If you live in the United States and have bought or rented a place, you have almost certainly run across one of these. A classical case of damage from the lack of any kind of testing for safety, or its suppression if done.
On the way to work for a couple of weeks I noticed a decent diameter tree, maybe 30 cm, fallen across some non-electric lines. I think they were cable or telephone. Unfortunately, I don’t remember ever learning how you are supposed to report these things. They aren’t in an obvious municipality, so I can’t just go to the local DPW and tell them.
What I wish is that 8-1-1 wasn’t just utility marking, but a general utility number for things like downed lines (well, maybe that is covered by 9-1-1), trees in lines, service outages and similar matters. Currently you have to call the local utilities special number, which is hard to remember. It’s also hard to find out when you’re in the middle of nowhere and see something like this.
To my complete suprize and delight, there is a name for that interesting icon seen on electrical distribution physical plants: Mr. Ouch!
I had seen the icon around on various obviously electrical objects in my life, but I never really thought about it. Per the sources cited by WikipediA, it is from at least 1982, possibly earlier.
To me, besides being interesting of itself, it is another example of the depth of planning that went into a thing I just assumed more or less appeared out of thin air. This, for someone trained in engineering, is an embarrassing and improper approach to life.
Going through the workshop I discovered a t0n of old pesticides. Fortunately I didn’t see any DDT, but I did find things like diazanon (off the market since 1994), chloridane (sometime in the 1980s), nasty sounding other cyano stuff and other matters, including unlabeled (!) bottles and a bottle that didn’t list its ingredients, but assured you it was “a product of Science” (those exact words)! While fearful of the contents, I do admire those days when science was more trusted than it is now. On the other side, blind trust in science lead to some disasters I’d definitely not want to see repeated. Also found were old bottles of really concentrated lye drain cleaner and various solvents that shouldn’t be exposed to persons nowadays.
Additionally, there was some old educational matter, vocabulary worksheets from The Economy Company. The sentences were things like:
- We all own the White House, we just let the president live there.
- Mr. Manly is the second most patient teacher, yours is the first.
- Or you could marry a princess.
- Hamburger-scented perfume would be a sure success.
The moral of the story is, be sure to check out your and your parents’ stores of chemicals periodically and especially if they have been sitting around unused for a while. Some may be unusable now and others have a way of leaking their containers.