Monday, February 11, 42 A.B.

Scavenger Hunt

Another day, another scavenger hunt.

Or maybe a continuation of the same old one.  Hmmmm...  Since my immune system is busy helping Mr. Cold Virus pack his bags, I'm afraid I'm on my own tonight as I try to screen my ideas and phrasing for infectious imprecision.  Unless you're willing to suffer a week or so of snot-derailed trains of thought, you might want to don goggles and a respirator before reading any further.

Now that I've had a moment to think about it while adjusting my own goggles and respirator in hopes of reducing the risks of self re-infection, I believe that my scavenger hunt actually began back in 1973.

That's when I began getting weekly news magazines, anyway, and the hunt really took off.

The hunt for information.



I'm not sure why, but I seem to believe that if I only get enough information, data, and facts, reality will snap into sharp focus - like a pointillist painting or a newspaper photo once a certain number of dots have been added.  One second it's sheer chaos and then suddenly everything fits and makes sense.  The relationship between every dot and every other dot is suddenly clear - and no dot seems wasted or superfluous....

One recently acquired cluster of dots: Friday marked 415 years since Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded with three strokes of an ax.

Another cluster: Saturday marked 48 years since "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" was released by Hollywood.

I've been staring at those clusters with my mind's eye the last few days, trying to precisely gauge the exact relationship between them.  I've even allowed my mind's eye to relax and slowly slip out of focus in hopes that that relationship would suddenly appear, like the hidden scene in a stereogram.  No such luck so far, but one never knows when it might.

Some tantalizing similarities: Both clusters are set in February.  The main being in each cluster came to a bad end.  Either being probably could do a better job running Ohio than our current governor.

The full, exact relationship between Mary and The Creature continues to elude me, however.  Once it comes to me, though, I'm sure I'll understand why Mary had to be executed with three strokes rather than two if The Creature was to appear first in 3D and then in two sequels.

Among the other facts recently added to the picture of the world in my head:

-----  There were 28 sightings of bobcats in Ohio last year - and 128 sightings of black bears.

-----  Valentine's Day is banned in Saudi Arabia.  So is public music.  Half the population is under 18.

-----  A female contestant on the old "Family Feud" ended up marrying host Richard Dawson.

-----  Kraft is planning to market shocking pink and electric blue versions of Parkay margarine.

-----  The average American spends 41 minutes a day reading newspapers and magazines.

-----  The opening credits of the 1949 movie "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" run exactly 100 seconds.

-----  Typing "Information overload" into the Yahoo search engine produces 57,200 hits.

-----  The more TV we watch, the more likely it is that we'll develop Alzheimer's disease.  Each additional hour per day of TV watching appears to up our risk by about 33%.

-----  There are 26,000 trees in New York's Central Park.

-----  When Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed, he had her wolfhound, Urian, executed, too.

-----  I have the same shoe size that John Wayne had (8 1/2).

There's a pattern to be discerned here - but what is it?

Yes, it's clear that Mary, Queen of Scots, and Anne Boleyn were both executed - and in the same way.  And when one learns that Mary's pet terrier emerged from under her skirt after she was executed - well, only a fool could fail to see that studying to become a queen with a favorite pooch is NOT the best way to come out on top in this world.

But exactly how is that related to the 26,000 trees in Central Park?  And if Mary and/or Anne had been a cat person, would the number of trees now be more or less?

I stare and stare at these facts, I turn them over and over in my mind every which way, but still the answer eludes me.

Am I blind, just being stupid, or what??

Unable to think of anything else to do, I get up each day and collect yet more facts in hopes that THIS will be the day I finally acquire the one fact which will cast all the others into proper perspective.

When that day ends without proper perspective coming into view, I end up focusing on each individual fact and enjoying its color and texture without regard for the others - like a man crawling among the individual dots of a Seurat, forever unable to see the big picture and so forced to settle for less.

Of course each dot is actually itself composed of innumerable smaller ones called atoms, but I choose to ignore that fact.

Just as I choose to ignore the fact that the painting I'm trapped in may well be just one of a thousand in a museum.

That atoms are themselves composed of still smaller particles, and there might be thousands of museums - well, there are some things even I refuse to discuss in mixed company.

Where does all this leave me?

Well, tonight it leaves me contemplating this little item which appeared in a syndicated column yesterday:

"Dear Heloise:  I save the plastic bags that my newspapers come in and keep them in my car.  Before I pump gas, I slip one over my hand so my hand will not touch the pump. - R. Wright, Hyattsville, Md."

Why am I left contemplating this of all things?

Because I have the overwhelming feeling that if I can only understand the point of a single fact contained in this one item, I'll really have achieved something.

And because I keep wondering: Can I save the plastic my chicken comes in?  Can I keep it in my pocket without the residual fluids staining my wallet or keys?  Can I remember to slip it over my hand when I meet people so as to protect myself from their germs if they insist on shaking hands?

I scan the item, and I SCAN the item, and STILL insight eludes me....

Perhaps tomorrow's scavenger hunt will bring me the success I crave.

Then again, perhaps I ought to shift my goals a bit, borrow an old builder's trick, and attach a mooring mast for dirigibles to this journal.

After all, just because I can't post the wisest or most enlightened journal on the Internet doesn't mean I can't post the tallest - right?

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(©Now by DJ Birtcher in less time than it took John Wayne to put his shoes on to go see "The Creature from the Black Lagoon")

NOTE:  I didn't have time in this entry to mention any of the facts I didn't come across recently, but here now (just for the record) is my favorite one of those:

-----  Most women who really put their mind to it succeed in becoming pregnant within a year.  The rest need the help of a man.