Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manual labor

Well my long holiday break is near its end. It was nice while it lasted but the rest of the world wants to get back to work so I must oblige as well. I don’t want to give the union folks any ideas but it seems if they would delay reporting to work on January 2nd to make stuff, then I would have nothing to buy and could sleep in another few days or so.

While Christmas was lovely, I will have to say the weather was a constant concern. No I did not have any real problems but it was always on my mind. I typically travel a lot this time of year so dodging storms and wondering which airports would remain open is a bit of a chore. Snow seemed to follow me around this year but luckily I avoided direct contact. My car did get frozen to the parking lot however which was fun and a freak tornado messed up some houses on my way home but other than that the mayhem was minimal.

The after Christmas ritual was that I finally settled in to read all the instruction manuals for the piles of consumer goods traded over the season. Like most men, I refuse to read any instructions upon unpacking. But UNLIKE most guys, eventually I actually look forward to digging into the pages of those diminutive little ‘how to’ books. I don’t know if it is the compact size, the colorful photos, or the poorly translated English that intrigues me so.

This year the instruction manuals were more work than usual though. Every book now is printed in a variety of languages. Some pages have each paragraph switching between French, English, Spanish, and Chinese, while others have books within books for each respective language. I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to sit down with an instruction manual that should be 50 pages of sleep-inducing reading, only to find that a mere 5 pages is in your native tongue.

Geez I can’t get to sleep in only 5 pages of a tiny little book – what are these manufacturers thinking. I need at least 10 pages of instructions just to allow my mind to wander a bit and another 10 to get drowsy. I guess I need to buy more complicated toys next Christmas but these LEGOS manuals are just so darned interesting and colorful too. My New Year resolution is to learn to read ‘How to’ manuals in at least 4 languages. After all how hard can it be? … all I need to know 4 colors and when to push and when to pull!


  1. Hola! You are so right, you can't buy anything anymore in the U.S.A. without it coming in a variety of languages...I wonder if other countrys do the same? You know... print instruction in English..

    Glad you had a nice Christmas break!!

  2. Don't get my husband started on Ikea instructions. They usually end in about 26 swear words.

  3. Happy New Year Bill! 4 languages, huh? Good luck! ;)

  4. Easy solution, dear. Learn one of those other languages. That way you'll have more to read! HA HA HA. Happy New Year to ya!

  5. Oh, reading manuals in several different languages is super easy!! Lying. I know what you mean about seeing a thick manual and thinking that you will be reading the majority of it. I find it a relief to discover that only 5 belong to my language!

  6. 明けましておめでとう。

  7. And what English the "Instructions" DO include is
    mostly taken up with Warnings.
    "CAUTION -- Do not swallow the electic appliance especially while it is turned on!
    -- OR ---
    "Only allow a child to play with this item IF he is a BAD child!"

    Or something. But learning languages is fun. I pick up a lot of Spanish and French by reading the NAFTA labels on stuff sold at Walmart.
    Lots of words not found in schoolbooks. But not
    the same as found in Cantinas. Har Har!
    Glad you found time to blog again.