In the past, even on this blog, I’ve been known to wax nostalgic. Today, I feel like waxing philosophical. Really, like I could even do that. The verb “wax” as in “waxing” means to increase in extent, quantity, intensity, power, to grow or become. Philosophical, on the other hand, means: of or pertaining to philosophy. This, then, requires you to know what philosophy is. Philosophy is the rational investigation (opposite of the other kind of investigation, I imagine) of the truth. If we choose to be more inclusive, it is the principles of, not only being, but knowledge and conduct. Okay, so I can use a dictionary. And I am awfully glad that I can now do it online. So, in an attempt to keep this on track, I’m fixin’ to write intently about a rational investigation of the truth.
As I have also indubitably mentioned in the past, I have hard copies of references like dictionaries, thesauruses and style books in my very own bookcase, but I rarely use them anymore. Some of them look as though they’ve never been touched. I go to “dictionary.com,” or “thesaurus .com,” or “rhyme-zone.com,” and get an answer in a fraction of the time.
Did you know that the internet, as we know it, is only 25 years old? That really amazes me because I can’t imagine we functioned without it. Those books in the bookcase I guess. There is never any unanswered question for me anymore. If I want to know where Bosnia is, I just pick up my smart phone, push a button, and ask “Where is Bosnia?” or “What kind of car does Amber drive in the TV series ‘Parenthood?’” or “Who played defensive end for the Denver Broncos in 1974?” and…ba-bam, “Google” tells me. And “Google” tells me in seconds. (Did you know “Google” is a girl?” At least she is on my smart phone.)
And “Google” is pretty smart for only being 16 years old. The search engine was founded in 1998, but you might find it interesting to know that “smart” phones have been around for 20 years. Smart phones have been in my possession for only a couple of years though. (“Couple” meaning, most commonly, two.) Before the “push the button and ask the question” I had to sit down at my computer and manually search “Google.” I love “Google.” I just wish I had stock. Why didn’t anyone tell me to buy stock in “Google?” I was there. I could have done it.
Here’s something I found interesting (I find a lot of things “interesting,” don’t I?). After checking “Google” on dictionary.com, I discovered that it’s not a word. The term is a creative spelling of googol, which is a number equal to 10 to the 100th power. The nine-year old nephew of American mathematician, Edward Kasner, came up with the word googol in the 1930s. (Remember, this is an intent, rational investigation of the truth. Which, conversely, means you have to believe everything you read on the internet.) What is a number equal to 10 to the 100th power? Geeez, I don’t know. Let me ask “Google.”
She says that it is the number 1 followed by a 100 zeros. I’m going to accept that. This is what a googol looks like. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000…oh, that’s enough. You get the idea.
The other day, I was sitting on the couch next to my grandson. I think he’s also 16. He had just gotten a haircut and his bangs were curled up in front, kind of ridiculous looking. So, like the grandpa that I am, I says to him, “What’s with the curls?” “Why didn’t you have them cut the curl off the bangs?”
And he says, “These aren’t just bangs, they’re ba-bangs.”
I thought I was going to die. Probably doesn’t sound that funny to you now, but the dead-pan manner in which he presented the philosophical truth about his bangs was just too much to absorb. Life’s little moments.
All kids around 16 think we older folk are stupid anyway. One of my favorite quotations, and I have indubitably told you this before, is one from Mark Twain. (If you know me, there’s a surprise.)
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
It’s framed and hanging on the wall over my desk. Philosophically, it’s there because every one of my children has basically said this to me in some form or another over the years. And it makes me smile. Not that I get satisfaction from knowing that what I told them was totally right, any more than any other parent, but because I also remember a conversation that I had at the dining room table with my grandfather.
“Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up,” he said. “You only get to be young once. You should enjoy it.”
It’s etched in my brain. I have no idea what we were talking about, but I enjoyed arguing with my grandfather. All I remember about the conversation, at the time, was that I was thinking to myself, “Yeah, right, what do you know? I can hardly wait to get out on my own, make my own decisions. I want to get out of this small town. I want to make my own rules. I want to stay out as late as I want. I want to go wherever I want, when I want.”
And I have said the same thing over and over to all of my kids, and their kids, and any other kid that doesn’t want my advice. They didn’t, and aren’t, listening either. What do I know? I’m ignorant, and they can hardly stand to have me around.
My football coach said something similarly thought-provoking to me in high school, when I told him I was quitting the team so I could take a part-time job at the Drive-In 4U. Another brain etching.
“You’re going to be working your whole life,” he said. “Right now you should forget about a job and play football.”
Yeah, I might have sucked at football, but I still wish I had listened to his advice. I should have enjoyed being young… and playing football for one more year. But then I wouldn’t have had the car, and the insurance, and the clothes, and the stereo, and the money for gas, and…I just chose to grow up too soon.