Baader-Meinhof phenomenon


Last month, I wrote about all the coincidences that seem to happen in the books I read.  My coworker Mark, who also proofreads everything I write, pointed out that there is a name for this.  It’s known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.  Since we work in a language school, when he first said it I thought he was speaking another language.  But no, this is what it’s really called. 


According to, “Baader-Meinhof is the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information– often an unfamiliar word or name– and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.”  Basically, it explains that our brains like patterns, and therefore, we tend to notice words and phrases that come up again and again when they fit certain sequences. 


However, I’m still not sure this explains some of the coincidences I come across while reading.  For example, when I mentioned the main characters in both books have the name Xander.  That’s still weird to me. 


Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in March 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – The Dangers of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers

Parents know the importance of keeping their children’s hands as germ-free as possible, and besides hand washing, hand sanitizers are often the go-to choice when water is not available.  After all, these products are purported to kill many different types of microorganisms.  What could be safer?
Now comes some news that these products may also be dangerous for our children.  Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control announced that “over 70,000 children drank hand sanitizer between 2011 and 2014. While some older kids intentionally ingest the alcoholic liquid to get drunk, most cases are much more innocent. About 90% of the reported incidents occurred among children younger than five.”  Since some of these sanitizers are scented and come in colorful bottles, they are attractive to young children.  These bottles are also commonly found in schools, daycares, and other places where children are present and are usually easily accessible to them.
Some of these sanitizers contain up to 95% alcohol, and should only be used under adult supervision.  Most side effects, such as eye and mouth irritation, cough, abdominal pain and vomiting, are usually minor.  However, if enough sanitizer is ingested, it can raise a child’s blood alcohol level very high, resulting in seizures, respiratory issues, low blood sugar, and coma.  In this case, 911 should be called immediately, along with the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

So talk to your children about the dangers of ingesting these sanitizers, and keep them out of reach of small children.  Some companies make non-alcohol based hand sanitizers which are non-toxic, and there are also sanitized wipes which may be more suitable for your family’s needs.
About the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad
The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you.  (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or


Most of you who know me well know that I read a lot of books.  It’s almost an addiction.  I read pretty much every night, sometimes for 2 hours or more.  Then, a few years ago, I started taking the train to work and found that I had even more time to read.   Happy days!

So now I have my “home” book, which I read every night before going to bed (and whenever else I can sneak in a break).  I also have my “train” book, which I read while commuting.  Believe it or not, I can always keep the two books straight in my head, and don’t find it confusing at all to follow two story lines at the same time.  The thing that does surprise me, though, is how there is more often than not a link between the two books.  And I’m not talking about everyday themes here.

For example, I was reading a book on the train and Faberge eggs were a big part of the story line.  Then, in the book I was reading at home, someone mentioned a Faberge egg.  Really? How often does one of those come up in a book?  It can also happen with names.  My home book had a character named Xander, and so did my train book.  I mean, come on, it’s not like Xander is a common name.  The two books were not written by same author who just happened to like this name.  Actually, this name annoyed me for some reason; what kind of name is Xander anyway?  And I had to deal with it in both books.

Here is another strange coincidence that happened to me just this morning.  My home book mentioned Vidocq, which is a members-only crime solving club.  I’ve never heard of this club nor come across it in any of my previous books, and I read a lot of non-fiction and fictional crime books.  (As a matter of fact, if you look at my book list under Reading Pane, you’ll see that this is my favorite genre.) Now here it pops up in two books that I’m reading at the same time.  I could go on and on.  It happens constantly and I just keep shaking my head at the happenstance of it all.