Sunday, January 9, 2011

Things That Make No Sense to Me

With age comes wisdom. Or so I was led to believe.

But the truth is, unless you're a cult member (they have answers for everything), the questions that occur to you over the years far outweigh the knowledge you acquire. The existence of a higher power and life after death are a couple of the bigger mysteries that enter our minds with the passing years.

Those two are more or less out of my league. However, I can address just a very few ... a tip of the iceberg so to speak ... of the lesser things in life that baffle me:

Bottled Water
I may be penny wise or frugal or just plain cheap, but I just can't bring myself to purchase water in a store. How does this sound for a business plan? Charge people a tidy sum for virtually the same thing they can get for free at home. Give it a fancy name, French if you can think of one, and you can charge even more. And, oh yeah, package it in a material that kills the planet like … oh … let's say ... plastic.

I could access ancient records of my grades to prove this, but suffice it to say that I can't even understand enough calculus to give you an example of how baffling calculus is to me. Wait a second … here's something I sort of remember: Calculus has “imaginary numbers.” Even with an infinite number of numbers available, calculus feels the need to imagine more numbers. Come on, calculus! I mean … really?

“Stock futures are up four points before the opening bell.”
I'll admit that I don't know the first thing about the stock market. Well, that's not strictly true. I do remember learning in sixth grade that people jumped out of tall buildings when it crashed in 1929. (Some lessons you learn in school are just too cool to forget.) But even given my ignorance of the subject, isn't this statement about the same as saying, “The Phillies lead the Mets 4-0 as we prepare to start the first inning.”?

I realize that where food is concerned it's quite literally a matter of taste, but to me these are like eating tiny balls of snot.

I have never understood the amazing appeal of this pretend soccer game where you twist poles to spin attached players who attempt to push the ball into the goal. To me, it's a tremendously cumbersome simulation of an unpopular sport on an unwieldy table. But I have resigned myself to the fact that this is an indication of some kind of defect in me. Almost everyone I know loves it … I don't … I now concede that they're probably right.

And there is one more item that I'll bring up as part of my “Hall of Fame of Things That Never Made Any Sense to Me” …

8-Track Tapes
For the benefit of those of you under 45 or so, I'll explain that these were approximately 4-inch by 8-inch cartridges filled with a theoretically never-ending loop of the greatest music from the mid-1960s through the 1970s. Just about every car I rode in during those years had an 8-track player in the glove compartment and a back seat filled with the tapes. (I believe Led Zeppelin tapes came with every player.)

The sound was pretty good, but the one (I would call it major) flaw was this: The lengths of the tracks did not coordinate with the lengths of the songs. The music would fade out in mid-song at the end of one track, there would be about a 3-second silence, followed by a mechanical click (or clunk, if you prefer), 3 more seconds of silence and then a fade in continuing where the music left off.

Having heard these albums on 8-track enough times, a person started to believe that the pause-click-pause was part of the songs. (It was a dumber, more innocent age, I'll admit.)

I have a hard time envisioning today's iTunes generation putting up with that sort of flaw. But what made the 8-track so difficult for me to understand even then is that for most of the time that it was popular there was a far better alternative.

Standard cassette tapes existed. You know, the mini reel-to-reel inside that little plastic case. I know they were available because I had one in my car. These were the obvious, no-brainer choice ... technologically superior, musically non-interruptive, smaller, easier to store, longer playing time with better sound and … I'd better stop here before I blow a gasket.

I'm suddenly reliving a 30-year-old argument with my 8-track-loving friend, Tony.

Feel free to chime in with some things in this wild world that make no sense to you!


  1. Dawn K. wrote:

    I understand the stock market baffler. What baffles me is anyone that would put high performance tires and rims on a 1984 Grand Marquis . . .

  2. Finally, someone who agrees with me about peas!