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Seeing Dog / Seeing the Light

by Ted Johnson

Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.”

It is the very human tendency to put meaning into random and unrelated information.

For example, I recently saw Dog in the wood grain of a baseboard at a local restaurant.

Seeing Dog

I believe! | Baseboard photo: Me, Schnauzer photo: Angela Harris

Some would call it pareidolia (a vague and random stimulus being perceived as significant).

I call it Pookie.

The owners of Cafe Pickles are now charging pilgrims $15 each to view the miracle.

Anyway, there’s a reason I’ve dropped six dollars worth of three-dollar words (apophenia and pareidolia) on you.

Last night I was riding home in the dark, and I was lit up with bike lights like Times Square on wheels.

Times Square on Wheels

Click to see an annotated version of this image

On the front of my bike, I had a Planet Bike Beamer 3 in flash mode, a Light and Motion Urban 500 on high. On my helmet, I had my Fire Eye light. I keep a Planet Bike Superflash permanently attached to my rack-top bag, and I had a Portland Design Works Danger Zone tail light attached to my rear rack.

In case you’re not keeping track, that’s two headlights and three tail lights.

Two of these lights I’ll be reviewing in the near future (Danger Zone and Urban 500). The other three are ones that I use regularly (until I upgrade).

Okay. So I’m not the most lit-up safety kook you’ve ever seen, but I’m getting there. This is at the end of another two-day marathon of writing about bike lights for Bike Tech Shop.

I start up the hill at the bottom of Ponderosa Drive, and something catches my eye. In the middle of the bike path, is a blinking light. It’s a Planet Bike Blinky 3 that has become separated from it’s owner.

I think, This is weird. Who but me would not only come across a bike light in the middle of a bike path, but identify it from a distance? Like some bird nerd who shouts, I say! I do believe that’s a Nutting’s Flycatcher!

Weird, huh?

I leave the light by the side of the road, still blinking, so it could be found if the owner came looking for it. This morning it was gone.

What does this mean?

 
Burley nomad 229

4 Responses to “Seeing Dog / Seeing the Light”

  1. BluesCat says:

    Light travels in waves, and so does sound. An interesting Weirdness Corollary is sound travel at night versus during the day. While hiking in the desert, I’ve always suspected that I can hear things much better at night than during the day. I never bothered to prove this theory until I read your post, Ted.

    Turns out, it’s true. It has nothing to do with light, however, but everything to do with the Refraction of Sound Waves caused by warmer air during the day. Briefly, the lower you go to the ground during the day, the warmer the air, and warmer air refracts the sound waves closest to the ground to the extent that it bends the sound waves into an ever increasing curve so that they eventually curve upward away from earth and create a “shadow zone.” Standing just outside the edge of that “shadow zone,” you will never hear the sound.

    Weirdly neat, eh?

  2. Max Power says:

    I was at a Human League concert a few months ago, and one of the stage projections was sprockets. I turned to my wife between songs and told her that it was an old Sturmey-Archer sprocket.
    She said “Only *you* would notice that.”
    I don’t think it was a compliment.

  3. Tom Bowden says:

    I see Raleigh bicycles everywhere. Their owners don’t even know they are Raleighs.

  4. Tom Bowden says:

    Interesting how your amaxophobia lead directly or indirectly to this manifestation of apophenia. I strongly suggest you summon your courage to overcome any iatrophobic tendencies you may harbor and seek help, but by all means don’t go on a Friday if it’s the 13th, because triskaidekaphobia is actually a very rational and appropriate response to risk management.

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