Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Elevator microcosm blog.

Spam with this subject line today: "Crud." That's going to make me open it up. I was just thinking the other day how low we are on crud. If I can order it on the Internet, I won't have to go to Costco to get a five-gallon jar. Or the dry kind that comes in 20-lb. bags. No, wait, that's dry rot...

Rain today, not snow. A warming trend ahead. This is how March should be: warm from now on, till the high hot days of summer. Of course, it won't be. The warming trend will run out of oomph, and rear-guard winter will be back.

Had a good interview with an elevator engineer today. I like interviewing people who work in completely different microcosms than me, if only to be reminded of those myriad, partly overlapping worlds. This fellow's specialty is overseeing the modernization of elevators all over North America for Kone, a giant in the elevator field. Since elevators are so variable, it's essentially custom engineering, and an intricate process. And completely invisible to the average elevator-rider, unless something goes wrong.

The talk reminded me -- it should be no surprise -- of something I saw once. Not only saw, but rode in. Yuriko and I had occasion to visit a short office building in Prague once, only a few years after the fall of communism there, and we needed to go to the fourth or fifth floor. The twin elevator shafts had walls, but no elevator cars. Instead, there were platforms in each shaft. The platforms moved, and when the platform in one shaft was going up, the other went down, and then they would reverse.

Not only that, the platform on which you rode didn't stop at your floor. It was slow-moving, and you hopped on a platform as it came level with your floor, and off again at your destination. What happened if you slipped, I shudder to think. It was an astonishingly dangerous bit of equipment for public use, and I think we walked down the stairs after our business was done. It probably dated from early elevator days, and under communism there was no money to replace it.

One of these days, I'm going to start work on that sorely needed guidebook, Great Elevators of Europe, which ought to give Rick Steves some serious competition.


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