For this writer there are some questions that simply need answers. One can dwell in ignorance for only so long before making a concerted effort to satisfy innate curiosity. Some of the answers will probably be obvious to many readers, which will assuredly reveal my ignorance. But I felt that perhaps there are some folks out there who like me, keep wondering about things. I’ll start with a few sports questions:
Why do baseball players repeatedly tighten and re-tighten their Velcro gloves while at bat?
I once thought that for some reason the gloves were always getting loose—perhaps inferior Velcro, and the constant adjustments were necessary. They aren’t. I googled the question and it said tightening the gloves is a timing ritual that is part of a psychological game played between batters and pitchers. All of the batter’s movements at the plate before the pitch, including the glove tightening, are designed to influence the timing of the pitcher. In some subtle way, these actions could affect the pitcher’s timing and effectiveness of his delivery.
Why do football quarterbacks lift their knee before the ball is snapped?
I’m embarrassed to have not known the obvious answer to this one. The internet says it is a signal to the line, and sometimes players in the backfield, that the ball is about to be snapped. The knee rise proves vital in very loud crowds when players can’t hear the quarterback’s calls.
What do NBA coaches say to players in their huddles during timeouts?
I used to think they discussed technical plays and very involved maneuvers on the court. But when TV coverage includes an open microphone in the huddles, I most often hear coaches saying basic things like: “You can do it, put more energy into defense,” or “move the ball more,” “choose your shots more carefully,” or “don’t let number 13 get so far into the paint…” To me their admonitions seem more like cheerleading than instruction, and for salaries in six figures and higher. Maybe they are afraid to divulge strategies over the air.
Why is spitting prevalent in baseball and not in other sports?
Do you ever see golfers, football or tennis players spitting? During the 2019 World Series the Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez put on a spitting extravaganza – perhaps sunflower seeds rather than the snuff some coaches and players used to consume and frequently expectorate. Another common scene in baseball: Players groping themselves in places that wouldn’t be deemed acceptable during a golf match. I scouted around and have no answers for this – most folks would say: “It’s just part of the game.”
Does the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) put a limit on the number of advertisements a commercial television station can run during its programming?
For years I thought there was a limit, and told that to others, threatening to contact the FCC about unbelievably long runs of, back-to-back commercials. But again, my old friend the internet says “no,” only in children’s programming—with that restriction 10 minutes of every hour. I’m not saying I do this, but people who know better either stream their video or record with a device that eliminates ads. I go into another room or switch the channel. But devilishly, many of the stations synchronize their commercials to air at the same time.
How do people text on their iPhones using two thumbs and achieve any degree of accuracy?
This is one of my most baffling questions. I use my index finger and apparently it is the size of an orangutan’s, because instead of “o” I hit “i,” for the space bar I hit “v,” I hit “s” instead of “d,” etc. It takes me 20 minutes to write a 40-word text (while during typewriter days I could zing away at 100 words per minute with 98 percent accuracy). My wife has offered an answer, but it still doesn’t seem possible. She says texters use the finger nails of their opposable thumbs to pinpoint their contact with the iPhone’s letters. I tried this and things got worse. She also mentioned that a lot of texters don’t care if they make errors. This starts to sound like the beginning of answer. Still, a good thumb texter could probably make money off me if he or she offered a short course. The only other alternative would be a pointed stylus over my ape-like index finger.
Insecurity – based on the amount of communication going on via cell phones, there are probably a lot of writers out there who are considerably better than me.
I am a habitual observer, and I see people talking on cellphones EVERYWHERE – even in bathrooms. They apparently have a lot to communicate about. If this is true, they are sitting on a wealth of material that could be written and turned into best-selling novels.
A lot of time in the company of others I stare into space and have nothing to say. The folks I see on their iPhones have plenty to talk about, all of the time, everywhere they go. I’m not nearly gutsy or intrusive enough to ever do this, but I would love to stop someone in a store and ask, “what are you talking about at this minute?” I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they said there were exchanging views with a friend on the algorithms necessary to differentiate the light-emission mechanics of pulsar PSR B1919 versus PSR B1257+12.
If they can make spam filters for computers, why not junk mail filters for the Post Office?
As I held open the trash lid at the post office recently for a lady while dumping in a few items of my own, I posed the question: “I wonder how many trees we’re killing today? “I don’t know, but I really hate this,” she replied. We all do. But the junk mail just keeps coming. It would be an ambitious undertaking, but it would be amazingly gratifying to get the name of each CEO, President, or whoever is in charge of the companies who send the junk mail, and have ALL of it sent directly to their residences on an ongoing basis.
Why do the wheels of cars (and horse-drawn wagons) in movies appear to spin backwards?
This one bothered me for years, and it wasn’t until I did the old Google search that I discovered it is a kind of optical illusion based on the recording speed of the cameras used. According to Gizmodo website: https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-do-wheels-sometimes-appear-to-spin-backwards-1593807400
The website says that with many movie cameras, that rate is 24 frames per second. When the frequency of a wheel’s spin matches the frame rate of the camera recording it (say, 24 revolutions per second), each of the wheel’s spokes completes a full revolution every 1/24 seconds, such that it ends up in the same position every time the camera captures a frame. The result is footage in which the wheel in question appears motionless. So, when a wheel seems to spin in a direction opposite its actual rotation, it’s because each spoke has come up a few degrees shy of the position it occupied when it was last imaged by the camera. This is sometimes referred to as the reverse-rotation effect. If the spoke over-shoots, the wheel will appear to rotate in the right direction, but very, very slowly.
There are many other things that have vexed me for years, but I’ll save those questions for my wife, or anyone else who will listen. She shakes her head at anyone who for a while thought that formal Presidential affairs in our nation’s Capitol were “Steak Dinners” rather than “State Dinners.” I’m glad I married a teacher.