19 More Things I Don't Understand

There are some things I understand. And there are some things I don't understand.

A couple years ago, I wrote down 19 things I don't understand. The time has come for 19 more. I don't understand the following:

1) Why the Philippines is spelled with a "Ph" and Filipino is spelled with an "F."

2) Why people believe that the month I was born is important. A lot of people say things to me like, "What's your sign?" I say, "Scorpio." And then they say, "Oh," and they make a bad face.

What the hell? First of all, astrology is idiotic. Secondly, idiotic or not, it's bullshit that I have a bad sign. Everyone hates Scorpio. I'm just happy I'm not Aquarius, since I have a phobia of the song "Aquarius" ever since the time I had a nightmare that a horrifying bald woman was floating above my bed singing the opening lines ("When the moooooon is in the seventh houuuuuse..."). I shuddered just writing that.

3) I don't understand why the Korean hairdresser's plant grew big and mine stayed little.

A few years ago, my sister visited me in LA and declared my apartment to be "depressing" because there was no decoration or anything. So she dragged me around the city buying stuff and now my apartment looks like a new-age Chinese library. One plus that came out of it was that she insisted we buy a living plant. We did, and I named him Stanley. I grew pretty attached to Stanley, and treated him like a king. I put him near the window, made sure there was a lot of CO2 everywhere, and even watered him regularly.

One day, I was walking down the street and passed a Korean beauty salon. In the salon, in front of the glass wall, was an identical Stanley plant, except it was huge. Like 6 feet tall. I rushed in and asked the woman how big it was when she first got it. She said it was 1 foot tall. So I was incredibly excited that Stanley was gonna get all big. Except now it's 2 years later, and Stanley's still a foot tall.

4) Why I lose a sock every laundry cycle. Every time I do laundry, I end up with one odd sock. Even though the only clothes that are being washed are clothes I've worn, and I never wear just one sock.

5) How they created accurate maps in the old days. Imagine being in a boat and going along some foreign shoreline for months and trying to create a large scale map of it, without computers or the ability to see it from above. I also don't really get how the explorers found their way back home. How do you go across the Atlantic Ocean, aiming for Spain, and actually end up in Spain? Something with the stars, I'm sure, but I don't really understand that either. And if you botch it and land in West Africa somewhere, it's not like you can ask someone where you are or which way is Spain. No one in Africa spoke Spanish back then, right?

6) Why they haven't created a TiVo that lets you manage your recording schedule online yet. This seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? I'm constantly somewhere and realize I forgot to TiVo something and there's nothing I can do about it. You should be able to log on to the DVR brand's website and schedule something to record.

7) The subprime mortgage crisis.

8) Why things "burn up in the Earth's atmosphere." Isn't it mad cold up there?

9) Why everyone on the airplane goes to sleep when it's daytime.

10) I don't understand how we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide a half a second later. Doesn't the air just go in and come right out? I know some of it obviously is absorbed into your blood, but doesn't most of the air basically just go in and come right out? What changes? And I don't begin to understand how air in your lung ends up in your bloodstream. And for the med students who are reading this and thinking, "this guy's kind of dumb," why don't you spend less time judging me and more time dissecting your cadaver, or whatever filthy, creepy things med students do.

11) How a laser printer works. I understand the idea of a laser and I understand the idea of putting ink on paper but I don't understand how they're related.

12) How a dishwasher works. I put the detergent in that tiny cabinet and then close the tiny cabinet door. Then I close the dishwasher door and press the button. Then I leave the house since my dishwasher makes as much noise as an airplane taking off. Then I come back later and all the dishes are clean. How does the detergent get out of the little cabinet? How do dishes that are pressed against other dishes get clean? What the hell goes on in there? Further, what the hell goes on in a dry cleaner? How do you clean something well without water? Or maybe I'm dumb and they do use water. But then why is it called "dry" cleaning?

13) How an air conditioner works. It's more than just blowing cold air. It's some incredibly complicated thing that involves water and boiling water and heat removal. I don't begin to understand it.

14) Why some motorcycles are a little loud and some are ridiculously loud. You know those ridiculously loud motorcycles? And you're sitting there at a table outside and it goes by and you're like, "Jesus." Is the guy on it miserable the whole time? Is he like, "I sure wish this thing wasn't so loud."

15) Why there's a disposable camera on the table next to my bed. I noticed it there last month. I haven't bought or used a disposable camera in years, ever since I bought a digital camera. I don't know who put it there or if there's something scary on the pictures. But I'm just going to pretend it's not there.

