May 17th, 2003

children of dune - leto 1

questions of electronics and one true loves

An Annoying Autobiographical Moment

After over a decade of faithful use, my parents' television blew out. Strangely. Rather undramatically, come to think. During my sister's fiance's video game, no less.

The interesting problem of the television came into being.

We are, all and sundry, complete idiots with electronics. No, really. Since around, oh, birth, I've been the one that did the VCR and later DVD programming, setting the times and the channels, learning what all the buttons and little slots do, etc etc etc. That doesn't mean I know what I'm doing or have any actual natural sense about it--it means even as a child, I found vast entertainment sitting in front of the television with the remote control, hitting things just to see what happened. Which really does say a lot about how I got my kicks as a kid. But anyway.

My father, and I love him, knows even less about electronics than I do. If it uses a circuitboard, he's just not getting it. This does not, however, stop any of us from this strange belief that if we disassemble it, we can figure out what is wrong, even if we have no idea what we are looking at. We don't trust other people. Keep in mind I was doing my own repairs on my computer and all the upgrades for years and still do, despite the fact I have an iron-clad warranty. Not because I have a clue. But because, genetically, we all honestly to God believe we can figure this stuff out just by staring at it long enough.

It's very weird.

So, Sister, me, Dad, and Mom all gathered around to disassemble the television. Using power tools and a duster (it's dusty in there! Maybe that's the problem!) and look blankly at the array of wires and board available for our perusal. My sister camps down with the flashlight and the diagram of the interior of the television pasted into the interior of the case, calling out strange things like "J453 is the thingamabob" and we all look carefully to find the thingamabob that we're not sure what is for, but has to have some purpose we can divine by sheer will.

And one and all, my family? Lots and lots of will.

"That's a fuse," Dad states triumphantly, and we all nod and agree, indeed, that IS a fuse. I've never actually seen one, but again. Remember. We WILL it to be a fuse. Pulling it out (I can see people laughing already), we study it carefully. It's a fuse, definitely, we decide, using the hieroglyphic diagram that tells us that in the general vicinity of what we were studying there DOES exist a fuse and fuses, as a rule, are removable. Holding the tiny glass thing, we all wonder how to figure out if it works. Or how. Something.

"Wrap it in tinfoil," Dad decides, and we all nod agreement. Tinfoil is produced, wrapping the glass, and it's stuck back inside. Plug in television. Little strange, alien beeps, then nothing. Hmm.

Using the diagram, we mark out places of interest--apparently, shielded areas where there exists X-radiation (no, seriously, did anyone know that televisions use x-rays? I didn't!), with a warning to only do things with that part in some kind of special lab. We all note the wires and the places where we could die slowly and painfully and think about taking THAT apart, because again, we're idiots.

The interesting problem of the television has been shelved, since a new thing was found to disassemble--a seventies movie editor, from when film was on strips. Such a beast I knew not existed, but there we go. We stared into the most bizarre screen I've ever seen--seriosuly, people, I was wondering if the cavemen did their home movies on this sucker--and marveled at our ability to make a piece of film run through this. Marveled even more we made it work.

This brings me to the happy memories of when my VCR went out. Which is the proof of my genetic inheritance of insanity.

I love my VCR. It's gone everywhere with me since I got it for graduation. Everywhere, literally. Well, no surprise, it's about seven years old, it's time it was allowed to die. But no, not on my watch. I grabbed screwdrivers of varying sizes, some duct tape (stop laughing!) and disassembled it once upon a time (er, six months ago) and sat staring into the array of stuff inside in awe.

Then plugged it in and started hitting things until it started working.

It's working now, btw. I think it's scared of me.

Again, keep in mind. I have no actual ability here. But I did get a kick out of the reaction of a friend of mine who came over while I was gleefully shoving tapes in and poking with the screwdriver.


"Will you LOOK at this? Watch!" I hit rewind and watched in awe as the little thingers winded the tape around. It was beautiful. Friend promptly showed me the case, where it says, quite clearly, that what I'm doing will in fact lead to my ultimate demise. Right. Like I'm going to believe PROFESSIONALS who DESIGNED the thing and KNOW what it can do. Sure.

"Jenn, unplug it."


"Unplug the VCR and put it together. It works now. You don't have to torture it anymore."

She had a point, and my VCR still sits on my television, doubtless dying by the second but determined to hold out until the bitter, bitter end, just to avoid me and the screwdriver.

What makes this more fun, of course, is that Child is as addicted to this as we are. For his third or fourth birthday, after he had learned how to disassemble his walkie-talkies with butter knives in the back of the closet, my dad got him his own tool set. Not being completely lost to reality, I took away the tiny saw and this poking thing that vaguely reminded me of somthing out of a horror movie about evil children, but the hammer, the screwdrivers, and the needle nosed pliers stayed.

There's this stereo that got blown out. Vaguely newish, and I'm not sure who owned it, but it was donated to the cause after we caught Child looking in interest at my computer and fingering his toolbox meaningfully. I set it up on the floor, put his toolbox beside him, and told him to go at it.

He had every screw out of that thing in about three days. I still find them on the floor around the house. Tiny little things. Everywhere.

Stripping the case, Child got to the serious business of getting the CD tray apart then the tape deck, by, again, force of will and one Phillips head screwdriver that still hasn't completely recovered from it's duty. After the pieces were out and admired, Child took teh hammer and started banging away at the case until i twas so many tiny bits of plastic that, like glitter and roaches, will never go away and never die.

Since most of this was done in VCR's view, I'm going to guess that, just maybe, it's also just about as scared of Child as Me. I've been looking at some simple electronics for kids at teh Discovery Zone, but I'm not sure Child can downgrade to tiny circuits when he's been demolishing entire circuit boards.


lorax goes into some interesting places here about romance and happy endings.

When you read through friends lists, fanfiction rec sites, etc you start to see how much Angst is out there. There's fluff, true, but I think the angst may outweigh it. There may be more suffering and darkness than there is fluffy sweet sex and giggles.

So why? I'm obviously not the only one who doesn't like Happy Endings. God knows my real life friends whine about them as much as I do. We don't want the girl to end up with the boy, or Cinderella to wave goodbye from her Pumpkin coach.

After some thought, I think it's because Happy Endings make us envious, on some level. Things never end happy in real life. There's no such thing as happily ever after. There's happy moments, happy days, happy weeks - if you're lucky, there's even happy months. Times when you have a new love, or a job you love, or some great success. But they always end. There's always something gray at the end of it. And when stories end on a happily ever after, it leaves us with this faintly resentful feeling that doesn't like it.

Now THIS is intersting. She also discusses the appeal of romance novels, etc.

Of course, I think about this kind of thing too much.

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