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And Now For Something Completely Different

I was compeled to share my latest report for school with you, because, well, it's really freaking good. Make a note, though, that this article is copyright Eric J. Karnes, 2000, and any unauthorized use or reproduction is illegal. And I'm not authorizing you to do anything other than read it. Past that, I hope you enjoy!

"A Brief History of My Enviornment," or "The Bright Daystar Hurts my Eyes!"

Ah, the environment. My environment is usually poorly-lit and consists ofKonami’s “Metal Gear Solid,” but I’ll focus on the natural one. As in the trees and forests and oceans, the things I never see personally but have heard such wonderful things about in dating simulator games.

I’ve lived my whole life in the rolling hills of Cambria County, PA. By rolling hills, I of course mean “Motion-sickness inducing.” But the landscapes can be quite breathtaking, I’ve enjoyed taking them in on my way to Electronics Boutique to buy the latest Japanese import Gundam game. I’ve used more than my fair share of sand and silicon, and if there’s ever a shortage on silicon I’m sure I’ll be worth millions.

But it wasn’t always like that for my family. I come from a long line of coal-miners. Of course, living in Cambria County, EVERYONE comes from a long line of coal miners. Not the most creative bunch, after naming a mining-town Colver, the adjoining town was named Revloc. Had the planners of the state been that resourceful, I’d have been from Anaidna Country. But I digress from my digression.

Being a coal miner is pretty hard work, actually. You go down into a dark mine, and chip away at the walls and ceilings hoping it doesn’t collapse on you. One wonders why they didn’t start at the top and go down. Although it’s probably because the town next to Colver is Revloc. Being coal miners who dug into the side of a mountain and hoped it didn’t cave in, they didn’t worry about little things like acid mine run-off and giant piles of mine-crud that actually to this day sit in Revloc and Colver, where I thankfully am not from, since not only are they named the same, but every house looks the same. So if you get drunk and stumble home, you better have numbers on your house.

My grandfather was on the rescue crew, so in case one of the mines DID collapse (not as common as you might think, for a profession that involves chipping away at the only thing keeps a few tons of mountain off of your head), he would fearlessly rush down in to pull them out. I think the fearless comes from World War II, where he shot at Nazi officers with anti-aircraft weaponry. Anyway, my point is my family is here where it is now because of coal. Well, half of my family.

My maternal grandfather worked in a steel mill. He was a mill foreman, so basically he walked around to make sure everyone was doing their job, which generally equated to not falling into a giant vat of molten steel, which was later poured, cooled, and made mostly into railroad tracks and train cars. While this wasn’t the most productive use of natural resources, it was a living. Coal is what made the state of Pennsylvania what it is today. That and steel. I mean, Pittsburgh’s football team is the Steelers.

Now, my parent’s uses of resources has been, for the main part, gasoline. My mother is a secretary and my father a salesman. Although my father enjoys fly-fishing quite a bit, which involves a lot of dead animal parts, but a sort of strong communion with nature. He spends a lot of time alone in the woods, spending time walking the streams and such.

But, this is a personal environmental history, so I should get more personal. I spent a while in Baltimore, Maryland. This is a giant city. Buildings, streets, not a whole lot of natural environment left... I think I saw a tree outside the expo center where the con was held, though. The environment didn’t cross my mind, so much of the natural environment is gone. It’s “progress” at it’s finest... nothing natural, just roads, row houses, and skyscrapers. Even people’s yards were cement. It did give me an insight on culture, if nothing else.. The Polish neighborhood where I stayed was so different from being in a small Roman-Catholic town. Every part of life seemed foreign, and it’s only a four-hour drive. I wonder, in retrospect, if it doesn’t have anything to do with the lack of a natural environment.

So, I went back to Pennsylvania, and discovered a new hobby that involved the environment in some sort of peripheral way, backyard wrestling. It may not seem like it, but, you learn a lot about the environment in a minor backyard wrestling federation. What kind of soil hurts the most when you land in it, what takes out what kind of stain, how to perform first aid. Well, technically that’s not connected to the environment, but it’s handy.

After a while, though, wanderlust set in, and I moved for a short time to Oklahoma, a perfect example of an untouched environment. Most of the people are only one step above the proud people who lived on the land... or a bunch of savages. Personal bad experience aside... the environment in Oklahoma is open... and flat... and open... and flat... and you get the idea. Although I did enjoy the Will Rodgers Ranch, I think I preferred the Will Rodgers Birthranch. Maybe the Will Rodgers Museum, which is just off the Will Rodgers beltway, beside the Will Rodgers resturaunt. After a while I thought the state should be renamed “Will Rodgers Memorial Big Open Field.”

The night sky was beautiful, if you can stand to be outside in July in Oklahoma. The humidity is constantly around 1000% (no, that’s not a typo). It has to be the stickiest place on earth. You can barely breathe outside. So everyone has an air conditioner. “Screw the kids, I’m hot now!” While I’m sure that many air conditioners running day and night is doing nothing but making it warmer outside, I’m also fairly sure that the state would be totally uninhabitable without some sort of indoor climate control. It’s not like all the trees are providing shade, it’s a giant open field with a trailer park every few miles until you hit Tulsa or Oklahoma City.

After a month in Oklahoma, it was time to move back home. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses and pack it in. It’s a long story, but the climate is harsh, not to mention my house mates. I couldn’t stand to be living with people who preferred country and pop to the Beatles and Pearl Jam, not to mention the constant low-rumble of central air conditioning set so low I was wearing long sleeves in July.

It was good to be back in the motion-sickness inducing hills of Western Pennsylvania again, if for the sole reason that it was away from Oklahoma. After about a week at home, I received a late acceptance notice to IUP on my way to make my return to the world of backyard wrestling. After attaining the title of EVW TV Champion, it was off to college, for a higher education in Computer Science and Small Business Management. While it may not seem like it, it was sort of a reintroduction to the world around me. There were trees, grass, cold chill airs, everything that Western Pennsylvania should have.

Which is not to say I don’t avoid it as much as is humanly possible. Actually, at the time I’m writing this, I haven’t left my dorm room in three and a half days. Those Western Pennsylvania nights and days are cold in November. And I intend to keep warm and enjoy a day full of rest and football for a change.

I think I’ve learned something while writing this paper. I suppose I take my environment for granted, as I don’t think about it much. I have no intention of moving to a little shack on Walden Pond and growing my own peas. Although if I did, I wouldn’t write about it. And if I did write about it, the peas wouldn’t have their own chapter. That book was about as exciting as checking my body for signs of leprosy, although I imagine leprosy would be less physically painful.

Although in it’s own way, my own environmental history is just as dull. I haven’t interacted with it much at all, and I kind of like it that way. I like the environment to be safe and in tact, but at the same time, I don’t want to be out in it. I’ll leave it alone if it leaves me alone. I’m not an entire civilization, and I haven’t farmed or lived off the land, unless you count the grocery store as living off the land. The environment, I guess, is just something I don’t think too much about. If Maxis Soft released “Sim Natural Environment,” it’d be a different story, I’m sure. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to get back to playing Metal Gear Solid, I owe Revolver Ocelot some payback.


Note: If you're offended by this article in some way, stop e-mailing, I don't care