Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pest control

CB is gone, off visiting different cities to investigate postdoc opportunities. Rather than dwell on it (OH MY GOOOOD IT SUUUCKS), I will entertain you with a story from my latest workplace.

I write and edit materials about plant conservation for a Very Important Institution. We have gardeners on-site to manage some of our exhibits, and yes, I'm being vague in the hopes it will take you longer than 30 milliseconds to figure out where I'm employed.

Just after Christmas, one of the staff gardeners let out a bloodcurdling screech from the shed where he kept his tools. Moments later, he came into the office looking several shades paler than normal.

For background information, this is a nutria. It looks cute, but it's actually slightly more evil than European starlings. Or your worst relative, in case you are a normal person who doesn't understand why starlings are the spawn of Satan over here. Nutria are an invasive species who happen to be champion eaters, so they inflict irreparable damage on our native wetlands as they munch their way across the United States. This is why you can find all sorts of interesting information online from people who hate this handy book of recipes...

Anyway, our gardeners hate nutria. Haaaaate. And while we environmentalists are all supposed to be hippy-dippy treehugger types, the truth is that we get downright pissed when invasive species show up and throw one more wrench into our sputtering ecosystems. Apparently, we aren't too good at keeping quiet, because someone figured out that our group is anti-nutria.

The gardener, he found a box outside his tool shed. After cautiously toeing it, thinking it might be some kind of misshapen bomb, or maybe even full of puppies, he opened it. And screamed. That's right: Santa brought us a dead nutria for Christmas.

Welcome to my world. :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

True that

From Adrian Ryan's tales of Portland:

One moment you would swear before God in a court of law that Portland was just about the darlin’est little place you ever did see: everyone is beautiful and smiles at you, the sweet smell of coffee, books and young Democrats wafts upon the breeze, the roses yawn wide to serenade you as you frolic with the roaming deer and so forth. The next moment—SNAP! Everyone is looking at you like you have crap in your hair, even the squirrels are vaguely antagonistic, the city turns ugly and small and desperate and cold as a frozen hooker’s ice cube tray, and you really just want to die. I’ve lived it. I know.