Oh, the electronics I’ve fried…

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Mornin’ all.

Boy, has it been awhile or what? We had happenings, folks. HAPPENINGS. And they have royally messed with my Joyous January plans. I’m hoping to get through this without smashing the computer, but after the hell this beast has put me through…

Hang on. I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

It was a dark and drizzly morning in early April, one of those days that carries on the winds a feeling of importance, as if the very air itself knew that a pivotal moment of beginning was about to occur. A twinge, a spasm, a gripping pain seared through a woman’s belly, the lone harbinger of…

“Oh dear lord, Bethie. Are you talking about the day you were born?”

…too far back? Hm. Yeah…I can see it now. You’re right. That’s probably a little too far back for this story. Fastforward almost 37 years…

THIS story began on a cold day in January, just a few weeks ago. The breeze carried with it not a sense of importance so much as a tangible fear of frostbite…or, at the least, the slight worry of chilly tootsies.

It was a busy day mostly spent on the go, but I had a half hour before I had to leave to get the youngest pup from school, and a granny square was just itchin’ to be finished. I popped a butterscotch into my mouth, turned on The People’s Court, sat on the couch, grabbed up my crochet, and got to work. I was only a few stitches in when I shivered. Fortunately, we have a cute little faux fireplace heater we got at a great bargain (no, really, half price! Can you believe it? I told Mabel she really MUST get one herself, but you know Mabel. Course, she got that oil radiator ten years ago and is still going on and on about how great the heat distribution is. I suppose I can’t blame her. Look at her husband. I’m not one for gossip, but if I had to choose between the oil radiator and Hank to keep me warm at night, it’s the radiator. How they ever managed to have children is beyond me. The man is an utter pill, not that Mabel ever turned heads on the dance floor herself…)

*Author’s note: I felt that since I was already sucking a hard candy, sitting down to watch The damn People’s fuckin’ Court, and crocheting a granny square, I should just give up and BE an old lady for awhile. Just seeing what’s coming down the pike for me in a couple decades. I can live with it. Back to current events…*

I reached over to turn on the heater and unwittingly set off the Electric Apocalypse of ’16. As soon as my finger hit the “on” switch, everything stopped.

Long and short, our ancient circuit box quit, melting the main circuit breaker switch. If the burnt, melted, and RUSTED wires are any indication, it had been going for awhile.

Because the thing is old enough to have a calligraphied paper label hand-pasted inside, we could not find a new part to fit. The unHandyman that Landlord uses (longtime readers remember both Landlord and unHandy-handyman) got a part from a “guy” in a parking lot.

I shit you not.

He couldn’t find the part, got talking to a guy in the aisle of a hardware store, and met up with him in a shady parking lot to buy a couple questionably legal parts. You have no idea how badly I want to believe they had code words for this illicit electrical transaction.

When he got back here with parts in hand, one was rusted, one was slightly less rusted. unHandyman honestly seemed confused as to why we selected the less rusted part. He said, “But this is probably an original.”

Now folks, you weren’t here, but I can assure you that when he said, “an original,” what he meant was THE original. As in, the very first circuit breaker ever. I was positive the Smithsonian would like to have it back, so we chose the seventy year old after-market part instead. I know that not having a parts-matching circuit panel probably devalues it for collectors, but I’m one of those crazy folks who believes in actually USING electricity in the house. I’m just zany like that.

Before he installed it, a couple things happened…

My bathroom is off my kitchen. It’s small, with no windows. As we had no power, I had a lantern in there so people could see when they needed to use the bathroom. We three, unHandyman, my man, and I were in the kitchen insisting the less cruddy part was our choice. unHandyman said he’d install it after he “takes a pee.” He then proceeded to walk into the bathroom and start peeing. Right there. Not five feet away. DOOR OPEN.

He’s a groaner when he pees.

There is no reason in the world I should know that.

I said, “Uh, there’s a lantern right there…” He says, “Nah, there’s plenty of light.”

With the door open. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

The other thing that happened was that my man actually had to convince unHandyman to shut off the main power into the house before he did the job.

