Monday, March 29, 2010


[This photograph by Robert Dant - second prize winner
in a stop-action photo competition organized in 2008
by the Catawba Valley Camera Club of North Carolina.]

I have once again been flirting with The Dice Life in recent months.

Alas, I don't have a decent pair of dice (well, I do have a set somewhere, but they got misplaced when I moved house at the end of last year). And all that one-in-six stuff does get a bit too mentally taxing at times; sometimes all you want is a YES/NO template.

So, I have taken to tossing a coin.

Again, we run into problems there, because coins (other than the tiny, useless-for-flipping, piddling small change ones) are not very common in most parts of China. I rather think the shiny 1 Yuan coin I'm currently using for this purpose is a legacy of my last trip down to Shanghai a couple of years ago (they like coins in Shanghai; they're much more modern down there, you see).

Even the 1 Yuan coin, I now discover, is a little too small and light to be any good for flipping; well, it's easy enough to flip, but it's damned hard to catch the bloody thing cleanly afterwards.

As a simpler, less publicly embarrassing alternative, I have begun occasionally sending the SMS query "Heads or tails?" to friends I think I can rely on to give me a prompt - and non-equivocating - response. (I tried this last Christmas Eve, but was disappointed in the answer I received; however, you must always respect the word of THE COIN; bad things will happen if you try to disregard its bidding.)

I now have one specially designated COIN which I carry with me at almost all times, and which is available to friends and acquaintances of mine who may be suffering from some crisis of indecision.

So, if you are so afflicted by an inability to make up your mind about something, feel free to send me the magic text message; I will flip immediately, and relay THE COIN's answer to you. Or, if I happen not to have THE COIN with me at that moment, I will simply choose 'Heads' or 'Tails' at random myself and SMS you accordingly - which will be just as good. Please remember - you must decide clearly what your two options are before you ask THE COIN. You must not change your mind. You must do what THE COIN tells you to do.

Honestly, it's terribly liberating once you get into it.

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