obsolete technology troubles

It’s a Start

Twice a year, the city sponsors a Household Hazardous Waste Day, where all the citizens can bring and drop off old paint; household chemicals like cleaners; pesticides and other garden products; motor oil; old electronics; and other nasty what-have-yous. They make it very easy–load it all in the trunk of your car, drive up, and Brave and Helpful Volunteers will take out all the unpleasantnesses, sort them, and dispose of them properly.

Fun Fact: the drop-off site is usually the parking lot of the building that houses the herbarium. Once, I saw to it that the human female needed to go work at the herbarium on HHWD. She had to wait in the very long line with everyone else and then do a rapid left turn and outrun all the guards so as to get where she needed to go. They were not amused, but I was!

More often than not, the humans have something else going on that day and are either out of town or unable to wait in the very long line of cars and so don’t participate. They have their waterfowl linearly configured today, though, and have filled the car with all sorts of gleanings from the house and garage. I need to see what they propose to toss, in case they’re disposing of something I might need for future mischief.

There is quite a lot of stuff here.

Astute readers may recognize the sad remains of the human female’s defunct Obsolete Technology Troubles (Ott) light.

Farewell, old friend. I got a lot of mischief mileage out of you!

There are bulbs for the Ott and for a few other things.

I really miss the days of compact fluorescents… The human female was terrified of those things! Nowadays, I have to get my mercury someplace else.

There is a whole bucket-o-oil for the old gas-powered lawn mower the human female no longer has.

Hmm. Lawn mower… Lawn mower… Do you know, the electric one has provided dependable service for two years now. I think it’s time it blew a fuse or had the blade snap off or a wheel fall off or something. If nothing else, the bolts holding the handle to the body could be loosened to good effect. I’ll add that to my To Do list. Thanks for the reminder!

Great Frigga’s Corset! Look at all the old drugs!

You could medicate an army with all this stuff! There is no way I’m letting them get rid of all of this. You never know when you will need to create some wacky or perplexing side-effects or symptoms. Besides, a lot of medicines are (theoretically) good well beyond their “expiration” dates. No, I will definitely be putting some of these back in the medicine cupboard. Next Gaming Weekend, we can play a rousing game of “Is the Rash From the Allergen or the Cream?” or “Do My Swollen-shut Eyes Make My Face Look Fat”?

Won’t that be fun?

(a bit later)

I’ve sorted through all of it and will let them haul most of it off, keeping only the really good stuff for myself. It’s a start, I suppose, on making the house safer for the inhabitants. There’s still half the garage to do, though, and some under-sink spaces. Oh, and the freezer. There are containers of the human female’s cooking in there, and that some of that stuff could kill

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P. S. The WORST household hazardous waste is what Taffy Cat leaves in the litterbox…

A Most Auspicious Box

A package has arrived for the human female. It’s too big to be more stamps, and if the image on the outside is to be believed, it is a solution to her dead Obsolete Technology Troubles lamp.

Someone remind me, again, what LED means? If no one tells me, I shall assume it stands for Loki’s Electrical Disasters and proceed accordingly.

She’s almost afraid to open it. What if it’s broken? What if it works now but breaks later? What if it’s no good for stitching? What if she can’t figure out how to assemble it?

What if you just open the d@mned thing, eh?

It appears to have all the requisite parts, very cunningly packed.

And if you are worried about its suitability and its durability, why, let me just summon our chief inspector to have a look!

The verdict?

Inspector Number Two says, “Everything checks out.”

Assembly looks a little complicated, but the human female has watched the video on the website and thinks she knows how to do it. The LED head/lamp piece is “A”, the middle section is “B”, and the bottom of the pole is “C”, which will fit into the base, “D.”

Uh, oh! In the video, the end of “B” that is supposed to screw onto “A” is clearly marked with a little “B” sticker, and there isn’t a “B” sticker here! The threads are a little finicky, and doing it wrong might ruin something! Oh,woes! Whatever will you do now, mortal?

Rats. Rather than have a further meltdown or just jamming things until they either go together or break, she is calling the toll-free number to ask for further instructions.

