What’s in a number?  Today, we’re living in the time of five ones.  In ten days, we’ll be in the realm of six ones.  I find those facts both wonderful and eerie.

November 1, 2011 is a historical date because of all those ones — and I wonder how we came to value these predictable regularities of time and find comfort in their identicalness.

On December 13, 2005, I wondered about the faith we place in numerals in my article, “Lucky Lucky Number:”

If you are Chinese, or a numerologist, perhaps you can explain why every time I call my favorite Chinese restaurant to order delivery, the elderly Chinese man on the other end always says in a raspy, smoke-riddled voice “Lucky Lucky Number!” each time I provide my cell phone number.

My phone number has four fours in it and the last four numbers are 4040 — those are the only things I can think of that might be “lucky” when I rattle off my digits, but I’m curious if there is something else at play I’m missing?

Commenter Suki said this in reply to my query:

lol, 4′s are considered unlucky in chinese culture.. why? they sound pretty close to the word for “death.” he’s probably being sarcastic with you when he tells you how lucky your number is… on the other hand, if you have a lot of 8′s in your phone number, then that is truly lucky as it sounds like the word for “fortune” and “wealth.” often, you will find that a lot of chinese families will specialize their license plates to have quite a few 8′s in them…

The number one is considered “calming” and “essential” in Chinese numerology and that makes me question if all those ones in today’s date should be taken collectively or singularly.  I prefer to atone to the individual digit and take all the delights that come from pronouncing all those ordered ones.


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