Why apples are better than oranges

People often say, “That’s like comparing apples and oranges.” I guess they’re implying that the two things are so different, comparing them doesn’t make sense. But, is that really true?

  1. The apple has much more variety. It’s red (or green, or yellow) on the outside, white(ish) on the inside and has brown seeds, but the orange is orange all over. Boring.
  2. The apple has a shape that holds its place on a flat surface. An orange can roll all over the place!
  3. The apple has an easy mechanism to let you know that you’re waiting too long to finish it — it starts turning brown. With an orange, you never know!
  4. An apple is less confusing. If you say “orange” do you mean a fruit or a color?
  5. The apple’s skin is edible. Okay, maybe the orange’s skin won’t actually kill you, but… yuck.
  6. The apple has no chewy (gross) internal section skins like the orange.
  7. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. What does an orange a day do? Nothing. Except maybe turn you orange. (But, not into an orange. See? This just illustrated my point from #4 above.)
Apples

Winner

Orange

Loser

If I could put time in a bottle

It’s been many years since I last heard Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. As so often happens after a long time, my memory mangles things and the lyrics that should be “If I could save time in a bottle…” became “If I could put time in a bottle…” Meh. Save, put? Are they really so different?

As for the rest of the lyrics… Forget about it! What, in my mind, was “If I could put time in a bottle, da dada da dada da daaaaa…” eventually was replaced with “If I could put time in a bottle, if I could make memories come true…” WTF?

Bottle of sand

Time in a bottle?

But, setting aside the purely invented second line, I’ve often thought about the significance of the first line. Out of respect for Mr. Croce, I’ll happily go with the correct lyrics, “If I could save time in a bottle.” Any way you slice it, putting time into a container would be a neat trick. It suggests that time could be treated as a substance, having mass and form. Or, perhaps the idea is that saving “time” in a bottle is metaphor for somehow altering the physics that are affected by time, or at least altering a person’s perception of time.

But, settings aside the mechanics of actually capturing and holding time in a container, I wonder other things. Like, where did the time originally come from that is in the bottle? Is it “my” time? If it is, what is the advantage of having that time put away (presumably for use at a later… time)? I mean, if I had to sacrifice some of my time to go into the bottle, only to be taken out later, what is the benefit? Unless, of course, the time that is in the bottle is altered in some way. If I put money into a savings account, it accrues interest so, at a later date, I can get back more than the original amount I set aside. Could the same thing happen with time?

But, that suggests that the extra time added must come from somewhere. Is there some kind of universal time bank that pays interest on the time stored away? And, what’s the payoff for this universal bank? Is the time I put into the bottle then put to use, perhaps by someone else who borrows the time and has to pay back interest on the loan? (Sounds a little like making a deal with the devil.)

Alright, perhaps I’m getting a little far-fetched here. Maybe the idea of saving time in a bottle is more about capturing a moment or two and having those moments available for eternity (or the rest of my life, whichever comes first, unless the time saved could be transferred upon my death to another person, in which case, it might be for eternity or until the end of time, if there is such a thing) because they’re moments that I really liked.

In that case, I guess I’d be taking time that has already happened and saving it as opposed to taking time that hasn’t happened yet… Hmm, this could get confusing.

Another question that comes to mind is, how would I access the time that is saved. Does just opening the bottle release it? And how do I know that the time goes to me rather than just floats off into the air, possibly to be ripped off by some passerby? Or, do I have to get into the bottle with the time? And, how the hell do I do that?

Then there’s the question as to what the time would look like. The genius of the song is that the time is being put into a bottle. I immediately think of a clear, glass bottle, not some opaque plastic shampoo bottle. I mean, it just seems like it would have to be glass, doesn’t it? My first thought is that time would be clear, like air. But, that probably comes from an inability to let go of thinking of time as a concept or as a physical property and not as a substance. Maybe it’s actually foggy or smoky. Or, maybe it’s more liquid-y. Or, maybe it somehow displays the contents of the time, like a little movie playing the events that took place in that time over and over.

I think what’s clear here is that I lack the physics background necessary to fully understand the genius of Croce’s lyrics. Maybe I’ll do more research. In the meantime… If I could put time in a bottle, would I? And, why?

What, me worry?

I’m a worrier. My mom is a worrier, and frankly, I blame her for my worrierness. (Thanks, Mom.) I remember one night when I was maybe five, Mom saw what was probably just some kids smoking cigarettes behind a neighbor’s house. She was all freaked out because she saw them lighting matches, and all I really remember was cowering by Mom as I imagined the whole neighborhood being set on fire.

Match being lit

Fire -- it doesn't have to be scary

As an adult, I’ve noticed a sad sort of creativity to my worries. When I took voice lessons for a short time, my teacher had her students perform at an open mic. At a rehearsal we had the week before the performance, all us nervous newbies were taking turns singing our songs. One of my fellows tried to put things in perspective and said, “What’s the worse that could happen?” I said, “We could be so nervous that we lock our knees (a no-no I remember being harped on in high school marching band), pass out and fall forward, impaling ourselves on the microphone stand.”

Once I was early for an appointment and I sat in my car, reading as I waited. My shoes were uncomfortable, so I untied the shoelaces to loosen them up. Then it dawned on my how dangerous that was because, if there was an earthquake, and I had to jump out of the car to run for cover, I might trip on the shoelaces, knock myself unconscious on the blacktop, and be squashed beneath a lightpole knocked over during the quake.

Heartburn becomes a heart attack; a headache becomes a tumor.

It could become a sort of game. I’m writing this post now, and what’s the worst that could happen?

