Friday, January 23, 2015

You make me feel so young

This blogpost of mine is number 1400, or as we say in hexadecimal, 578.

I love hexadecimal.

Hexadecimal is just like decimal except it has six more digits. There are sixteen digits in all in hexadecimal: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F. Only then do you reach 10 in hexadecimal, which equals 16 in decimal.

It can be a little perplexing at first, but the underlying principle is just like the decimal system that you’re used to, except that hexadecimal is based on powers of 16 instead of powers of 10. That is, 100 in decimal is 10 squared, 1000 is 10 cubed, and so forth. In hexadecimal, however, 100 is 16 squared (256 decimal) and 1000 is 16 cubed (4096 decimal).

Who would ever want to count like that?

I’m glad you asked. Computer people, that’s who. Don’t ask why; just take my word for it.

Hexadecimal has its advantages. For instance, in hexadecimal, I am currently 49, not 73. And when my birthday rolls around in March, I will be able to say I am “49 and counting” for the next six years because in hexadecimal I won't turn 50 until I am 80 in decimal. In those intervening years I will actually be 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, and 4F, but it is easier to just say “49 and counting” than to try to explain it to you decimal system people.

When I turned 50, I told all my colleagues that I was only 32 in hexadecimal, so they presented me with a cake with X‘32’ written in the frosting on top. The fact that it was part of an epitaph on a tombstone, indicating that I might be over the hill, is beside the point.

Here is an equivalence chart so that you may henceforth identify your age in hexadecimal:

If you are 16 years old, you are only 10 in hexadecimal.
If you are 17 through 25, you are 11 through 19 in hexadecimal.
If you are 26 through 31, you are “19 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 32 through 41, you are 20 through 29 in hexadecimal.
If you are 42 through 47, you are “29 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 48 through 57, you are 30 through 39 in hexadecimal.
If you are 58 through 63, you are “39 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 64 through 73, you are 40 through 49 in hexadecimal.
If you are 74 through 79, you are “49 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 80 through 89, you are 50 through 59 in hexadecimal.
If you are 90 through 95, you are “59 and counting” in hexadecimal.
And only when you are 96 will you finally be 60 in hexadecimal.

I repeat, I love hexadecimal.

Today’s bit of trivia: In the movie Avatar, the Na'vis on Pandora used the octal system (base 8) because they had only four fingers on each hand.


Update, January 24th: Everyone who is bewildered by hexadecimal can just watch Michael Bublé singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" (3:06) instead. Then, at least, you will know how hexadecimal makes me feel. You should ignore the ironic fact that Michael Bublé is young and therefore singing this particular song at this particular time in his life is downright silly.


  1. Tom Lehrer said that years ago in a song called "New Math". "Base 8 is just like base 10, if you're missing two fingers."

  2. Maths (any of it) makes my brain hurt. Both cells.

  3. I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Is there going to be a test after this? Because I don't get it. I'm going to need a tutor. And some coffee.

  4. This post is beyond my Jemima. *laughs*
    I see numbers much like dyslexic people see letters. I can barely add up. I have other good points that make up for this mind you hahaha.

  5. lol Well I have to say I learned something today.

  6. Oh la la! That is one tough post! I need a translation ….

  7. While I usually regret not reading your blog on a daily basis, I'm glad I put this one off until today, as I have been busy working on year end church business and tax reports. I have a hard enough time with straight addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Just reading about hexadecimal made my eyes cross! But... it's OK with me if you love it. There is no accounting for....hehehe ...hexadecimal.

  8. Pat in Arkansas, did you know that hexadecimal is a handy shorthand way of expressing binary code? Wouldn't you rather read '2AF3' than '0010101011110011'?

  9. Ah, I like this numbers method - means I'm '49 and counting', NOT 'over the hill' and sliding down fast like a well-greased zipper.