As I sat at a red light this morning, my eyes caught a glimpse of the oil-change reminder stuck covertly but conveniently to the top corner of my windshield. I experienced a brief moment of gut-wrenching panic, assuming that I forgot to take my truck in for service and therefore would break down before I reached my destination.
I was reassured because the sticker read “next service due: 74,300 miles,” while my odometer read 71,000 miles. Then I noticed something that concerned me even more than the woman in the van behind me laying on her horn ferociously because the light turned green 2 seconds ago (she was apparently late for her “terrible-people-with-no-patience anonymous” meeting.)
This is my accurate depiction of the lady in my rearview mirror:
Below the recommended mileage for my next oil change, it read: “or due by: 03/11/2011.” In other words, if I do not drive 3,300 more miles by 03/11/2011, I will have squandered the full potential of my truck’s current batch of oil, much like I squandered $26 per month on a 2-year gym membership (which meant paying $26 per month so, for a 2-year period, I would feel guilty driving by a particular building that I never actually entered.)
I could have chosen to ignore this quandary, but my frugal tendencies required me to at least figure out where I could drive to use all the oil efficiently. The thought of choosing a vacation destination based on oil efficiency may seem asinine to some people, but it’s the same as selecting dinner based on which items in the refrigerator are closest to, or least past, their expiration dates.
I know I developed this visceral reaction to wasting resources from my ever-vigilant parents. I have memories of sitting at the dinner table night after night until bedtime because I would not eat my cold green beans. As steadfast and stalwart as my parents were about me eating my vegetables, I was three times as stubborn and never flinched.
Sometimes I would ask them to reheat my plate, only to laugh at them as I watched the green beans get cold again and again, like a 6-year-old James Bond outwitting his captors. My parents did not always play fair; My mom decided at some point that my uneaten dinners would become my obligatory breakfast the next day.
This tactic had potential, however unlike the kids who ate Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms or Trix cereal, my options were last night’s dinner or instant oatmeal. To help illustrate my point, I created the following quiz: Try to guess which breakfast was served at my house every morning, and which is served daily to 9,000 inmates in a prison in India.
There is always the chance that a vacation destination 3,300 miles away, chosen randomly, could end badly. Just like dinner can turn out badly if food is thrown together by necessity (such as the time my wife, in an attempt at culinary resourcefulness, baked plain chicken breasts with whole canned stewed tomatoes on top, and nothing else. It was so bad that I had to sleep with a night-light until I was convinced that it was never coming back to get me. )
Cartography for Dummies (Map-reading for John G)
Maybe it was the same manifest destiny that drove our ancestors westward, but for a brief moment I contemplated climbing into my truck and driving all night in any direction to use up my oil. Alas, I never learned how to read a map because I was never a Boy Scout growing up. I also never learned how to build fires, construct shelters, or get a lot of random nosebleeds in school.
**My wife requested that I remove the joke about Boy Scouts because my father-in-law and brother-in-law are both Eagle Scouts. I told her that when a male nurse makes fun of two Boy Scouts, no one’s feelings can get hurt. We do not have feelings to hurt anymore.**
So what does 3,300 miles look like on a map? To solve this conundrum, I spent my time trying to figure out if my index-finger and thumb were still 1000 miles apart based on the map’s scale, after I moved them around. They obviously had moved significantly apart, because I found myself looking in Africa.
Just as I gave up, I realized that the world map I was viewing would soon look different because Sudan is splitting into two countries. I have read a lot about the impending border conflicts that will occur because of part of the country’s surplus of (drum roll please…) oil! Many fear that violence will be inevitable while they work out the border situation between the two new countries.
I have a Good Idea that could solve this and a couple more of the world’s current problems with one simple act of compromise. I call it John G’s Straight Line Theory.
The Proposed Compromise: Northern and Southern Sudan agree to split their country using a single, straight line from one side to the other.
The Proposed Map:
The Dramatic Effects:
- No bloodshed resulting from the border designation process
- Ability to solve any future conflicts by playing games like dodgeball, badminton, or red rover because the straight border will easily divide teams and sides of the court/field.
- With John G’s Straight Line Theory, a simple black marker and ruler can be used to update the millions and millions of existing books, globes, and maps. This will save schools all over the world millions and millions of dollars that they would otherwise have to spend on the purchase of new maps, globes, and books. This enormous sum of money can be reinvested in the education of the world, instead of into the pockets of the ultra-rich executives at the map and globe companies.
- Children all over the world have failed geography tests because Africa’s countries are all shaped like the leftover chip pieces at the bottom of a Pringles container. With John G’s Straight Line Theory, kids will be able to find North and South Sudan because of its straight line (much like Colorado of the United States) and use it as a reference point.
- I cannot fathom the voluminous amount of trash that would be generated by throwing away all the out-dated globes, maps, and geography books. With John G’s Straight Line Theory there would be no such thing as an outdated globe, map, or geography book, and therefore no trash/global warming.
Prolonged International Security
- With the amount of current government overhauls from social unrest in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen (to name a few), there are bound to be more countries forming in the near future. If each country experiencing a secession would agree to abide by John G’s Straight Line Theory, the world would be able to rest easy knowing that border conflicts would cease to exist, and simple changes could be made to books, globes and maps as many times as needed, for free.
Prior to the development of John G’s Straight Line Theory, I thought of a couple other Good Ideas that made Sudan easier to locate on a map, but failed to offer any other benefits.
Hopefully the Sudanese leadership will understand the massive potential that John G’s Straight Line Theory possesses, and act on it. It would change the world immediately for the better. And it’s as easy as drawing a straight line.
Then we can focus on how to get rid of all the “terrible-people-with-no-patience anonymous” members.