The bad news: our hot water heater, aged approximately 14, bit the dust this evening.
The good news: Jim was here when it happened. Thus, minimal flooding in the basement. And I'm off tomorrow so I can be here when the plumber comes to replace it.
The bad news: No hot water til tomorrow.
The good news: The plumber is supposed to arrive between 10 and 11, so not a big deal.
The bad news: Water in the basement.
The good news: The basement floor is really clean now!
Jim researched different hot water heating options, including the "on demand" system, where there's no hot water tank and the water is just immediately warmed up as you turn on the faucet. (This is apparently popular in Europe, probably because no one has any space for hot water tanks, and they're supposed to be more efficient). But it sounds like there are a lot of down-sides to that, and we really need something installed quickly (and relatively cheaply). So we're going with the standard hot water tank.