5) …perhaps because it can be divided so well into equal pieces in so many ways. Anyway, the Sumerians thought a sexagesimal system was cool…and that gave us our timekeeping strategy and the way we measure angles. Who knew…until much later, that 60 was also the number of elements in the smallest non-abelian simple group?
One could go back further than the Sumerians and discover that the Chinese use a calendar with a cycle of sixty years…the Jia-Zi system.
each year within the 60-year cycle being named with two symbols, the first being base-10 (called Tian-Gan, ?? or heavenly stems) and the second symbol being base 12 (called Di-Zhi, ?? or earthly branches).
60 is the least common multiple of 12 and 10, of course.
Magic numbers are scarce, until you actively look for them. Then you discover that all integers are magic.
- Proof: Let x be the smallest non-magic positive number. If x exists, x would be special…and so x would be magic from some perspective or other. If no such x exists, then all postive integers are magic by induction.
Sort of. Not a real proof, of course. The term “magic number” has not been defined here…as I purposely intended.
But I digress…
So what does a person do when the age of 60 is reached? What will I do on Thursday? I know the answer to that: I will work, as usual. Maybe for celebration purposes I can skip the union meeting. All they manage to do is make me wonder if I have ulcers yet….and if not, why not?
As a gift, we are going to get a couple of new chairs to put in front of our computers. Maybe that will improve the condition of my back. I’ve been using a chair specially designed for manicurists to use, a gift from a transwoman I helped transition by giving a place to live for free. It’s probably ideal for manicuring. It’s probably not so good for typing on a keypad.
I’ve found that I have been engaging in a lot of reflection. Well, I always do that, but maybe I’m doing more than usual. I’m thinking about the years. And my place in them. And I’m asking myself, in my way, “Come up the years. And love me.”
1948 was a mixed year: Early in the year Arab militants lay siege to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Burma gained its independence from England. Gandhi was murdered. On April 1, the idea of the Big Bang Theory was introduced. On April 3, Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony appeared on television for the first time, and I was born.
In 1960, I was migrating from Forest Hills Elementary School to Lake Oswego Junior High School. On January 1 of that year I was discovered wearing one of my mother’s dresses…an episode which looms big in my memory of then.
In 1972 I was in the military, stationed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth. I was promoted to Spec 4 and transferred to the Prisoner Pay Section of the Finance Department that year.
In 1984 I moved from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee to the University of Central Arkansas. My parents had died in the preceding couple of years, my spouse hated Milwaukee, and I was in a state of pliability, so we moved to Conway, Arkansas. Everything that happens does so for a reason, I am told.
In 1996 I returned to Conway after after taking a semester off to try to relocate…and failing to find employment in the Seattle area. So I decided to make the best of it and increased my activism…maybe ten-fold.
And 2008 has arrived and we are here.
Living people are soft and tender.
Corpses are hard and stiff.
The ten thousand things,
the living grass, the trees,
are soft, pliant.
Dead, they’re dry and brittle.
So hardness and stiffness
go with death;
go with life.
And the hard sword fails,
the stiff tree’s felled.
the hard and great go under.
The soft and weak stay up.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, English version by Ursula K. LeGuin
Then again, there is this:
The world had a beginning
which we call the Great Mother.
Once we have found the Mother,
we begin to know what Her children should be.
When we know we are the Mother’s child,
we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.
She will protect us from all danger
even if we lose our life.
Keep your mouth closed
and embrace a simple life,
and you will live carefree until the end of your days.
If you try to talk your way into a better life
there will be no end to your trouble.
To understand the small is called clarity.
Knowing how to yield is called strength.
To use your inner light for understanding
regardless of the danger
is called depending on the Constant.
–Tao Te Ching, translated by J. H. McDonald
Integration sometimes requires more than calculus.