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TRISKAIDEKAPHILES SPIT IN FEAR’S FACE

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For people who say they are not superstitious, breaking a mirror separates the fearful from the fearless.

Or so says Arthur Klein, a second-generation member of the Friday-the-13th Club."It's really where the test comes," Klein said Thursday. "When it comes time to take that hammer and break that mirror, that separates people who can deal with superstition from the people who can't."

The Friday-the-13th Club, which has 13 permanent members, only meets on a Friday the 13th, which occurs twice in 1990, in April and July. The members get together to break mirrors, walk under ladders and toss salt over their shoulders.

"You have to debunk the idea that anything will happen to you because of any of this," said Ed Wohlmuth, another second-generation member.

The club was started in 1936 by Klein's father, Phillip Klein, and meetings always start promptly at 12:13 p.m. and end at 1:13 p.m., or 13:13 military time.

"They thought it would be a one-time thing (in 1936), but it got started and has been going ever since," said Wohlmuth, whose father, Max Wohlmuth, was also a founding member.

The club has 13 permanent members and six or seven "floaters" who fill in when a permanent member can't attend a meeting.

Some superstitions have serious origins. However, the exact roots of triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13, dates back to Roman times, although its exact origins are not known, Wohlmuth said.

The club's original charter called for it to "self-destruct" on Oct. 13, 2000, Klein said.

(Additional information)

Computer centers were on alert across China

Computer centers were on alert across China against new outbreaks of a "black Friday" software virus that infected thousands of units on the previous Friday the 13th three months ago. Computer surveillance experts broadcast warnings over radio and television across southern Guangdong province, where the April 13 virus caused the most extensive damage, officials said. But there were no immediate reports of new attacks by the rogue software programs.

900713 13THUP SCOTTY;07/14,13:02 1withvirusup13viruheadline

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