November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Mark Levy/Casual Observer


(Who needs it?)

by Mark Levy

This is an age of excess. I bought a car that can go way faster than I have the nerve to drive. And the speedometer also includes speed markings in kilometers, which makes the speed look 38% faster. Oh, and there are seven − count ‘em SEVEN − digits on the odometer. That’s over a million miles in one car, or two round trips to the moon. Who drives that far? A million miles. Sheeesh. I’m lucky if I can get to a tenth of that − one hundred thousand miles − without my engine blowing up, like it’s already done in a couple of my previous cars.

The point is, my speedometer and my odometer and my car itself have much greater capacity than I need. The car also has four exhausts, which is one more than the space shuttle used to have. And it’s not just the car that exceeds the comfort range of most humans.

I also have a computer with a memory that’s the envy of every other computer on my block. If I write a 300-page novel every other day and store it in the memory of my computer, I won’t need to get another computer for a million years; well, over 850 thousand years, at least.

The folks who make hot dog rolls sell them in packages of eight, even though hot dogs themselves come in packages of six. I’ve been to many, many barbeques, but darned if I’ve ever heard someone request an extra roll for her hot dog.

My wristwatch is accurate to a hundredth of a second, but I can’t change my habit of telling my friend I’ll meet him for lunch “around noon.” The watch is guaranteed to work up to 200 meters under water. It would have to be quite a downpour to result in that much water on my street. And if I did find myself 200 meters under water some day − the equivalent of over two football fields deep − I don’t think checking the time of day would be my highest priority.

The hot water in my kitchen sink is capable of scalding the feathers off a chicken. But all I need is warm water to rinse plates before the dishwasher takes over.

As long as I’m in the kitchen, let me tell you about my new microwave oven. It exceeds my desire or capacity to use it. Its keyboard has about 90 settings, so I can thaw, simmer, and overcook. I can start the process immediately or I can instruct the machine to start cooking six days and 23 hours from now. I can vary the heat and the time for each of up to 999 cooking steps. If I google a microwave recipe someday, for example, maybe I’ll prepare pheasant under glass in that unit. But like most of us, now I use it just to boil water or make popcorn.

Speaking of popcorn, we all know that movie theaters now sell large, gargantuan, and humongous sizes of popcorn. But did you know that big box stores sell Cheerios in a cardboard box that’s 6 by 8 by almost 14 inches high? Who has a family that big? And who has room for a box that size in their kitchen? I would need a separate parking space for that thing.

My TV has a sound system that can be cranked up enough decibels to shatter my windows. I could be deaf as a post and still not miss a syllable. And the size of that TV! Gosh. The images are bigger than life. I get nightmares sometimes when I try to sleep after seeing Nancy Grace’s disapproving smirks two-and-a-half feet high. The TV has dimensions that overwhelm my bedroom or any other room in my house. In fact, if I didn’t have an exterior wall, you could see it from space.