Coping: World Gone Asymmetric?

If someone says “I just noticed another very strange asymmetry in the world!” what would you think?

There are, we would expect, natural symmetries.

Let’s start with right and left-hand doors, for example.  I assume you know the rule for figuring if a door is “left-hand” or “right-hand?”  Standing in the doorway, swing your arm in the direction the door opens.  That’s its “handedness.”   If the hinges are on the left side of your spine…well, another indicator that it’s a left-hand opening door.  Now the weird part:

(Continues below)


People buy a lot of one kind of door swing, but not so much of the other.  But I won’t tell you which one – make a not to drop by the door department next time you head into Lowes or Home Despots. (sic)

Ask them which one they sell more off…

But that isn’t what this morning’s Texas Tall Tale is about.  It’s really about wiring my just serviced inverter back into the solar power system.

“And this somehow relates to asymmetry, Ure?  Ure crazy!”

Well, yes, be that as it may:  Sunday was spent working on the solar power center.  I had coffee and was johnny-on-the-spot – ready to work at 7:45.

Just for the halibut I decided to plot out an estimated timeline so I could go back later and see where the project when off the rails.

The first pass suggested it would be a 1.3-hour project.  In fact, it was a 3.5-hour project.  We’ll get to that part of the adventure shortly.

But when it was all wrapped up, I got to thinking about my co-generation agreement with the local power company.  When I put in the system, they ran inspectors around the place trying to find some reason I couldn’t do what I’d “just did.”

Finally, they dinged me for not having a sign on the main switch for the whole property reference to the panel in the shop and being an A.C. source.

“You need a sign on your service entrance to alert a crew working an outage that there’s a source elsewhere on the property.”

They wanted not only a sign on the service entrance (which looks suspiciously like this one…) and they also made the point that even though I was running an NEC-compliant grid-interactive system, they STILL wanted a separate shut-off on the outside of the building.

Naturally, we’re happy to comply when regulations make sense.

So, no problem – got the signs made 9-years back when we went through this little dance of rigmarole and all’s well.

EXCEPT: When it occurred to me as I was picking up tool… “You know, there’s a sign at the disconnect saying that there’s a cutoff switch in here, too…

I was thinking of something on that stud that’s on the right with a battery carrier hanging on it.  (That gets used for two days, every 9-years, like clockwork.)

Not to the point:

I went looking for an “Emergency Power Shutoff” sign with a left arrow  because that’s where the damn panel is!

Was that a dumb move, or what?

Because when I went to the Nation Instant Products Center Delivered to Your Home with No Hassles  (otherwise known as Amazon) they politely informed me:

We found 0 results for “power shutoff sign left arrow”

Use fewer keywords or try these instead

All of which would be fine EXCEPT that ISYN there are 35-such signs with RIGHT ARROWS.

Now, sure, a number came up as “not currently available” but give me a break!

Is there some secret handshake that goes with becoming an architect that leads people to agree to “Let’s put places for signs in places that are only to the left (so right-pointing signs will work, eh?) and we’ll just pull one over on the public!”

I’ve designed a fair bit of square footage in commercial spaces for recording schools, broadcast colleges, and other such.  But in all that time not-a-once did any of the space planners or architects tell me “Oh, yeah, George, we can only get right-arrow signs.

After pounding my head against a wall for a while I thought… “OK, maybe I missed something.  Let’s see what happens with Exit signs...”

115 returns in the Amazon system will get you a right-arrow Exit signs.

Expecting the worst, I ran “exit sign left arrow.”


There’s 125 of THEM.  Are there more “left” exits than “right???”

This left me with an uncomfortable feeling that there may be a whole mess of these little in-noticed asymmetries out there.

And maybe, since life is a lot like the IRL version of an “Escape Room” if I can collect enough of this little pointers, it will as some point become meaningful.

It hadn’t though, so I knocked off on various shop projects about 3 PM and decided to go study for my blood test.

That’s the every six-months (or so) where I go to report the doc that I’m still alive.  He’s usually skeptical.

Fortunately, they’re not doing cognitive testing – yet.

Might, though, if they get wind of the kind of oddities that grab our attention around here…

Write when you get rich,


Coping: World Gone Asymmetric? — 28 Comments

  1. Actually George there are four ways a door swings…(Stay with me..) When I was designing coal preparation plants the way it was determined is by putting yer rear end toward the hinges…On one side of the jamb you would have a Right Hand Swing Out (RHSO)or a Left Hand Swing In (LHSI)depending if you wanted the door to swing into the room or to the outside of the room…Put yer butt towards the opposite jam of the same doorway and it becomes a RHSI or a LHSO…Labeled as such in the elevation drawings, even the iron workers could figure it out…LOL

    Of course we didn’t use screen doors but it would be the opposite swing of the main door…(At least that’s my preference…)

  2. In our family, we know that a 5 minute job takes a couple hours and at least one trip to the hardware store. If plumbing – two trips.

  3. As Mr. Barrett was mentioning there is a ‘handedness’ to our universe – I also seem to remember that with biological entities there is also a preference of handedness (brain like fudge at the moment) – then there are the ‘mechanical items’ if you will – that are given names that indicate ‘direction’ which is assigned by the inventor and could have just as easily been reversed. (Michael Faraday and his ground-breaking work comes to mind . . .)

    It’s really only a matter of perspective!

