>> Phrases I'm not thrilled to hear from contractors: "Hoo boy."
Was recently told by my barber about barber school that they teach them to say "wow" instead of "oops."
"That's verra, verra nice."
Do you know that joke?
Four rich women are sitting around sipping drinks on the terrace. First one says, "Do you see that Mercedes in the driveway? My husband got me that for our anniversary." And the second one says, "How lovely!", and the third one says, "What a fine automobile!", and the fourth one says, "That's verra, verra nice."
The second one says, "Well, I don't like to brag, but my husband got us a summer home for our anniversary." And the first one says, "How thrilling!", and the third one says, "Wonderful, my dear!", and the fourth one says, "That's verra, verra nice."
The third one says, "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but for our anniversary, my husband bought us a brand-new yacht." And the first one says, "Just splendid!", and the second one says, "Amazing!", and the fourth one says, "That's verra, verra nice."
The first woman turns to the fourth woman and says, "And what did your husband get you for your anniversary, darlin'?" "Charm school," says the fourth woman. "Why my dear," cries the third woman, "what on earth would you need with charm school?" "Well," says the fourth woman, "They taught me to say, 'That's verra, verra nice,' every time I wanted to say, 'I don't give a shit.'"
And having finally heard the joke that spawned it, I realize I've been sending the wrong signals with that phrase for years. X(
"Hoo boy" from an electrician in these circumstances doesn't generally mean, "I goofed big," but instead means, "Wow, this wiring was done by epileptic chimpanzees on crack." All houses are apparently required by Cosmic Law to have some portion of their wiring which is in this state. The older the house is, the higher this portion is, until you reach a threshold about pre-1930 where the portion approaches 100%.
I have a 1910 house.
Our house is a few years younger than I am, so it's not actually too drugged-monkey in the electrical department...except that the first people who lived here left a lot of detritus of the hot tub they took with them, in electrical terms, so tracing what's actually live and useful and what's live and useful but still needs rerouting and what's been just sort of hanging loose since 1985 is apparently non-trivial.
2010-01-06 06:05 pm (UTC)
Usually the chimpanzees were previous professional electricians, too. (I've rewired rather a lot of the three houses I've owned in Minnesota; none of which were as late as 1930. Current one dates to 1916.)
Indeed; at least part of what's going on today has had to happen in the first place because a previous professional electrician did not pay attention to what was up to code in terms of leaving joists structurally intact, and drilled blithely through them in spots that made the inspector very unhappy.
Oh, dear. Joists /matter/. Compartmentalization of knowledge, that's our problem.
Heh. Our previous house dated from the mid-60s, and the wiring was not done by drugged gibbons (well, not that we know of)...but by *stupid* gibbons. Half the house had copper wiring and the other half had aluminum (one of those unfortunate sixties fads that didn't stick around). You don't want to mix the two because they expand at different rates, which means there's a good chance the wires will wind up not touching at some point, which would mean arcing in the walls...and fire and destruction could ensue. (Nearly did, at least once.)
(not to mention that the circuits were insufficient for modern living, so you couldn't run the microwave and the toaster at the same time without blowing a fuse... but that's another story.)
We had an electrician go through and at least make sure that the outlets and switches were the right kind for the rest of the wiring, but we never quite felt safe, and it seemed more cost-effective to move than to rip out all the electrics and have them completely redone.
One of the things I really like about this house is that we know for a fact that the electrical wiring was done by competent people. (The plumbing, on the other hand...)
I occasionally want to learn how to be an electrician (or at least to know more about wiring than I do) so I can properly appreciate my family's house. A previous owner may have been* a crazy electrician whose family was connected to the electric company. The house has its own transformer.
*meaning I'm pretty sure that's what I was told, but I miss things.
Oh yes. Similar signals include "What on earth...", "Well, now, that's different," and "well, day-UM."
The house I live in starts out with ball and tube wiring and builds up from there. It's like a history of home electrical service there in the walls.