Monday, October 13, 2008

California Living


Mondays are always interesting. That's when we get to do all the things we should have done on Friday but forgot, and over the weekend when we were just too damn lazy, such as the Worm Roundup.

I'm a native Californian. I've never seen anything unusual in being able to pick vine-ripe tomatoes for the Christmas dinner salad. Or going skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. Or visa-versa, depending on the tides and the weather.

But if you fail in your duties as a Worm Rounder-Upper there won't be any ripe tomatoes for your Christmas dinner, nor those BLT's you like to build. But Monday is also the day when the physicians treating my cancer decreed that I would have Mr. Roentgen's Mysterious Rays blasted through my right hip, into a photographic plate about 12 x 18. In fact, X-rays are about the last ditch when it comes to photographic plates, what with regular cameras and film being replaced by memory chips, disks and tapes. (I've got a hunch we'll soon see the last of film in x-rays, as a layer of fluorescing material is bonded to an ultra-high density array of photo-sensitive sensors. The resulting image would probably be a couple of gigabytes at a minimum and a terabyte isn't beyond reason. The advantages of a digitalized x-ray are almost too numerous to mention. This method is already in use in various scanning devices,(*) in which the digitalized data from a MOVING x-ray -- or other short wave-length emitter -- are fed into a computer which then generates a 3D image of the target area. (*) CAT Scan, PET Scan, SAT Scan and so forth.) But so far, no one has applied that technology to the Plain Vanilla x-ray machine, where you pump a few million volts between the cathode and the anode of a specially configured vacuum tube and direct the resulting X-rays toward the target, behind which you've placed a sheet of photographic film. To get to the film the x-rays gotta pass THROUGH the target, be it toes or telephones and the resulting image depicts the ease or difficulty of that passage.

The cancer is in my lower back and the pelvic girdal. Recent episodes of pain indicate that it may have gotten to my right hip as well, hence the need for Mr. Roentgen and his Rays. Which kept me from my duly appointed rounds in the garden and allow certain visitors to reach an unruly size, as shown in the photo. We don't use insecticides. But a lot of folks do. The catapillars quickly become immune to the stuff. But the birds that would normally eat the catapillars don't. The insecticides build up in the catapillars until they become toxic to birds. No more birds.

So I pick them off. Doesn't take long because we only have about half a dozen tomato plants, more than enough for our needs. A lot of folks from exotic places like Detroit or Buffalo give you funny looks when you mention growing tomatoes all the year 'round. But the worms believe it -- big wormy smile on their little wormy faces. Mebbe I could rig up some kinda portable X-ray emitter, couple of passes and all them caterpillars would be gonners. But until then I am the Official Worm Rounder-Upper. One of the burdens of living in California.

-R.S.Hoover
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