(a bit later) Well, she had to talk to two different people, because whoever answers the phone doesn’t actually know any product details, but Helpful Customer Service Person Number Two told her that either end of “B” would work to screw into part “A”. So now we thread the cord from part “A” through “B”… and then screw them together…

Now, we thread the cord through “C” (which is marked) and screw “C” into “B”. And then we plug the cord into the socket in the–oof! very, very heavy — base “D”and screw “C” into it. Then the power converter into the base and into the socket, and with a light poke to the touch-sensitive on/off switch

The human female is back in business for the stabbing of fabric and the leaving-about-the-house of bits of colored string. She is very happy. Sigyn is very happy to see the stitchy roses again.

Inspector Number Two is doubly happy.

And I am having a giggle of my own because I’m looking at the human female’s expansive stomach and I know where the missing “B” sticker is…

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Mischief Update– A Negative Holding Pattern With Unpleasant Surprises

Gaming weekend has come and gone, and it’s time to turn from levity and laughter resume the relentless march of mischief.

Sometimes, mischief means doing nothing. Or, rather, seeing to it that nothing happens.

NOTHING has been enough to dissuade mosquitoes from biting the human female. She want for a walk today and ended up with a nice big nibble on one ear.

NOTHING has happened with regard to the roof. The roofer won’t even return the humans’ phone calls. Who has “late August” in the roof betting pool?

NOTHING has been decided about a replacement for the female’s defunct illumination device from Obsolete Technology Troubles. The human female’s floristy friend offered a bulb but, of course, it’s not remotely the same size and shape as the female needs. No light = no stitching, so nothing is happening on the embroidery front.

NOTHING seems to be dissuading the human female from eating up all the snacks left from gaming weekend. People more or less divvied up the chips and cookies that were left on the last day, but somehow, all the chips came back to this house. She gets so cross when her pants don’t fit–it’s such fun to watch her fret!

The human female adjusted the cooling box because the ice wasn’t freezing very well, the ice cream was a bit too soft (blasphemy!), and things in the main compartment were freezing up. All her fiddling has done NOTHING to fix the problem, which leaves her to ponder why frozen yogurt is delicious and fun when purchased from a frozen yogurt shop, but a right pain in the fundament when it comes out of the refrigerator at home. Also–frozen mushrooms? Bleargh.

NOTHING has been knocked out of the dining room window recently, which is good. What is going on is the Terror Twins rubbing all over the African violets there so that the leaves are extra-furry. Many of the leaves that hang over the pots have been broken off over the pot rim, and one of the culprits (I believe it to be Flannel Cat) has taken to eating the blossoms as well. So NOTHING is blooming.

What’s left of the one surviving hollyhock in the front yard? Essentially, NOTHING. It succumbed to heat, spider mites, and over/underwatering. A moment of silence, please, for the human female’s dreams of creating an English cottage garden. And what’s happening to the spot in the side yard where some winter-killed grass is missing? NOTHING. The human female is afraid of fungicide…

Remember the fun I had with the song sheets at Sigyn’s church? Guess what I made wrong with them this week? That’s right–NOTHING! I fixed it so that there weren’t any at all! Either they didn’t get put out in the pews or there weren’t any at all. I wasn’t there to see it, since I’m not allowed in the church, but I heard about it, about how the whole congregation just stood/sat there silently while the choir carried bravely on by itself. Awkward!

And, finally, I have the pleasure to report that NOTHING (more) has yet to be done with the craft room ceiling. The project manager from Attempts Total Involvement was round the other day to take a look at the tarped-up hole, shake his head, and deliver some Unwelcome News to the humans. The job, if and when it does happen, will take a week, not the two days they’d been told. I say “if and when” because the calendar is full, full, full, and once the humans get on the schedule, there will be about a four week wait before the workers can start. And last, but most definitely not least, what will ATI do about boxing up all the books and fabric and whatnot for removal from the room while the work is being done? That’s right! NOTHING! Despite what they’d been told, the humans have learned that ATI will only move/manipulate, not pack, so it’s up to the human female to pack it all up.

