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Why is it that the print on medicine bottles is so small?  Using medicine as it is intended is one of the most important things we do, because using it the wrong way or in the wrong does can make us sick or cause death.  Death is not a desirable outcome.  So why is that print so small?

Lawsuits have so spooked the medicine manufacturers that they have added more and more information about each drug.  But medicine bottles are small.  There is not enough room for that information unless the print becomes so small as to be unreadable.  The result is that the most important piece of information -- the instructions -- are obscured and often hard to find even if you can read them without a microscope.

There are two ways to make important information virtually impossible to find.  Either make it so small that nobody can read it, especially elders with failing eyesight who, arguably, have the greatest need to get it right.  Or just obscure it among so much other information that it is close to impossible to find it.

The pharmacies include lengthy information pages with each prescription, and while these are a bit more readable, who doesn't just throw them away when they get home from the pharmacy?  Because you have to locate the directions among all this other information that might be interesting if we all didn't have busy lives, but is about as readable as the manual that came with your car.

Speaking of that manual, OK, a car is a complicated piece of machinery, but when a manual is hundreds of pages long and adds considerable weight to the tonage of your automobile, how do you find any information you need?  My manual is 612 pages long and that's just for a little sedan!

I wanted to figure out if I could turn off that annoying 'Maintenance Required' light on my dashboard that comes on periodically.  Because it just comes on periodically and doesn't really tell me when actual maintenance is needed.  It turns out you can do it if you can find the instructions.

No wonder nobody ever reads the manual.  Do you ever read the small print when you enter a contest, or when you install software, or sign those forms at the doctor's office when a nurse is hovering over you and you feel like you should just get on with it so you can get your prescription with the unreadable instructions on the bottle?

Doing things like this amuse me when I'm finished being irritated, because it's like doing the hokey-pokey.  Go to Trip Meter A (not B-- B won't work) by pressing the DISP button multiple times (go to page 77 if you need help with that.  Turn off the engine switch.  Turn on the engine switch to IGNITION ON (page 82 for more information) but not far enough to turn on the engine.  Do not start the engine or you will have to start all over again.  Press and hold that DISP switch until the mileage shows zero.  Now put your left foot in and then your left foot out, and your left foot in and you shake it all about.  You do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around... When you turn on the engine the light will go off, so don't panic when it initially shows up before turning off...

It's sort of in the table of contents if you know that 'Reset the maintenance data' means turn off the bloody annoying maintenance light.  I found that downloading the manual in PDF form and searching helped.  or it would have, but the PDF turned out to be unsearchable for some reason.  I finally found it on page 421 and copied the directions into my Notes app on my phone so I will always have it where I can find it... if I can remember which note I put it in.

Then there are the instructions on toxic cleaning bottles.  Do you want to know the best way to use toilet bowl cleaner?  Good luck!  The print is too small to read and it may not be first.  Also, don't drink it.  That would be bad.  Although you would think anyone smart enough to clean a toilet knows not to drink the stuff.

Which brings up that "Don't try this at home" warning.  The other night they flashed that message in an episode of America's Got Talent during a knife-throwing act that was very poorly executed.  It was so bad that all the judges buzzed the performer to force him to stop before he was killed on national television.  It's lucky for me that they flashed that message, because I was all fired up to make a machine that would throw knives at me, and that important message stopped me just in time!

Finally, those little recycling triangles on plastic containers.  These miserable markings have become one of my biggest challenges as my eyesight degrades.  Most of them are so small that I don't think anybody can read them short of keeping a magnifying glass in the kitchen.  One day I took a picture of the bottom of a plastic container on my phone so I could enlarge it with a two-finger swipe.  I didn't think it would work but was delighted that it did -- it was actually very easy to see once I made it bigger.

If recycling is so important to us, why don't we have a rule requiring that the triangle with the number in it is big enough for anybody to read?  Surely making the triangle bigger won't add any cost to manufacturing these things.  Even if it didm wouldn't it be worth it?  Because why have a label on something if nobody can see it?

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I am convinced that American manufacturing companies are conspiring to kill us with small print and obscured instructions.  That one is right up there with store managers sneaking into my house in the dead of night to see what I like so they can stop carrying it.

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