Dirt

I have a garden. Not near my apartment, of course. My apartment is surrounded on four sides by cement. Nothing grows there but an oily darkness that seeps into my soul, runoff from the heartless hearts of the metal beasts we’ve made.

See how they’ll talk about us after the apocalypse?

My garden is within walking distance. It’s also within bicycling distance, but I easily overshoot when I’m riding my bike. There are no bike lanes, you see. If traffic decides that I’m headed to Beverly instead of to my garden, then such is the way of life. Resistance is very dangerous when metal beasts are involved.

When I do make it to my garden, I find that it’s short on the traditional kind of weeds. This is because I have mounted a pirate flag above it and weeds cower in its presence. I suspect that it’s also because of the same rabbit that is eating my carrots. The curse that blights my produce also blights a lot of the tender young weed shoots, many of which are completely edible, if you happen to feel like eating them. Which I arbitrarily don’t, and the rabbit arbitrarily does. This is why I don’t kill the rabbit.

I also don’t think that killing the rabbit is in my realm of capabilities, as it were. I’m not an Elmer Fudd type and I don’t really need the carrots. Plus, there’s something else in the garden that is quite enthusiastically killing small animals, and I’m impressed that the rabbit is evading it. The rats aren’t so lucky. I’ve disposed of one body already and I suspect that there have been more just because I refuse to believe I’ve been so fortunate as to be the lone dead rat scooper upper.

The reason I label this creature enthusiastic is that it really seems to enjoy its work. The rat I found was just a mess, my friend. It snooped in hoping for a nice juicy tomato, and it got itself Freddy Kreuger’ed instead. It hadn’t even been much consumed, except by the flies that hummed around its sad red bulk. I felt terrible for it. I’ve known fancy pet rats who were good company, and I’m convinced it’s no rat’s fault that it’s born ugly. If unicorns were as ubiquitous as rats and generally got into everything and carried Bubonic plague, we’d still adore them because they’re freaking beautiful magical unicorns.  We’d be implementing unicorn protection acts in Congress as we all expired of unicorn hantavirus.

In fact, the mice that occasionally invade our apartment are morphologically similar to rats in all ways except size, and this change alone makes me feel actively maternal toward them. I like to think I’d rescue a rat from one of my cats. It’s not true, though. A rat would be able to protest its rescue. I guess I’d probably get bitten a few times, and then I’d have to get shots. What were you doing? The dismissive doctor would say. Rescuing a rat, of course! I’d reply. Well, now you get a series of painful rabies vaccines directly into your spine, the doctor would sniff. I hope the rat is having a good day.

So I’m left with the fact that I prefer a dead rat to a living one. It’s a hard piece of information about myself, but no harder than the opposite truth: the rat probably feels the same way. Thus the animal kingdom remains divided. As I trundle out to my garden once more, I ponder the unpleasant possibility that I’ll run into one alive. The conversation we’ll have to endure.

Hi.

Uh – this is your plot. Isn’t it?

Yes. Are you eating my carrots?

The rabbit is sick today.

Oh. Could you not?

No. I told him I’d fill in.

I really don’t want you to eat my carrots.

Nobody does. If it helps, I can’t eat much. I have another twenty boxes to hit and my stomach’s the size of a small apricot.

That does not help.

Whatever. Hey, have you seen the hawk?

There’s a hawk?

Yeah. She’s a bitch. Got my brother.

Oh. I’m sorry.

I barely knew him. I have 1300 brothers.

Still.

Eh, wasn’t me. OK, listen. I’m going to do my weird humpy rat-run over to this other box and eat some of their squash. So I’m not going to talk to you anymore.

OK. Goodbye, I guess. Good luck with your hawk situation. Glad you’re not dead.

Really? Why?

Well…I didn’t want to have to bring your rotting carcass over to the scrub using two sticks.

That’s a good reason. If I found you dead, I’d probably just eat the part of you that looked least likely to give me food poisoning.

Well, bye.

Yup. Bye.

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Just living here, I get smarter


Even in the ‘burbs, the Greater Boston Area is known for its superb educational opportunities.


