17 May 2007

Unsolved Mysteries

Some things in life are mysterious, but beneath the dignity of true scientists to investigate.

Consider phone cords. Despite being an attorney, I actually don't use the handset on my phone very often. Probably more than half the time I am on the phone, I use the speaker phone function, and more and more these days, I use e-mail when in the past one would have made a quick phone call. Even when I do make calls on business, more often than not it is on my cell phone, rather than the traditional land line at my desk.

I am not aware of using a telephone handset in an unusual way. I don't touch it at all when I'm not using it. When the phone rings, or I wish to make a phone call, I pick up the handset while sitting at my desk, press it to my ear, and listen or speak. I am left handed and have not purchased any special left handed friendly phone. Still, it isn't as if I am in the habit of pacing around the office while I talk, or nervously fiddling with the phone cord. Admittedly, on a really long call when I am purely listening and don't need to take many notes, I sometimes doodle in the corner of a yellow pad on my desk that I also use to take notes (strictly geometric designs filled in with pen) with my free hand. But, that's it.

Yet, every phone I have ever used at work, for more than a decade, has inevitably ended up with a hopelessly tangled handset cord within a few days of my arrival. If I let it dangle to unwind itself, it will revert to its former state within a day or two, if not hours. If I remove it and buy a new one, again, it will be hopelessly tangled within a day or two, often even a matter of hours.

Nothing in ergonomic engineering, materials science, cosmology, or the mathematics of knot theory, seems to explain this phenomena. And yet it tangles. This great unsolved mystery of life continues. Gah!


Off Colfax said...

Don't worry. It happens to me all the time, and I'm right-handed.

I believe it has something to do with how the coiled cord reacts to the twisting of the handset itself. Then again, it also happens with straight cords as well, so I could just be talking out my butt here.

Sotosoroto said...

I've noticed that when I trade the phone from one hand to the other, I always rotate it clockwise. I have no idea why.

Even from short calls, this can tangle quickly. I pick it up with my right hand, shift to left to dial, shift back to right so I can write with my left hand, then hang up. One full rotation.

Dave Barnes said...