Monday, July 30 2001


Find your next decimal birthday. I’m 9540 days old today, and my next Major Decimal Birthday is my 10000th day on Saturday, 2 November 2002. (And I will be 9600 days old on 28 September 2001.)

Don’t try this at home, kids!

Update: See photos here.

A couple of days ago, my hairdryer developed a loose contact. I think to myself, hey, I’m a physicist, I can fix this! Out with the screwdrivers. But it seems the hairdryer manufacturer doesn’t trust their costumers, since they put special screws in the dryer that can only be unscrewed with a special screwdriver [see photo], which I don’t have, of course. Hmm…

I plug the dryer in again and try to figure out where the loose contact is. It seems to help when I wiggle the plug in the socket, so I conclude the loose contact must be inside the plug. I even make sure the loose contact isn’t inside the socket by trying it on different sockets. The effect is the same in every socket, so it must be the plug that is broken.

Off to the hardware store I go. I buy a new plug and try the dryer one more time last night. Yep, the loose contact is still there, so I cut the old plug off and prepare the cables for the new plug, then screw it on. Bummer, the cable is too thin, you can pull it out of the new plug. After a while I figure out how to fix this so the cable stays put.

The whole operation takes more than half an hour, and finally I prouldly put the brand-new plug into the socket and try the hairdryer. After switching it on, there seems to be a slight delay before it starts humming, but it works – for about ten seconds. Suddenly sparks emerge from the other end of the cable, and the room goes dark. It seems I burnt a fuse.

After recovering from the shock and putting the fuse back in, I find out that the loose contact was in fact on the other end of the cable, at the point where the cable enters the hairdryer, probably because the cable gets bended too hard there and was worn out after seven years.

I bought a new hairdryer today. Does anyone need a brand-new plug? It was used only once.

And by the way, I didn’t buy a hairdryer with an air purifying filter. I actually saw that one in the store, though. What will companies think of next in order to make you buy their stuff?

3 thoughts on “Monday, July 30 2001

  1. Scott Hanson

    You’re a physicist, not a electrician. :-)

    I’m glad you weren’t around when Frauke ran over the cord for our lawn mower…

  2. Andrea Frick

    Oh, well, but physicists should know all about electricity, shouldn’t they? Theoretically, I knew how to fix the hairdryer. I just need one of those special screwdrivers…

    So how did you fix your lawnmower? Did you buy a new cable?

  3. Scott Hanson

    The cable was a special outdoor extension cable, and it wasn’t cheap. But it wasn’t designed to go through the lawn mower. It was cut in two, and set off the circuit breaker. Of course we bought a new cable.

    The voltages are 230 for Europe and 115 for the US, but they are commonly rounded down to 220 and 110. I know, I’ve been zapped by both.

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