Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Zero Day

Zero Day

A day in which no miles are hiked, usually because the hiker is stopping in a town to refit or resupply or rest, or all of the above, or maybe just to screw off for a while, while eating a lot. It can get to be a habit, something to look forward to.

Example: Ed took so many zero days it was like he was hiking backward.

Or a zero may be spent in the woods to just relax for awhile.

A day without hiking. When zero miles are covered. A day dedicated to bathing, laundry, refitting, resupply, screwing off, mindless sloth, and gorging on town food. Definitely a no-hiking day.

But it's a complex subject. For example, what is this zero thing anyway? Is it a thing or a non-thing? How much does it weigh? What color is it? Does it have a telltale aroma? Is it only for the educated, or can the rest of us learn to use it, and will use of the "zero" make us smarter, or will we just feel smarter? Or will we feel dumber? Dumber? Is that a word? Have you looked at it lately? How odd. Isn't it odd? How should it even be pronounced? Dumbr?

From Proto-Germanic "dumbaz", right? Sounds about right, doesn't it? Dumbaz. Even farther back, it's from the Proto-Indo-European root meaning "confusion, stupefaction, dizziness". Yep, and going back even farther, it came from an expression about "dust, mist, vapor, smoke", also expressing related notions of "defective perception or wits".

Another yep. Thanks, Online Etymology Dictionary, but I'm still hungry.

So, the story goes that by 1770 BC, the Egyptians had a symbol for zero in their accounting texts. The symbol was called "nfr", and it meant "beautiful". Beautiful zero. Kinda fits. Beautiful lovely zero. Hike a while, get pooped, drop in for a refreshing taste of zero. Beautiful.

Beautiful, and you get to do your laundry while you're at it. No actual calculation needed, just wave your hands a bit and declare a minor truce. Say that you need it, really need it, so you're going to claim it, and do it.

The ancient Greeks had no symbol for zero, and did not use a digit placeholder for it. They seemed unsure about the status of zero as a number. They asked themselves, "How can nothing be something?", leading to philosophical and, by the medieval period, religious arguments about the nature and existence of zero and the vacuum.

Thanks, Wikipedia. It's always nice to imagine ancient Greeks arguing about the nature of zero and the vacuum. Helps me get to sleep at night. It's like taking a no-credit class in something that no one cares about, a class that will make no difference in your life at all, and then sitting there and gently losing consciousness while no one notices. Or cares. And with no repercussions, no after-images, no echoes, no regrets. Zero.

Nothing. Zero to none.

Zip, zilch, zero, nothing, nada, bupkiss. All the same, to no effect, just like thru-hiking.

Yes, thru-hiking is an achievement, a fundamentally transforming one for many, but also, in the end, amounts to nothing. Only a vague series of fading memories which always in the end reduce to zero. Just like life.

So nice.

Gently zero me out then. I can handle it. I'll be grateful, and happy, forever and after.


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