Anyway. Usually when I'm headed down to the basement, it's to get something out of the chest freezer and I wound up on that path instead of grabbing-a-bottle-of-beer. And when I opened the freezer, I immediately realized something was really, really wrong. It was not cold. It was so not cold, it was warm.
I got the beer, went upstairs, made the waffles, and went back downstairs later to try to figure out what had happened. I figured maybe some of the guys working on the screened porch who were doing some work in the basement had maybe plugged something into the power strip attached to the outlet for the chest freezer (DO NOT START WITH ME. I'm not interested. The only thing normally plugged into that is the wine fridge. This is a reasonable combination.). Which they swore up and down they had not and in any event, the breaker had not flipped so that was not it. Because the switch is in an incredibly awkward location, I did not realize it was GFI (YES I KNOW I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT. I did say not to start with me.) and it had been interrupted. Push button. Everything works. *sigh*
So this evening, I got the kids away from the house for a little while so R. could haul the freezer out to the driveway where he could turn the hose on it to free the contents of the freezer from the two inches of ice in the bottom that had collected and then refroze when we turned it back on.
The freezer is now back where it belongs, empty, off, with the lid open, drying out, and the contents of it are sitting in our trash bin waiting to be picked up early tomorrow morning.
This is a lesson in the problems associated with active storage, particularly active storage that is not maintained adequately. (Hint: spent fuel pools.) The good news, such as it is, is that there was not very much in the freezer, and it wasn't acquired recently. (Also, as long as no one eats any of it, it isn't going to hurt anyone, much less melt through a containment vessel and permanently poison the surrounding area.)
In unrelated cold storage, about five years ago I got really interested in sleep patterns and attempted to find an anthropology or cultural history of sleep. I failed. I failed really spectacularly. I failed so thoroughly that I became convinced that such a thing really and truly did not exist. I bought some tangentially related things (Brunt and Steger's book, notably) and moved onto the next Bright Shiny Area of Investigation. Today, I got an e-mail from from a history professor who stumbled across one of my very, very infrequent Amazon reviews, also dating from this particular area of interest -- he wanted to know if I found anything. I sent him a list of what I had found and asked him to keep me in mind if he found anything.
And then I thought, Self, You Should Go Try Again. Sure enough, Simon J. Williams has a new book out and Steger and Brunt put out a second collection in 2008. There's also a medical anthropology book out about nightmares. As near as I can tell, that's it. (Ok, there's a truly awful looking book about how couples manage sharing a sleep environment. But that's so inside the box I can't work up any interest in it at all.) Weird. We spend a lot of time in the dark lying down. You'd think someone could work up some interest in the massive variation in how we do that (and maybe a section on the people who don't do it in the dark and don't do it lying down. And no, I'm _not_ talking about sex. I'm talking about sleep).