Thursday, May 5, 2011


I come from a "car family."  My dad believed in teaching us to do small fixes ourselves, whenever we were too broke to get our cars fixed showed the slightest interest.  One of the principle lessons I learned during childhood is that when something is wrong with your car, it will not just go away.  A car is not a living thing.  It is non-organic.  It will not heal itself.  You need to fix it, before it gets worse.  And yet, throughout my life, I have tried very had to ignore this important lesson.  Case in point:

I mentioned before that I glued some PVC pipes together in an effort to repair the sprinkler pipe that burst over the winter.  I did not mention that I inserted a metal threaded portion of pipe into the plastic threaded portion of pipe without any sealant on it, then proceeded to screw the two pieces together so tightly I could not get them apart, in spite of damage to my hand in the attempt.

So I handled this by just gluing the rest of it together, crossing my fingers, and hoping nothing leaked.  This was not the case.  The two ends of the threaded joint (both the metal-to-metal threads and the metal-to-plastic threads) were dripping at a pretty rapid pace, in spite of the fact that I did actually seal the threads on the metal-to-metal side of of the joint.  And now I couldn't take it apart and put sealant on the threads, because I had already glued the rest of it together.  I was pretty sure I was going to have to saw off the PVC pipe and re-do the entire project, again using this crazy PVC "cement" that is so toxic I had to change my latex gloves three times because they kept turning a funny color and I was afraid they would dissolve.  ARGH!

(the pipes.  note the salvaged brass thingy above the spigot.)

But, it was dinner time, and I was hungry. So I just stuck a bucket under the leak and went in and made dinner, hoping that it would just magically stop leaking, in spite of what my dad had taught me about non-organic materials and their ability to self-repair.  Yesterday, I didn't have time to deal with it.  Then, this morning, I went outside to check on the pipes and make sure the bucket hadn't overflowed yet.  And this is the crazy thing.  Not only had the bucket not overflowed, but the leak had slowed significantly.  It was only leaking on one side of the joint (the metal-to-plastic side), and was dripping at a rate of about 5 drops of water every hour.  I think if I caulk it, without even taking it apart, it could be good. 

I am totally freaked out by this, because here's the thing.  The pipes appear to have fixed themselves, at least partially.  Right?  Leaking horribly, left alone, barely leaking at all.  Now, if we trace this back to my childhood lessons, there are only two possibilities:

1.  Non-organic objects (like cars and pipes) are, in fact, capable of fixing themselves -- in which case we are much closer to sentient computers than I thought, and the human race is doomed; or
2.  The pipes are alive.

Can't you see why either possibility is rather frightening?

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