So many questions, so few answers

By Bruce Stambaugh

Some time ago I listed several questions over a wide range of topics that I had accumulated. Most of my musings were unanswerable.

Well, since I’m an inquisitive fellow by nature, I’ve done it again. My inquiring mind wants to know, and I thought April Fools Day might be a good time to ask. Should we let the questions begin?

northcoastbybrucestambaugh
The North Coast of Ohio is really the south shore of Lake Erie.

Why is the south shore of Lake Erie called the North Coast in Ohio?

Why do people feel compelled to yell “In the hole!” after a pro golfer hits a shot?

Are there East of Chicago pizza places west of Chicago?

Why do fans in line with the TV camera at baseball games wave and wave and wave once they realize they are on TV?

easterfullmoonbybrucestambaughBeside the letter “r,” what’s the difference between the word “wiggle” and “wriggle?”

If lights attract moths, why don’t these nocturnal winged insects come out in the daytime?

Do they serve Cuban sandwiches in Cuba?

What kind of wine goes with honey barbequed potato chips?

Why are the natives of the Philippine Islands called Filipinos and not Philipinos?

Why is it that when a teacher says the test will be simple, it will always be hard?

someassemblyrequiredbybrucestambaugh
Some assembly required.
Why is it that when directions say, “Some assembly required,” it usually is a lot?

Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to hang a roll of toilet paper?

Do you know which is the right way to hang a roll of toilet paper?

Did you know that Easter always falls on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox?

Did you know the emergency number in Australia, the country down under, is 119?

If tornadoes in the northern hemisphere spin counter-clockwise, and tornadoes in the southern hemisphere spin clockwise, which direction would a tornado on the Equator spin?

Did you know that in Ohio it’s a law that motorized vehicles have to have their headlights on if their windshield wipers are operating?

How do bullfrogs know when the air is warm enough for insects to fly in early spring?

Did you know that the only direction you can travel from the North Pole is south?

When you sneeze, why do people say, “God bless you?”

hotdogsbybrucestambaugh
You won’t find these hot dogs at McDonald’s or any other fast food restaurant for that matter.

Have you ever tried to order a hotdog at McDonalds?

Where did the idea of the Easter Bunny originate?

Is Allstate Insurance really available in all states?

Have you ever wondered who your doctor’s doctor is?

Why is baseball the only professional sport where the manager and coaches have to wear uniforms like the players?

Why is it when you are following a slow moving vehicle in a no passing zone, you don’t pass any oncoming cars, but as soon as it is all right to pass you can’t because there is oncoming traffic?

What is the difference between a day being “partly sunny” or “party cloudy?”

partlysunnybybrucestambaugh
Partly sunny or partly cloudy?

Why do emergency vehicles proclaim “Dial 911” when we no longer have rotary phones?

Why do we still say we’ll carbon copy an email, for example, when we no longer use carbon paper?

Do they serve French toast in France?

americanrobinbybrucestambaugh
In good weather or foul, American Robins still have orange breasts.
Why do people refer to the red, red Robin when the American Robin’s breast is orange?

Why do donuts have holes in the first place?

Why does it seem colder at 27 degrees in April than it does when it’s 27 degrees in January?

Why do we celebrate April Fools Day anyhow?

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

A long answer to a simple question

Garden pond by Bruce Stambaugh
The little garden pond in our backyard.

By Bruce Stambaugh

During his last visit to Ohio, my Virginian grandson, Davis, asked me a simple yet rather analytical question, befitting the inquisitive four-year-old, left-handed boy.

Davis and I were outside filling birdfeeders near the little garden pond positioned a few feet away from the back porch and just outside our kitchen window. Davis approached the pond’s edge, lined with mostly flat rocks scavenged from the neighbor’s farm fields.

“Poppy,” Davis queried, “Why do you have a pond?”

The bluntness of the simple question gave me pause. I straightened up, and thought long and hard before I answered him. The tone and intensity of his uncomplicated question told me that Davis really wanted to know.

As I contemplated my answer, Davis waited patiently, searching for the resident frogs and trying to count the darting goldfish. His long, strawberry blonde curls bounced with even the slightest move.

I was impressed with his youthful inquisitiveness. His question piqued my own consciousness regarding the purpose of the pond. I gave Davis the long answer.

I told him that when I retired as a principal, the staff and students at one of my schools gave me a gift certificate to build a garden pond. Apparently, I had let it slip that the pond was one thing I wanted to create once my school days were completed.

