Wow. Is it ever murky outside. Radar promises another day like Tuesday — i.e., all-day rain — and at the moment it’s about 8:30 p.m., light-wise. Lucky for me I have this glowing screen to make rod-and-cone destruction that much easier.
Moments in My Career When I Realized I’d Bet on the Wrong Horse, a continuing series: When I learned that the Boston Globe labor agreement with copy editors included two 10-minute “eye breaks” to preserve the rods and cones of those required to stare into computer screens all day. Although, for whatever it’s worth, I’ve never experienced so-called eyestrain in my life. Like heartburn, for me it’s essentially mythical.
The real toll computer work takes on your body is elsewhere — wrists (repetitive strain), shoulders (hunched and knotted in fury as you hammer out angry blog comments), back (connected to shoulders; see above). And you don’t hear much about Secretary’s Spread anymore, do you?
That’s because everyone has it.
Yes, it’s another one of those mornings, folks. Freaky dreams, grounds in my coffee, cascading rain. And then there was this story in the NYT, about a family of five that was killed in Montreal after a sinkhole opened under their house and swallowed it justlikethat. The incident, the story said, was “a stark reminder of a hidden menace under many parts of Quebec, one that dates back 10,000 years to an ancient inland sea.” What the what?
Michel A. Bouchard, a professor of geology at the University of Montreal, said the area around St. Jude rests on an unusual variety of “sensitive clay” that was originally the bed of an ancient sea. Lake Champlain is a remnant of the sea.
Because the clay formed in salt water, Professor Bouchard said, the molecular structure of its particles resembles playing cards arranged as an unstable house of cards, rather than stacked in a deck, as occurs with clay formed in fresh water. A variety of events can break the molecular bonds holding the clay particles together. When that occurs, the clay can spontaneously liquefy with little or no provocation.
“Even a fly landing on the surface can set it off,” he said.
I love it when experts describe these things as “reminders.” Like whoever built this house knew it was going on a “sensitive clay” with the molecular structure of a house of cards that could be collapsed with the additional weight of a fly, and just…forgot it, somehow. Look at that photo and note the tiny red dot near the bottom, where the road enters the sinkhole. That’s the truck owned by the world’s luckiest motorist, who suddenly found himself falling into muck and took an hour to crawl back to safety.
The whole thing was so silent and sudden, the story says, that neighbors were left wondering only why the power had gone out.
Someone should write a scene like this into a movie, and wait to be massacred by critics who would call it a wee too deus ex machina for belief.
In other news at this hour, the Freep presents the results of a reader survey on their Top 5 turnoffs in restaurants. No. 1? Being called “you guys” by overly familiar servers. Get used to it, I’d say. There’s a hipster-doofus outdoor store in our neighborhood called Moosejaw, where “you guys” is the height of formality. I haven’t been called “dude” there yet, but I fully expect it. I will roar Dentu-Creme breath at them when it happens. Sorry, grandma.
And that’s all I have today. What a lousy week. I can sense readers flowing away like rainfall in the gutters. Oddly freeing, somehow. And yet, sometimes the fields have to lie fallow for a while. This might be one of those weeks.