Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stumping the Net

There have only been two times that I remember stumping the net.

Once was in the late 90s when I was searching for the garlic crab recipe from Thanh Long in SF. The second time was around 2005 and I was trying to figure out the story behind several homes in SF that have windows with "Lipton Tea" etched into them.  Both were pretty obscure quests and both came up with nada, at least at that time.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was at the hospital with my sister who was having surgery (nothing too major) and in the midst of waiting I noticed that all of the electrical outlets are upside down (that's just me).  The nurse was of no help in figuring out an answer to this critically important question.  My other sister suggested checking the internet and writing a blog post about it.

My reaction? Yeah, right. Fat chance the internet will give up the goods on such an arcanely trivial inquiry. I was convinced stump #3 was forthcoming.

Wrong.  Apparently, there are a lot of people who wondered the same thing.

From This Old House...
This has been the standard at hospitals for quite some time. My electrician said it is because with the movement of beds and equipment, electrical devices can become partially unplugged, revealing the conductors. Should something (metal) fall between those conductors it would cause a short, which would be a bad thing in a hospital environment, so to prevent such catastrophes, outlets are installed "upside down" so that the neutral (ground) takes the "short", and the circuit remains unaffected.
A logical answer which makes perfect sense but I prefer this one from Yahoo Answers...
As a hospital nurse I have to be very aware of ways to make my patients anxiety level lower and to provide ways to divert their attention from their pain or illness. The outlets are one of many actions that better hospitals have done to help with this. First of all since you are laying down most of the time a normally placed outlet will look peculiar and may cause anxiety about if there is something wrong with you that makes the outlets look so weird. It is felt by the results of a vast number of double blind studies that the upside down outlets are perceived as being more normal when you are laying down and that there is scientifically valid proof of decreased anxiety in patients in the upside down outlet rooms as is evidenced by less use of pain med and anti anxiety med and fewer times with the nurses call light on. 
The other effect of course is it gives you something to think about (if you should be one of the very astute patients that realize that they are indeed upside down) instead of pain or illness.
Mystery solved.

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