May 10th, 2009

self-portrait, Lego

Man vs. Nature: The Jury's Still Out...

Let me start off by apologizing to residents of New England. I think the rain we had last week was my fault.

You see, on Monday I bought a new lawnmower.

This, naturally, caused it to rain so I would be unable to use said lawnmower.

I needed a new one because my old gas engine mower, which never ran smoothly at all last year, finally died right about the end of lawn-mowing season. I decided to replace it with an old-fashioned push-mower, figuring that gas prices are too high, I might as well do something "green", and besides, it's not like I don't need the exercise. Oh, and the grass was finally approaching the point where if a child get lost in the yard, not only would we need to organize a search party, but that search party would need to set up a base camp, and it's just not that big a yard.

I finally got the chance to try it out on Saturday. Let's see how the new mower stacks up against the old in a number of hypothetical situations:

Hypothetical Situation: Very Tall Grass
Power Mower: If the grass is very tall, it simply slows the power mower down a little bit. It bends the tall grass down under the spinning blades and chops it all up.
Push Mower: If the grass is past a certain height (and, given the rain caused by the purchase of the mower, it was), the push mower bends it over, and then the blades pass harmlessly over the bent-over grass. Actually getting the grass cut requires running over the same spots multiple times from different directions.
Advantage: Power Mower

Hypothetical Situation: Need to Run the Mower Over the Same Spot More Than Once
Power Mower: The blades are always spinning. If you need to go over a spot more than once you simply pull it back towards you, and it cuts moving backwards as well as when it moves forward.
Push Mower: The blades rotate only when the mower is moving forward. Pull it backwards and there is not cutting going on.
Advantage: Power Mower

Hypothetical Situation: The Clone You Send Out to Clear the Sticks From the Front Yard Does a Less Than Stellar Job of Stick-Clearing
Power Mower: When encountering the unexpected stick, the power mower alerts you by making a loud cracking sound and then shoots small pieces of stick out its right-hand side.
Push Mower: When encountering the unexpected stick, the push mower alerts you by suddenly coming to a complete halt, jamming its handle into your solar plexus.
Advantage: Power Mower

Hypothetical Situation: Dog Poop
Power Mower: The power mower deals with dog poop by grinding it into tiny particles and spraying them out its right-hand side. It's like a bonus fertilization of the lawn.
Push Mower: The push mower deal with dog poop by cutting it into inch-log fragments and spewing them back in the direction of the mower's operator. 'Nuff said.
Advantage: Power Mower

Hypothetical Situation: MPG
Power Mower: I used maybe two and a half gallons of gas in the power mower last year.
Push Mower: On Saturday I covered as much distance with the push mower as I did all last year with the power mower (see "Very Tall Grass" and "Need to Run the Mower Over the Same Spot More Than Once" above...) for zero gas consumption.
Advantage: Push Mower

Hypothetical Situation: The Exercise Factor
Power Mower: Pushing the power mower and maneuvering it around would give the operator some exercise.
Push Mower: Pushing the power mower and maneuvering it around is exhausting, sweat-inducing, back-breaking, muscle-straining work (see "all of the above" above...)
Advantage: It's not clear...

Overall, the power mower wins hands-down for ease of use, but I'll grant that the push more is more "green".

Speaking of green, there's one thing I'd really like to see be less green, and that's our swimming pool.

Before this weekend, the water was so deeply green that I was beginning to wonder whether or not the pool had somehow become bottomless over the winter. Now, following the application of a double-dose of the chlorine "shock" and a double-dose of algaecide, the water you can once again tell that the pool does, in fact, have a bottom. The water, while less green, is by no means clear.

Still more to be done...