Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Case of the Asymptotic Remodel

"What's an asymptomatic remodel, wot?" exclaimed Watley, looking over my shoulder as I penned the latest entry in my casebook.

"Watley, my good friend," I exclaimed, "you are most certainly a doctor. I reach this deduction, you see, based on your mis-reading of the entry in my casebook. Were you a mathematician, you would have read it properly, as 'asymptotic', referring to a mathematical formula in which a value approaches a limit over time but never reaches it, which is also, incidentally, the word that is written there. But not being a mathematician, as I have just established, you must perforce be a doctor. That is known, to logicians, as the law of the excluded middle, since at the moment I can't recall any other professions. Other than private detective, the most esteemed of all professions, which you most certainly are not, or you would have long ago deduced yourself that you are a doctor. Ah ha ha."

Perhaps I should not have chortled in so derisive a manner, but occasionally my joyful indulgence in my own deductive genius manifests as a somewhat dismissive derisiveness toward others' intellectual inferiority.

"Yes, well," replied he. "You are deucedly good at deducing that I am a doctor. Happens with great frequency. No doubt it helps that you already know that I am a doctor."

I informed Watley that, as I am unable to recall from day to day that he is a doctor, my feats of deduction are worthy of a great deal more respect, as they prove me a genius.

"Nevermind all that," he replied in his idiotically good-natured way, "but what of this asymptotic rot and all?"

"Perhaps you have noticed," I informed him, jabbing the bit of my pipe at his chest, "that there is no furniture in the room. That is why I am standing here writing in my casebook without benefit of chair or table."

"That would not explain how I could be looking over your shoulder," responded Watley, who I had once again forgotten was shorter than me. Had he grown overnight? Recalling that once all other possibilities had been eliminated, the only remaining possibility, not matter how unlikely, must be the case, I concluded that he had, in fact, grown overnight. Remarkable. I was about to remark on this, when I happened to sagely nod my head in a downward direction, and noted with astonishment that Watley was standing on a small footstool, which extended one of his many bodily dimensions by several inches, possibly too many to count.

"Hmph, yes, well, aside from the footstool." With this supplementary statement I once again took the high ground. That is to say, I kicked the footstool out from under Watley's feet. Looking now at Watley, a though occurred to me. Had Watley shrunk since this morning?

"It's those dastardly plasterers, masoners, carpenters, hodders, bricksters, and moulderers!" I sputtered. "What is preventing them from completing repairs so that we can set things aright in here? The closer they get to completion, the less they are finishing. It's a puzzle, indeed."

I took a puff of my pipe, scrawled "SOLVED" in a profoundly intellectual hand across the page, and closed the casebook with a triumphant clap. A glance at Watley established that he had, inexplicably, not changed height.