Here’s a winter stew of irritations and observations that have been building up over the months:
Read this: Envelopes you get in the mail that read “Important Message Inside” don’t ever have anything important inside.
Enough Already!: I sat in a restaurant watching an all-news cable channel, listening to commentators narrate a live broadcast of a freeway police chase. They didn’t know what they were talking about. I pretty much knew nothing about what I was seeing. O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco outing some 10 years ago had some news/novelty/celebrity value. But this is just too much of nothing. Come to think of it, what are TVs doing in restaurants anyway?
What TV does well: About a year ago when tornados threatened, I switched among three local TV stations that used radar and weather knowledge to describe the precise danger and how to take shelter. The meteorologists pointed to the exact location and movement of cloud formations that could drop to the ground as funnels, even giving street numbers of threatened neighborhoods. (Of course, while I took my chances on their accuracy, my daughter and dog huddled safely in the basement.)
Mysteries: Why doesn’t anybody (especially me) pay any attention to signs that say, “Please use other door”? And wouldn’t it be easier just to leave both doors unlocked?
Nothing’s simple: A preliminary report on last August’s massive power blackout in the Northeast blamed the record outage on failure to keep trees trimmed near power lines. But then it also blamed faulty computers, workers who should have been able to recognize the problem before it was too late, and automatic switches that should have reacted faster than they did. And the utility blamed for not trimming the trees said it properly followed guidelines on how often to clear rights-of-way.
Nothing’s simple, Part 2: When I worked as a newspaper reporter covering courtroom trials I marveled at how, after the prosecution spoke, I would be absolutely convinced the accused person was guilty. Then, after the defense presentation, I was just as convinced of their innocence. Since then I have always had huge respect for jurors who actually have to make the decision.
Favorite old joke: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” “Well, don’t do that.”