Pop, Poof!

Last weekend, I went driving around the Puget Sound. I paid cash for a lot of things, which left me with a lot of pocket change. While I was getting ready for work on Monday, I decided to put all of this change in my bank.

I have a really nice “piggy bank,” which is an actual pig dressed like Superman. It was a birthday gift from my wife. I think she was tired of me using old peanut butter jars for a coin stash. The pig has a slot in the top of his head, for inserting the coins, like a normal bank.

I have this bad habit of inserting many coins at once. It saves me time. I never thought that it could go wrong. But it did. As I was adding many coins at once, a penny missed the slot. It rolled off the pig, landed on its edge and rolled off the back of the dresser. Behind the dresser was a 6-gang electrical plug adapter. The penny fell perfectly behind it on the two prongs that settled in the plug behind the adaptor.

I remember my grandmother telling me once that, back in the days before circuit breakers,  people used to replace fuses with pennies when they didn’t want to spend money on fuses. A penny is a perfect size for the fuse socket, was made of copper (a great conductor), and was thick enough to carry more current than the fuse. My grandmother ended the story with the fact that, since pennies don’t blow like fuses, people often had fires that a fuse would have prevented.

This penny, despite being newer and no longer made of solid copper, was still a decent conductor. It provided a loud POP! The sound was so loud (especially with the expletive that I yelled) that I didn’t even hear the breakers trip in the box next to the plug. It pulled so many amps that if flipped the main breaker for the entire house, along with the bedroom breaker.

After I had retrieved the penny, I turned the power back on and took some pictures.

There are soot marks on the wall.  I replaced the outlet and the cover. IMG_7582

The Penny. You can see where it made contact with the plugs. The short had so much force that it was actually thrown on top of the 6-gang plug.IMG_7584

The 6-gang plug. There’s some melted penny on each of the prongs. This is probably still usable, but I didn’t want to chance it. I replaced it with one that screws into the wall socket so that there’s no space for a penny to slide in. IMG_7585

Exploring the Peninsula 

Kelley and I went driving on Sunday. This was my second trip in three weekends. I take these rides so that we can explore the Olympic Peninsula and surrounding area. Seeing that we’ve lived on the island for 3 years now, it is about time that we see all the cool things in the area.

What we found, was more stuff to go back and see. On this ride, we drove out to Aberdeen. We passed the Rodeo Drive-in Movies, a pretty cool looking paintball course, a disc golf course, and a retired nuclear power plant at Satsop (which appears to offer guided tours, if you call ahead).

When we arrived in Aberdeen, we stopped at a Starbucks and had a couple of drinks while we talked. I plotted out the course around the 101 loop, but it was too late to take the six-hour drive around the northern part of the highway. We decided to do that another time. While looking at the route, I noticed a hotel on the map, the Quinault Lodge, which looks really cool. This, too, will be an excellent destination for another time.

I’m planning to do a few more of these trips. There’s a lot to see in this area. Most of it is just the natural beauty of the undeveloped countryside. It’s a good way to spend time.

Vote!

There have been a lot of people on Facebook, Twitter, and the news networks that say they will not vote this year as a protest. I think that these people are misguided for many reasons.
First, there’s nothing more unamerican. Going all the way back to the American Revolution, you can find documents that complain about “taxation without representation,” eg., a vote for the people that govern with the taxes collected. American soldiers dating all the way back to the first war that the United States ever fought (even before they were called the “United States”) were fighting for the right to vote. To protest anything by not voting is an act that goes against one of the core reasons that we exist today.
Second, making the election ugly so that people don’t vote is a strategy, not a protest. When a candidate thinks that they won’t get the majority of a group of people that are easily offended, it’s in their best interest to dissuade them from voting. If that group of voters is likely not to vote in disgust, that candidate is going to make sure that they are disgusted.
Lastly, the claim that someone lives in a blue state or a red state, so their vote doesn’t matter is a logical fallacy. The theory is that their state will vote their way with or without their vote with such a large margin of victory that one vote won’t make a difference. In reality, you live in a red state or a blue state because the people in that state vote one way or the other. Elections are tallied one vote at a time. If enough of the voters in your state do the same thing, you may find yourself disappointed on November 9th. This phenomenon is even more likely in a world where people make this claim on television, radio and social media.
You may feel let down by the candidates, the current incumbents or some forces from outside the traditional American system. This disappointment doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t vote. Even if you feel your vote is redundant, drop one more vote to represent your views. By all means, vote!