Raccoon Tightrope Walking
April 9, 2013 5:13 AM   Subscribe

Raccoon walking across phone lines I could never do this. I'm so scared of heights.
posted by Yellow (33 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Forget the cat circus; I'm going to start a raccoon circus.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:15 AM on April 9, 2013

No wonder they can get into the garbage; they're half an evolutionary step away from calling in an airstrike on it.
posted by Dasein at 5:19 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

I love that lady. Very, very clever.
posted by pracowity at 5:22 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Previously in raccoon news, how Canada is inadvertently breeding what will someday be our dextrous-pawed ubercoon overlords.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:23 AM on April 9, 2013

I could never do this not only because I'm scared of heights but also because a charred corpse isn't very agile.
posted by DU at 5:33 AM on April 9, 2013

Where does that raccoon get off, shimmying like that? I mean that literally. Will he follow the line down until the heat death of the universe, or only so far as the telephone conversation factory?
posted by forgetful snow at 5:41 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

No wonder they can get into the garbage; they're half an evolutionary step away from calling in an airstrike on it.

When I was a kid, my family had a problem with racoons breaking into our garbage. One night, my dad decided the solution was to put cinder block on top of the trashcan. Of course, the racoons just pushed it off and got back into the trash. The next night, my dad took some bungee cords and lashed the cinder block to the trashcan. We woke up to find that the trashcan was gone. We did some searching and found the trashcan, probably 70 yards away, sitting in the creek, the side ripped open, and trash strewn everywhere.

The moral of the story: Garbage is delicious.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:20 AM on April 9, 2013 [16 favorites]

There's no limit to what raccoons will do for Delicious Food (or Delicious Garbage, which I guess is the same thing to them).

I'm pretty sure that with an Arduino and some sort of trapdoor-box and a large quantity of Jif Extra Crunchy, you could train raccoons to solve the Traveling Salesman problem in polynomial time, or dramatically improve Netflix recommendations, or cure cancer.

Though they'd probably just chew through the side of the box, because raccoons are also dicks.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [21 favorites]

raccoons are also dicks. But very very clever!
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:30 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

At first I was going to say Assassin's Creed V.

Then I realized, nah. It's Sly: Thievius Raccoonus.
posted by symbioid at 6:30 AM on April 9, 2013

The narration is the best part.
posted by Birchpear at 6:32 AM on April 9, 2013

From the comments: "Needs Mission Impossible theme"
posted by achrise at 6:36 AM on April 9, 2013

When I was a kid a small twister tore up the vacant lot next to our house, and my Dad rescued two baby raccoons from their ruined nest (their mom was killed). We raised them.

They can indeed be devious, but there is a way to get them back. Give one a sugar cube and a pan of water. They will try to wash the cube before eating it and... hilarity ensues. They never did catch on to that one, but did get us back by stealing and hiding pretty much everything small and shiny that they could.

Eventually they returned to the wild, and we found all our stuff hidden in odd places.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:49 AM on April 9, 2013 [18 favorites]

Came for the raccoon, but my god, the narration is probably the highlight of my damn week. I love that lady!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconded, Greg Nog. Come on MetaFilter hackerzzz, find out where she lives and get her to do voice-overs for every children's show ever!! Also every other show!!
posted by Mooseli at 7:35 AM on April 9, 2013

Super racoons are taking over Toronto. Nobody believes me. Wake up people!
posted by beau jackson at 7:47 AM on April 9, 2013

Relevant-ish: Raccoon steals a mat
posted by Going To Maine at 8:47 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

I liked the part where it was going.
posted by Kabanos at 8:49 AM on April 9, 2013

Yeah, those identity theft rings that supposedly operate out former Easter Bloc states? Nope. Raccoons (and the odd lemur). Same goes for welfare fraud and counterfeit cigarette tax stamps. Follow the paw prints, sheeple.
posted by mosk at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

This raccoon is more capable than, like, a third of Marine Recruits entering boot.

Also, ferrets playing in packing peanuts.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:49 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

My dad, a retired engineer, has waged a 7-year war against the raccoons who have decimated his garden. One year he finally put up a double electric fence. Within a few nights they figured out how to discharge it by sliding the wires out of the charger.

Raccoons: smarter than an electrical engineer.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

Is it going?
posted by Solomon at 11:18 AM on April 9, 2013

Racoons have nothing on this guy. yt
posted by Brent Parker at 5:40 AM on April 9 [9 favorites +] [!]

