Tuesday, September 9, 2008

4 tracks...4 trains

i'm observant. like, too much. i notice things like 5 consecutive white cars, or how many stars are in the Paramount movie studio logo (26). i find patterns in numbers, floor tiles, wallpaper...my brain just likes to notice and solve. which is a little weird because i'm pretty right brained.

but there are two things...observations more than patterns that are driving me nuts (yes, dp) these days. the first is my insane ability to ride/drive/walk below El tracks while trains roar overhead. considering a train goes by every 10-15 minutes or so, my chances of catching the 5 seconds while one goes past, or 30 second while it stops and starts, pretty slim. in fact, just based on time, it makes the chances of walking under something like 1 in 60...based on 120 5 second segments in a 10 minute time frame, divided by 2 for trains running in opposite directions. obviously the stopping trains take longer, but then trains probably run more like every 15-20 minutes on average.

so...that around a 1.6% chance of being under the tracks during a passing train. but i am running considerably higher than that. in fact, i'd put my percentage somewhere around 50%. and i'm estimating conservatively. my friends, jenn and jodi, are aware of this phenomenon. jenn thinks i'm crazy. jodi has seen it in action, though. she was skeptical at first, but after a few weeks began to notice it, too.

so, today...i ride my bike to my staff meeting in Lawndale. some 5 miles or so, each way. two tracks to ride under each way. took a different route there and back...just to see more neighborhood. 4 tracks. 4 trains. not an anomaly, really. but enough to finally get me to write it down.

i should also point out that noticing trains and all did not start with the Chicago mass transit system. back in the day i drove a delivery truck part time for a friend from my old church. one of the joys of this job was he and i had nextel and could chat whenever. if you were to ask him how many times i held the phone out the window of the truck so he could hear the crossing gates as freight and passenger trains went by he'd back it up. everyone gets caught once in a while. it was definitely more than that for me.

the second thing is a little harder to nail down as far as how often it happens to me, or anyone. but the total of it is just a little strange to me. i listen to music a lot. one of the places i do this is at my part time job. Pandora, iPod, cds, whatever...i have my headphones on most of the time. i also do a lot of typing at this job. i write press releases, articles, website content, product descriptions, html/css code, and Facebook status updates. lots of typing. i sit at my computer all day. so...it happened once and i thought...that's funny. then again, and i thought...that's odd. and again. and again. i wouldn't say it's a daily occurrence, but it's more than once a week, too. i'll be typing away when the exact same word i'm typing is the exact same word being sung.

now your naturally critical thinking process might lead you to "and, the, when, if" and words like that. i'm sure those happen, but they'd be so quick it would be hard to notice, i think. no...these are words like "different, regret, reality, forgiving, example" and more. i wish i'd have gotten to writing them down sooner. one might think that my subconscious mind is a line or two ahead in the lyrics and is prepping my sentence structure to use that word. i could see how that could be a valid position. but i don't know many of the songs i listen to. and still, to be able to need that word right then when the article/description/Facebook update might not have any use for such a word...well, it's kind of amazing to me.

i know i'm a little odd. that space is for family and friends to say "a little?" or some variation of it. and maybe millions of people have similar things they note every day...or could note if they were noticing things. maybe you have had the same sorts of experiences. tell me. i'd like to hear them.

as far as this entry, it just came to the point where i decided that someone...me...i should document some of the odder details about my life. i'd hate to pass someday and have people think i was a pretty normal guy. nope...i'm magnetized to trains.


g-bug said...

Yay! Another (long-awaited) post from Nate! Finally!

I totally know what you mean. I notice these kind of "weird" things, too.

The one that I think is cool (and happens to me a lot, too) is the word in a song that is the same as a word that I am typing or reading. One time I was driving to work, listening to a Christian song that had the word sod in it. (I think it was using it context of traveling this sod, or earth, or something to that effect.) Anyway, right when that line was sung, I saw a sign that said "Sod for Sale." Now, this was cool to me, 'cause this just isn't your everyday word!

Anyway, I enjoyed this entry.

nerdyjodi said...


Chris said...

I've had the same thing happen with the identical word popping up on the radio, but it also has happened on tv. I'll be on my laptop reading/posting a blog or ad or something like that, and the same word I'm reading/typing is suddenly said on the tv behind me. And just like you said, they're unusual words, like "octopus" or "bullet proof" or "iceberg," weird stuff like that. And I always turn around, mouth open, like, Whaaaa? Did anyone just hear that?? But it's only me that ever notices.

Glad to know I'm not the only one out there doing the Rain Man thing :)