How things work, or don’t


I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how things work or don’t, whether it be machinery or systems.

At a complicated, five-way intersection nearby, I know that at one crossing, the Walk sign won’t light up unless one presses the Walk button. But the subsequent crossing changes automatically at the appropriate time.

ITEM: Sometime in November, there was a package on our porch. I picked it up and noticed it wasn’t for us but for a neighbor across the street and down a couple of houses. I carried it over there and discovered in that entryway a package for my wife.

About two weeks later, I received an email notification of delivery. I went downstairs, snapped up the envelope, cut the package opened and discovered content that wasn’t anything I ordered. Then I looked at the package; it wasn’t for me but for another neighbor. Yep, my package was on that other porch. I slipped the neighbor’s package behind the screen door.

Now if I had bothered to LOOK at the photo that came with the email, I would have noticed, “That’s not my porch!” The two packages, in this case, were the same size, unlike my wife’s actual product from earlier, which was much larger than the one we exchanged.

The boom boxes

ITEM: I still play compact discs. One boom box that I had purchased in June 2020 started skipping; I knew it wasn’t the CDs. So I got a different player in December 2020. Nine months later, it too began to skip. I bought the exact same machine, which started skipping only two months later. So I switched back to machine #2, and it plays fine. Maybe it just needed a rest?

ITEM: Some folks complained about one of our local absentee landlord’s hedges, clearly a hazard. A few of them contacted the city’s SeeClickFix site. Now the hedges are severely cut back; they’re hideous, so they were probably cut by the landlord. But at least they are not an obstruction.

Oddly, I noticed the change well before my wife and daughter, both of whom are more visually focused than I. Maybe it was that I was looking through the prism of the glass door we have and saw light through the bushes where none had existed before.

ITEM: I won’t even get into the blow-by-blow of hooking up my new printer. Back in the old days, I ould just plug it in and it took 10 minutes, including taking it out of the box. This one, which operates on WiFi, and ended up requiring software to be loaded both on my phone and my laptop, took an hour and a half.

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