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2000 Personal Accounts
Email a Friend The Darwin Awards salutes the spirit portrayed in the following personal accounts, submitted by loyal (and sometimes reluctant) readers. Next
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Extensible Aluminum Stave  
2000 Personal Account

Anything you can do I can do better...

(July 2000) I worked as a surveyor's chainman, a job that includes the task of holding an extensible aluminum stave while a surveyor eyeballs it from a distance. During a job in the country, local chainmen spun me the following tale about a bloke who killed himself in a bizarre competition between chainmen.

The countryside is crossed by overhead power lines carrying thousands of volts of electricity. A group of chainmen, either bored or in possession of the moron gene, discovered they could get a buzz if they raised their extensible aluminum leveling staves to a spot just beneath the power lines. It became a matter of bravado to determine which chainman could stand the most zappo.

With much hilarity they proceeded to out-do one another while the surveyor was busy with his calculations. It was truly a test to see who among them was the least compatible with the rest of the gene pool. Finally one individual reached critical moron mass. He extended his stave to such a height that the electricity finally made the leap to earth, through his body, and thus the legend of the Charred Chainman was born. He had taken himself right out of the human gene pool with his extensible aluminum stave.

This story is classic Darwin material and probably true since it came from people warning me to be careful on the job. I hope it is of some use to those like me who are gaining wisdom from the stories on your website.

DarwinAwards.com © 1994 - 2012
Submitted by: Wayne

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Rick says "I have problems with this story. First, every rod (the proper name for the stick) I have seen is made of wood to reduce thermal expansion. Aluminium expands like crazy with heat and could throw readings off.Second, there may be longer ones available, but I have never seen a rod longer than 12 feet. Power lines are much higher than 12 feet. This story sounds like one of those that was told over lunch on the job to see if you could impress the FNG."

Paul says " There is another problem with this story. Induction, getting current with no actual circuit, only occurs if the objects are oriented parallel to each other. A rod would have been held perpendicular and no current would have been passed."

Tim Larson says, "I worked with the survey crew of a highway department for several years. This clarification is for your readers' information. 'Range poles' or 'pickets' are used for determining or setting a straight line. They may have a metal core (I'm not sure), but I've never seen one more than 12' high (three 4' sections screwed together). 'Rods' are used for determining elevation, and are made of something that doesn't expand. New ones are telescoping fiberglass tubes up to 25' tall, older ones are wood and snap together with metal clasps." -June 2003

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