Oh The Things I Learn

When was the last time you learned some, quite frankly, useless stuff?

Seriously, we all know things that we’ll probably never make use of, but when was the last time you went out and looked for something stupid that you wanted to learn about just because? I do this occasionally, and I wanted to share a couple of stories with you about it because, hey, one of the reasons many of us became librarians is the whole “guardians of knowledge” thing, even the stupid, useless knowledge.

Apparently, living in Antarctica means living in a robotic turtle.

So recently I got off on a kick and I don’t even remember why. Given my love of James Burke’s Connections series and how it basically made me a historian, my mind has a tendency to take strange routes from one subject to another and it’s often impossible to get back to square one. Anyway, as far back as I can go in this little train of thought — I wanted to see what it was like to live in Antarctica, which led me to “how does one get to Antarctica?”, which led me to flying to Antarctica, and on to flying in Antarctica, which ended up at the bottom of the rabbit hole I wanted to talk about here.

Exactly how does one fire up the engines of a single or twin engine plane?

No joke, no exaggeration – I must have spent three hours watching YouTube videos of pilots demonstrating how they start various aircraft. While I don’t wish to be put in the situation, I’m reasonably sure that I could now start a single engine Cessna from cold and dark given the proper checklist.

See that? I used a term there, cold and dark. That means the aircraft has been completely powered down and has been for some time. You’re starting from putting a key in something and turning it to “On.” This was a term I didn’t even know about until a few days ago. And now I do, and my life is somewhat richer because of it.

Still, I really don’t want to have to start up an aircraft, especially in a hurry. Such things would mean my life had taken a sudden turn that I probably wouldn’t be cool with.

YouTube is great for that kind of thing. Think of it. Ten years ago, how in the heck would you have seen something like that? If you wanted to watch someone start a plane, you’d probably have to arrange something with a pilot to watch them start a plane. Meanwhile, in two or three hours, I watched all kinds of planes start up.

Are you bored? I mean, like, are you bored right now? You are, after all, reading my blog so you can’t be super excited or you’d be doing something other than reading blogs. But here’s a game that everyone should play now and then. Go to Wikipedia and search for something. Have a look at the article. Now, pick out the strangest offshoot of that article, and click the link.

Continue doing that until you totally forgot what you originally searched for. You’ll learn all kinds of useful and useless stuff. Sometimes, it’s just entertaining to learn something without knowing they’ll be some kind of test later; whether it be an academic test or a real life “OH MY GOD, DAN! THEY’RE RIGHT BEHIND US! START THE PLANE!” kind of test.

See this guy? Let's never piss him off.

For instance, I just Wikipediaed (if something can be Googled, then I propose that it can be Wikipediaed too) “shotgun.” Perusing it, I find that there’s an awesome picture of a Gurkha patrol officer with his trademark hat and that takes me to the different rankings of police officers and…

Yeah you get the picture. So go on, find yourself something stupid and useless to learn. It’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Leave a Reply