Ah, the view from Suicide Cliff. Banzai’s monuments stand forlorn vigils along the jagged northern cusp of the island. The blue expanse of Pacific waters stretches out to meet a thin and distant horizon. And if you shift your gaze to the right a bit, yes, right there (Honey, get the camera!), the Marpi pit buries another load of diapers and wrapping paper.
Ugh. Well, everything has to go somewhere. And somewhere can’t be nowhere, especially on a small island. Modern landfills aren’t the most glamorous examples of contemporary engineering, but they’re very useful and important nonetheless. Anyone who remembers the old San Jose dump’s penchant for spontaneous combustion will acknowledge that trash disposal is a realm not suited to afterthought.
And speaking of afterthought-after Christmas, that is-am I the only one to feel plowed under by an abundance of frivolous packaging this year?
Probably not, so brace yourself, Marpi: It’s amazing how much stuff is used to wrap, package, ship, hold, conceal, showcase, display, and otherwise contain other stuff. I’m not second-guessing the logic behind the evolution of modern packaging, but neither am I ignoring the fact that many of us are looking at few cubic feet of post-Christmas trash and it’s all destined for the garbage.
Wrapping paper is the real winner here. Is there anything else we buy just to throw out? There’s something unsatisfying about that kind of transaction. Hey, maybe they could come up with edible wrapping paper so it has at least some redeeming quality. Or how about sticky wrapping paper that kills ants? Or wrapping paper with math lessons on it so the kiddies can at least learn something while they’re surveying the loot under the tree?
I like that last idea. "Sure, Jimmy, you can open that package on Christmas, but you have to solve the algebra problems on the wrapping first, and Santa doesn’t give partial credit."
Santa is positively humorless this year anyway, because, of the stuff he hauled, probably 90 percent by volume was packaging destined for the dump. If he can do an effective pre-sort next year, he can just fly over Marpi and drop the detritus straight into the landfill in one fell swoop, thus saving on his net delivery costs.
Now that I’m on a roll here, it’s time to introduce something that has baffled me for a long time: computer CD packaging (which is to say, software). One thin CD, which could be neatly snugged into a small paper sleeve, is typically retailed in a thick cardboard box the size and depth of a textbook. Within the box is an array of thick, structured brown cardboard. The box’s job is to hold the thick cardboard. And the thick cardboard’s job? It’s to support the box. Hmm. There’s no intruding on circular logic, I guess. But if you do intrude, take this estimate with you: I calculated that a typical CD box is about 146 cubic inches in volume; all that for ONE CD, and NOTHING else.
I say "about" 146 cubic inches because I can’t read tape measures. I never know if I’m on the 16ths scale, or the 32nds scale, or whatever. That’s why we won the Cold War; the Russian’s couldn’t reverse-engineer our weapons systems because our system of measurement is so cryptic.
But, meshing normal measurement with the foreign flavor, from my car-tinkering days I do recall a rough equivalence between 140 cubic inches and 2.3 liters, which means that this cardboard CD box of mine has more volumetric displacement than your typical Toyota engine.
That’s positively wacky.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to tidy up the house; the floor is littered with boxes, plastic blister packs, cardboard, greeting cards, ribbons, bubble wrap, tags, pins, bows, wrapping paper (my nemesis), polystyrene packing, plastic bags, and all the rest of it. I know I'm not the only one digging out from an avalanche of packaging and related garnishments. So if everyone in Saipan piles this stuff high enough and for long enough, maybe someone can put a trolley to the top of it, and then we’ll pass Suicide Cliff when we take the ride up. Honey, get the camera again.
(Ed’s column runs every Friday. Visit Ed at SaipanBlog.com.)