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Archive for November, 2010

The Dark Fiber

fiber_opticIt won’t scare you away. It’s just an optical fiber. It is not a special one, too.

When companies run fiber optic cable, they run two or three times the amount of fiber they require for future sake. These spare, unused strands are called dark fiber, simply because there is no light passing through them.

Telecommunication companies often leases out these extra strands to other companies.

The fact that the diameter of these strands is very small might scares you. A commonly used single-mode fiber strand core has 8.3 microns in diameter. (Micron is a non-SI name for micrometer. One micron equals to one micrometer, that is 0.000001 meter). The core of multi-mode fiber is typically 50 or 62.5 microns. They are smaller than a human hair. The coating layer usually has 250 microns in diameter. They are all the way to one-ten thousandth of a centimeter.

Dual fiber-optic cable

The tiny diameter of fiber strands makes them extremely dangerous. When stripped of their coating layer, the strands can easily penetrate the skin. The shards can be carried by blood vessels to the other parts of the body, even the brain! This could wreak serious havoc. They can pierce the eyeball too, and possibly getting trapped inside.

That might be the dark side of the fiber.

So, use your safety glasses and special shard-disposal containers when connecting or splicing fibers.

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The Story of Their Life

Early October I traveled to Kebumen, my father’s hometown. It was just four days and three nights but I had a lot of interesting conversations with my close relatives. The whole talking got more interesting when it came about my grandpa, the one I barely know because he died when my father was a teenager. By chance, my grandpa’s little brother who lives in Jakarta was there too!

So, I have never known before that grandpa was a good Chinese traditional healer. “Just by counting the pulse on wrist, he knew the sickness,” my aunt told me. He would then prescribe some herbals or drugs, or simply told the patients to abstain from some kind of foods.

One story made me laugh.

One day, a severely ill Dutch officer came to my grandpa. (That time, Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch.) He was a high-ranked officer who sought for medical treatment from grandpa, but he did not know how to communicate with the locals. The language barrier had made him said anything in signs and gestures. So did my grandpa when communication between them happened.

At first, grandpa simply knew the Dutch was ill. After checked on him, he gave a prescription written on a piece of paper. He wondered how the Dutch would understand what he meant. The Dutch just went home after receiving it.

Few days later, the Dutch came in a rush to my grandpa: he came to show express his gratitude for being healed!

Both seemed to understand each other: how could he understand the prescribed herbals or drugs?

The officer then ‘asked’  grandpa to write another prescription. After receiving the prescription, he intentionally burned it. When it had been burnt out, he drank the scorched paper with a glass of water.

That was how he’d been healed!

Spending my time . . .

I visited my ancestors’ graves, as usual, on the last day I was there, October 5. That was the day grandpa died.

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