Of course, all that was probably too much information for Davis to process. Perhaps it mimicked a politician’s answer to a reporter’s intrusive direct question. Davis looked at me with his big blue eyes and repeated, “But why?”

I changed tactics. I gave him the words I figured he knew and that I loved.

Red-bellied Woodpecker by Bruce Stambaugh
A male Red-bellied Woodpecker enjoyed a sip from the little waterfalls on a cold December day.

I told Davis that the pond attracts life. I itemized a quick catalog of what I meant. The birds I enjoy watching, squirrels, rabbits, deer.

“Deer?” Davis quizzed long and slow, head tilted, hands thrown into the air.

I explained that although I had never actually seen deer drink there, I had found their hoof marks in the mud and snow around the oblong pool. We stepped away, and soon a chipping sparrow flitted to the gurgling little waterfall for a refreshing sip.

Grandson by Bruce Stambaugh
Davis, my inquisitive grandson.

I could almost see Davis’ gears churning beneath those flowing locks. I knew the inquisition would continue.

“Why do you have goldfish?” Davis asked next.

I lovingly touched his curly head and simply said, “So you and your brother can feed them.” Davis looked up at me and smiled, as if he sensed the patronization.

“The fish help keep the pond clean,” I continued. “They eat things that float in the water.” I prayed he didn’t ask for their scientific names.

My grandson’s pointed question helped me step back and appreciate my little garden pond all the more. I enjoy its abundant life, the alluring sound, the attractive and useful greenery in and around the pond, along with the attraction of fur and feathered wildlife year-round.

Those intrinsic pleasures more than compensate for the necessary regular maintenance required to keep the pond in a habitable state. Now, whenever I clean the pump filters, watch birds revel in the water and hear the frogs croak late at night, I’ll remember Davis’ clear question, too.

I know why I have a little pond with a miniature waterfall, brilliant orange goldfish and complementary water plants. “Because I like it,” which is what I should have told Davis in the first place.

Looking for answers to some of life’s perplexing questions

By Bruce Stambaugh

From little on up, I have always been an inquisitive person.

One of the neighbor ladies from my suburban rustbelt neighborhood where I grew up must have noticed it. She called me “The Beacon Journal,” in honor of her favorite daily newspaper I presumed.

Seems I was always asking questions. If something happened in the neighborhood, I had to know all the assorted details, whether they were any of my business or not. They usually weren’t.

That inquisitiveness probably had a lot to do with my decision to major in journalism in college. Enjoying writing helped, too.

I still have the same inquiring mind today. The need to know is paramount from my perspective.

No matter what I’m doing, I seem to always be thinking of questions. Oftentimes they are totally unrelated to what I’m doing, which should come as no surprise either.

That mental process happens a lot when I’m on long trips, whether flying or driving. A big rig passes me and I wonder what the trucker is hauling. I see a jet cruise overhead and I wonder what were its points of departure and destination.

I ponder both the ludicrous and the serious stuff of life. In fact, I think about questions so much I started a list. I figured if I shared them with you I just might get some answers.

In no particular order, here are some of the significant questions conjured by my motivated mind.

• Once you pull those folded up canvas chairs out of their covers, does anyone ever put the chairs back in the covers again?

• How is it that you can put four pairs of socks in the laundry and when you retrieve the wash from the dryer you have nine socks and only six match?

• How far back should you stay from a car with the vanity plates H1N1?

• How many chocolate covered raisin clusters equal a serving of fruit?

• Why does it feel colder when it is raining and 36 degrees than it does when it is snowing and 26 degrees?

• Why do referees at high school basketball games wear jackets during the pregame warm-up when the gym is already stifling?

• Why don’t men know how to replace an empty toilet paper holder?

• Why is it that when you are driving with the windshield wipers going and they streak, the streak is always at eye level?

• Why do most people use the top plug in an electrical receptacle first, which blocks the use of the bottom plug?

• Do fish sleep?

• Why is the Big Ten Conference called that when it has 11 schools in its league?

• How can there be such a thing as “live video?”

• Even when they can see the road is inundated, why do drivers daringly head right into flooded roadways, often to be stranded and eventually rescued?

• Why did the Cleveland Indians trade Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn?

• Why do rocks that are naturally imbedded in soil find their way to the surface while rocks that you set in flowerbeds gradually sink?

I suppose I could have Googled for the answers to these pressing questions. But I’d rather hear from you. I look forward to seeing your answers, I think.