Numbers (HLD 126)

26 July 2020

I heard someone today talking about a reading their pedometer had given them about total distance walked since March.

I was impressed with this ability, and because my phone doesn’t appear to give me this cumulative detail, I set about putting together a spreadsheet and adding daily information since I started writing these things.

The first edition of HLD was 23 March so I went through the daily exercise information on my phone and added to the spreadsheet the number of steps, and distance walked that day.

And then, because I must enjoy fiddling with spreadsheets more than I ever thought I would, I thought I’d add into the calculations the number of words produced in all this literary diarrhoea.

Yes, you’re right. I really do need to get out more 🙂

In the past 126 days, according to the readings from my phone and my watch, I’ve walked 802km. That’s a significant distance!

If I’d headed north, I’d be very close to Carnarvon (904). I’d at least be close enough to start dreaming of bananas and mangoes, and possibly getting close to being able to actually glimpse The Dish in the distance.

If I’d headed across the continent, well I would still be in Western Australia, obviously. But I’d be over half way to Border Village! I would have probably stopped in Norseman (798km) for a bit of a rest, I suspect.

Obviously I would never just head out on a walk of that sort of distance, even if I was allowing myself the better part of four months to do so. But it’s intriguing to see where those little steps could have taken me, if taken with purpose and direction, rather than aimlessly wandering around the block with the dog, or around shopping centres and the like.

I average 10,000 steps a day, so if you do similar sort of walking you could also have joined me on my journey across the country. Obviously you’d be carrying the water and food and tents.

Before today, there have been 60,281 words of Literary Diarrhoea written and supposedly read.

And like my distance travelled by foot has not been in a purposeful direction, these mental meanderings have been aimless and formless and should not be considered alongside published works.

But I will anyway.

The first Harry Potter book contained 76,944 words, so had my literary diarrhoea contained a few more editions, and also a plot, interesting characters and a couple of magic spells, it could be considered alongside this one.

War and Peace has 561,304 words, and I think I’d have to be still writing these things in my 90’s to compete with that. I won’t be. Don’t panic.

So where am I going with this?

Good question.

Originally I started it this investigation not as an exercise in spreadsheet formulas, but as a study in “little things”. Specifically that the little things we do will grow and add up. Baby steps can in the end become large strides, and so forth. All very worthy and encouraging.

But it’s kind of deviated into a bit of “it’s not how much you do, but what you do with it” sort of emphasis. I’m undecided as to what I take out of my spreadsheet figures. It does fascinate me the distance a human being can cover over the course of nearly four months….. Without actually trying.

And it also amazes me that we have journeyed through the rubbish that my brain pours out on a daily basis in numbers not dissimilar to a book I actually enjoy reading.

Take from it what you will. If nothing else I’ve spent time doing some data entry and creating formulas to get information from that data.

And I didn’t walk much while I was doing it.

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