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October 11, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
My first memorable experience with numbers was as a child with Count von Count on Sesame Street. “One bat. Two bats. Three, three bats. Ah ... ah ... ah.” His Transylvanian accent and drawn-out laugh highlighted my earliest lessons of numeric importance. Now, at the center of a political debate, Sesame Street and public broadcasting have become the poster children for how our government officials should or shouldn’t crunch the numbers that run the country.
Although easily taken for granted, numbers affect almost every aspect of how we function. We live by 12 months in a year, seven days per week, 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes within an hour. At the age of 16, we drive — vote at 18, drink at 21 and work to possibly retire at 65, maybe 70. We count calories, cook food at specified temperatures and attempt to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
The degrees on the thermometer control what we wear, and ever-fluctuating economic numbers influence how we spend. The comparison between the digits that follow the dollar sign on our paychecks versus those on the bills we pay determines what we have and what we don’t.
Numbers build foundations, they present goals, and they set limitations. They are the framework for how we function within society.
To commemorate 10/11/12, a sequential date that following December 13, 2014, won’t happen again until the year 2103, we take a look at three people who live life by the number: a drummer, a mathematician and a marathon runner. In five pages and 2,475 words, our feature (Page 11) illustrates how numeric values influence these individuals one beat, step and equation at a time.