Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The squirrels win a round

    Human beings have a genius for ignoring warning signs.  In matters big and matters small.
    An example of the former is found if you've been following the for-the-textbooks corporate meltdown at Boeing over the 737 Max, with mocking emails painting a corporate culture 180 degrees opposite to everything they purported to be. Negligence that will end up costing a thousand dollars in real losses for every buck saved through corner cutting and betrayal of their standards. You wonder why there wasn't one adult in the room, screaming bloody murder over this act of corporate sepukku. Who quit in protest? Nobody, apparently.
     Why? Because they're humans, and humans tend to shrug and overlook. Look at climate change. The whole world being destroyed before our eyes. Ho-hum, from some quarters.
     Nor does the issue have to be huge to spark willful blindness. We run the gamut, from leaking levees to fraying shoelaces. We see the trouble brewing. We think: "I should do something." Then do nothing. Even on tiny matters.
     As an example of small negligence, consider the bird feeder in my backyard. On Wednesday, I looked outside and noticed that my foolproof anti-squirrel system—a clear shower rod supporting a circular baffle—had collapsed, the thin plastic of the rod finally being degraded by the elements. It had done so a couple times before, and I had always managed to rig it back up. The thing to do would be to buy a new rod, but that would take a trip to the hardware store and $5 or $10.
     "I'll have to fix that before a squirrel gets in," I thought Wednesday, doing nothing.
     Then Thursday, this. A loathsome squirrel, face down my bird food. My birds' food. He must have shimmied up the pole (the shower rod keeps squirrels from grabbing the pole with their powerful, robber's hands) and pried off the cover. These squirrels are so devious, I wouldn't be surprised to find one picking a Yale lock.
     I should, I thought, stride outside and immediately fix it. But that would involve putting on boots. Which would require first putting a sock on my right foot. Which is still a task that requires concentration and not a little pain. I made a mental note to take care of that ASAP.
     Friday, the squirrel was back, bird feeder diving again. And I resolved, the very next time I'm outdoors, to be driven—I can't yet drive—to the hardware store and grab a new pole, get things back in shipshape order, so that the feeder can serve the valued members of the Steinberg yard community, aka birds, and not provide further energy to the loathed and already plenty hyperkinetic interlopers whose presence might be tolerated, but should never be encouraged, even through inaction.



  1. This is really good. And you're so right on the Boeing fiasco. It is going to be one of the all time corporate screw ups. The more I read on that the uglier it gets. I don't think I am that dumb, but being an airline with lives on the line, I thought they would be better than that.

  2. We feel your pain (not the hip pain although that is probably in the offing). We have 5 feeders in our yard, most truly squirrel proof, but I swear there are times we have more squirrels in our yard than birds.

    Hope you are feeling better and will soon be up to doing more writing.

  3. To win a battle is not to win the war..

  4. Sitting here in Florida, wondering if the moth balls still deter the squatting squirrels from nesting under my hood up north, I feel your pain. I possess no cats or firearms but I have a full inventory of ideas on this subject. In addition to all the passive remedies available to you, going on the offensive is reasonable and legitimate option. A properly grateful house cat could solve the problem, but felines are worthless and if left outside would probably throw in with the rodents in retaliation for losing their warm indoor accommodations. A shotgun is probably too extreme but running over the vermin with your vehicle is justifiable. I've seen advertisements online for electronic devices claiming to electronically deter rodents from nesting in your engine compartment, perhaps there's a unit that could do the job atop a feeder. Toleration has no place in this conflict. Would you be as accepting as a clan of Norway rats in your yard? No, you would put out traps and sleep peacefully. Didn't the 737 Max result from a convoluted computer solution to a simple mechanical problem? I guess your pole is the simple solution and I just resent the ingratitude of squirrels. After a lifetime of stopping and swerving for them they betray me for a warm place to sleep.

    1. "a clan of Norway rats"? Had to google that. Apparently "it is not known for certain why the brown rat is named Rattus norvegicus (Norwegian rat), as it did not originate from Norway.

    2. The common brown rat was named Rattus norvegicus (Norwegian rat), although it did not originate in Norway, by the British, as far back as the early 1700s. They believed that these rats invaded England via Norwegian ships.

      Rats do seem to have migrated worldwide more easily by means of stowing away aboard mechant vessels...hence those "rat guards" you see on the hawsers (the rope lines) of ships tied up at wharves and piers. They are usually made of metal and resemble garbage can lids with holes (for the hawser) in the center.

      These guards are meant to keep the rats from scampering onto (and especially off of) the ships via those ropes, since they are always hungry and will eat almost anything. They use the hawsers in order to be chazzers (Literally "pig" in Yiddish--but usually translated as "one who eats excessively.") Always leave 'em laughing.

  5. Man, you really have it in for squirrels, don't you?

    Just don't do this too soon. If you hurt yourself trying to repair the feeder, the squirrels win.

  6. I'm picturing a remake of Rear Window, set in the Chicago burbs, where the rest-ridden hero now has an air rifle and waits patiently all day.

  7. The only good squirrel, is a dead squirrel!
    Rocket J. is the sole exception!

  8. Squirrels account for not the least of my bird food consumption. Chipmunks get their share; an occasional rabbit; and as evening approaches a small heard of deer will wander in from the nearby Seminar grounds. The occasional avian will swoop down. Sometmes a hawk will sit on the garage roof regarding but so far not taking advantage of the opportunities for predation. I've given up trying to exert control, and only feel blessed that I am making life a tad easier for small animals in the bleak midwinter.


  9. if the ground is too frozen to replace the pole right now, hanging a slinky from the top might deter the squirrel until the next thaw. Your article evokes images of Elmer Fudd.


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