Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Green, Healthy and Drowning in Refuse

So C and I move to Guelph. An exceedingly progressive, sweet little university town famous for its agricultural and veterinary colleges.

The city is renowned as cutting edge in all things environmental. On my way to work each day I pass by the "Honey Bee Research Laboratory" which is set back some way from the road in dense woods. However its creepy backset leads me to wonder if they are really engaged in reckless killer bee research. It kind of resembles the "secret shed" where Russell Crowe, in "A Beautiful Mind", believed he was helping government spies. If I walk to the "Honey Bee Research Laboratory" will I find a broken barn filled with scrawled non-sensical drawings of bees mattted to the windows?

Aside from the risk of research delusions, the denizens of Guelph take their healthy lifestyle to heart. Each and every resident jogs everywhere all the time. It reminds me of an early (and not very good) Star Trek TNG episode where the people ran to all places and Wesley was almost executed by a higher civilization. Sadly this did not happen, thereby subjecting us to years of Wesley plots.

And then there is "hot yoga". Exceedingly popular in Guelph.

Let's just say C attended one session in a track suit and after experiencing 27 men and women, many of the men in Speedos or tighty whities, engaging in "Downward Facing Dog" in 100 degree temperatures for an hour, she elected not to return.

But the nature thing, the jogging and the cheerfulness of the people has not yet turned me into a curmudgeon. I'll admit, I was feeling somewhat piqued at having to say proudly "Yes I would like a plastic bag" to all those in the grocery line who eyed you as if you were somehow personally behind the failure of BP to stop the gulf oil gush.

But there is one thing, that I just can't get used to: garbage pick up.

You see Guelph is so cutting edge that virtually every damn thing is recycled. There is an elaborate list of stuff that one is required to put in a blue tinted see thru plastic bag, the green tinted version plastic bag and a clear "waste" bag which is infrequently collected.

This is a garbage system gone nuts. For example, you have to recycle your gum. Yes, your old chewing gum. But where does chewing gum go? In the green bag? The blue bag for use in creating some new kind of insulation for the honey bee lab?

They also require you to recycle cigarette butts. Thank god I quit smoking 9 years ago or the bag would be as large as the kitty litter we recycle.

Then there's the stuff I don't get. Do I recycle string? If so does it go into the blue or the green? You see there are rules for tin foil for instance, if used, and if not used.

The rules are so byzantine, C for a time gave up and just started loading crap in the car and taking it to the dump.

But the one recycling requirement neither of us can get used to, is that we must recycle all used feminine products and leave them in the see-thru, light "Irish green" bags on our lawn, before 6 am in the morning for pick up, so that everyone around us, who all have seem to have a disquieting 'close and personal' relationship with their lawn, can check it out. And you can imagine, given the "green" "healthy" space of the city how over-run the 'hood is with everything from hawks, to raccoons to bunnies. What must left out at 11pm is often strewn across the lawn by morning.

We then resisted the 'rules', stood up to the 'green Man' and one day, wrapped our "unmentionables" in a white plastic bag and stuffed it in the greenie. I will admit we also threw in a few half jars of natural soup gone rotten still in their mason jars in the same bag but thought we had cleverly concealed the contents from the hawk eyed "garbage men".

Alas the garbage men I realize are wasting their time working for the City of Guelph. They should really work for CSI or maybe a secret service agency somewhere. Of course they didn't just pick the damn stuff up and shove it in the truck for someone else to deal with. No, they went through our garbage and, in order to shame us in front of the neighbours, tossed everything not properly in compliance with the rules, out over the lawn.

Now C and I live like hoarders. Our garage seems filled to the rafters with all the shit I can't figure out goes where: string, tinfoil, women's stuff, those stupid annoying plastic bits that cover the wine bottle corks. And occasionally, C'll just truck the junk to another town and throw it the first municipal waste basket she sees.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Huh? The Magic of Translation...

I love travelling to very un-western places if even just to get a hook on the English translations. These excerpts are from a website. Here is the hotel we propose to stay at in Tunis, Tunisia. The query is should we reserve Room #1?:

"What would think if we offer to you a soft nest in the centre town, a true diamond in an ecrin that we propose to you, a true residence, with all the conveniences necessary to your autonomy."

Or take a Chance on Room #2?:

"In more we offer to you a single position in the centre town from where you will be able to achieve all your races"

Should we elect for achieving all of our races, or maybe go with a diamond ecrin?

What the hell is a diamond ecrin anyway?