Here's the Scoop: December 26, 2012

Light my fire...please
When it comes to items we utilize on a daily basis, I’m pretty tolerant. If my computer refuses to compute, I may get frustrated, but I still understand that it’s a machine with many complex parts. For instance, I can forgive the computer if it makes typographical errors in this column. Sometimes.
I pretty much feel the same way about cars. Sure, vehicles are expensive and we expect a certain performance standard when we get behind the wheel. There are lots of parts that have to mesh for a car to work properly and, at times, they don’t. I may not like this, but it’s sort of understandable.
However, there are some “failures,” that I simply can’t comprehend. For instance, how can it be that vehicle registration stickers often don’t stick? It’s what they do! Or, at least what they are supposed to do — thus the name. They stick. Is that so hard? Apparently, it is. Nearly every time I apply a new registration sticker to my windshield, a supplemental dose of Scotch Tape is soon needed to help seal the deal.

I’ve recently discovered another product that has a very narrowly defined purpose, yet falls far short of this goal: a certain brand of matches.

At the start of each heating season, we purchase a few boxes of matches to help keep the home fires burning. Easier written than done.

Detecting a problem
You see, this year’s matches have a serious flaw: they don’t light. Yankee fans are probably thinking: Just like Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) is supposed to hit in the playoffs — and he doesn’t!
While it’s not my nature to cut some slack to Yankee fans, I had to concede that A-Rod (when not being benched in the biggest games of the season!) also has the job of helping to prevent runs when he’s playing third base. So, his frequent failure to hit in the playoffs — as joyful as it is for non-Yankee fans to spectate — is really only half-a-shortfall. Or downfall.

Matches, on the other hand, are designed specifically for creating flames. In a scene very reminiscent of A-Rod, the matches I purchased strike out.

The problem isn’t so much that the trademark red tip doesn’t ignite. Nope, that part works OK. The downfall of these matches is that they break. I’m not talking about a few flimsy matchsticks here, either. It’s a very high percentage of breakage — much higher than a certain Yankee’s postseason batting average.

Starting to snap
No matter how carefully I try to strike the matches, more than half the time they snap. At first, I thought these were the match version of the “trick birthday candles” that don’t light. Nope. They are just a lousy design.

Being cheap by nature, I can’t simply bring myself to toss out the remaining matches. After all, a handful of them light without sparking a cuss-word-filled tirade on my part. Mostly, though, these matches are a pain in the ashes.

I’m hoping I can get a few to work this week — I need to light a fire under my butt to start holiday shopping!

Merry Christmas. If you get a bag of coal, let’s hope you can get it burning. I probably can’t help you there.
— Brian Sweeney