Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 23, 2008

They’ve Got My Number

While the prior blog post did feature a couple of personally relevant numbers, it was mostly trying to be outwardly focused in its praises and critiques. Today, on the other hand, will sound more like one of Oprah’s “My Favorite Things” segments, only with a numerical theme.

So here are some numbers that tell stories about my life as of this date :

97: the bowling score put up in the joint game played by ten of my 3rd-5th graders today in P.E. Highlight of the game was when the flakiest girl in the class became the person that scored our first and only strike of the week. We’re using 20 real pins, plus a combination of various bowling balls both official and toy. It’s been a blast.

136: my average last time I played in a bowling league, which was probably at around age 24.

42: My current age. Also the answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?”, according to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. (If you’re looking for answers, though, don’t come to me… my only suggestion is the same as theirs: Don’t Panic. )

11: my favorite number and/or “lucky number”, for various reasons, though mostly sports-related

34: my second favorite, having mostly to do with the synchronicity of how frequently I spot it at signinficant moments of my life… but it’s also the jersey number of Chicago Bear great Walter Payton, my favorite athlete ever.

670AM : The Score, my favorite radio station — especially Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein during the afternoon drive-time slot. Bernstein is about my age and funny as hell, while Boers is a hip, knowledgeable but crotchety old sportswriter. Their Thursday call-in segment Who Ya Crappin’? is one of the highlights of my week, in which people from all over my fair city and beyond call or write to ironically expose some bullshit spouted by an athlete, entertainer or politician during the previous week. I have patterned at least half of Marking Time (the cynical half) after Boers & Bernstein, Lewis Black, Lenny Bruce, and Dave Barry (must be something about those B names…)

9.2%: the slippery margin-of-victory number for Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania primary yesterday. All the so-called experts have their own opinions about how bad a beat this was or wasn’t for Obama. For me, I just don’t get it. He knew she’d win. We all knew she’d win. Can we talk about something else now, please? (Yeah I know I said I was going to go personal and not political today… but EVERYTHING is political, really, or hadn’t you noticed? And in case it’s not clear, I’m an Obama man. )

3: The number of people in my family. The number of kids in both mine and my wife’s families. The number of blue jeans I wear in rotation on a biweekly basis. Also the all-important Trinity number, used and re-used symbolically in children’s rhymes, adult literature, religious writing and numerology (which is mostly b.s.), and most importantly the number of ounces of sweetened ricotta cheese in the center of a standard cannoli, my favorite dessert since I was about nine months old. (Thanks, Ma.)

25: the anniversary of Cornerstone Festival this July, the leading music and Christian culture event in America for some time now. I got a mailing today, with the full lineup. I have not been there since 2000, and may not make it this year either, but it’s always a terrific opportunity to put one’s finger on the pulse of what God is up to in the U.S. If you go, don’t miss The 77’s and The Lost Dogs, some classic supergroups still doing amazing work in the new millenium.

20:150  – my vision without correction. I wear contacts, the change-once-a-month type, which I wear for two or three months at a time, like just about everybody else out there.

20:20  – my vision when I look toward a brighter future. And while I do occasionally celebrate those building the foundation for that future, ultimately I put no stock in politics, pastors, pop stars, or platinum Visa cards to get us there. Instead, this Passover, let us admit that the road to peace and prosperity– that legendary land of milk and honey –is the same road for us as it was for Moses and his gang: 40 years of wandering around like fools, followed by a time of renewal, repentance and finally forgiveness. 1968 was by most accounts the most pivotal year of the Baby Boomer generation. Dr. King. Bobby Kennedy. So I suppose we’re due.

So let’s get our act together by Yom Kippur, on October 9th… we’ll need that long just to make a list of all the things we want to change… plus, it will be just in time for the election.



  1. Good post, Mark. I like the mix of personal trivia and passion for renewal.

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