So now the humans are on a mad, frantic search for any available, preferably free, boxes, enough to take care of all of this:

Plus the contents of the closet’s lower shelves and all the things under that table to the right and all the tchotchkes on the window sill. The humans spent a great deal of time the other day, making the rounds of the copy shops (copy paper boxes are ideal, since they have lids), the liquor stores, and various other places, asking for whatever boxes they can spare. And what did they find?

I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count…

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Mischief Update: Of Shell Games and Suspicious Crashes

If you were expecting an update about completed construction–really?! In this town, with these humans, over a holiday weekend? With me involved?? Surely no one is that naive.

Status of roof: Still up in the air. As roofs generally are. Ehehehehe. No word on whether/if Roofer Number Four has convinced Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… to do the work he outlined for the price he’s willing to charge. Clock is ticking. Will there be any wood, felt, and shingles available when some agreement is reached? That is a very good question.

Nothing more has happened with the ceiling in the craft room. If my plans work out, the humans will get about half an hour’s notice from Attempts Total Involvement that they have to get all the breakables out immediately. The human female has been putting off that little chore, so it’ll be fun to watch her scramble. Still no word on where all the books and shelves are supposed to go, either.

The sewing machine has been cleaned and returned. The humans are just this minute hunting up the screwdriver to put it back into the cabinet—

Norns’ Nighties! What was that awful noise?!

And why do the felines look so guilty? Oh, I bet I know what happened. One or both of them jumped up on the cabinet and walked out onto the extended table. I’ve been working with them on stealthily going where they’re not supposed to, and the lessons seem to be paying off! I think they need a refresher, though, because if they’d done it properly, it wouldn’t have landed on the laundry basket. It would have fallen forward, gouging the laminate flooring and the armoire and breaking the table. The only fallout from a dump-over in this position is literal fall-out. The humans are going to be sweeping and magneting up pins for a good while. Between that and lowering the very heavy machine precisely into the cabinet, if I’m lucky, someone will need a bandage before the day is out.

The specially-ordered lightbulb for the human female’s big sewing lamp came–and it is exactly identical to the one from the local crap craft store. And this one not only strobes, it emits a high-pitched hum guaranteed to drive her ’round the bend (okay, further ’round the bend) in under a minute. It’ll have to go back. I have offered to write a Strongly Worded Letter to the fine folks at Obsolete Technology Troubles. She’s hoping they offer a replacement lamp, but I bet I can word it in such a way that they offer only a grudging not-apology and something useless like $5.00 off something she doesn’t want. In the meantime–No stitching for you!

So, yes, I’ve been busy. My best work here, though, is not in tipped furniture, flickering bulbs, or scheduling woes. Oh, no no no! It is with accounting. Numbers are a very, very fertile ground for mischief.

The Water-sucking People billed Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… directly. USAA paid them, minus the deductible. Attempts Total Involvement have sent USAA a bill for work which has not even commenced yet, and USAA has paid them, minus the deductible. That’s right! They’ve deducted the deductible twice! The human female paid for the sewing machine cleaning out of her own pocket and sent USAA the receipt. You’d think that USAA would add it all up and just have the humans pay ATI the deductible minus what was spent on the sewing machine and then pay ATI the remaining bit of the deductible. Loki-Logic, though, dictates that USAA is going to send a check to reimburse the human female for what she spent on the machine, issue a check for the full amount to ATI, and have the humans write a check to the Water-sucking People for the amount of the deductible. Meanwhile, the advance on the roof claim just sits in the bank, waiting for some sort of agreement to be reached!

That whirring noise you hear is the human female’s head spinning. If we wrapped that noggin in copper wire and gave her some magnets for earrings, we could hook her up to the power grid and make up for some of the whopping power bill that the old AC racked up as it was dying while trying to cool the house in the middle of a heat wave.

The final, finishing financial finagle was to make sure the humans received their own Strongly Worded Letter, letting them know that their claim for “damage to their AC” has been categorically and very pointedly denied, disallowed, and disapproved.

Which would be truly crushing, you know, if they’d actually made that claim. But no. I saw to it that that thing died in such a manner that every last cent for its replacement came out of their own linty pockets. Belts will be worn a little tighter this season.