I spill my coffee on the keyboard (a tragedy in itself because, y’know, it’s a waste of coffee) and jump up to quickly get a towel before it ruins my expensive gaming keyboard… I trip over a cat and fall on the floor, hard. The downstairs neighbor gets pissed, comes upstairs and pounds at my door. I’m a little groggy from the fall, so I answer the door and the neighbor punches me in the face. The cats attack him, claw out his eyes and hideously disfigure him. Not wanting the cats to be taken away and put down, I am left with no choice but to kill the neighbor, cut him up and discard his remains, living with the guilt for the rest of my life.

Or… I spill coffee on the keyboard and, by a one in a bazillion fluke, it sends a perfect sequence of electrical signals to my computer, writing the ultimate virus and somehow sending it to every email address that has ever existed — past, present and future — thus disseminating an accidental piece of code that ends up bringing all the world’s computer systems to their knees. Chaos ensues.

Or…

Drunken trail man

The other day I was biking on one of the dirt trails near town, minding my own business, when I saw a man walking down the middle of the trail coming toward me. It was a beautiful afternoon — a great day to wander down the middle of a trail — and I thought nothing of him until he started waving me down. That’s when my mind did its little dance. Do I wave in return and keep going? Does he need help? Is he dangerous? What’s in the brown paper bag in his hand? I should stop, in case he needs help.

During the roughly 40 milliseconds it took for these thoughts to race through my head, my hands were already on the brakes, and thanks to those traitorous appendages, I found myself stopping alongside a stranger who I realized about 39 milliseconds later was a drunken monkey.

As soon as I pulled my headphones off my ears (silently saying good bye to Lacuna Coil), the guy said, “Hey man, can you stop a sec and help, or just talk?”

As I started formulating a response, he continued, “I’m just out here, doing my thing, man. I mean, is there anything FUCKIN’ wrong with that?”

I shifted gears and let go of his first question and began formulating a response to his second question, but then he said, “I’m just out here, wandering through life, and these people,” waving around at the trees and the trail, which was devoid of people at that point, “they FUCKIN’ don’t get it. Where do they get off, man?”

Shit, another question. As I considered a response to that one, I looked my inquisitor over. The man was dressed a little grubbily, but not obviously homeless-grubby. Partly covered by a paper bag was a huge can of what I figured to be a Mickey’s. He gestured a lot in the large and unsteady way of someone who’s very buzzed. His voice alternated between being confidential and boisterous. He made me a little nervous, but I just kept one eye on his hands and figured I’d be able to deflect him if he tried to vent some of his anger at me.

“I stopped and tried to talk to this old woman,” he continued on, apparently untroubled by the fact that I had not said one word to him, “and, hey, I’m just out here, trying to do my thing, you know? And, who the FUCK is she to judge me?”

Meanwhile, a few other bikers rode by and I could practically see them holding their hands up to shield their faces from the spectacle of the drunk guy and the poor fool who stopped to listen to him. I watched, a little envious, as they passed on their way.

My new drunken friend waved after them, “See what I mean? FUCK them! Man, I don’t know how they think they can judge me. I mean, I’m just being myself, wandering through life. Is there anything FUCKIN’ wrong with that?”

Finally I spoke, bypassing the formulation process, and said, “No, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I mean, that’s what I’m doing.”

And this guy looks at me, smiles and holds up his hand for a high five. “Right on, man,” he said as we clasped hands briefly, and he began walking down the trail.

“Have a good day,” I said after him and watched for a second as he wandered his way down the middle of the trail, apparently happy to have had someone just listen to him. Such a little thing. Huh.

Bike trail

Bike trail, sans drunken people

Toilet flushing 201

I’ve recently been told that I should hold the lever down longer when I flush the toilet. I like to think I am open to learning new things, but I have to say, this has shaken me. After all, I’ve been flushing toilets for many years, and I thought my technique was perfectly fine. Apparently not.

Toilet handle

Hold down for at least a second or two

I’m a little confused. I mean, I get that the toilet flushing system is mechanical, and it could be that holding the lever down longer affects the operation, but still, I’ve seen the inner workings and I could swear that the flappy cover/gasket thingy (I’m pretty sure that’s the correct technical term.) is lifted up by the action of the lever, and then it takes its time naturally on the way back down.

But it occurs to me that maybe it’s not a mechanical thing at all. Maybe holding the lever down longer is a way of communicating with the toilet, as if to say, “I’m serious here. This isn’t a joke. It’s important that you really flush the contents of the bowl.”

It seems odd that I’d have to emphasize that, though. I mean, if the toilet is aware of how long I do (or do not) hold down the lever, wouldn’t it also be aware of what’s in its bowl? It almost seems like it would flush itself. Has it no sense of decency? No sense of smell?

I don’t know. I guess it could be that those times in my life when I’ve flushed and had the water in the bowl keep rising up instead of swirling down was because of my flawed flushing technique. Maybe the toilet didn’t fully understand my intention.

I think I’m starting to understand why people at crosswalks hit the button several times and really smack it good. I thought it was impatience, but now I see that they’re letting the “Walk” light system know that it isn’t a false alarm. “I’m not messin’ with you. I really want to cross this intersection. Can you help me out?”

Still, I like to think I have a better relationship with my toilet than that. Shouldn’t it (he? she?) just *know* me well enough by now? Maybe I just need to have a little chat next time I’m in there. I’ll say, “When I flush, I mean it, even if I only hold the lever for a short time. It doesn’t mean I don’t, you know, respect you or anything.”

I guess communication is important, even in the bathroom.