Ever Catch a Tiger by His Tail?


April 1, 1999

GRAND RAPIDS - Well, I just don't know where to begin telling you about what happened this month.  It was such a complete fluke that even I don't believe it, and I was there to see it with my own eyes!  To be honest, it shouldn't have happened at all!  He was not even supposed to be here!  Oy.  Let me back up and fill you in...

My electrical system in the house here needed to be updated.  The knob/tube wiring needed to be
replaced, the service box was old and over-loaded, and some things just didn't work at all. 

Anyway, I went out and got all the materials and asked Declan and Jack to help me put it all in.  (I know, I know, but they just got done doing it to their own houses so I figured it was an ok thing to do.  As it turns out it was.)  So, we picked a weekend to do it, the day came and we got to work. 

Well, there was a lot more wiring to be done than we thought, a lot more was "mickey-moused" by
the original electrician (loose term) than we thought, and so by the time Sunday evening rolled around we were finally ready to pull the power and switch over the box. 

Well Sunday evening is not really a good time to be shutting off the power because no hardware stores are open should something go wrong, and you don't want to be without power that long without planning ahead for that (which we hadn't).  So we decided to wait to finish the job till the following Saturday.  No big deal.  But here is where it starts to go off.

Sunday night I check my email and Eileen wrote me saying that she would be in town on Monday,
and would stop by that evening.  I replied to her message letting her know that we would all be at the dentist that entire evening (3 people, 3 consecutive 1 hour appointments, one blocked up evening). 

So we would miss seeing her. 

Well, she also got ahold of BD and they met at the Cottage for a beer, where she heard about my electrical situation.  Tuesday she emails me and says that they aren't doing anything that weekend and that they would all come over and help.  (Can you see this beginning to fall together yet?)

So, Saturday rolls around and we are fast and furious working and working.  We are just about done when the Murphys show up.  There are just a few more things to do. 

You see, with knob and tube wiring, it is sometimes hard to trace the circuits accurately and completely.  So when you think you are done, you may end up with some things which still do not have power.  At that point you have to find out what was missed, and either run new line or tie in a junction. 

Well, Mike felt bad about being late (you think he'd be used to it by now) and offered to help.  We accepted readily, as we were tired and wanted to pay closer attention to our beers. 

Perhaps this is where we could have prevented an accident, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I don't think second guessing ourselves could be very constructive anymore.  In any case, nobody noticed that Mike picked up the Coax instead of the Knob and tube.

In my defense, they are both black and Mike is damn near to blind.  But sure enough, he found the
old wire we were trying to track down.  Severed as planned, but because we were flipping breakers on and off trying to track it down it was currently (no pun intended) live. 

Unfortunately for Mike, it was right beneath the TV, and he grabbed my 75ohm cable wire instead of the other end of the knob and tube.  Now, I like to watch the Discovery channel, and Joseph loves Kratts Creatures.  I don't know for sure which one of them was airing when Mike jammed those two wires together, but the ensuing electrical storm in my basement was enough to convince me that it really didn't matter.

After gathering his wits, and after we gathered ours, it was apparent that something untoward had
happened.  As you can see by the photo, we were all a little alarmed at his appearance.  Mind you,
Mike has always been reasonably mild in the area of his manner, but quite frankly we were nervous at first.  Fortunately, he seemed unchanged in anything but appearance, and as the evening wore on he began to actually enjoy his predicament. 

Talk finally wore on to how he would get back to his original state, and the only idea that we had was to repeat the aforementioned electrical process using video tape of Mike in his normal state.  Needless to say he wasn't too keen on getting that sort of a jolt a second time.  So he reluctantly went home like that.

Yesterday I got another email from Eileen.  Mike is back to normal.  Without a TV, I saw no need
for cable service so I called them up and cancelled it.  It seems Mike reverted to his normal self when they disconnected my service. 


I never would have thought of that either.  So all is well with the Murphys, except Eileen told me in confidence that she does sort of miss having a tiger...well, never mind.

Until next month,  stay well grounded! 

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