b3ta.com user Classic Ray
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» The B3TA Detective Agency

Campsite Electricians
I stayed on a lovely farm in Cornwall in my camper van. It had 8 electrical hookups, each with two sockets, fed by separate incoming circuits , to supply mains electricity. One hookup was faulty, and would constantly trip the circuit breaker when anyone connected to either socket. Cue local electrical contractors spending eight hours (two men, 50 quid an hour) trying unsuccessfully to diagnose the fault, and telling the poor farmer they would have to dig up the supply cable and relay it, would cost thousands. As I was paying the rent, she told me the tale of woe. 30 minutes of tracing the circuits with my multimeter showed that incoming supply 1 positive was connected OK to socket 1 positive, but also (wrongly) supply 1 negative was connected to socket 2 negative. So although both sockets showed 240 volts available, any load made the circuit fail. Five minutes swapping the wrong connections, job done. The electricians (??) never got paid, I got cheap rent for the rest of my stay. Sorry for slight technical geekiness.
(Mon 17th Oct 2011, 5:14, More)

» Tales of the Unexplained

The Lady in the Hooded Cloak
My first job after leaving school was as a shiftworking computer operator for a firm of Quantity Surveyors in London. As this was 1969 and computers took up whole rooms with their 8k of RAM, jobs sometimes took all night to run. My fellow op and I were sitting in one of the glass walled offices chatting at 1am while waiting for a job to finish, when a lady in a dark hooded cloak came in through the ground floor front door.

We thought this was strange as we knew we had locked it and no one else had a key. She glided along the corridor towards our office, we could not see her face, but just looked at each other in disbelief. She glided up the internal stairs and opened the (again previously locked) door, without a key, and disappeared into the next door offices which connected with our area.

We went out of the office and up the stairs, but the door was still locked. We got the key and opened the door, but could see nothing. We quickly discussed what to do, as we were both sure we had seen this woman, so we called the police.

They searched both buildings but could find no sign of her, plus the alarmed exit doors, including the door she had originally come in, were still locked. We reported this next day to the management who questioned all the staff, but no one admitted coming in to the offices.

Nothing was stolen, and if I had been on my own, I would have thought it was a hallucination. But my fellow op had seen exactly the same as me, we discussed all the details. I have never seen a ghost before or since, but we know what we saw that night, so I am now a believer. We hadn't even had a drink that night, which was unusual for nightshift.

Apologies for length, about four feet per second of glide I think. First post, but not the last I hope. Depends if the hooded lady comes back for me now her secret is out.
(Wed 9th Jul 2008, 17:06, More)

» Funerals II

Good old Mum
On the way to my father's cremation,in a rather dilapidated mourner's car, my mother innocently flicked open the ashtray and then said "Hmm, they might have emptied this after the last one". When we passed a lorry labelled "Chard Meat Company", it became too much for all of us and we had to take some time to stop laughing before arriving at the crem.
(Mon 15th Apr 2013, 3:17, More)

» B3TA fixes the world

Airplane Etiquette
1. Listen to announcements regarding rows for boarding. Don't just crowd around the departure lounge door, they won't leave until everyone is loaded.
2. As you board, don't hit already seated passengers with your coat, laptop bag, other carry on luggage.
3. When you find your row, put your carry on luggage on your seat and stand in front of it until the queue of people behind you have passed by, rather than blocking the aisle while you struggle to load everything into the locker.
4. Arrive an extra hour earlier at the airport so you can relax, don't hold everyone else up, and don't arrive sweating and gasping in the seat next to me. Late connections are a valid excuse.
5. Treat the check in staff and flight attendants, like your family members, with courtesy, and you will find they will be more helpful.

Following these points will avoid me wanting to throw you without a parachute from the emergency exit. That is all.
(Thu 22nd Sep 2011, 16:45, More)

» The best thing I've built

Dan Dare rockets
My brother and I thought we were budding chemists, and had a little lab in half of the garden shed. Our parents thought we were educating ourselves, when really we were hell bent on destruction. I know things were more relaxed then, but we had radioactive salts in there!

Anyhoo, the best devices were our "rockets". Don't do this at home. The rockets were fashioned out of six inch lengths of inch diameter aluminium tube, with the end crimped over into a nozzle modelled on something like Dan Dare had in the Eagle comic.

These were filled with a mixture of weedkiller (full strength pre IRA) and sugar, and sealed with a solid rubber bung hammered in with a mallet as hard as we could. The danger still makes me shudder!

We set this up at a trajectory designed to fly sideways through our terraced house gardens, with no thought of the effect where they landed. A length of Jetex fuse shoved up the nozzle allowed us to light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance. Usually they didn't work, falling over or failing to light, but on one truly memorable occasion, we watched in horror as the orange flames shot the damn thing a hundred feet in the air, the angle taking it into the garden, I hope, at the end of the street. It frightened us so much we never made another one. How none of them exploded I don't know.

Length? I already told you, six inches, made of aluminium with the end hammered over.
(Mon 15th Oct 2012, 21:40, More)
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