In my town, we are currently swapping trash.  Well, maybe trash is not the right word.  Perhaps leftovers is more apt.

It is time for the annual Glenville town pickup, wherein residents can place certain unwanted items at curbside and a truck will come by, eventually, and haul it away.  Wood, old furniture, small appliances, bicycles, playpens, planters, etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  Basically, any of the detritus that crowds our lives so, and makes some people of other nations envious enough to fly passenger airplanes into crowded buildings.


The town will come and haul this stuff away that is, if it is still there when the truck comes.


But it gets to be more like a game of telephone or ‘hot stove’ than it is trash pickup.  Trucks come by at all hours, driving slowly and looking for treasure.  They pick up, say a bicycle, and bring it to their castle and put out perhaps a night table.  Another truck comes by and picks up the night table, brings it home and lugs a recliner to the curb.  Another truck, this time with a couple of strong people, pick up the recliner and soon decide they can do without that old lawnmower that hasn’t worked since before Godzilla decided to eschew Tokyo and chew New York.

And so it goes.  Bing—bang—bam—boink—blooey, and what you have is, believe it or not, an algorithm, of sorts.

Here, I’ll show you;

A puts out a bicycle

B picks up bicycle, and puts out a TV and set of encyclopedias

  C picks up TV puts out a broken rake, cracked flowerpot and a ‘Brady Bunch’ bicycle helmet

D picks up Encyclopedias

E picks up the bicycle helmet and saves it to give to A (remember A?) for a Christmas present.


A is momentarily thrilled, having just saved twenty-five bucks on a cool, retro bike helmet, forgetting that he no longer has a bike.


Thomas Jefferson equated Democracy with ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’, but he stole that phrase from John Locke who wrote about ‘life, liberty and property’.  I think that insightful idiom has now morphed into ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of other people’s stuff.’