A Word to the Wise: The countdown to 2012 has begun

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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Did you notice the thick fog that enveloped several of our recent nights? Every time I see such a covering as this, a line from a Sandburg poem comes to mind — “the fog comes on little cat’s feet.” The city lights normally seen from the top of Highway 50 heading down from El Dorado Hills were darkened into apparent nonexistence. Since the fog suits my melancholic personality, I took a walk around the block one night in the doubled darkness. It is a one mile circle around our neighborhood. While walking I counted 31 houses already decorated for Christmas. Which got me to thinking — why do I like counting things? Some of the things I count are trivial, even silly, like the amount of steps from here to there or the number of ceiling tiles in a waiting room. I also like counting words in the Bible when I am studying a certain book. For instance, the phrase “under the sun” appears 27 times in Ecclesiastes. Such a fact helps to interpret the message of the book. I once read the book of Proverbs through numerous times, each time counting the number of references to various topics such as anger, gossip and laziness. Julia Keay wrote an interesting book titled “Alexander the Corrector.” It is about Alexander Cruden, the man who created Cruden’s Concordance. This concordance is an invaluable resource for Bible students, as it lists where various words occur throughout the Bible. It also supplies justification for word counters like me. Then Psalm 90:12 came to mind, in which Moses asks God to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Again I felt justified for my incessant counting of things. Last Sunday in church we had the lighting of the first Advent candle, marking the first of four such ceremonies. Some people even use an Advent calendar, perhaps with some sort of prize or treat behind each door as you count down the days to Christmas. So maybe counting things is not such a mental anomaly after all. Someone once asked me, about a very elderly person’s birthday, “At what point do you stop counting?” Another question to consider is, do you ever stop counting? Speaking of such things, the day you receive this paper, Nov. 30, marks the time when only one full month remains to this wild ride known as 2011. But then again, who’s counting? Tom Rupp can be reached at