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the indignities of modern existence

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy living in the 21st century. I appreciate many things about it, like modern medicine (though that mostly in theory) and Google Maps. But there are a few things about modern that really annoy me, and since this is my blog I'm going to share.

My biggest complaint today is salt on the roads. It's kind of out of control this week; my working theory is that, having not used any last year, the road crews are putting our double batches each time it snows. Certainly, the roads and parking lots here are practically white with it, and depending on temperature and humidity all road users are constantly showered with either grimy gray dust or disgusting dirty water. On dry days the cloud of particulate matter from the highway reaches up above the crossing bridges! The world is uglier for all the dirty salt; plants suffer when they're exposed to it; and it's disgusting that I have to wash my face every morning when I get to school.

Of course, any time you complain you need to provide an alternative solution, and I've got mine all figured out: when the roads are slippery, everyone should stay home. Relax. Read a book, or do some dusting if you need to keep busy. Or, if you must go out, drive slowly and carefully; I'd bet it would take a lot more snow than we've had this winter to actually stop cars—to say nothing of the giant SUVs that half the population drives—from getting where they want to go if their drivers are willing to adjust to conditions.

More complaints! We have a skating rink (and other associated athletic facilities) down the road from us; it got put in a few years ago, replacing a perfectly fine stretch of woods and marsh. Alright, people need to ice skate and since we've ruined the climate the ponds aren't reliable any more. But the facility has recently been expanded, to the tune of two outdoor artificial-turf fields, and since it's winter one of the fields has been covered with a gigantic white plastic bubble tent. For some reason, said bubble is illuminated many evenings with the lights all around the field—I can only imagine that some of the light shines through the plastic to light the games within. Some: a whole lot of it gets reflected right back up to create literally the worst light pollution I've ever seen in my life (not counting those stupid movie-theater waving searchlight thingies). It's bad enough on clear nights to drive over the hill and see it there like an alien landing site or enormous crime scene, with the branches of all the trees in a half-mile radius lit up in stark relief; still worse are evenings like this one where low clouds bring the light right into our bedroom windows. Last night we had to close the shades, otherwise it would have been too bright to sleep.

The solution to this one is easy: make people who want to play sports play seasonally-appropriate ones, outside. And maybe during the day, too. There's a connection between my two complaints, because to my mind they're both caused by people determined to do the things they want to do regardless of the conditions around them. It's slippery? Melt the ice. It's cold and dark? Make a big plastic illuminated cocoon. No harbor in Alaska? Detonate some nuclear bombs (thankfully someone with sense pointed out the potential flaws with that last one, and the plan was never carried out). Yes, living in the future as we do we have the power to alter our environment in enormous and profound ways. But maybe, more times than not, we shouldn't.


And I can't believe I didn't come up with this "complaining" tag until last week; it's clearly right up my alley!

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