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Sunday, July 8, 2012

DIY House Wiring and Hummingbird Construction

Above is a specimen of Homo Retirosus attempting a manoeuvre usually associated with hummingbirds. Thirty years ago he built a hallway off his back porch. Thirty years and a few days ago, his wife, Mrs. Specimen, said it would be a good idea to have an electrical outlet at the south end of the kitchen counter. Kitchen counter is on the other side of the wall he's working on. No problem, he has a map. It's right on the wall in front of him. It says the cable he's looking for is north of Argentina.

Specimen is carefully opening an access plate he installed with the addition. He hopes it will tell him how the wires go but, because it is notoriously dark inside walls, finds it impossible to track anything beyond the junction box. Specimen can't remember, goes outside to calm down. There is a hummingbird out there.

Hummingbird sticks its tongue out, which is impressive because it is as long as the rest of the bird. It is the same gauge as ten-pound test line and performs a prehensile waggle before snapping back into its case. Hummingbird uses this marvel to explore depths of flowers and puzzle out ports in the bird-feeder. This gave Specimen an electrifying idea.

Specimen hypothesized: If bird can navigate holes and find hidden channels with its tongue, might I not do the same with house wiring? He went back into the porch and got out his sketch book. His intention was to extrapolate the most probable construction of the hummingbird and compare it with his own. Here is the result:

First question to examine concerned the principle of the creature's locomotion: Probably a propeller of at least four blades (detail #3) powered by a high-speed rotor assembly that runs on sugar (details #4,#5). This leaves the main mystery, that of the extra-long, retractable, prehensile tongue (detail #6). But this too is easily solved: Hummingbird skulls (detail #1) share contours with some Russian military hats but must be fitted with spring-loaded recoil spools to reel the tongue out when needed, then snap it back for easier flight.

All that remained was for our specimen to collate his data and form a decisive plan of action. He decided his anatomy compared favorably enough with a hummingbird's to warrant confidence where less informed electricians might balk. The only question remaining was solved at the mirror: Is this the face of a man who would stick his tongue into an electrical socket?

Of course not! What're you, crazy? He fixed a 5/8ths bit onto a 12-inch extender and drilled randomly through the wall until he heard Mrs. Specimen scream in the kitchen. That's where the new outlet is.


  1. Sounds exactly like the kind of thing the hubs would do..just keep poking holes til you find the right spot (or electrocute yourself).

  2. Ha! Little do our wives know (or do they?), we shut off the circuit at the breaker box and then exaggerate the danger. Thanks, Delores!

  3. How delightful! Knowing you folks even adds some liminence to it!

  4. Thanks Will, events on both sides of our threshold made the project equilimninal even.

  5. HA! All's well that ends well, eh? And heck, thirty years and a couple days isn't all THAT long to wait, right? I'm feeling much gratitude that you didn't explore with your tongue, dear sir. The blogosphere wouldn't be nearly as much fun without your humor and wit.


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