Saturday, October 27, 2012

Domino Toppling

By Julie Rahm

Dominos is one of the most ancient games in the world. The oldest written mention of dominos comes from China and was written by author Zhou Mi who lived from 1232–1298. Zhou Mi listed "pupai" (gambling plaques or dominos) as items sold by peddlers during the reign of Emperor Xiaozong of Song who ruled from 1162 to 1189. Qu You who lived from 1347 to 1433 wrote the earliest known manual about dominos. Traditional Chinese domino games include Tien Gow, Pai Gow, Che Deng, and others. Dominos have been played in China for at least 800 years.
Eventually, dominos made their way to Italy in the 18th century. However, the game changed in the translation from Chinese to the European culture. The Chinese set differed from the twenty-eight-piece domino set found in Europe during the mid-18th century. European domino sets contain neither class distinctions nor the duplicates. Instead, European sets contained seven additional dominos, with six of these representing the values that result from throwing a single die with the other half of the tile left blank, and the seventh domino representing the blank-blank (0–0) combination. The thirty-two-piece Chinese domino set was made to represent each possible face of two thrown dice and thus had no blank faces. Got all that?
Interestingly, ivory dominos were routinely used during the 19th century in rural England to settle disputes over traditional grazing boundaries and were commonly referred to as "bonesticks”. Even more than the game, I like watching dominos tip over. I find it mesmerizing. According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the longest time 60 people kept a domino circle toppling continuously was 35 minutes 22 seconds. But, when I was watching the fascinating domino toppling YouTube videos, a thought occurred to me. Often, life’s decisions are like domino toppling. One domino tips and the remaining dominos continue to fall in sequence. A poor decision can lead to unfavorable consequences that topple like dominos in a line. We decision-makers do not expect unfavorable consequences. Most often, we are focused on the moment and fail to look down the line of dominos that will eventually fall once we make a fateful decision. As an example, my friend chose poorly in a mate. He drank (a lot/too much) and was unfaithful when they were engaged. She chose to marry him anyway thus toppling the first domino. The rest of the dominos fell in order. The “trust domino” fell when there was more unfaithfulness. The trust domino knocked down the “more drinking” domino. The “employment domino” fell because of the drinking. The employment domino knocked down the “financial wellness” domino. Eventually, the “prison domino” fell and ended the toppling chain of events. So, my point this week, besides dazzling you with the history of dominos, is to give you pause. Before you make a decision, consider the line of domino consequences that will fall on your behalf. Visit my web site at

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