Monday, March 25, 2013

Trash transformation

After all I said a few months ago about the League City trash contract, let me post-script with this next bit. 

Here is the bottom line of what I suspect.  I have no proof of any of this, but having watched in detail as several of the City Council sessions unfolded, having observed the resulting choreography (especially the unspoken foot moves) surrounding that entire transaction, this is what my common-sense brain suspects:

I suspect League City got suckered on that contract.  The video footage makes it appear that City Council was presented with a seemingly-great rate structure, if only they signed the contract quickly.  Then upon realizing their error, they were stuck in an irreversible situation because the contract was trip-wired with too many legal hazards to make backing out of it a financially-supportable decision. 

I suspect that they fell for the classic "limited time offer" sales job, which the contractor leveed to his advantage.  Here is an example website explaining how to rig the headspace of such a ploy.  Quoth, "Psychologists and sales people know that if you give people a yes or no decision to make, it’s more likely to turn out in your favor if it’s made quickly." 

Here's another explanation of this classic sales manoeuvre.  And another.  And another

This is a Microsoft clip art that I retrieved using the key word "sales".  It's apparently intended to illustrate that our happy salesman is approaching Cloud 9 because his sales are going so well - he's riding a wave of sales successes to the stratosphere.  Yippee!!! 

But if you ponder this seemingly-innocent image, it could be construed to be incorporating another facet to its message, could it not?  I get the sense that more than this man's sales numbers might be trending upward.  Something else might be trending upward, perhaps with a hint of Peyronie's disease, and his customers might be due for one hell of an over-sized screwing as a result.
I have no proof of any of that stuff I said above and it's just my personal opinion, but here is the take-away: 
  • Is City Council going to take a similar tact five years from now when the contract is re-upped? 
  • Or will there be anyone left at the helm with any institutional knowledge of how it went down this time around?  Will they know to be on guard the next time? 
  • Will City Council be able to see through the veil of common sales ploys that will likely manifest, and will they be able to apply the level of sophistication to their decision that an eight-figure contract (!!) rightfully demands?
You can bet yourself one thing.  You can bet that, if I'm still around in five years, they'll all be hearing from me pro-actively, before the contracting process even begins.  I've already Outlook'd the next trash contract renewal dates.  Yes.  I am that much of a nerd.  I have indeed Outlook'd the next League City trash contract five years ahead of time.  And the very first thing I'll be sending to Council is a link to this blog post, if I'm still around. 

OK, having spouted all that personal opinion, I thought I'd now address the derivations of my done-deal trash contract acceptance headspace. 

This particular image from our recent SusFest visit stuck with me:
Trash carts re-interpreted by high school students and entered into a City of Houston competition. 
This got me to thinking:  what else might be achieved using the average trash rolly cart?  What other uses might it be good for?  Because under League City's new contract, I certainly don't need anything remotely resembling our existing behemoth trash cart, which was originally designed for use with automated collection systems.
It's very robust, heavy, and was designed to withstand one of these gripper machines, which we certainly don't have.
Screengrabbed from this site
And frankly, I'm more than sick of dragging the heavy, awkward thing from our microscopic back yard, through our microscopic gate, across our microscopic side yard, and to the curb.  And I don't need anything remotely that size, especially with the bothersome twice-per-week collection scheme now being guaranteed for another five years. 

But I didn't want to get rid of it entirely.  I might need a larger can at some future point.  So what to do with it in the meantime? 

Then it hit me like a ton of mulch.
Literally, a ton of mulch.  It's that time of year - time to mulch the beds and replenish the gardens with fresh soil.  That's mulch on the left, and less-than-ideal soil on the right.  
I have always, always wanted a place to store a bit of mulch in reserve, for those minor landscaping repairs and augmentations that are needed throughout the year.  But because our yard is so incredibly microscopic, I can't leave a pile of it anywhere on the ground.  There isn't room for that. 
But I can store it in a 96-gallon trash rolly which (according to its lid) is rated for a 350 pound load.  And I can roll it around to wherever in the yard it needs to be spotted when I'm taking material out of it. 
This may sound a little over-cautious, but having never stored mulch in a rolly cart before, I wondered about the heat entrapment potential.  Mulch does give off decompositional heat when stored in large quantities, but internet sources such as this one don't suggest that such a small volume could pose a combustion risk.  Fires seem to occur in cases where an ignition source is introduced from the outside, or where composters have intentionally used accelerants, as was reportedly the recent case at an Austin-area municipal facility

However, in rare cases, conspiracies of circumstances have been reported to set fire to mulch that has already been spread on the ground, and there is debate about spontaneous combustion potential (but mostly for very large piles that build up their own internal heat).  I'll be keeping my rolly mulch wetted down just to be on the safe side. 

And for the next five years, I'll be managing household trash in a much smaller rolly that is far easier to move around. 
About one-third the volume of its grey big brother on the left.  Approximately twenty bucks at Lowes. 

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