I Want Jetson Technology


I don’t mean the flying cars.  Those sound like a good idea until you stop and think about how many lousy, aggressive, and/or inattentive drivers there are on the road.  It’s bad enough that an idiot who answers a text message while powering down the road at 10 to 15 miles over the speed limit can endanger any other drivers in their vicinity.  Just think of what could happen if that same idiot was piloting a flying car while texting.  Could bring down cars in the air, cars on the road, low-flying aircraft, or could power that boat right through your bedroom window.

Or that moron that seems incapable of maintaining a consistent speed?  The one driving in the 50mph zone who slows down to 35 for no apparent reason, then speeds up to 60 and then drops back to 40 for a mile or so?  They’d still be doing that…only they’d be doing it vertically too.  Whipping along anywhere from 20 to 300 feet in the air, randomly, while slowing down and speeding up, also randomly.

No thanks.  I’ll pass on the flying cars.

I also don’t mean the food cubes that show up, get nuked, and turn into full three course dinners in the microwave.  We’ve had those for years.  They’re called TV Dinners, and when I was six years old, I thought that the little tray of mystery meat with gravy, and the separate tray of mashed potatoes, and the third tray with the cobbler were the epitome of Haute Cuisine.  Then I grew taste buds.

I would like the robot that spends all day tidying the house.  Except that it would probably bang into the furniture quite a bit, and try to make my bed when I’m taking a nap, and I can see the cat getting all excited about the opportunity to chase the thing about.  The more I think about the robotic maid, the more I think of the sound of breaking glass and china.

The notion of a robot that will play with my cat actually sounds pretty good.  The technological challenges are significant.  My cat prizes Randomness.  Any stick-and-feather game, any ball game, any catnip mouse game that becomes in the least bit predictable loses his attention immediately.  That, and he also apparently prizes the ability to draw blood.  The best option, from his standpoint, would be for me to simply provide a steady stream of actual living mice for him to chase, kill, and eat.  Buster Kitty isn’t terribly domesticated.  I, however, have some ethical obligations to procuring another animal just so that animal can be terrorized and then killed.  Which, face it, is what Buster Kitty really wants from a Satisfying Playtime Experience.  I wouldn’t have any objection, however, to a really random robot with a Real Flesh And Blood cover, so that Buster can sink the claws and fangs and scratch that Feline Itch to draw blood.   The ability to deliver a blood-curdling scream on a random basis after a particularly quick hit with the claws or fangs would be a plus.  As would the ability for scientists to point out this highly valuable yet non-controversial use for cloning technology.

But what I really, really, really want is a Portable Force Field.

I want this because I have a nasty, skanky, truly hateful juniper tree right outside my back door, and right next to my assigned parking spot.  It’s 50 feet tall, and is proof that even 70 or 100 years ago, the tendency to engage in absurd and short-sighted thinking when choosing landscaping elements was every bit as prevalent as it is today. I mean, it’s not like it’s news on the Botany Front that juniper trees grow to be enormous, and a solid ten minutes of reasoned thought is going to have to yield the conclusion that they probably should not be planted six feet from the house.

The part that I can forgive is planting this damn thing right next to the parking spot, because in all likelihood, when it was planted, there weren’t family cars to be parked.

The part that I absolutely cannot forgive ever is the Bright Idea to plant a damned dioecious tree anywhere, especially not when a monoecious tree was a viable possibility. The combination of the words “dioecious” and “juniper tree” mean that this vile thing drops a nonstop cascade of crap, virtually all year round, directly onto my car.

Enough pollen to turn the car yellow? Check.

Scaley-type needles, plummeting down year-round onto the car and into my garden, where they change the PH of the soil and get tangled up in my tarragon and thyme so that I have to pick through them carefully before using them? Check

Needles coated in sufficient resiny sap to adhere to any surface, including clean glass? Check.

Bright blue berries that shower down and make technicolor splats all over my finish?  Check.

Every time I park the car at this time of the year, I am driving over so many of those blasted berries that the entire back of the house smells like a gin and tonic, with an emphasis on the “gin”.

That would be sufficient, as they say, just to shower the ground with these things and create an aromatic reek, and muck up my paint job and change the PH of my garden soil.

But there’s more.

Because these bloody berries are some kind of delicacy for the neighborhood avians.  So you can take all of the above, and combine it with a thick paste of bird guano.

My car is one of the few in the neighborhood that is always twice as filthy after a big rainstorm than before, thanks to the rain powering down all of that yuk from the tree PLUS making it marginally more desirable for the birds to roost there.

I own a car cover, and back in the day before I was having to nursemaid my horse through a leg injury twice a day at the barn that is 15 minutes away, one-way, while the semester was getting off the ground…back in the day when I had ten minutes to call my own, I used my car cover religiously, and was happy in the knowledge that my paint finish was not sustaining permanent damage from this blasted conifer and it’s feathered cronies.

Now, the thought of spending 15 minutes boiling a kettle of water and shepherding all the junk I need to haul around to the barn in pursuit of Equine Leg Health PLUS spending five minutes each on either end of the journey  messing with the car cover just saps my will to live.

It’s not like I can get synergies, either, by – say – uncovering the car while I wait for the water to boil.

That is because even five minutes of exposure under that wretched tree are enough to coat my vehicle with berry ook, needles, and bird crap.  No, really. FIVE. MINUTES.  That’s all it takes.

So I’ve resigned myself to driving the sort of car that reckless youths would write “WASH ME” in the grime – if they could penetrate that sappy, resiny finish, which they can’t, because if they couldn’t it would mean it wasn’t half the pain in the ass it is to clean off – and waiting for either the end of these vexing twice-daily trips to the barn, or the end of Juniper Berry Season.

And what I really want (other than for this tree to vanish) is a Portable Force Field.  I want to point my stick at the car, press a button, and have an invisible field cover the car to keep the berries, needles, and bird crap off of it.  I realize it needs another feature too:  it’s got to be able to vaporize that stuff in a flash, because otherwise, when I turn off my Force Field, all that crap will just drop back onto my car.

That bloody tree is going strong, even at its advanced age.  No doubt the Jetson Technology will come on board long before the nasty thing gives up the ghost.  If I weren’t living in a condo, I’d just have the damn thing cut down and replaced with some other tree that doesn’t shed constantly.  I’m sure they are out there.


About Lori Holder-Webb

I'm a Southern Woman by birth and a Texan Woman by upbringing...and yet I find myself living in New England and married to a New York City boy. Up here we use the same currency as we do at home, and I don't need to travel with a passport, but the commonalities pretty much end there. The language is different, the jokes are different, the people are different, and the weather and terrain sure are different too. I moved away from Texas in 2002, and ever since then, I've been the stranger in the strange land... I've had some questions about the name of the blog - if you were not alive, or living abroad or under a rock, or in grad school during the late 1980s, Oldsmobile attempted to shuck its stodgy image with a series of commercials intended to bring brand appeal to the younger generation: this car, they said, is not your father's Oldsmobile. If you have a morbid curiosity, hit YouTube for William Shatner Oldsmobile...it will take you right there.

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