Friday, November 13, 2009

What's in a Number?

Are you Triskaidekaphobic? Or just Paraskevidekatriaphobic?

The first refers to a fear of the number 13. It's common enough, which is why hotels often don't have a 13th floor (but of course they do, it's simply labeled 14), and some airlines don't have a 13th row. This isn't a universal fear, however.

In Italy, 17 is supposed to be an unlucky number. Tetraphobia, fear of the number 4 — (phonetically similar to 'death') in Korea, China, and Japan, as well as in many East-Asian and some Southeast-Asian countries, it's not uncommon for buildings (including offices, apartments, hotels) to lack floors with the number 4, and Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia's 1xxx-9xxx series of mobile phones does not include any model numbers beginning with a 4. In Taiwan, tetraphobia is so common that there are no 4's or x4's for hospitals.

The second is more specific, a fear of Friday the 13th. If that's your fear, maybe you're hiding inside today (which explains why statistically, there are fewer accidents on a Friday the 13th – people aren't going out). It's been estimated that there's an $800 to $900 MILLION loss in business on a Friday the 13th.

Keep Reading...

Some interesting articles about Friday the 13th from NPR:

Friday the 13th: The Fear that Will Not Die

Who's Afraid of Friday the 13th?

I'm not particularly superstitious. I've never done anything differently on a Friday the 13th. In Walt Kelly's Pogo strip, there was a Friday the 13th every month. It just didn't always fall on a Friday. But in Romanian, Greek and Hispanic cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky.

I don't avoid black cats, and if a ladder is blocking the sidewalk, I'll walk under it rather than risk stepping into the street.

The dryer saga: On Monday, I called the service company to tell them the parts they ordered had come in. They set up an appointment window of 8 AM to noon on Wednesday. When noon came and went, I called, because the previous time, the serviceman had called me to say he was running late. Ooops. "Sorry, we have no record of your appointment. We can reschedule for tomorrow." Why is it when the company screws up, the consumer gets screwed. What if I'd had to take a day off work to be home? As it was, I did have to juggle my schedule, not once, but twice. And then the best their supervisor could do was "request" that I be the first call of the day.

With luck, everything is fixed now. I haven't tested it yet – and maybe, since it's Friday the 13th, I'd be better off waiting a day.

After the dryer guy did his thing, I went downtown and met with Detective Hussey and ran my "would this be how a cop should handle this?" scenarios past him over lunch. Since he said I had the procedures right, and that my dialogue sounded appropriately "cop", I won't have to rewrite those scenes. I also learned a new term: "Protective Sweep." Gordon, my cop, did one; I just didn't know it had a name. And where else can you have lunch and get to listen to one side of a phone conversation where someone says, "Don't worry about it. Just tell them you dug the hole and you discovered the bones."

Detective Hussey's been busy, but he did say he'd be willing to answer questions. No promises as to how many he can handle at a time, or how long it'll take to get back with answers, but if you've read his case files and want to know more, shoot me an email (address in my sidebar) and I'll get them to him. Put Hussey Question in the subject line. And if you haven't read his case files, you've missed a treat. You can enter Homicide – Hussey in the search box. I ran them every Friday starting back in January.

So, for me, today is business as usual. I'm editing. Hubby is meeting with a tree trimmer to check into manicuring our oasis. We've got all the Realtor presentations laid out on the kitchen table, and we'll have to decide who gets our contract. Given their presentations, it's likely to be closing our eyes and drawing a name out of a hat. Or maybe throwing darts would be more cathartic.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Oh my gosh, it IS Friday the 13th. Darn. It'll be in the back of my head now!

I have a refrigerator repairman coming this afternoon. Clogged drain.

Detective Hussey is a good friend to have!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

We had 3 of them this year. If you survived the first 2, you should be fine!

Maryann Miller said...

Yikes! Not sure I needed the reminder that it is Friday the 13th. :-) I'll have to try to act like a silly superstition doesn't mean anything at all, but I will rethink my plan to get out the tractor today. Going down the road to get my driveway back will have to wait for another day.

Mary Ricksen said...

Is it possible it could be a lucky day?

Terry Odell said...

Mary, I'm sure it'll be lucky for lots of people--whether the luck is good or bad: that's another issue.

Hubby pressure-cleaned the driveway and more yesterday, and he met with the landscape guy this morning and gave him free rein to make it "look good."

And I found the second box of chocolates he hadn't told me about, so whatever else happens, it's a good day for me.

Elena said...

Friday the 13th in Europe many centuries ago was part of many earth based traditions which were centered around a circle. The circles had 12 spokes which had different meanings depending on your local culture.

13 therefore represented the starting over point of the circle. I've never found where Friday came into the mix, but it was considered a day of good fortune, or new beginning.

So, Mary, if you go back far enough, it is indeed a lucky day.

Terry Odell said...

Elena, Heather Graham posted a bunch of other Friday the 13th info over at Murder She Writes. Fascinating stuff.

Emma Lai said...

Why do fears always have unpronounceable names? Great info, Terry!

Terry Odell said...

Emma, I was very thankful for "copy and paste" today! I haven't had to read aloud yet.

Carol Kilgore said...

Friday the 13th doesn't bother me. Nor do 17 or 4. Maybe I have my head under a rock or something.

Drue Allen said...

It's fun to TEACH on a Friday, the 13th. I also recently did an assignment where students went home and asked their families about superstitions (b/c we're studying Shakespeare). It was amazing to hear the different responses from different cultures. I actually find it all very interesting. Thanks for the post, Terry!

Terry Odell said...

Drue, that must have been fascinating. I think each of us assumes our own superstitions are universal. What fun to share.

Judy Harper said...

You know, I didn't even think about yesterday being the 13th! Have you ever had one of those days where you're so busy and just trying to put out fires you don't have time to think? That was yesterday for me. Thankfully, I had a much better Saturday. I'm not superstitious about Friday the 13th, and I have a black cat, but I do have one fear--If I can help it, I won't ride in an elevator above the third floor alone. I have, but I don't like it! But then, I've been stuck in an elevator alone, and it's no fun! I had my thumb on the red button calling for help as there wasn't a phone. Finally a voice asked who I was, then he said, "Lady, you can stop ringing the bell. Were going to get you out!" I did stop pushing the red button. lol Good post!