Tag Archives: rodents

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. In light of my upcoming move, I was eerily fascinated by this recent interview in Salon about the psychology of hoarding.

2. I’m always in awe of people who make bold, creative moves with their careers, especially writers. So I loved learning about Henriette Lazardis Powers’ new innovation: a literary magazine that’s performed out loud called The Drum. Brilliant!

3. And while we’re on the subject of writers, you will laugh out loud at Nicola Morgan’s brilliant recounting of what it’s like when your taxi driver asks you what you do for a living.

4. On a more serious note, this true story by my colleague Sarah Wildman over at Politics Daily of what it’s like to have a baby without health insurance will – as my father used to say – “curl your hair.”

5. I’m no stranger to that most odious of rodents: the rat. So I was delighted when a friend sent me this story by Michelle Ephraim in Errant Parent about what it’s like when a rat invades your car – and your visions of motherhood.

6. If you’ve ever had to have “that talk” with your son or daughter, you’ll relate to this essay by Sierra Black on the New York Times Motherlode blog aptly titled Naked Barbies.

7. Finally, a lovely meditation by Philip Graham on why we all read. (Hat tip: Writer Abroad.)

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Stages of Adulthood: Is Age A Number Or A Concept?

Does your actual age tell you anything about where you *are* in adulthood?

I got to thinking about this lately after two public policy proposals emerged that explicitly addressed this very question.

The first was a recommendation earlier this summer in Japan to lower the official age of adulthood from 20 to 18. The reasoning? To encourage young adults to vote, participate in society more and assume their own credit card debt. In short:  to cultivate a greater sense of responsibility, that hallmark of adulthood.

The second is a proposal thrown out at the Conservative Party Conference in the UK last week to raise the official retirement age in this country to 66 (It is currently 65 for men and 60 for women). The logic here is predominantly fiscal – to shore up budget deficits by paying out less in government pension schemes. But Conservative Party Leader David Cameron also noted that with average life expectancy at 86 (up from 81 five years ago), people can now be more productive at an older age. The upshot: we can elevate the age at which it is “reasonable” to stop working.

Me? At the risk of sounding like a Juicy Fruit commercial, I’ve always thought about the stages of adulthood as more of a feeling than a flavor. Which is to say, I don’t think numbers mean all that much when talking about things like responsibility and productivity. (Some nagging feeling tells me I’ve gotten my 1970s chewing gum commercials mixed up…perhaps another inadvertent sign of aging.)

Take middle age. As noted in this recent article in the Times On Line, middle age can technically be defined as lying anywhere between 35 and 65. But as the author points out, “middle age” is much more of an attitude than a precise time of life.

I was reminded of this over the weekend, when my husband and I had a younger colleague and his wife over for lunch. They were both probably in their early 30s – maybe 10 or 12 years younger than us – so not such a huge age difference. But what really struck me most as we talked was what a different place they were at in life. To wit:

1. Choosing what kind of job best suited their career ambitions vs. rethinking career entirely.

2. Exploring neighborhoods in London to find the best fit vs. grimly routing out rodents in effort to come to peace with (exceedingly well-located) closet.

3. Sleeping in until 11 am vs. not being able to remember a time when 7 didn’t feel self-indulgent.

I don’t say any of this with envy. (OK, maybe a tinge of envy.) I very much embrace the idea of life as one giant adventure, into which we never quite “settle in.” And I like to think that this is the feeling that carries us through the different stages of adulthood. Indeed, that is – in many ways – what this blog is all about.

But that lunch did serve one of those “aha” moments in life where you suddenly realize that you’ve…grown up. To wit: as soon as they departed, my husband began grumbling about needing to change his contact lenses. And I said that my back hurt and I really needed to go home and do my exercises.

Yup, folks. We’re middle aged.


One of my quiet obsessions these days is what’s going on with the European Left. Here’s my post in yesterday’s PoliticsDaily.com about Ten Reasons the Left is Failing in Europe.

Image: The Taste is Gonna Mooova Ya by Pirate Johnny via Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Strategies For Dealing With Rodents

OK, so I think we’ve all been there.

Sooner or later, whether while living in near-squatter conditions when fresh out of university or just when you think you’ve finally settled into the semi-hygienic status of middle age, they invade. If you’re lucky, it’s just a few mice. If you’re unlucky – as I’ve been over the past week or so – it’s the other white meat. Either way, it sucks.

I remember once in graduate school when my roommates and I came home to find a dead squirrel on our kitchen floor. One of my roommates – a gentle, ecologically-minded Finn – burst into tears. She was terribly upset about the unfortunate fate of “the animal” and had to shield her eyes.  My other roommate – a more pragmatic young woman from Peru – grabbed the thing buy its tail and tossed it into the garbage. “Hey man, I’m from Peru,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “We eat this sh$% for dinner.”

Boy, do I wish I had her with me now…

About the only positive thing that’s come out of this harrowing experience is that it’s united me with numerous friends on Facebook suffering from similar infestations. At this point, I think we could form some kind of Pest Control support group and set up a Facebook page of our own. Lord knows the rats have already done something similar. (“Hey guys, c’mon over to the Mews tonight…great crumbs!”)

And so, for this week’s tips list, here are five ways to deal with rodents, born of experience together with a little help from my friends:

1. Traps. There are two options here. The first is the old-fashioned snap trap where a giant spring snaps down on their head. I must admit a certain partiality to this rather Draconian technique for catching – and killing – a mouse or rat. Or, if you’re a kinder, gentler soul, you can go for a humane trap that enables you to set these darlings free once they’re caught. Gotta admit, that last one lost me with its photo banner.

2. Pets. Some say cats are best because mice (at least) can’t stand the smell of them. Others say only a dog can deal with rats. Me? I hate pets. But I can see getting a hold of one of these babies – a rat-eating plant. Now that’s a pet I could live with.

3. Sirens. Who knew? Apparently, mice and rats can be repelled by powerful, ultra-sonic waves. No fuss. No muss. We just bought a few of these to give them a test-drive.

4. Poison. OK, I know it’s evil. But it works.  And I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching those tiny pellets go from green to white after they’d been nibbled.

5. Alcohol. As with so many things, alcohol is often your best strategy. I’d recommend taking a good, healthy swig of whatever suits you before you dive into that coat closet to look for bodies.

I was delighted that yesterday’s post in PoliticsDaily.com about the U.S. postal service was picked up by this blog of transportation professionals. I’m learning more about this issue by the moment!

Image: Rats by Yaatra via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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