As I write this column from a barely functioning 10-year-old PC (barely functioning not from lack of care mind you but from the unforgiving operating system expiration) with no Internet (thanks to the also unforgiving storms that wreak havoc on fallen trees), I am devising a plan to shuffle these words off this digital coil and take it somewhere with functioning wi-fi. Jump drives, how I love thee.
Being prepared for life's mechanical hiccups is a skill worth having, and honed by years of car breakdowns, smoking toasters, error screens, and general DO NOT WANT moments involving electronics. I've had them with everything, from my first mp3 player (a Creative ZEN) to the hair dryer. Well, at least everything from the digital age on up. My First Sony Walkman still works fine if you feed him fresh batteries, and you can always rewind tapes with a pencil.
But it seems as if lately the gremlins are really out in full force.
Gremlins, if you recall their clawing their way into the hearts of moviegoers in the '80s, are little green dudes who enjoy destroying machinery and generally messing with people via things like traffic lights and snowplows. And if you can remember further back, they also enjoy messing with William Shatner on airplanes (in this zone, or the other twilighty-one). The legend goes back to to ancient myths about mischievous nymphs and sprites, but the name "gremlin" stuck during World War II, when they blamed airplane malfunctions on the little guys. Even Bugs Bunny had to deal with them.
Well, they must have spring fever because they are all over the dang place. First, my external hard drive (which houses my entire digital life) stopped working - a faulty connection cord seems to be the problem. So Mr. Hard Drive sits propped up precariously on a deck of playing cards, hoping for just the right angle to spark a connection in the wiring.
Next, the TV went kaput. Inherited during the period where my brother sold TVs and conned my dad into buying newer and bigger ones on the reg, the Sony was a good guy and worked fine until one day I turned it on and it blinked seven times and turned off. Googling "Sony blink 7 whaaaat" informed me that Sony TVs have blink codes that tell you the diagnosis via a certain number of death blinks. Seven meant some kind of soldering would have to be involved to resuscitate it. So, "Game of Thrones," you are on the back burner once again.
Also, every light bulb in the house seemed to fizz out at once. No fun when your ceilings are like 12 feet high.
Most recently, summer rainstorms mean the hundred-plus year old trees around here are dropping like wooden flies, and the Time Warner guys are out in full force amid buzzing chainsaws and woodchippers. So Internet has been spotty.
Amazingly, the "check engine" light remains dark. Knock on wood.
Even my parents aren't immune. No sooner than the bulb in their ginormous TV (thanks to my slick salesman brother) went kaphooey, the lawnmower followed suit. While Dad always likes an excuse to buy a new tech toy, having a sick lawnmower and acres of tall grass means less screen time with Mr. Ed and Wilbur.
Is there no end to the gremlin menace? Lo, as the 90-degree days approach, my fan is on the blink, requiring a firm push of the buttons to kick into gear. You can't really rent slaves waving palm fronds these days.
The wacky dude from the "Gremlins" movie declared "We shoulda got a Zenith!" when his TV went on the fritz. If this TV doesn't shape up, Imma gonna have to haul my trusty Zenith - rescued from a Ground Round sports bar years ago - downstairs and plug her in. There's no outlet for the Blu-Ray or anything fancy, but it still works. Ground Round was awesome. They had great onion rings.
So, give your gadgets some extra TLC and watch out for those gremlins. You know the rules about the water and the sunlight and whatnot. Despite their wacky antics and silly outfits, once they start messing with your air conditioning and DVR, it's no-more-Mr.-Nice-William-Shatner.
You got a gadget on the blink? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org.