Aha!!

I love having “aha” moments and I’ve had three recently, all from reading.

#1.  99% Invisible City by Roman Mars details a lot of the infrastructure that surrounds us in the urban environment, much of which we don’t notice and definitely take for granted.  In discussing wireless towers, he writes: “As commercial cellular towers began to sprout up in the 1970s, diagrams depicting their coverage areas looked like blobby plant or animal cells pressed up against one another – hence the name ‘cell phones’.”   I had never stopped to think about why we say “cell phones” so this was an amazing discovery for me.  I stopped reading for a moment and reveled in the fun of it.

#2.  This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan.  This is the second book of Pollan’s that features discussion of hallucinogenics.  In writing about mescaline, he alludes to the song Mellow Yellow by Donavan and that the meaning of the song is about smoking banana skins, believed in the 60s to be hallucinogenic.  I can sing along to Mellow Yellow but never ever thought about the lyrics and what they might mean.  (Turns out Pollan was actually wrong – Donavan was writing about an electric vibrator that he had seen an ad for – the equipment was called the “mellow yellow”.)

#3.  A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor.  This is an older travel book; the author walked from England to Constantinople in the days before WWII.  After completely overdoing it in Munich at the Hofbrauhaus, he woke up with a “katzenjammer”.  Now I remember the old comic the Katzenjammer Kids, but had no idea that katzenjammer actually means hangover.  I’m not sure how “cat” and “distress” came to mean hangover, but it’s fascinating to know this tidbit!

Can’t wait to see what the next few books reveal!

Any “aha” moments for you recently?

41 thoughts on “Aha!!”

  1. The interior lights in my car wouldn’t come on with the headlights. So when driving at night I would have to guess my speed. Also, the tire low indicator was always on despite all tires having the proper pressure. And the door open button seemed to need a lot of pushes to register. On Monday, I decided to take Pete (the car’s name) to have the electrical system checked out. The mechanic came back and informed me about a whole panel of dials to the left and below the open gasoline cap flipper. I’d driven Pete for two years and never noticed these features. Aha! The battery for the opener cost $6.00. No charge for the Aha!

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Michael Pollan was not entirely wrong. The idea that banana skins were hallucinogenic was widely believed to be the message of that song, whatever Donovan’s inspiration actually was.

    I remember at least one college acquaintance collecting banana skins from the dorm cafeteria and painstakingly scraping the inner portion to yield a sludgy residue, which he dried and tried to smoke. No hallucinogenic effects, of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your mention of an older travel book brought to mind the title, How to See Europe on 50 Cents a Day by Lee Meriwether. When you try to Google Lee Meriwether, you get pages of information about the actress of the same name, but Lee Meriwether was really a fascinating guy with a talent for being is significant places at the right time. This sketch of his career is a little lengthy but worth it:

    https://therumpus.net/2009/02/american-methuselah-how-lee-meriwether-saw-europe-on-fifty-cents-a-day/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just finished a volume of the collected short stories of H. H. Munro, who wrote before the First World War using the name Saki, and the opening paragraph of one of his stories struck me as having a particular resonance right now:

    Leonard Bilsiter was one of those people who have failed to find this world attractive or interesting, and who have sought compensation in an ‘unseen world’ of their own experience or imagination—or invention. Children do that sort of thing successfully, but children are content to convince themselves, and do not vulgarize their beliefs by trying to convince other people. Leonard Bilsiter’s beliefs were for ‘the few,’ that is to say, any one who would listen to him.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Working on a lighting thing the other day. Tested it on the ground and it worked, got it up in the grid and it didn’t. Called tech support. Turns out ‘A’ is one set of numbers, and ‘B’ is another. I didn’t pay attention to that… but evidently did A on the ground and B in the grid. Aha!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I recently spent about five weeks in a hospital. I was amazed to learn how much I missed “home”–with all of its shortcomings–when it was denied to me. It’s true, folks. There’s no place like home.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I had an Aha moment with I thought to use the early hour (7 a.m.) before visiting Husband to go out and attempt to tame the garden. Had a nice rain last night, realized it’s the perfect moment to do some weeding, and during that process I found the cukes! “So THAT’S where he put them!”

