The immediacy of blogging means we tend to assume an entry was written just a few hot seconds before it was posted, but no. It’s 2:58 AM on a Sunday morning. By which I mean Saturday night, of course; it’s never the next day until you wake up. You can drag a dead day through the dark until the dawn cracks. You can make a day last 36 hours if you have the strength, or the coffee.
I replaced the kitchen faucet on Saturday; this was not something I wanted to do. No one wakes up and thinks hey, is there an opportunity to spent $150 today and squint at screws I can’t quite see because they’re neither short, medium, nor long-range in my trifiocal identification spectrum, while I’m on my back with water dripping on my face and ants crawling in my ear? Water started leaking from the faucet a few days ago, and I mopped up, tightened screws, thought I had it figured out. But no. The fault was a proprietary non-standard plug that connected the spray hose to the water supply, and it could not be replaced.
You suspect it was a conscious decision that required great care and study: if we make this part more likely to fail after a year, then we will save X amount of money on materials, but we will lose Y amount on future sales because the customer, some day, will be planning a new bathroom, and the contractor will produce some options, and the customer will grow red and incoherent and start stabbing our brand name with a letter opener.
Then someone higher-up reads the analysis, thinks “how likely is it the customer will have a letter opener?” And the product is cheapened. Profit increases by a barely measurable amount. Bonuses all around!
I disassembled the thing and took it back to Home Depot. Could they check my warranty? Here’s the card I bought it with. No; the records only went back three months. Did I save my receipt? Of course I did not, I wanted to say, because I assumed that this simple device would not fail within the time it takes for this wet ball of rock to circle the sun. Went back to plumbing; got a clerk who was filling in for the Guy Who Actually Knew Something About Things, and his advice was “call Kohler.” Really? Yes, call them, they’d help. How? There was no way to replace the part. The most I could expect from Kohler was “we’re sorry” and an offer to tour the plant if I was in town, complete with an informative video presentation about the growth of Kolher and the salutary effect this had on the city and its inhabitants.
I bought an American Standard, thinking: this will be the next brand that disappoints me.
Went home, hooked it up - or tried to, anyway. . The tubes were too short to reach the pipes. But! I had some extenders purchased the last time I went through this, and I’d just seen them a few months ago in the hardware drawer. Got them out, got back under the sink, and discovered they were male-male connectors. Not that there’s anything wrong with - no, hold on, there is something wrong with that. They don’t work. Back to the store; exchange; back under the sink, and success.
That was the highlight of the weekend, and that’s good; it contained all the necessary ingredients for a productive day. Since it was raining, that was even better, because you feel as if you’ve really accomplished something if you had to get uncomfortably wet in the process. It was damp all weekend long, overcast and cool. The drought is easing; things are working their way back to the mean. Imagine that.
By which I mean Sunday evening. Here, for no reason: have a creepy ad.
That's just wrong.
Is there a word for people who hate misanthropists? I was driving back from the grocery store, caught some of the stand-up channels (they rarely make me laugh, but it’s interesting sociology at the least) and some BBC, which had a science show. Great! I love science shows. The female presenter - whom I’m sure was named Fiona; sounded like a Fiona - was talking to one of those guys who can explain Science in a cheerful hip upbeat tone, and he was talking about dark matter and dark energy. He made a crack about how you should tell your friends they’re even more insignificant than they may have thought they were - haw! ‘Cause humans occupy this tiny speck and therefore are insignificant. That doesn’t follow. But it’s standard; I see it all the time in infographics about galactic immensity, how we should all realize we’re insignificant in the greater scheme. Unless, of course, we’re the only planet with life, which would make us quite significant, but I don’t believe that. Anyway it’s like saying a dog is insignificant because Mt. Everest exists.
Then he talked about how 99% of the universe is dark energy and dark matter, and those of us on the shiny bits are just “light pollution.”
“Oh, light pollution,” cooed the host. “I love that.”
Of course you do: it’s the mark of a fine mind to regard us as some sort of blight, a zit on the face of the cosmos. In the aggregate, of course; I’m sure her and her friends are quite brilliant and smashing and loads of fun to be with, but in general, we really are nothing, worse than nothing, pollution, because we’re bad. It’s the modern form of smug: self-hatred of one’s own species, a reveling in its insignificance when compared to Betelgeuse.
As I said: if we’re alone, then we have invested the universe with something utterly unique simply by observing it. Add to that the fact that we grew from grunting trogs in caves to creatures who sent out machines to interrogate the world, AND invented music - indeed, invented beauty. If we’re not alone, then we are hardly insignificant, either, unless you want to say that Rome was insignificant because no one in Peru had heard of it.
The novel is finished and off to the proofreading fellow. I wash my hands ceremonially of the thing, and will do little to impede its dissemination after this. A week off, then back to rewriting “Autumn Solitaire,” which will be much harder. I’m afraid to look at that one. Still, on schedule: "Graveyard Special" in Amazon by June, "Solitaire" for Christmas, "Morocco Alley" next May. And by then I should have another written, if not two.
There's also a short humorous book called "Tiny Lies," which is 60% finished, a .99 column compilation, and the expanded "Joe Ohio" collection with at least five new stories.
For now: enjoy some matchbooks! See you around.