Inflated Superstition

Today’s Guest Post comes from Clyde.

I had four flat bike tires in eight days. Then a week later my wife said, “Well, you haven’t had a flat in a few days.” I gritted my teeth, but did not answer her. Why did she have to say THAT?

I am a strange contradiction in a way. I have some education in and a strong reading interest in the sciences. And I’m a Christian, well a Lutheran, which is the next thing to a Christian. I have some education in and a strong reading interest in religion. While those two things are supposed to be in conflict, they should together rid me of all superstitions. Nevertheless, I have had one and only one superstition my whole life, but I can never shake it. It is the fear that words will make the opposite so. You know the “knock on wood” superstition.

When someone says something I fear may make the opposite happen, I do not knock on wood. I mean, that would be just stupidly superstitious. I would, however, never say that I had gone for awhile without a flat. (I just checked this minute–no flat. Pshew.) I might even say something like “Yep, bet I’ll get another flat” hoping my words will prevent a flat. (Just checked again on the bike tires. Still okay. But bet I get one, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

I have a perfectly logical explanation for why I had the flats. God’s out to get me. No. Don’t be ridiculous. First, the streets and sidewalks, which is where I do almost all my riding, have quite a bit of glass on them this time of year before the city gets out with street sweepers. Second, when I put the bike away last fall, I made a note to remember that both tires were worn down, which is the number one way to get flats. I did remember the worn tires when I started riding a few weeks ago. But this is April. You know, tax month. I am SURE I will owe A LOT when I get them back from my accountant. A LOT. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

I had no choice but to buy new tires. So now I’m sure I won’t . . .

Well, let’s just not say it.

What are your superstitions, perhaps in spite of yourself?

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77 thoughts on “Inflated Superstition”

  1. I believe it is bad luck to insult the capitoI buildings of states in which you do not live. I posted this earlier this morning on yesterday’s blog. People were wondering where Dale was this morning. I sais ” I bet Dale is in hiding fromn outraged North Dakotans-all Minnesotans ought to be in hiding after one of your Republican legislators made such disparaging remarks about the North Dakota State capitol building. Ok, it looks like a grain elevator, but it was built during the Great Depression and it is in Art Deco style, a style not known for rococco flourishes. It works and we have billions in the bank, so there! nya nya nya!”

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  2. I love it when you illustrate your posts, Clyde. :)

    The ones I can recall all seem to have to do with weather:
    Now that the car is clean, it will probably rain.
    The reason we had so little snow this year was that we finally got a snowblower.
    If I take the umbrella, it WON’T rain, but if I don’t it will.

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    1. Somewhat related – do you remember how rainy it was in the Twin Cities last year. Then it stopped rather abruptly, sometime in August, I believe. That was directly related to the fact that I went out and plunked down a good amount of cash for a decent raincoat.

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    2. Thank you for the compliments on the illustrations. I used to do this for stuff when I taught. Is two a start to a series? We’ll see. We just met our kids and grandkids at Emma Krumbees on their way home from the flight back. They had a wonderful Disney cruise. My grandson did take his tuxedo and wore it two nights including for their family picture.

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  3. i am supersticious and forgetful. so i remember just after i screwed up that i was supposed to act in accordance with the laws of the universe which i have just challenged. tom sawyer and the good old ones about throwing salt over your shoulder are sadly missing in the world today but steping on the chalk lines on a baseball field going on or off the field is a game changer, going under a ladder is a no no, washing a car will certainly make it rain.

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      1. I sometimes avoid cracks but it’s just sort of a habit created by some need for symmetry. I sometimes also allow myself to step ON a crack if I place the middle of my foot precisely over the crack so that (if I had an arch) I would still not be stepping on the crack. Since I have flat feet, the illogic of this illogic defies understanding. I can’t explain why I do either one but I’m not doing it to avoid catastrophe. And there are many times that I don’t pay attention to any of it.

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  4. Good morning to all. I am sort of like you, Clyde, regarding superstitions. I am a fairly well educated person and I mostly don’t believe in superstitions. A very silly superstition that I practiced for a while caused me to avoid stepping on cracks in side walks. I am still somewhat under the influence the superstition againest the number 13. I avoid the number 13 and get a little nervous if I use it. I haven’t noticed any bad luck that came from using that number, but I’m not taking any chances, right?

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  5. In 1985 I bought a new lucky fishing cap. Because I am often ironical and I engage in oppositional thinking, I ordered my new lucky cap from the Prairie Home Companion catalog. It carried the logo of the Lake Wobegon Whippets (the world’s unluckiest sports team). I thought that was funny at the time.