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Mischief Update: Let’s Revisit Hel Week, Shall We? Part 1: Condestruction-related Items

I’m sure my many fans and minions want to know the status of all last week’s mischief projects. I thank you for your interest! I have endeavored to not let up the pressure too much, lest the humans grow complacent. I shall answer the questions I know you have.

Do the humans have a new roof yet? They do not! Roofer #4 was incommunicado until the middle of this week and was not returning calls (roofers are a bit busy right now.) He finally surfaced long enough to reassure the humans that he is “working on the paperwork” to submit to Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… In the meantime, roofer #5—who was contacted weeks ago, before the advent of roofer #4— came out to take a look. He pointed out that the humans’ current roof has something called “double felt”, whatever that is. That will make it more expensive to remove. He submitted an estimate some two thousand dollars higher than roofer #3’s, the one that USAA wouldn’t fully cover. Between hail storms and other disasters and my own stockpiling lumber and other goodies for the building of my own palace, the prices of construction materials are going through the roof (Bwhahaha–couldn’t resist!), so that the price of the project is rising by the hour and there isn’t even a firmly fixed insurance settlement yet!

But at least the water-damaged ceiling is fixed, right? It is not! The water removal equipment is gone–they picked it up on Monday, despite the fact the water-sucking folks said they’d pick some of it up on Saturday. The house is strangely quiet without two fans and a dehumidifier running around the clock. But there the work has stalled. The company charged with restoring the ceiling and carpet in the craft room, Attempts Total Involvement, or ATI for short, came out on Wednesday. Where the humans expected ceiling repair and replacement of the cutaway carpet pad and a steam-cleaning of the rest of the carpet, ATI has other notions. They’ll fix the ceiling all right, and then paint it. That, they say, will make the walls look funny, so they purpose to paint the entire room. I could have told them that the humans painted everything with the cheapest, untinted titanium white they could buy, and that the ceiling would certainly match the walls if they just used that, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s keeping mum if it can make my day a bit more interesting and the humans’ a bit more frustrating. ATI also wants to take up the entire carpet pad, which means the room must be emptied. Everything must go–the dollhouse, all the quilt fabric, the stitching supplies, the sewing machine, multiple boxes of stuff-and-whatnot, tens and tens of linear feet of botany and art and craft books, and the bookshelves themselves, a prodigious heftage of planks and cinderblocks. There is, I hardly need point out, no place in the house to put all of this. ATI says they’ll pack it all up, but no one has the vaguest notion of where it’s going to reside for the duration. I have not offered the use of my pocket dimension, the place I stash all my goodies, so the humans will have to work something out on their own. The human female will have to pack the breakables herself. You can’t really hurt quilt fabric, but dollhouses are quite… smashable. Sigyn is most worried about the miniature lab glassware that lives on the windowsill. She’s offered to pack it up herself. I shall stand ready to rescue her should it become necessary.

What is the prognosis for the antique sewing machine, the one that got avalanched by wet fiberglass insulation? Unclear. The gentleman at the repair shop seemed entirely unfazed when given the description of what the poor thing experienced. Makes me wonder what Midgardians do to their machines that would render him so unflappable in the face of such a tale of misfortune. What nightmares has he beheld??

What about the sewing light? Did the new bulb work? Ehehehee! As of yet, there *is* no new light. The humans called on Thursday. The person who answered the phone said they’d have to speak to the person who helped them originally, and he promised to pass along a query and have him return the call. (Too many ‘he/hims” in that sentence, but you get the idea.) There has been a suspicious silence since then… It is slowly dawning on everyone just who sits on the board of Obsolete Technology Troubles…

But at least the new AC works, right? It does indeed. I find the sub-90°F temperatures indoors most salubrious and Sigyn and I no longer have to camp in the freezer. The human female sent in the paperwork for claiming the rebate from the city for installing energy-efficient equipment. The AC installer said last week that the inspector “will likely be around tomorrow,” but that didn’t happen. The human female called the AC company this week, and the AC company set up the city inspection for the next day (Tuesday). Tuesday came and went in its own desultory fashion. No inspector. The human female called the AC people, who looked into it and promised a visit from the city on Friday. Friday, of course, being the day the humans were planning a quick trip to the Big City to the South. The human male ended up going to the Purveyor of Pens with one of his friends while the female stayed home to let the inspector in. The inspector has just been, and the unit passes, but apparently the AC technicians forgot a little thingish thing that keeps a wire from rubbing or misbehaving in some other unsanctioned and undesirable fashion. The inspector helpfully left a memo as to what needs fixing:

Perfect! Clear as mud. So someone will be coming back out at an as-yet-unspecified date to crawl up into the attic once again. That wobbly pull-down ladder has never felt so loved and needed as it has in the past fortnight.

