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Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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Fifth Friday Fripperies

May 29th, 2009 by dk

Eugene residents would rather not be called Eugeneans. I’ll bet they’d prefer Eugeniuses.
It Says Something About You But I Don’t Know What if you replace staples before the stapler runs out.

I miss toothpaste tubes that roll up.
18th Avenue is Eugene’s longest street.

FedEx announced on January 1 that FedEx Kinko’s would now be called FedEx Office, but the signs in the Willamette Street copy shop still say FedEx Kinko’s. Aren’t they in the sign-making business?

Cafe Yumm! serves up the closest thing to an indigenous food for Eugeneans, I mean Eugeniuses.

Forgiving and forgetting intertwine. Both require letting go and that takes practice. So don’t say trivia isn’t worthwhile. The trivial is a forgettable (ergo, forgivable) fact.
No, there is no singular for trivia. A single trivium, like a single kudo, is no such thing. Acclamation is required.
I have no reason to believe my fingernails are growing faster, but I’m certain I feel compelled to trim them more often. Am I becoming less tolerant? Will I soon be hollering at kids traipsing on my lawn?
We like tolerance maximized when we’re dealing with people, but we prefer systems and objects manufactured with a minimum of tolerance. Those two definitions of tolerance eventually clash. Air travel comes to mind.

Quick writing tip. Employ strong verbs. Verbs move the topic from here to there.
Reading about mudslides in Walton makes me realize I don’t know anything about the place, except as a marker for being 40 percent to the coast. If I set aside a Saturday to drive to Walton and no farther, what would I do there? Suggestions?

Why do so few businesses provide pavers through their landscaping between the sidewalk and their front door? It’s almost as if they expect none of their customers to arrive unwheeled.
I’m sure they knew what they were doing, but there are large swaths of homes in the south hills where the Market of Choice sign dominates their view of the valley below.

I understand the strategy and value of horizontal and vertical product integration, but somebody should have said something when Black & Decker branched out into coffee makers.
Exactly who is it who must be told before a movie that in the case of a fire, they should move quickly to the nearest exit?

The two routes to Corvallis from Eugene could not be more distinct from one another. And yet they are equivalent in my mind. Whichever route I take to get there, I always want to take the other way home.
Why doesn’t anyone sell a single machine that washes and then dries clothing? I’d pay extra for that convenience. Who wouldn’t want to reduce the “light industrial” zone of their home.
The only thing better than having a house at the coast is having a friend who has a house at the coast.

When a graffiti or gang artist adopts the phrase “UPS YES” or “EWEB OK,” that’s when life for the law-abiding will become more difficult.

If your life feels too busy, marinate something. Your brain will be confused whether that succulency took 20 minutes or eight hours to prepare. You can use that confusion to your benefit.
We congratulate ourselves that we’re egalitarian, that all people are created equal, that we don’t judge people or assemble them into castes or classes, the way others do. Until we see what somebody drives (or pedals.)

Birding is a hobby for smart people. They can collect birds they’ve spotted without collecting the bird itself. We all remember when our childhood rock collection became unmanageable.
Me, I barely collect nouns. I prefer cataloguing verbs. I prefer to pay attention to how things work and relate to one another. “Consilience,” for those who like such things.

Could we put tip jars at the city limits and then distribute the proceeds to all the service professionals? Probably not. Just because it’s efficient doesn’t mean it’s practical. But it still would be a cool idea.
Why do we call it a “reception” when the person being feted is leaving? I suppose a “disgorgement” would sound less appetizing.

Congratulations to Julia Denning, Lily Miller and Chandra Denton. These Gold Beach High School students each won college scholarships from (privately funded) science fair competitions this spring. So there are still science fairs somewhere.
The center of I-5 marks the boundary between Springfield and Eugene. Jurisdictionally speaking, northbound commuters are in Springfield and southbound motorists are in Eugene. That must mean something.

Our grandchildren will attend events in the downtown library’s Bascom-Tykeson Room, and we’ll have to explain to them those names represent two families, not a single, hyphenated one.
Do you know people who suffer from delusions of adequacy? I know I do.
Just north of the Knickerbocker Bridge in Alton Baker Park, there’s a bicycle intersection that looks like a roundabout that’s been squished. I’ve heard it described as an oblongabout, but that was an engineer and they can’t help being precise that way.
I can’t prove it, but I suspect Willamette Street is about 18 inches too narrow to comfortably accommodate four lanes of traffic. The looming power poles on both sides don’t help matters.

