Saturday, December 23, 2006


Each year more laws are passed to protect us from injury or death.
We must build our domiciles with stair treads and risers just so, the handrail at a certain height, spiral stairs have to be large enough to make them impractical.
We are being overprotected by our government because we somehow have become to believe that we can't get hurt, that we won't die, and if any of those should happen, why we just hire a lawyer to sue whomever we think was responsible for our hurt.
Now I'm thinking these thoughts while I'm traversing a 12" wide wilderness trail cut into a steep shale slope that falls off about 1,000 feet, no handholds or any such thing to arrest my descent into oblivion. Across the valley I see the rock climbers creeping up huge awesome vertical faces like tiny spiders with very little to keep them from being smashed onto the rocks far below but their skill and daring. I see the hot dog skiers and racers ply their particular kind of skill racing downhill and risk being maimed or killed during the winter season. I see auto racing where one false move or freak mechanical thing will cause a man's car to slide, smash, roll and as if that wasn't enough, break into a high octane ball of fire.
Is there some strange dichotomy operating here? Is there some mechanism in man's psyche that has to go out on the limb, take those chances, and not be confined to the dull world of "safe"?
I believe that the more we mandate that the world be "safe" we must go out and do things that will challenge that dullness, because we are more aware, are living a fuller life, have temporarily escaped from the clutches of dullness.
If I want to build a stair (for a private home) why can't I design it without an outer rail? If I want to buy a "Samba Stair" for an industrial storage mezzanine why can't I use it? It may be safer but unorthodox.
The list goes on and on but the main question here is who presses for these changes, who spends the vast sums of money to get these various things approved and adopted by our code agencies?
As soon as some child gets his head stuck in a baluster or man-
ages to slip all the way through and get hurt then from then on all balusters will be a certain dimension or you can be sued by the lawyer lurking around the stair.