(2001, Michigan) The following story was related to me during a session of
injury one-upsmanship. A casual acquaintance related an adventure suffered
by her husband.
A furious wind had knocked a susceptible tree limb across the electricity
lines behind the house, and the line was bent into an alarming
parabola.* Our hero Joe, not intimidated by the thought of combining
live wires, wet fallen branches, aluminum ladders, and chainsaws, decided
to remove the limb from the wire himself.
Enlisting the aid of a buddy, he balanced the ladder against the taut wire,
climbed up, fired up the chainsaw, and carefully commenced cutting. Joe
had almost managed to free the limb, and only one more cut was needed
gefore the entire limb fell to the ground, releasing the wire.
Those who watch Road Runner cartoons know what happens when a tight wire is
released. The final cut was made, the limb fell, and to Joe's mystified
dismay, the wire sprang back to its original position.
*Parabola? Bill P. says,
"I am virtually certain that the wire is not bent into a parabola. A
wire supported at its two ends under the influence of only gravity
describes a catenary. I suspect that the point load of the tree
destroys the catenary, but until a geometrician gives you a better
answer, I'd go with catenary rather than parabola."
The force lifted the ladder several feet into the air, along with its brave
but surprised chainsaw-wielding occupant. The ladder slipped away, and Joe
fell against the wire, knocking the chainsaw into his face, and missing his
carotid artery by mere inches.
Our bleeding Darwin Award nominee managed to throw the chainsaw away from
himself, preventing further injury from that source, but no amount of arm
flapping could postpone his inevitable encounter with the ground.
Fortunately, Darwinian laws are not absolute, and Joe managed to survive
with a only broken leg and some stitches. Hopefully, he was also left with
the knowledge that what goes down must come up, and that some things that
should be left to trained professionals -- even if you do own a ladder and a
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Submitted by: bookworm