September 30, 2004

Stupidity play! RED CARD!

The title of this entry is a direct quote from a fondly remembered high-school gym teacher. It was his direct way of informing you that you had just done something that (again in his words) dropped you below Darwin's Breakpoint, and since he couldn't remove you from the gene pool, he could at least kick you out of the game. Just in case, he would thunder, stupidity is catching.

Bless you, Alton Smith; I have warranted the Red Card. Became so incensed at work today, from a long series of wearying travails I won't belabor here, that I was forced to redirect some rage upon a whiteboard, which (like a certain door) hadn't ever really done anything to me.

Unlike the door, though, the whiteboard (with the help of the wall it was hung on) came out ahead. It's undamaged. I, on the other hand, have been informed by the helpful folks at MGH that I have what is descriptively known as " Boxer's Fracture" - twice - of the metacarpal bone in my right hand.

This entry is hence being typed one-handed-lefty, which means I'm having to look at the damn keyboard for the first time since college. And it's slow.

Learned some cool stuff in the hospital, though. For example, I was chatting with a gent whose coworker had had his thumb sliced halfway through the base, cutting two tendons. They assured him he was in no danger of losing it. While he waited for the injured guy's wife to show up, we talked about his job - he's an elevator mechanic. I learned that the reason I have an unconscious affinity for old skyscraper elevators is that most of then are original equipment, with the exception of the motors and controllers - the DC motors are now AC, much more reliable, and the controllers modern. He told me the old elevator systems were overengineered, made of heavy steel; as a result, they are smooth and nigh indestructible, giving a superior ride. Modern elevators, using cheaper materials and engineered tightly to legal tolerances to save money, while safe, are not as rigid and solid.

Also, one of the main limits to building height has been the elevator shaft. The shaft must be true; no flex is tolerated, although sway is. As a result, extremely tall buildings have sky lobbies where you switch elevators so that the structure can have flex points where the shafts break. He told me that Otis has an elevator now that can move sideways between shafts automatically, smoothly enough that it is hard to notice - meaning no more switching elevators in extremely tall buildings! Turbolifts, here we come.

From listening to the tech instructing the medical student as he put on my cast, I learned that changing the temperature of the mix water in plaster will not only change the time to set (which I had known but forgotten) but thus change the temperature of the cast's exothermic period - which makes sense.

And from this experience, I've learned that broken bones hurt, and that having one working hand is startlingly annoying. Posted by jbz at September 30, 2004 12:15 AM | TrackBack

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