Serendipity on the radio, soon in a podcast


podcast-logo.pngWelcome to the 131st Today’s Podcast. November 1st marked the one year anniversary of Today’s Podcast. This year my goal is to produce over 200 shows. Much closer to my promise of a daily show.

Today’s word is serendipity. I was reminded of this word by a recent interview with Yvon Chouinard on NPR’s Day to Day. No podcasts for Day to Day yet. But NPR does offer some podcasts.

Only a few days before the interview I was in Boston for StartUpSchool. I stayed with some friends, one of whom is getting his Ph.D.. at MIT. His field of expertise is environmental policy so I was picking his brain on the subject of U.S. foreign oil dependency and its relation to synthetic clothing. Jim was explaining to me that synthetic clothing could be made form natural polymers but at this time that process is more expensive.

Stick with me I am getting to the serendipity part.

In an off hand remark I asked Jim if he thought Patagonia would be a leader in bringing non-petroleum based synthetics to consumers in the next 50 to 100 years. He asked me if I thought Patagonia would be around in 100 years. I said I figured they would be. He didn’t. So we made a informal bet.

Back to Yvon Chouinard. He is the founder of Patagonia and he was on the radio promoting his new book “Let My People Go Surfing : The Education of a Reluctant Businessman.” During the interview he mentions he expects Patagonia to be in business 100 years from now. There is the serendipity.

Serendipity is a noun that describes the act of making fortuitous discoveries. The act of finding something useful when you weren’t looking for it.

I wasn’t looking for evidence supporting my theory or my position in the wager but just listening to the radio I stumbled upon some useful evidence.

The word serendipity was given to us by Horace Walpole in a letter of January 28, 1754. He coined the word from the title of a Persian fairy tale- “The Three Princes of Serendip.” Serendip is the ancient Persian name for Sri Lanka. Walpole wrote the following describing the story, “As their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of …” That is serendipity.

Last year serendipity is was listed by, Todays Translation, as one of the ten hardest English words to translate. So to the English-as-a-second-language listeners and readers I hope I have helped.

UPDATE: Jim just dropped me an email letting me know there are now corn based fibers used in socks. Japan will be the test market for these new socks.