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…