Million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten

As most of you know, I’m from New Zealand originally, and moved to Australia six months ago.

About twelve years ago, I had a pen-friend, Trudi, who lived in Melbourne, and we corresponded together for about four years before we drifted apart (as you do). During that time she visited me in NZ for a month.

I am in Melbourne now myself, and have been trying to track her down in a casual way, phone book, ICQ, etc, but not knowing if she was still alive, still in Melbourne, had married, or what, had made things a bit difficult to determine for sure if she was even accessible.

Just two weeks ago I suddenly woke up, remembering her boyfriend-of-the-time’s last name, and started checking that name as an alternative, but no luck.

This morning I turned up at the station as usual to catch my train into work, and there was this somewhat bohemian-in-training familiar looking young woman chatting with the newspaper man, and my body went zing with semi-recognition.

I entered the same carriage as her and sat nearby, hoping something would give away who she really was, and as luck would have it she had a post-it note on her diary with her name on it :slight_smile:


There are three million people in Melbourne, and by pure chance I accidentally ran into her.

Wow. Cool, huh?

“Waheeey! ‘Duck!’ Get it?”
“Errr… No…”
“Duck! Sounds almost exactly like fu-”

There’s a play about this, which I’ll misquote and mangle, but it’s something along the lines of “8 degrees of separation”.

Bascially, it’s a mind-boggled homage to synchronicity, claiming that there are only a few, set number of “separations” between any two people on the planet.

It’s a wonderment, ain’t it?

How cool! So did you talk to her?

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Yep, I talked to her, had a brief (ten minute) catch-up session. She’s gonna have a book published! Coooool!

All I got to tell her was about the movie I worked on, which wasn’t much really. But I’m sure we’ll talk more later. :slight_smile:

“Waheeey! ‘Duck!’ Get it?”
“Errr… No…”
“Duck! Sounds almost exactly like fu-”

Guanolad, the plays (IIRC) is “Six Degrees of Separation” and was made into a movie with Will Smith, Stockard Channing (?), and somebody else. Check the IMDB.

You may find it interesting to learn that someone once conducted a serious ‘sociological’ experiment along these same lines. What the researcher did was have someone on the extreme east coast of the U.S. write a letter to someone on the west coast. The sender was then told to send the letter not to the intended ultimate recipient, but to the person the sender thought was most likely to be acquainted with the recipient in some way, whether he knew that to be the truth or not. This intermediary would then do the same, unless he/she actually knew the recipient, it which case the letter was to be delivered. Each intermediary would initial (sign?) the back of the envelope. I believe most letters were delivered with 6 or less intermediaries, and quite often as few as two or three, which may have led to the ‘6 degrees’ cliche.

Ever played six degrees in real life? I once tried to figure out how many steps between me and the President of the United States. If I count only the people that I know personally, and only the ones they know personally, here’s how I think it would work:

  • Me,
  • my younger brother,
  • my younger brother’s friend who works as a Congressional aide.
  • The representative my younger brother’s friend works for,
  • The President of the United States

Pretty cool, eh?

“I think he said ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’”

To the current President of the US, I’m 3 away. I was 2, but then we changed presidents.

  • I do occasional computer jobs for a columnist/journalist.
  • He’s a good friend of George HW Bush.
  • He surely knows Bill Boy Clinton

Thanks guys, I was aware of the play Six Degrees of Separation, and the movie. The Kevin Bacon thing was a Mad About You joke that became something of a running gag for a while. Apparently you can trace any actor in Hollywood back to Kevin Bacon within six steps.

Here’s my Bill Clinton list (and I may be wrong about this).

My brother.
His wife.
Her Father (a representative of the Maori people, of which I am one) greeted Bill Clinton when he was in NZ a few weeks ago.

Or at least I assume he did.

“Waheeey! ‘Duck!’ Get it?”
“Errr… No…”
“Duck! Sounds almost exactly like fu-”

I can do the Bill Clinton “six degrees of separation” within two people. My mother’s husband (my stepdad) got to shake Bill Clinton’s hand earlier this year when the Prez visited the air force base that my stepdad works at. Pretty cool, eh?

I can also do the same with Kevin Bacon too. My mom’s best friend was an extra in a movie that starred Jay Leno, and he has interviewed Kevin several times.

And believe it or not, I can do this with The Pope too. My mother briefly worked with Cardinal Maida (Detroit Archdiocese), who has met the Pope on several occasions.

“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with
great ambitions.”

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

This may or may not be the case. I’m familiar with Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon from watching The Daily Show back when Craig Kilborn was the host. It was a semiregular feature.

For those who are interested in the process, try and give it a try.

–Da Cap’n

It makes me feel even older than I am, but here’s me and Abe Lincoln:

I knew Lillian Gish; she interviewed people who were there the night Lincoln was shot, for “Birth of a Nation” in 1915.


Wow, I hadn’t thought about this in a long time. I am currently three people away from the president. (Soon to be one)

Me- friend of…
Vern- Lobbyist in DC who constantly meets with…
Senatars and Congressmen who definately know the president.

After this weekend Vern will be meeting the president in person for some fundraising event. No, I don’t know what it is.


Move over Satan. :wink: Now there’s something meatier.

Hmm, me to the president:

My mother-in-law;
My mother-in-law’s cousin, the senior Senator from Kentucky, Wendell Ford;
the President

Hey, from the President we can get to LOTS of people! :slight_smile:


Anyone who knows any politician can get to the president with little separation.

I know Sheldon Silver (and am good friends with his son), Speaker of the NY state assembly.

I’d bet he’s met Clinton, but even if he hasn’t, he certainly met Mario Cuomo and George Pataki (NY governors) who, in turn, have met Clinton.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

Two degrees of separation between me and the President:

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson (see brush with fame thread)
Bill Clinton

I also know someone who has had a private audience with the Pope, so there are two degrees of separation there, as well.

Modest? You bet I’m modest! I am the queen of modesty!

I doubt that it’s still being made, but there used to be a board game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.