Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Man seeks to find me after my brief appearance on radio about composting

Five years ago when I began thermophilic composting, depositing all of our organic waste into a compost pile in the backyard, I called Ira Flatow during his Science Friday program on NPR to report my project related to his theme of conservation of resources on college campuses. Though I only occasionally have time to listen to the noon broadcast on Fridays, my call was the first answered.

Unexpected book gift contains letter to author

In 1979, shortly before I wed my wife of nearly 35 years, after reading one of John Simon’s columns in Esquire, I wrote to the eminent critic of the arts. Without mentioning me by name – “A much more sophisticated letter comes from a teacher in Yuma, Arizona, yet it, too, profoundly disturbs me” – he quoted a paragraph from my epistle in a later column before verbally ripping it to shreds.

Consecutive double yolks in Turkey on Easter Sunday

What to make of the succession of seven double-yolked eggs out of a total of ten I broke open when making scrambled eggs on Easter Sunday in Turkey twenty years ago? Turkey is sometimes referred to as the “Other Holy Land” because of the seven churches of Asia Minor that are mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. Was that supposed to be significant to me an agnostic? “In England, a man went to the store and bought a package of six eggs. He cracked the first one open and found a double yolk. Then he cracked open the second, two yolks in that one as well.

College associate

While on duty as an Army enlistee specialist in Bangkok in April, 1968, I was greeted at an Army office by an Army Major I last spoke to in the ROTC office at the Pennsylvania college from which I graduated in May, 1967.

Not so eerie but left us with a strange feeling

On a road trip in Colombia, South America, with a cousin, I got the driver's seat for a short while because my cousin had been driving for a long time and needed to rest. It was dark, the terrible road had many potholes that you had to sort out by driving fast avoiding the largest and hitting the rest. Not long after I was driving I turned right on a fork and about half mile later I hit a pothole so badly that it busted the right hand side front tire and damaged the back one as well.

9/11 Magazine Ad

About a month after the World Trade Center terrorist attack I was leafing through PC magazine at work and came across an advertisement for Yahoo Finance. The ad showed an old photo of the financial district of Manhatten with most of the recognizable skyline but conspicuously did not have the Trade Towers in the image. The ad said, "Feel Left In" and I supposed the the gimmick was to show an image where something was clearly left out -- the trade towers. The date of the magazine was August 2001.

My Improbable French Bestie

I started to really work on improving my very rudimentary French skills a few months ago and I started using a phone app called Hellotalk which pairs you up with French speaking people who are trying to learn English. I started making friends with people all over the world, having basic multi-lingual chitchat with people in places such as the Ivory Coast, Algeria, Morrocco and of course France. One morning as I arrived at work, I received a message from someone new who wrote that they were from France and they were working as an Au Pair in Australia.

Ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in 20 years

I was standing by a cafe near UC Berkeley thinking of a friend I had in the 80s, who I hadn't seen since then. She lives in San Francisco. I turned and she was walking down the street toward me.

Online dating historic connection

A guy "superliked" my sister on Tinder - by accident, it turns out - and when she found out his history, we realized he had had dinner at our house 25 years earlier, in a city 400 miles away. Maybe he subconsiciously recognized her, but I doubt it.

unlikely meeting

In Nov. 2013 my wife and I were in the middle of a 6 week road trip (from Boise, Idaho) taking a day hike in Jedediah Smith Redwood Park in northern California. The trail was a loop and we saw very few people. But in the middle of the hike we did run into a couple we knew from Boise. We weren't good friends but the husband and I had spent the previous year working quite intensely together on a non-profit reorganization so it felt more remarkable (even if it wasn't). So 600 miles from home in the redwood forest we meet friends from home.

Pages