Worlds are colliding

Like many people, I believe that television has not quite been the same since Seinfeld went off the air seven years ago.

Like many people, I believe that television has not quite been the same since Seinfeld went off the air seven years ago. One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes was when George tried to keep his life with his girlfriend (where he referred to himself as “Relationship George”) entirely separate from his life with his infamous trio of friends (where he referred to himself as “Independent George”).

When Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer kept pushing to meet his girlfriend, he explained that such an occurrence would be a collision of his two worlds. And if that ever happened, Relationship George would kill Independent George. He couldn’t allow it.

Unfortunately for me, I’m much more like George than any other character on that show. And like him, I try to keep my worlds separate. By that I mean: (1) the world of work, in which everything somehow, someway ties back to the cabling that supports communications systems, and (2) the rest of my life, in which very little if anything ties back to cabling.

I wouldn’t say necessarily that if my two worlds collided Work Patrick would kill Rest of Life Patrick, but I’m pretty sure that if I started spending most of my hours outside of work discussing things like laser-optimized fiber and Power over Ethernet, somebody would put a pillow over my face in the middle of the night. And they wouldn’t care whether or not it was a T-rated firestopping pillow, as long as it did the job.

At times, despite my best efforts, echoes of cabling topics creep into the rest of my life. It has happened a couple times quite recently, and I feel the need to share them with you so that if you suffer from the same mind-wandering, you will at least know that you are not alone.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I was too cheap to hire a professional to power-wash my house, so I would do it myself. After purchasing the mid-range “residential” model pressure washer at the local home-improvement store, I was ready to begin. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

I must have sent 1,000 gallons of water through that washer, and at least 900 of them came straight back at my face. But that was the least of my problems. I found that the only effective way to rid the siding of seven years’ worth of environmental build-up was to adjust the nozzle so that the water came out like a laser beam. It cleaned the mildew all right, but it also left noticeable marks on the siding and tore right through window screens.

At the end of the day, I had a cleaner house that looked like it had a bunch of graffiti on it and needed screens that will cost more than I would have paid to hire a professional to wash it.

Yes, I’m your quintessential do-it-yourself yahoo. More to the point, however, instead of reflecting on what poor choices I made, the thought that consumed my mind was, “Wow, those industrial-strength connectors must be tough. They have to withstand machinery washdowns, which must involve pressure and chemicals more severe than what I inflicted upon my residence.”

After seeing what a mid-level-strength washer did to my home, I have gained more respect for the connecting hardware that stands up to harsh environments and continues to carry data signals.

The other moment when work lingo manifested itself in my everyday life occurred when I regrettably listened to what was going on in the Michael Jackson trial. I found out recently that Jackson’s attorneys asked that the person making the accusations not be referred to as the “victim,” but rather as the “alleged victim” or the “complaining witness.”

It made me think, believe it or not, about 10GBase-T.

By now, we all have seen diagrams of the 6-around-1 bundle illustrating what alien crosstalk really is. (In fact, you can see one on page 18.) The “1” in the 6-around-1 bundle most often has been referred to as the victim cable. I wonder if there are any attorneys out there who would like us to begin calling it the “alleged victim cable” or the “complaining cable.”

From what I understand, even if the cable was complaining, nobody would hear it because of the other noise.

Next month it’s back to serious topics, like the Red Sox defending their championship.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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