Three: It’s thrice as nice on this day

By Scott Meeker

Globe Features Editor

Three: It's thrice as nice on this day

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Brett Normand is 3 today.

Today also happens to be the third day of the third month of 2003, or 03/03/03.

Coincidence? Maybe.

But when you factor in that he's the third child of Tim and Lisa Normand, both of whom are third children, and that he has three brothers, Grant, 8, Garrett, 5, and Blake, 6 months, one thing becomes clear: That's a lot of threes.

"It was right after Christmas when we started talking about this," said Lisa Normand. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

While she said there are no plans for any festivities with three as the theme, Brett will have taken part in a family birthday party over the weekend with a cousin and one of his older brothers, who have birthdays close to his.

Observing 03/03/03 may just be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – unless, of course, you're counting on being around 100 years from today, on March 3, 2103.

"There's just something natural about (the number 3)," said Michael Eck, a math and computer science instructor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. "It's the perfect number."

Several years ago, Eck created "The Book of Threes," a Web site devoted to all things "three." The site, www.threes.com, is an open forum to which people may contribute. It has, naturally, generated more than 3,000 entries.

Eck said his interest in threes began several years ago when he was working at a restaurant. During the downtime, he would practice juggling. That activity, he said, requires three objects to truly be considered juggling.

"We break concepts down into things that come in threes," he said. "From a mathematical standpoint, if you have two points, you have a line. But with three points, a triangle, it's the beginning of structure.

"With two people, you have an argument. With a third person, you have the beginning of a group and understanding of concepts.

"I also write music, and all the songs have three verses and choruses. The first time it's unique; the second is repetition; and, by the third time, it's the hook. It becomes knowledge."

With "The Book of Threes," Eck said he wanted to create a Web site to which anyone could contribute and also one that could be "an expression of the Internet community."

Broken down into more than 20 chapters covering topics such as art and culture, language, mathematics, and sports, the book has collected quotations, song lyrics, expressions and concepts that relate to the number three.

There's "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." There's Crosby, Stills and Nash; Blood, Sweat and Tears; and Earth, Wind and Fire. Three's a crowd. Hook, line and sinker. Yada, yada, yada the list goes on.

No ifs, ands or buts about it: Every Tom, Dick and Harry can think up some three-related bit of trivia.

Eck said he hopes to modify the Web site soon to include a section for the lengthier entries. He also plans to develop an interactive game to challenge visitors with their knowledge of threes.

The game will, of course, feature beginning, intermediate and advanced levels.

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