Several months ago I wrote a piece I called Have You Ever Noticed? You can click on the link if you missed it. Well since that time I have had more questions (random, stupid and otherwise) pop into my head which I have neither the time nor the inclination to research. Presuming that research would actually turn anything up.
Like what, for example? . . .
I have read a lot of history, but have never read the first thing about who invented socks. Or why. But I have to hand it (sorry) to that person – socks were a great idea.
Air conditioning – a wonderful invention. It chills air by taking heat out of it and dumping that heat outside of the structure being cooled. So does the amount of heat that the refrigeration process removes from inside air equal the amount of heat added back to outside air? And if the answer is anything close to yes, does that mean that the only reason we really need air conditioning so much is because . . . everyone else has air conditioning?
Babybel cheese, you know, those bite-size round cheeses that come in a net bag. Every one I have ever seen is sealed in a red wax coating that must be removed first. So why is every one then wrapped in plastic too? This seems excessive.
I recently watched an ad on TV for a new Lexus. Why do they use a woman with a British accent to sell Japanese cars? It would be perfectly natural for a British woman to do the voiceover for a Jaguar or a Range Rover – after all those cars have a legitimate English heritage. I have heard German accents used to sell German cars. And British voices (with their haughtiness dialed up to the maximum) used to sell German cars, as I think about it. But I have never heard any TV commercial use someone with a Japanese accent to sell a Japanese car.
Has anyone in the history of packaged food ever gotten 9 actual servings out of a normal-sized package of dry spaghetti?
How does adding an electric motor (and batteries) actually improve a paper towel dispenser?
Why has nobody ever sold root beer with melted vanilla ice cream mixed in with it? Because that is the best part of a root beer float (or black cow, depending on where you are from).
Why is it an inviolable rule of computer hardware and software that the guy currently working on your system always tells you that the last guy to work on your system screwed something up?
Cottage cheese – yes, the globular white stuff in the plastic tub in the dairy case at the supermarket. Who is actually in charge of deciding whether a curd is small or large? Perhaps this is something found in a thick volume of the Wisconsin Annotated Statutes.
Toilet paper. Is there a bit of social etiquette that is so frequently flouted as the social obligation to replace the roll after the old one has been used up? A thought occurs to me: Why has nobody ever manufactured toilet paper with something on the order of a Cracker Jack prize or even a Chinese cookie-style fortune hidden in the first sheet or two of a new roll? I think that some little incentive to break out the new roll would do a lot to overcome this bit of societal friction.
The humble perforation – the line of small holes punched into something to make it easier to tear. We all have years of experience with these. Notebook paper, postage stamps (remember those?) and consumer packaging of all kinds. When the design of the particular item wants you to tear it in a specific place, the manufacturer helpfully provides a line of perforations. And in actual use, where does the particular item actually tear? That’s right, anywhere but the perforation line. I have been formulating a theory that if you want to make a material stronger in a particular place, the solution is to perforate it. Because it will almost never tear in that exact spot.
One of the staples of television and movies is the surgery scene where a bullet is removed from a gunshot victim. Sometimes these are performed in a proper hospital, sometimes in a crude field hospital, and sometimes in the back of a dirty white van while using bourbon as both antiseptic and anesthetic. I have noticed that there is one constant – why has the on-screen removal of every bullet from any person or object since the beginning of talkies in the late 1920’s end up being dropped with a “clink” into a metal bowl or container? Every. Single. One. Plastic has displaced metal in almost every application in healthcare, but apparently not for the on-screen catching of surgically removed bullets. “Clink.”
Now be honest . . . wasn’t this better than more news, commentary and advertising about the election that will be (blessedly) over in a few days?