In Spite of Ourselves

Yesterday was an extremely windy day in North Georgia as well as many other areas of the country. As for our home, we seemed to fare very well; none of our trees were toppled and very few dead branches came down. However, that was not true for the rest of Forsyth County.

On our way home from choir practice last night, we were turned around by a police officer. Our first guess was an automobile accident at an intersection we were approaching. We later changed our minds and surmised we were rerouted around fallen trees.

When we arrived home, we would’ve never guessed there had been any foul weather. Our home was unscathed and the stars were shining as brightly as ever.

About an hour later, the effects of the storm finally caught up with us. We lost our electricity. The first time was for a minute or two. The second, for several seconds. The third for… an extended period; we went to bed before it came back on sometime in the middle of the night.

With no electricity, and no moon, it was amazingly dark in our home. At first, it was too dark to go stumbling around looking for flashlights… especially in a home that is in total disarray as our kitchen remodeling project continues.

The darkness got me to thinking about how people coped before electricity entered the home. As I understand things, the homes of our ancestors had two sources of light and heat: kerosene lamps and fireplaces. That made me wonder how they survived without smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

I can only assume their chimneys were very efficient at drawing out the smoke and fumes. We could also assume that their homes weren’t insulated and sealed as well as today’s homes.

I’ve only been around a kerosene heater once in my life – that I recall – and I remember blowing my nose and being shocked by the soot that came out. Did our ancestors find such sooty nasal emanations common place?

As is my normal mental process, these thoughts led to others… not necessarily connected in a way that others would readily understand. Of course, additional information comes into play.

There was a news report this morning that two satellites collided over Siberia yesterday. It was the first ‘major’ collision. Evidently, there is enough space junk floating around that there have already been a number of minor scrapes.

It seems we humans have a difficult time with foresight.

When I was a child growing up in Pittsburgh, the three rivers and a number of streams that emptied into those rivers were terribly polluted. We can only imagine what chemicals and other contaminants were routinely dumped into our waterways… and not just in Pittsburgh, but in cities all over the world. I wouldn’t be surprised that some people are still dumping.

Pittsburgh’s waterways have been cleaned up… although I wonder what happened to all the crap that was washed into the oceans over the centuries.

Cleaning rivers was relatively easy. Stop the dumping and let the fresh water flush out the system.

But how do we clean up the space junk?

This morning’s rant began based on wind damage. But since I’ve moved onto pollution – both on earth and in space – let me include a photo and information that demonstrates how stupid we humans have been.

Sea Urchin in Sculls Bay

Sea Urchin in Sculls Bay

The boat in the photo belonged to my Uncle Lewis – the namesake for two of my brothers. He had it docked in Sculls Bay near Margate, New Jersey. For a number of years, that boat served as our summer vacation cottage.

There was a head on that boat. For the landlubbers, that means it had a toilet. The toilet was flushed using a pump. The ‘waste’ matter was simply pumped out of the boat and into the bay.

And nobody thought anything of it.

I guess we humans learn through trial and error. We do things until we see the problems caused by the by-products of our actions. Then we have to find a way to clean up the mess.

Gee! That sounds like our government’s stimulus package!


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