Friday, October 13, 2006

Oooeer: It's Friday the 13th

The historical significance behind Friday the 13th, and how to get through the day in one piece.

13. It's assumed by some that the number 13 lies beyond our human intellects. After all, ancient people counted 10 fingers, and two feet (feet were one unit each) for a total of 12. That's where our knowledge, apparently, abruptly ended.

At the Last Supper, there were 13 people present, and one of them betrayed Jesus.

Perhaps the most profound connection to Friday the 13th happened about 7 centuries ago. It involved the Knights Templar.

"On October 13, 1307**, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars ? knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren ? in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven..."

Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson* each have 13 letters in their name. Businesses will make less money today, because some people (people like me?) are fearful of what's out there, and scared people don't spend adventurously. Some might even choose to stay in bed all day.

Okay, so what's all that got to do with little old me, and my life, here in Bloemfontein. Well, here's a record of what happened today.
Today everything seemed to want to go wrong. From the word go I wasn't sleeping well. I tore off the plastic cover on the mattress (probably a dumb thing to leave it on), and as I did, a ghoulish green light zipped under my fingers. I finally fell asleep, at about 3 in the morning. When my cellphone chirruped, I really didn't want to get up. I turned the alarm off at least 3 times.

But I did get up in the end. I decided, for a change, to make a fruit smoothy for breakfast and the thing wouldn't work. Is it broken? Time was ticking by... I finally figured out the plug wasn't working, but that little game made me late for work.

Cycling home - less than a 100m from home - I saw a ditch in the road. I was about to swerve slightly out, but I heard car humming beside me. For some reason I went straight over the hole, me and my bike bouncing violently. The car missed me by less than a metre. Had I swerved out, it would definitely have hit me.

An unlucky day? Perhaps. But all these things happened yesterday, on Thursday the 12th. And a lot of them happened because I had just moved into a new place, and wasn't that familiar with my environment. Can I expect tomorrow to be worse?

In the British Medical Journal (1993) entitled "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?" it was found that hospital admissions of Friday the 13th was 'significantly higher' than on 'normal' Fridays.
They concluded that the odds of being in a transport related accident on Friday the 13th went up by a staggering 52%.

People who consider themselves unlucky, are in my opinion, most likely to face increased risk. Why? Because believing, in fact, focussing on bad luck tends to manifest it in some way, in your life.

That doesn't mean if you think Friday the 13th is hooey that everything's going to be fair dinkum. Remember, there a bunch of nervous wrecks out there expecting things to happen. So a lot of those barely avoidable accidents may well happen simply because people, expecting them them to happen,also allow them to happen.

Is Friday the 13th hooey? Well, in Korea, the written number 4 is the same as the Korean character for death. As a result, in elevators, you see floors written as follows: 1 - 2 - 3 - F (for four) - 5 - 6 etc.
444 is also an unlucky number. In cricket, 111 is unlucky. Anything can be unlucky if you make up your mind about it. In the same way, you can chose arbitrary numbers to be lucky. It's a choice, but choices are influenced by what we really believe, and can't help believing.

Remember the hype about the Millenium Bug. It was also about a number - 1999. It's just an arbitrary number. Ask a tree or a butterfly or a road what day it is, or what time, and they'll say, "Listen buddy, it's day, and it's spring. Okay!"
Okay, and here's holding thumbs and touching wood that y'all will be too.

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