Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When Predictions Go Wrong

Last night, January 26, 2015, we all hunkered down.  Me, my family and just about every single person in the Northeast. 

Dire warnings were issued non-stop on every single television channel - a mega-blizzard snowstorm with hurricane strength winds will be moving in during the evening and early morning hours.  From northern New Jersey, New York City, Boston and parts of Canada - we were all told to expect anywhere from 2-3 feet of snow plus gale winds up to 70 mph.  The news media, including CNN, touted this storm as being "historic" in its killer potential.  "We have never seen anything like this before!" shouted the weather forecasters.  "Don't underestimate the power of this storm!."

Following suit, politicians up and down the Northeastern seaboard took extraordinary precautionary emergency measures the likes of which I have never seen in my life!  Entire cities were 100 percent shut down!

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took to the airwaves and declared a state of emergency in the state of New Jersey.  He instituted a traffic ban on all private traffic on New Jersey roads after 11 PM.  More than 1,300 flights were canceled at the area's three major airports, Newark, LaGuardia and JFK.  Some hospitals canceled elective surgeries and staff slept overnight on makeshift cots.  All public transportation, trains, buses and light rail service were shut down. 

Similarly, in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio proclaimed a "winter weather state of emergency" and said no private traffic would be permitted on the streets of New York City after 11 PM and all persons would be banned from walking around in any city park after 6 PM due to the danger of falling branches and trees.  More than 1,800 snowplows were deployed, schools closed, and everyone warned to stay inside. 

Boston's Mayor Martin Walsh issued an almost simultaneous emergency announcement for the City of Boston.  He said a snow emergency would take effect at 6 PM, all cars parked on major city roadways would be towed, public schools would be closed for the next two days, all non-essential motor vehicle was banned starting at 12 midnight, and 800 pieces of equipment had been deployed to clear major roads of snow.  All three politicians declared they had taken these proactive positions on the weather because this blizzard was going to be unlike all other previous blizzards.  They called it "historic."

It was the first time I have ever seen politicians reacting to weather predictions on such a massively proactive and rather panicked scale.  I grew up in Boston and I lived for 25 years in New York City.  I had never seen anything like this before.  This was wholesale panic.

When I was a kid, cold weather and snow was no big deal.  Most winters I waited outside for my school bus in weather often reaching 5-8 degrees or approaching zero.  The insides of my lungs felt "furry" and frozen, but it was tolerable.  I once went on a school field trip where we spent the entire day outdoors taking measurements for our science class in weather that was 40 degrees below zero with the wind chill factor.  We were fine.  Further, our schools were never closed unless and until there was 3 feet of snow on the ground.  When I moved to New York and later New Jersey I thought people were funny because they became quasi-hysterical at the sight of anything more than a few inches of snow on the ground. 

I once flew into Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit my father and was shocked to find myself on the last airplane allowed to land and was unable to find a single vehicle or taxi working.  There was one inch of snow on the ground.  People apparently had not figured out that you can drive when there's snow on the ground.

At any rate, I did some late afternoon shoveling of snow off the steps and driveway yesterday - just 3 or 4 inches - in anticipation of the dumping of 2 feet of snow overnight.  When I woke up today there was less snow on the ground than yesterday.  No snow at all last night.  What a disappointment.  What a tremendous let-down after all that crazy hype.

Then, today, a brand new phenomenon:  weathercasters making a formal apology to the public and the politicians for their failure to accurately predict the strength of this storm.  They grossly overestimated its impact, at least in New Jersey, and now the politicians have egg on their face, so to speak.

According to a local newspaper, the Parsippany Focus: A state of emergency was declared in New Jersey Monday afternoon, but the blizzard dropped less than expected amounts of snow on the state Monday night, with no more than 7 inches of plowable falling in Monmouth County, and half as much elsewhere."  That is to say, 3 inches or less.  Much less than the touted "historic" amount of snow estimated to be between 2-3 feet deep.

The article continued:  "Meteorologists took to Twitter to issue apologies and explanations.
'My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,' Gary Szatkowski of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly Tweeted early Tuesday. 'You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry.”There will also be a slight chance of snow showers before 10 p.m., with winds only reaching 9 to 11 miles per hour.'"

I say bravo to the meteorologists who had the guts to apologize for their mistake. 

But here's the thing.  Speaking as a (psychic) person who also makes "predictions," I am fully aware of the pitfalls and problems in advising people about the future.  Predictions, whether they are psychic or based on computer projections, are still nothing but the highest likelihood of trending data that indicates a particular outcome. 

This should be viewed in quantum physics point of view known as the Uncertainty Principle, developed by physicist Werner Heisenberg, in 1927.  Depending on the object of your study and whether you choose to examine its position or momentum, there is no absolute single answer.  As the principle states:  the more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice versa.  Thus, a field of possible correct answers is generated.  When we make a prediction, it is predicated on what we are watching - and we may be watching the wrong thing. 

