Chance numeral

Day 4: smidgins of joy

Smidgins of joy are like fractions; imagine a world where two halves are most often taken to mean four quarters or eight eighths instead of one whole.

Gratitude abounds. I have a date confirmed for my physical driving test. Long story. I let my licence expire when my beloved was busy dying. This is my chance to rectify that particular stuff-up.

Should I fail this practical test in ten days’ time, I shall have to sit for the written part too, from which I am currently exempt. You know, the one where there are strange questions.

How many bollards can you smash into successively while reversing at 60 km/h before you fall off a cliff? Who has right of way at a roundabout during a mudslide? What does a blue and red hot cross bun mean?

No stopping or parking anywhere around here, or else!

All that to tell you that I had a smidgin of joy during my driving lesson late yesterday afternoon. The instructor said the lesson was a pleasure, but I am sure he was simply matching the level of politeness I accorded him during the hour on the road.

I had walked to the driving school in the heat and ducked into the supermarket across the road for a few minutes before my lesson. I gave myself a lift back home in the driving school car. That was a generous smidgin — a blob, let’s say — of joy.

I suffered heat exhaustion from these various exertions. I attempted to continue working when I got home, but fell asleep at my desk for over half an hour while waiting for a couple of eggs to boil.

Luckily I had a lot of water in the pot, and no harm was done. I added a smidgin of joy to the hot chilli sauce which accompanied my snack designed to keep my strength up.

I went to bed early. A hat-tip to feebleness and indulgence. When I awoke, my phone told me it was 01:01. I took a screenshot of that serendipitous occasion.

Books in the Great Hall of the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon that no one ever reads.
Note: in the binary system, there is no such number as “01”. 🙂

And then came a smidgin of joy as I recalled 1976, my seventh year in school as a 12-year-old, when we learned about the binary system, and how to count in binary, or base 2. And base 3, and base 4, and so on.

I was so excited about this. I liked base 4, or the quaternary numeral system the most. Don’t ask me why, I just did. I filled pages and pages with counting. I think I might even have created a breaking news moment when I got home. I showed my younger sister how it worked. She did quite a bit of scribbling too after that.

The benefit of hindsight tells me that this is all the more remarkable when you consider that the first Apple computer was demonstrated in 1976. Of course, I have had no reason to use this particular skill since, despite my enthusiasm. But it did send me to sleep again, as I counted in base 4 in my head and drifted off, only to awake at a more godly hour when the sun had come up.

As I picked my first completely smidgin-red tomato this morning, I remember I sat with a friend on a step at school when we were nine and we completed all 75 fraction sum questions in our arithmetic textbook. I was quicker at getting the answer to each question but slower in writing it down than my friend. We soon accommodated each other and kept a pretty even pace. I think only 20 sums were compulsory, but we had nothing else to do until netball practice began.

I learned today that there are three variant spellings of shanty: shanty, chanty and chantey. Have fun singing A-rovin’.

©2019 Allison Wright

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