The mysteries of life keep growing

The 2007 legislature mandated for this year that teen drivers and their passengers can be stopped for not using their seatbelts. Up until now, failure to buckle up was only a secondary offense. The driver had to be stopped for some other reason in order for an officer to issue a citation for not strapping in.

This seems like a good law, but it will do no good if it is not enforced.

We made the switch at our house from cable to satellite TV about two years ago. I really like the variety offered by the Dish Network. Where else could a guy see what the Mormons are up to via BYU?s station and flip to a channel where Big Roy, or whatever his name is, has his own polka show on RFD TV?

I caught that show the other night, and it was like a big car wreck. I just couldn?t turn away.

Anyway, if that is not mysterious enough, our satellite receiver has the odd and somewhat spooky habit of turning itself on every once in a while. We will wake up in the middle of the night and the blue indicator light is glowing enough to illuminate our bedroom.

We have yet to figure out how this is possible, since the remote is downstairs. It also happens during the day sometime and in all kinds of weather. Bizarre.

Here?s another mystery: Why aren?t women required to take off their hats for prayers, funerals or the national anthem? Who makes up these rules?

I have no doubt we are creating a nation of cell-phone addicts by allowing youth, some as young as preschoolers, to have their own wireless devices.

Now, I believe they are becoming overly attached to their iPods and similar music devices. The English III students in my classroom recently presented persuasive speeches and wrote persuasive papers, many of them on the subject of the need for more freedom to listen to tunes during times teachers are not lecturing. They offer some compelling arguments.

Certainly classroom management is easier when pupils are listening to music instead of talking to each other. But, I fear students are excluding themselves and each other when they choose to ignore their surroundings by constantly being wired into their personal auditory stimulators.

Is there no longer any room for quiet time, for a person to be alone with his or her thoughts? Do kids wear these players in the shower? If so, where do they attach them?

In addition to the questions about the constant craving for stimulation, I guess I am old-fashioned enough to believe that it is rude to ignore the people around you in a social situation.

When someone standing next to me is wearing headphones, I get the message that he or she has no interest in anything I might have to say. I also have concerns about the safety issues of students not being aware of their surroundings.

Yes, I wear earphones while running, and I can actually feel cars coming up behind me. Keep in mind, however, I am not with anyone else at the time. I am not ignoring the rest of society. I run alone.

The most recent issue of Runners World magazine addresses this issue by recommending that joggers not wear earphones while running together. The editors agree it is rude behavior.

My wife cringes every time she hears someone using the phrase ?going postal,? as if disgruntled workers in her profession are any more likely to go on a rampage than those in other lines of work.

Makes a person wonder if the recent attacks on university campuses will give rise to a new phrase, ?going collegiate.? I hope not.

The past six months have been the deadliest in the skirmish our government has involved us in over in Iraq. This year, 348 U.S. soldiers have been killed, 104 in April alone. It?s a good thing our president declared an end to major operations four years ago. So far, more than 3,350 troops have lost their lives.

A Newsweek projection estimated the cost for the war will soon reach $500 billion. What could that kind of cash buy? How about a college education for 17 million high-school-aged teens? It could pay for preschool for every 3- to 4-year-old in the country for eight years.

On the other end of the age spectrum, $500 million would cover a year?s stay in an assisted living facility for more than half of the 35 million Americans aged 65 and older.

The biggest mystery in all of this is the question of what we have gained for this expenditure. The president recently said that to leave now would lead to chaos in Iraq. As opposed to staying?

Why so many people love to shop at garage sales is also a mystery to me. Last weekend was crazy in Hillsboro as bargain hunters descended on us from all over.

I spent a little time checking out the sales in our fair city, and I came to the conclusion that some garage sales are of a higher quality than others. So, I put together a list of ways you can tell if shoppers have stumbled upon a sale with some issues.

You know you are at a bad garage sale when?the vacuum cleaner you put out at last month?s city-wide cleanup is for sale for $20. There?s a shoebox filled with eight-track tapes featuring Lawrence Welk. An item is priced at $2, even though you saw the same thing last week in the Everything?s a Dollar store. There are items that feature three things that should never be seen together: velvet, paint and Elvis.

You know you are at a bad garage sale when?instead of saying ?as is? on the item, the label says ?as you wish it was.? Every time you go around the block, more stuff appears?and it?s exactly the same. The house with the sale is located across from the recycling center. The homeowner insists you call him ?Slick.?

And, finally, you know you are at a bad garage sale when the only thing for sale is the garage itself.