Meteorologists - as well as psychics - would be well-advised to remain humble about their predictions.  And skeptics out there should be as respectful to psychics as they are to meteorologists...

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Grandfather's Spirit in My Dream Saved My Sight

My grandfather H. Maurice Fridlund, Esq. (aka "Puff") and me
I have always had extremely bad eyes.  I have worn glasses since I was 8 years old.  I am extremely nearsighted.  At 20 feet away, my vision is equivalent to someone with 20/20 vision looking at something the distance of two football fields away!  My world is extremely fuzzy.  In addition, I have other annoying eye issues such as floaters, astigmatisms, cataracts, and retinal degeneration.  As I have gotten older, since my eyes don't change as frequently as they did when I was young, I just to the ophthalmologist once a year for a check up. 

About five or six years ago, I went to bed and was having an very average, rather boring, dream.  I was driving to a school in a neighboring community to pick up my daughter after her soccer game.  I got there, found the school, went inside, found my daughter and we started to leave, when I noticed that the door to the room opened.  Normally, since I am a lucid dreamer, I have very good control over the events in my dreams.  I usually know what is about to happen.  That was not the case here.  The door opened and there stood my Swedish grandfather who we called "Puff" (ironic in retrospect, I suppose, since he died in his mid-80's, when I was in my mid-20's, from a debilitating lung disease called emphysema). 

At any rate, I was very surprised to see him in my dream. 

I said, "Puff!  What are you doing here?"

He replied, "I'm here because I need to show you something, Nancy."

He shuffled slowly over to the other side of the room, just as I had remembered him in real life decades earlier.  He picked up a huge, leather bound text book, opened it up to a particular page and pointed to the writing just below a medical illustration on the top of the left page. 

"Here.  Read this," he said.

I struggled to read the words out of this medical treatise, but they began to look like unintelligible squiggles and floated aimlessly. 

"I can't read this, Puff," I said, "because I'm in a dream."

"Oh that's alright then," he answered.  "I just want to make sure that you go to visit your eye doctor because there is a problem with your eyes and you need to take care of it."

"Okay, I will," I promised.

We hugged warmly and he told me he had to go, and so we parted ways. 

I woke myself up from the dream sobbing with tears running down my face.  But they were tears of joy.  That had never happened before in my life.  I was quite certain there was absolutely nothing wrong with my eyes.  My vision hadn't changed and I had no symptoms of anything at all.  But, in my budding exploration as a psychic, I decided - just for kicks - to go and get my annual eye check up anyway.  So I did.

To my shock, at that visit, my ophthalmologist informed me for the very first time that I had early stage glaucoma and would have to start coming to see him every three months and take eye drops for the rest of my life in order to prevent blindness.  What was even more amazing to me was that my dream conversation with Puff could not have been the product of my subconscious mind trying to tell me about my eye disease. 

Glaucoma is a symptomless disease - until you begin to go blind.  There are only three ways to check for it and none of them would result in any conscious or subconscious awareness - thinning of the wall of the retina, high intraocular fluid pressure, and the beginning of the loss of peripheral vision.  Tests showed that my peripheral vision was still excellent.  So there would have been no way for me to know or sense the presence of glaucoma. 

This was enough to convince me that I had, in fact, been visited by my deceased grandfather - for real!  It would also account for my strange crying upon awakening from the dream.  I also found it ironic that Puff was the one who showed up to tell me about this eye disease.  He is the only other member of my family, on both my mother's and father's sides, who - like me - wore glasses.  It was only suitable that he would tell me about this eye problem.  Furthermore, it was perfect that he showed up with a medical text to convince me about the problem. 

Born in 1896, Puff was a brilliant man.  He spoke eight languages fluently, attended Harvard Law School on a full scholarship and graduated with some of the highest grades ever, and also studied law in France and Germany.  He adored reading books that classified things - like weather, animal species, birds, historical events, etc.  When he sent me a rare letter in the mail, the letter was always divided into a main topic, subheadings and separate clauses.  He wasn't exactly a warm and fuzzy guy, but he had a good heart.  He was a tax lawyer for one of the largest admiralty law firms in the United States and created a very wealthy lifestyle for my mother's family.  Former Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis (Jacqueline Kennedy's second husband) begged my grandfather to be his lawyer, but Puff turned him down.  He didn't like Onassis' dirty business practices. 

Since that time, I have continued to see my ophthalmologist faithfully every three months and have had to increase my eye drops since my vision is now slowly starting to deteriorate.  Ultimately, there is no cure for glaucoma.  All you can do is slow the onset of the disease.  If Puff had not shown up in my dream, I believe it is possible I could be partially blind by now.

So, I offer this story as proof that the dead can help the living and give accurate medical advice from beyond the grave.  It's wonderful.