minutia press.
Crisis mode

If the probability of a crisis happening at some particular region in time is p, then the probability of n independent crises happening in that same region should drop exponentially with n.

Most of us walk around smug in the fact that, while bad things can and will happen, a pile of n bad things happening within a given time window gets much less likely as n grows large.

Until recently, I counted myself amongst the smug cognescenti. But over the past few weeks, I have had to deal with four relatively major crises from four very different and unrelated aspects of my life.

I could dwell on the crises, but it's more fun to dwell on the math. While the chance of all those things happening in the past weeks is small, it is nonetheless greater than zero, and therefore, possible.

Reawakened to the possibilities of the improbable, I now want to buy a lottery ticket, bet on the Blues making the Stanley Cup playoffs, and enter the American Idol contest.


My children keep trying to tell me that every toss of a coin has a 50/50 probability of being either heads or tails and while I understand what they're saying with my brain, my gut still feels that if you have a run of tails...say four or so...you're just bound to be due for heads. So I will be wishing you a change of luck, now. (Kids can be such know-it-alls...)

Posted by: Elaine at October 4, 2007 7:31 AM


Posted by: rkc at October 4, 2007 8:28 PM

I'm where you are right now. How could I get the report of two serious illnesses in two close family members on the same day within 5 hours of each other, sandwiched with the news that my godmother died? One month later, on the same day, I find that what was anticipated as a terminal illness is now a genetic disorder -- not terminal -- and the other prognosis is still the same, but we are closer to treatment options. I was waiting for the call that my godmother was actually alive . . . no such luck. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad!

Posted by: Dana at October 9, 2007 12:44 PM