Random or not?

I got my weekly update today on recent Plinky prompts. Most weeks I don’t see any that particularly appeal to me, and I usually have topics of my own to blog about. But I haven’t been feeling well for a few weeks, which makes the no-heavy-thinking-required Plinky prompts more appealing. I was particularly intrigued by the possibilities in the prompt from Monday:

Pick a random word and do Google image search on it. Check out the eleventh picture it brings up. Write about whatever that image brings to mind.

Of course, literalist that I am, the first thing I wondered was how to come up with a truly random word. I can come up with a pseudo-random word by letting words pop into my mind without consciously directing them (violin, pencil, atrocious, manipulation, Krakatoa), but there must be something behind each one that makes it not truly random.

Instead, I googled “random word” and came up with a website that is supposed to generate random words. The first one was surprising. No, it wasn’t a surprising word, it was the word “surprising.” So I did a search for Google images, and looked at the eleventh one. Most of the other images showed people being surprised, but the eleventh image was of a smiling man who, according to the news article from which the picture was taken, was a surprising choice for some position.

I had never heard of him and wasn’t interested in blogging about him. So I decided to try generating another “random” word. This time I got “searching.” Naturally I got lots of pictures of people with magnifying glasses. No blogging inspiration there. (Other than that I was still searching for a good word.)

I tried specifying nouns. I got bombardier, which produced lots of pictures of jets (and here I was thinking beetles). I had specified I wanted a somewhat uncommon word, so I tried again, asking for a common word. This time it was “bow.” The eleventh image was a red bow on a package, though many of the other images were of the kind of bows that shoot arrows.

I suppose I could have blogged on any one of those, but I decided I wanted a different approach to getting a truly random word. I opened Excel, and entered a formula for a random number between 1 and 26 – since there are 26 letters in the alphabet. I got 22, which corresponds to V, so that would be the first letter of my word. I got a new random number, but it was 20, which would make the second letter a T – no good. I got an M, a B, a few more consonants, then finally a 15 – the letter O.

I could still think of multiple words starting with VO, so I generated more random numbers. Next was letter A. I suppose I could have interpreted VOA as Voice of America, but I was looking for words, not acronyms. I kept trying. Number 20, which is letter T. Then an I. At first the only word I could think of was VOTING, but then I thought of VOTIVE. So I kept going until I got a 14 – letter N. The word is VOTING.

So I did the Google image search, and got an image. Now who is going to believe, less than a week before the election, that this is random?

I’m sure I could blog on the subject of voting rights, but that is definitely not a “no-heavy-thinking-required” topic. Maybe I’ll tackle it after the election.

I tried the random word generator again. I came up with “failed.” Hmm, is this a commentary on my attempts to write a post about an image about a random word? The eleventh image was one of those motivational posters. No, I don’t feel like blogging about persistence in the face of failure.

But another image caught my eye. I don’t know if it was photoshopped – I hope so. But – combined with its caption – it is definitely humorous. And much more fitting as an example of a random word leading to an interesting image.


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