Posted by: Rob | August 19, 2008

My World without Oil

As I laboured in the back yard of my house in my little suburban hamlet on the weekend, immersed in the usual noises of summer, I mused to myself about what my world would be like without oil.

I describe my hamlet as suburban, but it’s not really.  It’s more rural and perhaps a bit pastoral.  The suburban comes into play in the nature of typical suburban noises we are subjected to here.  I say noises because it is more noise pollution than sounds. Noises like:

  • gasoline powered lawn mowers,
  • weed trimmers, both electric and gasoline powered,
  • built in vacuum cleaners, and
  • my personal favourite: the leaf blower!

To top it off, we live about a mile or so from the county’s airport.  Until recently, the airport was small, with a small landing strip and served recreational pilots.  I guess these pilots have to do rather frequent training flights that include flying endless circles around our little hamlet.  I don’t quite know why they have to fly right over my house all the time though.  I have often wondered if it was true what they say on television about those little laser pointers that some people have pointed at aeroplanes.  But, I couldn’t do that!  Or could I……?

Then there’s vehicle noise.  I don’t mind the sedate pace of traffic up and down the streets, particularly if the drivers actually live here (well, except for one asshat that used to live here and was compelled to see how fast his truck would go down every block before he had to stop for a stop sign.  Oh, and yeah, there’s the renter dude next door and his flashy mustang that seems to have two speeds: flat out and stopped).

We used to have grain elevators on the railroad siding here, and the local Hutterites would ferry their grain trucks up and down our street to the grain elevators.  The grain elevators are gone now and so we no longer have the Hutterites and their grain trucks to contend with.

But the trains.  The trains still roll.  I think Canadian Pacific has an entrance exam for their train driving engineers.  The ones that score highest on the “sadism” questions get the route through our little hamlet.  I can’t think of any other reason why the train whistles longest and loudest only in the middle of the night.  In the summer.  When the windows are all open.  Fuckers!

We seem to be a popular spot for every motorcycle enthusiast touring through the area.  I guess we are picturesque here.  And that must be why they feel compelled to share the exhaust blat of their un-muffled Harley-Davidson motorcycles with us.  Thanks!  We love it.  Really.

No description of the vehicle noise, however, would be complete without a little bit about the intersection at the edge of our little hamlet.  The county authorities, in their infinite wisdom, decided to upgrade a range road into a secondary highway a few years ago.  It was supposed to provide an access to the industrial area that would take some of the load off of the nearby little city.  Of course, the township road the bisects it has traditionally had the right of way and this little aspect was maintained because, apparently, you can not re-train rural residents to stop where they have never stopped before.

The stop signs at the intersection of the secondary highway and the township road have created immeasureable joy for us residents in our little hamlet.  Especially those of us who sleep with our windows open in the summertime.  I mean, why would we want to wake up to the unholy sounds of birdsong when we get a special treat of listening to every fucking dickwad shift worker or construction worker hammer his (or her, but that’s probably not likely, is it?) accelerator after (maybe) coming to a full stop?  I have recently wondered why the traffic engineers didn’t design and install a roundabout instead.  Could probably have saved a lot of fuel, not to mention cut down on the noise.

Lastly, there’s the seasonal noise associated with agriculture.  Those farmers have tight windows of opportunity I guess.  Perhaps that’s why they spend all day and all night in the fields in the spring and fall with their big machinery?  The county literature says we have to suck it up; it’s all part of living in the country.  So, I guess it’s okay then, right?

So, I thought, what would my world be like without oil?  Probably a lot quieter.  It would be okay though.  I live pretty close to my work.   I could ride a bicycle or even walk.  Except…if there was no oil, I wouldn’t have that job.

And that would be okay too.


  1. Less noisy is good. We have to write that book though if we want to be far away from the wailing masses once this utopia of yours arrives however.

  2. Have you heard of the book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman? I took it out of the library but only got a peak at the chapter on the the Great Pacific Gyre before I had to take it back. I might have to put it on hold again.

  3. @annie: book? what book? 8)

    @silver: I have heard of it, but haven’t read it yet. I’ve been having a terrible time finishing a myriad of books. If we have the analog of the FBI keeping tabs on what books citizens check out of the library, the only conclusion they’ll be able to draw from my habits is that I’m either forgetful, stupid or a slow learner.

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