The main power lines were hot. They were not the problem. It was the breaker the thrumming, humming electric wires screwed into that was bad. Think about that for a sec. Let the idiocy sink in. The dude was actually, legitimately, 100% planning on taking his metal screw driver and unscrewing the hot, fully functional power lines. He needed convincing NOT to do this.

His plan to keep safe? He was going to “not slip” with the screwdriver, and make sure to grab the part of the wire where the insulation hadn’t completely melted off to steady it all.

I…I just…*blink* I mean, there are no words, right?

We were without power for about 24 hours. Not too bad considering unHandyman had to slip seamlessly into the seedy underworld of black market circuit breakers to get the job done. The lights are on. The after effects, however, continue.

The Surge, as it will now be called for the rest of all time, fried our computer. Blitzed the power supply and fried the hard drive. And before you say anything snarky, we DID have a surge protector. A super fancy one, actually. It did nuthin’. NUTHIN’. So annoyed with CyberPower right now.

Yes, I specifically called out the brand. We paid a mint for that because my computer is so important to me. And YOUR product is SHIT, CyberPower.

“Uh, Bethie? Shouldn’t you be pissed at Landlords instead?”

Oh worry not, mon ami. There’s enough ire to go around! I just wanted to give my own product review of CyberPower’s fancy schmancy surge protectors. They’re utterly useless. Don’t buy one. Don’t let your friends accidentally buy one. A dollar store hunka would have done the exact same job.

Anyway, The Surge took down my beastie. It’s limping along now. At first, we thought it was just the power supply and hard drive that took the brunt of the meltdown. Now, though, it seems to be randomly having USB problems and freezing/crashing the computer. I keep tweaking things in the BIOS, and today is the very first day I’ve been able to use this writing program for more than five minutes straight. Some things work flawlessly, though, complex programs you’d think would crash. It’s making it very hard to determine which part is still flaking. It’s vexing.

I am vexed.

We’ll get it figured out. Worst case at this point already happened, right? I lost my hard drive.

Now, I’m not an idiot. I did a full backup on an external drive not that long ago of my documents, music, and pictures. I didn’t, however, save the marathon writing session I was in the middle of when The Surge happened. I had revised a book I was working on and added…god…I dunno, at least 60 pages, maybe more. I was in a writing frenzy and didn’t back that up.

I also lost old emails. I could never figure out how to save them.

…okay, in fairness, that’s on me. When the pc wouldn’t just let me copy them to the drive, I said, “Eh, I’ll figure it out later…” and didn’t. That’s on me. I get it.

But all my emails. *heavy sigh*

I’m a hoarder, right? I mean, I’ve touched on it before that I don’t just hoard things. I hoard songs. I obsessively listen to them over and over. I’ll “hoard” a painting or piece of art I like. I’ll look at it…not just look, but feel a compulsion to stop and seek it out throughout the day, no matter what else I’m doing. Maybe it’s all part of hoarding emotions. I dunno. I don’t get paid enough to be my own therapist. And I hoard emails. I keep every correspondence from a friend or family member.

I mean, ALL of them.

Even the stupid ones. Even the links to dumb shit I’ll never actually look at again. Even the ones that piss me off or hurt my feelings. Especially the ones that make me laugh, or give me a feeling of being around that person, no matter how many miles or metaphysical planes may separate us.

I can replace the other things. Hell, I even have a “it wasn’t meant to be” attitude about the writing I lost. Maybe the cosmos thought the book sucked. I’m actually not that bummed out about losing that. But my connection to folks that are now forever in my past…that has been very hard.

I’ve got the dead drive in my drawer. The thing won’t even spin. Utter destruction on the circuit board. Physically fried. I can’t get power to it. I can’t even trick it into working when hooked up to another system. I don’t have the skills to digitally ninja that shit. So it’s in my drawer. Maybe someday the technology will exist for me to breathe life back into those files. My junk drawer is the cryogenic chamber, my hard drive is Disney’s head.

*Author’s note: Yeah, yeah, I know. But it’s such a fun and horrifying urban legend, why not use it?

That’s the skinny on The Surge and all the frustration that has happened since. Putting in a new main breaker was just a stop-gap. The whole things needs to be readdressed when warmer weather hits. If the main was so bad, you know the rest can’t be faring much better.

