— 11:19 PM on July 27, 2003

Late July in Missouri. It's 90 degrees or hotter every day, and the grass is brown and crunchy. You don't want to go barefoot on it. My poor lawn, which has already been subject to much abuse and neglect at the hands of a too-busy hardware reviewer, developed big blotches of white-brown morbidity a week or so ago. My clever strategy of saving effort and water by letting the grass go dormant was looking like it would backfire, leading to hours of seeding and nurturing accompanied by gallons upon gallons of watering. As a result, we've been watering the lawn like mad, desperately trying to give it some hope of surviving sun's wrath during this dryest July on record. Nothing seems like enough, but somehow, parts of the worst patches have greened up a bit.

Our one, sad little sprinkler was a lot of work, though, so I took the advice of a sagely friend—who is retired and has a freakishly perfect lawn—and got one of these "traveling" sprinklers. For fifty bucks, it's the poor man's sprinkler system. It's cute; it looks like a fire engine. It crawls ever-so-slowly along the path of the hose, covering the yard with water. Amazing in its way. Makes me want string the hose through a tree and see if it will perform aerobatics.

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