Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Anti-Electronic Field

Would you believe the house is still clean? On tomorrow's agenda is a little touch-up work to keep it that way. I may have turned over a new leaf.

I forgot to mention yesterday in discussing the Harry Dresden books that I've had reason lately to really identify with one aspect of Harry. In the books, because of a kind of semi-electromagnetic field caused by his magical powers, he has a rather alarming effect on electronics. That forces him to live a fairly low-tech life. He doesn't dare drive a car with an onboard computer, and forget about carrying a cell phone.

Well, while I was reading that book, I started having electronics going out on me left and right. First, it was the CD player in my office. I turned it on, and it just made grinding noises. It wouldn't even eject the disc that was in it. I figured the disc got out of place and jammed, so I tried picking up the player and moving it around a bit. I did get the disc out, but now even with no disc in there, it won't open or close. It just makes grinding noises. That player is around 15 years old, so I guess it's ended its natural lifespan, but it was the "good" one, the component unit that has fun features like a keypad where I can put in the exact number of the track I want instead of just hitting the "skip" button over and over again. I suppose it was ready to be replaced, but considering recent car repairs and everything else going on, that's a low-priority item, since I do have other CD players and I usually don't listen to music while I work.

So, I moved the portable CD player boombox into my office. And then it started acting funny. The volume would randomly surge or go quiet for no apparent reason, or it would stick at weird places in certain tracks, then spontaneously skip forward. It was like a poltergeist was in charge of the CD player.

Then I had a minor problem with a VCR -- the new one, not the old one. It didn't want to eject a tape. Eventually, I did get it to let the tape go. I don't know if it's working now or not because I haven't used it since.

And then my color inkjet printer stopped printing. It acts like it's printing, but nothing comes out, except a few odd smears of magenta. I've learned from reading the troubleshooting info that I should have been printing things more often, and that the fact that I seldom use the printer may have been a problem. But I've run the nozzle cleaning utility about a dozen times and even replaced one of the print cartridges (it's the kind where each color has its own cartridge), and the new cartridge is even less likely to put out any ink than the old ones. I'm not sure what to do now, and I suspect that any repairs would probably cost more than buying a new printer, but still, the printer is only about a year and a half old. I shouldn't have to replace it.

I'm getting kind of worried about what might break next. I do have an ongoing problem with electronic clocks and watches. I can't keep a clock or watch on time. My computer clock is currently about fifteen minutes ahead, my VCR clock is five minutes ahead and my car clock is five minutes ahead. My wristwatch is only about two minutes ahead, but I just reset it for Daylight Savings Time. My alarm clock is currently about two minutes ahead. Mind you, I don't do any of this on purpose. It's just that any clock that's around me for any length of time will gain time. If I want to know what time it really is, I have to check the digital cable guide or my cell phone because they run off a network that's nowhere near me.

However, I don't think magical powers are causing this. Nothing that exciting. I'm not sure what causes the clock problem, but I suspect the electronics have to do with old stuff that doesn't get used often.

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