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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, February 5, 2001

The REAL problems
of the USA

THE new president and U.S. Congress are busy organizing, making appointments and launching new initiatives, but the most serious problems facing the country today are being ignored.

Sure, it's important to address education, tax cuts and how California can enjoy the benefits of electricity without actually having to PRODUCE ANY OF IT! But why deliberately disregard the problems that plague average citizens daily? I've come up with a list of these problems that I'll be forwarding to the president and Congress, just as soon as my computer's internal fax function works properly.

1. A Congressional Blue Ribbon Panel to Study Why the Personal Computer Fax Function Doesn't Function. So many parts of a personal computer don't work the way they are supposed to, so singling out one is difficult. But trying to set your computer to receive a fax has to be one of the most annoying. Theoretically, when someone wants to send you a fax, you set your computer to answer the phone, sit back and watch technology hum. What happens is that the computer won't answer the phone because it's off playing solitaire with itself. Then when your friend tries to call and tell you the fax didn't go through, the computer answers and emits a hellish, high-pitched screech that knocks both of you across the room. After a half-hour of phone tag, you decide to have the document sent by pony express.

2. Select Senate Committee on Investigation of Digital Clocks. Are digital clocks some sort of enormous electronic practical joke? They put digital clocks everywhere: microwaves, coffee machines, clock-radios, in cars ... and they never work! Has a terrorist organization compromised the power grid so that whenever you reset a digital clock, a power surge will follow within the hour, deprogramming every clock in the house? The clock on my VCR has winked 02:54 at me for three years because I finally gave up trying to reset it. And digital clocks in cars? What's the point? Even old-style clocks didn't work in cars. As a result, there are people driving $150,000 turbo-charged sports cars with sundials strapped to the hood.

3. FBI Strike Force Investigation into Toilet Flush Handles. We can send a man to the moon but we can't make toilets that flush right. In the 21st century we are still a country of toilet handle gigglers. It's bad enough that, to save water, toilets use only 3 ounces of water per flush, not even enough to send a cotton ball down the drain. But why can they not come up with a mechanism to make the water stop running after you flush? Get to it, G-men.

4. FCC Inquiry into the Car Radio Favorite Song Phenomenon. You're in your car, you turn on the radio, you hear the last four bars of your favorite song. Every time. How is that possible? The odds would seem staggering. But it happens. It makes you feel like you are about 1-1/2 minutes behind where you are supposed to be in life.

5. Federal Grand Jury Inquest into Longest Traffic Light Syndrome. You are in your car, ticked that you just missed your favorite song, when you come up to the intersection with the longest red light in town. You hit it perfectly. Every time. No matter which direction you're going or what time of day, you always hit this red light. Years of your life have been spent waiting at that intersection. Someone in the Traffic Light Synchronization Department must be indicted for this.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to

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