Celebrating a Trivial Pursuit at the 100 Mark

Celebrating a Trivial Pursuit at the 100 Mark
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“One hundred bottles of beer on the wall,

One hundred bottles of beer!

Take one down,

Pass it around,

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall!”

That ditty was invariably sung, in unison, on all bus rides associated with school field trips or club events of my youth. It served the purpose of effecting a natural, collective intoxication on a group of youngsters otherwise predisposed to loud grousing about the monotonous transit.

I imagine that the cacophonous chorus imparted a hangover-like response among the adult chaperones. Whether a member of the proud performers or the suffering audience, 100 was a lot of verses. 

The number 100 is often paired with an occurrence deemed significant. Curiously, it is both the sum of the first nine prime numbers as well as the sum of the cubes of the first four positive integers.

In natural science, it represents two key transition points. On the Celsius temperature scale, 100 degrees is the boiling temperature of water. The Kármán line lies at an altitude of 100 kilometers above the Earth’s sea level and is commonly used to define the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.

There is biblical relevance as well. On Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the shofar, a ram’s horn, is blasted 100 times during the synagogue service, as instructed in the book of Leviticus.

One hundred also is a defining number in the world of sports. It is the length, in yards, of an American football field. It is the record number of points scored in one NBA game by a single player, set by Wilt Chamberlain. In the Olympics, there are eight individual running events, yet only the winner of the 100-meter dash is considered the world’s fastest human.

When expressed as a percentage, 100 defines the maximum in terms of effort or certainty. Of course, it is the pinnacle of scholastic test achievement.

One hundred has such a robust connotation that it is occasionally deployed in contrived fashions. A president is judged on their 100 days in office. Time magazine annually lists its 100 most influential people. Billboard has a similar ranking of music singles. The game show “Family Feud” stops its surveying at 100. Unlike Dalmatians, if you’re 101st, you’re not worthy of consideration or mention. You’re relegated to trivia.

Speaking of a contrived, trivial event, this marks my 100th column for ALS News Today. Devoid of importance, it is only noteworthy for its improbability. The over/under bet for extended ALS survival always carries long odds. And if someone were to suggest that I could forage and find 100 topics, I’d have literally laughed out loud. 

Admittedly, the parent company of ALS News Today, BioNews, has allowed me ample thematic open-field running. They have approved every subject that my oft-kooky brain conjures up, ranging from a lay analysis of purported groundbreaking legislation to a James Bond flight of fancy. I can also — within context and as appropriate — objectively state how my Christian faith has aided me in coping with ALS.

Along the way, I’ve benefited from patient, instructive, and gifted editors. I’ve made new friends. I’ve reconnected with old ones, a circumstance otherwise impossible. 

Reader commentary has, by and large, been generous. Those moved to offer a contrary viewpoint have done so fairly and without malice. The research effort ordinarily accompanying each column has expanded both my knowledge base and worldview.

Last week, a number of content contributors, including me, were asked to state our ultimate goal at BioNews. When I initially thought about writing, it was motivated by a desire to share what might prove beneficial to others. For example, my first submission focused on securing Medicare coverage for ongoing home aide care.

Increasingly, over time, and coincidental with becoming a near mute, my “goal” has morphed into one much more self-serving. As ALS has been relentlessly purging me of vocal exchange, isolation and loneliness are eager to fill the vacuum left behind.

I write, in part, because I can no longer speak. It’s one way that I still can scratch the itch for community and fellowship. I write pieces at BioNews for the same reason I was originally drawn to reading them. I crave dialogue with supportive and empathetic folks who get me and my plight. 

One year out of college, two friends and I bought a house together. The decision served its purpose: The equity increased, while our income tax burden shrank. 

It also had an unintended social consequence. The house, dubbed “Funky Town,” became party central. We celebrated everything. One time, we hosted a shindig paying tribute in absentia to nondescript journeyman baseball player Don Nottebart on the occasion of his birthday. Nothing was too meager for us to raise a glass to.

In that same spirit, please join me in toasting a trivial writing pursuit. After all, there are 99 beers left.

***

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.

Rick is a 62-year-old man who was diagnosed with ALS in January 2007. Currently a resident of Southwest Florida, he has lived in four other metropolitan areas, but greater Chicagoland will always be “home.” Rick is a degreed engineer, spending his career in the medical device industry. He’s had the good fortune of extensive travel throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. He writes, in part, to be an ALS advocate. Additionally, it is his hope that his output will help dispel the myth that technical folk and digestible prose aren’t mutually exclusive.
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Rick is a 62-year-old man who was diagnosed with ALS in January 2007. Currently a resident of Southwest Florida, he has lived in four other metropolitan areas, but greater Chicagoland will always be “home.” Rick is a degreed engineer, spending his career in the medical device industry. He’s had the good fortune of extensive travel throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. He writes, in part, to be an ALS advocate. Additionally, it is his hope that his output will help dispel the myth that technical folk and digestible prose aren’t mutually exclusive.
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