Monday, 1 December 2008

Quantum Toaster of Improbability


The last time I wrote I was in Los Angeles and engaged in the art of smearing my presence all over the planet. It makes for a rather thin layer. I am not fond of thin layers really… especially not on toast. And this is a story about a toaster…

I like thick layers of whatever it is I have to hand. Even though it is a mood based issue - say like a base layer of goat's milk butter, followed by half an inch of creamy ripe avocado, some houmous, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, salami, roast pumpkin seeds and pepper (see pic). That may sound excessive but it is not and it is a meal in itself with all the nutrients you may require. On occasions the base layer of toast is almost just an edible plate on which all that scrummy goodness is balanced. But the quality of the toast is indeed essential to the sandwich. And bread is no more acceptable a substitute than cold water is instead of a hot shower on a winter's day with boiler troubles and no central heating (my current strife).
Anyway as I mentioned last read I was in Los Angeles. Now I am in London. I've been back a month. Back in my own house. Hooray. Its been good. It's the first time I've been in the same place for more than 15 days this whole year. More on THAT later. You see I seem to live my life at a pace and fullness which can cut out achieving some important things.

And here’s the example to somewhat illustrate – I love toast. It can be as comforting as a nice cup of tea and a sit down. But I no longer have a toaster. I used to have a fabulous gas stove with a lovely built-in grill that made superb toast and magical cheesey toasties (would you believe they make toasted cheese in pots on the stove in Canada, quite well admittedly but seems odd no?). But that stove broke and my landlords replaced it with a really rubbish thing that has an internal grill but its a real ball-ache to get to work and you have to have the door open for it to function which is a major design flaw and annoyance. So in this entire month I have not yet managed the minor achievement of purchasing one. I have been into an Argos store 3 times. Argos stores are catalogue stores. You look in a catalogue, find a product code, fill out a slip, pay then wait while in the depth of the store warehouse someone finds your toaster and sends it a collection point for you. All for £6.92. However I keep arriving at the store, filling the slip out then seeing a huge queue and catalogue shopping being an imprecise science, realising I don’t have time to do this before my yoga class on a, for example, Monday evening at 7pm. Well I probably do have time but these classes always fill up and become super packed and that’s such a drag being rushed going in and getting a bad spot etc... So I leave just thinking I will return the next day earlier or somesuch. But then my day fills up with all manner of more important things of great consequence! So I just keep putting it off even though, as mentioned I love toast. That juicy warmth... Yum...

Its Sunday night 30 Nov. All is well (aside for the heating issue). I was out with friends in Hoxton Square and left to return home – a drink or three having been imbibed. I was on my bike. I planned to go a certain way home – which would’ve meant going the wrong way up a one-way street on my bike with no front light. I was meeting a friend at my place and she was in a car leaving from the same bar so I was in a hurry being the proud cyclist in London determined to prove my simple transport quicker than the planet’s most popular A to B polluter. But something prompted me to take a new and slightly different route, realising it might actually be quicker. This shortcut as it happened was also the right and most sensible way for me to go resulting in me going the right way up a one-way street. But before I got to the street I traversed a pedestrianised section. And there on the side, shivering up against a brick wall was a sodden toaster (see picture). A 2-slot 4-slice configuration in white with some light turquoise details, brand unclear “D” logo. Something plastic stuck in its maw.

Naturally I was quite intrigued at this fortuitous find – it being precisely what I needed. It had about it every look of being a lost pet, bewildered and bedraggled. The remoteness of position, time of night and weather conditions made it highly unlikely that its owner intended to collect it. But why would someone abandon a working toaster. Then again why would someone bring a broken toaster to THIS place and abandon it there? Did this toaster run away from an abusive home or excitedly wander out for an adventure after some errant child left the kitchen door open and now it can’t find its way back to the pantry. Or had it been drinking? So I wondered – was the universe gifting me a toaster? Sure I hoped that would be the case.

At any rate, I was in a hurry (noted again) so I scooped it up and cycled with it under my arm back to mine. I put it on my kitchen table and marveled at the improbability of this circumstance. The universe will provide that which you seek and ask for. And even that which it knows you need.

But I have yet to test it. You see I was inspired by it to write this tale. And being of inquiring mind I thought I would be authentically journalistic about the experience and document the events as or nearly as they happened. So it still remains to be seen if the toaster works or not. I have no central heating so it is super cold but I do have some wonderful fresh sourdough bread purchased just today which would make super wonderful toast. Mmm… just the thing to survive a night of beastly British winter.

