True Genius Goes Unappreciated
Saving the Environment Ain't Necessarily Pretty

by CB Bassity

    You know, if Alexander Graham Bell had needed to clear his inventions with his wife, I wonder if we'd have phones?  "No, Al, absolutely not. I won't have that ugly, squawking contraption in my kitchen. And all your copper wires--I should say not!"
    Why is it that nobody likes progressive ideas until they show up in a magazine ad?  I speak from experience here.
    I started keeping a half-gallon-size plastic bucket (with a lid) in the kitchen to save egg-shells, coffee grinds, and bad bananas for compost. And the next logical step, it seemed to me, would be to cut out all the walking: too many trips outside to empty the thing, not to mention my wife Marcia's concern that the bucket would become a fruitfly nursery in the kitchen.
    So there I am in the kitchen—with my tape measure, pencil, and yellow pad in hand—planning my triumph d' architecture when Marcia shows up.  And she gets this look, like I can't be trusted with a tape measure and yellow pad.  So I explained to her the next big thing in kitchen convenience and earthworm culture.
    In the wall-space above the kitchen sink and below the window, you open up a hole, what, 8" wide? Then construct a chute through the wall, sloping down toward the back yard, and a mechanical linkage, so that when you open the spring-loaded cover on the inside wall, the outside cover opens also.  You grasp the little white porcelain knob (or whatever Martha Stewart recommends), toss the eggshells or whatever into the chute, and gravity carries the stuff to your outdoor pile.
    The sink being right there handy, you then grasp your sprayer fixture and rinse down the passageway with a quick shot of water. Here again, all things work to the good of those who love efficiency: the water helps rot the compost.
    Now, having this convenient avenue to the outdoors, other uses immediately leap to mind. For instance, the cat wants out. Instead of walking all the way to the back door, and letting in a great blast of summer-heat or winter-cold, simply grasp the cat in one hand, the knob in the other, and—voila—the cat goes out, polishing the duct on its way through. The cat serves as a brillo-pad of sorts, brushing free the occasional dried piece of cooked carrot that stuck in place.
    The cat can help in other ways too. A good compost pile should be turned every so often. Decaying organic matter gobbles up oxygen like a 427 Chevy engine with a 17-year-old attached to its accelerator. So the keeper of a compost-pile forks the thing over on occasion, to expose the buried matter to air. Imagine the cat landing in this mushy morass of coffee-grounds, half-rotted bananas, and fly-breeding zone.  The cat will instantly try to leap free.  But good footing will be scarce.  In its scrabbling attempt to find purchase, the cat will turn the compost for us.
    Who knows how many labor-saving devices have been squelched at the prototype stage by unimaginative spouses?  Surely you don't think the first micro-wave oven came in a handsome white plastic cabinet—I'm guessing plywood, about the size of a Saint Bernard, with hinges robbed from an old toolbox.  So next time Marcia goes out of town, I've got my chute and porcelain knob; I've got my mechanical lingage.  All my materials lay close at hand.
    Even the cat.


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