Going Green

Here in the US, gas is above $4 a gallon and on its way to $5. Everyone is looking to save gas and lower their carbon footprint as well. Time to consider a hybrid? Read Who are you kidding? in Britain’s Telegraph first. “However much fuel it does or doesn’t save, the Toyota Prius has become a byword for fatuous lip-service to environmentalism…”

Certainly we need to lower our consumption of hydrocarbons. First steps ought to include driving less and at lowered speeds with fewer jackrabbit takeoffs from stops. Using those simple techniques can save 10-15% without any layout of money for a new car.

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Nightlife in Lake County

We got up and had coffee this morning. I needed it. I was groggy (and probably Mary was too) from a visit by a raccoon in the wee hours.

Around 1:10 this morning, Peaches ran down the bedroom and office stairs alerting us to the critter’s presence. I had closed the basement door around 7 or 8PM so. The basement is where the cats hang out and eat their cat food. How he got in is a mystery.

But in he was. I turned on the office’s light, went partway down stairs, and opened the basement door. He scrabbled in the opposite direction for the porch’s screen door and bounced back like a vertical trampoline. That flummoxed him. Next, he tried to climb up the office bookcase or perhaps he was looking for a book on how to escape by opening doors; Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer didn’t do it for him.

Mary held the barking Peaches. She’s eleven and shouldn’t bound down stairs recklessly. She probably knows this too, but now that she was restrained, she told us she wanted a piece of him.

Despite the adorable little mask, raccoons are not cute, especially when they’re scared. They are wild animals, with sharp teeth and claws to match and will use them if cornered.

And this fellow felt cornered (well, not this fellow, he’s from the Wikipedia page on raccoons).

I grabbed Peaches’ blanket to use as a matador’s cape and try and finagle the little beast out of the house.

He scurried clockwise around the perimeter of the office, past Mary’s desk into the office closet area and finally out the open door to the basement and door the stairs and presumably out the cat’s opening back to the lake’s shore where he belongs.

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And I Thought Stinging Nettles Were Bad

Stinging nettle (Urtica spp.) can sting and hurt for a few minutes but it’s completely benign when compared with Gympie Gympie (Dendrocnide moroides). According to Neil blogging on jennifermarhasy.com, “[c]ontact with human skin can cause extreme pain, starting as a rapidly intensifying burning sensation. The pain may persist for days, but upon exposure to cold air, water or when rubbed, the pain can be reinvigorated for up to two months or more, beyond the original sting.” Crikeys. I have a new found respect for Australian foresters.

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