By Jack Sparacino
A few stray musings came into focus recently while I spent a day and a half changing all the clocks in the house and car plus our watches. Maybe some readers have had similar thoughts.
1. Maybe those of us who went to school before personal computers, word processors, e-mail and the internet should get extra credit. Punch cards? Wite-Out? Typewriters? Crawling around the library at midnight? Dinner from a vending machine? You must be kidding!
2. Some smells like lemon tree blossoms or fresh baked bread are divine, but most smells aren’t up to snuff. Take almost any random list of everyday items, like this one, and see what you get: asphalt, burned almost anything, gasoline, carpeting, low tide, glue, paint, mold, vinegar, raw onions. It’s interesting how some usually nasty smelling stuff has been “upgraded” by manufacturers who add pleasant scents. Bleach, for instance, though there must be better ways to enjoy “lavender.”
3. What if practically all zoos were gradually phased out and converted to parks? Have economists performed appropriate cost/benefit analyses on this? Would the animals be better off? Would children’s education really be undermined? Who’s got the data on this one?
4. Are there any foods that can’t be pickled? Seems like the list of things you can pickle goes on forever. Even cucumbers. Hey, wait a minute …
5. Who should be in charge of statues? There certainly are a lot of important questions to consider, so we don’t want the decisions to be made casually. The person(s) portrayed on a statue? How big should it be? Best location? Material? Cleaning schedule? Should this person be able to speak Pidgin English?
6. Here’s one that my hands were really tied on: Who invented rope? Have any patents been awarded? Turns out there are a lot. Swing rope (Patent #4789045, filing date 5/12/87), for example, is constructed of successive layers of polyurethane, fiberglass resin, polypropylene rope, a second fiberglass resin and an abrasive grit. But here’s the cool part. Swing rope may be used to transport crew members of an offshore rig to or from a waiting boat. A second application relates to a non-slip surface applied to a rescue sling. Seems you can really establish yourself in the world of rope if you don’t get tangled up in all the filing details or media attention.
7. Seahorses sure are strange little critters. They’re actually fish, and there are 47 (yikes!) species of them. Seahorses swim upright, which is pretty neat. According to Guinness World Records, the dwarf seahorse is the slowest moving fish, with a top speed of about 5 feet per hour. Finally, a marine creature that I can actually out swim!
8. Am I the only person in the world who finds the Aflac duck annoying? On a brighter note, a recent commercial prompted us to have a lovely duck dinner.
9. What is the precise connection between cottage cheese and cottages? Did it start out as a cottage industry? Is it usually made in cottages? Does it taste better when eaten in cottages?
10. Google continues to amaze and educate me. But now I know there are guys out there with my name, something I used to think was pretty unlikely. Some of them even have my middle initial! Should we start an organization? Can I name the president? (Bet you can guess the name.)
11. I’ve read that major league baseball players have the fastest reflexes of any professional athletes. Do we know who the toughest, fittest athletes are? Hmm, maybe decathlon-ers. Or marathon runners. Pro football linebackers? NBA point guards? Channel swimmers?
12. OK, back to daylight savings time. I’ve looked into this in some detail and can’t find any consistent, tangible benefits, for example regarding energy usage or health. The notion that aligning the hours of daylight with the hours people are most likely to be active so they’ll use the lights less sounds intriguing, but the research fails to really back it up. What seems more likely to result from switching millions (billions?) of clocks back and forth is disrupted sleep patterns and missed appointments, meetings, travel arrangements, etc. Did Americans ever get to vote on this? I hope it’s not too late, but if it is, maybe we can just set all the clocks back.