Arithmetic Assault

Decades ago I knew all of my friends’ phone numbers by heart. I knew almost everybody’s address that I sent mail to on a regular basis.  I knew my multiplication tables.

Over the years, most addresses have faded since I have them written in my day planner as well as on a spreadsheet. I recognize them when I write them out on envelopes, but that’s about it.  If a pixie got into my planner and re-arranged the house numbers, I probably wouldn’t know.

My cell phone has helped to alleviate the trouble of remembering my friends’ phone numbers well.  As people have added cell phones to their lives and dropped land lines, I have added their new numbers to my phone’s contact list but I have never memorized any of them.  With the exception of my BFF and YA, I don’t think I know anybody’s number by heart any more.

But the cruelest blow happened this morning. I was working on a program and deciding on how many beach towels we needed to order.  Without much thought at all, I entered 64 into the calculator on my desk and then hit “divide” by 2.  To get 32.  As soon as I did it, I realized what I had done. I used a machine to divide 64 by 2. This is horrifying to me.  Not that I’m worried about my ability to figure this out on my own, but that I would automatically go to a machine if I needed to do arithmetic.  Ouch.

My new practice starting tomorrow is to not turn on the calculator until I actually need it.

What technology has crept up on you?

24 thoughts on “Arithmetic Assault”

  1. I never could do math in my head very comfortably. Husband and I both use calculators when we probably could work it out mentally. I think relying on meteorologists instead of paying attention to the sky and clouds is another area of creeping technology. My maternal grandfather seemed to be very good at predicting the weather on his own. Now as I am getting older I have figured out that the air pressure is changing whenever my back and hands start to hurt more. Maybe grandpa relyed on his arthritis to predict the weather too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I was in my late teens I bought a nice Panasonic color TV. It didn’t have a remote, because in the late 70’s that wasn’t particularly expected, although the technology may have existed. The TV lasted many years, about thirty, and I never developed the habit of channel surfing, because it was always necessary to get up and walk across the room to change the channel. When TV went digital I had to go the converter box route, and the converter box had a remote, and my old TV finally went to the electronics graveyard. The new TV, of course, has a remote, because there is no such thing as a TV without a remote anymore. I was a little apprehensive – would it make me into the sort of person who restlessly watches a minute or two of each channel trying to find something tolerable? In fact, it didn’t change my TV watching habits much. But I’ve gotten used to having gadgets on remotes now. My radio has a remote, and so does the big fan I use in the summertime. So there I am on the couch, fiddling with remotes – radio on, fan on, radio off, converter box on, TV on, turn the fan down, change the channel, turn the fan up again, dang the converter box shut itself off in the middle of my show, turn it on again, fan off, then TV off, radio on again….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You get accustomed to remotes. I have a lamp that not only doesn’t have a remote but harbors fantasies of independence. About once a week I reach for the remote for that lamp before I remember it doesn’t have one. I heard about a guy who was fed up with too much commentary from his wife, so he aimed a remote at her mouth and hit the mute button. Didn’t work, of course.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m old-fashioned in that I still think we should teach kids how to do basic math in their heads, how to read a roadmap, how to write in cursive, how to memorize phone numbers. Why? Because when the first widespread cyber attack comes and the electrical grid goes down and the internet becomes inaccessible, those of us who survive will be the ones who have memorized the phone number for Domino’s Pizza and can figure out how to use a rotary phone to dial that number and order dinner! 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna

    *who wonders why he just wrote that facetious drivel but will post if for the amusement (or bemusement) of the TBers.* 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We’ve survived a widespread cyber attack, and the electrical grid has gone down, yet you envision that phones and Domino’s ovens are still working?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Never underestimate the power of pizza! 😉 And it’s my fantasy world, after all. If I want to play favorites, I’ll play favorites. (And I don’t even like Domino’s pizza–just noticed we have a very busy one in Owatonna.


        Liked by 1 person

  4. HI!
    I used to know all those phone numbers too. Now I’m lucky I can remember my own. Everyone else resides in the phone.

    I’ve got two different remotes for my lighting boards; the cell phone so I can turn the light on from the top of the ladder, and the iPad so I can trigger cues while standing onstage.
    Course the TV, Blu-Ray player and receiver are all in a ‘harmony’ remote that we think we’ve got figured out except when it doesn’t do what we want.
    When the radio in the tractor came with a remote I thought that was a little bit silly. However, it’s bumpy in the tractor and trying to change channels or turn up the volume was hard to do and the remote was easier. Who’da thunk?

    Four ceiling fans, three different remotes.

    And Math! I used to be OK at it. Then I took math classes. Heck, I’m not even sure 2+2=4 anymore…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I still remember my childhood phone number as well as those of some of my friends and relatives. They are useless now, of course, but there they are, taking up brain cells that could surely be used for something more important.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. OC: I’ve always puzzled about this notion. Yes, if you didn’t have old numbers lodged in your brain, you might have more brain capacity for “something more important.” Or maybe that capacity would be used up with facts about the Kardashians.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know if it’s true but I have heard it attributed to Einstein that he didn’t know his own phone number because he didn’t want to use brain space for something he could just look up.


    1. Heck yeah! Home phone number from 1964 – 1990: 282-0553!
      Address 20 years ago before the county changed it; 3940 Viola Rd!


  6. As I age I am still as intelligent as ever, only I sometimes falter when trying to remember things . . . like my phone number. That number changes every time I move, of course. I don’t often phone myself, so that number is a bit like something in a fantasy, like a unicorn. I’ve been told it exists, but I’ve never used it.

    Bit by bit, I rely more on modern technology to supply information I can’t recall the way I once could. Sometimes I can’t remember the year I got married, although I have it narrowed down to 1967 or 1968. A peek at Wikipedia reminds me it was 1968, basically the year America fell apart.

    I sometimes can’t remember how a word is spelled. The challenge now is to type something so close to the right spelling that Spell Check steps in to give me the final answer like a Boy Scout that comes along to guide a wobbly geezer across the street.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Technology has its uses and I do use quit a bit of it. But…it is also making our brains lazy since you don’t have to remember very much anymore – just look it up. Remotes make our bodies lazy. I know I am going to sound like a dinosaur – I think it is important to know how to:
    * do simple math in your head
    * be able to make change without relying on the register (I still use real money quite often)
    * tell time on an analog clock
    * write legibly
    * answer a phone
    * remember names, phone numbers, addresses
    * hand write (and mail) thank you notes

    I liked life better when there were only a few TV stations and you had to manually turn it on/off, change channels, and adjust the volume. I can’t even turn on my sister’s TV because you have to use more than one remote. In my ideal world there would be fewer choices, people would actually talk to each other instead of texting or messaging, kids would play outside and use their imaginations more, people would be polite, and , most importantly, we would have a smart, moral, decent person in the White House.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. The fact that CDs and DVDs are going the way of the dinosaur is disheartening to me, because I’ve finally figured out how to search for them, get them, use them.. My lack of a smart phone is evident every day at some point, and I try to not be embarrassed – not having one is a conscious choice, but I sometimes wonder how long we can hold out.

    We did get a laptop for which we now have wi-fi – my sister was thrilled, because during her recent visit she was able to keep up with her job from here. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When I was at college (the first time), I took an English course from a professor who knew Paradise Lost by heart. Even at the time I thought that was a daunting accomplishment but these days I can’t imagine anybody knows Paradise Lost by heart any longer.

    Liked by 1 person

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