Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cracks are how the light gets in: Catastrophic fractures and community

"There is a crack, a crack, in everything.
That's how the light gets in." — Leonard Cohen

The picture at the left feels to me as if it were pulled straight from Leonard Cohen's lyrics from Anthem, the cracks are beautifully brilliant in the morning sun, alive with the light.

I have an entire box of these glittering stones.  It used to be my bathroom sink.  Yesterday, the sink underwent a catastrophic, spontaneous fracture.  More precisely, my sink blew up in my face.  Without warning.

I was watering the plants on the window sill and had set the succulent in the cache pot to soak for a minute while I wiped down the ledge.  I reached out to turn the water on and the sink exploded, blowing chunks of glass ten feet out the open door and down the stairs. And I screamed.

I hasten to say that it was tempered glass, and other than a few scratches on my arms, I was undamaged.  I was however, most certainly unnerved.  I stood there, amid the sparkling glass, in my sock feet, looking at the completely destroyed sink and said, "What the f--k just happened?"1

There was this odd crinkling sound, as the glass chunks continued to fracture.

I cleared a path out of the bathroom, found a pair of shoes, corralled the cat (who wanted to investigate), then dashed to answer the phone.  It was Math Man, just calling to say hello in between golf game and afternoon meeting.  It was good to hear his voice. "Should I come home?"  No, I assure him, it's just a mess to clean up and I'm unhurt.

But what happened?  The sink and water and room were all at the same temperature, I'd just had the water on a minute before.  Nothing hit the sink, the pot had just been sitting there. Had I gone momentarily mad and smashed the sink with...with what?  No hammers up here. I did what any reasonable human being with an internet connection would do.  I did a search.  I typed in "glass sink e" at which point Google suggested "glass sink explodes."  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I was not alone.2

1.  The first time I ever heard Crash use the word, he hadn't realized I was in the room.  I can't quite recall what had happened, but it was definitely worthy of an imprecation.  He blanched.  I looked at him and said there were times and places to use that sort of language, and that this was certainly one of them.  Which made him blink.
2.  Community is a wonderful thing.

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