atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5789: That's a lot of napthalene for one bucket.

Dumpster is scheduled to be picked up tomorrow, so I went out to the garage to make sure all the trash I wanted to put in the thing is in it. I didn't do too badly; 10 cubic yards seems to have fit the bill rather nicely.

I got the concrete chunks in it. I got all the useless dreck from the attic in it. I called to ask them about the permissibility of tossing some tires in; they said they don't take a lot of tires but two motorcycle tires and one car tire was okay. So, off they go. Dumped the dirt out of that plastic planter box, tossed it in.

Sorted through the "maybe" pile, found some stuff which was--upon further reflection--junk, so I tossed it into the dumpster. That "maybe" pile was started when I thought there would be less of it, so I tended to err on the side of caution, but that set of seven juice glasses? In the 1970s (and probably earlier) there used to be a brand of shrimp cocktail which was sold in those little glass jars. They were in the refrigerated section next to the pickled pigs' knuckles. With these, you popped the lid off with a bottle opener and enjoyed. My family made a habit of saving the friggin' jars for use as juice glasses. I mean, except for when the kids were really little, nobody in my family ever drank juice out of juice glasses--we've always laughed at "suggested serving size" as being for tiny people--and the only reason anyone ever kept shrimp cocktail jars to use as juice glasses is, "We lived through the Depression!"

I threw them away today. I found them during my first foray into the attic and kept them to one side, but they're totally useless and worthless junk.

I have to admit that I am my parents' son, and I learned the "keep it because it might be useful someday!" and the "You can't throw that away; it's still good!" things from them. As I said, my parents first went through the Depression, then WW2 with its rationing; that was the era that gave us the little saying: "Use it up! Wear it out! Make it do, or do without!" I have the same impulse they had to save things which are potentially useful or valuable. Regardless, I think we can all make do without seven shrimp cocktail jars. They've been in the attic for about forty years and we have somehow managed to soldier onward without them gracing our everyday lives. fact, I could easily have thrown out everything in that attic, just about--but for a couple of boxes of things belonging to my wife--and no one's quality of life would have changed a single iota. Nearly all of it has been up there for better than thirty years; if you haven't touched it in three decades it's entirely superfluous.

And in fact I had planned to re-sort the "maybe" pile all along; that's why I called it the "maybe" pile, because I intended to look through it once the attic was cleared, and re-evaluate what was worth keeping and what was pure trash.

So finally I came to the big sheetmetal bucket. The printing on the metal said it once held fifty pounds of vegetable shortening; probably it was a relic of Mom's time working at the Victor Chemical bake lab. I opened it up to see if anything was in it, and the smell just about blew my nostrils off my face: inside was a pair of paper bags and a box of moth flakes. ("100% napthalene," the box said proudly.)

The bags contained baby clothes. The clothes in one bag--that closest to the box of moth flakes--were encrusted with napthalene crystals. When I pulled them out of the bag I could feel the clothes cooling as the napthalene evaporated! The other bag of clothes wasn't encrusted but I got the same cooling effect. The can itself has a layer of crystals deposited inside, where the bags and box sat.

I'm guessing that box of moth flakes was mostly full when it was put into that can. Owing to the severe temperature conditions that prevail in that attic, and sealed in a fairly airtight container, the stuff would vaporize until it the air in the bucket was saturated with it. It would remain in equilibrium until the air cooled, at which point it would condense out again, forming crystals on various surfaces. It probably did not get that hot all that often, but over the course of some thirty or forty years it was enough.

What a pain in the ass.

Anyway, so the bucket remains in the garage, full of napthalene, and I'll probably have to take it to a hazardous household waste recycling point. I don't know how long it takes a one-pound box of napthalene to evaporate but for damn sure it's going to be longer than I care to deal with it, and besides, that stuff is bad for you. I mean, the box talks about how safe the stuff is, but that was printed over fifty years ago! Of course it also says that one pound is enough to kill moths in a room of about fifty square feet. I don't think any moths that got into that can would have lived very long.


Why, Mom and Dad? Why??

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