Friday Frivolity: Give ’em the horn

Trombone, Trumpet, …Horns.  Marvelous devices, designed to provide various harmonic sounds, pleasing to the senses.

The car horn.  An infuriating device, designed to produce a single horrific note to disturb the senses.

The car horn replaced the bell as the warning device on automobiles, early in the 1900’s, I think.  Imagine if that had not occurred.  A busy metropolitan intersection would be one monstrous wind chime.  Much more pleasant to the senses than the senseless cacophony now prevalent on the road.

I suppose there was some sensibility to the car horn initially.  At top speed, in the early 1900’s, a horn would be sufficiently audible at a distance adequate enough to warn someone of potential impact.  At today’s speeds—even city street speeds, the screech, then thud of impact is likely to be audible prior to the bleepin’ beep.

Besides, if an accident looms ominously in your view, I would think the preponderance of effort should be in avoidance of vehicular impact, and not trying to impact the horn activating button—hidden deep within the safety padding of the steering wheel …right there, no, not in the center …there, see the icon …the embossed symbol, …next to the symbol for the air bag …which is now deploying.   So, for the purpose of avoiding collisions, it seems futile to try to locate the “”horn”.

Honking also fails miserably to announce personal recognition of another driver or pedestrian.  Unfortunately, the odds are less than roulette that I accurately recognize other drivers.  Even if I correctly identify the driver next to me, the horn is hardly directive in its sound dispersal.  Most of the drivers within goose-call range do not recognize the blaring attention-getter as a friendly greeting.  Though one driver may wave an acknowledgment of my intended “friendly greeting”, most other drivers—especially the driver in front of me, respond with a not-so-friendly wave.

Depressing the horn button is arguably even less effective as a means to clear the way.   Early automobile horns were blown by squeezing a rubber bulb.  I suspect that was necessary because early automobile engines did not possess enough power to drive the wheels AND generate electricity at the same time.  Such a low-on-power engine could not propel the car fast enough to be much of a threat of injury to pedestrians.  In yesteryear, the horn had credible purpose to alert pedestrians they were wandering in the roadway.  Today, honking at a casually ambling pedestrian, in your path, often elicits an even slower pace accompanied by a Mr. T glare.

And animals?  Well, at least large ones like buffalo and moose, are ambivalent.  Most other creatures are naturally afraid of moving vehicles and generally scamper to the side without you honking.  However, I have found that some squirrels will return across the road if you honk.  But only once.

Let’s see…speed negates the horn as a warning device.  A honk is rarely interpreted as a friendly gesture.  The claxon’s effectiveness as a traffic or animal clearing device is highly questionable.  What’s left?  Ahhh, yes, it is to signal displeasure with an ill advised decision by another driver.

Why honk at ’em?  I’d suggest you should not let them get away with that bone head maneuver.  Don’t toot your horn at ‘em…Hit ’em.  Maybe they’ll learn.

But the epitome of stupidity with regard to usage of the car horn happened as I was coming home the other day.  I had stopped at a traffic light.  I was the first car in the thru lane.  The green arrow for the turn lane to my left came on, signaling GO for turning vehicles.  A horn honked.

My first thought was the honk came from behind me and I retorted with something like “Dummy, our light isn’t green yet.”

At the second, much longer honk, I realized it was not the car behind me honking.  It was the guy behind an abandoned vehicle in the turn lane.  For crying out loud…there was no driver in the disabled vehicle.  Who was the guy honking at anyway.  Oh, there was the target of the honk.  He was standing in front of his apparently immobilized car…talking on a cell phone.  Obviously I was not sure what the stranded motorist was thinking, yet I’m quite certain he was not signaling that he would be out of the way in “1” minute.

Friday Frivolity: Full Disclosure

Ever read the small print on a package?  It’s getting more distressing for me as the years wear on.  Oh sure, it’s troubling because of my diminishing eyesight, but also from diminished capacity to understand the rationale for much of the small print.   Such was certainly the case when we left Lowe’s  yesterday.

It wasn’t that long ago that I’d go buy bolts and nuts out of bins.  Yup, I’m old enough to remember Hardware stores on the corner.  Those neighborhood proprietors would stock fasteners in ceiling to floor walls of drawers, stave & hoop barrels or drop down wooden bins.  Grab what you need, toss ’em in a paper sack and proceed to the cashier.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all that long ago and there still are a few “home town” hardware stores. However, I think those days of buy only what is needed are gone.  Today, such hardware items are in baggies, shrink wrap or blister packs.  Yesterday, we bought a pair of brass machine screws, two plastic nuts & washers, all neatly packaged in a plastic bag.

I was happy we found exactly what I needed.  Often the marketing of such items are seemingly packaged with the intent of “overstocking”.  Not their shelves…my storage bins.  Nevertheless, most of my family would testify that overstocking my storage bins is my delight, not displeasure.

But I digress from my story.  These were packaged precisely sufficient for my need.

I guess Sue was bored as we drove away.  She started reading the package.  In itself, that’s quite disparaging as to my ability to entertain her.  Anyway, first she read the shocking news that I had not purchased a toy.  Ahhhh, more precisely, the bag which contained the nuts & bolts was not a toy.

