punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Do bad things always come in threes? Plus: Finding patterns and resolution

I don't know if bad things always come in threes or not, but I have noticed:

- Celebrity deaths seem to clump together
- Plane crashes also seem to happen close to one another
- Bad luck definitely has denser periods than normal

I have lived long enough to noticed that bad things usually clump together, and I am not sure why that is. And while I can't say it's always in "threes" or "pairs" or whatever, it does come in groups or what I have started referring to as "waves." I look back at my diaries and see this. I have two sets of bad luck waves: the big and the small.

The small waves happen like this: You go to work, you spill coffee on your keyboard and mouse. You get spares, and later, your boss walks in and thinks you've been goofing off when you were supposed to be working. Turns out he accidentally deleted your e-mail reports with his spam filter. Then your sister calls and starts screaming that she's sick of dealing with mother all the time, and now it's your turn. Then lunch. Often the small waves have little long-term impact.

The big waves are very much worse. My most recent that's still in my memory was the period from September until February of 2001. In a post-Sweden "I miss my family" wave, some jerks fly planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and mails anthrax everywhere. Then my wife breaks her ankles falling down stairs. Then my cat Oreo dies a slow and painful death, and it ends with me having double-lung pneumonia. All in six months. I look at my diaries and see more patterns, which is why this year I am going to try and keep a better blog.

Now, I have approached it as "perception," but the last part of 2001 was definitely not in my head. Any one of those events would have ruined my year on their own, but looking back at everything, even my writing from back then, it was obvious a wave of... well, I hate to say "evil," because that assumes consciousness, but just a wave of bad things. Why does this happen?

My dyslexic/creative brain is looking for a pattern. This stems form my type of childhood, where I learned from peer counseling sessions that often people in loss of control try and find control, and that starts superstitions. My childhood was out of control. My parents' moods and attitudes changed daily, there was no way to tell what I would walk into at home. The distinct ability to detect subtle nuances and patterns kept me from having a terrible childhood turn into a deadly one. You knew around report card time, bullies were at their worst, so you make path changes when you walk home. Bullies tended to hang out where traffic was high, but they could still remain hidden, usually behind a fence where there was a space to drag victims and beat the living snot out of them. They never hung out much in forests or creek beds, unless they were lighting matches or drinking beer. So I changed my paths. I was rewarded early on for finding patterns. Now as an adult, I can usually detect when people are angry, or when coworkers might be at their worst (Mondays, coffee maker busted, better hide out in the lab). I have also learned that my boss takes Mondays and Tuesdays off more than any other day of the week, so I plan my projects accordingly (no, not to avoid him, but not do projects where I need his input on Monday or Tuesday).

But I am always looking for the bigger plan. I excelled in Meteorology, and worked with an Earth Science teacher as his lab assistant one year. He was very happy to have me as an assistant, because while most of his student assistants always blew him off, I could predict ahead of time what he might need or want for the next class, and have it ready, and inform him of it. We'd spend after school hours discussing weather patterns and making bets on what will happen in seven days (we usually were both right, but he was a little better at predicting mountain effects). I am really good with weather and spacial relations, and from a 24-hour satellite photo can predict the weather for the next few days with the same accuracy of a news weather man (about 90%), even at a casual glance (but only for the US central east coast, don't ask me to predict what will happen in France and the UK... I dunno). So when I got older, and started looking at macro patterns in life...

I see patterns in how people evolve. Personalities and opinions are usually too hazardous to guess, but the general picture is that I would forgive an 18 year old for saying something totally stupid more than a 35 year old. It's just a matter of experience.

Many years ago, I tried to describe the though processes of animals to someone who just assumed they were "dumb." I said it like this:

In the computer world, we have a term called "resolution." Resolution means how many tiny blocks of color can fit into one picture. Now say you are asked to make a replica of something you saw with a bunch of child's blocks and a square meter of display space. Say you saw the Eiffel Tower. The blocks you are given are ten ordinary wooden blocks. Pretty tough, huh? Unless you are a genius, I bet if you asked anyone else what you have created, they might only say "A pile" or "a tower of some kind." Now suppose you were given a thousand smaller blocks. Now you could make a better picture. Maybe a few people will guess the Eiffel Tower. Now say you were given a million, and a tool to put up hundreds of blacks in one stroke. Now most people will guess, even if you are a bad artist, what you made.

Animals have only a few blocks. A slug has light and dark, hot or cold, wet or dry, food and not food, mateable or not. I am sure they have a few more, but slugs are pretty basic. They don't have a brain to understand abstract concepts like speech and emotions. Now dogs and cats do. That comes from the fact that dogs and cats are hunters, and have to take in a lot of information to find and kill prey. They have many more blocks, and can understand a crude form of communication with each other and other species like humans. Humans have a LOT of blocks. They can make art, do math, postulate things like "why" and "howcome?" This not only comes from experience, but human communication is so advanced, they can learn from other's experiences, even if they never saw what was being described. You, in fact, are doing it right now. You are reading my thoughts, and (hopefully) understanding my experiences and lessons even though you were not here to witness them by only using abstract patterns called "letters." Humans value information, it makes us grow.

So what does this have to do with patterns? As time goes by, we all gain more blocks. This is called experience. Sometimes, we actually try and re-arrange these blocks like part of a puzzle. have you ever worked on a puzzle where you didn't have the box to see the final picture? Life is like that. As we get older, we begin to find all the edge pieces, and start filling in the middle parts. We can only do this if we see patterns, and even if we don't know what they mean, we can make theories based on other patterns.

So when I see bad things happen in clumps, I try and theorize what is going on. Some blame these things on God or the Devil, but that seems too simplistic. Before we had radar and satellites, or even thermometers and barometers, weather was a lot of guesswork. It seemed that weather just came and did what it pleased, and changed or didn't from day to day. All you knew were seasons and some patterns, like snow usually comes in the winter, tornados happen in the fall, and so on. And most people only paid attention to stuff that mattered, like crops and when to harvest. Living in the microcosm, and not in the macrocosm. Now we can see patterns, and have enough data, past experience to predict the future.

I am living living in the world's microcosm, seeing these crude patterns of bad and good, wondering how to define it, and ultimately predict it.

"Ha," says God. "Good luck!"

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000009.html
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