Imagine that you just did your grocery shopping for the week – or month, if you’re like me – and you are hungry. You reach for a one-serving pack of macaroni and cheese. And what do you do next? Microwave the macaroni with water, then add cheese powder and maybe margarine. It’s easy. But imagine if this is your first time eating mac and cheese, you’d have to go through the instructions on the blue box. “Pour exactly two thirds of a cup of water, and put it in a microwavable cereal bowl. Microwave on high uncovered three to four minutes, or until macaroni is tender. Add cheese sauce, mix well. Cheese sauce will thicken upon stand. Caution: Bowl may be hot. See medical help immediately if burned.” Instructions are confusing. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought that they couldn’t prepare themselves a mac and cheese dinner because their bowl is not exactly two cups. Or what if you didn’t put exactly two-thirds of a cup of water? And how do people know what to do when the instruction says “or”? They probably ask themselves, “should I microwave it for three to four minutes – and for that matter, exactly three or four minutes – or wait until it’s tender? And how would I know if it’s tender if I don’t take the bowl out first? But if I took the bowl out, and it wasn’t tender, should I put it in for another three or four minutes, or continue the previous timing?” Instructions for food items are relatively easy to deal with, though. The worst of them would be “Open the jar. Employ a spoon when eating this product,” from applesauce jars. Instructions for non-food products are the real nuisances. Sunblock lotion is a little harder. “This product may or may not help preventing sunburn,” it says. “Apply generously. Too much of this product may result in pore clogging. For extreme uses only.” If this product may or may not serve its purpose, then we may or may not want to purchase it in the first place. And really, if you follow the instructions and apply generously, you will, as the instruction noted, end up with clogged pores. I refuse to comment on the extreme uses. Light bulbs are worse. “Take out the old light bulb. Screw in the new bulb either clockwise or anticlockwise, with the metal side of the bulb pointing to the seat, until the new bulb stays in there securely. Caution: Changing light bulb without terminating power supply first may or may not result in accidental electrocution. This may be fatal. If you are electrocuted, and experience symptoms such as severe dehydration, unconsciousness or death, contact your doctor immediately.” The fact that the caution part is longer than the actual instruction seems to be the producer’s strategy in emphasizing that electrocution may be fatal, whether or not it was accidental. But this strategy might have been overdone, as people will forget to pay attention to the fact that the accident doesn’t always happen – it only may or may not occur. If it doesn’t happen, you may screw the light bulb both directions. But if the accident occurs and you’re unconscious or dead, better pick up the phone and call UHS. Hair gel is a little more obvious. “Apply an amount of your desire, through wet, not very wet, or dry hair, in the manner you wish. Then wait for a period of time depending on the situation, style your hair as you desire.” I found this instruction to have the same logic as “a red apple is a red apple” or “I am my sister’s sister.” I am very glad that I didn’t get any instructions on writing a humor column. I am sure that if I did, I’d still be confused about the difference between a humor column and a goldfish without a belly button.



Shrimp fried rice?

Shrimp fried rice: an age-old mystery. Is it fried rice containing shrimp? Or is it fried rice made by shrimp?…

Misogyny and bigotry plague the heavy music scene

Bands fronted by people of color, queer folk, and feminine-presenting people have always existed, but because their white, cisgender male counterparts overshadow them, they struggle to find and build a following and are often belittled for their musical skill.

Notes by Nadia: Can money buy happiness?

People can enjoy their hobbies without worrying about finances. Because let’s be honest, not everyone loves their job.