Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Funny, the Nerdy, and the... Strange (Yet Wonderful)

The Funny... I talked to my sister Kentucky last night. I was glad to talk to her, since I hadn't talk to her since a couple of weekends ago. I was quick to apologize for not talking to her this weekend when she called as I just needed some time to myself. She shrugged it off. (The poor girl lived with me for over 5 years. She knows how I get). 

She gave an update on something she is trying to do right now: get a teaching assignment somewhere over in the Middle East. I must say I don't pretend to fully comprehend why she wants to go over there. I do understand, but I am selfish. I feel like she is the only piece of family I have right now, and if she goes that far away, well... it will just be an emotional adjustment for me. I just want her to be happy and go and do great things in her life. That is what is key.

Anyway, I could tell she was on the verge of tears about of few things. She was trying not to cry and just be strong, though. And I am thinking "Girl, please don't cry, because I been crying all week, and I may just lose it once again."  But we were able to talk and agree to pray about some things, and go on from there. I try to get her to end our convos on something positive that happened that day. Hard when the negative sometimes gets all the attention.

I still have some ability to encourage, I suppose. 

And I know how to make her laugh...

"When you get over there," I said. "I'm not coming to see you."

Nope. I'm not going to see her. She was telling me how a woman's ankle is considered sexy, and it is a problem showing your ankle.

"Ain't no way I'm gonna get locked up for wearing the wrong clothes and shoes. If I come see you, don't give me a burqa. Just give me a sheet to put over my head with a tiny hole so that I can see where I'm going. I don't need to eyeholes."

"I don't think they do that," she said through laughter.

"Whatever. You don't know that for sure, Kentucky. You better go outside with some boots and a lot of clothes on. I don't care if it is 200 degrees outside. When you get in the house, you can get butt-nekked then. But you better not look out the window. You get in trouble over there, I can't help you. And Obama might not help you either."

I know she was rolling her eyes.

"I'm not coming over there," I said. "We can meet in some neutral spot like France. That's as good as it get. I can speak french, so I can stay out of trouble and get back to the US if I have to. I can't speak arabic. Oh noooo."

She laughed too hard.

We got into a conversation about purses. Not sure what that was about, as I don't particularly care for girly stuff. I only have 2 purses. I will carry those until the straps break, which means for the next 10 years, lol.
"My friend Charlene, she likes designer purses," Kentucky said. "She really likes the Coach purses."

I know Charlene. She's been Kentucky's best friend since middle school. And that Charlene... she is a diva indeed. A designer brand girl head to toe.

"Is that right?" I said.

"Yes," my sister replied. "And I tell her that I can't do the Coach purse thing. My purses cost no more than $19.99. And I'm not ashamed to say it."

"Me neither, honey," I said. "I ain't paying no more that twenty or thirty dollars for a pocketbook!"

We laughed about that. 

"But yo," I added. "The next time you see Charlene, tell that broad that even though I don't have a Coach purse, I have a Coach car. That Coach edition of the Lexus! Bet she can't say THAT!"

"No she can't."

"You got that right, baby! And you be sure to tell her that when you see her. Tell  her that Godzilla could put a strap on my car and carry it like a coach purse!"

We both laughed hard about.  

And I am glad of that laughter. Because I think we both had to laugh to keep from crying. Sigh. 

I have had TWO Coach Lexus. Not on purpose though.  I don't think many folk could say that. I don't really think many would care. I don't think I cared much. I just liked my car. Period. Was distraught when it was totalled. Came across another and bought it. End of story, right?


The Nerdy...  I am such a nerd lately. I don't really know what that's about. I guess I just like my brain challenged a little. And anything the crowd is into is a bit on the fluffy side to me. I like, I don't know... strange stuff. I have to keep reminding myself that this is probably one of the most fascinating times of my life, even though I feel like I lost a lot this week. I have to make sure I give more attention to the positive and not the negative.

And that positive includes learning something new and interesting every day. I have been reading a really good theoretical physics book. I minored in physics, but I have to read it super super slow just to take it all in. I am amazed at all these theories, and how some are stomping hard looking for the "Theory of Everything."