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Every evening we take Jane’s three dogs and my inlaws’ two dogs down the hill, to the dead end at the bottom of their valley. Few people drive down there. Loads of earth have been passing John and Sandra’s house all day. Now Jane and I saw where they’d come from. There’s a tight corner down there with a dangerous, sheer drop right there beside it.
    The local contractors have started digging the corner right back, so four trucks could take that bend side by side, if for some reason they wanted to. A middle aged couple we don’t know, who are not the people I’d have identified as the owners, were haranguing someone on the phone. We kind of wondered what was suddenly going on in our little backwater. By the way, other work has been going on as well over a few weeks, but we just couldn’t tie things up. We got to the bottom and went back, and the couple were still engrossed in all this, they ignored us in fact. Only thing I could say was, at least he’s wearing Levi’s, in other words not a fool by any means. Then a pickup appeared, driven by a guy I know to be one of the contractors. As Jane said, summoned to explain something. A few minutes later,from several hundred yards away, Jane heard them all yelling at each other. Over here, a simple enquiry into your wife’s health, or discussion about the weather, sounds as if a fight is imminent. But this really was yelling. We have a theory, but that’s all it is. We’re dying for that “Aha!” moment. I don’t think we’re going to sleep till we get it.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. A potential aha moment is about to occur. I am about to attend a baseball game of the Drayton Dragons. That team has contributed mightily to the current Cincinnati Reds team. Following the players I see and record years from now will be aha moments.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I thought it was a typo, so I googled it. Don’t know if I should count that as an “aha” moment, but it certainly is a piece of info I wasn’t aware of prior to this.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ha! I googled “Drayton Dragons” and happily took the resulting link to Dayton Dragons to be the answer. I wasn’t aware, though, that a town in ND is called Drayton, nor that it’s near where Wes grew up. Aha!

          Liked by 1 person

        1. You just have to not confuse it with my friend’s current home, Drayton, near Portsmouth, England. Or Drayton in Yorkshire.

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        1. I worked construction at the elementary school back in 1971. I don’t remember the year but Red River flooding repairs were part of our work. Just short of Canada.

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  10. i have always had a laser focus on the goal in front of me and while i kept a checklist of new ideas i have been on the task at hand and thinking about processing the other down the road

    now that i am on a new path with a work life that is a mindless task based function i find my creative mind free to pop as many new or recycled but buried ideas as i am capable of
    aha… i don’t know but i love the inspirational zap i get creating the next thing in my brain while i’m completing the task at hand with a brain that’s free to wander

    new experience to be creating and figuring out how to get to it vs old method of doing it

    aha is just around the corner i’m thinking

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I think Shipt and Instacart are basically merchandise delivery. Uber and Lyft are ride sharing. Uber Eats, DoorDash, and GrubHub are food delivery. The thing they have in common is that the company doesn’t provide the vehicle, the worker does that.

          Liked by 3 people

    1. Tim, talking about “enjoying the journey.” I can well gather you’re not short of inventiveness. But would just like to respectfully draw your attention to the the film “Gallaxy Quest,” which features a people mover called a “Digital Conveyer,” which works, yes, along the lines of “Beaming up.” Seems to me that would be more useful if it could be operated remotely, so you could work in a central depot, eg your own home or office, moving any person anywhere, to anywhere else, as desired. Saving on fossil fuel into the bargain. (And saving paying for it). It just needs to be designed with more care than the one in the film, where it seemed too easy to press the wrong button. Nasty. But just an idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Aha! I am now 7-0 in baseball games attended in Dayton. I take full credit for the wins. My Drayton, ND work was some one else’s responsibility.
    “ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE ELSE TO BLAME”

    Liked by 2 people

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