April 2015, #3: Why We Love Email
1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps, another dose of feedback from the peanut gallery. Before we get started, it occurs to me that a few readers might not know what a peanut gallery is (perhaps because said readers aren’t 100 years old and don’t remember the golden age of vaudeville). The term described a theater’s cheapest seats, which tended to be filled with rowdy patrons prone to heckle the performers, whom they’d pelt with the cheapest snack handy. Wikipedia explains (hold on, here we race into the present, bypassing the “Howdy Doody Show” where the audience of children was called “the Peanut Gallery”) that in recent times the term has “taken on new meanings with the advent of social networks and online chat rooms.”
I’m not implying that our readers are prone to heckling, throwing food to express their displeasure, or acting childish. No, the readers often seem smarter than me, and if anyone in the equation is acting childish, the odds are that I could find the culprit looking back at me in a mirror.
A. Regarding biking under the influence, a staff member here says, “I've seen Sailors on bases arrested for DUI on a bike in Rhode Island. It varies state-by-state. States consider a bike to be a ‘vehicle’ while others do not. You won't get a ‘BUI’ in Virginia, but you would in Maryland.”
B. “Consistently I find your safety comments on the mark and in some cases more conservative than my own practices,” a correspondent writes. That’s why he was surprised to read, "When I'm messing around with a gun..." We implied that messing around with a gun is okay as long as the gun is pointed in a safe direction. “That idea is most assuredly false,” he points out. “The phrase ‘mess around with’ should never be an accurate description of an activity involving a gun.”
C. On the topic of exploding targets, we got an email defending them. “They are available from many gun stores across the U.S. and consist of a powdered mixture in pre-packaged plastic containers that explode when exposed to sufficient shock (i.e., a high speed bullet),” a correspondent explained. “The result is lots of smoke with some fire. When used properly, they are lots of fun!” They have become more popular, he explains, because they have appeared on reality television shows about shooting. He mentioned snowmen, watermelons and pumpkins as potential receptacles. Nevertheless, “using exploding targets in an arid environment with copious amounts of dry grass and tinder is dumb,” he says.
The idea still makes me cringe, having subsisted on a steady diet of mishap reports about people who are clueless about the meaning of the word “properly.” And don’t even get me started on the idea of using “reality” TV as a source of ideas.
D. Adding to our ongoing palaver about poisonous snakes and the colors red, black and yellow, a correspondent writes, “You misquoted the ‘red touch black’ snake wisdom. The actual saying goes, “Red touch black, leave it alone. Red touch yellow, leave it alone.”
E. Regarding an item we included in an issue entitled “Doing Something Dumb With a Smart Phone,” a lieutenant commander wrote about when he was a division officer on the Nimitz. “I would hold pre-holiday safety briefs called ‘Smart Phone, Dumb Move.’ My Sailors actually looked forward to the brief because I would download videos of people their age doing dumb things and then talk to how that would affect their military career if they were to follow suit.” Great minds think alike.
Note to this contributor: When you screen for commander, have the board give me a call and I’ll put in a good word for you.
2. That’s all for this time, all you denizens of the peanut gallery. Toss the occasional goober if you must, I’m just glad the theater doesn’t sell coconuts.
If you missed last week ("In Which We Once Again Verify Gravity") here it is.
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