A little maxim I heard once was that "Electricity is an equal opportunity bigot; it hates everybody the same."

I had heard this during a meeting of amateur radio operators who volunteered with the Orange County chapter of the American Red Cross. At the time (1995?), I was an active volunteer. But I digress.

The quip was made by one gentleman after we were discussing how to (not) create an ad-hoc circuit for an upcoming event. I believe it may have been field day. By coincidence, we had just finished dealing with a particularly nasty storm from that January here in the Los Angeles Basin, so a quick review of process was very much in order. Not that we really needed it, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

So why would this be significant? Well... figure this. During this event called Field Day, we are busy testing our equipment and our resolve for 24 hours to see how well we can do running radios independent of the power grid. We're using anything else we can think of - generators, our cars, batteries, solar cells, bicycles or treadmills hooked up to dynamos, that sort of thing. So the last thing we want is to have an accidental ground - for instance, an uninsulated portion of the power circuit getting dropped into a mud puddle. You know, like the point where the extension cord is extended with another extension cord by conjoining the two - and you didn't duct tape them. Aside from making friodes out of the diodes, DEDs and SEDs out of LEDs, causing the magic smoke to come out of the equipment, and causing other certain components to emit light when they should not, you now have a slight safety hazard - an uninsulated circuit, for all intents. There is definitely a circuit breaker to prevent this from being a problem for more than a second or so, but for a very short while, there exists a 110 volt n amp mud puddle. If you step in that and a) it's charged, and b) you're uninsulated, the odds go very much against you - you're probably going to die.

Another aside was a not too recent case where a homeowner (an attorney, if I recall correctly) reached up to an overhead power line to clear away a palm tree branch. With an aluminum pole - I believe it was his swimming pool's skimming net. He became ground. He died. I believe his surviving widow is suing Southern California Edison for some reason. Again, though, I digress.

See, it matters not who you are in life, how much money you have, or what color your skin is. Forget all of that, and remember that you are seventy percent water. Electricity hates you with a passion. It will hurt or kill you. You are wise to handle it with rubber gloves - or better yet, if you don't know what you are doing, leave it to the professionals or radio amateurs.

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