How long do you think I can s t r e t c h all of this home repair out? Should there be a betting pool? I think maybe there should be a betting pool—and one of the items should be “guess the date on which Usually Seems Amiable, Although… gets fed up with the humans and cancels their homeowner’s policy.

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The Week From Hel, Day 4: No, It Doesn’t End

Still no word from the roofer or the adjuster on the roofing claim, and still no paperwork from the AC technicians. Can you say, “holding pattern”?

The humans have some errands to run today. Going anywhere is like gearing up for an expedition to the Gobi Desert. Water? Check. Phone, just in case one of the adjusters or contractors calls? Check. Pocketful of fountain pens? Check. Sunscreen? Might not need it; they’re indoor errands. Mask? Check. Glasses?

Uh, oh.

That’s not a missing screw, it’s a broken arm! If you think this looks familiar, you are absolutely correct. When I find a good bit of mischief, I’m not too proud to reuse it. The human male’s glasses broke in exactly the same way in December of last year. They were replaced. They broke in exactly the same way again in April of this year, when it was just outside the 100 day guarantee, so he had to buy a new set of frames then. He and the human female are quite frustrated. I can practically see the steam coming out of their ears! No little clerk had better try to make them pay again!

Eehehehe! I have trained the clerks at the optometrist’s shop well. She agreed to replace the frames for free and said she had them in stock. Then she said no, she didn’t. They were the wrong size. Raise hopes; dash hopes–always a recipe for fun. She’ll have to order them in, which will mean another trip to the mall at some future date. When the humans suggested that having the same critical failure each time probably indicates a faulty product that Corporate might want to do something about, the clerk rather condescendingly pointed out that they were the least expensive frames in the shop and they “couldn’t be expected to last like the pricier pairs.” Apparently a lifespan of two months is deemed adequate for the money-conscious.

Back to the house, after purchasing the lone replacement bulb in the city.

The human female has been in contact with the fine folks at Obsolete Technology Troubles, and they have given her instructions about ripping a part out of the lamp itself so that a new bulb will fit. Yes, let’s involve tools! This sounds to me like a prime opportunity for mischief, so let’s take a look.

Well, I’m no task lamp technician, but even *I* can see that that metal bar is going to make getting a new bulb in more than a bit tricky. What does the part where the bulb actually has to go look like?

Great Frigga’s hairpins! That is one very fancy, proprietary socket! And you can see how the bulb toasted its label over its lifetime.

Let’s try the new bulb.

How lucky do you feel?

It fits! Does the lamp light?

It does! But–ehehehee! It has a dizzying, stroke-inducing, high-frequency flicker that would drive the human female crazy in about fifteen seconds. Tsk, tsk. Looks like you may need to do the modification the OTT representative suggested.

The human female is requesting clarification with regard to just what part needs to come out.

Yes, yes, just grasp with a pair of needle-nose pliers and yank.

The human female has pulled. And pulled. And pulled. The little metal piece is very slippery and it’s hard to get a grip. The human male is trying now. Ouch! This is now officially a properly-mischiefied project. In this duel, first blood goes to the lamp! While the human male avails himself of antiseptic and bandages, the human female is going to get a bigger pair of pliers. Grr—1, 2, 3–yank!

It just looks like a troublemaker, doesn’t it?

No, not me–the piece of metal, stupid.

So, does the bulb work properly now? It does not! Which raises multiple questions–Do you have a bad bulb? Will a new bulb ever work in the old lamp? Or have you just ruined your lamp forever by ripping out that little metal piece???

