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Dear Matthew Alice:

I was examining my big fan recently and noticed a curious feature. The switches read "OFF-HI-MED-LOW." Why are the speeds in reverse order? Is this a trend that will extend to gas pedals, volume controls, etc.?

-- Amy, University Heights

Fear not, Amy. As design trends go, this one has limited application. You might think of the fan as being like your lazy self when you get out of bed in the morning. A good strong jolt of caffeine is usually required to overcome the urge to remain huddled under the quilt. Same with the fan. It needs a swift kick in the capacitor to overcome the fan blades' desire to remain at rest. The fan's heaviest power requirement comes when you turn it on and set the blades in motion. Once that's done, it takes less power to keep them spinning at a constant rate.

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