Sunday 13 July 2014

I don’t believe in Luck

I’ve been looking for four leafed clover for decades. It’s a thing, I don’t go on expeditions to hunt them down, I just want to find one.

Anyway I was given one as a kid, which I lost with a wallet 25 years ago. My kids found a handful in our garden in 1999 and I gave my one to Audrey somewhere along the line. In any case I never really thought either of those was really “mine” because I hadn’t actually found them. So I’ve been keeping an eye out and looking at clover on and off for a very, very long time without ever finding a four leafed one.

Until today.

The happy little four armed mutant, now deceased.

As I was reaching the furthest part of my trip some little homunculus in my head woke up and said “Stop right now and go back, you just saw a four leafed clover”. I’d been strolling along, camera in hand in “keep an eye out for a good photo’ mode not “look at the clover mode’ and I’d already moved on about 10 meters before my conscious brain had caught up with whatever subconscious monitor it was that was keeping a lookout. I actually thought “Nah, there’s no way I noticed a four leafed clover” and almost didn’t turn back but happily I decided what the heck and there it was right where my memory said it would be.

Achievement unlocked.

I’m thoroughly amazed at how that sort of observation works. Four leaf mutants are rare but not impossibly rare. About 1 clover in 10,000 has the mutation so if you go into a field and look at every single clover statistics will be your friend. That seems like cheating to me, I wanted to find one along the way, as I said. But picking out a 1:10,000 oddball from a sea of identical green leaves is pretty slick image recognition. Especially when you’re doing it with stereo vision and while moving at 5km/h across a sea of millions of the little buggers. The ability of the human eye/brain to keep that sort of image search program running in the background for decades, and then have it actually pay out, really does amaze me. Quite cool.

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