Posts Tagged hoarders

A Series of Rather Terrible Decisions

I applied for (and was chosen for) the sugar beet draft this year.

All in all, it’s a very bizarre business seemingly predicated on a whole bunch of people with terrible judgment being allowed to make decisions.

Step one: Someone has to decide to farm.
Farming itself isn’t a terrible idea; it’s a great way to get outdoors and wake up at four and end up tan and fairly well-muscled and the owner of machinery that is either larger than or more expensive than the average house–possibly both.  It’s just–aside from subsidies and all that–your returns are dependent upon the weather.  It can’t be too hot, it can’t be too cold, too wet, too dry, too bugs or hail or tornado.  You’ve probably noticed a theme.

Poor decision Step two: This person must farm sugar beets.  Sugar beets are ugly, occasionally football-sized mutant cousins of regular beets that taste pretty much exactly how you would expect them to taste.  (Yes, I did.  No, it wasn’t a dare.)

Step three, and here is where it gets tricky: Said person must be willing to entrust these rotund little rooted fellows to, in some cases, complete strangers or people who know their friends who may never have driven either a truck or a manual transmission before.  (My secret shame!  But what do you want?  It’s not as if I had a spare car.)

So here’s where I come in, and where we switch perspectives.

Step four:  I show up at a field with a truck, and for reasons that I don’t want to explain, get an unstoppable urge to take beets from someone, letting some poor unsuspecting tractor driver fill the truck up with more beets than I could possibly want or use.  (If you’re keeping count, that’s at least one beet.)

Step five:  After driving about a mile, I begin to regret my actions.

Step six:  What in the name of Pete Sampras am I going to do with 20,000 pounds of beets?

Step seven:  I drive half a dozen miles into town, following antlike beet-truck trails toward the hive, where I and hundreds of other misguided truckers are fortunate enough to find people who will take the world’s ugliest crop off our hands.  In return, I receive a slip of paper.  Some less-fortunate drivers simply give up, cut their losses, head home, and end up with ten tons of awful brown lumps on their lawn.

Step eight:  Leave.  Probably the most rational decision I’ve made all week.

Step nine: Contract Chronic Beetlust again.  Discard rational thought once more.  Repeat steps four through nine for approximately two weeks.

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St. Ives from an Outsider’s Perspective

I’m sure most, if not all of you have heard the St. Ives riddle.  To those who are the exception:

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Each wife had seven sacks.
Each sack had seven cats.
Each cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
how many were going to St. Ives?

I don’t have time to argue the math or the reasoning behind it, but it’s safe to say the answer is a number.  I’d imagine it somehow relates the questioner, a man, seven women, and 49 bags filled with 343 adult cats and 2401 kittens total.  (Evenly distributed into the sacks, of course.)

It bothers me that whoever is asking the question is so bloomin’ vague.  The fact that you can argue seventeen different answers (YOU were going to St. Ives!  2800 wives, sacks, cats, and kittens were going to St. Ives!  The St. Ives Bureau of Random Economic Statistics gives a figure of 48,439,000 incoming cat units for fiscal year 2007!) means the question itself needs work.

It seems to me the lack of specificity is a symptom of a much deeper problem, however.  And it’s not as if the questioner can’t be specific.  He or she is quite certain about the number of cats per bag.  In fact, the certainty about the contents of these undoubtedly massive sacks seems to imply that there was a conversation with these mysterious cat transporters:

“Hello, travelers, what’s up?”

“My seven wives and I are making our biweekly cat delivery.”

“Oh!  I can’t imagine any logistical or social problems arising in a career like that!   I myself am a dentist; the one out of five who never agrees with the others for plot-driven reasons that are never completely explained.  How many cats are in each bag?”

“These are sacks, my contentious dentist acquaintance.  There are 7 cats and 49 kittens in each sack.  How did you know the cats were in the sacks?”

“I must confess the hissing and shrieking as the sacks scraped along the ground gave your secret away.  Also, it says ‘CATS’ on the side.”

