When I think back over the more than 1,000 columns I have written, one of my funniest lines was pretty paltry. It wasn’t even a full sentence. It was a dependent, hyphenated clause about The Plumber Who Saved Thanksgiving. My wife and I were a day away from hosting 10 friends from out of town for Thanksgiving dinner when all three toilets in the house stopped flushing. A plumber arrived with backpacks of equipment, some of it ancient and mechanical, but most of it high-tech. There were computer consoles and 90-foot snakes with electric eyes. The plumber descended to the basement, deployed the technology and diagnosed: We would have to dig up the front yard, replace old plumbing with new. More dreadful, we would have no water — no functioning sinks or bathrooms — for at least three days.