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What do these two items have in common?

This evening I was having a conversation with one of my friends regarding my inability to hold on to a laser printer in my classroom.  If you have ever tried to teach a class of twenty-five hormone crazed ninth graders while another student used a noisy dot matrix printer, you would clearly understand why I had such a great desire to get my hands on one of those relatively quiet laser printers. 

In an effort to simplify this story, I will refer to the laser printer in question as simply LP-X.  The exact brand and model number is of no importance to this story. 

I originally obtained LP-X after they replaced it with a network printer in our school’s computer room.   Everything seemed great at this point.  The students used the classroom computer nearly every class period of every school day.  That was until Administrator Y decided that she needed a laser printer for her office.  She showed up one day and just took the printer. 

It was back to that noisy dot matrix beast.  Of course, the excessive noise meant that I had to stop students from using the classroom computer while I was teaching.  The computer essentially sat in the corner and collected dust. 

This past school year, many of our administrative offices received new computers and printers.  They no longer needed LP-X.  As with any bureaucratic system, the old equipment is passed down to those of lower status.  In the case of public education, we are specifically talking about the students. 

Since LP-X was originally taken from my classroom, it seemed logical that it should be placed back in there.  I did the usual begging and pleading to one of our administrators.  The administrator in question agreed, but said that the reallocation of the equipment was still being discussed.  Several months went by and I found out through another teacher that LP-X was sitting unused in a pile of old equipment in another school building.   I quickly arranged for LP-X’s return to my classroom.  LP-X was finally home. 

Well, maybe not.  At the end of the school year, I placed LP-X into my storage room.  The room is securely locked, so this seemed like a safe place for LP-X.  Other than myself, the only people with keys to the room are administrators and the custodial staff. 

Two days ago I went to school with my laptop which was loaded with new material for the upcoming school year.  Naturally, I needed to print them out. 

This sounds like a job for LP-X! 

I went into my back room to get LP-X.  Well, guess what was missing?  Yes, LP-X has disappeared once again.  Since laser printers don’t have legs, I’m assuming that either LP-X is sitting on another administrative desk or was just stolen outright.  I guess its back to that noisy old dot matrix printer… 

Now, I know what you are thinking.  What does this have to with canteens?  Well, not much in reality. The only commonality is that just like with the laser printer, I can’t seem to hold on to a canteen, either. 

The canteen story goes way back to 1984 while I was attending geology field camp in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.  Since we were camping out in desert-like conditions, a canteen was a necessity. 

I purchased Canteen #1 back in New York before I left for the trip.  Within minutes of arriving in Colorado, I found out that my new canteen had one major leak.  All the water that went in one side quickly poured out the other.  Luckily, we were still in Denver and I was able to purchase Canteen #2. 

I made the mistake of buying a cheap canteen.  The strap was not strong enough and quickly broke from the pull of the water’s weight.  I was not overly happy as I watched Canteen #2 roll down the mountain.  Yes, after just one day of hiking I had already gone through two canteens. 

Luckily, our supply truck had an extra canteen.  I was able to use it until we arrived back in town three days later.  I had only two tasks to accomplish when we reached civilization – take a shower and get a new canteen.  Both missions were successfully accomplished. 

Canteen #3 was another cheap piece of garbage, but it was all that I could find on such short notice.  This canteen actually lasted a few days.  Then it started raining.  It rained for days and we were running out of food.  We had no choice but to leave our camp on the Green River.  Unfortunately, we were on the geologic Morrison Formation, which is famous for its abundance of dinosaur fossils.  In my mind, the Morrison Formation only means clay.  The tires of our vans quickly covered with the sticky clay and just slid of the road.  Since there were about sixty students attending the camp, we just lifted the vans back up on to the road only to watch them travel ten feet and go right off the edge again.  We repeated this process over and over and over.  I was told in the end that we pushed the vans close to fourteen miles, although I have a feeling that it was significantly less.  As luck would have it, as soon as we got to a main road the sun came out! 

We pulled into Laramie, Wyoming and tried to clean the vans and gear as best we could.  Guess what was missing?  Canteen #3 was nowhere to be found.  I quickly went and bought Canteen #4.  This time I found what I felt was a higher quality model.  It had a nice red insulated case and seemed to have solid construction. 

So there I am on our last map site.  My mapping partner and I had no clue as to what was going on and we wandered way off of the mapping site.  I looked down and noticed that something was missing.  I’m sure that you figured this one out – Canteen #4 was history.  Once again I had to borrow a spare from the supply truck. 

After twenty-some-odd days, our mandatory mapping experience was over.  All we had left to do was clean out our vans, gather up our equipment, and fly back home.  As I was just about to leave, I had heard someone yell that there was a lost and found and that he had seen my name on one of the items. 

Could it be gold?  Another precious metal?  Diamonds? Jewels? 

No, not even close. 

It was my canteens.  All of them.  Canteen #1 that leaked.  Canteen #2 that went over the edge of the mountain.  Canteen #3 that was lost in the mud.  And, Canteen #4 that was lost while I was equally lost (I've always assumed that the person that found Canteen #4 was also lost.) 

Now I had four canteens!  I certainly had no use for leaky #1.  Both #2 and #3 were junk. So, I tossed all three of them in the trash.  I decided to keep Canteen #4, which you can see photographed above.  It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out why I lost this canteen - the ripped strapping on its insulating case should explain it all. 

The moral of this story?  Don’t ever ask me to keep an eye on your laser printer or canteen.  It will surely disappear right before your eyes. 

Useless?  Useful?  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Useless?  Useful?  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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