Tilting at windmills

Blogging gives me the opportunity to share some of my eccentric opinions and tendencies, but I am not the only eccentric person in my family. I have relatives who pursue interests and espouse causes that are, if possible, even more unusual than my own interests and causes.

One of my relatives is concerned about wasting time. Specifically, she is concerned about the lost seconds that remain when food, cooked in the microwave oven, is ready before the timer has stopped. Most of us take the food out of the microwave and press the stop/cancel button. My relative considers those remaining seconds lost forever. She wants them to remain on the microwave display for the next person to use. This, of course, does not work for me. The seconds she leaves on the microwave are never the number of seconds I need to use. The turntable inside the microwave makes one complete turn every ten seconds while the microwave is running. Whenever possible, I try to choose a number of seconds divisible by ten so the food is in the front of the microwave when I open the door. I’m pretty stubborn about that, so I tend to clear her twenty-five seconds and enter my forty seconds without being concerned about the time I have just wasted.

Another of my relatives also has a microwave oven concern. It bothers him that the numbers seven, eight, and nine are used less often than the other numbers, especially five and zero. He tries to equalize the use of the numbers by making numbers less round. If something is to be heated for one and a half minutes, for example, he sets the timer for 89 seconds rather than 1:30.

One of my relatives dislikes the term “happy hour.” She wants to make a rule requiring bars and restaurants to make their happy hours sixty minutes long. When they have special prices from two until five in the afternoon or from four until six in the evening, she wants to prevent them from calling the occasion a “happy hour.”

I have relatives who live down in Arkansas, and some of them are trying to change a name. It seems (if I follow their argument correctly) that when French explorers first sailed down the Mississippi River, they spent some time with the Illini. Before leaving, they asked the Illini who lived further south near the river. The Illini answered with their word for “the people in the south,” which sounded to the French like Ark-an-saw. The explorers recorded this word, although–being French–they chose to end it with a silent S. (They did the same to the Illini, creating the name Illinois.) When the explorers happened upon the villages of the Quapaw, they decided that these people must be the Ark-an-saw people mentioned by the Illini. The explorers called these people the Arkansas people, and they named the river which joins the Mississippi River near their villages the Arkansas River. When the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, people continued to call the river the Arkansas River, and the French fortress near that river, now occupied by American citizens, became known as Arkansas Post. When Louisiana became a state, the Missouri Territory was formed, with Arkansas County as the southern portion of the territory. Later, when Missouri became a state, Arkansas County turned into Arkansas Territory, and eventually it became the state of Arkansas. Now my relatives are pushing to remember the Quapaw. They want to start by renaming the stretch of river between Fort Smith and Napoleon the Quapaw River instead of the Arkansas River.

As far as I’m concerned, my relatives are tilting at windmills. No one else is going to stop “wasting time” with their microwave ovens or start using the seven, eight, and nine buttons more often. “Happy hour” is not going to be regulated, and the Quapaw River will never be shown on any maps. Sorry, kin of mine, but that’s the way the world works. J.