Monday, November 5, 2007

An Odd Interlude

Before I post about how to make a quilt ...

Well, even before I post about the odd thing I'm going to post before I post about how to make a quilt, can I tell you something?

I'm convinced I'm boring. No, I'm not looking for reassurance. I guess I'm actually trying to reassure you. See, it's the conundrum about blogging. It should be like receiving a lovely long e-mail filled with friendly news from someone without carrying the obligation to write back, but is it? Or is it like reading a long article on a subject you're not sure you care about? I want it to be the former, but I end up convinced it's the latter. And that's okay, because people can stop reading and go do something else. So -- as I believe all my blog entries to be only remotely interesting, and then only to some of you -- feel free to go do something else and then check back later to see if the later entries are more interesting.

Oh, and I have to figure out how to be funnier. That turns out to be surprisingly hard to do. I'm not sure how Dooce manages it!

But I digress. Okay, so back to the digression I had actually planned to write about.

I noticed yesterday, and verified today, that my panty liners are asymmetrical. (Um, this may be a good time to suggest that my male readers not worry too much if they don't understand what I'm talking about...) Not asymmetrical from side to side, but from front to back. They have wings, right? And while the wings are lined up relative to each other, they are closer to one end than the other. That means it makes a difference which way you attach it. Or, rather, someone thinks it matters which way you attach it.

Well, this got me thinking. Who worries about this? Industrial engineers? I mean -- there's evidence of purposive planning involved here. There may be patents on the design, or one of the machines that make the things. (Hub 1.0 could tell us...!) Someone with a Ph.D. has considered this. Packaging was constructed so that even the individual wrapper is a factor. Marketing has considered if the asymmetrical design is a selling point. And I'll bet there was a meeting with a lot of people attending to discuss whether there needed to be instructions on the package how to orient the panty liner to best line the panty!

And meanwhile, I -- the dumb dork user -- had no clue until yesterday. (I could pretend it was a new brand, one I hadn't previously used, but it would be lies, all lies. I've used a lot of the things; never noticed. Until yesterday.) I have almost certainly installed one of them wrong. I don't believe disaster befell me. (Although -- now that I think about it there have been some "sticky butt" situations recently. I assumed it was a coincidence, but now? There could be a connection!)

Somehow this suggests something really significant about American consumerism, but I'm not sure how to express it. It's like the entire economy is based on stuff like these specially-designed panty liners -- we don't need them, but they solve a problem so people buy them, so the manufacturer hires a team that designs, packages, and markets them, and suddenly a lot of people are employed, so they can afford goods and services, which floats the economy so that most of us can afford panty liners. With wings. That keep the economy aloft.

Ah -- there's the connection! The aeronautics of our economy!

Thanks. I'm glad I worked that out. But not as glad as I was when I (finally!) noticed the things weren't symmetrical...

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