I really don’t want to be a pill about this, but here goes: I keep running into the World’s Loudest Lawn Service. No matter where I go, they are my neighbor’s choice for lawn care, lawn treatment and especially running a goddamn gas-powered edger — talk about the world’s stupidest lawn chore — around the perimeter of the lawn, preferably twice, getting right up next to the pavement so sparks fly from the blade and the sound goes SCREE SCREE SCREE for 30 minutes or so.
After which they will fire up the gas-powered blower.
The blower is always last. I am accustomed to working in newsrooms, and I like to believe there’s no noise I can’t tune out if it’s just consistent. Teletype machines, phones, colleagues with droning nasal voices explaining tax policy to their editors — all of these can become white noise with a little mind yoga. (In fact, I’ve often thought teletypes are even soothing, that chugging sound they make, occasionally punctuated by bells. New lede! Writethru! Fixes Burns’ title, adds spokesman comment, background!) But people operating gas-powered lawn equipment are like the sorts of people who own motorcycles — they don’t know this thing we call “idle.” The sound of a motor just going put-put-put doesn’t satisfy. And so they must throw in little revs every 12 seconds or so, goose the throttle a little, just to show all the other bitches out there how we roll.
Ann Arbor wasn’t lawn-crazy. You found shaggy, weedy lawns in the nicest neighborhoods in town; leggy saplings, little more than lignifying (look it up) weeds, sprouted in every park strip. Tree Town always looks a little scruffy and mossy, the sign of a populace preoccupied with grading papers or translating ancient Greek or arguing over Hugo Chavez, and far too bohemian to worry about something as stupid as crabgrass. Also, quiet.
Ah, well. The owner of my gym says his aches and pains remind him he’s alive. I suppose, when you open windows, you have to listen to your neighbors from time to time. I just wish they’d let me finish my goddamn coffee before they start.
The New York Times has a pretty good package today on the Steve Jobs liver transplant, and the question it’s raising. Looking for justice in American health-care resource allocation is a fool’s errand, but I am interested in the investors’ angle, i.e., can a CEO with this high a profile get away with claiming privacy when he’s obviously gravely ill? This is a publicly traded company and Jobs is hardly another cog in the Apple wheel. I’d be interested in hearing anyone else’s thoughts about this. I’m equally amused by how quickly Jobs abandoned the alternative therapies he was said to be trying after his diagnosis. Nothing like an organ transplant to make one a believer in the miracles of western medicine. Which is one way of saying one reason American health care is so expensive is because, hello, you can get a liver transplant. You can take statins. You can replace your damn knee when it falls apart. I’m old enough to remember ads in magazines for trusses. I’m sure Jobs had great insurance, but still.
OK, off to the gym. Speaking of achy knees. Back later, but not for long, because hello? Eighty-six degrees and sunny? I’m going to the pool.