In our case it started off with an innocent question that I put to my friend; I asked him whether he knew how many cubic miles of rock, ash and pyroclastic material were ejected into the atmosphere with the eruption of Krakatoa, The week beforeI had watched a TV program about super volcanoes that no doubt had been aired during primetime to increase the anxiety levels of the program's viewers. I suppose I should not have been surprised that he didn’t know the answer to my question, but it did manage to pique his interest and he became immediately emersed in the conversation and, while we were talking on the phone, he was "googling" on his computer in a dogged search for all things esoteric related to Krakatoa. Though it was evident from the outset that all this information had no practical bearing on either of our lives and for all intents purposes it was worthless information. I mean who really cares about Krakatoa when Yellowstone is about to erupt and blown the United States to smithereens and plunge the rest of the world into a decade of nuclear winters. However, having begun to meander down this crooked path it wasn't long before we found ourselves in a virtual labyrinth of depressing secondary information surrounding this late 19th century event that cost the lives of upward of 120,000 people (by some estimates). Not one of these people had any primary or secondary connection to either of us nor had we been affected in any tangential way by this catastrophic event. Nonetheless, we pursued our inquiry and before the evening was over we discovered a treasure trove of information that, with the possible exception of filling out a crossword puzzle, has no discernible practical application. Interestingly, in the process of our search we discovered a website devoted to “fun facts about Krakatoa,” How such an absolutely horrific cataclysmic event can be the source of “fun facts” escapes me.
There came a time in the quest for knowledge that we both found a need for a bladder break; after returning to our online conversation I suggested a change of topic. It was then that my friend suggested we explore the mating habits of the South African tsetse fly. At this point in our conversation the distinction between different types of information had become clear to me and while he was fascinated with a subject that had no apparent connection with tectonic movements, I found it necessary to quickly cut him off by explaining that that kind of information, while uncommon knowledge for American Yankees, is actually quite valuable because some of us occasional travel to South Africa. Thus, pursuing this line of inquiry was not something really worth knowing. At this point it was late into the night; so, in order to bring the evening diversion to an end I suggested that perhaps the best course of action is to not know anything at all. Frankly, as you know, almost everything that needs to be known is readily available on Wikipedia and almost everyone owns a smart phone so what is the point of committing anything to memory.
On another but tangentially related subject, I’ve been working on almost nothing this past week and have made surprisingly good progress - I’m quite pleased with myself. For some time now it has been my goal in life to work as hard as possible to do as little as I possibly can and I believe I have accomplished quite a lot so far. As you can see from the photograph I took a few days ago while walking my dog Charlie the fall colors have peaked which is a sign that winter's blast is not far behind and since I am so close to achieving my life's goal it is probably time to think about hitting the road again.