Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Coin flip

In a few months I shall perhaps be seconded from London to another city. However, I shall not be alone, for the office usually has around eight of us go to 'aforementioned another city'. There are detailed information guides for the secondment made available, which dictate all manner of suitable office practice, provide cultural information, urge insurance advice, send us examples of filled-in immigration forms and collate frequently asked questions, and even unvoiced but definitely prevalent thoughts. Generally speaking, I feel like we are in capable hands.

In the matter of apartment choosing however, we are left to our own devices.

Residential accommodation includes the following: 1) A two-bed apartment; 2) A three bed apartment (Apt A); and 3) A three bed apartment (Apt B).

Amongst  the eight of us, we have exchanged 53 pleasant emails , decided who will be flatmates with whom, drawn up two tables (don't you love outlook?), and exchanged polite preferences. While the choice of the flatmates was not contentious (being split along gender lines:  to avoid a girl having to put up with the smell of testosterone, red meat and questionable personal hygiene), and neither was the occupancy of the two bed flat, the remaining two sets of three voiced a preference for Apt A over Apt B.

After further discussion, I was pleased to receive this email from a future flatmate, where she exhibited prodigious drafting skills by stating: From what I can see on Google Maps– both flats seem to be relatively near to each other and the office, but in the interests of fairness (so both groups won't have any regrets) and the avoidance of any possible future conflict (though this is probably very unlikely), I think we should flip a coin and see who fate favours.

Sadly, we did not flip a coin to decide who will flip THE coin, but  the careful solving of social problems through a randomly generated win-loss paradigm makes me very happy.

On the train from a Buddhist temple to Angel, I learnt about the origins of Bose-Einstein statistics, from Sroyon also in the context of coin-flipping, though his explanation (precisely stated) and the little paragraph on Wikipedia left me slightly more puzzled than it should have.  I shall aim to understand it better someday.

I always thought coins had the exact same 'phrase of major importance' inscribed on them and even on their edges), but it appears they do not, atleast, not in the United Kingdom. I made this discovery in the previous six month seat, where the whole group would enthusiastically contribute two pounds to the lottery pool for the Euromillions lottery draw. Evidently, we did not win (for there may have been a hint of this news on bloggy here).  We were not even mildly successful. In fact, we were not successful at all. Still, every two weeks we persevered. (And occasionally we wondered what we would each do if we won 50 million (split between thirty or so people, after taxes, it was a paltry sum of (approximately) 1.2 million and some change per person).

Anyway, the Wikipedia page about the one pound coin occupied me for a rather pleasant half-hour that day and it suddenly came to mind today as I have been thinking about coins.

I shall go home and see if I have a one-pound coin that resembles the description below (so I can hold on to it as my own personal measure of inflation):

2010: Coat of Arms of Belfast
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2010, starting below, IRB directly under the bust.
Reverse: Circular Coat of Arms of Belfast, BELFAST above at top, ONE and POUND around each side of the Shield. Small Coats of Arms of the other 3 capital cities of the UK in the intended set along bottom (left to right; Edinburgh, London, Cardiff)
Edge inscription: PRO TANTO QUID RETRIBUAMUS ("For so much, what shall we give in return?" – the Latin motto of Belfast). 

As on 22 December 2011 : a pack containing 14 pieces of sugar-free chewing gum. Or a half-pint of milk and some peanut candy. Or, 158 pieces of the (fighter of flatulence and director of digestion), Hajmola Chulbuli Imli candy (from India).


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