Morning Fog

There are no coincidences

on January 4, 2010

Second post…I’m catching up….

So has this ever happened to you?
I have been around a long time, granted, and I have a pretty decent vocabulary. Decent to the point that when I hear or read an unfamiliar word, it makes an impression because, frankly, it just doesn’t happen that often. At least not in my usual day-to-day life of teaching first grade and mothering a 12 year old. If I were reading law reviews or taking medical school classes or something, I am POSITIVE I would encounter whole unfamiliar paragraphs, so I am not really bragging or anything here.

So anyway, every now and then I hear or read that random unfamiliar word. Usually infer some meaning from the context and move on. Sometimes I go look it up, especially if it is important for some reason. But occasionally I will have twilight zone-ish back-to-back experiences with the same exact word that has somehow escaped my notice for 50 years.

That just happened to me. This time the word is Formic Acid. Not an everyday word in my usual comings and goings, but after school today, a fellow teacher tossed it out into casual conversation. And just now, perusing a blog I had lost track of (someone I used to read all the time) it was tossed into casual conversation again her storytelling!
It isn’t everyday, in my circle of friends, that TWO people toss “formic acid” to the conversation.

Both conversations had strange and bizarre references to ants, which makes sense since formic acid seems to have something to do with ants. Dead ants, specifically. But still. Raise your hand if you have had a conversation with someone in which ants and formic acid were tossed around like you were discussing the weather…go on. Now raise your hand if that has happened to you TWICE in the same day…you see.
Coincidence? I think not. Especially since neither my conversation with the teacher, nor the blog post I was reading were ABOUT ANTS. The whole ant/formic acid thing was just one of those fly-by references. Am I the only person in the world who didn’t know what formic acid was?

Anyway, all is not lost because I now know what Formic Acid is. /eyeroll
Obviously the universe wanted me to have this piece of information.

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3 responses to “There are no coincidences

  1. Miss Hiss says:

    Formic acid is what gives you the sting when an ant bites you! I know these things, living in the desert amongst the wild bitey things as I do. (Oops — I just checked and realised it was my blog you’d seen it at!) Also, the phenomenon which you mention (about the coincidence of hitherto unknown words/concepts falling into one’s line of vision in quick succession, such as with you and formic acid) is called “Stick Insect Theory” — by me, at least. Years ago I read an article by someone who chose to name it Stick Insect Theory because it happened to him with stick insects when he was a child. He had no knowledge whatsover of stick insects and then — suddenly — whoosh, there were references to them everywhere. The article was quite a well-researched scientific analysis about the roots of coincidence, and I’ve often wished I’d kept it. Love, R xxx

  2. l'empress says:

    I’m not going to the trouble of looking it up, ’cause I’m more than a little lazy today. But I seem to remember that formic acid is the simplest of organic acids and, yes, it is in ants which is how it got its name. I also have some kind of memory of tasting formic acid, which was pleasantly tart; chocolate-covered ants were sold in the epicure shop when I was in high school.

    I raise my hand, but it’s really not relevant. I loved organic chemistry.

  3. bluesleepy says:

    I have never heard of formic acid, and you would think I have, what with the lengthy discussions I have had with our exterminator. Gotta love living in base housing; we’re overrun with ants in the summertime. You’re not alone!

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