Friday, April 2, 2010

Déjà Vu

Do you ever feel like you're doing something you've already done, or that you're doing something you've done before with slightly different parameters, or that you're doing something you've already done with a different audience, or that you're doing something that you've already done?

As an engineer doing mostly testing of radar systems, I have found myself doing that a lot lately. Maybe it's rerunning a test after a slight code change or rerunning a test with one parameter different, or rerunning a test just to see if the system will do the same over and over, or rerunning a test on a different computer. After awhile you start to forget what you've tried and haven't tried or what techniques worked and what didn't work.

But it's not just in engineering where this kind of thing occurs. It's apparently in all facets of life.

In the world of bridge, you open that ragged 10 point hand and go down in 3NT time and time again. Eventually, maybe you'll realize that you shouldn't open hands like that. Or maybe, you open that 10 point hand against an expert pair who knows how to defend so you get a bad board. A few days or weeks later, you get a similar hand against a very weak pair and get to your 22 point 3NT and it rolls because they slip a trick or two. Or maybe next time you open that 10 point hand, it helps keep the opponents out of game.

In the world of the pick-up artist, the pick-up artist may try to same techniques or moves or line or whatever you want to call them on numerous women and get a vastly different result each time. Just because it doesn't work one time with one girl at one place doesn't mean it won't work with a different girl at the same place or even the same girl in a different time and/or place. I have relatively no experience in this area - I'm just going by what my friends tell me and what I may have read in The Game by Neil Strauss.

In the world of social life, One day a friend may not want to go out. Maybe next time, a different day, a different mood, he may just want to read a book alone. Next time, maybe a different place, he still may say he just wants to wallow in front of the tv. Next time, maybe a different group of people and a different place, he may have other plans. How many times should one put up with this "i'd like to but i have something else to do today" before deciding that the other person just will never not have something else to do?

In engineering, it may take hundreds or thousands of little tweaks to get something to do what you want but never quite get to the point of saying for sure that a desired outcome will not be achieved. For people and brdige hands, does that principle apply as well? For people, I am inclined to think that at some point the probability approaches 1 that a desired outcome will not be achieved. I have no idea how many trials it takes to reach that. Is it 3 or 5 or 10 or 50? And I am inclined to think that in bridge, except in the most obvious situations, the probability of the desired outcome will never approach 0 or 1.

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