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Analytical mind always looks for answers

A marathon of Indiana Jones films ran on television recently, showing the four movies over a three-night weekend. I love Indiana Jones! As we watched, Darling Husband tried to puzzle out the special effects. I simply enjoyed them. I love the chases, the narrow escapes, the humor deftly injected by the skillful actor Harrison Ford.

DH is an engineer. Need I say more? Those of you who are engineers or are married to one will recognize the syndrome. If I am baffled and/or entertained by a movie, I'm happy with that. Engineers do not accept bafflement. They are genetically wired to attack that puzzle, whatever it may be. Electronics engineers are drawn to movie special effects as moths to a flame. They often don't care much about the story, but speculating about the process keeps their attention.

Most people are not engineers. I think most of us like being baffled. It's really fun to watch a master magician do his thing. I know I'm being tricked, but I don't really care about how that is accomplished. I'm not stupid or gullible; I don't believe it really is magic. I know there are physical laws that actually do allow huge airplanes to fly. I can nod and smile as if I know why all that metal can lift off and sail through the sky, but the reality is that I don't have to solve that particular puzzle, fortunately. Why strain my brain, trying to grasp the details?

In our house there are half a dozen objects, never intended to be lamps, but they're lamps now. We have an illuminated fire extinguisher, a cheery parking meter lamp and a coin-operated telephone lamp to name a few. Some of these clever devices are on timers and light up unexpectedly from time to time as others turn off. In all the years before I met DH, I never felt burdened by the necessity of turning lights on and off. But I think his fanciful lamps are cute and I love surprises.

A number of years ago, DH's young grandson proudly showed off his collection of Transformers. They were popular toys of the time that were both action figures and vehicles. Just turn a "this" and rotate a "that" and voila, the toy is transformed. DH checked it out and said, "Yes, but what does it do?" "Do?" The lad was baffled. "It doesn't 'DO' anything. It's a toy, Grampa. It 'transforms.' " DH lost interest immediately. I later explained to the grandson that Grampa has spent his life building things that do something. Anything.

When I was a kid I really enjoyed building things with a wonderful set of little bricklike blocks, no doubt the predecessors of Lego. But I never built a little steam engine that really worked. I never constructed an electrical communication system from my bedroom window to the kid across the street's window. Guess who did that?

After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, my Swiss-born DH was enlisted to work on NASA's Apollo mission to the moon. When his older daughter asked if that extraterrestrial mission was an epiphany for him, he said no. He was just glad they didn't screw it up. I stand in awe of the engineers' efforts and by Wernher von Braun's genius, but DH regarded him as a colleague. (It didn't hurt that DH was able to converse with him in German.)

Oddly, DH is a pretty good pianist and had a jazz band in Bern, Switzerland, when he was a lad. He never pursued that love of music and jazz. He says he lacked the confidence to play music well. That baffles me. Where music is concerned I'm a "throw caution to the wind" person. My experience tells me that if music moves you, you must get up and sing or play. If that doesn't work? Dance! Confidence has nothing to do with it.

However, he had the confidence to go to a new nation and send people to the moon and back. Go figure.

Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

Analytical mind always looks for answers 01/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 3:30am]

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