Chapter 11
01a - Introduction
01b - The Mysterious Ski Rack
01c - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
01d - Scorpions Scorpio
01e - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
02a - Can I Get a Diet Soda
02b - Riding Into the Sunrise
03 - Modesty at Any Price
04 - Driving Down to Houston
05a - What Does That Sign Say
05b - The State Tree
05c - They Call It the Sunbelt
05d - Just Follow Your Nose
06 - The New House
07a - Billboards
07b - Billboards Again
08 - Stereo Upgrade
09 - Local Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals We Have Known
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings To And From Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie Al Fresco
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What Was That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston Through Small Towns
37 - Shoe Story
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live Music in Austin But Not in Clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House is That-A-Way
57 - CSI Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2
80 - Sure We Got Culture
81 - A Message to Gyno-Americans
82 - The cathedral of Junk

This means war!

Gardening down here in Texas is different from up North. (So I'm told, since I don't participate directly in the process, only as a source of one kind of green that gets turned into another kind.) This being the tropics, or nearly, we have bugs. Bugs, bugs, bugs. Many bugs. Many different kind of bugs.

I don't like bugs. A lot. Too many legs. Two is a good number of legs to have -- in general, though many two-legged creatures are thoroughly intolerable, too. Four legs sometime make good eating, or good pets. Eight legs, well, most spiders are your friends. A large spider is a good sign, in a way. That big, fat spider is making a good living eating something else that I would not like to have around. Thank you, Mr or Ms Spider. And some other, larger eight-legged arthropods make good eating, too. But *six* legs, no sirree. Unacceptable. Bad number.

Coming from the North, we don't really understand bugs. They're there, but they're not dominant. The weather keeps them in check. Winter's job, as far as I can tell, is to keep the insects at bay. Is this why industrialization tends to grow more in the northern temperate climates, because bugs grow less? Because we don't have to spend so much effort fighting tropical insects and tropical diseases? Well, maybe, but that's irrelevant now. If you live down here, you have bugs in your neighborhood. The bugs even think they were here first. And they outnumber us by some huge ratio. You have them in the lawn. You have them in the vegetable garden. You have then in the flower beds. Landscaping just stirs them up, gives them more tasty bug morsels to munch on. Oh, new petunias, yum, yum. And the rain makes them bloom, right along with the plants. We had a whopping 0.2 inch of rain in July, and for a day they went nuts. Time to act.

So Ms Thornton, normally a gentle soul, is our captain in the war against The Bugs. Kill, kill, kill! Heap dead burnt bodies! In particular, Ms T has become our local expert in chemical and biological warfare. You know, the weaponry that there are international treaties about banning. Well, turns out that it's not illegal against other species.

Like any good captain, she delegates the job: "Sergeant, take that hill!" We have a service that promises to kill everything within twenty-five feet of the house. Out come the weapons. They have chemicals for this and parasites for that, some dust that they blow into special conduits in the walls. Yes, a standard feature of houses down here is a bug barrier, a special injection system in the walls accessible from the outside. The truck pulls up once in a while, stuff goes in, bugs go out. Cool.

Better living through chemistry!

PS: Another in the long list of crackpot theories that might contain a grain of truth. Chemlawn and their friends, and the general overuse of insecticides, are a major reason for the absence of wildlife of all sorts in urban and suburban areas. When I was a kid, in the middle of a city, the neighborhood swarmed with butterflies, cicadas, praying mantises, katydids, walking sticks, bugs of all sorts. I didn't like all of them, but I could see them. They're not here anymore. Nor even in New Hampshire, at least not in the numbers that I remember through the long telescope of childhood memory.

Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Richard Landau. All rights reserved.

2000 sometime