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Maxed out

The things I don’t understand



I've known for years there would always be things I don't understand, will never understand and probably, truth be told, simply can't understand. At the magical end of that continuum is, for example, purple green beans.

For most of my life green beans were green. I assume that's how they got their name - black beans are black, pinto beans are pinto-coloured, red beans... you get the picture. Yellow beans, which I always thought were just unripe green beans, are called yellow beans. Purple beans that look like green beans are actually called purple beans but when you say purple beans nobody knows what the heck you're talking about. When you say

"purple green beans," they understand. Weird, but true.

But that's not what I don't understand about purple green beans. When you cook green beans, the beans stay green and the water you cook them in turns green. When you cook yellow beans they stay yellow and the water turns yellow. When you cook black beans, etc., and so on.

But when you cook purple beans the beans turn green. Fair enough. I can deal with a little magic in my life. Half of the reason I grow the darn things is to be amazed by this trick of pigmentation. The thing I don't understand though is where the purple goes. The water you cook the purple green beans in turns... green?

(If you understand the chemistry that makes this happen, please don't explain it to me. There isn't enough magic in my life; I'd like to hold on to what I have.)

Of course, there's always the Coca-Cola vs. gasoline conundrum if you want to ponder something almost impossible to understand. Take Coke. The ingredients of Coke are water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel colouring and a few pennies worth of secret ingredients and corporate intrigue. Coke is made everywhere, bottled everywhere and generally not shipped very far before it winds up on your grocer's shelf or in a vending machine near you.

Gasoline, on the other hand, is monumentally complex. It starts with geological surveys, wells drilled unthinkably deep into the ground, or even more unthinkably deep in the ocean, and crude oil is pumped from those unthinkable depths to the surface. From there it really gets complex. Crude oil is shipped by every conceivable means, including pipelines stretching the length of countries and across sovereign borders, tanker ships and trucks, around the world. It is "refined" by a process that makes purple green bean magic seem ridiculously simple. After all that it's trucked far and wide to gas stations near you, including the only one in Whistler. That there's even such a thing as gasoline is testament to human ingenuity.

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