It begs the question why this person was talking to the cat people in the first place.  Do you have any idea how much feline biomass was packed into those containers?  A reasonable weight for an adult cat is approximately 10 pounds.  Given seven sacks per wife and 7 cats per bag, we have a total of 490 pounds of Adult Cat Weight alone.

Clearly, these women are not to be trifled with.

But we aren’t finished.  Now for the kittens.  While we aren’t given the exact location of St. Ives, (I suspect it’s Utah) in America they seem to suggest splitting cat families no earlier than ten weeks, an age that would give the kittens a weight of somewhere around two pounds each.  Of course, the people we’re talking about don’t seem to be the type to follow reasonable suggestions, but I imagine any cat rancher would rather not spend more money on cat food than is necessary, and would likely sell the cats at this time.  (If these people were ranching said cats and kittens to be used as food, it’s possible age isn’t a factor to them at all.  I find this somewhat absurd, even by polygamist cat-rancher standards.)

343 kittens per woman at 2 pounds each gives us 686 pounds of Kitten Weight.
490 lbs. ACW
+ 686 lbs. KW= 1176 pounds of cats per wife.

To put that in perspective, these women are lugging around a third of a Buick over their shoulders, except instead of hauling harmless, relatively inert hunks of automobile, they’ve packed 56 cats into a cramped space, and they’ve done it seven times over.  Each.

I have a hard time imagining two cats shoved into a bag together for any length of time.  Shoot, even one cat.

Of course, it is nowhere stated that the cats are alive…
Take out one of the logistical problems and suddenly the riddle becomes ever so much more disturbing.  Assuming the police are not eaten for sustenance by the Seven Strongest Women on Earth, I can see the headlines:

POLYGAMIST CAT-RANCHERS CAUGHT WITH 2744 DEAD CATS ON WAY TO ST. IVES FROM ST. IVES CRAP I DON’T EVEN KNOW

If you meet this walking catastrophe on the way to town and your only concern is mathematics, your garden is most likely short a few vegetables.

…Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
Don’t bother with math, just flee for your lives.

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Social Squirreling

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to catch blurbs on the news or seen commercials for the show that evidently airs on A&E, you’ve come to realize that the nation is suffering from a stockpile of hoarders.
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to visit the History Channel recently, you are no doubt aware that the entire world is about to be destroyed by the Giant Aztec Death Plague Comet, which was foretold by Nostradamus because he bribed the Freemasons into telling him their plans, thereby rendering any hoarder issues fairly moot.  Aliens are certainly involved as well, according to numerous science experts with backgrounds in fields such as Recreational Substance Abuse and Psychic Botany.  But that is another story, probably a two-hour special.

Anyway, if either the news or the commercials are correct, this country is currently littered with people who have been inexplicably compelled to turn their houses into privately owned storage facilities for old newspapers and on occasion several hundred cats.

We could debate all day about the effects of doing idiotic things such as producing television shows about people with psychological issues, but regardless, I now know why they hoard.  Amazon told them to.

We recently ordered some cheap (yes, and inexpensive) new shower curtains to replace some grungy old ones.  They’re shower curtains; after however many years, they were in need of replacements.  The internet, being the giant creepy warehouse store that it is, one that would sell you human organs given the opportunity and the promise of enough money, had what we wanted.

For those of you who don’t take advantage of Amazon’s services, let me explain something.  When you buy things from their site, it remembers.  Like a disturbing Wal-Mart savant, it remembers it all.  Every item you purchase is factored into recommendations that will appear on the main page on your return visits.

And there’s the problem.  Now that we have purchased shower curtains, it has decided to recommend–of all things–more shower curtains.  Scads of shower curtains.  More shower curtains than a Holiday Inn would lose during a Compulsive Hitchcock Reenactors Convention.  What kind of family Amazon thinks we are, I do not know.  I do not want to know.

But my conclusion is that the internet, in addition to causing the loss of billions of man-minutes of labor every day, (there went another one) is also responsible for turning fairly normal people into rodents.  Because by simply purchasing an item online these victims unwittingly begin a chain reaction that ends with the purchase of 50,000 universal remotes and enough copies of “The Pirates of Penzance” to implode a parking garage.

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