Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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8/30/04:
Trending and Perspective: Tribute to Bo by Kim Zussman

Weekends here in So Cal are wondrous for long jogs on the trails of oak studded hills. This mornings wander meandered along Bo's remark on the worst thing for a man is to be made to fill a hole he dug, and how this relates to markets.

Now and then in a trance carelessly almost step on a pacific rattler, one of the few circumstances under which these are dangerous. On those days for the rest of the run, every twig and stick that pops into the visual periphery creates a start, then a chuckle.

One summer on a winding hillclimb with blind turns out of nowhere zoomed out-of-control mountain bikers downhilling. Jumped to safety, but for several weeks that stretch of trail caused a twinge of anxiety.

Neither instance was more or less probable after the surprise, yet the awareness and fear is difficult to extinguish with reason. One's own mind is a fertile lab of synthetic experimentation which can be extrapolated to herd behavior, and the profitable illogic of running into the fire and away from nubile harems.* Today in the sun along a gentle valley of 2-meter scrub chaparral on the breeze floated a cacophonous melody foreign to this place. Something like 10,000 finches chirping madly beyond the next hill. Never heard this before-what is it? Then, after a few minutes, it stops suddenly. What? This many birds wouldn't all stop at once. Did they hear me?

Would the Anasazi, who carved images of spirits in the cliffs to honor their supernatural, have interpreted such a sound by kneeling to worship? Is there anything in this strangeness a warning for rational modern man?

Soon it starts again, and as the jogging proceeds slowly up the next hill there is the hope to find out. To the top, round the summit-there it is: down below, 1000 meters into a gentle canyon, is a newly built movie set. An old west town perhaps, with buildings and facades and a wind-machine churning a high-pitched sound. That was it-only now, in direct view, the sound is distinctly different. More low pitched, mechanical. Somehow it sounded different from another vantage or distance. Lensed through canyons west of the set, the sound of aviaries: from points east, just the drone of a high-pitched motor.

Continued on the long loop, tried reasoning out the mechanics. Sound is density waves; perhaps refracting according to wavelength like electromagnetic. What about diffraction off the sharp edges of scrub along hilltops, or the bushes acting as some kind of wave pass filter? No-why then would it be different from west than east. The answer, my friend, was blowing in thy face: the constant prevailing breeze coming out of the west. Could it be, since sound is a blend of compression waves of different frequencies (pitch), the pitch became elevated, like the Doppler of a train whistle, when pointing into the continuous pressure of the wind? This could explain how sound might change upwind or downwind. No matter-the phenomenon was not a cloud of breeding birds or spirits, but the noise of a fan modified by a physical process.

Perhaps its not so important to know why but rather what, and to take into account that surprises and unknowns are more perplexing and troubling in the future and present than once they transition to the past. Which could go a long way toward explaining, as our beloved departed tried to do, the importance of courage and to stand up with eyes open and fight mano-a-mano.