Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Jinx Effect

[A moderately silly one, but I did put it together in my head while SLOWLY jogging home from the pool.  So I chalk another one up in the "brain beginning to show signs of functioning" column.  On the physical front, things have been progressing quite significantly over the past few weeks, especially in my right shoulder and hips.  So much movement, or "adjustments," that they can be left in postures never before attainable, which I presume to be much closer to "normal" than ever.  Muscle memory still pulls them back, but it is huge progress, nonetheless.]

I do not believe in coincidence.

This is not to say that I see a direct (or even indirect) relationships between any two variables with something in common.  I just think that if you extrapolate back far enough, a "coincidence" just is what it is, two things happening with some common nexus.

Take the jinx, for example.  Better yet, I'll use the "announcer's jinx."  A sportscast announcer points out that the basketball player taking a free throw has made his last 23 free throws, and on cue, the player misses the next one.  Or rather, a mlb baseball team has pitched 38 scoreless innings against a rival club, the announcers bring it up and show the club record which will occur with one more scoreless inning, and on cue, the rival team scores moments later.  In both instances, the fans blame the announcers.

I know I do.

Yet, when a player has made 23 consecutive free throws, he is due to miss.  When a baseball team has kept another team scoreless for 38 innings, runs are definitely on the horizon.  Humans are playing the games, after all, and straight statistics do not apply. 

It is not like rolling a six sided die where you always have a 5 out of 6 chance to not roll a certain number (or better yet, it's not this classic from Tom Stoppard - skip the 13 seconds of credits if you are impatient, and enjoy).  More variables than chance are in play.  Notably, the players tend to be aware of the streak, interfering with their normal routine mentally and thereby physically.

*     *     *     *     *

This takes me back to last night, talking to a fellow parent at our children's swim class, which takes place at the aquatics facility where I swim.  Because of some nexus, I told her about my first swimming experience at the pool . . .

I had been in dire need of swimming for physical therapy purposes for some time, nearly two years.  The drive to the Sacramento YMCA had become too much to handle long ago.  The new local high school had been under construction for nearly three years (the location of the aquatics facility), and I had patiently awaited the pool's public opening, though I grew excitedly anxious (or anxiously excited) as the opening approached.

I was there on day one, a cold and rainy mid-morning I wouldn't even consider going out in now.  I drove there, put on my swim suit in the new shiny locker room (what an upgrade from the YMCA!), and quickly slid into the pool to get out of the cold and rain.  Back in the water, I felt hope again.

Not three laps into warming up, some kid in the adjacent school pulled the fire alarm.  Coincidence or a predictable happenstance given several mid-term exams had been scheduled for the day?

I had to get out of the pool.  I grabbed my towel, and headed for the parking lot, where the towel, already soaked by me, became more wet and cold from the rain.  I started to freeze.  Fortunately, only two of us had been swimming right when the pool opened, and the lifeguard was able to run in and grab an extra parka for each of us. 

So I only half froze, having a miserable experience both mentally and physically for my first day at the new pool.

Granted, I did not go nearly into this amount of detail when I told the tale last night.  Yet, as I have no real friends other than my wife's friends (of which this was one), she listened politely as I blathered.

*     *     *     *     *

And so I come back to jinxes and coincidence after the fire alarm went off again this morning during my swim, a half day after I brought up the tale, which I had not spoken of in three years or more.

The San Francisco Giants are playing an afternoon game today (right now, actually, and losing - sigh).  I headed to the pool early to be sure and make it home to watch Hunter Pence in his second game as a Giant.  Things were going so well at the pool, too.  I started with an 800m Breaststroke (I usually go only 300m to 500m) and then 500m of kicking.  I was getting ready to not only do my first mile total in quite some time, I was thinking about 2000m total. 

Then, the alarm . . .

And on top of it, I was late home for the start of the game.

*     *     *     *     *

As I sat in the grass outside the aquatic center waiting for the fire truck to come and give the okay to return to the pool (unlike everyone else, I refused to go out into the parking lot barefoot and without glasses), I could not help but realize I caused the alarm.  A jinx.

Now, I don't believe in coincidence.  Yet, school was not in session, not even summer school.

Clearly, I just need more information to extrapolate back and see the rationality of it all.  Yet, knowing this hasn't stop me from wondering if someone running The Matrix is messing with me.

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