Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday, Sunday, Sump Pumps, and Song ...

So, how was your weekend?

Mine was wet. Stupidly wet. Biblically wet. I wonder if I can buy an ark on

It started raining here on Thursday night. Not a lot of rain. Just a bit of rain. Still, though, rain. And then it dribbled and drabbled a bit on Friday, and then it started raining with feeling on Friday night.

So Friday evening, I did what I do whenever this area is in for a bout of rain: I stayed up most of the night. The last time we had appreciable rain – and by "appreciable," I mean five inches in five hours – I ended up with a bit of water in my basement. Not a lot, but really, any water in a basement is more water than you want.

With steady rain in the forecast for Friday night, I thought it prudent to stay awake in order to keep tabs on things. And anyway, even if I tried to go to bed, I would have been half-listening all night for the sump pump cycling on and off – or not, which is when the worrying starts– and wouldn't have really slept anyway. So I stayed awake, and it was a good thing I did. I ended up with water in my crawl space, so I crawled in to trip the float on the sump pump, but water was coming into my other sump pit, causing that pump to cycle on and off, too. Problem is, there's not room in the PVC for both pits' water, so the pumps basically took turns.

Now, I don't know if the city hadn't opened up retention ponds or whatever one does to take the pressure off of sewer lines, but while the sump pumps were pumping out, the water was coming back in through the gravity drain in the house's original sump pit, which told me that water wasn't getting out to the sewer line in the street, it was just cycling around the drain tile and coming back in, so what I was pumping out was the same water, over and over.

But I have a submersible pump in that pit, so I threw the hose out the basement window then ran outside to position the hose further down my driveway, and while I was out there, I used a big squeegee to move water from a little depression between my house and garage where water likes to pool when it rains heavily which puts hydrostatic pressure on the foundation of the house and, well, all you need to know is that several trips outside left me completely soaked. In the middle of the night.

Take-home message: Friday night, I slept about an hour.

So Saturday, I was pretty much a zombie. I dozed off here and there during DVDs, but more rain was on the way for Saturday night into Sunday, so I figured I'd throw caution and sleep to the wind and pull another all-nighter.

I didn't need to, completely. I snuck in a couple of hours of sleep before deciding that my house would be better served if I held a little vigil for the goings-on downstairs.

But happily (well, relatively speaking), most of today's rain – brought to us by Hurricane Ike – happened after dawn, for which I was grateful. Somehow, it's just more comforting to cope with potential water issues in daylight.

And I am happy to report that all's well that ended well. Though I spent so much time in my crawl space today that I thought that it might make sense to just bring a book and book light with me and stay put. "Well, call me Raskolnikov," I thought as I duck-walked to the sump pump for the umpteenth time. "This is very Notes from Underground. All that's missing is me hacking my nosy landlady to death with an ax."

Good thing I don't have a landlady, nosy or otherwise.

This weekend's rain event, however, taught me a few things:

1. I learned the fine art of adjusting the rubber stops on a sump-pump float to make it kick on and off appropriately for the volume of rain in question.

2. I learned that I might very well have OCD. At one point today, I had five weather sites open in my browser. Mind you, three of them were Chicago Tribune radar pages, one of which I had set to a close zoom of my area, the next of which was a view of the Chicagoland area, and the third of which was a Midwest view. And I spent a lot of time refreshing each page to track the progress of the storm. I'm sure the Trib received millions of views of its weather pages over the past two days, and I probably account for about 1,000 of them.

Here's a pretty picture from the National Weather Service of rain totals for the area, starting Wednesday evening through Sunday afternoon. Keep in mind that it didn't really rain on Wednesday and the rain on Thursday night wasn't appreciable, so this is really a snapshot of the rain totals from Friday night through Sunday afternoon, or fewer than 48 hours:

The smatterings of white, by the way, are areas that received 10 inches. Ten inches of rain, kids. That's a lot of rain. I figure I was dealing with somewhere between 6 and 8 inches. Also a lot of rain. (You can click on the image to make it bigger.)

Today, once the rain subsided and there was room in my brain for thoughts other than "I hope nothing in my basement if floating," music started running through my head, "River Waltz" from "The Painted Veil," a very beautiful piano piece.

And I decided that I wanted to learn how to play it. So I tried to find the sheet music online. No dice.

But I did find a YouTube video of a guy who plays an interpretation of it, but the weird thing was that he cited a quote as his inspiration for his interpretation. And the quote was: "Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. I believe really great men must experience great sadness in the world."

And the source of the quote was Raskolnikov from Doestoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Seriously. The same character and book I had been thinking about earlier in my crawl space. And it's not like the name "Raskolnikov" floats through my head every day.

I looked toward the sky and said, "OK, universe. Thanks for letting me know that you're hearing me."

Lacking the sheet music, then, I did two things:

1. I wrote to Dave to ask him if the software that he uses for composing is capable of ingesting tunes and generating the corresponding sheet music or if it only generates music based on compositions created in the software. I knew he was capable of producing the latter because he did just that for a piece he wrote for a show several years ago that was then recorded by the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

2. I broke out my keyboard (it lives in my office closet most of the time) and started to figure out the melody by ear. I had e-mailed the piece to myself so I'd have it on my laptop and could refer to each phrase as needed as I jotted down the notes. And then I noticed in the scrolling info for the song that the piece was recorded by the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

All righty, then. What are the odds that in one day, I'd think of Raskolnikov and Notes from Underground and then later, in my sheet-music wanderings for a piece of music that wouldn't stop running through my head, I'd happen across a video that would cite Raskolnikov and Notes from Underground and that I would e-mail a friend of mine to ask him if he could generate the sheet music for me because he'd done it before for a piece he composed to be recorded by the Prague Symphony Orchestra, only to have the piece for which I was searching for the sheet music turn out to also be recorded by the Prague Symphony Orchestra? (It'll be interesting to see what comes up when I meditate with intention.)

My keyboard, though, isn't a full 88 keys (it's 49 or 50; I don't feel like counting at the moment) and I don't have the octaves on the keyboard that I need to reproduce the piece. But then I remembered that my laptop hosts GarageBand. But it's too hard to "play" a tune by clicking on the virtual piano keys. But then I discovered that you can use the computer keyboard to play notes. (The Tab key is the sustain pedal, for example.) But the letters on the keyboard don't correspond with the musical notes. So E (the note) is D (on the keyboard), and A is H and C is A and B-flat is U.

I had battled a headache all day, despite my best efforts to hydrate, and trying to play music on a computer keyboard wasn't helping matters on the headache front. So jotted down what I had figured out and I recorded a little snippet and threw in the towel. I can figure out the rest of the melody another day.

But first, I need to get some sleep.


Blogger Jen said...

Glad you won your battle with the sump pumps. We experienced a similar situation when Tropical Storm Fay came through here a couple of weeks ago. We had over 27 inches of rain in some areas, and a minimum of 16 to 20 inches at our house. People that have lived here their whole lives had never seen that much rain. I guess we know what the 100 year flood elevation is now!

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


the comment before mine is correct. We actually go 30 inches of rain around my neighborhood. The wind during the storm was amazing. Glad you're safe and I'm happy to see you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty. You always had a strong mind and a go get 'em attitude.

Love ya,

Mike P.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Jen: Gaa!

Mike: Gaa! And thanks for the kind words. Drop me a line and let me know how life's treating you these days, Mr. Married Man.

8:15 PM  

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