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Test before concealing. Haga una prueba antes de tapar. Tester avant de masquer.

I am looking at a Fernco pipe connector that I recently had to purchase at Home Depot to fix a sump pump and underground drainage system at my mother's house. Oh, lest you think I am a plumber or have a degree in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, like my one sister, let me be perfectly clear. I have been to Home Depot five times in my life; I prefer small, quaint hardware stores. I get overwhelmed by all the possibilities of stuff they sell to fix everything under the sun, moon, and dying stars. They do get major points for helpful customer service and friendliness however.

But I have had to learn many things in a short amount of time that I once believed only men could do. Like relighting a gas water heater, not as easy as it sounds, especially in the dark. Assessing gutters and the conditions of roof shingles, when I'm afraid of heights. Replacing shower heads, putting electrical plug covers on, switching clocks and lights to the upper plug socket. I do none of this because my mother complains; it is after the EE sister has visited and had trouble sleeping due to a dripping shower or clocks weren't the correct time. I've fixed the garage door opener, cleaned drains with environmentally safe products, re-programmed the dishwasher my sister insisted was not fixable. You would laugh at the temporary solution I used before buying the Fernco pipe connector, but it held through the hurricane and the snow melting: I cut a coffee can lid circle of plastic and duct taped the heck out of it, to prevent the prior Fountain of Youth that was shooting water four feet up and right next to the house foundation.

Alas, today and tomorrow, rain is expected so I must put off that project and spend the day talking with my mother, eating whatever she gives me, and doing what she breezily suggested this morning on her way out to exercise class and a haircut, "Just keep doing your reading and writing. It's not much of a day for anything else."
So I listened to my mother's advice and read about how to fix French drains with problems on various websites. Even Wikipedia, where Jimmy Wales is back with a bad haircut and looking like Donnie Wahlberg wearing stern make-up and fake laugh lines.

And I wandered, as is the way of internet exploration to the page of Brian Kernighan, who no longer sports the long, frizzy hair I recall from meeting him with one son regarding applying to Princeton. He wore jeans and had a messy office; insisted we call him Brian, then after an hour said, "you don't want to come here." And he turned out to be right. This was before his October 2009 "Leap in and Try Things" interview on "Harmony at Work Blog" in which he said, "My advice is to leap in and try things. If you succeed, you can have enormous influence. If you fail, you have still learned something, and your next attempt is sure to be better for it." I agree with the leaping, trying, failing, still learning, next attempt perhaps being better; I'm not so sure of the enormous influence part. But he's in another league; I just fix broken things to the best of my ability.

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