Monday, September 22, 2008

Fire and the Infinite Loop

You'd think that correcting a document and fixing dinner would be simple things to do in an evening. I thought the same thing, until Thursday night, when I not only created infinity, but I almost burned down our apartment complex, too. This is what happened:

I just got back my book proposal from my agent, with the changes she felt it needed. Luckily nothing major, and every suggestion she had, once she said it, made perfect sense. So I worked on making the changes all day on Thursday. I got to the last changes, which is incorporating two sets of photos appearing at the beginning and the end of the chapter together in one place instead of two. Seemed simple enough. Unless you are me.

So I start happily rearranging the photos. There are text boxes accompanying the photos, so I copy and paste them with their appropriate pictures from one copy of the document to another . Out of the corner of my eye, I notice something weird is happening to the little blue scroll button thing to the right. It's moving up. My document begins repaginating. I don't pay it much mind for a while; I'm focused. Then I notice my page count is going CRAZ-EE. It's moving like a digital stopwatch counting down nanoseconds to the end of the year or something. It turns out my document has inexplicably begun creating an infinite number of pages. At first I think maybe I can get to the end and delete whatever is down there causing the ruckus. But at the depth of about 31,000 pages, it crashes. There is no end. I have a bottomless document. Then I make it worse. It's just another talent I have.

Just as I realize I have created a form of infinity, Jon (my guy) comes home from work. It's time to fix dinner (I try and make myself useful when I can). But I'm weirded out, distressed and frustrated by my ever-expanding document. So here's what I do: I start dinner.
I decide to let things warm up on the stove for just a minute while I check one more thing...

The next thing I hear is Jon make a sound I've never heard him make before. I get up reluctantly, pained to have to step away from my document (that's still wildly creating pages), and upon approaching the kitchen, I notice an orange glow on the walls.

Yup. The pan I had put on the burner to warm up had caught fire, and tall flames were coming straight out of the pan. Quick thinking, Jon turns off the burner, and runs to get the fire extinguisher from outside our door. My survival instincts are sluggish, and actually, not that interested. I debated just putting the lid on the pan. That's supposed to work, I thought detachedly as the smoke alarms began going off. But what if I reach over the flames, and my sleeve catches on fire? I wouldn't like that much. I move the bag of pancake mix out of the way of the flames. By now Jon is back with the extinguisher, but his earlier move of turning off the burner has caused the flames to die down. We watch the flames go out. All that's left of them is the blackened pan.

Apart from feeling stupid, I was actually way more upset about my infinite document doing who-knows-what in the other room. Of course I apologize all over the place to him (I still am). Luckily, nothing was hurt. Even the pan is fine. A little soot, and a very smoky apartment. No big thing. I began to fix dinner (in a different pan and I don't leave the dinner this time).

The document wasn't savable. Jon tried everything. He copied it, saved it as a docx, sent it to his computer, opened it. It looked fine. Then he'd send it back to the mac, and when he opened it, it was still infinite. Basically, I ended up doing my work over again using the original version my agent sent back to me. Apparently, it's a huge bug with text boxes. When I'd copied and pasted a bunch of those text boxes, I guess there was no longer an anchor for them to call home. Orphaned, the little text boxes searched and searched for their anchors, and finding none, the program started creating more and more pages looking for those anchors. Since there were none in that document (all the anchors were still in the document I'd copied the text boxes from), the document became infinite. And I created fresh new text boxes, complete with anchors for each of them to call home. And as of today, I haven't started any new fires. is time to start fixing dinner.

No comments: