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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

This month:

My Love Affair With The Dump

This Ain't Furniture

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Festool Follow-up

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

My Love Affair With The Dump

As a native Texan, somehow cruelly transported and seemingly interminably exiled to the "north country," a pick-up truck is a vestige of my upbringing that is interwoven with my personality, my lifestyle, and even my self-image. And not just any truck, but a big truck - the bigger the better. With an eight-foot long bed and a ladder rack that makes it appear more ominous than it really is, my truck will hold a lot of "stuff." On our seventh trip to the dump, with a Jed Clampett-like load of junk piled up to the ladder rack, my buddy remarked, "Man, that house has to be a lot lighter than it was before."

"Well doggies," lighter it is. Almost all of the homemade, unhandy built-in shelves, cabinets, and other vestiges of the former owner are gone. Gone are basement walls, lamp cord used as in-wall wiring, homemade light fixtures, a three-legged workbench, and yes, the Romex-and-turnbuckle "fix" to the stairs.

Figure 1 - Another load for the "dump"

Somehow, each trip to the dump was gratifying. "Out with the old, in with the new (and clean, and more up-to-date)" was part of the psychology, I'm sure, but there was more. I was glad to learn that what I cavalierly reference as the "dump" here is actually a relatively sophisticated recycling center where materials are separated into things that can be reused and things that cannot. Wood is separated into "clean" and "other." The "clean" wood, ostensibly meaning unpainted, untreated, and un-embellished with nails, gets recycled into various crushed wood products.

Metal is separated for recycling by the crew at the recycling center. Copper and aluminum are pulled before the "all else" gets crushed and compacted. Miscellaneous garbage is fairly strictly controlled. No glass or recyclable plastic is allowed – there are other places to take that material. All in all, the "dump" gave me a bit of environmental conscience unburdening.

I expected to see, and did, a sign forbidding the disposal of items like fluorescent bulbs, car batteries, and appliances, but I was intrigued to see among the list of forbidden items, "pianos." Perhaps a music lover composed those rules.


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