Well, you have other things to think about. You need to prepare for the restoration folks with their water-remediation equipment. Time to move the treadmill so they can get to the craft room through its own door and not by traipsing through the bedroom

Now we know where Taffy Cat’s pom poms all ended up. Also all the dust and cat fur on the planet.

Maybe this other pom pom is better?

And where does the treadmill need to go? The garage is the logical place, but it really doesn’t fit through the door to the garage without mashing fingers.

I know! Since you won’t be using your stitching corner any time soon, you should just park it in front of the sofa!

There! Hardly noticeable at all.

(later) The we-make-it-like-it-never-happened folks have come and gone. The wet sheetrock has been removed from the ceiling.

Looks like a bit more of the tape and plaster came down. The folks who put up the new ceiling are probably going to have to cut some more sheetrock out. You know, so some more insulation can fall down.

There is a fan in the attic, drying out the insulation. There is a fan in the craft room.

There is a big, portable dehumidifier in there, too.

I’m sure they want you to say it like “Dries Air,” but you can’t tell me you’re not reading it as “Drizz Air.” And what happened to the other 1,199?

It has a long, long drain hose that snakes its way to the human male’s bathroom sink.

The gurgley noises are freaking out the cats…

You will also have fun trying to keep the cats out of the craft room, since the door has to be open every now and then.

Well, That’s a good day’s mischief. Not every day can be like Tuesday, so I’m reasonably satisfied. After all, I just made a mosquito bite the human female on her elbow. Indoors.

Icing on the cake!

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The Week From Hel, Day 3: One Step Foward, One Step Back, One Step Sideways

Well, the humans survived yesterday. By the end of it, they were so exhausted and ready to get out of the House of A Thousand Repairs that the thought of cooking dinner was not to be borne, and we all went out to the cute little Central American Cafe that Sigyn and I enjoyed so much before. We met up with friends, who also had a Crummy Day.

All of the fun, Wooden Fruits of Unusual Size seem to be gone, but the very tropical-looking tablecloths are new.

Should have brought sunglasses.

The menu has the same items–in fact, I think the menus are the same actual menus. They are certainly looking a little worse for wear.

As all good meals should, this one began with chips and salsa.

The human female, predictable as ever, went right for the peanut smoothie.

Between the two of them, they made short work of the thing, which made my sweetie very sad.

Fortunately, the food arrived at that point, and equanimity was restored.

Then we all went home, bathed, and fell into bed and slept like dead logs.

Today we are in sort of a holding pattern.

The new AC unit appears to be working, though it is overriding the schedule the human male set up, which is odd. If only there were a manual! The promised manual has not been sent, and there has been no further communique from the AC repairmen.

We have heard nothing from the new roofer.

The water-damage-restoration people will be here to assess wetnesses (so many s’s!) this afternoon. The humans cannot schedule the actual repair of the ceiling and the cleaning of the carpet until the restoration is finished, so all of that is on hold as well.

The human female looks particularly lumpy and gruesome today, since as we were leaving the cafe last night, I induced one of the many, many mosquitoes to bite her twice, once in the corner of her eye and once just below it. She’ll itch for a about a week and then go back to ordinary levels of lumpy and gruesome.


The restoration folks have come and gone. They will bring their equipment tomorrow. Now, how much mold can I induce to grow between now and then? I ought to get busy.

(later, again)

Compared to yesterday, today has been rather peaceful. The human female is going to spend the evening relaxing with her stitchery.


Or not. That “blip” was the sound of the specialty bulb in her task lamp burning out. Without it, she has no hope of seeing tiny stitches on black fabric.

And here’s my big surprise for the day! The light manufacturer, Obsolete Technology Troubles, no longer makes the lamp or the light bulbs that go in it. Searching online turns up multiple discussion threads about the fact that they still sell 18 watt fluorescent bulbs, but that the new bulbs have a different base, so they don’t fit in the lamp “without some modification.” That sounds ominous…

There is *one* bulb in town–or rather, in the town just to the north. The humans will hurry out to the crap crafts store to buy it tomorrow and try to make it fit. Now, I’m not saying I’ll make the human female buy a whole new lamp just because the bulb burnt out, but yes, I plan to make the human female buy a whole new lamp because the bulb burnt out…

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