    My first fishing trips with the new cap were disastrous. On one of those trips I made an ass of myself telling a tasteless joke; those guys haven’t invited me back to fish with them in 36 years. Then my family took a vacation, spending a week on Lake Superior’s North Shore. It was sheer agony. I never landed a single fish in a week of feverish fishing. That’s humiliating if you are (as I was then) writing know-it-all articles about catching fish in the Great Lakes. Not one fish!

    The lucky Whippets cap is in the basement now. It has been down there, unworn, since 1985. I’d throw it out except that would involve touching it, and I would sooner grab a high power line than to touch that damn cap. Any baboon who would like to prove how silly my superstition is WELCOME to come over for a free lucky fishing cap. I could do the transaction using sticks or pliers to pick the cap up so I wouldn’t have to touch it with my hand again.

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    1. Get yourself a long set of tongs and get that thing out of your basement immediately. The feng shui is horrendous…

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  6. I’m not particularly superstitious. My Italian grandparents were very superstitious, however, and I always thought they were crazy when they told me some of the things they believed. The one I remember most was that they wouldn’t put their wall mirror on the wall facing the bed. I can’t remember the reason for it, but they actually had no other spots in the bedroom that would fit the thing, and they ended up propping it against the wall in the hallway for years. My father finally convinced them to let him hang it up in the bedroom, but it was one of those things that goes on for so long that it becomes a family joke.

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    1. When I was pregnant with my son, we lived in Winnipeg and our landlords were recent immigrants from Calabria. I was sitting with the landlady once having coffee with her and some of her Italian friends, when her cat jumped up in my lap. There was a general uproar from the Italian ladies with much shrieking and wacking of the cat. I was told that it was very bad luck for a pregnant woman to have a cat sit on her lap. Wouldn’t you know it, our son was born 2 1/2 months early.

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      1. I think this superstition stems from the fact that cat feces carry cytomegalovirus, which is devastating for fetuses if their mothers contract it during pregnancy.

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        1. That theory makes sense, Renee. I know none of my Italian relatives ever liked cats in general – not sure if this was due to superstition or not. But I definitely remember they did not like birds in the house, or being in a house where there was a pet bird. Again, I don’t know the origin of this. I should probably look this stuff up, shouldn’t I? :)

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        2. It sure sounds more interesting to blame prematurity on Muffy (the cat) Caputo, rather than Incompetent Cervix.

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  7. After what BiR said, I might have to starting avoiding cracks in sidewalks again. You can’t be too careful!

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  8. They say that a lot of the things we think of as superstitions are leftover pagan religious practices–you don’t speak ill of the dead because they might get annoyed and do bad things, you don’t brag because the wrong god/spirit might hear you and decide to punish you for hubris, that sort of thing. So, I’m not superstitious, I’m merely devout ;-) . I certainly don’t say things like “Oh, I haven’t gotten sick all winter!”, that’s just asking for trouble. I also don’t walk on sidewalk grates, but that’s not superstition, that’s paranoia–who knows how sturdy those things really are? My roommate is a second-generation atheist and annoyed with her own supersitiousness, but she can’t quite shake it. On the other hand, she’s had a lot of very odd, unlikely things happen to her, sometimes with witnesses (not my stories, so I can’t share), therefore she’s pretty nonjudgmental.

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  9. See a penny
    Pick it up
    All the day
    You’ll have good luck.

    And if you don’t have any good luck, at least you are one penny closer to wealth & abundance.

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    1. See a penny
      Let it lie
      All good luck
      will pass you by.
      Years ago, picking up a penny was equal to earning $36 a day, tax free. Don’t know what the going rate is now.

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  10. One crow means anger.
    Two crows mean mirth,
    Three crows mean a wedding,
    Four crows mean birth,
    Five crows mean Heaven,
    Six crows mean Hell,
    Seven crows mean the Devil himself.

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    1. So what did the huge congregation of crows mean last weekend? The noise was so terrific that I went to the window to see what was going on; about 30 crows, all squawking loudly, were partying in the trees in my neighbor’s front yard. They would fly around in circles and then land back in the trees. This went on for about 20 minutes. Made me think about Albert Hitchcock.

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      1. They are kind of social birds. Maybe they were having a party or felt threatened by a predator. A goupd of crows is sometimes called a “Murder” of crows.

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      2. Also you might have Great Horned Owls nesting nearby. The year we had the owl nest in our front yard, the crows were certainly acting murderous, mobbing the owls at all hours, making a huge racket. The owls just sat there and swiveled their eyes back and forth. Finally one crow dipped too close and there was one big “snap” followed by a few black feathers drifting down. Crows are cowardly on their own, they act in mobs. And can be annoying as all get out. I know they’re clever, but . . .

