chaos and dropcloths

I have spent a number of years studying chaos theory, a special branch of mathematics — I have even worked in the field, briefly at the Center for Nonlinear Studies and Los Alamos National Laboratory over a decade ago. This area of mathematics primarily looks at describing the amount of chaos in a system, and is used to find areas of stability in the midst of the chaos.

Despite any of my previous experience, I was totally unprepared for an actually experiment in applied chaos theory. Part of the problem was that I did not understand that getting one’s house repainted and carpet replaced actually was such an experiment. The least pleasant bit was coming home after the ceiling had been sprayed, and white paint dust shrouded almost the entire house. It seemed as though my home had undergone a little death. But, true to the nature of chaotic systems, as the work progresses, beauty has emerged, and the house is looking less and less like a house decorated over a decade ago and more and more like a new home. Tonight when I arrive at home, the carpet will be in, and with a bit of furniture replacement and unpacking, life will be almost normal again.

Should you ever contemplate redecorating, consider the implications of inviting a chaotic dynamical system into your home — a houseguest you will not be sad to see leave. I think we weathered it well.

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