Over the past week, the lab where I work has been a major bustle of activity. Outside teams of experts in lawn maintenance, street sweeping, landscaping, power washing, and all manners of janitorial services, have descended upon us. The reason is that the U.S. Secretary of Energy (Steven Chu) is coming in for a visit. As James Brown is to soul, Dr. Steven Chu is to science. He is the cheese that holds the delicate nacho plate of science together. As science research at our National Laboratories and Universities relies (essentially) fully on government funding, and Dr. Chu holds the spatula for the hot grill of funding, he is, no doubt, an important man. It certainly makes sense for my laboratory to put it's best foot forward, to show it's best face, to maybe even tidy up a bit. Hence the army of folks cleaning, scrubbing, trimming, vacuuming, raking, mowing, planting, etc. Amusingly, in their zeal and fervor, I have seen folks cleaning places that no human has ever seen or would ever care to see. However, something is not quite right. They are all neglecting something pretty obvious. If I can quote Will Rogers (the man who painted all those heart-warming pictures for the Saturday Evening Post), "You can put a pretty sweater on a donkey, but it still remains a donkey, unless you kill it".
Perhaps, I need to explain what the real issue is here. The lab is infected with Canandian geese (ey). There are several brazen clusters of them randomly located around the laboratory campus. As near as I can tell, Canadian geese waddle around all day looking smug and pooping. What's worse, they are completely indiscrimate in where they leave their waste (see What Grinds My Gears VII). But with the platoon of Molly Maids that have overtaken the lab making preparations for the upcoming visit, nobody is taking care to stop the geese from making their "deposits". The entire place is like a mine field, a mine field of poo. Nobody seems particularly worried about this or has taken any notice of this (except me). Do they think that the Secretary will not notice the poo mounds as he is forced to serpentine and bob and weave to get from his car to the front door? Maybe he doesn't worry about such trivialities as he has a team of minions that carry him around in a sedan chair from place to place. While this is probably most certainly true, everyone else must wade through the debris field. What about them? Folks are so busy cleaning behind the sinks in the utility closet that they are totally oblivious to the 6-in layer of goose poo that covers the site. I think we need to kill the donkey here.