Friday, February 13, 2015

My Lucky Day

Today (the date of this blog entry's publication) is Friday, the 13th day of February 2015. Don't be alarmed, Friday the 13th is nothing of which to be afraid.

I've told people for years that Friday the 13th is my lucky day, which is the exact opposite of how most people in the United States see it. The reason I say that is because my wife and I got our marriage license and bought our first home on Friday the 13th. That was September 2002. Just a few years ago, in 2013, we had another Friday the 13th in September. There'll be another one in 2019.

I'm not at all superstitious and I don't often encounter someone who is. Most people I know associate Friday the 13th more with a series of horror movies than with actual bad luck. Apparently, the belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky arose in the 19th century when superstitions concerning Fridays and the number 13 were combined. Sort of like when chocolate and peanut butter were first combined, but less delicious.

I'm not sure why people didn't like Fridays. As the last day of the work week, we tend to favor them now. But the number 13 has been long-despised because it is one more than 12 - the number of completeness (or so they say). But seriously, the number 12 is everywhere. Months of the year. Hours in a day (unless you use a 24-hour clock). There were 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus had 12 disciples. Twelve is a popular number. Seven was also a popular number, but then seven ate nine and is now regarded more as a number to be feared.

So, back to 13. It is a prime number, and prime numbers are useful for public key cryptography and pseudorandom number generators. And pseudorandom number generators are used in computer games, where luck can be a factor.

However, don't confuse luck with randomness. Lots of things are random, but luck is subjective. If you believe today will be your lucky day, it will be. It's all in your perspective.

Keep in mind that the 13th day of the month actually occurs on Fridays more often than any other day of the week. Seriously, There's math to prove that. Also, there will be three Fridays the 13th this year. This is just the first one. There'll be another one next month and then again in November.

Well, enough about Friday the 13th. Don't forget that the 14th is Valentine's Day! Read today's comic to see if the frogs can help some algorithms find love.

Amphibian.com comic for 13 February 2015