Sunday, May 14, 2006

Optional Reading: A Ramble

You might think that I’d have better, or at least other, things to think about beyond the leak in my roof. I suppose I do. But somehow, when this one problem is active, it consumes me. Why?

Do you recall reading somewhere about the “basic necessities of life”? They are usually listed as food, water, and protection from the elements (some touch-feely types add “human interaction”). I recall one of my anthropology professors stating that the first three are the only things elemental to human existence; everything else we add is “culture”. Also, many of the writers I’ve most enjoyed—from Thoreau to shipwreck survivors—have purposefully or accidentally come to “front only the essential facts of life” (HDT) and have considered the shifting lines between actual necessity, perceived necessity, and luxury.

Now, when you’re steeped in these traditions, having a persistently leaking roof can be philosophically threatening. There is a small part of me that feels I am failing at the “three basic necessities”, so long as I cannot keep the rain out of my house. Only three things I have to do: eat, drink, and keep out the weather. Lately, I am scoring 66%. I feel, ever so slightly, that I am not living up to the general performance expectations of the higher apes.

At the same time, I have been pondering the greater meaning, if any, of this leak. On the one hand, I do feel somewhat cursed by this persistent affliction. But, consider these facts: the ceiling area of the TurboPalace top floor is roughly 450 square feet. Of that, only about 12 sq. ft. is situated directly above a toilet, sink, or bathtub. Yet the leak sprung right over the bathtub drain, a happenstance which has prevented the entire Palace from turning to goo. The chance of such good fortune is only 2.6%. So, considering that aspect, you could argue that I won the roof-leak lottery. What does it mean when the universe dishes out a significant, seemingly random punishment, but accompanies it with a smaller, but seemingly intentional bit of ameliorating protection?

Lastly, I’ve been considering the ethics of the following plan: put a big container between the roof and ceiling, under the leak; patch up the ceiling behind it; sell the house and run. I’ve done some rough calculations: Based on empirical data (such as the rate of drips per minute from the leak, and the rate at which 9’s water bowl evaporates) I estimate that I need a vessel with about 10 gallon capacity and 500 sq. inch surface area. This would be sufficient to capture the leak produced a four-day maelstrom, and then evaporate it within a week. If the storms are longer, or more frequent, trouble. But I’ll be out of the country by then.

No, I have nothing better to do than calculate such things. I could go for a bike ride, or paint the kayak, or plant some ferns. But you’ve forgotten—it’s pouring out.


Anonymous hilllady said...

Even HDT sought the shelter of Mrs. Emerson's meals, didn't he? Moral: martyrdom is just a trick of the light.

5/14/06, 9:39 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

Some say he sought more than meals.

5/14/06, 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Co-Chief said...

I wonder if the words "I need a vessel" have any significane elsewhere? Also, quite fascinating it is that as a sea captain one is constantly aware of incoming water. No, I think you have prepared for and achieved a full-on maritime environment within the very walls of the Palace, 66% or not....

PS Here's my "word verification":


5/14/06, 11:11 PM  

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