I introduced the toaster to my friend Anette who had arrived by car by now (ha! victory is the cyclists) and she raised the fear prospect that I could electrocute myself on it or do some sort of other damage. Now I very much doubt that I will but it is worth bearing in mind as a possibility though that would be ultra-random by the universe. Then again Aeschylus the Greek Father of Tragedy was killed by a tortoise dropped by an eagle who, intent on smashing the tortoises shell. mistook his bald head as a rock.

This all sort of reminds me of Schrodinger’s Cat. A philosophical quantum thought experiment:

Schrödinger's Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If a Geiger counter detects radiation then the flask is shattered, releasing the poison which kills the cat. Quantum mechanics suggests that after a while the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not a mixture of alive and dead. (wikipedia description and diagram...)

Whatever. I prefer the "Lobstonian Text and Voicemail". Turn your phone off, then you won’t know if that cute love-interest has left you a message yet or not. Either your social life is alive or dead. If you turn the phone on then you may find out that they have not and be bitterly disappointed like its the end of the world… but until the time you do turn the phone on you can bask in the golden valley of hope.

So too, I am enjoying the hope that this is a fully functional toaster. And if I turn it on I might be disappointed (and lumped with a useless appliance, I, in my turn need to dump). Anyway it is next to me and my typing is causing the table to jiggle just slightly which in turn is making the toaster’s innards rattle slightly like its purring or communicating with me.

I removed a milky bar wrapper from its innards (maybe that was what was confusing it and drove it madly out of its safe environment) and gave it a clean like one would a stray and its cord got all-a-waggling like a dog’s so I am thinking of it as a hound. And its male. Anette explained it is Der Toaster (sp?) in German not Die Toaster. So I will go with that… And while I find the improbability of the situation very amusing, in the event of it functioning, I have a very light feeling of guilt regarding ownership.

So I plan to paste a poster “FOUND - Male Toaster, white 2-slot, 4-slice Sunday 30 Nov off Hoxton Square. Call 07958 613 466 to reclaim.” With a photo and well if no-one comes forward to claim it then I will mark this event as example A and really trust the universe to provide.

aaarrgrghhhhhh ok – I can take it no longer – I must have toast!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lemme at it!

Ok the toaster is on… it sort of smells and looks like it might be working but the proof is in the toasting! And like a watched pot never boiling, watched toast takes much longer than it should. So I am recording the moment on my camera in the background, it’ll pop up and we’ll take it from there. There it goes!!!! Be still my beating heart… bugger inconclusive… stick it back in – there are worrying signs of a lack of filament in the middle… ooooo the disappointment and dashed hopes…

Darn it – there are vital pieces missing so it only toasts on one side. This is effectively a non-functioning toaster – one cannot be bothered with a toaster that only toasts one side really… and that’s a shame. Though it was still so much easier than that bloody grill. So what is very clear is that I should make the time to ensure I get a toaster asap. No more messing around.

And for the toast I did manage to get out I had the last of the goat’s milk butter with peanut butter and almost the last of the blackberry jam I got from the Frey’s vineyard in Mendocino county, California. And THEY are worth an entry all for themselves! And in time they’ll get it!

Ok its 0143am. I should’ve been asleep a long time ago… but I guess I am just doing what I was taught to do… creatively writing from my own experience.

And I am a little disappointed… after all it would’ve been really funny. So let’s analyse this in terms of cliché’s….

If something looks too good to be true it probably isn’t …

Slow time down so the next decision is the right one … missing filaments from a toaster are obvious problems even or especially late at night in the rain on a bicycle.

Hope springs eternal and one can really set oneself up for one’s own falls though its also a safe way to fulfill man’s need for suffering.

Post script… resolved to buy a toaster today. I still managed to think of several other things more important to do and finally only at 4.15pm left the office and just damn well bought the thing. Except that the model I wanted was out of stock. So I bought another at nearly twice the price… haha.

A curiosity to note was that 4.15 today was also the prime moment to watch the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the moon with Venus being occluded by the moon. Its rather rare. And as usual I did not get to see it because it was cloudy in London. So it goes. But my long-awaited toaster was acquired under its auspices nonetheless.

My next mission… get a new toothbrush…

Ho hum.

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