Hickory exchange

The squirrels have been at it again, this time chewing up telephone stuff on the pole so that dial tones begin disappearing shortly after a downpour begins and don’t return until whatever the squirrels have allowed to get wet dries out. Even if there is a dial tone, there’s a crackle on the line so that it’s difficult for people at the other end to hear and almost impossible to send a fax. I thought it was just us, something to do with enjoying original everything in our house, but, no, it had been happening to people for a couple of blocks around. Some of us didn’t know that others of us were experiencing this until it was revealed on the neighborhood listserv. When I swung by around lunchtime yesterday to talk to the crew working on the problem and add us to the list of the affected, I was entertained to learn that at least some of them still refer to areas of Austin by the old exchange names. My neighborhood was traditionally HIckory (for instance, instead of giving your telephone number as 443-0000, it would be HIckory 3-0000) and I think I can remember that there was an EVergreen. I know that, if I were to look at an old telephone directory at the Austin History Center, I’d see others. It was certainly easier to remember telephone numbers when there were just five numerals, along with two letters, instead of seven. The names live on in the world of telephony.

3 Comments so far

  1. bob dolemite (unregistered) on October 24th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    “It was certainly easier to remember telephone numbers when there were just five numerals, along with two letters, instead of seven.”

    it might be the fact that i’m sober right now, but i’m pretty sure that five numerals + two letters = seven.

    that being the case, it’s not easier to remember seven things instead of seven things.

    just an fyi…

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on October 24th, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    For some people it’s easier to remember seven letters than it is to remember a seven-digit string of numbers; for others, it’s easier to remember seven numbers than it is to remember seven letters. If two of the seven items to be recalled are letters and not numbers, that’s an improvement for those deficient in number-memorizing abilities. Given a choice of seven paper clips to carry or seven 20-pound weights, the person who’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger would select the paper clips. Either burden would consist of seven items, but one would would be much easier for most people to carry than the other one would.

  3. bob dolemite (unregistered) on October 24th, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

    sorry but that sounds like pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo. luckily, i’m still sober and like real science.

    in cognitive psychology, working memory is considered to have a limited capacity. the standard quantification is the “magical number seven” for cognitive and perceptual tasks.

    early studies showed that the channel capacity was around seven elements regardless of whether they are digits, letters, words or other units. further research showed some variance, +/-2, in that capacity (seven for digits, six for letters). while lexical status can affect capacity, in this case there are no words just letters and/or digits.

    your attempt to equate lifting objects to remembering things is nonsensical. you are trying to compare physical ability to cognitive ability. in this case, a seven element sequence is just a seven element sequence to the mind. the physical properties of those elements have no bearing at all.

    as such, science seems to show that seven digits might actually be easier to remember but at worst it is equivalent to a combination of seven digits and letters.

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