’Extreme’ generally bad, but not always
by Dale Short
Jan 09, 2013 | 326 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dale Short
Dale Short
Extremism is rarely a good thing, especially in politics. People’s emotions can run them off the rails, and a lot of damage gets done before cooler heads prevail. There are only two areas I know of where “extreme” is a virtue, for me: pharmaceuticals and industrial cleaning products. Maybe it’s my Scots-Irish temperament, but whenever I’m shopping for over-the-counter remedies and see a choice of “Regular” and “Extra Strength” I always roll my eyes and think, “Oh, please!”

Why would I want just a teensy-weensy bit of relief from my headache or heartburn? Why not get rid of all the pain, lickety-split? Because suffering is good for the soul, you say?

Good grief. “Extra Strength,” for me, by all means. And if you hear of a new “Apocalypse Strength,” please order me a few of those too. And while nobody who’s ever spent more than five minutes around me would accuse me of being a neat-freak (there are important items that have been lost in my car-seats for so long I’ve forgotten what I should look for), cleanliness is a different matter altogether.

This goes from choosing the most intense available brand of acne scrub, to ensuring the most intense available cleaning/blasting of the reusable home AC/furnace filter we invested in, a couple of years back. The filter, though not cheap, is a gorgeous piece of precision metal-work. It looks like something The Terminator would use for a pocket handkerchief. The filter’s instruction sheet says you can easily clean it in your back yard with an ordinary pressure washer, which is an outright lie. Maybe part of the problem is that the pet population of our household far exceeds the resident humans, but the concentration of hair in the filter’s tiny fissures is a miracle of physics. The first time we tried cleaning it in the yard, I could have sworn the mass of cat-and-dog hair actually snickered as the pressure washer was switched on and turned to its ill-named “High” setting.

Fortunately, one of my obsessions...uh, hobbies...is testing and comparing high-pressure nozzles at self-serve car-washes in the Walker-Winston-Jefferson area.

The equipment is mostly identical, from the same manufacturers, so you wouldn’t think there’d be much difference in pressure from unit to unit. You’d be wrong.

It’s always good to know which standout nozzles are where, because (just for example) there’s an airborne type of tree sap in our neighborhood that’s especially fond of clinging to cars—it’s roughly the color of mahogany stain and twice as sticky. Plus, you never know when a roving flock of birds with rare digestive problems will fly by under cover of darkness.

Comparing one of these industrial-strength spray contraptions to a consumer-grade pressure washer is like comparing a pressure washer to a Water-Pic.

There’s a manufacturer’s sticker on the handle of each car-wash nozzle—even the “normal” ones—that says “Warning! High Pressure!” Which I tended to take with a grain of salt, until one day when I accidentally got the most remarkable nozzle of all just an inch too close to the trunk-lid of the Oldsmobile and dislodged a small patch of blue paint. The thrill hasn’t gone away until yet.

Just for reference...while I have a policy of gladly sharing, for instance, my recipes with friends or family who request one, my brain’s map of the pressure-nozzle resources at any given time will assuredly die with me. Because if word gets out about a truly great hose, either there’s a waiting line next time you go, or else the unit wears out and gets replaced and my calibration process has to start all over again.

So it’s not surprising that an easy-going sort like myself can be a little extreme about such matters. Although technically, “a little extreme” is an oxymoron.

Or am I confusing oxymoron with a new brand of acne scrub I haven’t tried yet?

Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His columns, books, photos and radio features are available on his website carrolldaleshort.com. His weekly radio program “Music from Home” airs each Sunday at 6 pm on Oldies 101.5 and is archived afterward on his website.