The fact that they can't figure it out proves to me that there is a higher power indeed. And being a scientist, I am not suppose to think like that. Oh well... it is all proving to me otherwise.

I am reading some things right now that are helping me understand some scripture that I didn't quite understand before... so I have to read slow for sure. Don't want to miss a thing!

I have also been learning things I don't like, like mathematical theories. Algorithms and stuff like that.

I don't like math that much. I did okay in algebra, trig, and geometry, but when it came to high level calculus, uh... I hated that. When I was in grad school, there was a class in school called "quantum chemistry", that involved a lot of advanced calculus and that nearly drove me batty!

 I remember hearing the whole "algorithm" term in school, but I have repressed it.

But because of the TWO Lucys, I had to go back and take a look at them, and try to understand them.

The...Strange (Yet Wonderful).... Like I said, I've been thinking about algorithms.An algorithm is a step-by-step problem-solving procedure, especially an established, recursive computational procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.


I've been trying to understand the whole algorithm thing.

I, like you, holler "Who cares."

I don't. It makes me feel like I'm in school or something. And I done had it up to forehead when it comes to school.

But I had to figure this out for a reason. And it is quite interesting.

There's something interesting that goes on in society, right under our noses.

Everything has a numerical code.

The food and various goods we buy are barcoded. I think that is called a UPC code.

Our credit cards, bank account number, and the routing number are all codes.

The ISBN number on a book. The zip code (those bars that are on the envelope when it is delivered- that is a code). The health care provider code on your health insurance.

Those are codes.
And any code like that, where there is a long list of numbers, has something special embedded in it: a "check digit".

It is a digit that only has one thing to do with the code: an algorithm is used to calculate it. All the other numbers and letters of that code are put through an algorithm (a mathematical calcultation) to calculate that one specific number.
Simple enough, I suppose. But who on earth would've thought of such a thing? And why?

Well, a mathematician. I don't like math, so I don't understand why would someone sit around thinking up such stuff. Probably the same reason I sat around and came up with synthesis of chemistry compounds when I was in school. I needed to come up with something original if I wanted that doctorate degree. I guess the mathemeticians had to do the same.

Anyway, a check digit seems to authenticate a long series of numbers in a code. That is its only purpose. You know, just to check to make sure it's not a fraud, or that it wasn't copied incorrectly. It catches fraud, and human errors.

(I don't know... it all sounds a bit" big-brother-is watching-you" to me. Humph).

What is most interesting is that a car's VIN number contains a check digit. A car's VIN number is 17 digits long.

A hypothetical VIN number:


The check digit is in the middle.


Some of the guys at work were laughing at me because I was reading about VIN numbers. I thought the numbers were random, just arbitrary. But they really aren't. They contain a ton of information, like the country of origin, the engine type, restraint system type (whatever the heck that is), the model, series, brand of car, year it was made (that W in the above number means the car was manufactured in for 1998)...

All kinds of information.

Even the factory info. Hmm...

All the other numbers and letters (their numerical equivalent), can be put through an algorithm to get the number "3" in the above number. That may not work above, as I picked some random VIN for this example. But your car VIN number, if it is a real one, could be put through an algorithm to calculate what the "check digit" will be.

You may holler... "Who cares, LadyLee?"

At first I didn't.  Heck, I didn't even care about a VIN number. I am a girl, i.e., I don't care nothing about car stuff. I just need the car to crank when I turn the key, and just GO. Period.

Well... I figured, since the nice lady that sold me this car kept ALL her repair records, and gave them to me, then that was a good responsible thing.
Well, I should be equally responsible.Why don't I just go and print out the vehicle report, too? I had printed it out before, but had written all over it when I was questioning the nice lady who sold me the car. I wanted to print out another one.

So I had my 2 insurance cards... one for the old Lucy, one for the new Lucy. I had put "old" in red on the old busted Lucy's insurance card. And I left Lucy Jr's I left plain.

But the numbers were... interesting.

