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I was in a store recently that had a brand new kind of fan. Except that it wasn’t a fan. It was an “air multiplier”. What does an “air multiplier” do? The same thing as a fan.

If you stand in front if it, it feels like air is blowing on you. I don’t know how it works, because it doesn’t have blades. You can stick your hand right through the middle of it and, not only will it not cause you to bleed as a normal fan would, as your hand passes through the middle of the “air multiplier” you’ll feel the “wind” on your “arm” but not on your hand.

It’s a fascinating piece of technology, but I really can’t understand the point. I mean really: what was wrong with the old fans we had? These new things are quite impressive, but they accomplish the exact same thing the old metal desk-top fans accomplished. That’s not entirely true. Remember when you were a kid and would talk into the metal fan and it would make your voice sound funny? You can talk into these new “air multipliers” all you want and all you’ll get is some pretty strange looks from those around you (and they’ll cost upwards of $200!).

Speaking of talking into fans, I remember how we would do that when we were little kids and my mother would make us stop. Now, maybe she just made us stop because we were starting to irritate her (which, as a theoretical adult myself now, I fully understand) but the impression was always given that what we were doing was in some way dangerous. Was she worried that we would somehow get our lips caught in the blades? I can see how that might have been a worry if the fan hadn’t had any sort of protective cover on it, but they always did. To get my tongue or lips caught in the fan blades, I would have had to stick them several inches through the protective covering. That might be dangerous in that I could have sprained my tongue, but my tongue wasn’t long enough to have gotten cut.

Did you ever get into an argument with a fellow elementary school student about whether the past tense of “sprain” is “sprained” or “sprung”? I did. A lot. Growing up in Abilene, Texas, (official motto: “The Buckle of the Bible Belt”) one frequently heard from one’s fellow students at Crockett Elementary (home of the Crocodiles) that, “I sprung my wrist playing football.” Not only was the grammar poor, I figured the reason he hurt himself in a football game was that he was so uncoordinated.

Another word I enjoy hearing misused is “prostrate”. As in the sentence, which I hear at least once a month from a different source each time is, “I hear he’s got prostrate cancer.” To which I like to reply, “So, as long as he doesn’t lay down flat on his stomach it goes away? That doesn’t sound too bad.” No one who has ever told me about “prostrate cancer” has ever gotten the joke, though, so I have to figure that the disease—rather than be in the bodily area I thought—is somehow in the brain and affects the sense of humor.

There was an old wives tale that said if you were trying to get rid of hiccups the way to do it was to inhale deeply in front of an electric fan. I bet inhaling in front of one of these “air multipliers” is a good way to treat prostrate problems.