Butterflies and Straws, Continued

Strangely enough, my husband had a life defining experience in elementary school at about the same time I did.  Different school, one grade up. The teacher had devised an economics lesson.

She created many pieces of paper money that were evenly distributed to all members of the class. The students were instructed to use the money in whatever way they wanted for pretend business in the class. Some started businesses (selling pencils), at least one kid probably set up a protection racket (this was an inner city school), and there was indeed at least one thief. My husband attempted to sell erasers. He does not remember what other services were offered (I’ll do your homework, etc.). At the end of the month’s experiment, the money was counted. My husband had hardly any left.  He was very upset and concluded that he was doomed to be poor or at least to be unable to manage money. He coped with this by avoiding the issue.  He has always been this way.

My parents were constantly worried about money. If I believed everything I heard, we were always on the brink of starvation.  I became very good at managing money. I worked. I saved. I budgeted.  I learned the arcane language of the IRS. Money became a plaything that I could control.

This was a match made in heaven. My husband could fix almost anything mechanical or electrical, or electronic. He worked hard and made a good living. A living that he brought home and turned over to me so that he would not have to do something with it. Now that we are comfortably retired, he often says, “I don’t understand how we can keep living this way. I don’t go to work and bring home a paycheck anymore”

I don’t think his classroom experience was a straw, I think it may have been a butterfly.

From Boston.com by Peter Dizikes  June 8, 2008

Some scientists see their work make headlines. But MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz watched his work become a catch phrase. Lorenz, who died in April, created one of the most beguiling and evocative notions ever to leap from the lab into popular culture: the "butterfly effect," the concept that small events can have large, widespread consequences.  

 As a low-profile assistant professor in MIT's department of meteorology in 1961, Lorenz created an early computer program to simulate weather. One day he changed one of a dozen numbers representing atmospheric conditions, from .506127 to .506. That tiny alteration utterly transformed his long-term forecast, a point Lorenz amplified in his 1972 paper, "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?"  The larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we can't.

Well, I can track what caused this blog. Reading the wonderful book “Atlantic” by Simon Winchester did it.

Betty Ago



Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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