So you want to be normal

Where did you get the idea that only some people are normal?

“Normal is a setting on a washing machine,” says a Chicago-area counselor with a degree in Social Work.

Characteristics within a population vary from one extreme to another, and most people tend to fall near the middle, near the average or the mean. In the field of statistics, this distribution is called a bell curve.


It’s true that a bell curve is a form of a normal distribution of probabilities, but please note the technical term — a ‘normal distribution’. Only the distribution of likelihoods is normal.

If the heights of people are measured, and all of us have been measured, we are all there in the pot of measurements. Some of us are likely to be taller than others, and some of us are shorter than others. We are all 100% likely to find our heights somewhere on the bell curve because the bell curve was created by accounting for all of us.

The way I hear it is that it is very typical for many adult American males to be close to 5 feet 10 inches tall — if I’m not mistaken. Fewer are likely to be around my height of 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Look at the ‘1 standard deviation’ section above. Sixty-eight percent of us males are not especially taller or shorter than the figure that I gave of 5 feet 10 inches tall. That might be a way of saying that sixty-eight percent of us are at least 5 feet 7 inches tall but not taller than 6 feet 1 inch.

This height range comes completely from my imagination. It may be that the range of height of sixty-eight percent of adult American males is between 5 feet eight inches and 6 feet tall.

Whatever this range of heights is, those of us who are taller or shorter are also “normal” — just rarer.

So, you want to be normal? Stand up and measure your height, and you are definitely normal.

“I makes up my mind and I lives with the consequences.” (Maybe you let someone else decide for you, but that’s you letting yourself live with the consequences.)

Critical Thinking

When I write about critical thinking in this blog, I would have liked to call this skill “having our heads screwed on straight.” That’s a wieldy phrase, so it’s not a tag for this blog. It’s also a metaphor, but in the industrial age, such a metaphor is understandable. Also, this a colloquial expression for English speakers.


When I used Google Translate, the phrase “would have liked to call this skill ‘having our heads screwed on straight’. That’s a wieldy phrase . . .” resulted in Modern Hebrew that made sense — “After our heads screwed straight.” I’m actually not surprised that Israelis sometimes use translations of English colloquialisms. However, Google Translate left the word ‘wieldy’ untranslated. Then I took the Hebrew wording and let Google translate it back to English, then back to Hebrew again. This time the translation read, “After our heads screwed up straight.” This Hebrew wording actually borders on the vulgar.

I used Google Translate for a Spanish translation and got, “que tiene la cabeza en recta” — “whose head [is] straight.” Back to English it became, “that has his head straight.” It reads as I intended. This translation utility completely messed up the full idea, though. In Spanish it became, “Esa es una frase manejable” – “that is a handy phrase.” If it’s a handy phrase, then why am I not using it? Back and forth again it became, “Esa es una frase muy útil.” To the extent that I read Spanish, this means, “that is a very useful phrase.” In a good English-Spanish dictionary, the adjective ‘wieldy’ doesn’t even appear.

While I’m having fun — a German translation came back into English as, “would like to have this ability to call ‘have screwed on just our heads’. This is a handy set, so it is not a day for this blog.” The translation utility confused the English word ‘tag’ with the German word ‘Tag’ which means ‘day’.

In French, we might not like “to have our heads attached to his head.”

Ten fingers

I look at my hands next to each other, palms up. I see ten fingers — when I consider thumbs as fingers — like two columns side by side. This reminds me of the Two Tablets of ten chapter headings that Moshe Rabbeinu brought down from Mount Sinai.

Wherever I go, I have Torah study material. I decide when and where to study.

— from my scratch pad of thoughts that keep me awake,
but based on a Holy Sefer

Fourteen is an incomplete number

I look at one of my hands, palm up.

I count the bone segments of my fingers. Two joints of the thumb and three joints of each finger, altogether fourteen on either hand. The Hebrew word for hand is yad, yud dalet. The Gematria sum of 10 (yud) plus four (dalet) is fourteen. There is no surprise here that the Hebrew word for hand is yad, fourteen joints.

But, how is a hand, fourteen, incomplete? Only by virtue of how we can raise this number to fifteen. “Shma Yisrael . . .” and one hand covering the eyes. We conclude with the last word echad. We have a higher, complete unity in the number fifteen.

— from my scratch pad of thoughts that keep me awake,
but based on a Holy Sefer

Thirty-one is an incomplete number

“With thirty-two separate paths of wisdom the Almighty engraved and created His world.”

Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation, 1:1)

How could thirty-one be imperfect? One of HaShem’s names is Keil — alef and a lamed. We see in this name thirty-one by using Gematria.

My daring foray into Torah chiddushim is like this:

“HaShem is One, and His name is One.”

The Divine name Keil is “His name,” although only one of them. Even so, adding a single name, thirty-one becomes thirty-two.

— from my scratch pad of thoughts that keep me awake