Monday, July 13, 2009

401G, 401H, 401I, 401J...


401 goes together with K like love and marriage, like a horse and carriage, like peanut butter and jelly, like Michael Jackson’s memorial service and round-the-clock TV coverage.

Never fear! I am not going to explain to you the intricacies of a 401K account. Instead, in honor of this, my 401st post on this blog, I have decided to keep it simple and tell you what the letter K means to me.

In Wikipedia you can learn more than you ever thought possible about the letter K, including the fascinating fact that in the International Phonetic Alphabet, K is the symbol for the voiceless velar plosive.

K makes me think of Kellogg’s Special K breakfast cereal.

K makes me think of singer Kay Starr.

K makes me think of actress Kay Kendall, seen in this clip from the movie Once More, With Feeling. As an added bonus (is that redundant?), you can also watch Yul Brynner and brush up on your Spanish at the same time.

K makes me think of bandleader Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge. The band was popular in the forties.

K makes me think of Kaye Ballard. (If you don’t want to sit through several minutes of Muppet carryings-on, Kaye’s segment starts at 5 minutes, 30 seconds into the video)

K makes me think of Danny Kaye. He made many movies, but I chose two clips, this one from The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and this one from The Court Jester. A transcript of the famous “The Vessel With The Pestle” scene is included.

In the interest of keeping an audience, I have decided not to include Kay Armen, Mary Kay Ash, or K. D. Lang at this time.

K makes me think of the stuttering song from the World War I era that my Dad used to sing, “K-K-K-Katy”:

K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy,
You’re the only g-g-g-girl that I adore;
When the m-m-m-moon shines over the cowshed,
I’ll be waiting at your k-k-k-kitchen door.

I suppose nowadays that song would be considered insensitive and not politically correct.

K is also commonly used as an abbreviation for 1000, probably because of the Greek prefix kilo-, which means a thousand, as in “kilogram” (a thousand grams) or “kilometer” (a thousand meters). This is fine when you’re referring to weight or distance or money (for example, $10K means $10,000.00). But when you’re referring to the innards of computers, a K does not mean 1000 bytes of storage (10 to the third power). In Computer Land, K means 1024 (2 to the tenth power -- you know, 2 squared is 4, 2 cubed is 8, and so on; 2 to the tenth power is 1024). So the bigger the quantity you’re talking about, the more misleading the reference becomes if you think K means 1000. It gets worse. Not only does K not mean a thousand, a meg (M) does not mean 1,000,000 (10 to the sixth power or 1,000 times 1,000). In Computer Land, M refers to 1,048,576 bytes of computer storage (1024 times 1024; that is, 2 to the tenth power times 2 to the tenth power, which is 2 to the twentieth power).

I know just enough about this to make me slightly crazy, and since I’m slightly crazy, I thought I would make you slightly crazy too.

You’re welcome.

Don’t even get me started on hexadecimal notation.


  1. Hello Mr. Brague,
    I like Krazy glue, and I love the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

  2. My claim to fame is that I am supposed to be - albeit distantly - related to Danny Kaye! Oh yes! The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!

  3. Oh, rhymsie.....very clever choice of subject for your 401st post! Just perfect! In junior high, our chorus sang "K-K-K-Katy" for a variety show, in a medley of World War I era songs.....our music teacher was elderly; she probably remembered those songs from her youth!

  4. Oh, K! :) Interesting post. Kay Starr was "big" about the time I was a senior in HS. Our Dean of Women once accompanied a group of us on a field trip during which we chanced to eat in a restaurant which was playing Kay Starr's rendition of "Wheel of Fortune." The DOW remarked that Kay Starr had a 'strident' voice. I forever after associated the word "strident" with memories of Kay Starr's vocals.

    Word verification is "ellfdom." I think that's where I'm living, these days.

  5. It's interesting to see the various things a post can bring to the minds of different readers....