Capacitance For StupidityTuesday, August 24, 2010
Hassan Ayach arrived at my front door on Monday morning at 9:30. He was a pleasant short, and young man, obviously of middleastern origin.
A. Where are you from?
H. (suspiciously )From Canada.
A. No, where were you born?
H. I’m from Lebanon.
A. Well I’m from Argentina. I find that Latin Americans, Arabs and even Persians (even though I call them Iranians) have a lot in common. We seem to think in the same way. We are prácticos (practical). We tend to fix instead of throwing away.
H. Show me your electrical problem.
A. I blew a circuit last night drying photographic prints with a hair dryer in the basement. I think I may have problems with one of the fuses.
H. How do we open that fuse box as there is that wood insert in the way?
A. Let's break it.
H. No, let's not. Let's think.
A. Since we are prácticos I am sure we’ll find a solution.
If you pry it here carefully I think we can do it.
H. There is nothing wrong with the fuses. We are going to have to check the circuit breakers. I should have learned to speak Spanish. I find it easy.
A. It’s easy because you open your mouth. The difference between English and Spanish is that you can speak English with your mouth almost closed. Is it possible for a circuit breaker to burn out?
H. Yes. What's this?
A. They are a series of photographs of a Japanese/Canadian woman removing, little by little all the layers under her kimono.
H. It must be great to be a photographer.
A. I don't make as much as you do and especially now but you cannot approach a beautiful woman and tell her, "How would you like to discuss electrical circuits with me?"
H. Yeah, I know what you mean.
A. I find it strange that when the circuit went so did the 220 volt one for the stove and odd outlets throughout the house. I kept pushing the breakers up and down but it all remained the same.
H. The solution to your electrical problem is going to be and easy one, but I am afraid it is going to cost you some money because of the quoted diagnostic of my company (Expert Electric). Do you want to hear the truth?
A. Give it to me as long as I can tell Rosemary when she comes home that we have our stove back.
H. This is very much like the story you told me about Steinmetz.
H. There are two banks of circuit breakers. In the lower one, the switches have to be up to be on. On the upper bank the switches have to be down to be on. You kept going back and forth with that upper bank but every time you would leave them in off.
A. I guess this is part of my dyslexia. But then I failed electricity in college because I could not discern the difference between capacitance and inductance.
H. Capacitance (symbol C) is a measure of a capacitor's ability to store charge. A large capacitance means that more charge can be stored. Capacitance is measured in farads, symbol F.
A. And now I know all about capacitance as I depend on my flash units' capacitors to store all that energy.
H. I would tell your wife that I found a loose wire which I tightened. Don’t tell her the truth. Give me a felt tip pen and let me write here on your box where on is so that it will not happen to you again.
A. I may be Latin, Hassan but I am also part English. I am going to tell her the truth.
H. You have to be práctico. I am going to be 30 soon and I want to get married. Do you do weddings?
I signed a check for $202.12. I would say that $2.12 represents the physical labour when Hassan moved that bank of switches down. The $200 is for knowing that they were up and off. Hassan and I parted with an abrazo. I told Rosemary the truth.