"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:
Thursday, May 11, 2006
bu-reau-cra-cy Function: noun Etymology: French bureaucratie, from bureau + -cratie -cracy 1 : a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape, and proliferation 2 : not a good model for geological decision making
(The following is based on a true story that happened recently not far from London.)
It was one of those places where nothing at all really ever happens. A place where the houses all look the same from year to year, and the villagers can all visit their great-great grandparent's gravesites. A place where people are, well, disturbed when out of the ordinary things happen.
It started simply, so simply that no one even noticed. In the field next to the road, about in the middle, the soil started getting more moist than usual. Of course, since no one actually ever went into the field, no one noticed this.
Soon, it was more than moist. It was more towards muddy. And still, no one paid any heed.
A puddle formed. Passersby might have glanced at it, subconsciously noting that it didn't used to be there, but no one was disturbed. Not yet.
Then the puddle overflowed.
It ran through the field towards the road, gurgled alongside of it, and then went right across. Cars and bikes and lorries went "Splat" as they passed. Pedestrians had to get their shoes wet. But it was no more than a passing irritation.
And then it got deeper. Now it was like a small brook. At this point, people noticed.
There was not supposed to be a brook here. Why was there a brook here, all of a sudden, when there was never a brook before? Brooks don't just happen, do they? This was a disturbing thought.
Like any good Briton with a disturbing thought, they called the water commission.
So, the water commission came to the site, with all of its testing gear and authority and general "we know water" attitude. They walked around and looked at the water saying "hmmm" quite a number of times. They sampled the water at the puddle, at the side of the road, and across. They even stood in the water. They poked into the bottom of the puddle with sticks and rods, and took samples of the mud.
Then they caravaned back to their mysterious laboratory and ran tests on the water and the mud, and then they ran more tests on the water and the mud.
They then pronounced the verdict. "The water is from an artesian spring."
This meant they could do nothing about it. Which is exactly what they did. But the water, not knowing any better, continued to flow.
Winter came. The brook crossing the street became a slick sheet of ice. Walkers slipped and fell. People had car accidents.
The number of disturbed people grew.
By the next spring, the village was in an uproar. "Do something about this!" they demanded.
So the Water Commission came and did the same as before, walking and poking and dipping and testing. "Artesian spring," they declared.
It took eight years before the villagers managed to get the public works people to construct a drainage system, at a cost of about £5,000 (that's about $8,000). And it didn't work.
Which brings us to this spring.
A local farmer was walking down the road, which he had walked down thousands of times before. He came to the part of the road where the mysterious brook was still making things messy and causing all sorts of trouble.
Since he had walked the road so many times, he was thinking about something else entirely than his walk, and his eyes were wandering.
He was interrupted from his reverie by something that he had not seen before. Out in the field, in the grass, was a stopcock. You know, like a faucet handle.
Being a local, and being used to nothing ever changing, it took him a minute to make his mind up to go have a closer look. Then a minute more to decide to turn it.
In only a couple of minutes, the flow of the brook stopped.
He watched, and over the next thirty minutes, the puddles dried up entirely.
Then he turned the stopcock again, and the puddles filled up, and the brook ran as before.
This was presented to the Water Commission, who promptly went to the site and tested it and poked it and prodded it, etc. Then they issued the following analysis.
For the first nine years, it had been an artesian spring. Coincidentally, this year, as the spring ran dry, a subterranean pipe in precisely the same location sprung a leak.
Honest, that's what they said.
At least now the village is back to normal. The leak is fixed and days are just like the days before. Except they might get a new water commissioner.
I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)