Saturday, July 19, 2008

Backyard Achaeology

This week I've been cleaning out this cargo trailer. There's stuff in there that has been in there since the 80's, but remarkably, there are things in the stuff that date to the 40's. My grandfather worked at a failing hardware store before moving to Alaska to work for the Air Force as a civilian junk reclaimer. There's a lot of real junk too though, and the whole thing was flood damaged in '96, the paper boxes were falling apart, and there was dried silt dust enough to choke on. Odd stuff though, for example there's a hand powered hydraulic pump in perfect working order, but unattached to anything, just with empty fittings for hoses. Then there's a weather balloon, in a can, with a balloon valve, in another can, and hydrogen to fill the balloon, in another can, just add water. And propane, that's right, underneath all the boxes was a 5 gallon tank full of propane, rusting away, waiting to explode some day! Fortunately it seems that it's undamaged, and not really very rusty, but it's been in there for 30 years. There was one bag, inside it was a bunch of little pouch plastic bags with a metal tab for a sealer, inside the pouch bags was another plastic bag with writing on it, "while wearing, put mask inlet in bag and seal with rubber band, provided, don't breath into bag for too long, try not to store mask in bag, don't store food in bag due to toxic properties." In that there's a cardboard-foil pouch containing three rubber bands, on the pouch it says that the cardboard foil pouch is good to 500 F operating temperature. The rubber bands themselves are nice and fresh, strapped to piece of cardboard. This seems to be a lesson in bureaucracy.

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