Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to use a door

The pace of technological change may leave many of us adrift, confused by a world of new apps, gadgets with more and more uses, and a constant bombardment of information. One new innovation that apparently confuses many people, both in its basic function and in the wide variations in individual design, is the door. Here, I hope to enumerate some principles that may help you navigate these dangerous machines.

  1. Follow all instructions intended for travelers in the form of signs, placards, indicators written on the floor, walls, or doors, or similar guidance.
  2. If you want to go somewhere on the other side of a door and it does not open automatically, open it, then proceed. To open it, push on the door. You may have to operate a lever, handle, knob, or lock first, as appropriate. Some doors also have buttons - see the advisory note below.
  3. If you reach the door at the same time as or slightly before someone with impaired mobility, yield and hold it open for them to go first. Some common causes of impaired mobility include carrying heavy loads, being wheelchair-bound, or being very old. If the door opens in both directions or in the direction you're going, the preferred way to hold it open is to go through it, stand aside, and then hold it open with one hand while gesturing with the other to indicate that the person may pass. If the door only opens contrary to the direction you're going, then pull it open and stand aside as much as possible while you hold it. In either case, do not proceed or hold the door in such a way that you cause further problems for the person with impaired mobility.
  4. You may choose to yield and hold a door for someone without impaired mobility. However, remain aware of your surroundings: if they have stopped for some reason, weren't going the way you think they were going, or yield passage back to you, you may be delaying things further.
  5. Some doors are double doors, meaning that there is a vertical opening with two doors that meet in the middle when closed. If there are no signs indicating how to use them and if both doors are in equally good repair and equally accessible, follow the same rule of thumb as in traffic: use the left to pass and stay on the right otherwise.
  6. Some public spaces have several doors side by side, all allowing passage to the same place. If they are all unlocked, then use as many of them as necessary to avoid congestion. Do not go to the one already in use if there is a long line for it.
  7. When doors allow access to enclosed spaces such as elevators or subway cars, the people leaving those spaces have the right of way. When you are trying to enter such spaces, yield to people leaving by standing to one side before you attempt to enter so they have room to safely proceed.

ADVISORY NOTE: Some doors are designed to be used by people with impaired mobility. Such doors generally have a button nearby so they can be opened with little force, leverage, or fine motor control. While it is not against the rules for people without impediments to use these buttons, they should be aware that doing so is generally slower than just opening the door on their own.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

You don't know what you've got until it's gone

About a month ago now, my computer's hard drive died. I installed a new hard drive and I got all my personal files off the old hard drive by myself, even though I hadn't been using a backup program, and set up the new drive. I was proud of this. It involved DOS commands, safe mode, and five-year-old installation CDs, but I probably saved about $150 off the cost of taking it to a professional. I may have never changed a car's oil, tire, or battery, but it takes some skill to do all this for just the cost of the drive.

Pride gave way to dread, though, when I went looking for my computer game CDs and was unable to find them. I'm running out of places to look.

I haven't played any computer games that much lately, but I've spent an hour or so on them now and then, and it's still been comforting to have the option. World of Warcraft in particular was a big part of my life. I stopped playing it almost two years ago now, but until then it was a more efficient pasttime than anything else, more personal than books or TV, and more social than any of my other hobbies, at least the way I did them. I was part of a guild, working together to bring down huge monsters. I attended the wedding of people in it. When I quit, T. and I were about to make some big purchases that would eat up some of our free time, so cutting out an unnecessary hobby with a time commitment and a monthly subscription fee just seemed responsible. And I was getting bored with the game at the time anyway. But since then they've made big changes to it, and we've got those purchases out of the way. As some current hobbies became boring over the past month or even longer, I've wondered now and then about WoW. I didn't act on that until I finished installing the word-processing software and iTunes and printer drivers and planned to install the game disks and couldn't find them.

I always assumed I could come back to the game, if circumstances were right, that Furryous and my other characters would always be there. Outmoded, way behind in the gear needed for competitive raiding, I'd have to relearn a lot about how to play due to changes since I left, but still, they'd be waiting for me. Or even if Blizzard deletes inactive accounts after a certain amount of time, the World itself would be. I could go fly over Stormwind, dig up a few more archaeological relics in Outland, or start trying again at anytime I felt like it.

Or so I thought.