The Other I

July 23, 2010

Reductionism simplified

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 8:22 pm

This post is not really about reductionism.  It’s about why it’s not about reductionism.

Have you ever noticed that tasks you think are going to be really simple (i.e. take about ten minutes) turn out in practice to take about three hours, and interfere with meals and maybe even going to bed?

Yes, well that’s what my day has been like thus far.  This morning my plan was to install a new wall light in place of a grungy cracked 1940’s affair in the hall outside our bedroom.  I’m not an electrician, but I’m usually able to handle connecting two live wires, two neutral wires, and an earth.

I wasn’t even too bothered by the insert that came with the new light fixture saying that since 2005 the wiring regulations have changed the colours of the wires.   So now the live wire is brown or blue with a brown sleeve instead of red or black;  the neutral wire is not black anymore but blue, the earth is still green and yellow, and the 2-way switched live wire is now brown, black and grey instead of red, blue and yellow.  If you aren’t color-blind and you read it slowly, it’s still possible to make the connections right on the first try.

Unfortunately that was the simple part.  The directions don’t tell you what to do if the wires are too short.   I scrounged around in a drawer and found a spare length of electrical wiring along with three connectors.  I cut the wire to length and stripped the ends and put on the connectors.  But my connectors were for  small gauge wire and wouldn’t hold.  So I scrounged around for some less heavy-duty wire, which I eventually found.

I went back outside for the second time and turned off the relevant circuit breaker and did the job over again.  Voila!  it should work.

Back outside to turn the circuit breaker back on.

Back inside:  no light.  Unprintable expletive.

One of the connectors had worked itself loose.

Turn off the circuit breaker again.

Find the screw-driver that has dropped underneath the radiator.  Insert the small tip that will loosen the connector.  Loosen the jammed screw.

Re-insert both wires that have now worked loose, tighten connector screws, turn circuit breaker back on.  Smile to neighbour as if nothing is wrong and it’s been such a lovely day with the rain and all for the gardens.

Return inside, try switch.  We have lift-off!

All I had to do then was stuff  all the wire and additional connections into the hole behind the light, and fit the wall plate.  I charged my electric drill, which had run down (further unprintable expletives), drilled the holes, inserted the mollies & screws, and mounted the new light.  By then I feared one of the wires had come loose again, but the light is working.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to write about why I rejected reductionism in psychology when most other people thought it was impossible to be a scientist if you were that soft-headed.

It will be simple, I promise.  A lot easier than re-wiring a wall light.


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