Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Lower Depths: Deconstructing My Plumbing

"No man can be judged happy until he is dead."  -  Solon the Wise

This cautionary ethical adage, instilling as it does the virtues of prudence, patience, humility and taking the long view, is the wellspring (if you'll pardon the expression) of my theory of plumbing. Aristotle demurred, on the grounds that happiness is not a state, but rather the active exercise of the virtues. My namesake on the other hand, with admirable perspicuity maintains that there's something to it. In this I am not an Aristotelean. It is, in a word, the whole matter, the kernel, the meat, the essence of plumbing. I have touched on this before.

If you give me an ordinary bicycle, let's say, I can probably fix it. I can usually figure out my way around it and, with a little trial-and-error and a modicum of profanity, I can put it right. It's quite simple, really. My technique is simply to buy the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine . . .


. . . riffle past all the articles about Lance's doping charges, go straight to the "Gear & Bike" section, and proceed to buy every tool the magazine recommends I own. So, for example, just to give you some limited idea, I now own the Crank Brothers multi-tool 19 ($33) . . . 


. . . Pedro's torque wrench ($140) . . . 




. . . the Giustaforza torque wrench ($185, just to be on the safe side) . . .



. . . the Lezyne Carbon 5 minitool ($80, also just to be safe) . . .


. . .  the Gimp Emergency multi/hanger tool ($40) . . .


. . . Pedro's Trixie ($30) . . .

. . . and a penis necktie for the post-ride pub crawl (priceless).

(More than just a) phallic symbol

Having assembled all my tools about me on the front terrace, my workplace resembles a shipyard.


In mere moments I can take an ordinary bicycle, disassemble it so that all the parts are laid out and visible, like this (always more parts than you expect there might be) . . .


. . . reassemble it, discard any "extra" parts, and Bob's your uncle. 

E pluribus Elliptigo.

But when confronted with a breech in the household plumbing, as I have been of late, no matter how simple on the face of it, I quail. Memories of past attempts haunt me. Investigating something as obvious as a leaky faucet, I encounter in the lower depths what seems (at first) easy enough, if always somehow inaccessible and usually something I've already fixed at least twice before . . . 


Investigating further, the system begins to branch out a bit, fractillate (if I may coin a word) beneath the house. The exact pipe I had located further up towards daylight seems to be deliberately sequestered by its compeers from discovery in the subterranean murk . . .


Following the tangled mass of iron onwards, I emerge into a neighboring back lot, where the system begins to build unaccountably into some hellish Escher puzzle based on exponentiality, the Simpson Paradox and Godel's Theorem . . . 


At last, having crawled on bloodied hands and knees for several miles, I encounter the source of the problem in a neighboring city . . .


There, with prayers and burnt offerings, I loosen the offending joint, valve, fitting, nut, or whatever is the source of the leak, putty it, tape it with plumber's tape, replace whatever needs to be replaced (after 27 returns to the hardware store and the plumbing supply), tighten it with bloodied knuckles and whatever remains of my vital force, and return to my home a shattered man. I hasten to the neighboring city several times during the night to ascertain that my repair is so far holding, the pipes are sound, the leak is dry, the water pressure normal. 

Thereafter on subsequent nights I lie half awake in a troubled doze, imagining that molecules of water are massing once again behind my shoddy work and my pathetic teflon plumber's tape, and having failed by main force to burst their bonds are insidiously attempting to undermine me, never sleeping, filing up silently behind the lead molecule to follow it through the microscopic breech that will open behind its escape, the whole mass of water tumbling through the tiniest issue in the valve, submerging me in my feverish plumbing dream.

Hence, after Solon, my compleat theory of plumbing - that no leak is ever finally repaired until a man is dead.

3 comments:

  1. I hope your next commentary "wrenches-down" on the frailties and maladies of the aging man's plumbing paradox. Perhaps BOTH leaky sources follow the same prostate pipeline and BOTH can be fixed with a Parker Tool of some sort, or using the penis tie (like duct tape) for at least some temporary relief.

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  2. ROFL at this post. The photo of your plumbing looks suspiciously like the plumbing in my laundry room before I had it redone. I called it affectionately "Elephant Man," because of the large protuberance that came out of the side of one the the joint thingies (technical term...) It is now sleek and coppery, kind of like your penis tie.

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  3. Well, that's how plumbing works. It may be difficult to wrench a pipe while kneeling or lying down, but when the water starts flowing smoothly, the feeling of satisfaction is truly worth the effort. By the way, I like the pictures in your blog, especially the funny ones and the tie. =)


    Bibi Karpel

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