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Greening my new job

So I have just finished my second month at the new job and all is going pretty good. It’s a lot less stress than my last job and I am actually enjoying the driving. I have to confess that initially I was horrified by the fact that instead of finding a job where I could drive less, I was now doing one where I mostly drive all day. I am still not crazy about that fact but I decided that someone would still be driving my route even if it was not me, so the best thing I could do was try and minimize my impact.

The vehicle I was supposed to be driving was trashed beyond repair by my predecessor, so I got a brand new one… a brand new Chevy Uplander, that is. It’s sort of a minivan with a long nose, or a suburban with a self esteem issue, slinking on its belly. The dealership guys apparently dubbed that model “the platypus” and that fits it well. I was mortified by the big sticker still on the window that proclaimed “16 MPG city/23 MPG Hwy but its not like I have a choice, and I have to carry a lot of equipment. But as I began to get to know my platypus, I noticed it has a cool little feature; a gauge that measures average MPG, and I am proud to say that over the past 1850 miles so far, mine averages 25.1. I drive mostly highway, but not speeding or leadfooting when the light turns green apparently makes a big difference; I know at least one of the other field installer’s Uplander averages 17 also with mostly highway, so I think how you drive must play a big part. So yes, I drive a long, grey, carbon-spewing platapus, but at least it’s spewing about a third less carbon with me at the wheel.

The other big thing I was having a problem with is the huge amount of waste involved. An average day creates a mountain of cardboard, plastic and styrofoam. I break down or re-use everything I can, but the styrofoam was very distressing, especially when I cleaned the van out at the end of the week today and had a stack of it that came up to my chest. I did some research online and found out that there are recycling centers around the country (unfortunately not near us) but also the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers will take the stuff if you mail it to them. Even a large box is pretty light, so it would be fairly inexpensive, I thought…

I was prepared to just send the stuff myself and pay for it out of my pocket, but I figured ‘can’t hurt to ask’ so I emailed my manager, explained what I wanted to do, and asked if I could expense it. He said I could just send it on the company FedEx account as long as I sent it via ground! Very cool, now almost none of the huge mound of junk actually ends up in the trash. I filled two huge printer boxes; one weighed five pounds and the other seven, and I had the added fun of carrying them into the FedEx depot one on top of the other and freaking out the lady at the counter. She hurried to help carry one of the boxes and then looked very confused for a moment. 🙂

So, anyway, I may not have the greenest job, but I am doing what I can to make it just a little bit greener.

The ‘Catio’

We are still struggling with Simon’s 2 AM wake-ups; he’s been to the vet for a full exam and blood panel and the vet felt it was possibly a combination of boredom and discomfort from his hips… we also discovered that he has a bad knee as well. We’ve got him on glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM to see if that makes him more comfortable and have been trying to enrich his life a bit. Thus the Catio was built this weekend:
The catio - inside view The catio - outside view
OK, built probably implies a little more effort than was actually involved; it’s just pieces of 2 x 4″ fencing held in place by staples and zip ties (so as not to do any structural damage to the rental property) enclosing the porch that is off the side of the house. When we are home, we can leave the door open and the cats can safely get fresh air, sunshine, and a view of the outside world.

We’re working on a screen curtain for the door to lessen the amount of bugs that will get in when the door is open, and being able to have that door open will also help with air flow when it starts to get real hot this year. Simon, as you can see below, thinks the catio is a great idea… but he still woke us up last night. 🙁

Simon sunbathing

Video: An engineer’s guide to cats

This clip makes Joy hysterical-weepy-giggly every time she watches it.

I guess the updated WordPress must be a little more video-friendly… the last time I tried to embed a clip the entire page self-destructed.