A WHILE AGo, I WRoTE AbouT MY RuN-INS with logic
rifts—places where the space-time continuum is ripped apart by the
stresses of having all normal reasoning disappear into a black hole of
“Huh!” If you remember, I recounted how any non-oblivious bystander
would be sucked into an alternate reality by the quake effect of anti-
logic’s interaction with logic. There’s no heat or tearing apart and sun-
dering—just a tremendous longing, fulfilled in some mysterious way, to
be someplace else quickly. It is, I believe, nature’s way of protecting the
sane and, probably, the only reason so many of us have survived.
Well, it’s happened to me again. And,
guess where? In a national park.
Early this spring, we decided to head
north from the logic refuge we’ve established for ourselves in Colorado to
see Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse
carving, Buffalo Bill Cody’s namesake
Wyoming town, and Yellowstone. Things
were going well until we got to Yellowstone—logic-wise, that is.
Yellowstone Park is a big and beautiful place, and the Old Faithful Inn, where
we stayed, is a 100-year-old classic worth
seeing. One can’t expect too much,
however, and we didn’t, in a setting
and facility that were very reminiscent
of summer camp. Perhaps because the
place was so devoid of any distracting
modern conveniences, not much would
be required to push you over the edge.
That, plus a fact that all visitors choose
to ignore. The Old Faithful Inn is built
on top of a super volcano that erupts every 600,000 years or so and (you can find
buried in the literature) last did so about
600,000 years ago. We stayed one night,
expressing the kind of actuarial reasoning that makes us such good enterprise
risk managers: Don’t push your luck.
The room we had was only nearly
100 years old as it was in the new addition built in the “teens.” The beds
and mattresses were, I think, original
equipment. There was a small radiator,
and for air conditioning you opened the
window. We had lost cell phone service
hours before, when we first entered the
park. There was nothing else in the room
unless you wanted to count the clock.
So, in complete sensory deprivation, I
maneuvered toward the bathroom, and
that’s where I saw the soap.
In a box with a hole in it was a bar of
soap with a hole in it. The center of the
bar of soap, the part that the box claimed
goes unused, was missing as the result
of what the box termed an ergonomi-cally shaped “waste reducing” design.
In effect, this soap (using an analogy
that I realize may be unsuitable for an
environmental product) killed two birds
with one stone. That is, it was both big