« A Birthday Gift Request from Me to You | Main | Triangle Emerging Green Builders -- Bull City Biofuels Tour »

Nov 12, 2007

"Every Day I Learn Something New -- That I Should Have Known Already"

"Every day I learn something new -- that I should have known already."
-- David "Beardman" Zimmerman, ca. 1990.


Now and then I notice I don't know something you'd think I'd have learned by now. 

I don't mean the big stuff, like "how can I quit looking for other people's approval" or "when will I realize that watching TV will not get my work done faster."*  Instead, I'm talking about all the simple, mostly factual stuff you'd think someone would learn in the process of earning degrees in engineering and business, or even just the process of hanging around for forty years.  Things like:

  • Those utility lines hanging across the street... are those power lines or telephone lines?
  • How much of our federal budget do we spend on the military?  And how big is our federal budget, anyway?
  • When my automatic transmission car is idling while I have the brakes on, how come the engine doesn't stall?
  • Why are the words reflected in a mirror reversed, but we're not standing on our heads?
  • Why were scores so low in NCAA basketball games back in the 50s when Dean Smith was still a player... did they only score one point per basket back then?

What don't you know?


*Yeah, you'd think that someone who's forty might have learned those by now ;-) 

Photo: Battelle.org

01:41 AM in Quotables | Permalink


I don't know how people remember quotes from friends from 1990!

Posted by: stew | Nov 12, 2007 7:59:29 AM

I'm not sure if this was a call for answers, but it's hard to resist:

- The utility lines might be both power and phone lines.
- Military spending is about 20% of the federal budget; maybe slightly more if you count the special appropriations for the Iraq war. http://www.realkato.com/C202587043/E1181217118/index.html
- In an automatic transmission, the engine transmits power to the wheels via a torque converter, which is kind of like a hydraulic turbine. Think of it this way: you can stop a windmill without stopping the wind. http://www.howstuffworks.com/torque-converter.htm
- A mirror "reverses" left to right because left-right is a convention based on our own perception, whereas up-down is a reality based on physical fact (gravity). http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/mirrors.html
- Scores were lower in 1950s era basketball primarily because the shot clock was not introduced until 1985.

Posted by: Ken | Nov 12, 2007 8:00:41 AM

I don't know what I don't know, which is kind of a problem. I think. But I'm not sure.

All I know is that I know nothing. -- someone I can't remember

Posted by: Joseph H. Vilas | Nov 12, 2007 10:38:16 AM

I've never really understood why southern towns have giant water towers and towns in the northeast don't. I also don't really understand the purpose of water towers beyond providing me tremendous glee when they are dressed up like a giant peach ala gaffney sc....

and, of course, absolutely everything having to do with all areas of math and science.

other than that, I know a lot.

unicorns rule!

Posted by: jenny cook | Nov 12, 2007 9:24:50 PM

I was going to tackle the mirror question, but Ken stole my thunder. I agree with him. I could not explain the other things though. But, regarding the utility lines, usually power lines are on top, phone lines closer to the ground. And, among power lines, I think the neutral lines are closer to the ground than the poles. Anyone got any ideas about that?

Posted by: Elrond Hubbard | Nov 12, 2007 11:46:50 PM

I learned today that I should have met Ken a long time ago.

Posted by: Tim | Nov 29, 2007 6:19:10 AM

Does this subject has to do with your professional field or is it more about your hobbies and free time?

Posted by: Chris White | Dec 12, 2012 6:21:18 AM