Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Back Side's Revenge

With the remnants of tropical storm Andrea having just passed through, it's time for another segment of Stump the Stars, with water being the stumper and whatever architect designed the local art museum being the stumpee. Of course, it may have been the builder who got the slant of the walkway a tiny bit wrong, which is all it takes to have runoff headed down the back stairway into the basement.

Hopefully the result was nothing like the flooding at the high school two years ago, during a much heavier rain.

There are a couple themes here. One is how good the elements are at fooling people. It doesn't take any great skill for water to outsmart top architects. All it has to do is flow downhill. Similarly, carbon dioxide is fooling most of humanity simply by quietly drifting up into the atmosphere.

The other theme is how frequently the back side of things eludes notice. It's these back stairwells that seem not to have been thought out sufficiently, while great attention is given to entryways and facades. In a similar vein, those in charge of recycling programs often forget to check out back to see if recyclables are actually making it to the back loading dock for weekly pickup. The sidewalks in town that become overgrown and impassible are on the side of the property not frequented by the owner. And of course the biggest gap in attention is the mischief rising from the back side of machines, e.g. car tailpipes, smokestacks and furnace chimneys.

What happens on the back side can circle around and take its toll on the front side, as in when floodwater entered from the back of the high school performing arts center, causing enough damage to the wooden stage that it had to be replaced. Hurricane Sandy, too, can be seen this way. Influenced by transformations of climate bred on the backside, it barged in America's front door.

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