My car is an alchemy lab…

…gone horribly, horribly wrong.

A couple weeks back, I went shopping. I bought the usual assortment of stuff–an enormous pile of TV dinners, kitty litter, bananas, and apple cider. Generally speaking, any time I go shopping, this will be the contents of my basket when I’m done. The TV dinners are there because I can’t cook; the kitty litter is there because I like tormenting the cat (he hates when I change the litter, and always looks at me like “Noooo! I worked so hard on that! Don’t take it away!”), the apple cider is there because it’s better than Coke (which tastes, when you get right down to it, something like malted battery acid), and the bananas are there because bananas are tasty and delicious.

This isn’t actually a post about my shopping habits; that’s just the backstory.

I went shopping immediately prior to my last departure to Chicago to see dayo. In my haste and desperate desire to rush to the airport, I inadvertently left the bananas in my car; they had fallen, you see, and I did not see them.

On my way to the airport, I stopped at McDonald’s. My orders at McDonald’s, like the contents of my grocery basket, tend to be rather static as well: a quarter pounder with cheese, no onion1, extra pickle, large fry, medium iced tea.

The God of McDonald’s Drive Through (a very minor position in the general pantheon of the universe, many steps below the God of Lesbian Tentacle Porn and only half a step up from the God of Things that Go Squish when you Step On Them) did not smile on me that day–though, to be fair, the The God of McDonald’s Drive Through rarely smiles, given the constant ribbing from other gods, especially the haughty, highfalutin’ gods of Important Stuff like the God of Assassins and the God of Proton Decay2…but I digress.

Anyway, the God of McDonald’s Drive Through saw fit to bless me with a quarter pounder with cheese, extra onion, extra pickle, which as anyone who knows me can testify, is almost but not quite the antithesis of a decent Franklin burger. I carefully picked off the onions, left them in the bag, and ate my burger.

At the airport, I left the bag of onions in my car, together with the aforementioned forgotten bananas, and went out of town for four days.

There is a line in the original Star Wars movie, which comes about midway through the movie when our heros, in their desperate attempts to escape a bunch of Imperial Storm Troopers who can scarcely hit the side of a barn door at point-blank range, dive down a garbage chute. Quite why there’s a garbage chute in the middle of a hallway leading down to the cell blocks is something I’ve never really understood…but again, I digress.

The line is “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered.” The clever reader will immediately intuit why I mention this.

The scent profile in my car changed over the next week or so in some very interesting and complex ways, at one point resembling nothing so much as old coffee grounds. I don’t know how onions and banana combine to form old coffee grounds; I suppose this is one of those things, like the fractional quantum Hall effect3, I may never fully grasp.

However, I am now pleased to report, gentle reader, that at this point, the scent profile of my car has now decayed to a level at which it is undetectable, at least by me, and this pleases me.


1 Every year in this world, thousands of species of plant and animal life are rendered extinct through the actions of man. Why can’t onions be one of them?

2 The God of Proton Decay is even more hypothetical than the other gods, yet this still does not stop him from razzing the God of McDonald’s Drive Through at company picnics. You’d think he’d have more respect, considering that McDonald’s actually exists and proton decay, at least so far, has not been demonstrated to exist at all, but no.

3 Those silly, silly phycists used to believe that the fractional quantum Hall effect could be explained by a hierarchical model. Quasi-electrons or quasi-holes excited out of the Laughlin ground state would condense into higher order fractions, known as daughter states e.g. starting from the 1/3 parent state addition of quasi-electrons leads to 2/5 and quasi-holes leads to 2/7. Some physicists will believe anything!

88 thoughts on “My car is an alchemy lab…

  1. Hey! That’s FAR better than the smell of decaying MOUSE that came from my air vents, every time I started my car for a MONTH! The damn thing crawled up somewhere and decided to die! What a selfish thing to do to me! I’ve FINALLY gotten the smell out and did end up buying one of those air wick car things. Finally back to normal!

    • Yup. I have a nice, cute, bright yellow Mazda that goes into my garage when I’m not using it (I have a truck for use when I have vast amounts of groceries or hardware or furniture to move…) There have been periods of two or three weeks when I haven’t used it. This past winter, apparently, a family of mice took up residence inside the Mazda – in the nice, cozy HVAC system. Every time I turned on the heater, or air conditioner, or even just the vents, out wafted large quantities of Eau de Mouse Nest, bits of chewed paper, and, well, mouse turds.