What should happen come spring is the complete replacement of all the wiring in the house. What actually will happen is another trip down in our scary-beyond-all-reason cellar with electrical tape to wrap everything we can reach. I mean, rust can only hold wires together so long before it crumbles, right?

Hey, on the plus, I now have an “in” with the black market circuit panel parts dealers in the area. Didn’t have that before. I think I’ll start calling them the Voltaic Underground. When I need a part, I’ll shine a lightning bolt symbol into the clouds. Maybe they’ll let me make t-shirts.

“Slow down, Bethie. No one likes it when a newbie comes into the group and starts trying to run the show.”

…fair enough. I don’t wanna Yoko the Voltaic Underground. If I piss them off, what will I do for the next Surge?

Still, I now know they are there if I need them. It’s a small comfort, but it looks like that’s the only one I’m going to get out of this experience.

Eh. I’ll take it.

Thus concludes a Musing for Saturday, January 23, 2016. I got through this entire thing without crashing! I hung for a minute, swore, and scared it back into motion. Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I’m treating this beast with kid gloves when I should be yelling and threatening like I do with my cars. In that case, I better whip out my best old timey sailor impression while I try to upload…apologies if it gets a little salty in here…

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5 days into the new year, and no Roundup? Let’s fix that.

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Mornin’ all.

Get in here quick and shut that door! Jeez. You’re letting all the heat out. And right now, heat is a valuable commodity. The coffee just finished seething, though, so that’s hot. Grab a cup.

No, no! Don’t put it in a ceramic mug. Holy smokes, it’s like you’ve never been here before. Did the cold put your brain on the fritz or something? You have to put your coffee in the lead-core crucible like usual. Come on, man. Sit by the faux fire and pull yourself together.

So guess what I’ve been doing the past few days? Writing. Got 38 pages done over the last two days. I want to do more today, but it’s cold and the housework didn’t do itself while I was engulfed in a fictitious universe. That’s okay. My peepers get wonky if I stare at a screen too long and I can feel the tinge of an eye strain headache. Today housework, tomorrow more wild adventures with a couple of crazy, mixed up characters as they make their way across the country to confront a madman and his minions.

Speaking of madmen and their minions, have you seen the news this week? Holy moly, it’s like 2016 flipped the “crazy” switch. You’ve got the mostly misunderstood militia standoff in Oregon, Saudis breaking up with their BFFs, Trump’s continuous oral fart of idiocy… Everyone was so afraid that the Mayans and Nostradamus vibed on 2015 being no bueno, but maybe we were just off a year?

Personally, I love the crazy train, both the song and the concept. It makes life a lot more interesting. And calming, in a way. I mean, yeah I’m an obsessive hoarder with serious self worth issues and a penchant for personal sabotage that would give Freud fits, but at least I wasn’t stupid enough to storm a Saudi Arabian embassy and think it would all be coo, brah. I’m a 2, 3 maybe on the crazy scale. This year we’re already seeing people up in the 46-48 range. Makes me feel downright sane.

So, with that in mind, let’s take the chill off this icy January morning with some fun. A look at the crazy going on. With comments. I think what we all need is a….

** HEADLINE ROUNDUP!!! **

*catchy theme music hummed through kazoos* *go-go dancers huddling in parkas sorta swaying to the beat*

Uh, yeah. Sorry about the lame intro. We had a jazz number all worked out, but then it was too cold for the band to play without gloves and there was no way I was talking the dancers into their flapper costumes. I mean, they’re a devoted lot, but there are limits. Well done anyway, I say. Good effort!

For those unfamiliar with internet news sites, let me fill you in: They’re weird. In an effort to break a story before anyone else, the stories become rushed, and the headlines are often no more than a necessary afterthought. Sometimes they’re odd, or awkwardly worded. Sometimes they’ve got spelling or grammatical errors. And sometimes, they just leave me with a funny mental image that I can’t help but sharing. Every now and again we take a minute to round up some of these gems. Sounds fun, yeah?

Well scooch closer to that fire, wrap your hands around your coffee crucibles (as long as you’re wearing the hazmat gloves, of course) and let’s have ourselves a roundup! As always, the headlines are completely real. I just add the yuks.

