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Three Wise Guys: Novelty Car Horns, Preexisting Conditions, Lights On or Off, Whither the Wind

By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

When I was growing up in Georgia, people had these novelty car horns that would play "Dixie" rather than just honk. I'm not interested in that, but I would like to know whether I can get my hands on other kinds of novelty car horns. I'm interested specifically in either one that sarcastically claps slowly (for particularly boneheaded driving maneuvers) or one that yells "The accelerator is the pedal on the right!"

Steve

Joe: How about one that plays taps when you become a road rage victim?

Justin: I have to agree with Joe on this one. An obnoxious custom car horn is a surefire way to let fellow motorists in on your impotent nerd fury. Those misgivings aside, a simple Internet search will reveal dozens of e-tailers just waiting to sell you their custom car horns. But before buying, you should check your local traffic codes. Sarcastically clapping for the slow-moving state trooper in front of you could produce interesting results.

Dear Wise Guys:

I've been wondering about my insurance company's preexisting-condition clause. If I died of a heart attack in a previous life, could the company deny my claim if I have a heart attack in my current life?

Hugh

Dan: Don't be ridiculous, Hugh. But here's something you should consider: Some plans offer what's called a post-existing compensation option, which pays benefits in one's next life for health costs incurred in one's current life. For example, in my last life, I was disfigured in a baking accident caused by faulty cake mix, and in this life I get a free lifetime supply of Betty Crocker Whipped Chocolate Frosting. Yes, I've grown tired of icing everything in sight -- muffins, sticks of gum, neighbors' door knobs -- but I want to get my money's worth.

Dear Wise Guys:

I come from a family full of strong opinions. My father and my sister have long argued about turning off lights when you leave a room. He thinks if you'll be back in less than 10 minutes then you should leave the light on. She thinks you should always turn the light off, no matter what. Who is right in terms of conserving energy?

Clearly Not the Brightest Bulb

Joe: I used to unplug my fish tank every time I left the room, but I kept having to buy new fish. Clearly, I don't know anything about electricity, so I called our good friends at Pepco to set the record straight. "Err on the side of conservation and turn the lights off," says Bob Hainey, Pepco's manager of media relations. (Can you believe these guys even answer our calls?) Hainey tells us that a light bulb doesn't require extra energy to start up, so you're not saving any energy by leaving it on. Looks like your dad was wrong.

Justin: But your sister's absolutism is also wrong. I mean, "turn the light off, no matter what" isn't going to go over well if there are still people in the room.

Dear Wise Guys:

Where does wind start/end (if it ever really does)? How?

A Cloud

Joe: It starts with the flap of a butterfly's wings, little cloud. Come on, you knew that. And it ends in twisters that burrow straight into the ground, filling the Earth with hot, angry air.

Justin: Which is why the Earth is round and floats in space like a giant balloon.

Dan: Don't forget the giant tortoise to which the balloon is tied. Its name is Doreen, which is Aramaic for "reptile of the universe."

Joe: I think you're just making up that last part.

Have a question only the Three Wise Guys can answer? Send it to wiseguys@washpost.com and await their words of wise-dom.

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