      Took several hundred dollars and the complete dismemberment of the dashboard and HVAC system to remove the mice and nests. Unfortunately, the smell remains, even though it’s been four months since the Family Mouse was removed.

      • Yeah, once anything foul gets in your car’s AC system the only answer is to buy a new car.
        A truly cruel thing to do to someone you dislike is to gain access to his vehicle and drop anchovies down in to the vents along his windshield…the kind backed in oil…and pour the oil in with them.
        Do it on a hot day and you’ll ruin the car.

        • Yeah, but . . . I checked the Mazda web-page. They don’t offer the color I want any more (glaringly bright don’t-you-dare-run-into-me-because-I’m-so-visible yellow). A new car of the type I want retails normally around $24,000. I haven’t run the current one into the ground yet (50,000 miles and hasn’t needed anything other than normal maintenance, and a de-mousing). The smell discounts the trade-in value.

          (Yes, the color does matter. My previous Miata, a white one, was totalled when I was sitting at a stoplight, waiting for it to turn green, when a volunteer fireman coming off a 24-hour shift rear-ended me. I figure getting a car in a screamingly bright color should help wake up such a driver enough, next time.)

    • There are entire families of Rodentia whose sole purpose in life is to give up the ghost in the most inaccessible location possible. It’s even better when they buy the farm inside the walls of your house/apartment.

  2. Hey! That’s FAR better than the smell of decaying MOUSE that came from my air vents, every time I started my car for a MONTH! The damn thing crawled up somewhere and decided to die! What a selfish thing to do to me! I’ve FINALLY gotten the smell out and did end up buying one of those air wick car things. Finally back to normal!

  3. Remember “The Lonesome Death of Jodie Verill”??
    Sure, there was no meteor involved, but you’re lucky the onion & banana didn’t breed some sort of super-fungus that would’ve taken on a life of its own & devoured you in a similar fashion to the one in said film segment.

    • Remember “The Lonesome Death of Jodie Verill”??

      Hey, I do remember that story! I think the presence of a strange radioactive meteorite was the ingredient lacking in my own inadvertent alchemy experiment, though.

    • Given his misadventures in directing, it came as a shock to find out he could act, even playing a rather silly character.

      One minor pedantic point: I believe Stephen King’s character was named Jordy Verrill.

  4. Remember “The Lonesome Death of Jodie Verill”??
    Sure, there was no meteor involved, but you’re lucky the onion & banana didn’t breed some sort of super-fungus that would’ve taken on a life of its own & devoured you in a similar fashion to the one in said film segment.

  5. not just for breakfast anymore! I’m so evil!

    May I snag the icon? I’m hopelessly hooked on BG right now. I just started season one and have been burning through them already! I was going to wait till Sat to start on my sci-fi marathon, but I just couldn’t wait!

  6. Remember “The Lonesome Death of Jodie Verill”??

    Hey, I do remember that story! I think the presence of a strange radioactive meteorite was the ingredient lacking in my own inadvertent alchemy experiment, though.

  7. Hypothetical existence has never been a deterrent to any god. They just carry on, adding more fractional factors to the probability that their subjective timestream coincides with objective reality. Honestly, if you were the sum of a bunch of probabilistic waves, you wouldn’t spend your time fretting about whether or not you exist. You’d be coding (Genesis strikes me as an example of rapid prototyping) and having fun.

    And if you want some schadenfreude, consider this: I know someone whose SUV became the Bog of Eternal Stench after a bottle of Newman’s Own Italian salad dressing broke in the back. (This is not poetic justice; the SUV is used mostly for hauling SUV-sized loads of plants to help people xeriscape their homes.)

    • Honestly, if you were the sum of a bunch of probabilistic waves, you wouldn’t spend your time fretting about whether or not you exist.

      The pendant in me would suggest that this is because I would not exist in tangible enough form to be aware that I did not exist; I think, therefore I am, and all of that.

      Mark Twain wrote a book whose premise is that an angel is out making the rounds one day and discovers this planet, which God had tinkered with for a few days some millennia back and then forgotten as he turned toward more interesting projects, was filled with beings who sincerely believed themselves to be the chosen among God’s creation. Well, that kind of thing was much too funny to ignore, so he brought news back to Heaven, where much hilarity ensued. I can’t remember what the story is called, though.

