Please don’t burn the house down!

This morning as I sat at my computer desk running through my normal routine (e-mail, facebook, wordpress) a strange wisp of white floated past my vision. “Weird” I thought. I figured my eyes were playing tricks on me – that I hadn’t been awake long enough and I was seeing things. But then it happened again, this time accompanied by a scent that took me a second to place – the sulfurous smell of something burning. “Crap!” I shouted, pushing my chair away from the desk and rapidly pulling my monitor away from the back of my hutch. No smoke to be seen, but a pungent smell of it. I quickly decided to turn all my electronics in the area off – and flipped the master switch on my power cord.

I called my husband, who suggested I keep the computer and all other items plugged into that power strip turned off the remainder of the day until he could look at them when he got home. An excellent idea that surely would keep our house standing and children safe from any possible fiery inferno. His suggestion did not take into account the level of addiction I have to my online activities however. Nor did it address my near hysterics at the thought of my HP crashing, taking with it the thousands and thousands of photos I have stored within. As a side note, yes – I know I should have all my pictures backed up somewhere and have been meaning to do so for about a year – I even have a special drive to put them on, just haven’t managed to get around to it. After hanging up with hubby and looking forlornly at my black screen a few minutes I came to the conclusion of being perfectly able (myself) to fix whatever problem was causing the smoking. My husband is very clever, particularly with all things computer related, but I was confident in my ability to figure it out as well.

It’s amazing how a minor emergency causes immediate action. My computer desk has been piled high with papers, bills, things to be filed, photos, and lord knows what else for about a month. As with the photos, I’ve been meaning to get to it, but somehow it always ends up at the bottom of my to-do list. They should change the phrase from “the squeaky wheel” to “the smoking computer” because I’ve never been more motivated to get something cleaned up. During my frantic desk de-clutter I found a power adapter I’ve been searching for, a sheet of address labels I thought must have been commandeered for use as stickers by my two year old and my digital video recorder. Briefly I thought I was about to come across all the socks that magically disappear from the dryer – it was like a treasure trove of lost stuff in there! I also found about 3 pounds of dust covering my monitor, CPU and printer.

I cleaned out all the dust, removed every non-essential item from around the desk, held my breath and turned the switch back on. In hindsight, I probably should have prepared with a bucket of water, fire extinguisher or something prior to tempting fate with electricity. Thankfully, there was no immediate burst of flames or smoke. I carefully sniffed around all the components on the desk searching for a hint of fire or ghostly wisps floating but found none. Of course, the next most important thing to be done was write this blog. I know, it’s a sickness. I need help.

During the past few minutes I’ve discovered the source of the smoke – my monitor. About halfway through writing I heard a sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies “snap-crackle-pop” and realized the screen in front of me was fizzling. I flipped it around, verified the noise was indeed coming from within, turned just the monitor off and heard the sizzle die as it powered down. I feel somewhat accomplished at identifying the source of the problem, am rejoicing that it’s not actually the CPU, but have been in a heightened state of worry as I finish my story. At every little noise, I turn off the monitor – at one point I even tried blogging with the screen blank – yeah, that doesn’t work so well. So, as I finish up, I say good-bye. I shall attempt to keep my screen off the rest of the day…but really doubt I’ll be able to. I guess when it comes to my computer – danger is my middle name.

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