Hydro-WHEN Power

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.

People are saying that the Toyota Mirai is going to give Tesla a run for its money. I’d love to believe that. Toyotas are notoriously affordable in comparison to the Model S, over which I have spent many a long drive salivating. However, much as I’d love to trade in my gas guzzler for a hydrogen-powered futuremobile right now, my guess is that I’ll need to wait maybe twenty years for Toyota’s gamble to pan out.

First of all, I have a lot of respect for Toyota as a company. The last car I owned had a Toyota engine and when I got rid of it at 150,000 miles, it was still capable of making a 400-mile trip as long as you were willing to dump two quarts of oil into it at regular intervals. From the perspective of the absolute non-businessperson writing this blog post, their business strategies seem pretty well thought-out. If it were any other company inventing a completely new power source for automobiles, I’d be leery. But toyota’s good name has me hopefully optimistic.

That said, I see some problems for them on the horizon.

First of all, I think they’re going to have a hell of a time if they want to sell this thing in the U.S. Building an infrastructure won’t necessarily be a practical issue – Tesla’s been there and as a company, their market base is far smaller than Toyota’s. (At least Toyota has something other than luxury cars in production.) But an energy source that isn’t gas? In a country that freaking loves gas? I anticipate a veritable fiesta of regulation funded by fossil fuel interests. I have a feeling that regulating the cars themselves is going to be hard, especially since there’ll be a spike of interest. Wealthy idealists and collectors might be willing enough to get their hands on a Mirai that they’re willing to jump through a few hoops and hand out a little extra cash. But regulating the hydrogen filling stations – ay, there’s the rub. There are all kinds of weak points there, from ensuring hydrogen quality to making sure the damn thing doesn’t blow up. Fighting that will cost a nice chunk of change.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m on board with a greener car. I happen to be aware that gasoline blows up too. But, you know, “the CHILLING DANGERS of HYDROGEN BOMB CARS” is something that can be media-spun pretty easily. My guess is that regulation will keep fuel cell cars outside of your average commuter’s budget for a while yet, and by the time the mainland U.S. sees them in significant supply, there may be better options out there.

Nevertheless, it’s a step toward the realization of my first video game car come true. (Minus the mutants and the radioactivity, of course.)


Wars of the Snowses

So, my neighbor and I have been engaged in a cold war (heh) of parking space ever since the roads in my town became mostly impassable. We’re lucky (?) enough to share off-street parking, and if I manage to get my car to the interior of the space, there’s no problem. My neighbor is far more alacritous than I and, despite all evidence to to contrary, probably does not enjoy giving me the stink eye when I emerge, bleary and eyesore after a late night of freelancing, to move my poor little busted-up Nissan out of the way of her spiffy smarthipstermobile.

Anyway.

I’m given to understand that sea levels in Boston are, in fact, rising. Now that I’m driving 70 miles a day for my part-time library gig, I feel that I may be the tipping point. Me. Personally. Until I began driving, I never heard about a sea level rise in Boston.

Bitterly do I I weep as I burn the dead dinosaurs before the God of Rent and Bills and Career and Stuff.

But there’s a Worst Part. In the course of interacting with my neighbor, I nearly obliterated my car, her smarthipstermobile, her, and her boyfriend’s hipster bicycle because I did not have snow tires, a truth which caused me to slide into a wall and damage my vehicle while simultaneously cementing the neighbor’s opinion of me as a hazard to her life. Very well. Determined to be a good citizen and at my fiancee’s insistence that she wanted a living wife, I purchased and installed two spiffy snow tires. Would you believe that those spinning turds increase the gas consumption of my car by close to 5%?

I like my job. I love being a librarian. But dear God do I hate driving. As I rocket down the road, all that runs through my mind is a litany of “I’m sorry grandchildren, I’m sorry grandchildren, I’m sorry grandchildren” until the very noise of those spiffy damned snow tire spinning turds mocks me. What’s the point of being an environmentally conscious human if you can’t afford to maintain an environmentally conscious lifestyle?