        • Oh, no…you really shouldn’t get into an existential debate with Turtle.

          He’ll pull out the “if I hit you in the head with a brick, and you’re laying on your doorstep in a pool of your own blood” argument.

          Gruesome. Really.

          • The “if I hit you in the head with a brick, and you’re laying on your doorstep in a pool of your own blood” argument is reserved for folks who believe that objective reality doesn’t exist, rather than semantic arguments. 🙂

  8. Hypothetical existence has never been a deterrent to any god. They just carry on, adding more fractional factors to the probability that their subjective timestream coincides with objective reality. Honestly, if you were the sum of a bunch of probabilistic waves, you wouldn’t spend your time fretting about whether or not you exist. You’d be coding (Genesis strikes me as an example of rapid prototyping) and having fun.

    And if you want some schadenfreude, consider this: I know someone whose SUV became the Bog of Eternal Stench after a bottle of Newman’s Own Italian salad dressing broke in the back. (This is not poetic justice; the SUV is used mostly for hauling SUV-sized loads of plants to help people xeriscape their homes.)

  9. Given his misadventures in directing, it came as a shock to find out he could act, even playing a rather silly character.

    One minor pedantic point: I believe Stephen King’s character was named Jordy Verrill.

  10. Yup. I have a nice, cute, bright yellow Mazda that goes into my garage when I’m not using it (I have a truck for use when I have vast amounts of groceries or hardware or furniture to move…) There have been periods of two or three weeks when I haven’t used it. This past winter, apparently, a family of mice took up residence inside the Mazda – in the nice, cozy HVAC system. Every time I turned on the heater, or air conditioner, or even just the vents, out wafted large quantities of Eau de Mouse Nest, bits of chewed paper, and, well, mouse turds.

    Took several hundred dollars and the complete dismemberment of the dashboard and HVAC system to remove the mice and nests. Unfortunately, the smell remains, even though it’s been four months since the Family Mouse was removed.

  11. There are entire families of Rodentia whose sole purpose in life is to give up the ghost in the most inaccessible location possible. It’s even better when they buy the farm inside the walls of your house/apartment.

  12. now picture the wavefunction as a cylinder…..

    Oh yeah that fractional quantum hall stuff is a bitch. Laughlin’s original paper on how that works is amazing… I’m gonna stick with that word. It has a deep amount of what the fuck and made predictions that were verified.
    I’m glad the Composite Fermion model came along. Where you have fractional electron/hole excitations bound to some number of magnetic field quanta. Much less likely to cause brain leakage with long pondering. Though the math underpinning is a bit more burly and the over explanation has less of the crazed beauty that Laughlin’s original derivations had.

  13. now picture the wavefunction as a cylinder…..

    Oh yeah that fractional quantum hall stuff is a bitch. Laughlin’s original paper on how that works is amazing… I’m gonna stick with that word. It has a deep amount of what the fuck and made predictions that were verified.
    I’m glad the Composite Fermion model came along. Where you have fractional electron/hole excitations bound to some number of magnetic field quanta. Much less likely to cause brain leakage with long pondering. Though the math underpinning is a bit more burly and the over explanation has less of the crazed beauty that Laughlin’s original derivations had.

  14. I had a friend who’s car was obtained at a police auction. It had once held a decomposing body in the trunk. In the winter it was mild, but on a hot day.. it was an experiance.

      • I think they knew about the body, but that the smell was a surprise. His grandmother bought it for him when we were in HS, during the winter at a police auction. Maybe she didn’t have a good sense of smell… but I can’t say I noticed until the weather got warm.

        heh… They were very religious. She might have figured that it would discourage making out in the car, which it did!

  15. I had a friend who’s car was obtained at a police auction. It had once held a decomposing body in the trunk. In the winter it was mild, but on a hot day.. it was an experiance.

  16. I was reading this out loud to , and when I got to the point about you leaving town for four days, he asked “Was the car still there when you got back, or had the onions driven off with it?”

  17. I was reading this out loud to , and when I got to the point about you leaving town for four days, he asked “Was the car still there when you got back, or had the onions driven off with it?”

  18. BTW, a bit of trivia. In several folk traditions when God threw Lucifer to earth, Garlic sprung up under his left foot & onions under his right.
    The idea was that the earth itself was producing the most repellent plants possible in reaction to the touch of evil.
    This’s where the tradition of garlic driving away creatures like vampires comes from.

