Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Death of a Rat

This summer I had to take care of my mother, her cat, her tenants, her house, and her unpleasant neighbor. Her neighbor rebuilt the house next door and somehow broke a sewer line which belonged to my mother's tenants.

Their houses and the neighbor's at one time were all one property, were built at the same time (roughly) and all shared the sewer line at the street below .... But in 1951 the original owner subdivided the property into two pieces; the two houses on the up hill were one property and the house the neighbor bought, on the downhill side, the other. Basically a pie shaped piece of land (the neighbor has the smallest part with very little land, approximately 75 feet below my mother's tenants' front doors on the upper street). Since shit flows best downhill, all lines followed the shape of the property to the lowest street - collecting to a single line 15 feet below the neighbor's front door to the street.

In July something icky was bellowing in the neighbor's yard below. A black slow moving river started collecting and I called the Health Inspectors and the place began to crawl with City people. I found the easement signed by all parties way back when, when my grandparents bought the property. I found a lawyer... and the tenants had to use prota-potties for a few months as I tried to straighten things out. I called so many plumbers for estimates to try to fix things. I found a place for the tenants to shower and wash their dishes and clothes. You never know how much we take for granted until the water is shut off... We can do lots without the electricity. We can use candles and we have many hours of daylight... but water! That commodity is something we use all day long even if we don't drink from the tap...

One day, while opening the tenant's basement door - for yet another plumber - I found something on the floor in the back corner. This basement was a storage space for all of the gardening tools and such and apparently my mother had trouble two years ago with fungus in her lawn.... so there was this bag of fungicide which had a tear at the bottom... actually it had been chewed by a rat. There was something partially hidden by the bag and the disconnected soil pipe that look like an old sock draped on a cement block.

The rat got into the basement was hungry, and started to look for food. The fungicide smelled like something it could eat - however, there is no small amount of fungicide that is not poisonous. It killed the rat and then when the flies tried to eat it, the maggots died. The body became bloated - as you can see from its present shape - and after the hair fell out, Dermestid beetles tried to eat the dried skin, and stopped because they, too, died (they caused the funny shaped holes near the legs). The internal organs of the rat are in perfect condition. The hairs of rats are very fine and easily drop out. The skin of the rat's head - the ears and such - may have been attached for a long time except his (yes you can tell it was a male) head was near the sewer clean out and may have rotted to some degree in the wet. The rat had eaten something so toxic that nothing could eat it... even after death.

Monday, January 29, 2007

So, along this corridor I found three coal fired plants and one nuclear. These monsters are hiding in plain site. I mean... if someone wanted to do something they could.... but the Homeland Security... nah,... they are too busy reading email and listening to phone conversations... What do you think?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What is lurking behind those hills?

Driving through Arkansas on I-40, I found this pastoral scene interrupted by something that dwarfs this valley of multiple square miles. We built that. We built this one item that dwarfs this large space of land. And then ...there are the miles of copper conduit fanning across this beautiful valley. What things do people give up for television and blenders?

This could stay like this forever until the plant is finished with its usefulness (forever does have an ending in our world).... except, what do we do with the waste radioactive material? The thing to do to keep the plant going is to have breeder reactors but that violates International laws on nuclear proliferation. So, in all our wisdom, we have decided to try to find a deep cave that won't leak its poison into deep aquifers which feed rivers and bodies of water which we tap into to drink... like Yucca Valley. What are our options? The plant could stay forever doing what it does, but things wear out and then what? and then, there are accidents... I hate to think of those.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I drove home from Nashville after a fine time at the Climate Project. My Prius was a champ. I averaged 54 mph overall. I had to make it home quick, though because the year's first ice storm was about to bite me in my butt. On the radio I head 57 people had been killed in weather related accidents. I was pulled over by a Nashville extraordipoliceman because my right tail light was not working. I wiggeled the bulb and the officer didn't write the ticket - I thanked him for catching it.... I had long nights ahead of me, dancing back and forth on the long two way highways with the big rigs. Those eighteen wheelers run all night long on this nation's highways.

I stayed for a few days at my daughter's house in Oklahoma. That was wonderful fun. I shot pictures and did video for her band. I will cut all that latter for them. But, now, it was time to push on... and on.

My leg hurt while driving - an old dance injury - so many times I turned the cruise control on just so I could change the position of my leg.

I like to find a solid big rig driver. One that doesn't swing back and forth, or one that is strapped for time. I watch the truckers to find a polite guy and then I stick to him like glue. If he surges on, so do I. He goes around a line of trucks, I am right behind him. If he starts slow down... so do I. By doing this I go for long distances through the night and watching a good driver means he has the information on the road issues ahead. Most cars drivers are hazards. Most car drivers are terrible pushy and egotistical and they are dangerous to follow because they rarely know anything about what is ahead of them.

This shot is of the black top of Route 66 heading straight into the sunset. The colors of the snow and the dark greens of the patches of bushes and trees were so beautiful I had to pull off and take pictures. I was driving through a Reservation and most of the land was stark and extraordinarily compelling.