Hypothetical numbers:

Old Lucy:  JQ8BF19G3W4939937

Lucy Jr:     JQ8BF19G5W4939938

Interesting. Of course they have different check digits. That makes sense. That is so me and somebody like reader Ginae won't sit up here and steal a bunch of cars and make up VIN numbers. They have the check digit for authentication purposes.

But look closely at the sequence of those last 5 numbers.

Now I remember sitting at my desk one day last week, looking at all of this. The whole check digit thing had me confused, as I could give a darn about the whole algorithm thing. I found a site that said I could just snatch that digit out and look at the rest of the numbers.

If we look at the VIN numbers above, and snatch the red check digits out, then we see something quite interesting: The numbers are sequential.

I remember the moment the light bulb went off over my head. Poor cubicle mate Cowgirl Cre got the brunt of it.

*sliding to Cre's side of the cubicle and shaking her chair*

"Look! Look at this!" I said. I showed her the post-it notes with a bunch of numbers on it. "Lucy and Lucy Jr., blah blah blaaaaaaaah!"

Lucy and Lucy Jr.

They came out of the same factory.

They came off the same assembly line.

One right behind the other.
What are the chances of that happening, one right behind the other like that? Could that even be correct?

I did a little more digging around on websites and saw that yes it was. Those last few digits are the numerical sequence of the cars coming off the production line.

Numerical sequence of production are important in the manufacture of rare or expensive cars. So it means a lot if you bought the first car produced, or the last car produced after the car is discontinued. Both cars probably are collector items, and rightfully so.

The VIN numbers for my cars, though....That had me a little O_O for a few days. How on earth did I come across a car I really like, total it, then come across a replica of it, and they came off the line, one right behind the other?

And me, being nosy, and finally understanding the whole "check digit" ratchetness, calculated and figured out the check digit for both cars. That was unnecessary, as both titles for each car were clean (I got my title for Lucy Jr. last week. The original Lucy has a salvage title now. sigh). I just wanted to make sure for myself that this "Check digit" thing is actually true. And it is. It took me a couple of days, and a couple of websites that walk you through it to see for myself. (Still feels like some big brother mess to me, though).

I checked a few other VIN numbers of cars coming before and after these two cars. Three were shipped to the east coast. A couple of others shipped to the west coast, which makes sense. At least I know these cars were shipped in the same direction, to this coast. One was purchased in Florida, the other in Georgia. One (the old Lucy) was burnished gold. The other (Lucy Jr.) is cashmere gold. Hmm...

I don't know. That is just interesting.

And it is strange...What are the odds of that type of thing happening, me buying 2 special edition cars that just so happen to come off the assembly line, one right behind the other? It just blows my mind.

It is not a random thing. It is beyond coincidence, beyond luck and all that.  It is a blessing of some sort. Probably beyond blessing.

It is strange... yet wonderful

I haven't quite figured out the meaning behind it all. I have my thoughts, though. Many of my tangibles are born out of something intangible, so I am always thinking in that direction. I will probably post my thoughts on that later, in a food-for-thought post of some sort.

That is sure enough my "happy" moment of the year so far. I will be thinking about that for a long time.

A very very long time.


  1. WOW! That is interesting! You know I know all about the meaning behind a VIN. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the "coincidence"

    1. We have to talk about it next time we get together. I thought a VIN number was some randomness. There are some sites where you can type in your VIN and it lists EVERYTHING about your car. Shoot. Who came up with that?

  2. Very interesting. I am a business major with specialization in logistics. I find certain things interesting that others do not care about. I will look at an ad or some new booming business and wonder the processes etc that got them to that point.

    I learned something new about the VIN.

    I worked at a university in the financial aid office and we had to check citizenship if the person was lived in state or not. On the bottom of our state license/ID cards a series of numbers and letters. Each section corresponds to the day month year the person received the ID. It is not obvious there was a chart to decipher the code. SMH.

  3. Wowsers...I figured the Vin was a unique identifier for cars, but had no clue all it revealed. The biggest wow is that you got these two in the order they came off the line. I cannot wait to hear your revelation on this occurrence.

  4. Anonymous3:53:00 PM

    very interesting, indeed..mary


Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!