My Year of Coincidences

Examining all of the weird coincidences I experienced in the last 12 months.

Have you ever been a witness to a miracle? Maybe you were thinking about temporary tattoos just before one tumbled out of your Son's box of Lucky Charms. Maybe you bought a suit from a guy who had the exact same birthday as you. Whenever I am witness to an extraordinary coincidence, I think, "Whoa, that.. that just couldn't happen without divine intervention, could it?"

To gain a better understanding of the frequency and improbability of extraordinary coincidences, I decided to catalog an entire year. For twelve months, from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, I wrote down all of the coincidences I noticed. It was enlightening! They happened all the time, in varying degrees of improbability. Just as a side note, when I see ads online, I assume they are targetted to my interests, so I didn't consider to be a coincidence. Here's what I experienced:

July 1st
On the same day I wrote an article about electronic cigarettes, I heard a Trevor Moore interview where he talks a lot about electronic cigarettes.

PVC Glue

July 21
In July I was building a cooling water mister with parts from Lowes. On my lunch break I made a special trip to Lowes and bought PVC cement. On the way back to work, I saw a guy gluing the PVC landscape pipes at Intel campus.

July 26
I noticed a woman entering Walmart at the same time as me, then a few minutes later, exiting Walmart at the same time as me.

Home Goods Couch

August 1
I juggled and almost broke a glass vase in a department store (Home Goods) just as the Eurythmics song "Walking on Broken Glass" played on the store music system.

Seven Black Cars

August 15th
As I drove back onto the Intel campus after lunch, I stopped at a red light on a curved road behind a long string of black cars. The curve made it possible to see all seven of them. They were all colored black! Seven black cars in a row!


August 20 or 21st
I was in the supermarket looking at the avocado display when there was an avocado sale announcement on the intercom.


August 22
I sometimes edit web pages for countries around the world... while listening to comedy podcasts. On August 22nd I clicked on France just as Whitney Cummings said "France" on Pete Holmes' podcast.


Aug 31
One day after he posted pictures from our junior high school yearbook on Facebook, I ran into Jonah Raskin for maybe the second time in 25 years. We were both outside of Papa Murphy's on Arden Way.

Knocking Comment

Sept 6
I was on the toilet reading a Reddit comment about the FBI knocking at your door just as my son knocked on the bathroom door.

Sept 19
The hackysack girl at work walked by as I was talking about her.

Sept 19
I built an introductory web page for Intel recruiter Scott Holden. He has the same name as one of my good friends, Scott Holden.

Range Rover

Sept 22
A moment after noticing the two-door Range Rover, wondering if regular Range Rovers have four doors. One drove by just then. Yep, four doors.

Sept 25
Meaghan told me about the "Harriet the Spy" episode of CSI., came home to find kids watching Harriet the Spy.

Sept 29
Thought about a sod delivery moments before seeing a sod truck drive by.

Sept. 29
Noticed an engineer at work with the logo from Ironman triathalons on a backpack the day after I interviewed Chris Loental about his Ironman Triathalon.

Mr. Potato Head

Sept 29
Watching the first season of the "Homeland" show, I heard a line about "Mr. Potato Head replacing the bust of Saddam Hussain". Went to the store a few minutes later to find a dismembered Mr. Potato Head on top of a supermarket trash can.


Sept 29
In September I was knee deep in making the Disneyland costume. I made a tiny blue whale out of air-hardened craft clay for Storybook boats, just like the blue whale on the package of blue air-hardened craft clay.

Sept 30
Heard Indoor kids podcast talking about poop floating in a pool the day after Digg linked to my Baby Ruth test article.

October 2
Heard simultaneous farting in men's room.


Oct 3
Spotted Disneyland carousel mural at a Mexican restaurant minutes after researching King Arthur's carousel online.

Oct 10
Edited links for "how to memorize geography of Africa" just as I overheard a youtube video of Ali G. speaking of learning African geography in his Harvard commencement speech.

Co-worker, who I don't actually know, the same guy who helped me get Disneyland castle hat onto my head at Intel overflow parking lot was walking by just as I decostumed at the end of the night downtown, 13 hours later and 30 miles away.

November 5
Ten minutes after playing with a Rubiks cube in the car, listened to Nerdist writers panel featured Aaron Cohn (Colbert Report) talking about writing a Rubiks cube song.

November 9
Jeff Rubin mentioned Ally Mcbeal after I added Colista flockhart to the photographic height weight chart.

Breaking Dawn Mug

Nov 18
Borrowed Meaghan's Breaking Dawn part 1 travel mug to work so I could drink coffee in the car. Release date at the bottom turned out to be this same date, two years prior on Nov 18, 2011.

Dec 2nd
Saw Spaced (British television comedy) characters watch end of Star Wars Episode six after watching it myself the previous day.

Dec 10
Noticed Mia Wasikowska on tv (Stoker) just after reading her name in the IMDB description of the Hunger Games Catching Fire.

