Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Scent of the Wind

This will make no sense unless you've read Patrick Rothfuss' glop of fantasy The Name of the Wind, which has an unbelievably overpowered hero named Kvothe. And possibly even if you have.  

Sweat pooled on Kvothe's furrowed brow. He was weaving so many threads together in his mind. Weaving just three of these threads would break most men's will, and there were roughly sixteen threads involved, so Kvothe's mind was at least as complicated as eight normal men's*.

"Kvothe, the vessel is about to burst! You have to do something!"

Kvothe couldn't spare any effort for speech, but he had been using his spare time in between classes, music, and teaching eighteen different languages to orphans at the same time, to master the art of knitting. He quickly knitted the word "silence" into a blanket and showed it to Denna, who quieted, chastened.

"There!" he gasped, "It's done." The massive water tank had held. The pipes were in place and connected, held there by the force of Kvothe's thought. He placed his hand upon the lacquered handle.

"Now, who would like to try the first flush?"

*As revealed in A Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe is not so good at math, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's not at all a ridiculously overpowered fantasy superhero. At all.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The best dog property damage story

When you own a dog, you expect the occasional bit of property damage.  They'll puke on a rug, or they'll chew up a shoe. Until New Year's Eve this year, the worst thing our dog had done was munch on some drywall, in a bizarre fit of puppy destruction. He got our Complete Works of Shakespeare, too, but that was also when he was a pup. He's seven now, middle aged.  Beyond all that.

He's also terrified mindless by fireworks. We know this; we take measures. A week before the 4th of July, we haul out his cage -- pet people insist on calling it a "crate"; it's a cage -- and cover it with blankets so it's nice and dark and cavey. He spends nights in there for a couple of weeks, and he's in there for about three days straight, around the 4th. That pretty much does the trick, and, when it doesn't, he flips out in a cage and nothing gets hurt. New Year's Eve isn't nearly as bad.  He hears a few pops, quivers a bit, settles down by 1AM, and that's it.

As usual on New Year's, we stuck him in the bathroom. We figured he couldn't do too much damage to himself or to anything else, in there. Worst case, maybe he goes nuts and eats a roll of toilet paper, right? He was fairly messed up when we came upstairs to go to bed at 1AM, so I sacked out on the bathroom floor with him. I woke up with an aching back, the start of a hangover and the feeling that this was a dog who had weathered the fireworks storm. It was 2:30. I went to bed.

I woke up at 4:30AM. Something was wrong. I got up in the dark, opened the bathroom door, and got a spray of water in the face. Turned on the light. What the hell? The floor was wet, the dog was huddled in the corner, and Something Was Wrong. 

It took me several seconds to find the source of the water and several more to believe it sufficiently to do something about it. There was a leak in the toilet water supply line. You know, that plastic tube covered in a strong metal mesh so that nothing bad happens to it, because it would be just terrible if anything bad happened to it. I found the valve and shut it off, and the water stopped.

Except it didn't. My wife was up by this point, and she alerted me to the fact that there was some kind of water noise from downstairs. We went downstairs and saw water streaming from a light fixture in the ceiling onto our hardwood floor. And it kept going from there, sort of jauntily over the edge of the floor by the staircase, in an impromptu, well-lit waterfall.

Well-lit. Around this time, one of our houseguests (of course we had houseguests) stumbled upstairs, took a look at things, and casually suggested that maybe it'd be a good idea to cut the power to that particular circuit, since it was streaming water, and all.

I figure the dog went nuts and attacked the water line at 2:45AM, at the earliest. Any earlier and I'd still have been awake enough to hear him. So the water was flowing for nearly a couple hours. However long it was, it was enough to take a 15'x20' irregular section of ceiling drywall completely out, as in sodden and scarily slumped. The floor... well, we'll deal with that in a few months, after it resumes a shape that more closely resembles what most people think of as a floor. There'll be some replacing, and some refinishing, and altogether enough unpleasantness that we'll just get out of town completely for that.

Meantime, a big chunk of our house is sealed in plastic, E.T. style, and the rest of it is a pretty rough place to be because of the drying fans. The air in here feels as dry and raspy as someplace in the American Southwest where old people move when they're done with the world of the living. The noise is a little crazy-making.

Expected price tag for our dog's little indiscretion: about $20,000.