Thursday, February 24, 2005
Mysteries of the Universe, and Serendipity 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
I love a mystery. That's why I couldn't wait to sit down in front of the computer this morning to decode a slip of paper I found on the sidewalk outside the quadrangle of Stuart Hall. There's probably no great meaning here; but when a randomly misplaced note crosses your path, it always seems prudent to listen to the serendipitous messages the Universe may be sending.

At first glance, I thought someone might have unintentionally lost a new acquaintance's digits, or had jotted down a pair of Illinois license plate numbers off some suspicious-looking vehicles lurking in the shadows. Maybe it was a secret code! Then, I noticed the two faint periods separating the second "1" from its neighboring "5." Such a combination exists only one place here: in the call numbers of the University of Chicago library system.

Eureka! All I'd have to do now is pop the call ID into the electronic library portal page, and information on the book would appear. A few moments later, I learned that "F1435.1.C45R3" belongs to a 1934 Carnegie Institution publication, Chan Kom: A Maya Village, by Robert Redfield and Alfonso Villa Rojas.

How about that...did the Universe know that I'm a big fan of Mesoamerican history and artifacts, and coincidentally leave a student's misplaced library reminder in my path to discover? Did it know that the book might be more edifying to me than some bored history major, or would the person who lost the note now search frantically for that obscure citation to make a term paper deadline? I'll never know. But you can be sure I'll try to track down that book just to see if a message from the infinite lies within. ;)