Tag Archive: Dave R

Picture Perfect

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Dave R)

This story doesn’t involve me as a participant, however I witnessed the critical moment firsthand.

About one weekend a month the city of Huntington Beach, CA has a craft fair kind of thing at the Huntington Beach pier. People set up tents and sell artwork, candles, beads and jewelry, incense, etc.  Among the artwork, one technology that’s become popular recently is to take a photograph, blow it up and print it on canvas as if it was a painting. This is sometimes called a Giclée. Anyway, this past weekend I went to lunch with two friends that frequently surf at the HB pier, a popular local surfing spot. We decided to have lunch at a place we rarely go. To get to the place we had to make our way through this maze of crafts tents. Almost through the sea of tents, we came across a tent showing some of these photographic prints transferred onto canvas. One of the people I was with, Bryan suddenly did a double-take on one of the canvasses, and said it was him captured on the piece! Then the other guy with us, Eric also did a double take and said the canvas print right next to it was a photo of him!

By looking at the photos, both guys decided they must have been taken about 2 years prior. By this time the owner of the business noticed we were talking about these two pieces and came over to see what was going on. At first she was a little dubious that the guys standing there were the subjects in the photo, but finally was convinced. She said the photos had been taken by her husband. A few minutes later the photographer-husband showed up. Apparently he takes lots of pictures at the beach and doesn’t pay particular attention to who is in them or other details. Anyway our little group marveled at the amazing coincidence. It ended with the proprietor offering a free print of each surfer’s piece.

With regard to the statistics… very difficult to calculate for this. These two guys hang out together fairly often, but rarely go to eat at the particular place we were headed to that took us through the craft area — in fact I think this was a first. In working through the maze, we could have taken one of 3 different aisles through them — we likely never would have stumbled across the pieces if we took one of the other two routes. Also those pieces could have been hanging on the inside of the tent and we wouldn’t have seen them either. We only saw them because they were hanging on the outside of the tent, on the side facing where we were going. Out of only about a dozen pieces they had on display, those were the only two pieces that depicted surfers as subjects… the others were just of waves and other still lifes. The proprietor said she rarely displays those pieces, and just happened to choose to put up those two on that day.

Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 208. Take a look and leave your comments below.

The odds are impossible to calculate, but a lot more likely than one might think. It’s interesting that the author focused on the odds that they would even see the prints, ignoring the incalculable odds that the two men would have been the subjects of someone’s photographs (I wonder if he reads the site a lot?). That must have been a highly unlikely event itself, except that these men probably spent quite as much time on that beach as the photographer did.

I don’t find the fact that the prints were chosen that day particularly interesting; it’s possible that the men passed by that tent many times in the past when the prints were not on display. And once they saw the prints, recognizing one’s self or close friend is very likely. Given that everyone in question lives in the area and frequents that beach, this just doesn’t seem like a “crazy odds” case.

What would make this story amazing is if the men were visiting from another part of the country and if the photos were taken on their last visit, 2 years prior. Then it would certainly be a crazy coincidence that the prints were on display that day!

Keep your motor running…

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Dave R)

Recently I was going to have lunch with a friend. I drove to his house to pick him up because he doesn’t have a car.  I’d already sent my friend a 1~minute warning text message so he’d be ready. I pulled up in front of my friend’s house. My radio was on a pop station, Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” was playing. I texted my friend just two words “come out” as I frequently do when picking up friends to let them know I’m outside their house.

Just as I pressed ‘Send’ to my message “come out”, the radio blared, “Come out, come out, come out, Virgina don’t let me wait,” — I kind of did a double-take and then got a nice chuckle from it!

[EDITOR: Wendy had noted recently that we’ve had a few radio-related stories. This might be ripe for a special feature. Anyone else got some good ones?]

Musical Condos

(Submitted by reader Dave R)

In about 1985 I got tired of dealing with the apartment manager where I was living in Santa Ana, and moved into a nicer condo across town.

Shortly after that I was invited to join an organization. I won’t name it because it isn’t important, but it’s a national social organization that has local chapters. I’ll call it the ABC Club. The local chapters often have parties at the members’ homes. So I joined the ABC Club and went to my first event, a party at someone’s house not far from where I lived. At the event I was introduced to several of the local members, including a man who was identified as the President of the local chapter of the ABC Club, I’ll call him Richard Barry (obviously not his real name, but the point is we shared some common feature of our names, a first matching a last, or something similar).

A couple of days went by, and then I received a letter at my new home, addressed to Richard Barry, ABC Club Orange County, (with my address of course). So I looked at this letter, trying to wrap my head around the situation, trying to figure out whether they had sent me some membership materials and perhaps put the wrong name on the envelope, since our names were similar. I think I eventually opened the letter to see if it was for me, and found it was some kind of bank statement, or treasurer’s report, etc.  for the ABC Club, clearly not intended for me.  So I decided to call Richard Barry. As a new member I think I got a roster of all the local members with their contact information, or I may have looked up the number in the phone book. Anyway I called him up and after exchanging hellos, I said “Richard, I think there’s something screwed up in the roster or the addresses for the organization, because I just received some correspondence for the group, with my address but at my condo, but it has your name on it.” He asked me,  “What’s your address?”  I said “110 Brookline.” He said, “Oh, I used to live there, I just moved out last month.”

So yeah, what are the odds? I wouldn’t even know how to begin calculating them for a situation like this!

[EDITOR: The final question seems pretty valid to me. With all the factors of addresses, location, timing, moves, people involved, this one seems all but incalculable. Extremely impressive.]

Historic Day at the Track

(Submitted by reader Dave R)

On Sunday, 9/11/2011, the first three horse races at Belmont Park in New York City ended with the horses numbered 9, 1, and 1 winning the races, respectively. A spokesperson said the odds must be a million to one against that happening. I’m not sure how many horses were in each race so I can’t figure the exact odds, but it certainly isn’t million to one against. If there were 10 horses in each race the odds of that particular combination would be 1 in 1000.

However so many people bet on that exact 3-pick due to it being the date, a $2 bet only paid off $18, or 9:1.

[EDITOR: While the odds of that combination are 1 in 1000, I imagine the odds of it occurring on that particular day drive it up quite a bit. Anyone wish to do some math for us?]

Retail Coincidence

(Submitted by reader Dave R)

I grew up and attended school in the Pacific Northwest. Immediately after graduating from college in 1977, I moved to Southern California to accept a job. I soon made some new friends, and one in particular that I began hanging out with on the weekends. This friend liked having a donut for breakfast in the morning, something I never did.

So several months after moving here, one Saturday morning found me in a donut shop with my friend. The guy behind the counter had been one of my classmates in college. OK, so far an interesting coincidence, but not THAT amazing that two guys that both grew up 1,500 miles away would run into each other like that, even if neither of us had said anything to the other about moving to Orange County, CA.

Another thing this friend got me to do was to start buying music tapes. I was always the frugal type, and just listened to whatever was on the radio while driving. So just a few months after the encounter above, I went to a Wherehouse Records in a different city with my new friend. Sure enough, there was my college classmate behind the counter again.

[EDITOR: Insert generic joke about the lack of job stability in college graduates here.]