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Post details: Pea in an iPod

Pea in an iPod

Well, I did drop a pea into an electronic device. However, not to be harassed by the Association for Factually Accurate Blog Titles, I have to admit up front that it wasn't an iPod but an HP printer. Although it did cross my mind that I could drive to an Apple store, buy an iPod and reenact the whole scene with it.

So if you can stomach a story about a pea in an HP, read on. Otherwise, read off. Oh, and if you are a princess, make sure your chair is amply padded.

Once upon a time, yesterday actually, I was searching the Net, while munching on a bowl of fresh peas. I know that men are not supposed to be doing two things at the same time and I know that the fine print of my fine printer's manual clearly states that "consuming legume in the airspace directly above the printer, up to the altitude of 40,000 feet, is strictly prohibited". But I am a guy, so brazenly disregarding the well-meant admonitions of the Hewlett Packard manual writers, I kept on snacking. My fingers were habitually craning the green cargo into my mouth, until one freedom loving little renegade squirmed itself out of their grip and got away.

I looked down at the floor, but couldn't see it. I searched all the usual hiding places. No show. Hmmmm, I wondered if peas had any natural predators...

In my apartment, I am generally pretty tolerant to disorder, but food items being on the loose - that's where I draw the line. I don't want to become the McDonald's to any kind of microorganisms. Plus it's not healthy for bacteria to eat fast food. Anyway. After few minutes of intense fine-tooth-combing I found the green fugitive holed up in the output slot of my printer.

I assumed the position of a lying marksman and evaluated the situation. The pea was about half way in, crouching in the middle of the ramp leading to the paper tray and looking rather confrontational. It was well aware that my fingers couldn't reach it and it waited for me to make the next move. I don't like to embarrass myself in front of an obviously inferior life-form, so while I was trying to come up with a plan, I wondered how long it would take before it starved itself or died of a kidney failure.

I also considered tilting the printer, but I didn't want to damage its delicate and rather mysterious innards. What if all my documents would then come out with letters upside down? So after a while, I took the stick from an EskymoPie bar and tried to push the pea forward into the tray. Bad move. The stick caught against some internal snag, tightened up considerably and when it was finally released, all its pent-up energy catapulted the pea straight out like a rocket.

Now, I am not making this up. Once out, the little projectile ricocheted off of my glasses and zipped right back where it came from, except this time it ended up all the way in the back, firmly lodged in some guiding groove.

That really did it for me. Without regard for consequences or well being of the printer, I grabbed the whole contraption, turned it upside down and started shaking it and spanking it and vigorously tapping its bottom with my palm. I imagine that this is how shamans in Central Africa deal with a paper jam in their tribal copier. But it worked out surprisingly well and the delinquent pea was soon coughed up onto the carpet.

This little situation made me think about the underlying physics. How did the vertically dropping pea end up in a horizontally oriented aperture? After consulting this matter with experts on kinetics, the verdict is in and it may shock you: the fifth force.

I hereby postulate that besides gravitational, electromagnetic, weak and strong, there is another force in this Universe, which I will tentatively call "the witch force". This force directs the motion of matter into regions of least probability and acts predominantly on small round objects, although I suspect that it can handle unround objects as well (couple of music sheets that have disappeared behind my digital piano recently would certainly know a lot about it). The quantum nature of the "witch force" has not been established yet, but its strength is clearly proportional to the object's value and inversely proportional to the time available for the searching operation.

If you don't believe it, please, conduct the following experiment: take 10 marbles, stand in the kitchen corner opposite to the stove and try to throw the marbles into the narrow gap between the stove and the wall. None of them went in, right? See? An inadvertently dropped blueberry of an average IQ can find that gap in less than 3 seconds

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