– 20 Biggest Tax Dollar Boondoggles in the US

I know. Odd to lead with a tax headline. But…boondoggles. When the hell have you ever seen “boondoggles” in a headline? It wasn’t quite enough to get me to actually read an article on taxes, but it came close.

– 37 Smartest Dog Breeds

I’m not a dog person. To me that sounds like all of the dog breeds. I mean really, how many are there?

– The Least Intelligent Dogs

Oh snap. Okay, I guess there are at least 38.

– Cities to Travel to if You Love to Eat

“Tampa: We’ve got food, you need to eat…do the math.” Dibs on royalties from Tampa’s new slogan. You know where to send the check, Tampa tourism bureau.

– Why the Oregon Militia is Citing the Book of Mormon

Going out on a limb and guessing it’s because they might be Mormons. Not trying to profile. Just making a wild guess.

– Step Aside, Pizza Rat, it’s Donut Raccoon’s Turn

I hope that one day, archaeologists of the future will unearth this headline and ONLY the headline, with no article or video or explanation. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

– Bieber Shows New Cornrows With “Girlfriend”

I wanted this to be a farming story more than I care to admit. Got hopeful there when they put “girlfriend” in quotes. You know. Goat.

– Billion-dollar Start Up Hires Employees Without Ever Meeting Them or Talking to Them

There’s being edgy and fresh, and then there’s just being fucking stupid. Unfortunately for up and coming hipsters, Pabst blurs that line.

– The Bachelor Season Starts, and Already We Have a Villain

I’m confused. I thought the show WAS the villain?

– Mid-flight, Someone Noticed the Door was Open

If I forget to double check my liftgate on my twenty year old station wagon, it’s like DEFCON five on my dash. Lights and blings and WARNING WARNING WARNING. Which is good, because if the shopping bag tipped, it would be terrible to lose a can of peas out the back. I just find it odd that a million dollar plane doesn’t have something similar, because it’s not canned peas they’re trying to transport safely…

– Signs of Mass Extinction Behind a New Jersey Store

…you know what? No. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to be the bigger person here and take the high road. If you want to make a joke about Jersey being the place people go to give up and die, that’s on you.

– Obama Moves to Require Background Checks on More Gun Sales

OH MY GOD NO!!! HE’S TAKING ALL MUH GUNSES AND SHIT!!! GODDAMN HIM TO HELL THE FUCKING UNAMERICAN HAWAIIAN!!! WAH WAH WAH!!! …is what more than half of the internet will sound like today. Just giving you a heads up.

– Armed Takeover of Building Puts Feds in Tough Spot

Oh look! The No Shit Gazette is back in print!

– Trump and the “war” on Political Correctness

It’s not a “war on political correctness.” It’s him intentionally insulting people like a five year old. Big difference.

– It’s Not Your Imagination, Americans Are Angrier Than Ever

Gee. I wonder what could be fueling that.

*squeegies sarcasm off the screen*

– Obama Aims to Limit Gun Deaths

UGH NOT AGAIN!!! IT’S MY RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN TO BE SHOT DEAD BY A GUN IF I WANT TO BE!!! STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME SAFER YOU DAGGUM HIPPIE!!!

– Amateur Sleuths on Trail of Dinosaur

It’s about time someone stood up and tried to stop the rampant outbreak of crimes in and around paleo neighborhoods.

– New Orleans Asks for Christmas Trees to Help Coasts

But the cries for help went unheeded, for the trees did not have ears.

– Group: Pilot in Alaska Crash Took Plane Without Permission

Who left the keys just lying around?!

– Iran “Regrets” Embassy Attacks

Ya think!?

– Hoverboard Sparks Fire in Australia House

No it didn’t because hoverboards don’t exist. If it has wheels and it rolls on the ground, IT’S NOT A GODDAMN HOVERBOARD.

…guess I’m still bitter.

– Deporting “Affluenza Teen” to US May Violate His Rights, Lawyer Says

I am so sick of this kid. Take his money and cellphone and drop him in Detroit. I’m guessing his case of “affluenza” will be cured almost immediately.

