Cable Photograph

Jumper knitted by my Grandma

Writing about Cable

There are many cables in my life since I like gadgets and computers where all the cables are used to transport electricity though I guess it is a variation in electricity that is important. At work the important cables recently have been Cat5e and IDC. The former is used for networking computers so carry pulses of information while the latter is a power cable for connecting appliances to the AC sockets. I guess there is also the DPC cables used for monitors too. Not forgetting the USB cables used for peripherals. There are so many acronyms when it comes to cables, though the acronyms also apply to the connectors.

Whilst the same cables will appear at home too, on a domestic scene I also think of other cables. The first that comes to mind is the Arran jumper my Grandmother knitted me many years ago. She died quite a few years ago, so the jumper is special as a link to memories of a much loved serial knitter and my primary caregiver as a child. I miss her a great deal. But I will try and stay on cables here. I also think of cables in jewlry though I think maybe people refer to them as ropes or strings. I had a gold necklace that reminds me of twisted cables when I was a teenager. I wonder what happened to that?

Heading outside, electricity rules the world in cabling though occasionally cables are used to support things like masts. On sailing boats those cables are called stays which I think is appropriate because they are a convenient thing to grab hold off when moving around a boat. Which leads me to the last cable I can think of, cable as a measurement. One of the joys for me and challenges of others going through school in the seventies and early eighties was that imperial measurements were still part of the maths curriculum. We had to know about sovereigns and shillings, acres and furlongs but I didn’t come across chains as a measurement until I sailed. I had heard of fathoms but learnt that I could measure ropes by stretching my arms out which was a fathom. A hundred fathoms makes a chain, the standard length of a Royal Navy anchor rope which equates to 600 feet though it is defined by being a tenth of a nautical mile which in turn is defined as a minute of a degree of the Earth’s circumference.

Just to complicate matters, chains also appear on land as a measurement. There are ten chains to a furlong, and a 80 chains to a statute mile which means a chain is 66 feet long. So there is a massive difference  between chain measurements depending on your location on the Earth’s surface. I think the world is a better place for standardised metrics but so much local history is lost to curiosity when we leave old measurements in the past. Did you know there were three barleycorns to an inch?

Cable Sketch

A Hundred fathoms equates to a chain where a fathom is six feet or the width from your middle finger tips when your arms are stretch out.