Numerical musings II

Just as last June when I did my “Numerical musings” post, this week all of my posts on Facebook had a theme to them.  From that post, most of the numbers were numerological, as they were the values of Hebrew words.  This time, some of them are based on Hebrew, but others are red herrings or not based on Hebrew words.  Here are the posts from Facebook, followed by the explanations.

MONDAY: “T-plus (!) 163 to 148.”

Explanation: 148 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word פסח (Passover).  But, 163 is NOT intended to correspond to a particular word… rather it was my roundtrip plane fare to and from Eppley for this spring break trip!

TUESDAY: “I will claim 996 soon, but I settle now for claiming 694.”

Explanation: Interesting numbers, but here is what the numbers refer to respectively, and that will explain itself when I translate. The number 996 is the sum of the values in לשנה הבאה בירושלים (Next year in Jerusalem), which I get to say (sing?) at the end of each seder. and the number 694 is the sum of the values in לשבוע הבא בלינקולן (Next week in Lincoln)!

(The tunes that I know for the former, however, don’t really fit for the latter :))

WEDNESDAY: “80 is quite a powerful number. Of course, I suppose that it’s obvious that 80 > 34.”

Explanation: The “34” is the numerical value of the Hebrew word כוח (power–i.e. willpower). But the “power” to which I refer is the power function. By that: 80^1 = 80, which is the Interstate on which I will travel once in Nebraska, and 80^2 = 6400, our house number in Lincoln!  (I could have also thrown some joke about “around the world in 80 days,” though that would be a great red herring (and a good song).

And ALSO: in פירקי אבות [Pirkei Avot] 5.23, it reads “at eighty, the age of strength” for Gramma Lea’s birthday!

A sneaky thing here is that “O” Street in Lincoln is also part of US Route 34.

THURSDAY: “Apologies to both Starship and Queen, but ‘Forty-one days of mambas-on-the-triangle, whoa! FIBONACCI! Fibonacci, FIBONACCI, Fibonacci, FIBONACCI, Figaro Magnifico-o-o-oh!'”

Explanation: That doesn’t fit quite as well as “Thunderbolts of lightning, very very frightening, me!”  Oh well.  The 41 happens to be the  numerological value (of course)… of the Hebrew transliteration of OOGIE BOOGIE!  That’s our family’s countoff call!  The “triangle” refers to the fact that today (Thursday) is the 21st of March, and 21 is both a Fibonacci number and a triangular number.  More interesting is if we consider this when our family numbers off:

ANY: “Oogie Boogie!”

MOM: “One!”

DAD: “Two!”

NOAH: “Three!”

CASEY: “Four!”

MOLLY: “Five!”

LEVI: “Six!”

Observe that 1+2+3+4+5+6=21.   Unfortunately, this somewhat breaks down, because Levi is swamped with projects on Tuesday.  And Fibonacci?  Twenty-one is the eighth Fibonacci number.

Also, my family has had some good times with belting out the “Bohemian Rhapsody” karaoke-style minus the machine, such as at the Dragon Boat National Championships of 2004.

FRIDAY: “Let epsilon > 0. Then, 210 plus 681 plus 2.54 makes sense, but the answer, believe it or not, is 1,815,609 plus epsilon.”

Explanation: The numbers all have dimensions of length, but all have different units, such that they can be correctly added only after being converted to the same units. 210 is the number of Chicago-blocks (8 blocks to a mile) from Foster to Midway. 681 is the linear distance between Midway and Eppley Airfield in kilometers. 2.54 is the number of marathons from Eppley Airfield in Omaha to Countryview Lane in Lincoln.

To find the final figure, convert all of these to miles and add. The “sum” is on the order of a million, due to me multiplying that result by the factor 1 mile = 3520 cubits. For good measure, I threw in a fudge factor epsilon for the walking between each of the modes (train, plane, car).

SATURDAY: “Depending on perspective, I might be shooting  44%, 80%, or 100%.”

Explanation: Including this trip, I have gone to Nebraska nine times so far during my career at Northwestern.  These include for winter break all four years, Michael & Megan’s wedding in 2010, Ben’s bar mitzvah in 2010, the Northwestern/Nebraska football game in 2011, Sam’s bar mitzvah in 2012, and now Passover 2013.  All of those percentages are referring to going home for religious functions.  If the winter breaks are counted as non-religious functions (since Hanukkah is a minor holiday and our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas as is), that’s the 44%.

If winter break trips are excluded from the count, five trips have been made, and the only of those five NOT religiously-based was the Nebraska/Northwestern football game.

Although, for that matter, since Nebraska football is such a huge thing in Lincoln, almost to religious following, I can count it as a pilgrimage and bump up the count to 100%.  The main point of this is that you can bend the numbers in any way that you want!

SUNDAY: “448 is certainly NOT a plague.  After all, the Rabbis say that there were “only” 250 in some areas of Egypt.”

Explanation: 448 = הבחכור חוזר (the firstborn returns)! The number 250 has no particular significance.

MONDAY: “From last week, there were 10 “cryptic” numbers throughout my posts.  The answer is this series (er, sequence) of abbreviations: כ”ט, פ’, לה”ב לה”ב, כ’ י”ה, א”ב, ד’, א’, ה”ח (Wait… what?  Check my blog tomorrow for the answers!)”

Explanation: These are the Ten Non-Plagues that I mentioned. Each of them, in order… 

כרטיסי-טיסה (Airfare)

פסח (Passover)

לשנה הבאה בירושלים (Next year in Jerusalem)

לשבוע הבא בלינקולן (Next week in Lincoln)

כוח (Strength/Willpower)

יום הולדת (Birthday)

אוגי-בוגי (Oogie Boogie)

דרך (Path)

אחוז (Percent)

הבחור חוזר (The Firstborn Returns)

Isn’t knowing multiple languages, numberings, and units great?  It makes for fun encryption, and the post-hoc is the most fun to show how it all fits together.  YAY!


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