Blighters On The Storm
It started like any typical horror story should. “Nordstrom.”
Our friend had driven in to the big city from our former hometown for a quick visit. It turned out to be the rainiest weekend since we moved to Portland, Oregon.
That word is Norwegian, I think, for “mythical beast with huge nords that consumes souls.”
And they wanted to shop at the one that lives in the heart of downtown, by Pioneer Square, where everything happens.
It was a rainy day. I figured at least there was at least a chance the city wouldn’t be nuts.
I was wrong.
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Who Wants To Be A Bouillonaire?
I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that I write my own material. The bad news, well, look above and see for yourself. 🙂
I wrote the joke above while thinking about odds and probabilities, especially in terms of events like the Indiana State Fair and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.
We often hear things expressed in probabilities. For example, “This luxurious home is offered at only $999,995. It is located on a 100-year flood plain.”
According to Wikipedia: “A one-hundred-year flood is calculated to be the level of flood water expected to be equaled or exceeded every 100 years on average.”
“A 100-year flood has approximately a 63.4% chance of occurring in any 100-year period, not a 100 percent chance of occurring.”
Interesting. I did not know that. I assume that such estimates are based on a lot on factors like recorded history and an evaluation of as many guessable variables as possible. But who knows how accurate such things are?
In the case of something like a nuclear reactor, I always wonder how they can estimate the probability of something for which no history yet exists. Truth be told, it sounds a lot like total theory and guesswork to me.
Is it the height of hubris to think we really know the odds of what might happen, what might be possible? And do we always tend to err on the side we favor? And if so, what is the cost of this bias?
Like Water for Assholes
As the reader, you have a task this time out. See if you can identify the above referenced “asshole” in this post. I bet you can if you try.
I’ve noticed that some of the women I’ve known in my life had certain … similarities.
I can think of a few examples.
One is the penchant of using 42 squares of toilet paper per wipe. I’m like, “Come on. If a little bit gets on you it won’t kill you. It washes off.” But they always insist it will. It is deadly and must be avoided at all costs.
Another is the desire to turn on the ceiling fan. They like that thing on. A lot. Like 24/7 a lot. Like in, “If the fan ever stops the space-time continuum will be destroyed.” Me? Meh. I can take it or leave it.
They also like doors and windows open. Even when this means our screens will be horribly mauled and disfigured by the feline members of our households. To a cat, you see, an unprotected and exposed screen is the holy grail of things to scratch. It taunts them, saying, no matter what: “You want to be on the other side of me.” If cats ever held an Olympics, screen climbing would no doubt be a headline event.
There is another commonality, though. One that dwarfs the previous examples. One that you’d never possibly imagine.
It’s water. Or, to be more precise, how we react to it.
I’ll explain how it works.
The other night I came home from work and our kitchen had been torn apart. It turned out there was a leak under the sink. My wife had pulled everything out from under the sink and had towels everywhere stopping up the flow of water. She’s clever that way. Those things would have never occurred to me.
“The sink leaks when you turn on the water,” she said.
I replied with the very first thought that crossed my brain. “Don’t turn it on, then.” Actually, it is nothing short of amazing that I’m alive and my arms still work enough to write this post. I’m surprised she let me live.
Naturally I did what any man would do. (Even though I’m not one.) I grabbed a flashlight and crawled under that sink on my back. “Yep. It’s leaking alright.” It’s really not very nice to kick someone in that position.
I figured out which line-thingy was the source and my wife figured out how to fix it. Another win-win in the Taker household. I was struck, however, by the urgency of the problem. It was water. It had to be dealt with now. Me? I probably would have napped first.
The commonality? For that, I’ll tell a little story…
It must have been about 15 years ago. It was another place (the big city) and another woman. (This was years before I met my wife.) In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the day before Thanksgiving. I was chillin’ on the sofa watching a police chase.
It was one of those cases where some lunatic was racing around in a car while being chased by multiple police cars and we were watching the whole thing on TV with coverage by helicopter and running commentary.
I had already invested a couple hours of my life watching this riveting form of entertainment. Even though the car was showing no signs of slowing down, the situation was building to a climax. You could feel it. Ever minute he zipped around he was burning up his gas. The size of his gas tank was his enemy.
Suddenly there was a shriek in my house. It came from the garage. I leaped to my feet and sprinted over. I found my main squeeze looking out in the garage, where a sizable puddle of water had formed. “Looks like we’ve got some kind of leak,” I said wisely.
And then it happened. The moment of utter doom. I went back to the sofa and continued watching the police chase.
She was incredulous. She foamed at the mouth a little. She stood in front of me and glared. “This needs to be dealt with. NOW!” Damn, she sounded ominous.
“This thing,” I said, indicating the police chase on TV. “It’s gotta be over any minute now.” I figured everything was already wet. A few more minutes of wetness wouldn’t bring about the end of the world, I reasoned.
Suffice it to say it was game over for me. I found myself in the garage working in the water. Eventually I decided to turn off the water using the knob-thingy that controlled the water to our house.
While farting around and pretending to know what a man would do in a situation like that, I missed the satisfying conclusion to the police chase. I only found out later that the car had run out of gas and had stopped on the highway. A man then got out, pointed something at the cops and was blown to bits. And I missed it.
Oh. The water thing? That turned out to be a tiny little dent in a pipe that had been installed under the concrete slab like 20 years earlier. It had finally created a hole in the pipe under a bedroom and flooded the garage from below. Clever.
So yeah. I guess my point here is that women I have known always seem to have an issue with water being dealt with now. They don’t seem to be such big fans of later.