When Springfield was preparing to unveil the first multi-lane roundabout, they sent a brochure to every resident, carefully explaining how to navigate it. Now I don’t know if that was pathetic or prescient. I’m afraid both.
Everybody would deny it, but I’ve heard civic leaders say out loud that one reason they like roundabouts is because it eliminates corners for panhandling.

Whenever I turn on Chad Drive, I wonder “Chad who?” I don’t have the same quandary when I drive on Charnelton Street. Charnelton Mulligan (1827 – 1899) donated the land that became our Park Blocks.
One reason we get Chad Drives and Suzanne Ways is that Eugene has a prohibition on developers using their last names on streets. So how did Obie Lane happen? Maybe it helps to have been mayor.
Nothing feels so satisfying as when the shampoo bottle and the conditioner reach empty during the same shower. I don’t know why.

What do they put on grade school floors that make my shoes squeak so loudly?
If you wonder how and when you’ll finish a large project, don’t overlook the sure-fire first step. Start. Every accomplishment of every size wasn’t finished before it was begun.
Is there any everyday mode of human communication less articulate than a car honk?

I was driving south on Oak Street this week near Civic Stadium, where road crews were busy. There were flaggers at both ends of construction, swiveling their signs between STOP and SLOW. Only one problem. Traffic goes one way, so only the first flagger was needed. Nobody thought to break up the set.
Eugeniuses merge poorly. This includes their driving habits.

It recently dawned on me why my early school teachers often brought a seating chart to class. Much as we rebelled, it turns out adults like seating charts. Most adults. I never got the memo.
I’m told that automated signal changes cost upwards of $100,000 to upgrade. I’ll bet google could automate all the traffic lights in Eugene for $10 million or less. Can we ask them?

Isaac Newton discovered (or explained) gravity, but who discovered levity? Maybe the Law of Levity hasn’t yet been written.
What will the popular name of the next EmX route become? Will people call it the Gateway EmX or the RiverBend EmX, or simply the Red Line? Watch competing public relations teams jockey.

Mediocre seems so horrible to me that I have to remind myself that “horrible” still deserves its own category in my brain.
Americans don’t know how to wait. They barely know how to loiter.
Front yard fences should be discouraged. Somehow.

Are unimproved alleys — recently legitimized with street signs — included in Eugene’s backlog of road repairs?
If you notice where power lines stop being fed from poles along the street (not from alleys or underground), then your life is probably as complicated as mine.

Imagine my disappointment when I realized the satisfaction of a life well lived feels roughly equivalent to the comfort of a new pair of thick socks.

I believe Americans suffer from obesity because we no longer make a clear distinction between feeling fulfilled and feeling full. The solar plexus is very near the stomach, after all. Is your thesaurus making you fat?

We live in an age of runaway conflation.

People who wear flip-flops in the winter confuse me.
It also doesn’t help that most of us have no commonly used word for no-longer-hungry. (“Sated” or “satisfied” could suffice.) We gyrate from “starved” to “stuffed.” Words can shape us, literally.

Short form writing is difficult but important. How few can you do?

If first impressions matter, I always instruct a newcomer arriving by car to come into Eugene via Lane Community College and down that forested slope into a village. Even if they are coming from the north. If they come by plane, I drive them to town by Greenhill Road and 18th Avenue.
We wish R-G sports columnist George Schroeder would stop using the first person plural when describing his own observations. Maybe they don’t even know he’s doing it.

18th Avenue also happens to be the midpoint of the 18th plot from Portland. Coincidence?

Nobody wants you to know this, but the city of Eugene asks you to pay for metered parking until 6 p.m., but last I checked, they send the ticket-writers home each evening at 5:00.
I’m wondering when those who championed The Tango Center as a model of local downtown business development will apologize to those who voted against renewing and expanding the urban renewal district to revitalize downtown.
Where but in western Oregon can you get soaked and sunburn at the same time, grinning at a nearby rainbow?

Thanks to reader Barb I., who made me a scarf and left it at the newspaper office with my name on it, after I wrote in January “I want to be a scarf person.”

I want to be a Ferrari person.


Don Kahle ( has many more mini-musings at Readers can follow him at, or just wait for him in The Register-Guard, where he shows up each Friday.

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  • 1 Andria May 30, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    This collection of musings was a bright spot in my afternoon. Smiles and even a laugh-out-loud or two before the next performance with my school orchestra (8 down, 2 to go this month) lightens my demeanor. Who would have guessed that clever quips from Oregon would benefit a group of kids in Chicago?
    Disgorgement, tolerance and Fire in a movie theater had me laughing, but the Ferrari was indeed the best.