Friday, February 17, 2012

Fixing stuff Ain't My Thing, But Sometimes I Get Lucky.

When it comes to fixing things other than writing and garments, I'm inept. I'm really not kidding about that. When it comes to mechanical ability, I'm a good writer.

Let's put it another way: if I pick up a screwdriver and walk with purpose toward anything with a screw, my wife picks up the nearest telephone, dials 9, then, 1, then waits for me to scream before she pushes 1 again. She's getting better. She used to dial 9-1-1 and say, "I'm about to have an emergency. Please hold."

I would love to say she's wrong, but sadly...nah.

So when my favorite alarm clock stopped functioning properly, I set it aside and bought a new one. I didn't give up on it entirely. It's a beautiful thing. I bought it at Best Buy about ten years ago for almost a hundred bucks. It was one of the first alarm clocks to have a built-in CD player, and two alarms--each could be set to wake me to radio, or CD, or horrendous hellhound blathering MNHZZT-MNHZZT-MNHZZT sounds. It's made by RCA and the sound is great.

The problem with the thing is it has tiny little buttons, and after years of faithful use, the little buttons got stuck. In other words, when I set the would just go into a spin. It was cool from a visual perspective. I felt like I was in a time machine and would watch the numbers on the clock change with incredible speed...until my eyeballs tried to meet in the middle and drool would run down the corners of my lips.

That generally involved speedy calls to 911...not that I noticed as I watched time go by really, really fast.

I've had other alarm clocks, but the other day I happened across that old RCA alarm clock and I decided enough was enough! I was by-gosh-AND-golly gonna fix it.

I had the thought that there must be some gunk under those tiny buttons that was making them stick. That came as no surprise. You can dust stuff, but after years of use some of that dust is going to make it inside.

I went to the bathroom and dug out the rubbing alcohol. Used a Q-tip and smeared the rubbing alcohol around those tiny, oft-stuck buttons. Well... Hot dog and diggity! It worked. I got my alarm clock back...with no injury to the alarm clock or to myself.

I was having a similar problem with my keyboard for my computer. I type a lot (as you might guess.) I mean really, really a lot. My keyboard is less than four months old and most of the keys don't have letters on them anymore. They wear off. You might have heard I write books. 

The space bar on my keyboards usually stops working after a while. I hit it with my thumb between words and eventually the space bar gives up and stays down. I'm a man who doesn't stay down...and I don't want to accept such weakness from my space bar, but there's only so much I can do to inspire a keyboard.

The other day the space bar gave up and stayed down. I found that to be unacceptable, and having just successfully used an alcohol for something good (now that was a novel thing for me!) and successfully repaired one electronic object, I looked at the keyboard and informed it in a clear voice: "You're going to live."

I pried the space bar off the keyboard gently with my fingers and found a little piece of wire underneath had moved out of its little holder thingy (a technical term you probably won't find in an electronics manual). I popped the metal wire that runs under the space bar back in the holder-thingies (plural for holder-thingy), and popped the space bar back on the keyboard.

Voila! It fixed it good as new...minus the letters that have rubbed off the keys, but I don't need those anyway.

But don't worry, my friend! I know my limits. I have exhausted all mechanical good luck I might have had, probably for the next eight or nine years. So the next time something breaks, I'm going to do what I should always do when something breaks around here...pretend it works just fine or seek the help of someone far more talented with mechanical things than me. She's easy to find. It's my wife.All I have to do is ask her for help.

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