I tried to clean it with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. I let the mixture react, did an initial wipe, and then hit the grout lines with a drill-attached scrub brush. It worked alright but the remnants of baking soda splashed on everything—the shower, the toilet, the walls. Throughout the next week or so I got to wipe splotches of baking soda off of the fixtures. Then I consulted the Google for a solution that would allow me to complete the job with much less effort.

I picked it up at Home Depot. It’s a highly acid solution that brightens the grout on contact. I scrub it in with a brush and then wipe it up with rubber gloves to protect my skin from chemical burns. Once the bottle is empty I should probably be careful about where I rinse it out; the pipes in this house are old.

If I was disposing of this bottle at work I wouldn’t be allowed to just throw it away. The EPA and DEQ have special waste handling requirements for all production facilities. So does DOT if you need to drive your waste offsite. I get it. I took DOT classes to become certified to authorize shipments of hazardous materials.

The code addresses every type of pollutant imaginable. If I were to guess, I’d say that the active ingredient in this grout chemical is a marine pollutant with some degree of reactivity with other stuff. But I’m a homeowner and exempt from federal and state disposal requirements; I could toss the open bottle into a nearby lake and that wouldn’t be illegal.

There are measurable amounts of micro-plastics in rainwater. Plastic rain. And outside it’s hot. Five standard deviations of the expected value hot. A one-in-5,000 year event hot. Buckling, cracking, melting infrastructure hot. The high pressure will be around for awhile; I guess that’s what happens when we break the jet stream.

The ocean conveyor wants to stop. I’m sure the fire in the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t help with that. Temperature gradients are kind of causal. The country is controlled by insane people who think they need large, beautifully-preserved piles of money more than they need their grandchildren to not boil to death in the ocean. Priorities.


I call her up after a hot day and tell her that it’s hard to escape the heat but it’s even harder to escape my feelings about the climate emergency that none of us can really do anything about. Says tells me to be calm and save my worries for something else. We recycle and vote and preserve and reduce the impact where we can. Otherwise it’s out of our hands.

I tell her I’m not fearful. I feel guilty. Humans are the locusts who invade and destroy the habitat. Superpredators. I’m sad for the animals.

She, a vet nurse, says “Don’t be sad for the animals. The animals aren’t sad for themselves. This is all they know. The planet will survive. The humans won’t. I’m okay with that.”

I’m okay with that. <3