  19. BTW, a bit of trivia. In several folk traditions when God threw Lucifer to earth, Garlic sprung up under his left foot & onions under his right.
    The idea was that the earth itself was producing the most repellent plants possible in reaction to the touch of evil.
    This’s where the tradition of garlic driving away creatures like vampires comes from.

  20. Yeah, once anything foul gets in your car’s AC system the only answer is to buy a new car.
    A truly cruel thing to do to someone you dislike is to gain access to his vehicle and drop anchovies down in to the vents along his windshield…the kind backed in oil…and pour the oil in with them.
    Do it on a hot day and you’ll ruin the car.

  21. Honestly, if you were the sum of a bunch of probabilistic waves, you wouldn’t spend your time fretting about whether or not you exist.

    The pendant in me would suggest that this is because I would not exist in tangible enough form to be aware that I did not exist; I think, therefore I am, and all of that.

    Mark Twain wrote a book whose premise is that an angel is out making the rounds one day and discovers this planet, which God had tinkered with for a few days some millennia back and then forgotten as he turned toward more interesting projects, was filled with beings who sincerely believed themselves to be the chosen among God’s creation. Well, that kind of thing was much too funny to ignore, so he brought news back to Heaven, where much hilarity ensued. I can’t remember what the story is called, though.

  22. Yeah, but . . . I checked the Mazda web-page. They don’t offer the color I want any more (glaringly bright don’t-you-dare-run-into-me-because-I’m-so-visible yellow). A new car of the type I want retails normally around $24,000. I haven’t run the current one into the ground yet (50,000 miles and hasn’t needed anything other than normal maintenance, and a de-mousing). The smell discounts the trade-in value.

    (Yes, the color does matter. My previous Miata, a white one, was totalled when I was sitting at a stoplight, waiting for it to turn green, when a volunteer fireman coming off a 24-hour shift rear-ended me. I figure getting a car in a screamingly bright color should help wake up such a driver enough, next time.)

  23. I think they knew about the body, but that the smell was a surprise. His grandmother bought it for him when we were in HS, during the winter at a police auction. Maybe she didn’t have a good sense of smell… but I can’t say I noticed until the weather got warm.

    heh… They were very religious. She might have figured that it would discourage making out in the car, which it did!

  24. Oh, no…you really shouldn’t get into an existential debate with Turtle.

    He’ll pull out the “if I hit you in the head with a brick, and you’re laying on your doorstep in a pool of your own blood” argument.

    Gruesome. Really.

  25. So I heard about this sex toy and am unable to find it. It is a vibrating egg that is a pager as well. Not controlled by a separate pager, but rather an actual pager of sorts. One can put it in and go about the day and once the pager number is called the poor little slut is unexpectedly vibrated. It sounds absolutely delicious and I was wondering if you knew where to find one.

    Thank you!!!

    • I haven’t seen anything quite like that. The closest thing I’ve seen is a vibrating egg controlled by a pager, which I’ve posted plans for here, but haven’t seen an all-in-one unit.

  26. So I heard about this sex toy and am unable to find it. It is a vibrating egg that is a pager as well. Not controlled by a separate pager, but rather an actual pager of sorts. One can put it in and go about the day and once the pager number is called the poor little slut is unexpectedly vibrated. It sounds absolutely delicious and I was wondering if you knew where to find one.

    Thank you!!!

  27. I haven’t seen anything quite like that. The closest thing I’ve seen is a vibrating egg controlled by a pager, which I’ve posted plans for here, but haven’t seen an all-in-one unit.

  28. Turnips I can understand; they’re almost as loathsome as onions. But brussels sprouts? Dude, a little butter and they’re almost the nectar of the gods!

  29. The “if I hit you in the head with a brick, and you’re laying on your doorstep in a pool of your own blood” argument is reserved for folks who believe that objective reality doesn’t exist, rather than semantic arguments. 🙂

  30. James makes a good point, and I can concede my arguement based on his observations…

    …but I maintain that brussel sprouts are nasty.

    (Unfortunately…and this may blow my credibility right down the tubes…I like onions on my burger, occasionally, and along with peppers on my fajitas, and even when they are slow-cooked in bacon grease.)

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