Word problem from October 27, 2011
An inlet faucet can fill a small pond in 60 minutes. The pond can be emptied by an outlet pipe in 80 minutes. You begin filling the empty pond. By accident, the outlet pipe that empties the pond is left open. Under these conditions, how long will it take for the pond to fill?
There are so many more interesting things going on here than the mere length of time until the pond is filled. That is the simplest detail, but there is so much more happening here. Where is this pond I’m filling? What does it look like? Is it a new addition to my house, or has it been emptied by vandals? Maybe it was filled with soap as a prank from some neighbour kids. Maybe it was for that time last October when I was on that health food kick and decided that granola bars would be a good treat for the miniature Batman, Tinkerbell and wizard that appeared at my door one night. They’re probably right. Kids hate granola.
More importantly, why did I leave the outlet valve running? Why did I have it on at all? An accident? I don’t think so. Everything has a cause, so what was the cause of my forgetfulness? What was on my mind, what preoccupied me so that I forgot to turn it off? Now the pond is going to take forever to fill. Maybe I was thinking of that thing I said earlier in the conversation where I was talking to someone more openly than I’m used to. Maybe I could have said it better. Maybe I shouldn’t have said it at all. Maybe they think I’m strange – or worse, they KNOW I’m strange. Maybe I blew it and now everything will be awkward and ruined. Valve? What valve?
Perhaps most important of all is what I’m going to do while I wait for the pond to fill. And why won’t I go to check on it after an hour (at the latest!) and see my mistake and fix it? Maybe I’ll go out to the café where, for whatever reason, no one but the barista ever talks to me. It will give me time to catch up on my reading. Will I get a single or double mocha? Will I be jittery after I drink it? Or maybe I’ll stay home. Maybe I’ll kill time, like I’ve become so good at lately. Maybe before I know it the sun will have set and my day will have vanished. Again.
Maybe I’ll try to take a nap while the fucking pond fills. Maybe I’ll pass out as soon as my head touches the pillow. Maybe I’ll see flashes of light behind my eyelids in those minutes before I lose consciousness- again. Maybe I won’t dream. Maybe I’ll have the most vivid dreams of my entire life, and the overwhelming beauty and realism of them will overwhelm my dream eyes so that I’ll know in an instant that this much indescribable beauty mustn’t be real. Maybe I’ll recognise that the mind is the only reason beauty exists, because beauty isn’t anything but chaos without an observer to put it into perspective and give it value. Maybe, just maybe, during my divine revelation within the recesses of my own mind, the pool will spill over and soak all the grass in my yard and flood into my entire house and ruin everything I own and go though from the backyard to the front yard and spill into the street and fill all my neighbour’s houses and ruin everything they love and go from their front yard to their backyard and soak all their grass and keep going to the city limits but not stop there and go to the next city over and destroy all of those people’s houses and keep going and flood the entire state and the national guard will get called in but it won’t matter because by that point the whole state is underwater, and every state next to it, and every state next to that, until the whole world is flooded and everyone has died, including me, not that it matters because I have seen the Truth before I died so I don’t mind so much. That’ll show those fucking kids.
Pond? What pond?
- Posted in: Uncategorized