December 23rd, 2009

flying squirrel

in celebration of electricity

You may not know this about me, but there is something about electronics that fascinates me and will likely lead to a coroner's report and a closed-casket funeral with a very weird burned smell rocking the funeral home. This is why I occasionally still get worried check-ins asking me if I've taken apart anything with an x-ray installed in it, or if I still have a knife in my VCR to act as a power conduit. (No, and no. Plasma screen and blu-ray. Though I look forward to exploring these vistas when they break. Which they will. They will.)

Child comes by his own tendencies to break things into their component parts from me; the thing is, I'm not like, inspired to take apart something that won't kill me, like a radio without batteries. I'm not hanging out with walkie-talkies, or sitting around with my Very Special Screwdriver set disassembling my old computers to poke industriously. I'm not even confining myself to nice, safe furniture that will just give me splinters and a jaundiced view of the value of trees. Like everything else in my life, I have to have a reason, a goal if you will. And the goal may be insane, but it's mine, and for reasons that like the love of God passeth understanding, I only get goal-oriented around things that have a voltage high enough to achieve barbecued fingers at minimum and a real potential for x-raying myself to death during the unfortunate incident with a TV a few years ago.

The thing is, this is genetic. To elucidate, many moons ago, our central air went out and being, um, us, the logical course of action was to avoid the expense and rationality of a person trained in air conditioner repairs and whatnot, but carry a bag of twist ties, duct tape, electric tape, a hammer, and a screwdriver and achieve Arctic temperatures by sheer bizarre serendipity. This was my mother, by the way, and we all went to stare and poke--I mentioned my love of high voltage, right? That's genetic too--at the strange conglomeration of twist-ties, tape, and some kind of arrangement of metal that turned a non-functional air conditioner into an air conditioner that feared for its life.

Basically, my genetic line should not have survived the Age of Electricity, because we were totes sticking our fingers into sockets from the beginning.

I don't necessarily think I have outgrown this--ask svmadelyn about my cackling when she let me install a new video card in her computer--more that I've become one with my inner wants-to-live-with-fingers-intact. Mostly, I content myself with cityplanning for Christmas villages, rewiring surround sound with optical cables, and rearranging HDMI in various configurations while trying to work out how to network the Wii and the Playstation 3 to stay stationary and yet play on any TV in the house. I have duct tape, screwdrivers, and access to Frye's. It'll happen.

Then two things happened; one, I bought a new internal hard drive, and my adapter for my laptop went out. Ten minutes ago, I had a set of jeweler's screwdrivers spread out on my bed while I hunted for electric tape to reattach a SATA power converter that was causing the adapter to heat up in a way that caused it to hum at me and things sparked. It only occurred to me this could end in tragedy when I realized all my fic is on this laptop.

Last weekend, my adapter tore near the head; as I was writing, as one does, I hunted through the house and stripped the metal layer off some insulation tape I found in the garage, stripped the plastic back, and created a do-it-yourself-electric-death before wrapping the entire thing in electrical tape. While charging my laptop--and watching the rubber coating start to bubble--and waiting to hit one hundred percent chargd because it wasn't actually dripping yet (I was wrong, so wrong), I thought, I need to take stock of my life. So I did.

I own two large plastic containers of electrical cord and adapters with no discenible purpose; five composite cables, seven S cables, two VGA cables, three types of USB, Firewire that I never use but I may need to despite the fact the size is wrong for every Firewire port in the house, and my personal pride and joy, an adapter with four separate heads that can be used as an emergency power source for four routers (only one of which actually works), a cable modem (that works), and experimented on with everything that needed an adapter. Which is a surprising number of things if you sit down and stare around you for items that may one day need something like that, and try to figure out if it doesn't fit, can you get some foil and make it fit.

I have two large external drive, one in the freezer because the internal power went out, and eventually, I'm going to remember to pick up a new case and take it apart. I have no idea anymore what is on it but that's secondary to the fact that it's like a belated Christmas present one day in the future. There are about a million screws the size of two ants stacked together buried in the carpet from taking apart and putting together no less than three laptops, two desktops, a router, an internal DVD/CDRW drive, and one untyped entity that might or might not have been a stereo before I decided it just needed my Magic Adapter and my screwdriver set (it didn't. I still have it. I still don't know what it began life as. Pretty sure a radio was involved.)

Searching through box three--wait, you really thought there were only two?--I found a.) three laptop adapters that all only suffer from something minor like being torn in half and only need electrical tape and a death wish to get working; b.) IDE cables from Darcy, my first computer, circa 1998; c.) a DVD/CDRW from Schindler, my second computer circa 1999; d.) two floppy drives with no real idea where they came from; e.) several chassises that fit cases that are no longer created; eleven years of installation CDs for everything from Darcy to John II and Mom's Studio; e.) lipstick (terrible color); f.) an army of wireless cards; g.) another lipstick (excellent color); h.) a five-disk DVD changer that works if I take off the cover and shove a screwdriver between two of the ports and twist, and i.) another router.

(The rise of the routers is directly attributable to discovering newegg and a sale at Frye's. They don't work? But maybe if I just take them apart, they will.)

And my new hard drive still isn't installed because the adapter's humming got annoying, it burned my fingers when I tried to pick it up (whatever), and also, the lights started flickering, which may or may not be because of me, but why take chances?

I also have the rubbery covering of my former laptop adapter melted into my comforter.

Seriously. I love my life. I love my screwdrivers with their tiny, computer-and-small-electronic-device compliant heads, and I love that radio shack has a battery powered set with multiple tiny screw heads to change around to my delight. I love that at Frye's, I can buy cable by the foot when it goes on sale, because I will need it, though I don't know exactly how, and somehow, I have twenty feet of cable coiled up beneath my bed for emergencies like if the cable goes out, with a tiny bag of coaxial heads because scyfy night is not to be missed. My mother rewired the telephone the other day, poking through the wall and tugging out the wires one by one to patiently figure out where they go and put it back together new again. The house has old wiring; I'm not saying I'm buying copper wire and reading up on DIY Rewire Your Entire House For Electricity and Add a Networking Option for the Wii and P3 With Speakers In Every Room. I'm saying I'm pricing it. And hey, it's on sale! Sure, it could end in tragedy, but then again, I have duct tape, , twist-ties, a Magical Adapter, and my screwdrivers. It could also work.

I have a question, though--is there a cleaner that can be used to get melted rubber off of blankets? I could really use the advice.