# Cosmic

Cosmic: (adj) of or relating to the cosmos

When I was in the first grade and they presented math problems for addition—like 4 + 3 and 2 + 7—I did them, believing that when I finished, I would know everything about mathematics.

They didn’t tell me that subtraction was next.

They might have scared me off if they had talked about multiplication.

And, well, division is so divisive.

If they had shared that by the time I was in high school I would be studying something called calculus, which is mathematics taken almost to the realm of ethereal religion, I might have lost heart in the whole process—or stupidly, tried to jump ahead and take on “the big one.”

That’s the way I feel about people who are involved in religion, spirituality and the cosmic.

Here we have a beautiful Earth to learn, add up, subtract, multiply and even occasionally divide up into parts, and we are still tempted to study the heavens, the gods, the stars and the universal spectrum.

It doesn’t make us better people.

It certainly can make us self-righteous.

And in the long run, it pushes others away, who might like to have a conversation with us if it weren’t laced with “angels, planets and demons.”

There certainly is a cosmos.

But it seems to me that we should eat the plate that is set before us before we start ordering other things off the menu.

For our Earth is in great need of being befriended by those with bigger brains than the creatures who live in the jungle.

If we spend too much time looking at the stars, the Earth might turn into dust at our feet.

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# Arithmetic

Arithmetic: (n) the branch of mathematics dealing with the manipulation and properties of numbers.

Arithmetic is definitely one of them.

It is one of the four basic skills required to maintain an adult life without constantly looking inept.

I wish I had known that when I was in high school. But fortunately, I did learn enough addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to handle my finance and everyday activities without always requiring a calculator in my hand, with numbers too tiny to punch.

Would you be curious about the other three?

Yes, often people ask us to read aloud–and if we stumble over words or are too slow, it is immediately surmised that we are mentally challenged.

3. Writing. Although grammar can be a naughty mistress or a nagging wife, there are certain qualifications necessary to be part of the human family. One should know that “you are,” as a contraction, is spelled y-o-u’r-e, not y-o-u-r.

If you are not familiar with several of these common mishaps-in-print, you will be laughed at by the snobs and bewilder the kinder folk.

4. Can you make a two-minute speech on your feet without spending 72 seconds of it explaining why you’re not good at it? We are a gregarious race, and demand that those around us have the ability to articulate their feelings without having too many a-a-h-s, umms, or … what was I saying?

Arithmetic is very important. Without it, things just don’t add up.

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

# Acalculia

by J. R. Practix

Acalculia: {n.} loss of the ability to perform simple arithmetic calculations, typically resulting from disease or injury of the parietal lobe of the brain.

Bob, Frank and I decided to go out for an evening.

The four of us came to the quick conclusion that if we left at seven o’clock and closed the evening out at twelve, we could have six hours of enjoyment.

You might think it odd, but we began the excursion by picking up a dozen doughnuts and splitting them evenly among the four of us–five each.

We went out and bought a pizza, which cost twenty dollars, and split it, which remarkably, was only six dollars a person.

At the end of the night, we realized we should reimburse the gas in Bob’s car, so we bought gasoline at \$3.48 a gallon, putting ten dollars in the tank, giving us seven gallons.

We had such a good time that we decided to do it every week. So it was concluded that five days from that time, we would get together again, and Bob, Frank and I–all four of us–would go out from seven to twelve (for six hours), probably buying that dozen doughnuts, granting us five each, to spend no more than ten dollars of gas, which would provide seven gallons.

Everything seemed to be going along real well until the second week, when for some inexplicable reason, we found ourselves arguing … because things just didn’t add up.

# Abacus

by J. R. Practix

Abacus:  An oblong frame with rows of wires or grooves, along which beads are slid, used for calculating.

I’ve heard of these things. I’m not so sure I’ve ever actually been in the presence of one. Listen to me go on. . . “Presence of one…”

It’s not exactly an alligator or the Queen of England. I always thought the Chinese used it for calculating–and since my society universally believes the Chinese are good calculators, I guess an abacus is quite efficient.

It looks complicated. It looks like one of those games advertised by Milton Bradley, with moving pieces that have seven pages of directions and you find yourself baffled by the second paragraph.

Can I be the first one to say that I think the calculator may be one of the greatest inventions ever known to man? It comes in second behind the fork. Never underestimate the power of that utensil.

Boy, that got me thinking. I gave such an importance to the fork, and left out toilet paper. I sometimes get picky about toilet tissue. It’s amazing how valuable it is, though,  even if it’s a second cousin to sand paper.

Anyway, back to the abacus. I was never good in math. I mean, I did great with long addition, subtraction, division, multiplication. But then, when it had to be explained instead of ciphered, with algebra, geometry, and we shall not even mention calculus, I started feeling like the last monkey staring across the plain at a group of humans building a fire. In other words, I saw the need, appreciated the effort, but had no way of fathoming the process.

I probably should go out, find an abacus and enlighten myself on its value, but instead, I think I’ll just go to the store and purchase a calculator.