London Calling: The Clash of the Wild

Happy Championship Monday everyone! I actually churned this out at a fairly reasonable time on a Monday marking one of the few times I actually kept with my slogan! While I suppose I could help make your Mondays less Mondayish if you read this blog religiously at 11:50PM every Monday night, this is a rare instance where I did not procrastinate (too terribly) in throwing it all together and tossing it out to the masses like a compounded clump of dripping, raw chicken chucked into a swamp full of hungry alligators. I can only hope readers like you are equally eager to devour my delectable words, but I’m not going to stick around and watch the statistics page count the rising number of visitors to the website tonight (not that I ever do that…) because I’ll be busy watching the Ohio State Buckeyes go duck hunting in Jerry Jones’ Western Wonderland at 8:30PM, and I suggest you do the same.

In the meantime, you may be interested to know that today is Jack London’s birthday. The famed wilderness writer would have been 139, and as that is the case, I think it’s safe to say that regardless of whatever ultimately contributed to his death in 1916 (some believed he committed suicide), he would certainly not have lived to see 139. Maybe someday somebody will, without the need of time dilation, considering that health advancements have helped to continuously extend the average human life expectancy, and most successfully so in the last 50 years. London had some big time excitement in his life though, so I’m guessing he was okay with how it all turned out. If you’ve ever read any of his books or short stories like The Call of the Wild, White Fang, To Build a Fire, etc., then you know he was a fan of Alaska, the Yukon, and all that wonderful and wild, super-snowy northwest Northwest US and Canada kind of thing. I know those actual places probably have much more snow heaped upon their driveways right now than I do, but I did my fair share of shoveling today, and I needed to segue into my actual point for this post.

Over the past week my city, state, and general portion of the country has gotten a fair amount of snow; nothing too shocking for wintertime. Last year’s polar vortex blast dumped much more of the white stuff onto us than usual, which makes this year’s still above-average so-far snowfall seem a tad tamer, yet my back still aches after pushing clear the fourth driveway of the day. At my grandfather’s, the first stop of my shovel circuit today, I was scolded for not using his seventh and most expensive snowblower in the last five years to clear off the driveway. “$1300 just sitting in the garage while you’re using a shovel!” Yep. $1300 well spent if you ever used it, grumpy gramps, seeing as your pulmonary system isn’t as hardy as it used to be. However, when I move that snow form the drive to the grass I prefer to do it my own way. You’d think an elder would relish the chance to cast down technological advancements and revel in the olden way of doing things. I can understand the urging more if clearing the driveway was a time-sensitive task, but I had the day off and had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, so why not take my time if I want too? You can bet your ass if the temperature was -25°F (and especially C) I would be using that behemoth blower to get that shit done stat! As it happens, today was quite pleasantly not ass-freezing cold and there was almost no wind to add to the chill. So I made the most of steadily shoveling while my dog played with my grandfather’s horse of a Labrador in the yard that served as both of our dumping grounds (for different things).

While I found a sort of zen harmony of snow removal in my shoveling, the real reason I shunned the snowblower is out of concern for the environment. We needlessly pump out carbon, mainly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) from machinery exhausts, all day every day. I sought to reduce my daily output a little bit today by shoveling instead. (Also it helps tone my body for beach season.) This is all the more important for me to do considering the intensity of storms, including snowstorms that drop inches upon feet upon my God it’s up to the second story levels of snow, is increased with the increase in CO2 which causes an increase in temperature. You follow? If you want to learn more about this terrible cycle called anthropogenic climate change, yet more commonly referred to as global warming, feel free to peruse these riveting articles.

Okay, so scientific papers are methodically mundane and boring to plod through, but I will say this for them: they are based on actual evidence and data obtained through the scientific method. Each article written by a team of scientists is checked over by other teams of scientists to make sure everything is researched and acquired soundly and scientifically with no funny business for personal gain. Long story short, climate change influenced by people is real and happening. What’s more, it causes us to get not only hotter and drier summers but harsher winters with heavier snowfall, as well. So, you can see how using a gas-powered snowblower can really be like taking the long way to clear the driveway.

Alright, so my decision to pass on the incredibly expensive Snowcrusher 9000 or whatever the hell my grandfather has probably only kept a teeny tiny little bit of CO2 from polluting the sky today, but multiply that teeny tiny amount by four, the number of driveways I shoveled today, and you have a slightly bigger teeny tiny amount. Then keep multiplying it by the number of days I continue to forgo the blow for the handy shovel and that teeny tiny amount of CO2 is even less teeny tiny. Again, long term even over the course of the winter I’m accounting for a negligible reduction. However, if it was more than just me shoveling instead of snowblowing we might see some bigger numbers and cleaner skies. You know what I’m saying? Yes, I do believe you know what I am saying. Certainly my grandfather does not, especially as he calls me on my stupidity for making a task harder than it has to be with his big, loud television blaring the big, loud “news coverage” from Fox News Network. You know, those people who always laugh at climate scientists whenever it snows 12 feet in Buffalo and ask “Where is your global warming now?! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!” I’m not their biggest fan.

I love my grandfather in spite of all his old coot-esque shortcomings and myopic and often racist way of looking at things. He took me fishing as a child, routinely overpays me for helping him out with simple tasks I would do for him for free, and most importantly, he always has his door open to me and the rest of my family. I’ve learned much from him and his life-earned wisdom, as well as what not to do or say in front of certain groups of people. Jack London has a similarly educational message in his stories that I’ve read, that basically boils down to this: Listen to your elders, learn from your mistakes, and don’t be a bitch in the face of fear. Nature is harsh and unyielding at times, but if you use your wits and exercise caution, chances are you’ll come out of even the most remote and wild places changed for the better. Hopefully we still have some of those places left for the next 139 years and many beyond them. Perhaps bypassing the blower for the shovel when it’s only two inches will help make a difference.

Thanks for reading! My apologies to anyone who expected a discussion on British punk music. Before war is declared and battle comes down, head on over here if you still feel betrayed. If you’re satisfied and want some more then check out my past posts and give me some ideas for new ones by contacting me at Shovel on back next week for another riveting chapter in randomness!

Go Bucks, not Ducks, say no to quack,


P.S. My apologies to whoever made the T-shirt I stole that from. Still, O-H!

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