Dec 25
Saw Todd Barry on Louis tv show just before Suzi opened her gift of tickets to see Todd Barry stand up in Sacramento.

Jan 2
Read "two dicks" article on Reddit at the exact same time I heard the phrase on the Indoor Kids podcast.

Added one guy named Roald and one guy named Dahl on the photographic height weight chart. Insane.

Jan 8
Was simultaneously listening to a podcast and reading about Sprint offer by Verizon when I heard Matt Mira mention that "he could hear a pin drop".

Jan 15
Scott mentioned Styrofoam just as I was reading about a lot of styrofoam on Craigslist.

Jan 16
Working on Australia website, Heard Jimmy Kimmel interviewing someone from Australia on the the subject of flashing.

Noticed Vanderbilt playing basketball 5 mins after listening to Pete's podcast about Vanderbilt basketball team.

Jan 18
Heard mention of a "waterless car wash" on a podcast and in a store on the same day.

Jan 28
In the morning before work I heard a Fresh Mex ad (brand name restaurant) on the radio as I drove by one of their restaurants.

Feb 13
Eating pizza when I heard a radio announcement revealing the cure for norovirus might be oregano oil in pizza.

Feb 25
Heard an ad for apple sauce packets on tv as I was packing some into my kids' lunches.

Feb 25
Three days after hearing my six year old ask about plants farting, heard the same subject discussed on the T J Miller podcast. #97.

Salt on Bagel

March ?
Overheard Morgan Freeman introducing the idea of salt-based organisms (Through the Wormhole) while I added salt to my breakfast.

March ?
While listening to a Daily Show segment on penis pumps, I entered "28,000" into Google to find relationship between Indian Ocean and Disneyland. Google predicts that I am interested in 28400 pump dispensers.

March 14
Saw guy spit out of car while I was listening to a radio program about digestion. It was an interview with Mary Roach about her book Gulp on Fresh Air.

March 15
Noted a modified Jaguar on the road and then heard about a jaguar hunt on Radio Lab.

March 17
Heard "did you ever feel like a plastic bag" in Katy Perry's Fireworks song while in Lowe's holding a plastic bag of tub parts.

March 22
Overheard Meghan talking about not having any water all day as Vlade Divac talked about the Unicef water charity drive.

March 25
Overheard cube mate saying "Sounds good to me" as I typed that exact same phrase into my own phone.

March 29th
After I made the Disneyland Costume, I joined an "I love Disneyland" group on Facebook. On March 29th I heard there had been a 5.1 earthquake near Disneyland and that most rides had been shut down for damage inspection. Some poor souls had been at the front of the line for the newly re-opened Thunder Mountain Railroad when it closed down, guess who? My real-life friends Nick and Alisha!

April 2
Sparked by seeing an asian guy in a white van, i was reminded of Leland Yee's legal troubles. A related radio news story immediately followed.

April ?
After hearing my praise for the improved performance of Shazam, Nick mentioned he was joining his friend from Shazam for lunch tomorrow.

Facebook Coincidence

April 18
Facebook friends Bella Fortuna and Mark Allen post similar images. (hands behind head)

Wine and Beer Coincidence

May 27
Preparing for our dinner date, and without consulting one another, Suzi and I both bought drinks. We both bought a bottle of wine and a six-pack of beer. We both bought Barefoot wine and Fat Tire beer.

June 2
Thought about director Michael Moore in the day a few hours before seeing a like-named guy competing in American Ninja Warrior

June 3
Thinking of American Ninja Warrior turn on radio to hear DJs talking about the show.

The Lab coincidence

June 5
A few days after my daughter started calling the honeycomb fort "the lab", I found the run-down ruins of a front-yard wrestling ring in West Sacramento, marked in spray paint: The Lab.

June 11
After scouring Craigslist for a trampoline, a Craigslist ad for a trampoline made the front page of Reddit. The ad was a long tirade about how the seller's kids had only used it once.

June 30
Researching my Black Actors article, I spotted a credit for the Incredibles on my screen while the kids were watching the Incredibles in the other room.

And that's it! 56 Coincedences!
I quickly realized that many of these coincidences happened while I was listening to the radio or a podcast. If I had two things happening at once, there seemed to be a pretty good chance that the two inputs would occasionally overlap in their subject matter.

The craziest coincidences were:

  1. Running into Jonah Raskin right after commenting on his yearbook posts. I haven't seen him in person for ten or more years.
  2. Suzi and I buying the same wine AND the same beer from different stores on the same day. The odds of this happening just blow my mind. If there are 20 affordable wines and 30 beers, the odds of both of us choosing the same combination are 1 in 600.
  3. Roald and Dahl on the height/weight chart. If you didn't know, those names together are an author's name.

I don't think I had an extraordinary year of coincidences, and I don't think divine intervention was required for these longshots to come together. It's just that a year of human experiences, a whole hell of a lot of things happen to you. They are bound to overlap sometimes.


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