Monday, February 18, 2008

A trip to the South Bay

I originally wanted to write something about my two recent super American experiences, Super Bowl XLII, and Super Tuesday 2008, but I have been down with a cold, and in the time it took me to get back on my feet and catch up with things, these two events have been talked about to death; so I will keep my thoughts on football and politics to myself for now, and discuss MuShu and shower heads instead.
This Saturday, I was coordinating an educational event organized by Bay.Net in Cupertino. I really don’t go to the South Bay much since I moved to San Francisco, and even though it has only been three years since I left Palo Alto, it feels like an eternity, and this trip was almost nostalgic. Luckily, a friend of mine who lives in Santa Clara let me crash at his place on Friday evening, which spared me a drive at the crack of dawn from San Francisco. L was at Stanford on Friday, so we decided to have dinner at Windy’s, on University avenue in Palo Alto, but found out when arriving there that it had closed, for good. I was surprisingly sad – this is where I had my fist MuShu, and it was the best I had tasted in the Bay Area. As an aside, if you know a great place for MuShu in San Francisco, you will earn lots of gratitude points!
After dinner, I drove to my friend’s place. The South Bay archetypal habitat is a 2-store condo, built in the middle of a parking lot and around a swimming pool; its paper-thin walls make it possible to hear in utmost details the days of your neighbors unfolding, and thus create a great sense of community. Fortunately, my friend lives in a house he shares with 2 other software engineers, another pretty typical combination, but definitely a step up comfort-, and privacy-wise.
So I crash, and Saturday, 7 am, I wake up, in an unfamiliar environment. There is no coffee – a shower is what I need now to start the day right, and get my thoughts together. So I head to the shower, and find the following shower mechanism. Aha – a challenge!

After 5 good minutes, I have made some progress. I quickly figured out how to get the water flowing, by turning the large handle, and I painfully figured out how to adjust the water temperature, by changing the angle between the second handle and the first one. This one was trickier, but the red/blue symbols on the handle provided a hint. Anyways, I finally got hot water, but was now stuck on the last but crucial step: how to get the water to flow to the shower head, instead of the faucet located one foot above ground level?

There is usually some lever to pull or push to do that, so I started to pull and push everything I could, but to no avail. By a lucky turn of events, one of the roommates was already up to go to triathlon practice, so I gave up, swallowed my pride, and asked what the trick was. Here it is:

You seriously have to wonder what perverse mind designed this; it is a very clever design, if your goal is to make sure no one will find out the mechanism. Had I not read The Design of Everyday Things, I may have been a bit depressed that after all this years of costly education, I was still unable to get a shower to work; instead, I felt excited I had found another remarkable specimen of terrible design.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous TZilla said...

Badass. My new apartment has a shower like this and at this hour there isn't anyone to ask.. Thanks!

August 31, 2008 8:34 PM  
Blogger Mathias said...

Wow - did my post actually help you figure out how your shower works? If that's the case, hail to the Internet, the source of all information, and the way to get a comfortable, warm shower!

September 1, 2008 12:29 PM  
Blogger Max said...

man, you are awesome!
I was trying to figure out how to get water flowing from shower-head. I entered "shower switch" into google image search and this was on the first results page. Guess what? It was exactly the same detection-proof shower. Thanks!

December 22, 2009 10:31 PM  
Blogger Mathias said...

Tell you what, I never expected that this post would actually be useful! Glad it was - and happy you could enjoy a shower!

December 22, 2009 10:57 PM  

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