Beware.

This section is dangerously tedious.

If you are sensitive to tedium, or easily offended by arithmetic, please look away now.

Some time ago, dear diary, I undertook to perform a proper experiment in something approximating the manner of a Scientist. I started counting how often I could find one particular card out of three just by dowsing with a pendulum. I recorded a set of ten tries, repeated daily until I grew too irritated to continue. The undertaking was deadly boring. It involved hunching over playing cards, shuffling them and turning them over time after time after time. The repetition was so mindless that just thinking of it makes me twitch. Add to that a certain tension: every time the pendulum was correct, I felt pleased, because it had worked, but then I dreaded the next swing in case I could not do it twice. Every time the pendulum was wrong, my heart sank because I thought the mistake was all mine and not the pendulum’s fault at all. I felt my ineptitude was destroying the efficiency of a perfectly innocent pendulum. I convinced myself that by getting a swing right, I was storing up mistakes for the future, and that by getting a swing wrong, I was increasing the likelihood that I would make more mistakes. That was how this task proved both tedious and nerve-racking at the same time.

The results did not support any faith in the power of the pendulum; I would have scored as highly just by chance.

Then, damn this work ethic, I realised that if I counted only the times when I had found the queen, I was discounting correct swings the pendulum made when it told me which card was not the queen. I knew then I had cursed myself to another ten boring days of looking for the queen ten boring times. As a rational adult, I turned over the page, steeled myself, girded my loins and kept to schedule for three whole days. Then, as a rational adult with quite an enjoyable life, I found myself just too busy and forgetful for a good, long time.

Eventually, being a self-hating girly swot, I did complete my ten sets of ten. The results, the interpretation of the results and the implications of the results open up a whole new dimension of boredom: boredom of a richness usually only accessible to adolescents on a February Sunday. Each day required thirty swings. Sometimes, I knew in advance whether or not the card was the queen, sometimes I did not.

Day 1: correct swings: 18. correct swings, unknown card: 6 incorrect swings, known card: 3. Number of times the queen came up first: 6.

Day 2: correct swings, unknown card: 11. Correct swings, known card: 11. Incorrect swings, known card: 1. Incorrect swings, unknown card: 6. Accidents: 1

Day 3: Correct swings, unknown card: 10. Incorrect swings, unknown card, 7. Correct swings, known card, 11. Incorrect swings, known card: 2. (Interrupted by fruit of loins, two swings missing)

Day 4: 3 wrong swings, pendulum reversed its normal ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Put pendulum away for a while, out of temper.

Day 4 mk 2: Correct swings, unknown card: 5. Total number of correct swings: 20.

Day 5: Correct swings, unknown card: 11. Total number of correct swings: 22.

Day 6: Correct swings, unknown card: 10. Total number of correct swings: 21. Yearnings for new furniture instead of concentrating: a few.

Day 7: Correct swings, unknown card: 9. Total number of correct swings: 22. Sulks: 15.

Day 8: Number of interruptions: 7. Correct swings, unknown card: 7. Total number of correct swings: 19. New patterns of pendulum movement which could mean absolutely anything or nothing: 2.

Day 9: Number of correct swings, unknown card: 7. Total number of correct swings: 21. Cups of tea during session: 1 (needed to calm nerves).

Day 10: Number of correct swings, unknown card: 7. Total number of correct swings: 21. Cups of tea during session: 1, with chocolate biscuit.

So, what does that prove?

I can force myself to do things I do not want to do.

The worse my temper grew, the fewer correct swings the pendulum made.

Nothing else, dear diary. Had I still been endowed with a functioning brain cell, I would have spotted my mistake straight away. As it was, I did not grasp it until about day 8. Then, damn this determination, I thought it too late to give up.

The number of unknown swings is not a constant. Sometimes, the queen is the first card. Then there is only one unknown swing per turn. If the queen is the second card, or the third card, there are two unknown swings per turn. Therefore, every day, the potential number of correct swings when the card is unknown can be anything between 10 and 20.

I know, damn this honesty, that I can influence the swing of the pendulum, and that I have grown quite good at doing that. I do have incorrect swings on a known card sometimes, possibly because my thinking mind has fled to a more entertaining location, but this happens less and less all the time. I can no longer count swings on known cards as viable data.

Damn this damnation, I will have to start all over again. This time, I will only count correct swings on unknown cards. Scientists have a tough life.

## Day 1: 12 correct swings out of a total of 18 swings.

Day 2: 6 correct swings out of a total of 14 swings.

This is killing me. Each time I lay the cards out, I understand there is a one in three chance that each card might be the Queen. Each time I swing the pendulum, I understand it has a one in two chance of being right.

Each swing can be a yes or a no. That is two variables.

Each swing can be correct or wrong. That is two variables.

However, there are two cards in the set of three which could produce a correct ‘no’ and only one which produces a correct ‘yes’. A correct ‘no’ by mere chance is therefore more likely to happen than a correct ‘yes’. Does that mean that I should give a correct ‘yes’ answer more weight than a correct ‘no’ answer? Should I have a scoring system? One for a correct ‘no’ and two for a correct ‘yes’?

If that is the case, should I also give more weight to correct answers achieved at times when I am especially dispirited, or troubled by the unreasonable demands of a senile cat? Hard day at work – three points for every correct answer. Crisis of self-confidence; five points and a neck massage?

If there are ten chances of finding the queen, and each time the queen might be in one of three positions, and the pendulum has two answers, what is the square root of minus one and how many men does it take to empty a bath?

## Day 3: 8 correct swings out of a total of 16 swings.

Day 4: 10 correct swings out of a total of 16 swings.

AAARRGGGHHH

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