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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
The loss of focus in the picture does not make this carton any harder to understand.
I seldom get angry at milk. Normally it pleases me, fortifying my bones with Calcium, while providing a distinct refreshing taste. But today was an exception.

Complimenting my chocolate muffin with some cold milk, I took a glance at the carton containing mother nature's nectar, and what I saw puzzled me.

"How many more minutes of exercise does Charlie need to equal 60 minutes?"

Who is Charlie, first off? I assume he may be the Hawk like bird illustrated beneath the question - though there is little to indicate that, except that the question is dealing with exercise, and this Hawk is wearing a 76ers football helmet, and sitting on a football. Ok, I accept this bird to be Charlie.

What I was more stumped on was: What is the secret Charlie knows, and will not reveal to us, that will allow him to become time? Why is Charlie so insecure with his bird-like ways, that he needs to be something else? Or is he achieving some Zen-like state, by way of exercise, a state that is Time, with a capital T.

But OK, Charlie needs to equal time. I accept this too. I'm not certain why the carton is asking me such a philosophical question as there is nothing here to inform me of the nature of this puzzle. But wait... what is this next to Charlie, the Hawk?

Play Football
25 minutes

Shovel Snow
15 minutes

Ride a Bike
__ minutes?

It dawns on me... this is a math problem. Quite an easy arithmetic problem. Maybe the question was always this clear, but I - mistaking it to be something profound, had read too much into it.

"How many more minutes of exercise does Charlie need to equal 60 minutes?"

No. This isn't profound. This is a poorly constructed sentence. Clearly, Charlie needs to exercise some 60 minutes - for reasons which remain unknown. This remarkable bird has just spent 25 minutes playing football, and an additional 15 minutes shoveling snow, quite obviously in a land that has heavy snowfall but does not impede one's playing football. And Charlie has another 20 minutes to go. Should the question not then be:

"How many more minutes of exercise does Charlie need, to have exercised a total of 60 minutes?"

OK, that's a bit too long for what can fit on this carton... but we can take off a few words and make it:

"How many more minutes of exercise does Charlie need, to exercise 60 minutes?"

So where would a child get the answer to this question? Bottom of the box? No. Under the flap? No. Maybe it's on another panel... no. Ah, wait... at the bottom of the same panel, it says - very cryptically: for Answers: #M198

This doesn't even make sense. Grammatically, it's just painful. For one, it suggests that this mathematical problem has many answers, rather than a single one. And even assuming some children will know... "Go to for the answer..." it isn't at all clear that to get the answer, they'll need to enter in the code #M198...

For a carton that purports its own intelligence, I found myself straining my brain as I tried to decode the otherwise simple message. I can only hope that the children who inherit this world don't drink milk - it frightens me to think there is better grammar on a bottle of Coke.



Amen, brother!

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