Barry Smith: Irrelativity | AspenTimes.com

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times

You know how when you see a shooting star and by the time you say to your friend, “Wow! Shooting star!” the event is long gone and your friend spins around to look at a disappointing shooting star-free sky? Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow take a picture of that magical, rare, fleeting moment, so you could then show that picture to your friend who missed out?

Well, I’ve figured out how to do just that. Except in my case these “shooting stars” are certain combinations of numbers that appear on the clock on my computer screen, and the picture that I take is a desktop “screen shot.”

On my computer this “screen shot” is achieved by depressing the “command,” “shift,” and “3” keys simultaneously. And by “depressing” I mean “pushing down,” not “explaining to in great detail how computer keys have no soul and therefore can never go to heaven, if such a place even exists, causing said keys to become morose and sullen.” This specific key combination takes a “picture” of exactly what my computer screen looks like at the moment and saves it in a file right there on the desktop.

Last winter I was spending a lot of late nights at the computer. Occasionally I’d look up at the clock in the corner of the screen and it would be displaying a “significant” number. My definition of “significant” is key here. For example, any repetition of numbers – 1:11, 2:22, 3:33 – definitely worth noting. Sequential numbers – 1:23, 2:34, 3:45 – also very exciting. The four-digit ones were particularly exhilarating – 11:11, 12:34. Whew – I can barely type that without getting a little bit giddy, but I’m sure I hardly need to explain that to you.

When I’d glance up and see these significant numbers I’d have an overwhelming sensation that I was in the right place at the right time, that I’m on the path, total cosmic alignment, that all is well and is going to get even better – kind of how you feel when you see a shooting star, right? A combination of caffeine, sleep deprivation and being easily impressed makes for a life of constant wonderment.

Except this was actually better than a shooting star, because it lasts for a full minute AND I have a way of taking a picture of it. Screen shot. And that’s what I started doing. For the next few months I’d constantly be taking pictures of my screen each time a significant, or even potentially significant, number came up. This is perfect, I thought – now I can show these pictures to my friends later. You can probably imagine how many friends I have, right? Oh yeah.

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It’s too bad that my number fixation is so rudimentary. If you’re going to have some sort of number-based OCD, wouldn’t it be nice to have one with some practical use? I can’t memorize train schedules. I can’t recite pi beyond three decimal places. Can’t count cards. I’m pretty good at picking Lotto numbers, just not winning ones. I can’t do even the simplest additions in my head without moving my lips and using my fingers. No, all I do is look at numbers and say, “Neato.”

All of which brings us, miraculously, to my point.

Next Sunday is Oct. 10, 2010. At exactly 10 minutes past 10 o’clock in the morning it will be … my God, I can feel my heart racing even as I spell it out for you …

10:10 10/10/10.

And as if that weren’t enough goodness for one lifetime, the same thing will happen exactly 12 hours later!

Breathe … just breathe …

So, you know where to find me this Sunday morning and evening. Right here at my computer, with my fingers hovering over the Command/Shift/3 keys, ready to take as many screen shots in 60 seconds as the laws of physics will allow. For me this is pretty much the Perseid meteor shower of cool numbers. I even bought an extra hard drive, just in case I need the extra picture storage space!

Which is really just my way of saying, “Please, somebody … help me.”

(Next time – Eleven minutes past eleven o’clock on Nov. 11, 2011 – I’ll see you there!)