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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Crossed wires

As an addendum to the electricity stories I would also like to add one other 'event'. This shows the point I raise in my first blog and at the head of the page. I have a bad memory and what I do have is active. I have put together large chunks of my past have been pieced together from what people have told me happened. That's why there are two versions of this story – what I thought may have happened for at least a decade...and what actually may have happened.

What I THOUGHT happened

I was a youngster...around 11 think, and my parents and I regularly went to the caravan park in Northamptonshire called Billing Aquadrome. It was the sort of caravan part where you had caravans that never went anywhere – more little weekend holiday homes. It had nice lakes, arcades, and lots of open land to run and play in.

Or in my case waddle in...I have never really been a small kid

I DID however, like to explore, so I often went for wanders.
One rainy Sunday I stuck on my wellies and went for a wander to the far side of the park. I knew there was this lock there and a small path out to the was the wild unknown land and sort of naughty to go as it was going out the park.

You know...the sort of place you HAD to go when you were a kid.

It started raining and I only had a t-shirt on but I was young and did not was light rain I think
Then there was a big BANG and FLASH!!!

That's the last thing I remember-until I turned up at the caravan...covered in mud...spiky hair...and what looked like a burn on my chest....did I get HIT BY LIGHTNING!!! my parents thought so.....

What REALLY happened

I was a youngster...hang on...this bits the skip that bit

So...this bit needs some dad played a lot of golf during that time and on that day
Someone DID get struck by lightning-a person on the golf course-and that was the talk of adults on the day

On the day in question I did go out and have a play
The bang and flash? It was me jumping out the way of a car on the path and getting clipped by it as I did, landing in the drainage ditch at the side

This explained the mud...the spiky hair...

When I got in my dad apparently – in his usual gallows humour – apparently said, “looks like someone else got hit by lightening today!!”

And that's SORT of why I remember it that way

One thing though...what about the burn on the chest?!?
Questions still need to be answered.....

SOOO as I said from the start....I have a bad memory and a good imagination..
I don't intend it tell a lie...but if I get something wrong....SORRY!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

This may be shocking....

*LOGAN HEALTH WARNING* - there may be some puns in here...oh and its a long 
one...buckle up

Many say I have an 'electric' personality...there I said that pun right out the park. Well the truth is that me and those pesky charged electrons have had something of an odd relationship. Over the years they have told me on more than one occasion that THEY are the boss and I should be VERY thankful that they are powering my TV/Computer/Phone/Girlfriends vibrator.

The schooling that electricity has given started small. It began with the extreme version of electricity's little cousin...static

1 - Retail wreckage

I spent most of my teenage years shuffling my feet. Part of this was the usual teenage ennui, but it was also due to the way I walked when I was a kid (another story). The thing was that shuffling feet can generate some static. In me...well it was a very different story. This was a a whole world of pain from static. I touched metal or someone’s hand and there was that shock...a big one.

It was annoying, but nothing more. An oddity. It didn't really become an issue until I started to go to HMV Leicester more. They had put there video section in the basement and there was this lovely shag style carpet. A few minutes of shuffling round looking for some cheap horror film or anime and that had stored up quite a few free electrons. With video (or was it DVD by then?) in hand I went up to the till. The item was scanned and I held out the money for the cashier.

Our hands meet and the inevitable happens.

An unknown level of current passes between us and the cashier swears in pain.

End of story right? The deed is done...errr no

The cashier has the register open, his hand on it...and its computerised
Well it WAS computerised until the charge I held passes from me, to the the till.

With a small pop, the screen above the register goes blank

I mumble a sorry and leave....

All would have been fine....but this happened twice!! I was threatened with being banned from the store...

Soooo electricity had begun my harsh lesson in respect. The next time would be during the many times I helped out my dad on a building site....

2 - Construction Calamity

I am not very good at construction...DIY may as well stand for DUH IDIOT...YOU!!! as far as I am concerned. However, I am strong and I am good at knocking things down. So, my dad, who is a builder, used to bung me some cash to help him out fetching and carrying, but also by knocking down the odd wall.

It was the demolition I enjoyed the most.

One day, dad hands me a pickaxe and asks me to have a go at this wall.
It was a nice wall and I had nothing against it, but a jobs a job. I also had some frustration to deal with..and the wall was a convenient target, so I attacked it with gusto.

Now parts of the job spec which was missed out – quite important parts were the following facts a) there was a mains wire in the wall and b) the mains had not been turned off

After ten minutes attacking the wall with the pickaxe I suddenly gained an amazing super power - flight. It was a somewhat limited super power in that it was only allowing me to fly about six foot, and I was flying backwards.

Yes...I had caught the cable, and the shock threw me backwards..Other than a bruised bum there was no damage though. This did not mean that the lesson was not learnt.....always respect electricity, wherever it may live. If you stir the hornets nest you may get stung- or in this case almost fried.

The next lesson was one in never letting your guard down.

3 - Water let down

There were a number of things wrong with the first house I rented after I left university. Many years later I found that one of those things was that the boiler had been condemned. This was comforting as it was just by my bedroom at the time. However, in the context of this story, the place where I lived was not that bad – insane house mates and infestation of crickets notwithstanding

I did find out though that the landlord was possibly not the best electrician

Now...I like a shower every morning. I try and shower at least once a day. I find it very refreshing and wakes me up.

I can already tell you know where this is going. It is sort of predictable. By this point I have set out a general theme...oh well, I have started this trip...may as well see it to its conclusion...

YES – my first flat had a power shower and I always thought it woke me up very definitely left me refreshed and full of energy (sorry another pun)
Indeed, it gave me a LOT of energy one morning when the tingling from the shower got very sharp very quick..again my super power came into effect, this time it was even more limited, allowing me to fly backwards just a few feet out the shower...

Again, a few bruises but no lasting damage..I think

It seems the power shower's pump had been incorrectly earthed...shocking!!

The final lesson for tonight was a simple one...


I have a small fascination trying to find out how things work. When I was young this meant I had a small tool kit and man MANY parts from t things I took apart and failed to put back together. In my later years, laziness has dulled this desire. However, this did not stop me one time trying to get a closer look at one of those disposable cameras.

You know the ones...the ones wrapped in cardboard they used to have which you could then post off for developing...before we left the stone age and went digital.

The younger readers will not understand the nature of photos before digital..we actually had little boxes with real film in...there were also little elves inside that drew all the pictures we flashed at least I think that's what happens

That's why I opened up one of those cardboard devils.

Inside was a plastic brick with a small generic AA battery. The battery was for the built in flash. It was one of those flashes that charged up and discharged its energy in one big explosion of light.

It was also a flash which I had inadvertently charged up when taking the covering off.

And then I caught the small metal catch which activated the flash...the bit that completed the circuit between the charged battery and the flash

And the full charge went into me.

I am aware that of all the shocks I had up to this point...this was possibly the smallest but BUGGER did it hurt the most!!

Curiosity did not exactly kill the cat in this case, but it did singe its fur.

SO what have we learnt from this. Electricity should be respected and you need to be careful round it. You possibly also know not to be ANYWHERE near me during a thunder storm and always make sure your are wearing rubber shoes when we shake hands.
Although intercourse could get quite interesting....besides, condoms are made of rubber right?