A Softer World.

I think I've talked about these guys before, but I just discovered A Softer World again.

These two made me smile.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Feedback. And Toilets.

Today's home improvement lesson, boys and girls, comes to us from the wide and wonderful world of Plumbing.

Specifically, it comes from the toilet in my master bathroom.

Now, modern plumbing is a wonder, it cleans your body, your clothes, and your dishes, while whisking away debris, dirt, dust and even poo with nary a complaint.

The downside of modern plumbing is that it necessitates you having pressurized water pipes leading into your home.

To put this another way, every moment of every day, there are several thousand gallons of angry, impatient fluid pressed against the inside of your valves and faucets like shoppers against the glass at Wal-mart on black Friday morning. They are just WAITING to flood your house. They're desperate for the chance.

Next time you're standing at your bathroom sink, have a look at it, somewhere around the rim you'll probably find a hole, leading back into the porcelain. Run your finger around the underside of that metal disc in your bathtub from which the drain control protrudes, and you'll find a slot.

These are overflow pipes. In the event that a valve fails, they keep the hordes of anxious, moist, and vengeful liquids in your pipes from flooding your whole house and a portion of your yard. The mission of these overflow pipes is to deny you the chance to return home to a domicile that has apparently attempted to stage a re-enactment of the Life and Times of Noah starring your book and music collection as the sinful humans. Instead, these fluids are routed directly into the drain--expensive, to be sure, but cheaper than replacing all of those original G.A. Henty tomes and the complete works of Abba.

There's such an overflow pipe in your toilet, too. You can't see it, because it's hidden in the tank, out of view, but it serves functionally the same purpose.

If you, like a previous owner (or plumber?) in my home, decide to cut that pipe too long, so that it is taller than another outlet for water (say the hole in the tank through which the handle operates) you're likely to leave a mysterious surprise for future operators of that toilet. In your hypothetical future (now my past), when the fill valve gets confused (as they occasionally do) and runs, instead of draining safely into the sewer system, the water will burst joyously forth, run down the side of the tank, and attempt to turn your bathroom floor into the world's tiniest--but most dangerous!--slip-and-slide.

I discovered this evening that replacing a fill valve and flapper meant rather thorough and careful thought and planning. Confirming appropriate lengths for the pipes and chains and configuring the height for the valve and float cup was not unlike tuning a soundboard for a band performance. Each item must be tuned in harmony with all the others. Make one thing too short and you get a feedback loop and the system wastes water. Make another too long and it just won't flush at all.

Truly, plumbing is more than just a science, kids--it's a genuine craft. Beyond that, properly tuned plumbing, is art.

Admittedly art that I don't want to give a shit about, and I wish would just fucking work. But Art, nonetheless.

(House: +2, Patrick, +4).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Gadget Industry Summarized.

In one brilliant short, The Onion has sent up the entire gadget industry.

Sony Releases Some New Piece of Shit.

Warning: a heaping helping of extremely foul language ahead.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The impossible death of a friend.

Blogger's note: I waited a year to post this. Now--I hope--is the right time.

I am not the kind of man who dwells long. Not in one place, not in one mindset, and certainly not on one person.

Therefor I must write now, while the wound is fresh and the questions relevant.

A and I were friends. If she hadn't been committed to her boyfriend, we'd have been more than that.

We shared loves of good scotch, great music, and unusual food.

On Wednesday, just after noon, her roommate found her dead in her bathtub, separated from my bed by just 18 feet and two walls.

On Tuesday night, at 8:55PM, she had called me. I was in rehearsal for a play and could not answer.

She did not leave a message.

Later that night I thought fleetingly of missed calls and decided to wait to call her until the next day, as I planned to go running and she and I were running buddies.

Wednesday afternoon my roommate called me at work.

"A--'s dead."

The details were thin, but delivered with as much accuracy and depth as was possible, for both our benefits. She was his friend too.

I told him to call me if there was anything I could do, and to keep me informed. On Wednesday night I had friends over for dinner, and I apologized for my distracted state while I tried to gather my thoughts.