16) Why the average age of a tenant in my apartment building is about 89. Further, I don't understand why Murray, my nice 90 year old neighbor, always calls me "Josh." Although if you ever need a 20 minute story about life in Russia in the 60's just as you're rushing through the garage to your car because you're late to something, Murray's your man.

17) Where this writer gets the nerve.

18) Why we drink cow's milk. It's the breast milk of a different species. That's filthy. The only people that are supposed to drink cow's milk are little cows. While we're here, let's mention that eggs originally emerge from a chicken's vagina. Kind of upsetting, right? I was in a diner this morning eating an omelette with cheese and it hit me that I was eating stuff that came from a cow's nipple and a chicken's vagina. I realize that eating meat should seem just as bad or worse than this stuff since you're actually eating the animal itself, but for some reason it's not as upsetting to me.

19) How tides work. I understand it's something to do with the moon's gravity, but what the hell does that mean? When astronauts walk on the moon, they're barely affected by the moon's gravity. So how from 250,000 miles away does it pull the whole ocean around like the ocean's its bitch? Is anything else affected by the moon's gravity? If I throw a baseball up in the air, it just comes right down because it's obviously just affected by the Earth's gravity, and not the moon's.

Speaking of the moon, I'm really intent on going there at some point. I just need it to become a commercial thing before I die. I'll shell out any kind of money. I'll blow through my kids' college funds or my retirement fund. I'll sell my liver. I just want to go to the moon. I'm picturing that at some point they'll have a big resort up there, with normal Earth-level oxygen pumped in. So your ship lands and brings you directly into the resort. Everything is normal inside the resort dome except the incredibly fun gravity difference. So they'll have all these fun sports and exercise rooms and other activities that are fun with less gravity. Then they'll have options for you to take a "moon excursion" and you'll train all day with an instructor about how to use your suit and all the emergency hand signals and stuff, and then the instructor will take a group outside the resort for a hike or something. Kind of like going scuba diving. This will happen, I just hope it's before I'm dead.


Anonymous said...

#10 -- air is mostly nitrogen. oxygen and carbon dioxide are small fractions of it. and you are right, most of the oxygen breathed in is not absorbed and goes right back out again. you don't give yourself enough credit!

Anonymous said...

you should know that eggs actually come from a bird's cloaca. which... i don't think will make you feel better.

Anonymous said...

I looked it up because I've forgotten my history lessons now... i come from the Philippines.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

im filipino

K said...

if your tivo is hooked up to your wireless router, you can program it to record on the internet.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how anyone can enjoy watching a golf game. You have all these spectators gathered around to watch people hit little balls into the air and disappear into the distance – it's mind-boggling, I tell you. :P

Anonymous said...

I know I can add to that list.

Can't think of anything right now

George Bush ...

Anonymous said...

that camera thing is freaky.
have you ever watched those japanese horror flicks where the camera just uncontrollably starts taking pictures? and when they come out, they're all super creepy?

yeah, well anyway, you should develop those photos, just to see what's on them. and blog it :D.

Anonymous said...

haha, wow everyone does hate scorpios ...

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is how Tim Urban posts less and yet he still garners more and more readers.

Anonymous said...

he is just that awesome.

Anonymous said...

Oh GOD I want to go to the moon. They really need to do that.

Anonymous said...

If you sell your liver, how can you go to the moon?
And yes. Tim Urban's awesomeness spawns more readers.

Mary said...

re: #9 I think it may be because many people take meds before taking off because they're nervous fliers. Or maybe that's just me . . .

Mary said...

re: #17 ha ha ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

#3 Fertilizer is the hairdresser's secret weapon.

#4 The sock is in there. it's just caught. you have to feel around.

#18 At least the egg is in a shell.

Anonymous said...

#14 I wish he was self-conscious, but he probably thinks he's cool.

Anonymous said...

you remind me of the deadpan comedian steven wright. part of his standup act was a bit called, "did you ever wonder why...?"
(maybe you should consider comedy..)

Newman said...

I've gotten that look for being a scorpio as well. Have you ever read any of the stuff of Wikipedia about scorpios? Pretty damn funny!

Anonymous said...

one more thing i can't understand - why did John McCain choose Sarah Palin as his running mate? :P
(i'm not starting a political debate or whatever here guys. just saying it's on my list.)

Anonymous said...

i don't get the part with scorpio, i have friends that are in that sign and they are great because they are my friends :d maybe is an american thing, here (Romania) we like scorpios, but i guess we are weird in that way

Nichole said...

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Anonymous said...

hahahaha.. i loved it... =)
i never thought about these things... well now that you mentioned... i guess i just realized i dot understand them either. =))

Mary said...

Happy Birthday Turban!

Anonymous said...

Why is Israel called "the Jewish State?"