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  11. I’m in the not superstitious camp. Superstitions just don’t make sense to me, and I have to admit I find it both a bit annoying and humorous when I encounter people who are seriously believe in them. Now, I don’t care whether or not you step on cracks in the sidewalk, but if we have to alter travel plans because you don’t fly on the 13th, we have a problem. And please spare me when two people you know, not necessarily in person, have died, looking for the third. Deaths always come in threes! Where does this nonsense come from? And who in their right mind would believe that if you bury a statue of St. Joseph, upside down, in your yard when you’re trying to sell your home, that it will result in a fast sale? Seriously? My next door neighbor and Tia, my best friend, that’s who! Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering if I secretly buried a statue of St. Joseph in their back yard, would they move? Might be worth a try; their noisy late-night, outdoor activities during warmer weather are driving husband crazy.

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  12. Even though I know it’s foolishness, I can bring myself to name “The Scottish Play” inside of a theater. Even have a hard time naming the title outside of a theater. Totally irrational, but that play by Shakespeare that starts with M is just not a title I can easily utter.

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    1. I don’t have a superstition about naming the Scottish Play but I honor others in the theater by not saying it there. More of my typical rule-following than a superstition.
      Not a superstition, a mildstition.

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    2. I haven’t worked on that particular play myself. But it has been done in Rochester and yes, there were ‘accidents’. Or may ‘incidents’. One guy stepped off a platform and smacked his head pretty good. There was another ‘accident’ but I don’t remember the particulars. Did they say the name? Not sure… but lets not chance it.

      As for me, gotta make sure the ghost light is out at the end of the night. Whether you believe in ghosts or not isn’t the point. The point is, I don’t put it out, things come unplugged, lights won’t work, ect. The ghost light just keeps the place happy.

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  13. Imagine being a baseball announcer and having to talk about a game for a couple of hours without using the term “no-hitter” when the most interesting thing about the game is that the pitcher has a no-hitter going.

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  14. Morning all. I fall into BiR’s camp…. it’s my fault it’s raining because I washed the car or that I didn’t bring an umbrella. It’s my fault if it’s snowing because I wore clogs this morning (although this strategy didn’t work AT ALL this past winter). I also pick up pennies.

    COMPLETELY OT. Did anybody watch “Dark Shadows” years ago? Jonathan Frid passed away yesterday.

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    1. When I was in college, on most weekdays it was a race back from class to catch the 3 pm show – we were hooked! (This would be about 1968.)

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  15. I’m superstitious about feats performed by humans. One of the old hospital tradtions was to not label the tube until the blood was collected so as not to jinx the collection. I stick by that one pretty faithfully.

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      1. My husband and I will try to get to Blackhoof on July 1 after the bell choir concert in Duluth. I gather it is only about 38 miles from Duluth. This is all per the permission of Barb. I haven’t been in Duluth in more than 40 years.

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  16. OT – Kevin, Rosalie Sorrel’s son has posted a plea for help on Facebook. Rosalie’s dearly beloved cabin, which I’m sure you all know from Report From Grimes Creek, is in pretty bad shape and needs lots of attention. Of course, they’re broke and these repairs are going to be costly. Anyone interested in helping out, and/or have any ideas for how we can help? Apparently, Rosalie is no longer able to perform, and even when she could was not making much money. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a national treasure, and I’m sure every little bit of help will be appreciated. Anyone?

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  17. When my daughter was barely a teenager, I noticed that she gulped air and held her breath when we passed a little country cemetery on the way to or from our cabin. I had to ask why. “I don’t want to breath any ghost dust,” she said. I smiled at that invented superstition. Guess what? I am doing it now too. I mean, who does want to breath ghost dust?

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    1. Apparently I do. I don’t hold my breath when I go by a cemetery. In fact, I think I would like to live across the street from a cemetery.

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  18. OT – Dale, I’ve been meaning to tell you that, so far, the ads on the blog have been unobtrusive. Good choice. Now let’s hope it pays the bills.

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    1. Yes, very unobtrusive. It took me a couple of days to even notice them. And today I don’t see any ads, but I didn’t even notice that they weren’t there until I read PJ’s comment.

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  19. I wonder about the focused energy sometimes. If enough people truly believe that the number 13 is bad, and focus that much energy there, wo knows how that can affect things? Feng Shui – some people swear by it, but from what I’ve studied, it’s about intention, making the physical space follow your intention, and if you believe in your intentions enough, who knows? There is that study about large numbers of people praying for the same thing affecting the outcome… getting kind of lost here, anyone know what I’m talking about?

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  20. Just finished reading Jeannette Walls’ Half Broken Horses (BBC once read The Glass Castle), which spoke of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. I want to go there.

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