Tag Archives: logic

It Must Be A Monday

Mondays are notoriously precarious days. So much so that the Boomtown Rats wrote an entire song about how they don’t like Mondays. I’ve always thought this defect was baked into the fabric of the universe. The reason the week begins on Sunday is to allow for a do-over so that Mondays go more smoothly. Unfortunately, it seems few people take advantage of this chance and spend their Sundays sleeping in, and then waking up grumpy, because tomorrow is Monday. Monday means back to work, and back to school. It is a transitional day between the weekend and the work week and the transition gobs it up.

As I said, I feel this defect is baked into the fabric of the universe. It doesn’t just affect people. Take for example, the poor squirrel I encountered on my walk this morning. Our house backs up to a park. Our yard slopes down to a bike path which enters the park and acts as a dividing line between our property and that of the park. Each morning, I set to walk down the steep slope of that bike path and into the woods. There is a short stretch in which I feel like I am engulfed by nature. It was in that short stretch, for instance, that I recently encountered a barrel owl. Deer occasionally roam down that bike path and find their way into our yard.

Recently, the county has been planting trees in the area. Four dogwood trees were planted along the border of our property line, and a dozen more trees were planted just off the bike path within the woods of the park. For reasons I’m not entirely sure of (and because it is Monday, I’m too lazy to check on) the base of these trees are wrapped in some kind of green material, like this:

The floor of this little forest is teeming with wildlife, mostly in the form of birds, chip monks, and squirrels. Walking down the path this morning, I caught motion out of my peripheral vision, and watched as a squirrel dashed across the wooded terrain and lept for one of those newly planted trees. I watched as the squirrel made a graceful, low arc over the ground, something akin to a long-jumper in the Olympics. I could almost hear “Chariots of Fire” playing over the scene. Then the squirrel smacked head first into the green base of the tree. For a moment, it stood there stunned. Then it saw me staring back at and I swear to you that before it turned tail and hid, a crimson pallor had crept up its neck and into its furry face. It is the first and only time I have witness an embarrassed squirrel, and I suspect it’s sub-par performance was because today is a Monday.

I’m equally certain that I know just how that squirrel feels. It is going to wander around for the rest of the day promising itself that it would never tell any of its friends or family what transpired. She’s only hoping that none of them happened to witness her failure to launch. She knows that I saw her, of course, but she must know that I would never tell her friends or family. There’s a kind of bond among all creatures when it comes to bloopers like this. I’m sure that I’d never admit to something as embarrassing as trying to leap onto a tree and missing–unless of course, I thought I might garner an extra click or two here on the blog, and then all bets are off.

Because of incidents like this one, Sundays should, I think, really be reinstated as trial runs for Mondays. Wake up early Sunday, bleary-eyed, shower, put on your white shirt and tie, pour your coffee, take the first sip–too hot!–and allow it to dribble down your chin and onto your freshly pressed and cleaned shirt. No big deal, it’s just the rehearsal, no need to strut about the house cursing profanities that make the walls blush like that squirrel. You’ve gotten it out of your system and you can do it again tomorrow, on Monday.

If we are going to lose our Sundays to rehearse our Mondays, it means we need to make Fridays part of the weekend just to balance things out. So the weekend becomes Friday/Saturday, which is as it should be since according to the calendar sitting here beside me, Sunday is the first day of the week, not Monday. After a while, of course, we’ll get used to Friday/Saturday as the weekend. We’ll lose all hesitation over Monday. Monday will just be another Tuesday. The problem is what Monday represented will now be embodied by Sunday. After all, if Saturday is the new Sunday, it follows that Sunday is the new Monday.

Okay, I admit, I see the problem here. If Sunday becomes the new Monday, we have to make Thursday the new Friday and Friday the new Saturday, which will make Saturday the new Sunday, and once we get used to that… Before we know it Monday will be the new Friday, and Monday’s are not good days for Fridays. Mondays are edgy days filled with failed tree-leaps, and flawed logic.

I shouldn’t have picked a Monday to write this post.

Why House is the most educational show on TV

If you didn’t catch last night’s episode of House, “Top Secret”, you should. It proves why House is the most educational show on TV. In an era when shows like Medium and Supernatural and Psychic Detectives are big hits, what a relief to have a show that sticks to pure rationality and reason for solutions to problems.

Last night’s show was interesting because House had a dream about a marine, who he’d never seen before, and who suddenly turned up as his patient the next day. And yet House stuck to his guns, did not leap toward supernatural explanations, and in addition to figuring out what was wrong with his patient, he also figured out how he could have had a dream about a patient before he met the patient. And it was all through reason.

I’m skeptical about some of the medicine on House. Granted, I don’t know enough about medicine to be sure, but I suspect like in any TV show, things are dumbed down, glazed over, and literary license is used. Setting that aside, the main focus of the show is not on the medical mysteries but on the methods used to solve them. Deduction, induction, reasoning, ruling out, ruling in, these are the way problems get solved, not by a crystal ball, lines in the palm of your hand, or Tarot cards.

Last night’s episode reminded me of one of my favorite Isaac Asimov Black Widower mysteries, “The Obvious Factor”. A mystery is presented at the gathering whereby it seems totally and completely impossible that there is any rational explanation. The guest tells a story and has his hosts completely perplexed. But not Henry the waiter. Henry points out that there is one obvious factor that has been overlooked by everyone else: that the guest is lying. And that, in fact, was the case. The guest made up the impossible events, and after ruling everything else out, the only rational explanation left was that he was lying. How many people would have liked to believe that the events described in the story could only be explained by supernatural forces, when an obvious factor still remained?

Gregory House may be an arrogant ass and have the bedside manner of foley catheter. But he’s one of my heroes because he doesn’t give into flim flam and nonsense. He keeps looking for rational explanations even when everyone else has given up.