Aw, gee whiz, …and to think I almost bought a dozen of bolts just to get enough bags to fill with beans for my bean-bag-toss game.  (Otherwise known as “Ed’s Cornhole Game”.  Sorry, again I digress.)   Oh rats, they nixed the thought of refilling the bag in Warning Number 2.  Once I had removed the hardware, I could not refill the bag with anything.  No beans, no rice, no dinner leftovers, …nothin’.

Before I could recover from this “no recycle for personal use” caveat, Sue continued with even more distressing, specifically stated, cautions.  Would you believe we can’t use the empty bag in a crib?  For what?  You’d have to staple a hundred of them together to make a sheet.  Of course… there was at least some temptation…the packaging was a delightful baby blue.

Oh, but there’s more about this simple little purchase that was bristled me.  I fully realize the diverse ethnicity in the United States has caused lots of things today to be printed in multiple languages.   That fact doesn’t trouble me.  Predictably, the package’s Identifications, Features, and Instructions were in both English and Spanish.  No big deal.

What, then, was so abrasive to me?  The Warnings, which I just highlighted as foolishness, were only in English.   The packagers figured only Anglo-Saxon descendants would be dumb enough to toss all their scrap plastic bags into the kid’s playpen.

Hold on…, don’t toss this book in the basket just yet.  The worst is yet to come.  As Sue neared the end of her perusal of the bag, she exclaimed:  “Ohhhh…, My…, Goodness!  Ed, we’ve got to keep this bag”.

You do remember that I mentioned Sue reading thou shalt not keep the bag for any purpose.   I will testify without duress, Sue is not predisposed to disobedience.  Okay, …alright, …if the truth be known, she does indeed tear off all the “Do Not Remove under penalty of law” tags.  However, such actions are mitigated by trying to satisfy some residual teenage rebellious attitude still swirling in her mind.  But, why would she suggest we save a tiny, plastic, perforated, non-zip lock baggie in flagrant violation of regulations clearly stipulated…in ENGLISH.  The answer lies in the producer:   Keeney Mfg. Co.

For those of you who are not aware of Sue’s heritage, she began life as a Keeney.

See, I told you the implications of small print is often very disturbing to me.

5 Second Rule

The 5 Second Rule has been repealed.  You know, the one that says if you retrieve dropped food within 5 seconds, you can safely eat it.  Of course this retrieval rule does not take into consideration the surface onto which the dropped food lands or the texture of the food particle itself.  Granted, dropping gum on the beach will provide the grit necessary for clean teeth and Jell-O, rescued quickly new-mowed lawn, will likely include whatever vitamin is in chlorophyll, there may be some personal limits associated with individual application of the new “ruling”.

I think the old rule has been on the books since Eve first dropped the apple at Adam’s feet.  Actually, I understand it was several centuries later.  In the latest report from University of Connecticut research, suggest they’ve traced the rule back to Genghis Khan.  Oh, wow, now there’s a trusted hygienist.

Anyway, I noticed a headline also concerning UConn’s research.  The 5 Second Rule was disproved by a research panel at that University.  The headline read like the 5 second rule was debunked after exhaustive experimentation by a University of Connecticut laboratory study?

Nah, actually it was more like two UConn chicks in the cafeteria?  …but they did use scientific methodology to include Petri dishes and microscopes.  I remember once, at a cafeteria, seeing some exotic delicacy that looked like one of my college, micro-biology, petri dishes.   Trust me, I didn’t need a microscope to notice unwanted growth.

Anyway, these gals discovered that wet foods, represented by apple slices (I wonder if Adam contributed to this study) could survive up to 30 seconds on the floor without bacterial contamination.  Skittles a minute or more.   Hmm, only skittles that have been in my mouth are wet.  If I spit them on the floor, why would this rule reset be applicable.

When I shared this exciting revelation with Sue, she asked if this study’s extended time will make any difference to me when I drop food.  Considering the frequency of my food droppage, this was certainly an important question.  However, considering that I have an uncontrollable habit of licking my fingers after grasping a softball that’s been rolling on surfaces not recently sanitized and repeatedly handled by not-so-surgical gloves, the question does become somewhat irrelevant.

I have never deliberated the 5 Second Rule before licking the grit off my fingers between pitches while playing softball.  It’s important that my fingertips are clean and moist for a good grip.  Besides, there’s another positive side effect.  Somewhat like gum out of the sand, the grit I clean from my fingertips, quickly mixes with my gum to create a very effective plaque remover.

Yet, what if I should contemplate the relevance of the 5 Second Rule to my softball habit.  5 seconds?  Is that 5 seconds cumulative for every bounce of the ball?  The total elapsed time from when the ball leaves my hand when I pitch it, until it smacks back into my glove at the end of the play is always longer than 5 seconds.  BUT, the ball rarely is in continuous contact with anything for 5 seconds.  Fact is, it often bounces instantly out of gloves.  I am relieved to know that the University of Connecticut study has extended the “wet” rule from 5 to 30 seconds.  So, even with a grass moistened softball, it’s possible to make an error or two and I’d get the ball back in less than 30 seconds.  I feel very safe now.