I first lived in a house built in ~1900. Then my parents moved to a place much newer (8os), but I still visited my grand parents’ places, which were a Sears Roebuck house and a DIY from the forties. Both had really iffy old electrical wiring (you can probably guess what the title means now) that more often than not did not have grounding.
Both of them had recourse to “cheater plugs”, that allowed you to plug a 3 prong (grounded) plug into a 2 prong (ungrounded) outlet and had a little tab or wire that you would then screw to the faceplate of the outlet or connect to a ground. Riiiight… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done.
An aside: a school I went to for two years had 3 main buildings, 1 built in the 50s or 60s, and the other two in the 1860s maybe. In a class room that was way too small, like many of them, there was the only power outlet on the wall, about 6 feet up, in the middle of the wall. Why? That’s (most likely) where the gas jet was at first. When it was replaced by wires, they used the existing conduit. I don’t remember where the light switch was, or if that room had cieling lights or not. Anyway the outlet was ungrounded, and I think unpolarized, with a cheater plug supporting (literally!) the power strip hanging down about 4 feet, which an old IBM PS/2 486 was plugged into on the teacher’s desk, or next to it.
This day, though, I used one that I had to provide a path to ground for a UPS that powers my medical equipment and an old Clock of great value. The thing had its “wiring fault detected” LED lit ever since I moved to this apartment, and now it has a ground through the radiator pipe in my bedroom. Improvement!
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.