Happy Birthday Domesticus!

birthday cake

Domesticus turns one today.

One year since I’ve had this blog! The year has whizzed by, but somehow it seems like I’ve had the blog forever.

I’m having so much fun with it. I’ve learned so much.

I’ve explored everything from classic cars to hackers and their wiles in selling diet pills to chicken parades, with a couple of fake celebrity interviews thrown into the mix just for the hell of it. Who knows what I’ll write about next?

There’s nothing like having a blog, your own domain where you are CEO and CIO and editor-in-chief and star writer. You can do anything you want…but with no deadlines or financial rewards, sometimes it’s hard to get started. Once you do, though, it’s hard to imagine a life without your blog. To me, not having it would feel like losing my vocal cords. An irreparable, catastrophic, panic-inducing loss.

I should blog more regularly. But even if I don’t,  just having the ability to do it at all is magical.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog but aren’t sure who your readers are, don’t know if you have the time, don’t know how to set it up, or have any number of other excuses, you should ignore them, make like a Nike ad, and JUST DO IT!!! Once you do, there’s no going back.

That said, I also have to admit that the subjects I write about and the reasons people find my blog are often highly divergent.

Over the past year, 11,084 visitors came to Domesticus, led here by an enormous variety of search terms. But a common denominator does stand out. I guess you could call it the lowest common denominator. Let me explain.

Back in May, 2012,  I wrote a post about a plant I grew from seed. I’m not much of a gardener, so it was inspiring to me to watch this plant grow…and grow…and grow. One day our landlady came over and saw it, and seemed taken aback. Later I realized why: my plant–lupine, a hearty Northwest native–happens to resemble a certain other plant that some people use for smoking purposes.

So I blogged about that.

Well!

ONE blog post that mentioned the m-word has brought me more visitors than any other subject by a mile. Actually, more like 400 miles. For example, w–d plant was a search term that led 142 p–heads to my blog. M— dragged in another 128. Other variations on this theme pulled in another hundred or so.

And then there were the doubtlessly disappointed, ahem, cultivators who turned to me for specific growing advice: w—plant growing (7), m— flower (7) c—s— flower (hint: Latin name) (7), and even w—plant pictures (6).

Sorry, guys. I don’t even smoke the stuff–though it’s now legal in Seattle–much less grow it.

On the other hand, 110 people who haven’t already bookmarked my site typed the letters d-o-m-e-s-t-i-c-u-s into the search bar just to find me. Thank you!!

Many other people did specific searches for the classic car models I mentioned in posts about the annual Magnolia Car Show, and were rewarded with Bigfoot’s dazzling photos.

And 28 of you came looking for fake celebrity interviews, which I have only done two of, but I can’t wait to do more.

It’s my blog, dammit, and I can say which I have only done two of  if I want to! (See do anything you want above.)

Seriously, it’s been a long, strange, and wonderful trip along with the stoners and the spammers (who get caught by my spam filter like hair in a drain strainer) and everyone else who has come to visit me over the past year.

Thank you so much for coming!

Except for writing more often, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Though I might stay off the topic of gardening for awhile.

 

Efficient Technologies

Image courtesy of Mundo and www.FreakingNews.com

 

Has technology really made life more efficient?

Or have things gotten worse?

Today we have:

 

                                                  

 

 

But we remember when people got things done without them.

When Domesticus was a kid back in the Pre-Digital Age,

Digits were on your hands, for easy use as a math tool (and somewhat later, a math tool hidden under your desktop).

Texting wasn’t available, but American Sign Language and crumpled paper balls did the trick.

Transportation was getting everywhere you needed to go in one pair of Keds or loafers, usually with at least one hole in the bottom.

Meals were consumed at a table with the family, after being cooked in an oven by a grownup; and

Toilets worked!! Did the job with one quick touch, and almost no need for maintenance. True, they wasted some water. But what about the human energy we waste now, when they don’t get the job done the first time around? What about the disgust factor?

Then there’s hot water faucets. Used to be, you turned on the tap and right away, the water that came out was hot enough to make instant coffee (a beverage from the pre-espresso era.) Now you have to wait. It probably has something to do today’s 3000-square-foot homes requiring longer pipe extensions than our old 1050-square-foot apartment. Which somehow housed three people comfortably. (We stored a lot of things under our beds. It was quite efficient  in its way.)

Garbage. Used to be, you bought stuff at the store and carried it home—on foot—in a brown paper bag. Later on, the bag went into a big metal trash can, along with apple cores, milk cartons, chicken bones, coffee cans, and once a year, a pair of Keds or loafers with rundown soles and a hole in the bottom. The trash men came and picked everything up. End of story.

In Seattle, where I live now, every household is provided with one large plastic trash can and two gigantic plastic bins: one for recyclables and one for yard waste. Over time, some of these plastic containers get holes in them, or their lids blow into the street and get smashed, or their lids get cracked by people who place heavy rocks on them in a vain and pathetic effort to keep out raccoons.

So the city kindly replaces the cans unasked and at no extra charge—until your monthly rates are inevitably raised.

The city also provides you with a 12 x 17-inch color brochure that can be posted on your refrigerator, as long as you don’t plan on putting up anything else there, and which illustrates what to put in Garbage vs. Recycling vs. Food + Compostables vs. Other Collection Services vs. Beyond the Curb.

Just one side of Seattle's recycling brochure

 

The brochure is helpful, but it requires some deep study to get it all down. Once you do, it is a surefire way to impress out-of-town guests as they stand helplessly in front of your refrigerator, empty beer can in hand.

This city is serious about recycling. Trash collectors can and do leave your can on the curb if more than 10 percent of its contents are recyclable. And what’s recyclable? That depends, and even the people who work for Solid Waste get confused. (Read William Barrett’s entertaining blog post on the subject here.)

But Domesticus is actually OK with recycling. Just don’t ask us to compost, which involves keeping rotting tomatoes and swarming flies in our back yard. Recycling is good because it gets us to start thinking and caring about the environment in a warm and fuzzy way.

However, the more you think about it, the less warm and the more fuzzy it gets.

For instance: What is the environmental (as well as monetary) cost of having three types of trucks, run by three separate companies, come to your door on trash day?

How much water do you waste cleaning out a peanut butter jar for the recyclables bin? And what if you have cold hands and use hot water (Guilty!)

What happens to the old plastic trash cans when they are replaced with new ones? And do they really have to be made out of plastic?

You could allow this kind of thinking to go on and on and eventually trash the whole environmental movement. But that would be a mistake, even for those of us who’ve been around long enough to think that the old way, in its way, worked. Less recycling, with all its complications and contradictions, and also less stuff. A lot less stuff.
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But we’re not going back to one-pair-of-shoes-a-year or oldie-but-goodie toilets. And even as disjointed as things are now, it’s better to care than not. You need to care to have any hope of ever improving things.

And so far, there’s no app for that.