Sunday, January 25, 2009


We live in a very modest house and have a growing family. As far as I can tell, we are functional. I wouldn’t call myself happy, because I don’t trust men who seem to be outwardly happy, but they seem to be, and I am living an interesting life.

So the wife wants a bigger house and finds a McMansion on the Internet. I agree to look. It is a big, blocky house. It belongs to a recently divorced couple with four children. The two youngest daughters were in the kitchen cleaning things and are the only ones home. There is an empty look in their eyes.

I drink cheap beer. There are bottles of Samuel Adams on top of the granite kitchen island.

As we walk upstairs, the agent notes that there may need to be some patch-up work on the drywall. I note that the cracks extend from the corners of the doorways at 45 degree angles, indicating that the cracks are from settlement shifting the frame of the house. The point of the highest stress is at the corners of the doorways. I do not say anything.

The settlement could have been from poor compaction over granular soil, in which case it has probably stopped. Or the settlement could have been from an inadequate foundation on clay soils, in which case the settlement would continue. I ask the agent about the soils around the house for this and gardening purposes, and he does not know.

Then we go to the basement. In my home, we have a 250 gallon fuel oil tank. This house has 660 gallons of fuel oil storage.

Then back to the kitchen, where the teenage girls are still cleaning things. They talk about moving and I, trying to be social, ask them where they are moving to. They answered not with a place, but with a structure. They are moving to a duplex.

We are not buying that house. I feel very bad about those teenage girls.

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