Can you explain what's going on in that video? It's very confusing.
posted by medusa at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2013

He's checking the power lines for problems. It was on metafilter a while back.
posted by Brent Parker at 3:18 PM on April 9, 2013

They're inspecting the cables for wear and damage that should be repaired, from the title. If you're curious about the physics going on here, there's a couple of things.

The high voltage cables are full of electricity which is to say they've got a surplus of extra electrons. Those electrons want to spread out to places less packed with electrons. The ground is the best place for this, because no amount of electricity pumped into the ground is going to affect the electron density of the earth, it's too big.

The electricity will always do this via the path of least resistance. Air has a fairly high resistance, which how we keep the electricity in the cables in the first place, metal a low resistance, and squishy things like humans are somewhere in the middle.

First is the idea of a faraday cage - if you have a metal enclosure and run electricity through it, the electricity will travel on the outside. You can touch the inside of the enclosure without the electricity going through you because going through you is only going to get it to another part of the enclosure, and it can do that easier by sticking to the metal. This why it's safe to be inside things like a car or a plane in a thunderstorm. Or for that matter, inside a mesh cage at a science museum. The suit he's wearing is a faraday cage, which means he won't get electrocuted himself.

The bit with the rod he holds out is to equalize the voltage between the cable and the helicopter before he starts interacting with the cable directly. Normally you can't do this, because most things are connected up to the ground and the electricity will keep on going to ground through them. With a helicopter, it's not going to ground any faster than the cables are, so a lot of electricity jumps over to it when he holds out the rod, but then doesn't have anywhere else to go. Once the helicopter and the cable have the same density of electrons, no more transfer happens, and it's safe to come in and do stuff.

That said, I'm not sure what is being accomplished in the way he keeps the rod in contact with the helicopter as long as possible while it's moving away. When the helicopter picks him up again he holds the rod out to re-equalize it with the part of the cable he's on now, and I would guess there's a similar discharge before the helicopter lands.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:29 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah, from looking through that other thread, the detail I missed is that these are alternating current wires. That makes sense of course, because that's how we transmit power, I just forgot about that. So the voltage in the cables is rapidly swinging back and forth between positive and negative voltage, and the equalization that happens is not bringing the helicopter to a certain fixed potential, but rather syncing it up with the alternation going on in the cable.

I'm still not certain why you need to keep that sync as long as possible when it moves away, but I'd guess that's just a matter of keeping the inevitable arcing as far away from the tender human as possible - the longer the helicopter stays in contact with the cable, the further away it is when it does separate again and sparks fly.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:38 PM on April 9, 2013

Come on MetaFilter hackerzzz, find out where she lives and get her to do voice-overs for every children's show ever!! Also every other show!!
Mavis Knight captured the critter on video with her phone from her kitchen window last Wednesday evening, performing her own Crocodile Hunter-style narration. ...

She never thought putting the video on YouTube would get her interviewed on CNN and the clip featured on TV networks and website around the world.

“I never thought it would get out of hand like this . . . I just thought (when Buban asked to put it on YouTube) that if it made me laugh, it would make somebody else laugh too,” she says.

But she’s happy that she’s had a chance to do her part for raccoon public relations.

“It’s been nice to talk about raccoons in a positive way,” she says. “People always say bad things about raccoons and make you scared of them so it’s nice to get some positivity for a creature that is always despised.”
posted by maudlin at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2013

Toronto is the set for Resident Evil.
posted by ovvl at 8:33 PM on April 9, 2013

I want this lady to narrate all of my dog's adventures.

No, wait. I want her to narrate the hamster's adventures. "There he goes! He's going to put another seed in the pouch in his face! It's getting so big! How much food can fit in there?"

(thus saving me from doing said narration myself)
posted by cmyk at 8:54 PM on April 9, 2013

Yellow: "I could never do this. I'm so scared of heights."

I just wanted to point out how much I loved this comment. I imagine that you saw the raccoon shifting its way along the telephone lines, sat down and contemplated whether you could do the same thing yourself to get from house A to house B, and then you decided that, despite the fact that you're probably much bigger than a raccoon the greater impediment to you attempting the same thing was your fear of heights rather than size or weight or the carrying tension of the wires, but at least you could share the video on MeFi.

Anyway, it made me laugh. And the video was great, too!
posted by barnacles at 12:17 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everybody needs a friend
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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