Friday, July 10, 2009

Ladder Safety

When I bought my house, one of my thoughts was “brick! I don't need to paint!” Over the past six years, I've learned just how much wooden trim is on a brick house. And I've learned that after 75 years, the layers of paint can be measured with a ruler. And so this week, I found myself on a ladder again, heat gun in one hand, putty knife in the other. And I tried to think of a way to turn the experience into a programming-related blog posting.

When you're standing on a ladder, there's really only one safety rule: keep your hips between the ladder rails. As long as you remember this rule, you can twist your upper body and stretch your arms as far as they can reach. You can stand on one foot. The ladder isn't going to move — provided, of course, that it was set up properly (feet on solid ground, correct angle, both tips in contact with the wall).

Which, of course, brings us right back to the idea of reinforcing practices. If you set up the ladder with one foot on concrete and the other in mud, it doesn't matter how careful you are about body position. Sooner or later one side will sink, and then you'll fall. Extending the metaphor, proper ladder setup doesn't mean that you're going to get a decent paint job.

Speaking of which: the heat gun quickly bubbled the old paint, making it (relatively) easy to remove. Yet some adjacent boards, which I'd pre-painted before installation a few years ago, were unaffected. I'm sure there's a programming metaphor to be found there…

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