I Know That Guy!

In the prior post – “Facial Recognition Software” – I talked about how our grey matter can often identify friends or acquaintances even in a crowd. And we can “update” our identification capabilities even when we haven’t seen someone in several years. Such has been the case with me.

In the early 1980’s, I walked into a men’s bathroom at Disney World and who should be there? My old fraternity brother George H. During a trip to Italy a decade later, Donna and I met neighbors Dick and Gail W. – who took our picture in St. Mark Square in Venice. The wildest example of coincidence was being in the middle of the Okavango Delta in Botswana – 6 of us – bouncing along the Veld in a Land Rover. Not a soul around save for zebra, gazelles and a few antelope. Then at a distance appeared another Land Rover from another camp. And I squinted – “I know that guy!” It was Rick L – a partner from our Los Angeles office (see below).

Fast forward to three weeks ago. Donna and I are in Amsterdam – awaiting the start of a Rhine River cruise. We are prowling around the Rijksmuseum – home of paintings from the great Dutch Masters — Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh. And I’m thirsty. Sooooo. . . . I hoof off to the second floor cafeteria to grab a bottle of water and who should be sitting there enjoying a bite? Our old friends – Jack and Cheryl N. It’s been a few years but I spotted him in an instant – thanks to my facial recognition software. Our next getaway may be in January. What are your plans??

Facial Recognition Software

[A timely repeat from February 2, 2014] Donna and I were at O’Hare Field last weekend – off to Florida for a few days. At the airport, I walked by thousands of people.  And I didn’t recognize a soul. One or two prompted a second glance – is that . . . . no.   And then – from a hundred feet away, I went – that’s JT.   And it was.   A golfing pal.   We chatted (we were on the same flight) and boarded.   We arrived at the West Palm Airport and again saw a veritable sea of people as we shuffled toward the exit.  All shapes, sizes and attire.  But not one person did I recognize.  All had the same standard equipment.  Face.  Nose.  Eyes. Ears.  Hair.  But all were different (some really different).    

After getting our luggage and walking outside, I spotted Bob and Carol driving up in a car.   I find it pretty awesome that we humans all have a facial recognition software hardwired into our brains.  We can pick out someone we haven’t seen in ten years in a crowd of thousands.  We can detect an old friend from across the room (“well look who’s here!”).  And these faces – and what we perceive to be an evolution of them – is reposed with clarity and order in the gray matter between our ears.   Some people change dramatically and become unrecognizable.  But most retain some of the remembered characteristics from years past.   I remember seeing Jon H. – an old friend from Boy Scout camp – at O’Hare.  I hadn’t seen him in years but I knew him in an instant.  It’s amazing how our brains work. 

Now where did I leave my keys. . . . .   

Can You Count the Frogs?

Early in our marriage, my parents gave me a small ceramic lily pad and three goofy looking frogs who were sitting around the lily pad — playing cards. It was cute and so I put it on my desk. Shortly thereafter, I began receiving more frogs – wooden, ceramic, metal, glass. Most were small though I have a large concrete frog in the back yard. After marriage – and especially after having Lauren – frogs began arriving on a regular basis.

At my old law firm, I had a nice office in the Sears Tower. With the added space, I brought a box of frogs to adorn my digs. Shortly thereafter, one of the staff members brought her little boy to work. And they stopped by my office. The little boy was mesmerized by the frog collection. To make it interesting, I offered him a dollar if he could count them. He immediately took up the offer. His mom gave me a thumbs up and walked out. And I got back to work with the little boy wandering around – looking out the window and counting frogs. After maybe 20 minutes, he finished and I thought “plus or minus 20 is close enough” so I gave him a dollar. And so it began.

Every time a little one would accompany mom or dad to our office, Petersen’s office – and the “frog count” – was one of the main stops. No one ever was “wrong” on the count (I believe the correct number was 63) so everyone walked away richer. And I ended those “count” days poorer. Slightly. . . . .