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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Accidental Smile

I spent this past 4th of July weekend at my brother-in-law’s place in the country. He has a small terrace where one can sit and just watch the birds feeding, the sun setting, and at night, an occasional shooting star. Late in the afternoon we all sat down at the table, sipping cups of what my brother-in-law calls “fox hole” coffee – not very flattering for the person that brewed it. Toward the end of a leisurely chat, as the sun was beginning to fade behind the trees, my wife sprung up from her chair as she gasped. “Look at this!” she said pointing and hunching over her now empty coffee mug. We all gathered around. “What do you see?” Frankly, at first I could see very little, just coffee grounds (maybe the coffee really was that bad.) “Can’t you see the smiley face?” With that image in mind the bottom of the mug took on a sudden and seemingly profound meaning. Had this been the face of some deity I’m sure the neighbors would have been contacted. The mug would have been carefully moved and stored. It would have been seen by crowds of the faithful at morning church services. There would have been a pilgrimage to my brother-in-law's back terrace. The media would have gathered, and the face would have circled the world to joyous cries - it's a miracle!

But this was “just” a smiley face; peculiar, accidental, but nothing more. I wondered what microscopic irregularities must be present at the bottom of that cheap mug to cause the grounds to align themselves in such a way. I wonder how many times before that smiley face had formed with no one noticing. I wonder if this was really a random fluke, or something significant. But then, I’m still asking myself, and any astrophysicist I meet – what was there before the “big bang”? So far, no answer.

After a few pictures, my brother-in-law insisted in washing the dishes – something he does religiously. :-)

Shot on 7/5/2008 with a Canon PowerShot SD600 set to Macro.


Elllen Mendlow said...

I know this was posted long ago in internet time, but I just found this by following a trail of breadcrumbs from your 11/4/09 post on Planet Preschool--Josh Selig's blog. I was interested in your comment and wanted to learn more about you, which led to your linkedin profile and finally this post.

Anyhoo, it happens that a good friend of mine just posted the word for this phenomenon in my facebook page


I couldn't help posting, since the coincidence in timing (there's surely a word for that too) was irresistible.

Really appreciated your point of view on the blog--both here and there.

Ozzie Alfonso said...

Thank you for the comment, especially since the photo has been up for over a year without a peep. You've encouraged me to keep posting images I like. "Pareidolia" - I'll have to add it to my spell check.