– Periodic Table’s Seventh Row Finally Filled as Four New Elements Added

And among the ODC chemists of the world, there was joyous revelry and good tidings, for at last, they could rest.

– Can Virtual Reality Help Astronauts Keep Sane in Space?

Mmhm. You know what they mean. 3D porn.

– Yahoo Kills its Online Video Hub, Screen

If you confess, are you still indicted? Will there be a trial? I’m not clear on how that works.

– Why the Real King Kong Became Extinct

Personally, I think it was the fall, though there is a valid point in the idea that the gunfire ended him before he hit the ground.

– Coyote With Jar on Head Seen in Pembroke

That’s from our local news, and I can tell you there’s more than a fifty percent chance that the only reason this was allowed to make the news was because they knew folks would want to hop in their Jeeps and try to see it for themselves. Hey, it’s January in New Hampshire. Not much going on.

– Cops Round Up Stray Shopping Carts

…yeah. *sigh* Yeah, that’s us, too.

– People are Reaching Out to Their “Text Door Neighbor”

NO. Nope. Stop it right now.

– 15 Ways You’re Doing Laundry Wrong

Whoa dude. Why so judgy?

– Mississippi River Crest Rolls Toward Tennessee; Singer’s Body Found

I think they may have led with the wrong part of the story.

– Zidane Handed Trial By Fire By Misfiring Real Madrid

I have absolutely no idea what’s happening with this.

– Poland Sub-zero Weather “Kills 21”

I don’t understand the use of quotes here. Are they not dead? WERE they dead? ZOMG POLISH ZOMBIE APOCALPYSE

– Wonder What Merchants Do With Year End Inventory?

Good god, no. What happens in the back room should stay in the back room, amiright?

– 13 Airlines You Must Stay Away From

I think we already figured out two of them.

– Eastern Ukraine Villages Change Hands Despite Truce

“No good, Vlad. Now I’ve got two lefts. What am I supposed to do with two lefts?”

– Illinois Governor Disappointed in Chicago Mayor Over Police Shootings

Boy, the governor doesn’t pull any punches, does he? He’s “disappointed.” Quick…someone give the mayor aloe to ease that sick burn.

– Police Search for Vandal Who Left Bacon at Florida Mosque

And if anyone can sympathize with an unwanted baconing, it’s cops.

– New York Governor’s Order on Homeless Deepens Chill With City Mayor

Another governor laying it down. Git ’em, gov.

– How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Ew no go away.

– Spain Police Nab 3.3 Tons of Cocaine

3.3 TONS of cocaine. TONS!!! Nothing wrong with this headline. I just thought it was worth noting.

– NASA Cancels Launch of Next Mars Probe Due to Instrument Leak

Someone get NASA some duct tape. Mars isn’t colonizing itself.

@theDonald: NOT ON MY WATCH ITS NOT #wallthesolarsystem

*sigh* Sorry about that, folks. He’s so persistent. You try to do something and have your own deal going and he can’t help but rush in and try to ruin it. Maybe if we just ignore him, he’ll go away.

– Hillary Clinton Says Aliens May Have Paid Us a Visit

Boy, Bill’s excuses are getting @theDonald: IS IT JUST ME OR IS GREEN SKIN UNATTRACTIVE? #AmericansnotMartians

Dude. Don’t interrupt. I’m trying to do a thing here. Let’s try this again…

– Hillary Clinton Says Aliens May Have Paid Us a Visit

I’ve heard some lame ass excu @theDonald: THE MOON USED TO BE GREAT, DIDN’T IT? MAKE THE MOON GREAT AGAIN #cheesefreedom

What? That…that doesn’t even make @theDonald: I’M RICHER THAN ANYONE ON MARS. IT’S TRUE. #galacticgod

GAH! Forget it. I can see we’re not going to get anything else accomplished today. Every time I try to get a coherent thought out, some asshole’s gotta barge in with their big mouth.

-It’s Not Your Imagination, Americans Are Angrier Than Ever

It’s only January, but I’m already calling it. Headline of the year, folks.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Tuesday, January 5, 2016. I’m going to go do laundry, apparently the wrong way. I think it’ll still work out okay.