sealed tight for freshness

May 23, 2001
Yesterday the fire alarms at my building went off. We all dutifully filed down the stairs to the lobby, where we discovered we were completely stuck. Both the front and back doors to the outside were sealed shut. At first we assumed there was some sort of errant locking mechanism in place, but when the fireman arrived, we discovered that even once they were pried open with a crowbar (the glass (!) doors, not the fireman), they were still prone to slamming shut in dramatic fashion.

Fireman Kirk Apparently, there was some kind of mechanical venting mechanism, presumably meant to whisk away smoke filled air, which was creating a low-pressure area in the lobby. (I don't know enough about fire codes to know if the implied supply of fresh air to a fire is consequential either.) The amount of force needed to open the doors was tremendous. Eventually the back doors (a floor down) were open, although I'm not sure how, or how they were kept from slamming shut.

"New, from the Towering Inferno Construction Company! It's LobbyVacuuSeal technology! Why bother with pesky layoffs and expensive severance packages, when you have LobbyVacuuSeal?"

Quote of the Moment
"[The Monrobot Mark XI all-purpose computer] solves many of the technical problems that we in the computer game have been bucking for years [...] Mark XI weighs only three hundred and seventy-five pounds and is therefore completely portable."
--New Yorker Article on early portable computing... and I thought my Palm IIIc was kind of bulky