Is anything really random? Does the interconnectedness of life preclude that anything is accidental or coincidental? Can one person who has an obsessive tendency to make sure lights not in use are turned off really save the planet? Ray Bradbury, scifi writer extraordinaire, once suggested that it is possible. In “A Sound of Thunder,” a man travels back through time to the age of dinosaurs. Although he is cautioned about remaining on the path during his visit, he doesn’t. And the dead butterfly later noticed on the sole of his shoe causes repercussions in his modern day world.
And what about chaos? Webster’s defines it as “complete disorder and confusion.” But it adds a second definition specifically linked to physics: “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.” Appear random. Small changes in conditions…
When first experimenting with the concept of chaos, Edward Lorenz discovered that minute variations can cause huge differences in data analysis. The subsequently coined Butterfly Effect is explained here:
The flapping of a single butterfly’s wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month’s time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn’t happen. Or maybe one that wasn’t going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141)
This is quite an involved way to lead into the fact that I’ve been tagged by the ever gracious techie, Phil at Thought Sparks to disclose eight random facts about myself. This one has clearly been around the block and back a bejillion times.Â The rules are (and you do know how I abhor rules, right?):
- Players start with 8 random facts about themselves
- Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts
- Players should tag 8 other people and notify them that they have been tagged.
Got it? I’ll do what I can to make it relevant, even though it’s random, and things are really never random… Are they?
- My former student, Mary, is a member of the Peace Corps, living in Honduras, and working on educational projects there. She still emails me! Mary was one of my top 8th grader writers in 1993, and a violinist with the San Diego Youth Symphony who went on to study music at UC Irvine. Now she shares her music with kids. She has a call out for pen pals to act as mentors for 12-13 year olds in Tegucigalpa, the city where she works.
- Between 12-15 magazines show up at our house monthly. We can’t figure out why 4 of them show up, because we’ve never paid for them, and never ordered them. They just come. I love magazines and always thought that if I didn’t work, I’d have time to read them. Now, we’re getting rid of the subscriptions (most of them) because I don’t read them. Think of all those trees I’ll help save.
- I was forced into Catholicism by a physically abusive step-father who ironically neglected to reference those commandments he must have had to memorize at one point in his childhood. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
- I have been known to frankly share my thoughts on religion with those bold enough to knock on my door, or walk up my driveway selling theirs. My “church” is filled with plants, animals, the ocean, the mountains, sunsets, and rainstorms. I don’t need a box, an organ, or a certain day of the week to be thankful for all I have and consider what others need.
- The concept of reincarnation fascinates me. At times in my past, the idea of becoming a rock seemed much less stressful, and far less painful. Didn’t Simon and Garfunkel write a song about that?
- I absolutely believe that if art and music were as important in school as reading and math, our country would be a far less violent place.
- The most heavenly combination of flavors that I could eat every single day is tomatoes, basil, garlic, shallots, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. And the aroma…
- Although it would be interesting to visit aspects of my childhood and early adult life again, I have never feared getting older. I relish looking forward to whatever comes my way, knowing that what I do right now, is completely connected to that eventuality.
So what can you do to leave your imprint on what comes next? To what extent are the sum of your parts woven into the future’s code? We’re waiting to hear about your 8 random facts.
I actually took the time to see whether any of you had been recently tagged by someone else…but I may have overlooked. Cheers!