Photo: Giovanni Orlando, Flickr Creative Commons
That's not entirely true. I usually like my family, but I try to limit writing about them here because I consider this a semi-anonymous blog. Despite that tendency, I may currently be willing to sell certain members into slavery at an Indian brick factory, but that's not a permanent state of mind. (The screaming. Oh, god, the screaming.)
Anyway, this week sucks and it's largely the weather's fault. I should point out that I don't have a problem with cold weather in a general sense. I don't feel cold as soon as the average person and I actually enjoy the feel of being a little chilled. Also, when you're running, cold is something very easily dealt with. A pair of running tights, a quick-drying hoodie, and a pair of gloves paired with my normal technical T and shorts has served me well down into low 20s and high teens. I've taken a warm cap on my coldest runs, but I usually end up taking it off after a couple of miles because it's too hot. The freakish cold was not the problem by itself.
The problem is that my house isn't designed to sufficiently deal with temperatures more than 5 degrees away from 70. It's build off the ground. It has huge windows. There's no insulation under the floorboards. Also, our hot water heater was installed in an unheated storage room off the main part of the house. We actually have to go out onto the porch to access this room. Even worse, the pipes from the water heater go through a wall to the outside of the house, down the wall and travel underground about 20 feet until they reach the point where the crawl space starts and they can go into the crawl space.
Now, these pipes that are exposed completely to the elements were insulated. We actually re-insulated them on Monday before it got cold in the hopes of making things better. I also hope to get around to insulating the pipes (and the underside of the house completely) sometime this year. I'm just hoping we get enough money from our tax return to pay for it.
This time, the foam insulation didn't help us. We left our cold water dripping that first night of the Polar Vortex, which left us with cold running water the next day. It probably also helped that all of those pipes are either underground or at least in the crawl space where the heat leaking through the cracks in the floor would have helped keep them warm. We didn't leave the hot water dripping because that seems a good way to burn up the hot water heater. Bad decision. We awoke on Tuesday to no hot water.
When I got to school, I got an e-mail from my wife saying that the oil light in the van had gone on suddenly and that she had had the local mechanic come pick it up. A little later, she said that the van had stopped working on the way to the mechanic and they had to tow it. Later that day, my parents texted me to tell me to check out our cars because one of them had left a giant puddle of oil on the carport. Due to a lot of business that day, the mechanic wouldn't be able to work on it Tuesday. Great.
The forecast for the day would peak above freezing, but only by 1 degree. When I got home after school at the end of the day, still no hot water, although that was no surprise. Luckily, my parents live just down the road and we were able to take warm showers that night, but there's something about not being able to take a shower in the morning that throws me off for the rest of the day. First, even though I washed my face the next morning (and even dunked my head in the cold sink so that my hair would behave), I feel dirty and tired. Of course, with the temps dropping quickly back into the low 20s Tuesday night, the hot water didn't thaw and we went about our Wednesday morning again with only cold water. This time, I was having to deal with my wife and son and getting them to school as well. Of course, getting all three of us moving at the same time pushed me back to the point that I didn't get to my room at work until after 7:40, which is when students show up for first block. Not having a chance to settle in before the kids show up is a horrible way to start the day. Luckily, the kids weren't that bad so my mood kind of idled along at merely crappy instead of getting worse.
When I got home, the first thing I did was test the hot water. Sweet! It flowed and with good pressure. Of course, it wasn't warm yet. There's a long trip for the water to get from the heater at one end of the house to the actual taps in the back, so I wasn't worried. I went about my business for a few minutes while it ran. When I came back and tested it, lukewarm. It had been long enough to warm up, so I shut of the water and went to test the breaker. Our breaker for the hot water heater has a tendency to trip (and without any discernible reason so far) so I checked that first. Not tripped. Just in case, I turned it off and then back on. Nothing happened. Normally, when we use a lot of hot water or when it's been off because the breaker tripped in the night, it makes a hissing or bubbling sound as the filaments heat the cold water. This time, nothing. Crap. Something about the frozen pipes had caused it to die. I called the appliance guy and set up a time for him to visit later in the evening and got changed to go out for my run. I was finally going to test out my new Skechers Go Run Ultras.
It's a good reason I wanted to test the Ultras. They're designed for trail ultra-marathons, so I was going to test them in the woods behind my house. If I had been running the roads, I likely wouldn't have gone behind this part of the house yesterday. After about 10 yards of running, I stepped in an unexpected puddle. Realizing that part of my yard was flooded, I noticed a faint hissing noise, turned toward the sound and saw a fine spray of water coming from the hot water pipe at the back of the house. Apparently the pipe had cracked when the weather was still freezing because there were these huge, globular ice formations on the ground near the pipe for about 6 feet and then just wetness farther out from when the pipes thawed and the water flowed more freely.
Run cancelled, which is enough to normally put me in a bad mood anyway, but now I had to fix something and I hate fixing things, mainly because I really suck at it and I'm not used to doing things that I suck at, or at least things where my suckiness is shoved in my face so aggressively as when I try to do basic home maintenance. Luckily, my dad isn't like me in that regard, so he came out, sussed out the situation and we went together to the hardware store for supplies. Before it was even fully dark, we had the pipe repaired, although it takes 12-24 hours for the pipe cement to cure before it can handle the water pressure so we'd remain with hot water this morning. Again, we took turns showering at my parents' house, although this time with the added joy of a toddler who napped really late and wouldn't fall asleep until 11. Normally this would have been hugely frustrating, but because I'm trying to get off some weight I gained in the last two weeks before I attempt the Cheaha 50k in February, I got on the bike trainer for an hour around 8 to make up for missing my run. Exercising that late makes it hard to go to sleep on time, so I would have been up to at least 10:30 anyway.
Today should have been better. There's reasonable expectation that I'll have hot water tomorrow, although at this point optimism is hard to come by. The new joints could fail. Despite the appliance guy saying the water heater seemed fine, the workload it had during the leak could have damaged it, but things are looking up. I got up, got ready, and left my room at about 7:05 to grab my bags and the kid to get on the road to school. Thursdays and Fridays are usually my worst days for being late because I have to take the toddler to daycare instead of my parents' house and that takes twice as long. Today was going to be an exception. I was leaving early. Except it was 7:27 when I got in the car. How did it take 20 minutes to do what normally takes me 10? I'm still not entirely convinced that time is completely linear. Today I didn't actually get to my room until the tardy bell rang. Not a good example to set for your students when they spend two of their first three days in the class waiting in the hall for the teacher to get to school.
We still don't know the full deal with the van, although I expect to know something today. It'd be nice if I'd won that huge lotto jackpot a few weeks ago. None of this would have been stressful then. What's the risk of a $2,000 car repair when you're using a million dollars in ones as your blanket at night?
Oh, and I just got the message. The worst case scenario is right. Looks like we'll be car shopping this weekend.
Hey, look on the bright side. Everyone dies in the end, right?