"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, October 08, 2004
com-bust Function: verb
Etymology: Latin combustus, past participle of comburere to burn up, irregular from com- + urere to burn -- more at EMBER
1 : BURN
2 : what you don't want your house to do
I had one foot in the bathtub when there was a pounding at the door. "The house is on fire!" my wife screamed.
This is not a moment you ever want to experience.
A few nights earlier, I came home from a late meeting and my wife and grandson, who was staying with us while his father had surgery, said that they had been smelling a "burning metallic smell." They weren't able to find it, but said it seemed like it was coming from one end of our living room.
I went and smelled, but nothing. Whatever it was wasn't burning anymore.
"Well, the only two things over here are the fan and the air freshener, so I'll turn them off." That seemed to fix the problem.
Saturday morning, my wife left early to go pick up her paycheck from work. I prepared for a shower. Unknown to both of us, things were going terribly wrong.
She returned, and the entire downstairs of our house was full of smoke (batteries in the smoke detectors had run out!) She frantically looked for the source, but couldn't find it. That's when she ran to get me.
I ran downstairs, and quickly isolated the source as being somewhere in our living room. And it was making lots of smoke, but I still couldn't find it. We pulled the couch out from the wall, nothing. Checked the computer, nothing. Checked the entertainment center, nothing.
"Look at the aquarium!" I looked at our 55 gallon aquarium, and the wall behind the cabinet was flickering, reflecting the flame inside of it. I threw open the door of the aquarium cabinet, and there it was, a mass of burning aquarium supplies and wires.
Just for the record, those little nets you use to catch your fish burn just like the mantles on Coleman camping lanterns. Not only that, but activated charcoal is actually charcoal.
Worst of all though is the filters that have the net material on the outside and are filled with the charcoal.
OK, fire located. Get extinguisher. Done. Point at fire. Done. Push button.
Push button again just because I am too stupid to realise it isn't going to work. Still nothing.
"Quick, get me some water in a jug!" I started blowing on the fire, trying to put out as much as I could that way.
Now, understand, water and electrical fires do not mix, but I was out of options. Yeah, I know I could have used baking soda, but my presence of mind had already run outside to get away from the flames and join the fully charged fire extinguisher in my car which I only remembered that I owned the next day.
So, I took the water jug and carefully lapped water on the base of each of the areas of flame. One by one, out they went.
If my wife had come home five minutes later, if she had decided to have a chat with anyone at work, or run an errand, our house would have burned down. Chances were also good that by the time I was aware of it, I would have been trapped.
God is still in the miracle business, folks. You'll never convince me otherwise.
If you were in a burning house and there was a cat and a Rembrandt, what would you save? The cat...you would save the cat, because the cat is alive. The art is dead. It's just paint on a canvas, ink on a page. To live for art is to deny life. It's just to destroy life.
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Cicely, 1992