Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why I Can't Live in Canada (And Just a Few of the Reasons I Love Texas)

"It's too early to run the dishwasher yet," my mother said on the phone last week when we talked during the dinner hour. She was talking to me and directing my father on how to correctly load said appliance, which is why it came up. When I look forward to retirement, I hope to not descend into sweating the small stuff, but it is a fate that seems to befall most.  We humans are in perpetual struggle for control over existential angst, and once past a certain age, this seems to manifest most in matters of food and how it's served.

Yet paradoxically, my mom's comments were about a new policy from Hydro Ottawa, the only electric service available where my parents live. The monopoly means that the authority can impose higher fees on use--with the implementation of "smart meters"--at times when highest usage takes place.  Hence, the dishwasher should not be run until before bedtime.  However the forks are placed, apparently it's fine for the nanny state to determine her housekeeping schedule.

In Texas, we have, for good or ill, deregulated electric utilities and choice, which I have learned is paramount for Texan consumers.  (I've no experience living in any other US state, and my adopted home is sufficiently different from all others that I won't presume to comment on the cultures of the other 49.) We are also, not coincidentally, on our own electric grid.

The smart-meter idea, however it quite likely would benefit the greater good, would in local parlance fly all over Texans. Who the hell is the government to tell us when we can wash the dishes or where we should set our thermostats?

A few years ago I was talking to a friend who also happens to live in Ottawa, about our cat.  "You mean, she just goes wherever she wants?  We have a by-law against that." Well, Midnight is now more of an inside cat, due to her skirmishes with ferals, who also do so.  But she can still roam freely, as can the ferals. 

I suppose it would be much better if everyone agreed that cats should not roam at will.  We'd have fewer problems with strays and concommitment disease, clearly, and the local bird population would be flourish.  But the difference between Ottawa and Fort Worth is this: no one where I now live would comply, and enforcement would be next to impossible.  And any politician who tried to impose laws limiting Texan's freedom--even if it's freedom to use up a scarce resource or let pests run free--would be drummed out of office, no matter what ticket he or she had been elected on. 

I got rid of the ferals in what I consider a particularly Texan way: my neighbor helped me.  He is an outdoorsman who sells hunting equipment to companies like Cabela's.  His family owns a big ranch a couple of hours outside of town, and he drives one of those tricked-out pickups.  Graduates of TCU, he and his young wife are just lovely.  Also, he has deer guts just around and knows how to use live traps.  He caught no fewer than four of the feral beasts and took them to the ranch to be mousers.  He also has a chicken.  Yes, a chicken, now that the ferals are gone, as the first chicken he had was eaten by a feral and he had a vendetta.  I'm certainly not calling the authorities, as I am holding out for fresh eggs.  And he is my neighbor, a bond not taken lightly here in the Lone Star State.

As for me, I continue to be a committed recycler.  I also keep my thermostat at a conservative 78 degrees in summer--given that it's already 103 outside, it's nowhere near ambient but that would be miserable--and don't run the dryer or the dishwasher at peak hours.  Because I choose to.  Not because the government tells me to.  Guess I've officially gone native.

1 comment:

  1. There's that book you should write, cropping up again. I'm glad to hear MIdnight is mostly an indoor cat these days. Aside from her effect on Wywy, I did worry about her. Someone on Stanley lost a cat to a coyote recently.