Hey, all you math whizzes out there, solve this one!

How does





Riddle me that, hmmm?

So I’m sitting in my office, quietly coding some actionscript, headphones on, music blasting…when I hear a distant rumble.

Or maybe I feel it, in the soles of my shoes. I look up, and there it is again. This time I take the headphones off…but I don’t hear anything, just feel a little rumbling.

Mini-earthquake, I figure. Or maybe I need to tell Greg the gardener not to mow quite so close to the house. Then the doorbell rings, and it’s my neighbor Erin, from across the way.

“Sorry to bother you,” she smiles, “but is your water turned on?”

“Well, yeah–I just got out of the shower about an hour ago and everything was fine.”

“No,” she persisted, “Do you have water RIGHT NOW? We don’t, and Elaine down the way doesn’t either, so we’re wondering if it’s just our side of the street?”

I invited her in and, sure enough, the faucets were dry. There wasn’t even that suckisizzlehissy thing that pipes do when the water’s shut off. Hmmmm.

“I heard a kind of explosion,” Erin said, “and right after that, no water, so I’m wondering if something has happened?”

We got in my car, drove down the street and yeah, something had happened. Don’t know if you can tell from the pics, but apparently the water line for several neighborhoods has exploded underground, turning the main drag into a largish pond, blocking traffic for quite a ways…and leaving a whole bunch of houses without water. (Well, we HAD the water, it just wasn’t in the pipes where it belonged.)

Not only that, but the water must have built up for quite awhile, because the formerly flat roadway now had a kind of erupting volcano profile, with a big slope up to the manhole cover and scooped-out place below. (You can kinda see it in that first photo, if you look).

Hot and cold running water is so common in this country you don’t really think about NOT having it. But I’ve lived where you can’t take that stuff for granted, so I hustled Erin into the car, headed straight for the grocery store and dropped five gallons of water into our cart.

“Are you that thirsty?” Erin asked, surprised.

“Nope, but have you ever stopped to consider how much water it takes to, say, flush a toilet? I’ve got a feeling there’s gonna be a run on bottled water right about the time our neighbors are getting home from work.” She thought a minute, then added another five gallons to the cart.

At the checkout counter she turned to me in distress. “I left without my wallet…,” so I spent four bucks on water for the neighbors and drove us home. She offered to pay me back, but I shook my head, eyes on a better prize.

“Just drop some cookies by next time you bake some,” I suggested, “You guys make GOOD cookies.’ (And they do–when I had that Portland Open Studios they supplied some of the best chocolate chip marvels I’ve ever had.)

Turns out Erin is a baker, has worked at some pretty ritzy bakeries and done the pastry chef thing. She’s been thinking about maybe starting up a sweets business or something. Instead of cookies, “I just made a sweet cherry pie–would you like a couple of pieces as a thank you?”

And so there are two absolutely scrumptious-looking slices of this creamy-rich chocolate-covered pie, stuffed with sweet Bing cherries, sitting in my refrigerator (along with two gallons of water–the other three are upstairs doing flush duty). They say the water will be back on in a couple of hours (which makes my five gallons look faintly ridiculous)…but from the size of that lake at the bottom of the hill I’m not holding my breath.

Not that I mind. (munch, munch) If Erin wants to open that bakeshop she’s absolutely gonna be a millionaire. Yum.