Background information

«Who decides that you can only have the volume at 29 or 31?!»

David Lee
Support: Luca Fontana
Translation: Megan Cornish

Luca’s got 99 problems, but he'd rather have 100. You see, his main problem is odd numbers. They drive him around the bend. This is a chat about life’s intolerable irregularities.

I hadn't actually planned to do another interview about weird behaviours. But then Luca mentioned in our chat that he sometimes writes the wrong date «just so it’s a nice, round number.» Wait, what? Meet Luca Fontana, well-known TV expert and lesser-known number neurotic.

Luca, does it bother you that I’ve started this interview at 1.59 p.m.?
Less balanced people than me would view this as bullying. But I don't take offence. Having said that, I'd rather have started at 2 p.m. Like normal people do.

So what’s so much better about a round number?
It’s just... more complete. 1.59 p.m. isn’t 2 p.m. It puts me under pressure. As if I have to check the time every few minutes. The round hour is harmonious. Orderly. Neat. Complete. The 59 in 1.59 p.m. is none of those things.

Are odd numbers just ugly, or do they actually stress you out?
I used to have to take the S12 train to the office at 7.32 a.m. The bus to the train station left my bus stop at 7.17 a.m. The only nice, round number that I could control was leaving the house at 7.10 a.m. Ugh. What kind of monster draws up a timetable like that? Why can’t the S10 be at 7.30 a.m.?!

Because the S10 is needed somewhere else?
Exactly. That’s why I don't take the train anymore. I can take my car wherever I want, whenever I want. In other words, at 7.30 a.m.

I prefer 64 to 65 – it’s easier to divide...
You’re also the kind of monster who starts an interview at 1.59 p.m. So I take it you’ve got me where you wanted me?

I'm only trying to understand the problem – as far as it actually is one. Do you find it problematic? Does it affect your day-to-day life?
Not at all. I think it’s completely normal for my subconscious to try to bring order into my everyday life. I don't really pay attention to what I’m doing and feel totally normal.

Well I don’t entirely believe you on that. You’ve said that you end up on the treadmill for ages because either the calorie count or the time isn’t right...
That's true. If I say that I’ll run on the treadmill for 20 minutes and after 20 minutes I see that I've burned 243 calories, I'll keeping running for a bit until I reach 250 calories. But if I see that I've been running for 23 minutes, I'll run for a bit longer until I reach 25 minutes. But that messes up the calorie count...

That sounds horrendous!
Maybe it’s a playful way for my subconscious to deal with life’s unpredictability.

So it doesn’t indicate a deeper problem?
Now you mention it... I can only change the volume of my Sonos system two levels at a time on my Sony remote. Level 30 would be perfect, but I can only have it at 29 or 31. It’s a nightmare. So I set it at 35. It almost destroys my eardrums, but at least the number 35 gives me inner peace. It’s worth it. Maybe it is a problem. But honestly: who decides that you can only change the volume two levels at a time?!

For odd numbers, you mean. It really gets to me. 0, 1, 3, It’s just wrong.

The struggle is real
The struggle is real

What's better: a 90-degree angle or a 100-degree angle?
A 90-degree angle. Obviously.

Why? 100 is a great number...
Tell that to my protractor!

So, are you bothered by diagonal lines and general disorder?
I try not to step on the grouting when I walk on tiles. If I use a zebra crossing, I avoid stepping on and between the yellow stripes. Either or. I’d say that I’m triggered by lines and disorder, even if I don’t completely understand how. I also eat my croissant in a very specific order. Want to hear it?

Of course.
First, I pull off the crispy bit from the middle. Then I eat both ends: left then right. I freestyle the rest from there.

Right and, erm, that makes you feel that you’ve got your life under control a bit?
Like I said, life is unpredictable. I can’t control everything. But I can definitely control how I eat my croissant. It’s a soothing feeling.

Do you see your behaviour as crazy or absurd?
Everyone has some quirk or other. As long as it doesn’t have a big impact on your everyday life, it’s fine. I know someone who, when he sucks up a spider with the vacuum cleaner, always has to follow it with a coin to kill it. I wonder how much money there is in his vacuum cleaner...

Windows 10 is the software’s forever OS. Should all manufacturers do the same?
I’d endorse this immediately and give it pride of place in the federal constitution, even above people’s rights and freedoms.

Well that’s a good note to end on, but it's 2.24 p.m. We can finish up now, right?
Wait... wait... now. Now we can stop. It’s 2.25 p.m.

I’d have liked to ask one more question...

Are you looking forward to your 50th birthday?
I’m actually looking forward to it a lot more than my 49th. I’m also looking forward to my 65th much more than my 64th. Luckily, that's the retirement age for men. Right, it's 2.26 p.m... you know we’ll have to carry on until 2.30 p.m. now, don’t you?

Yes, I’d worked that out.
So you understand?

(Thinks about it for four minutes) The What isn’t hard to understand;it’s the Why. Anyway, thank you for the insight into things that we don’t usually like to talk about!
Thank you for being thoughtful and ending the interview at 2.30 p.m.!

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My interest in IT and writing landed me in tech journalism early on (2000). I want to know how we can use technology without being used. Outside of the office, I’m a keen musician who makes up for lacking talent with excessive enthusiasm.

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