Thursday, November 1, 2012

You don't know what I know

Actually, I don't know much.
Or, at least, the things I do know are things most everybody else knows, too. This lamentable fact has been made clear to me over the years by a whole host of friends and acquaintances, co-workers, my kids and, from time to time, even my beloved spouse. Even my youngest grandsons have started to catch on, occasionally responding to some of my more outlandish utterances with puzzled, doubting looks that seem to say,
"Gee, grandpa, really?"
But I'm learning.
It all started when I saw a Facebook post awhile back that referred to someone as a "bboy."
After deciding it wasn't just an accidental bit of miss-typing, I did an internet search that reveled that bboy is urban slang for someone who knows how to break dance.
Wow. Who knew? Not me, that's for sure.
But it made me wonder just how much other valuable information there was waiting for me via the wonderful world of cyberspace.
So I looked.
Right off, I discovered a veritable treasure trove of all-important instructions and facts that will, I think,  make my life richer and more productive in the years to come.  Like how to trick people into thinking I'm sexy, how to open a coconut, and how to feed a snake frozen food.
But there's more. The World Wide Web also offers instructions on how to remove a tick, how to make a giraffe out of plastic bags, and how to survive a party where you don’t know anyone (Step 3: find the bathroom.)
It was an enormous relief to discover there was a way to wiggle my small toe separately from the rest of my toes and how to communicate with my cat (Hi, Max.)
And thanks to the information superhighway, I now know how remove the steering wheel from a tractor, how to make LEGO blocks out of vegetables, how to improve my sense of smell, and how to begin a happy career as a people watcher. Moreover, I now have the knowledge I need to start my own country (I'm thinking about it), make people think I'm immortal (not immoral), manage hay fever as a Buddhist (?), and meet new people without being creepy (at last!).
Great stuff, huh? And along with the above-mentioned "how to's," I discovered a rich world of just-plain facts that had somehow eluded me until now.
For instance, I learned there are 18 different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo, and that slugs have four noses.
Did you realize that the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows?
And did you know that over 2,500 left-handed people a year are killed from using products made for right-handers, or that the longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds? My online search also informed me that feet have 500,000 sweat glands and can produce more than a pint of sweat a day, that the first toilet ever seen on television was on “Leave It to Beaver,” and that the dot over the letter “i” is called a tittle.
A tittle?
Some of my new-found know-how includes interesting details on certain laws that are, apparently, still on the books in different parts of the country, information which should prove invaluable to an ardent traveler like me.
For instance, it's illegal to drink beer out of a bucket while you're sitting on a curb in St. Louis, and it is forbidden to imitate an animal in Miami. Alaska law says that you can't look at a moose from an airplane, while in my adopted part-time state of North Carolina, it is illegal for a rabbit to race down the street. As a confirmed road warrior, I was glad to learn that birds have the right of way on public highways in Utah, and Illinois drivers are required to use the steering wheel while piloting a car Additionally, it is against the law to drive a car while sleeping in Tennessee, and New York forbids blind people to drive at all.  My spouse will be interested to learn that California law prohibits a woman from driving a car in a housecoat, while In Memphis, Tennessee, a woman is not to drive a car unless a man warns approaching motorists or pedestrians by walking in front of the car that is being driven.
Sorry, honey. Please don't run me over.
But there was one law I discovered that seems entirely applicable in these final days of the divisive 2012 general election season we've all endured:
In Virginia, the Code of 1930 has a statute which prohibits corrupt practices or bribery by any person other than political candidates.
It's Tuesday morning as I write this column, with news about the hybrid superstorm called Sandy still ongoing. It is barely enough to say that those affected by this massive natural disaster deserve our thoughts, our assistance and our prayers.
That's a fact.

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