Okay, give up?  Want to know what 23 is? 

January 1, 2011, or 01/01/11, or 010111 is twenty-three in binary.

Wait, what?

I was introduced to the concept of counting in binary by my evil Facility Manager, Ducky.  She would flip me, her assistant Facility Manager, the secretary, the chair, the Xerox machine- anyone that pissed her off- the bird on a regular basis and yell “Fore!” when she did it.  Being that she was a golfer, I always assumed it had something to do with her game.

I finally asked her about it.

It wasn’t “Fore!” she yelled out viciously, it was “Four!”  Seems she was taught by someone in a bar somewhere how to count the binary on her fingers.  For those non-geeks out there, binary is the method of counting using only zeros and ones.  Each digit in a binary number system represents a power of two. The first digit on the right represents the 0th power, the second represents the 1st power, the third represents the 2nd power, and so on. So the number 1 in the decimal system is represented also as 1 in the binary system. The number 23, by contrast, is represented as 10111 (16+0+4+2+1).


Anyway, that someone in a bar somewhere taught this nut how to count to 31 on one hand using the binary system.  Since I’m just getting over being sick (and tired) and just not all that interested to put the time into explaining when there are much better sites out there to do so, look at this site.  It explains all…

Fun, huh?  Of course, Ducky never realized what she started when she taught me and then I went home and taught the girls.  Seems she didn’t know the true potential of finger counting binary- her limited sight let her see only to 31.  If she wasn’t too drunk, I’m sure she would have remembered her tutor mentioning that you could count to up to 1,023 both hands!  When I showed the girls, I transitioned to the other hand for 32 but got it all wrong, so I did a little internet research and found a website and a really nice man to explain the jump from one hand to another.  His email back to me:

Hey, Susan-

If you only made it to 59, you didn’t progress to 32 for the pinky of the left hand (if you’re right-handed). If these are fingers (palms facing you):

 |||||  |||||


this is the pinky of your left hand and its value is 32 (since the right hand starting from the thumb is 1 2 4 8 and 16. After you get to 31, all the fingers of the right hand make a fist (representing zero), and the pinky of the left hand comes up (just the pinky) and then you got through 1 to 31 again on the right hand.

 Here’s 32 with both hands

 —-|  —–

Notice the pinky of the left hand is the only one up.

Here’s 42:

—-|  -|-|-

which would be the 32 pinky and an 8 and a 2

Here’s 518:

|—-  –||-

which is 512 + 4 + 2

Here’s 1000:

|||||  -|—

512+256+128+64+32+8 = 1000

Hope this helps!


The girls caught on immediately and could go on and on counting.  My limited brain and I grasped the concept but couldn’t keep up with the lightning finger speed of my nine and eleven year old daughters.  They would quickly flip up the middle finger, giggle and yell “Four!” and race on to 31 and beyond. 

Thanks, Ducky.  You’ve given me binary, so every time I see a 0 or a 1 I think of you.  Whenever I flip someone off, I definitely think of you.  When I roll the dice, I often think of you, but that’s a story for another time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s