The 60hz Bugaloo

In a P.S. to my last post I mentioned I’d had an… um… surprise while wring outlets. I’ve since received several comments, all of which which were awesome. To clarify:

  • I was “shocked” not “electrocuted”. Proof of this is that I’m not dead. Good point!
  • Apparently everyone has done this at least once. I’ve done it far more often than I think a reasonably smart guy should. I just assumed everyone was better at wiring than me. This may be incorrect.
  • I always get the wiring right eventually but sometimes it’s more of a journey than I’d like. Who am I kidding? I’m like a monkey working out a Rubik’s Cube; except in the end it’s all done right.
  • Best joke ever: “Whats the natural frequency of an idiot who doesn’t clear and test the breaker? 60 hurts!”

The actual event went like this:

Me: “OK so I’ve killed the switch and I’m gonna’ swap this outlet. The probe says it’s dead so…”

Other Guy: “That’s weird, why is the light on the other side of the room flickering?”

Me: “Oh no that must mean that…”


Me: “Motherfu….”

Other Guy: “Ha ha ha.”

Internet: “You deserved it.”


Yes. It’s true. I deserved it.

About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

Adaptive Curmudgeon is handsome, brave, and wise.
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14 Responses to The 60hz Bugaloo

  1. B says:

    Yeah, I’ve done the Bugaloo.

    Vertically and horizontally. Several times with accompanying vocals.

    once, in europe, I dit the 50 hz bugaloo to the enjoyment of several bystanders.

    It happens.

  2. Tennessee Budd says:

    I’m an electronics tech by Navy training & civilian degree, and a calibration tech by profession. If you play with electricity, you’re going to get bit sometimes.
    I’m sure there are very competent techs & electricians who will say this is untrue; after all, gunsmiths aren’t always shooting themselves, so proper respect for, & caution when dealing with, electricity will allow one to never be shocked.
    They’re full of shit. You’re going to get bit sometimes. You must respect big amperage with appreciable voltage. Nobody cares if they’re hit with a Nerf ball, or with smaller voltages at low current.

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      I appreciate hearing that. I simply assumed a real electrician never got zapped and it was all my incompetence. Now I know that there’s a little incompetence in most of us. Whew!

  3. abnormalist says:

    While I would love to claim that joke, I think it was my father’s originally. His little tongue in cheek reminder to me to clear and test the damn breaker the next time.

    I swear, I’ve only heard that joke from him, maybe 15 times in my life… ok, yeah more than that….

  4. Mark Matis says:

    Well look at the bright side! If you do barbecue yourself electrically while working on a live connection, at least your buddy can then use the same condition to revive you. Instant defibrillator,bro!

    But remind me to never go shooting with you. Folks who assume the power is off also tend to be the ones who assume the gun isn’t loaded.

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      The gun analogy is what had me so flaked out. I figured a little zap on a 110 circuit was the same stupidity as shooting your foot. But apparently not so. At any rate it was more disturbing in theory than in actual injury. That 0.000001 second when the brain goes from “I got this” to “fuck it, game over, I’m out” really annoys me. The zap was about the same as a mousetrap on your fingers.

  5. Robert says:

    Real men work on hot circuits. Heh.
    My electrician landlord got bit on a dead line that really was off. Apparently, mega-zillion-volt lines can act like a charged capacitor. Let’s be careful out there, eh?

    • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

      The project in question is not a lot of high voltage but it was puzzling. It was wired like monkeys on crack had an unlimited supply of Romex and no common sense. Many of the boxes were re-used from some earlier thing… I keep thinking they gutted a trailer for parts but don’t really know. Several had the nail mount points broken off and were just screwed into studs with drywall screws punched though the plastic. Who re-uses a plastic box that can be had for $0.38 or less?

      I wrote about this particular structure (including time travel and an AMC Gremlin) a few years ago. I’ll dig up the links because the saga has another chapter now.

      • AdaptiveCurmudgeon says:

        Here’s the link that explains how this garage was originally designed. I will probably have to add an electrical chapter now.

      • Robert says:

        “Who re-uses a plastic box that can be had for $0.38 or less?”
        Um, (raises hand sheepishly).
        “like monkeys on crack”
        Your situation is why electricians dislike trying to fix other peoples’ installs.
        Also, like Tennessee Budd, I have a civilian degree and Navy training.
        I vaporized my hand-held voltmeter probes by shorting out 3-phase 440vac. It were exciting.

  6. Robert says:

    BTW, love the snow, although I freaked at first thinking I had detached a retina again.

  7. Phssthpok says:

    I can recall getting a bit of a tingle from welding wet pipe grounded through a set of rollers, turned by hand with wet gloves, while standing in a puddle….

    Ah the things you do when young-dumb-n-fulla…..desire to prove yourself to a new employer!

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