Adventures In Boiling Water!
-Fred Stock

            Sometimes when the air in the house in the desert gets too dry, we boil water. It would seem to be a perfectly simple process – fill a pan with water at the sink, put it on a proper electric heating element at the stove, and turn on the power. No Big deal. Well, not for regular people anyway, it’s probably not. But this is us, after all.

         One thing we have definitely learned; if you put the pan on the right front burner, it will boil much faster if you turn on the right front burner. You can write that down if necessary, it’s been proven. If instead you turn on the one behind it, it will get warmer in time, but it will probably never boil. We have tested this theory for up to an hour, and can vouch for it.

(Hey, you do, and you’ll clean it up!)

 Once you have carefully coordinated the position of the pot and the correct knob on the stove control panel, and actually executed the knob one quarter turn clockwise, you can expect superior results.

         Now, when the pot finally DOES come to a boil, it is an interesting experience. It starts off so quietly that the average person in the range of “late middle” to “early elderly” won’t hear it at all. You know your nose and sinuses will shortly feel much better, so you settle down in your favorite recliner. And of course, being 65, you doze off.

           Suddenly you are jarred awake, rudely aware that there is a noise of some considerable proportion in your zone. Something is violating your personal space in a most uncivilized manner! Come to discover the pot has begun to boil, and the copper bottom and the stainless steel upper part of the device are communicating with the red hot burner coil made of some originally black metal apparently not of this planet. The three types of metallic surfaces are now locked in a violent battle. They sputter and pop, snap as though they were being whipped. Expansion, snap! Adjustment, Pop! Bimetallic bending like a thermostat but straining in restrictive captivity! Sputter, slap, blam!! Bubbles in vigorous motion like a cow in a Kansas twister, effervesce powerfully to the surface, loudly announcing their presence and their pending sudden death as they transmute instantly to steam!

There is so much energy and cacophony you expect that the pot will shatter into chards of flaming metal. The ambient music in the house is gradually drowned to inaudibility by the thunderous roar emanating from that corner of the kitchen. It is fierce! A sound track from Industrial Light and Magic and Dream Works! It reaches the point where you fold your legs under you so you won’t get burned when the pot jumps off the stove and make a break for the front door! Scary! What’s gonna happen? Oooooooooooo.

          Now, being a reasonable adult (according to the driver’s license, anyway,) you decide it will all be alright and drop back into lethargy. After all, your modern home is equipped with the ultimate device for this situation. After a few hours of boiling, all the water is gone, the pan now begins to make a strong odor which in turn sets off the smoke detector, which in it’s wisdom, wakes you from inert to alert in an abrupt transition! It’s just another

marvel of modern science. It’s good to be alert. The world needs lerts. At least your nose isn’t dry any more. There’s just that awful burned smell…  -fhs