  4. In almost all cases, I install a door such that it swings into the room(rarely out), but such that in the open position it resides against the closest wall. In the best case, the door is hinged about 6-8″ from the corner and rests open where it interferes with nothing. It’s truly annoying to hinge a door such that you have to go around it to enter the room. Given that, the geometry of a house or other building dictates how many doors will be used of each hand. I’ve noticed that I tend to use more left hand doors than right when replacing old ones. I’m not sure why.

  5. george,i worked and retired from lowes 1970/1983 and sold thousand of door units…r/h….l/h…bihinged…NOTE: to get hand right stand put your nose on the hinge and reach for THE KNOB.that will give you the hand also note where the light switch is so you don,t swing over it.check jamb width 4 9/16…69/16 ect…split jambs,flat jambs and type of casinge 327/442/445/sg edge,ect

  6. George

    “When I put in the system, they ran inspectors around the place trying to find some reason I couldn’t do what I’d “just did.”

    When I put my solar power system in, (2011), I avoided all those Imperial Entanglements
    and went OFF the grid!!

    Yes, it’s not as nice as having power 24/7/365 but we get along just fine.

    The deal about my setup is that you need batteries. Lots of batteries. Right now I have seven battery sets. That’s two 12 volts batteries in series to get 24Vdc. I built an additional bus bar system to add another 20 battery sets. As soon as a rich uncle kicks the bucket and leaves me some big bucks I will add more batteries. The sun shines all day but with no place to store the energy it doesn’t matter how many solar panels you have.

  7. So, including entry and storm doors, my house has 4 right-hand doors and 7 left-hand doors. Therefore, based on this entirely too small to be anywhere near scientific sample, I’m guessing left -hand doors outsell right handers.


    • But you ever notice how going the other way they automatically require the other hand?

  8. Asymetry?

    I’m still try trying to figure out how you passed inspection with the power company. New solar codes were made to prevent installations like yours!
    Oh, and in CA the electric company requires smart inverters, that they can turn on or off from their office – people don’t read signs anymore, they need Alexa/Siri to do that

    • That’s the advantage of putting in the system in 2008. Back then, power companies didn’t have a problem with existing customers putting in some solar. Now – ;like everything else since we have run out of actual useful stuff to make – the wireless control is just another way to monetize regulations and be punitive.
      Even with our solar (*we have servers running 24/7 and ac for them and such) we still pay the power company – just not as much. If they get pissy, I will whack down more trees add panels and an autostart gen set. Screw ’em.
      We have neighbors who pay during summer peak $500/month!

  9. Take however long a man thinks it will take and triple it. Take however long a woman thinks it will take and multiply by ten…

  10. At first I was thinking that the double door thing may be a result of how we drive on the highway. Y’know – we drive on the right while GB, Japan and others drive on the left. Didn’t know if the concept persisted to inside doors in Europe.

    I’ve also noticed a plethora of pictures of people shooting left handed rifles. I’ve often wondered if the pictures are just reversed because, fairly often, the bolt or ejection port are on the opposite side of the rifle from their face. There are rifles for left handed people but didn’t know if they’re that prevalent, especially in the military.

    On another note – Andy, you said you had a copy of “Behold a Pale Horse”. Is it an original copy or have there been further printings since 1991? My PDF file does not mention copyright or printing history. Does the quote I’ve been bandying about really appear on page 225? If you get a chance and have the time you might compare your hard copy to the PDF and see if any revisions have occurred. Thanks.

    • Some people are right handed but “left eye dominant”, thus they shoot long guns left handed. Some bolt actions can be bought with a left hand bolt, but I’ve never seen a semi-auto with a left side ejector.

    • I’m left handed. Learning to shoot an M16 in the Army was a bitch. The gun was ejecting hot brass down my open collar into my shirt, to leave burn scars all down my chest. I had to remember to button up my shirt collar and modify by hold so the hot shells ejected somewhere harmless. I did manage to get a Marksman medal despite my ‘handicap’.

      • In today’s world, they would put you in a Left-Hand unit and give you mirror medals…

    • I was always intrigued by the U.S. sniper in “Saving Private Ryan” He was shooting a bolt gun right handed and reaching over to work the bolt with his left. I thought the movement was odd to begin with but also wondered how they got the Springfield action to work as smoothly as they did. I’d always believed it to require more force to feed a cartridge than they showed in the movie … but it was a movie. Damn good one.

  11. Do you think the ‘handedness’ has to do with the way we are taught to read language(left to right)? Is ‘handedness’ different in the parts of the world where this is not the case?

    • Handedness is already established before a child learns to read. Or do anything else.

  12. Seems to me that you’re supposed to stand with your back to the hinged jamb when you swing your arm. Your technique would vary depending if you are facing in or out.. Thus the labeling right hand in or right hand out. Not bad for five in the morning tho….

  13. The Universe itself has a “handedness.”
    The astrophysics guys tell us that at the Big Bang, matter and anti-matter came into being at about the same amounts, respectively: 50-50. About.

    About is a big word, because it wasn’t exactly 50-50 — there was a slight surplus of matter. After the (let’s call it for shorthand) 49% of anti-matter and the 51% of matter were all done annihilating each other, the “extra” matter remained, and the anti-matter was all destroyed.

    So, why did matter prevail (slightly) over anti-matter? Ask God when you see him.