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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VIVE LA PLUTO!!

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Mornin’ all.

Has your favorite brand of sunscreen ever just stopped working for you?

Last year, I had no problems with it. This weekend, we had a fun trip to a local dam and an afternoon of pickning fun with friends and family. Sunscreen was applied, reapplied. The older I get the more sensitive to the sun my skin has become. I don’t usually get a sunburn, but if I don’t put on sunscreen, I’ll itch. And itch. And itch all night long. So I’m not one of those “oh, yeah, I kinda waved the bottle around me before I went outside” sunscreen users. No half-assing it, that’s what I’m saying. I put that shit on thick.

After the long, fun day, we packed up and I was about halfway home by the time it dawned on me that I was decidedly uncomfortable. Couldn’t do anything in the car, especially since I was driving. Fortunately, the hydraulic suspension system we have decided to blow a line in the engine and spray hydraulic fluid all over to give me a billowing, smoky distraction to take my mind off the burning. Thanks, Car! Always lookin’ out for me.

So we get home. Unload, get the kiddies wrangled to change out of their damp, sandy swim trunks, and then it’s my turn to get a look at myself in the bathroom mirror.

Is “borscht” a skin tone?

Ugh, folks. UGH.

No outdoors for Bethie for the next few days. I guess that leaves me with a few “to do” choices:

1. Play my video game.

2. Clean.

3. Make an art.

The problem with the video game is that I rage quit yesterday afternoon, but accidentally did so after it auto-saved in a really, really bad spot. I’m surrounded by aliens, all of which are way stronger than my character, and I’ve got shit for ammo, a depressing fact I discovered when I picked the controller back up a little later. It’s going to take patience to get my character out of there, and I just don’t know how much of that I’ve got.

I *could* clean. I suppose. But… um… well, there’s… *brain robots scramble madly through files to come up with a viable excuse* Oh, wait! I know! Okay, so I mentioned the hydraulic line blew on the wagon. While the car is technically drivable, with no hydraulic suspension, the rear end is solidly locked WAY up high, making the car bounce all over the road when I try to drive it.

“Uh, Bethie? What does any of that have to do with cleaning?”

Well, if I start to clean, I just won’t stop and I’ll need to take trips to the dump, which I can’t do in the broken wagon. Darn.

“But, you could mop and shit…”

THE CAR IS BROKEN. I simply cannot clean. Oh well, nothing to be done for it.

That leaves art. I’ve got a painting project to wrap up with the youngest pup. We made paper mache birds to hang in his room, an owl and an eagle. We’ve just got to finish up the detail painting and hang them. That’s a good one to work on for the morning. It’ll get me pumped up to do some different kind of artwork.

I picked up a bunch of posters from the free pile at the junk shop across the way yesterday. I like to take an ugly or boring print and add to it to make it fun and interesting, and there was a box of about a dozen huge, high quality prints, mostly from museums. Score! I can totally deface those puppies. That sounds like fun.

Oh, and I forgot the most important “to do” on this morning’s list: Wait for the New Horizon’s up close Pluto shots to finally come in.

I’m not kidding. I will be refreshing NASA all day until I see some Pluto glamor shots.

“Um…why?”

Why? WHY!!?? Are you…have you…don’t you…. !!??WHY??!!

For the first time in human history, we are going to get a close shot of the furthest planet in our solar system.

“Bethie, Pluto is not a planet.”

WRONG. They demoted it to a “dwarf planet”, keyword “planet.” So even the idiots that demoted Pluto recognized that a large body that has three moons is most definitely a planet. Also, the closer New Horizons gets, the more NASA and their ilk are being proven wrong. What they thought they knew about Pluto is bullshit.

1. Pluto’s moons are actual moons, not simply asteroids floating nearby. The five small moons DO orbit in a regular pattern, meaning that Pluto has enough mass and spin to create the gravity needed to pull and keep objects in an orbit.

2. Pluto has not only polar ice caps, like any self respecting planet (albeit, methane and nitrogen ice), but an intricate surface, with possible mountains, cliffs, and canyons. Previously, it was assumed that Pluto was no more than a large asteroid that got locked into orbit. Now it seems that Pluto has developed the features we associate with an actual planet. Frozen liquid. Perhaps some sort of internal activity which would lead to the formation of mountains, the cracking into canyons…or flowing water to create these features. Which it shouldn’t have. Logic dictates that it can’t, not so far from the sun. And yet, there are some truly intriguing findings. A real beard stroker.

3. Pluto is larger than NASA thought. Pluto is right on the outskirts of the Kuiper Belt, a hodgepodge of celestial junk milling about on the fringes of our solar system. The logic behind Plutos demotion was that there were other bodies in that belt, specifically Eris, that could be larger. Up close, personal measurements have proven that Pluto IS the largest object in the Kuiper Belt (to date…I mean, the Kuiper belt is HUGE, and there may be some hulking behemoths in there somewhere).

The closer we’ve gotten, the more info we’ve gathered, shattering assumptions about Pluto. And now, New Horizons will get just 7,750 miles away. I know it sounds like a lot. But folks, New Horizons has putt-putted for nine and a half YEARS to get there. It’s already covered almost 3 BILLION miles. 7,750 is nothing.

Okay, let’s put it this way. The moon is 238,900 miles away from us. Think of how much we can see with the naked eye on a clear night, how many details. Now, zoom that image in 30 times. Blow the visible moon up 30 times larger in the night sky. Imagine the details we could see then! Why, we’d be able to see the secret alien landing strip at that point.

It’s happening at 7:50 a.m., my time. And I cannot wait.

What am I really hoping for?

Well, the writer in me really, REALLY wants to see some native critter waving at us, though I’m fairly certain that won’t happen. I’d like to see details of the remains of a true environment. Scars on the land from water, or dormant volcanoes that prove there was once a nuclear heart to the now-icy beast. I want to see something that will re-open the conversation about Pluto.

They’ve already seen so much that there WILL be a push to reinstate it as a full fledged member of our solar system, but I think it’s going to take more than what they’ve discovered so far to give the argument any really substance. Sure, I could start an internet petition. I’m betting it would get tons of signatures. Scientists don’t tend to care about internet petitions.

“Bethie, why do you care so much? It’s a dwarf planet because it is a dwarf.”

Because what the hell is size when the body is spherical, has an orbit around our star, has moons which, in turn, orbit around it, has polar ice caps, has the same geological markings of the other planets in our solar system…

The ONLY reason they demoted Pluto was because it was small. But that does not mean it’s not a functional member of our solar system. If it looks like a planet, and acts like a planet, and has the same magnetism as a planet, then it’s fucking planet.

“But if we say that, then we’ll have to start including other large bodies, like Eris.”

Maybe. And what would be so bad about that? If further investigation into Eris proves that it, too, has the same planetary markers we’ve established as a baseline for our other planets, then why not add it to the list?

When we demoted Pluto, we took a step back. We demoted it based solely on one factor, and that’s just bad science. Hopefully we’ll see something great when those pics come in. Hopefully Pluto will once again get the respect it deserves.

VIVE LA PLUTO!

Thus concludes a nerdy Musing for Tuesday, July 14, 2015. I’m off to get more aloe lotion while I wait for history. You know, I wouldn’t have gotten this sunburn on Pluto…