On Thursday I spoke with my roommate, in muted voices about plans and aide and her roommate (now back in NC with family, recuperating from the ordeal). I asked my roommate to keep his ear to the ground--he was a member of the Mercer community, as an employee--and to tell me about any upcoming ceremony or memorial service.

That night he called me as I was leaving the apartment. There was to be a silent vigil at 8PM at the law school.

I grabbed dinner and dashed back to my apartment, and dressed--impeccably and over the top, the way A-- would have wanted it--and went to rehearsal. When I arrived I told them that I was leaving for the ceremony.

I delivered my lines as best I could, but when your entire outfit is based around the concept of a silent vigil, your mood is affected. At 7:50 I drove to the law school.

I walked around the building, thinking about how A-- and I had run the same route just a week earlier.

The crowd inside was quiet, telling stories and comforting one another. I looked through the crowd anxiously, hat in hand--I wasn't even sure who I was looking for until I saw David.  Only then did I know. We embraced and he clung to me as few people in my life ever had.  We spoke briefly. My roommate and Beth arrived soon.

The crowd quieted as the lights were dimmed and we headed outside, into a cold and damp January night. Candles were lit and we stood in silence together; you could feel the heart of the community break with missing her.

Music was played (the Shins? Elliott Smith?), I still don't know which songs or artists. She would have approved though. This wasn't top of the charts pop, it was rare B sides and unique cuts that seemed as linked to A-- as her crinkled nose and her easy laugh.

Eventually we filed back inside. I said my goodbyes to David and headed for the door.

A-- was a friend of mine. If you knew her, she was probably a friend of yours too.

Goodbye. You'll be missed.

A very overdue author's note:   For some reason, despite spending more than half my life either administering web pages recreationally or (very briefly) professionally, I still let simple things slip by me.  It never occurred to me that because of how records keeping in a search engine like google work, my personal recollections of A's death would wind up anywhere near the top of a search for her name.  Instead, it's the first entry.  Damnit.

This entry was never intended to serve as a story about her.  This blog isn't about other people--it's about me--all blogs are--first and foremost--about their authors, no matter what the blogger in question may think.  I never intended it to be anything else.

I've redacted her name from the entry so that (hopefully, once the page is re-indexed) it will fall into obscurity.

I have no problem publishing the two comments insulting my writing--they aren't wrong.  The writing is clunky and awkward, self-absorbed and oddly juvenile.  It reads like a transcripted inner monologue of a person with a mild social disorder.  Which isn't a bad description for the entire All Is Well project, actually.  

I won't be taking down the entry--my writing here was amateur at best, but it still captures a memory that is visceral and real for me, and I feel I would damage the writing's authenticity if I tried to church it up into something more eloquent at this point.

Instead, I'm essentially re-imaging the post, with a different title and the same date--since the existing URL had my friend's name in it, and this should force Google to depricate the old index and create a new, sanitized one.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The impossible death of a friend.

Goodbye Amy.

You have been missed for seven years and you'll be missed for as many more as my memory serves me.

Edit applied February 22nd, 2015.

Weak 6.

So just after Christmas I started Cool Running's Couch to 5k program with my roommate.

It's great. It only costs us about 90 minutes a week, and in another month we'll be running 5k every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Tonight though, I'm running-buddy-less, because I'm in Albuquerque, NM, on business.

So before the sun went down and the temperature dropped to really-bleeding-cold, I swapped out of my work clothes and into sneakers and windpants and hit the sidewalk outside my hotel.

After my five minute warmup, I started my first stretch of running, 5 minutes of solid leg-pumping action. Ninety seconds in I was sucking wind and cursing the world.

Albuquerque, as some of you might be aware, is about 1,600 meters above sea level. If you're interested, here's a handy chart. That chart says that the pressure at this altitude is about 84.3 kPA, meaning that the partial pressure of Oxygen at this altitude is about 80% of what it normally is.

Let me say this without any science: There isn't any air up here.

Needless to say, running kicked my ass.

Still, what little air there was tasted crisp and free and beautiful.

Here's to life.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009