Friday, June 26, 2009

Things That I Never Understood

The fast-talking pitchmen on tv give us the sell and then say, “Call within the next ten minutes and we will include (this, that and the next thing).” So how do they know when the next ten minutes have elapsed when the spot is run at any time during the day or night? Suppose you say, “I heard this 15 minutes ago?” What then?

Radio and tv towers just sit there, very quiet, not doing much of anything. But they still send out programming via electromagnetic waves. The air is full of those mysterious little thingies, all vibrating at different rates and in different ways. Our radios and tvs sort it out. Would we go nuts if we could see all this stuff around us?

It’s three in the morning and you are at a red traffic light in the middle of the city. You stop and sit there until it turns green. Is it because, (a) You are law-abiding, (b) You are a careful driver, or (c) You are afraid a cop might catch you? Answer: (c). But it’s only a series of colored lights you allow yourself to bow in obesience.

Locomotives and railcars have flanges on their wheels that keep them on the tracks. Those flanges are only an inch or so tall. You are zipping along and hit a switch at 60 or 90 mph. The car bounces around but you stay on the tracks. Remember, it’s only a one-inch or so flange between you and utter destruction.

When you are cutting a piece of paper with scissors, what keeps you from splitting an atom and causing the city to blow up?


Blogger Vince Sweeney said...

Although I never did get myself fitted for an aluminum-foil hat, Tom, my guts tell me that all that RF bouncing around us is responsible for more than a few things that ail us; chief among them, cancer.

The flange on any piece of railroad rolling stock is roughly the diameter of a dime. You're right, it is scary. I was shooting a documentary a few years back and standing alongside, and very close to, a grade crossing in Tobyhanna as a Steamtown train roared past. Standing next to me was a rep from the NPS who yelled in my ear, "Just imagine if that f***ing thing derailed right this second." Yeah, scary.

About HAL. I worked for them back in the early '80s, did a turn as an assistant cruise director on the staff of the SS Statendam sailing the NYC - Bermuda run. Trust me, working a ship ain't near as much fun as being a passenger. I do believe HAL is returning to NYC in 2010 for the first time in a long time. When I worked for them, they had three ships homeported in NYC: SS Rotterdam, MV Volendam, and the aforementioned SS Statendam.

June 27, 2009 12:30 PM  

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