A few weird things to be thankful for
If you are reading this, you have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. I know, it doesn't seem like much, being able to read a few lines in a newspaper. But when you consider all the complicated processes that are taking place that allow you to read this, it's pretty amazing.
First of all, your eyeballs are working, transferring light patterns into your brain, so you're lucky there. Your fingers are working, holding the paper upright. Your lungs are working, sucking in oxygen from the room and expelling carbon dioxide that the ficus plant in the corner is enjoying. And other parts of your very complicated body are working that we can't go into in a family newspaper.
All in all, life is pretty sweet. And just to prove it, here are some more things you have to be thankful for:
Coffee. The juice of life. Where would the world be if someone hadn't thought of burning a few beans from a certain obscure plant, grinding up the burnt beans and then turning them into a burned bean soup? Brilliant. And who would have thought that the burned bean soup would eventually be sold from cafes on every street corner named after the first mate on the mythical whaling ship Pequod, ruled over by an obsessive-compulsive captain named Ahab?
Frozen Pizza. Nature's little care package. These calorie-laden time capsules contain the essential nutrients for life. They wait patiently in the back of your freezer until that day when all of the "good" food has been consumed and they are the only thing that will tide you over until you can get to the supermarket again. And the best thing about a frozen pizza is that not only is it delicious hot out of the oven, but it's even better the next morning. Cold pizza for breakfast! Another thing to be thankful for.
The Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio. These mathematical, geometric and spatial patterns surprisingly recur throughout nature ... the way sunflower seeds spiral in the flower, the way rabbits multiply, the proportions of the human body, the spiral nature of seashells. I don't want to get into an argument over "intelligent design," but I know "elegant design" when I see it and the so-called "Divine Proportion" is it. It's comforting to think that life isn't as random as it sometimes feels.
Cellular Phones. The ubiquitous cell phone has probably saved more marriages than all the family counselors in the world. Researchers have found that 88 percent of all spousal arguments (and homicides) can be traced to the phrase "Why didn't you call and let me know where you were?" Now, an entire generation of married couples are connected by a technological short leash that keeps either party from straying into harm's way.
The platypus. In the same way that the Golden Ratio gives us comfort that all things aren't random, the platypus reminds us that if there is a God, he has a sense of humor. How else would you explain a duck-billed, web-footed furry water creature that looks like it was put together by spare parts?
Blogs. Sometimes you have to wonder if the Internet is really contributing to the progress of mankind. Then you see the millions of "blogs," or personal online diaries and journals, on the Net and you realize that an awful lot of pent-up energy and anxiety are being released into the electronic ether. The need to share even one's silliest deepest thoughts with the world is an apparently inherent part of the human psyche. (This column being just one example.) What did all these people do before they had the pressure release valve of blogging to relieve their stress, strangle cats?
So, there are a just a few things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. And, amazingly, none of them have anything to do with a cooked turkey.
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org