What the Inspector Found

Apache County, Arizona, Court Administrator Sueanne Czarnyszka stands next to the door to an elevator mechanical room in the courthouse basement where historic documents were discovered. The note on the door reminds everyone that storage is not allowed in the room; photo by Trudy Balcom/The Independent.

A routine elevator inspection isn’t always routine — problems that need correcting may be uncovered, and, in a worst-case scenario, the elevator may be shut down for safety reasons. But, a recent inspection at the Apache County Courthouse in St. Johns, Arizona, was unusual for an entirely different reason: it turned up a treasure trove of old papers that document the county’s early history, the White Mountain Independent reports. While conducting his check of

This colorful 1918 plat map of Apache County includes the handwritten names of property owners and a legend of the county’s original wagon trails. The map was in use until 1937; photo by Trudy Balcom/The Independent.

an elevator at the courthouse, the inspector entered a mechanical room in which boxes had been inappropriately stored. He told Court Administrator Sueanne Czarnyszka that the boxes would have to be removed, so she had the boxes taken up to her office and began inspecting their contents. What she found was amazing: For one, a 1918 color plat map of the county that had handwritten names of landowners; but, there was also a variety of legal documents, including court proceedings and attorney records. Among notable items were documents relating to landowner and pardoned criminal Phin Clanton, whose brother, Billy, was killed in the famous “Gunfight at O.K. Corral.” Phin was later suspected in an apparent revenge ambush of lawman Virgil Earp, though he was never charged.

The priceless documents are to be sent to the state archives, but they provide a valuable reminder: you never know what will turn up during a routine elevator inspection.

This is Why They Post the Signs

Philipp Bellessort holds his mangled MacBook. The computer was left broken and twisted after it got sucked into an escalator at a London Tube station; photo by Mercury Press via The Sun.

Philipp Bellessort, a 28-year-old budding entrepreneur, lost months of work and a GBP1,000 (US$1,300) computer while riding an escalator at a London Tube station, The Sun reported on October 13. Bellessort, in the process of launching a recruitment firm, was going home after meeting with a client. While stepping onto an escalator at the Bond Street station, he set his computer bag down on a step. “As I was halfway up, the bag got sucked into [the escalator],” he told the Sun. He heard the bag tear, then realized the MacBook inside was damaged. “When I picked it up and looked what damage had been done, I was in shock,” he said, adding that all of his client data and contacts were lost. “I started the company three months ago and I’ve worked for seven days a week, 18 hours a day since then. All that is lost,” he told The Sun. A Transportation for London spokesman said the incident was being looked into, but noted that posters and announcements warn riders “to keep their belongings clear of escalators.”

Riding into the Future on a Moving Walkway

A future without personal automobiles will require not only a change in attitude, but new infrastructure, as well. One suggested solution is moving sidewalks. Illustration courtesy of EPFL, via swissinfo.ch.

Have you ever tried to imagine a world without personal automobiles?

A four-year research project called the PostCarWorld, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, asked people to do just that, and came away with what might seem surprising to some: folks in Switzerland could, indeed, imagine a future without personal vehicles, swissinfo.ch reports. While this vision of a possible future does not completely eliminate cars, the project found that people liked the idea of efficient public transport and walkable urban settings. Of course, there were lifestyle considerations, such as online shopping and telecommuting, but the responses also called for infrastructure improvements.

One of the most fascinating of these improvements was the notion of using moving sidewalks for commuting. In a report presented this week before the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), postdoctoral researcher Riccardo Scarinci found that, if properly designed, moving walkways could move 7,000 commuters per hour, as opposed to roadways, which may accommodate up to 1,800 vehicles. Considering that so many commuters are the sole occupants of cars, the numbers can be quite eye-opening. While this vision may be decades from becoming a reality, it suggests huge, exciting opportunities for those in the business of manufacturing people-moving equipment.