Tag Archives: black box

This one’s all over the place because I wrote it during turbulence.

16 Aug

[This was written on my way to Australia, but I’m just getting around to posting it. More on Australia itself soon.]

I’m not a fan of flying. I’m always about 50% convinced I’ll end up on the wrong side of the statistics. I know, I know. You’re going to tell me that flying is safer than driving a car, and that the odds of being in a plane that crashes are almost as great as winning the MegaBucks Lottery.

Thanks, Mr. Statistician. I’d like to tell you a few reasons I’m convinced the normal laws of probability don’t apply to me.

First: I got hit by a car earlier this year. (You’re probably tired of hearing about it, but you try hitting someone’s windshield and flying off their roof and tell me if you don’t feel compelled to work it into conversation occasionally.)

I’d wager that the odds of getting hit by a car are pretty slim. And surviving it with only a concussion and bruising? Even slimmer. Which is to say: I don’t mistake probabilities for assurance.

And then there’s the time when I was in sixth grade and our family vacationed at Jeckyll Island, Georgia. My dad and I were out in the waves, swimming, and I kept grabbing onto him because I wouldn’t let my feet touch the bottom. A clingy kid isn’t a ton of fun, so it’s no surprise that he started to give me a somewhat stern lecture.

“Babe, you really need to stop grabbing onto me. Just put your feet on the bottom. It’s sandy. There’s nothing here that – ARRRGH!”

His lecture was cut short as he hollered, scowled and began jumping up and down. When he finally lifted his foot above the water line, there was a large crab claw pinching his heel. The body was gone (apparently it had been shaken off) but the claw hung there, precisely summarizing why I wouldn’t touch bottom.

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