I’m always jotting down notes that might develop into full blog columns, and some of them just keep sitting on the back burner. So in this blog I’m going to combine a lot of those ideas and bring them to life. Admittedly, they’re mostly complaints about this or that, so I want to begin with the two positive ones.
In my backyard garden this year I notice an especially large number of spiders with their spider webs. I hate to have to tear some of the webs down when I go to water the veggies because they capture some of the flies and bugs that I don’t want in the garden, such as whiteflies. But what’s amazing to me is that the next day after I’ve torn some of them down, they’re right back in place. I don’t know where they get all the energy to recreate them, virtually overnight. And the webs are so intricately spun.
Also, the other day I was outside spray-watering some plants and sprayed water strongly against one of the webs. The strands refused to break. Ounce-for-ounce the stuff webs are made of must be as strong as steel.
I know some people who will carefully and delicately capture spiders found in bathrooms and release them outside, but I’m not that insect-friendly.
And now to outer space. A new Mars rover (this one weighing nearly a ton) is on its way to that planet, due to land in August. It employs some new landing techniques. If you recall, the two most-recent rovers on Mars landed using airbags that ended up working well. But new rover is probably too big to use that technique. This time, there were be three cycles of slowing down and landing – air friction on the capsule containing the rover, followed by parachute braking and then by rocket braking at the end. If this entire sequence, with so many meticulous events that have to execute perfectly, works, and the rover lands safely, it will be a miracle. A triumph of American technology.
The difficult thing was being able to accurately simulate all of the Mars conditions on Earth. And this is a new rover, with some new technology being used. Complicated software code was written to orchestrate it all. There will be a lot of sweating at NASA as the capsule enters the thin Martian atmosphere. There’s a lot of money at stake. I wonder if Las Vegas has odds on the mission.
And now to complaints: For one, the narrow toilet paper used in stores’ and restaurants’ bathrooms to save money, I assume. Then when you go to wash your hands, they often try to limit the amount of paper towels you can use. I don’t know about you, but when they act so chintzy, it makes me use more.
Complaint number two: the yellow “rumble strips” outside stores with lots of little projections that make an unholy noise when you cross them with your shopping cart. Frankly, I worry about my eggs breaking. I suppose they’re there for blind people, but I find them very irritating.
Number three: the increasing number of companies who want my opinion of their levels of customer service after I have my car worked on, visit a doctor, or buy sometime online. At first it was fun to provide feedback, but now it’s become a drag and I won’t do it unless I had a bad consumer experience to report. If other people are like me, this effect will skew the results.
Remember back when some people were tampering with over-the-counter pills such as Excedrin? Now when you buy a bottle of vitamins or other meds, you have to penetrate two or three seals just to get to the product. Some seals require a jackhammer to penetrate. That’s overkill. And remember the Unabomber guy who was sending explosive devices through the mail to people who didn’t share his world views? Well, he’s been safely put away in prison for some time now, but the Postal Service is still enforcing its 13-ounce rule as a result (any packages weighing over 13 ounces and carrying stamps have to be presented to a postal employee, and can’t be dropped into a blue collection box). Don’t you think it’s time to eliminate that tiresome rule? It might give the post office some more business.
And our favorite insurance company, Geico – right? Every other ad on the TV and radio, it seems, is a Geico ad, featuring the clever gecko or cave man, who promise that 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more … .“ Of course, all of the insurance companies are claiming to save you money these days. The question about Geico is, after paying for all of these expensive ads, how can they offer the lowest prices?
Finally, I’m one of those people who turns in recycled cans and bottles for cash at the recycling centers. We have two centers I’m aware of in Dixon. What bugs me is the products that are exempted from the CA CRV “system.” The system, of course, is that when you buy plain water in plastic bottles, and Cokes in aluminum cans, and so on, you pay an extra fee for each bottle or can, which is refunded to you when you turn it in at a recycling center. But somehow, some products got exempted – such as certain drinks in aluminum cans and glass bottles. For example, I’m looking at 12-ounce aluminum cans of La Croix lime-flavored sparkling water (carbonated water) and Perrier sparking water that are exempt from CA CRV payments, while a plastic bottle of Crystal Geyser sparkling mineral water isn’t. I suppose political clout in Sacramento played a role in this. The result is that those exempted products can sell their products for less at the checkout. Another industry which received a pass was the wine industry, with the result that a fair amount of wine bottles aren’t recycled. However, you do have to pay the added CA CRV fees when you buy bottles of beer. Go figure. Why not end all of the exemptions (even for fruit juice) and simplify everything? The result would be more aluminum, plastic and glass being recycled.
The back burner is now clear.