Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bumper Stickers, Squirrels, and the NY Times

I'm still trying to un-bury myself from the pile of work our move left me with, but there are a few things worth mentioning.

I saw an unfortunate bumper sticker the other day, on a car decorated with several dozen peace/love/etc. bumper stickers (on all sides). There are many really appalling bumper stickers, and I suppose as far as these things go it could have been a lot worse. What really stuck me about this one, though, was that the heart of the message was in the right place, it was just the reasoning that was flawed.

Don't take life too seriously. It's only temporary.

I agree with the concept of not taking life too seriously (emphasis on the 'too'). But calling life temporary implies, obviously, that there is something else beyond life that is the "real" life. Taken seriously or not, this denigrates the value, beauty, and preciousness of life.

While I don't think that life should be taken too seriously, I do not think it should be taken too cavalierly, either. This is it. This is your life. Don't waste it. It's all you've got! Do good things. Be remembered. Live on forever in the history books and in the memories of your friends and families. Don't be stupid. Don't do stupid things. Better yourself at every opportunity. But have fun while doing it.

Speaking of being a little too cavalier, here's a funny story. We have some new birdfeeders, put up recently after our move. I enjoy watching the birds while I work from my home office, and I keep a pair of binoculars and a bird guide on my desk. We've recently been having a squirrel problem, though -- specifically, he's climbing up and eating all of the bird food.

At first, all I had to do was bang on the glass of our patio-style door between the office and the front yard. Then I would have to open the door a tad and slam it shut. Then I would have to open the screen door. Then step outside and wave my arms. Then take a few steps towards the squirrel. He kept coming back. He finally got used to me trying to keep him away. He got bold.

Yesterday he was happily eating on the other side of the feeder, so all I could see was his tail hanging down. I walked outside. He peeked around the side of the bird feeder and took a look to make sure I was keeping my distance, but quickly resumed eating. I walk a few steps to one side so the bird feeder was more directly between us, and so that if he peeked around again I wouldn't be there anymore. Then I snuck towards the feeder.

I got close enough I could have grabbed his tail if I'd had gloves. I don't know if he really didn't hear me -- I was barefoot on grass -- or if he was just that bold. I guess he wasn't taking life seriously enough. He kept eating. I got my head really close to the bird feeder and peeked around and went "BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!" I was eye to eye with him. Not four inches away. He did a little squirrel version of clutching his heart and peed a little in his fur. Ok, not really, but his eyes just about popped out as he was tripping over his tail trying to get away. Oh, it was brilliant.

He's learned his lesson, though. He is much more content with eating off of the ground now. Although he does occassionally get on the feeder again, he won't eat on the far side of the feeder anymore, and if I step outside he stops everything and doesn't lose eye contact with me until he runs off or I leave.

One quick link before I get back to work -- the NY Times has filled their science page up today with only evolution-related stories. Good on them!


Godless Geek said...

My parents have a squirrel resistant bird feeder. I was skeptical of it at first, but soon realized that, not only does it work, but it is truly entertainment in its highest form.

It is a metal feeder of more or less traditional construction: feed goes in top and then comes out of the bottom. What makes it different is twofold. First, the top of the feeder has a significant overhang so that it is impossible for a squirrel to perch up top and reach down. Second, the perch area itself is weighted and hinged. Birds, even in groups, are not heavy enough to move it, but if a squirrel tries to rest on it, the whole perch drops down and brings a flap with it that covers up the feeding area so they can't get to the food. It's designed to hang out away from the pole so that they can't reach around either.

When it was first put it out, the squirrels would jump onto it, the perch would drop, and they'd lose their balance and fall to the ground. That was funny enough, but the craftier they tried to get, the funnier the falls would get. Eventually, they were on top of it reaching slowly down, trying to carefully reach in and get food, and, inevitably they wouldn't be able to reach far enough, lean too far over, and fall. Sometime they'd try to catch themselves on the perch as they went by which made it even funnier. It wasn't long before they left it alone all together.

Every year a handful of new squirrels go through the initiation process and it never loses it's entertainment value.

tobe38 said...

Sorry, I've tagged you.

Anonymous said...

I must say Dave, I don't think that bumper sticker necessarily assumes an afterlife. "Don't take life too seriously. It's only temporary" sounds to me like a more atheist/non-theist perspective. I think the theist outlook, at least with western religions, is that you have to treat this life as sacred because a god put you here to do his bidding. Plus, life never ends for theists- the life on Earth is only a beginning.

Granted, I do disagree with the premise. We shouldn't take it too seriously, but it is all we have. So we should make the most of it.

Good luck with the tag meme that's going around, I see you've been hit!

slut said...

Booga booga. That's hilarious. What a great image.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katie said...

You've been tagged. Since I only had two people to tag, that means you have to do this four times. :) Enjoy!

* We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
* Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
* People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
* At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
* Don't forget to leave them each a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

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