Well, I just hate it when electrical things get weird and I have to do something about the situation without having a CLUE as to how to approach the problem.

So, I go to start writing another of my pieces of deathless prose for inclusion in The Weekly Villager ( This is something that I do on a regular basis , generally at the very last minute when The Muse–whichever of the nine was on the schedule for that day–shows up to inspire some really fast typing) and –CURSES–the computer had died!  Nothing could induce it to even turn on…not plugging and unplugging, not wiggling plugs, not looking for signs that some cat had loosened–quite unintentionally, surely–some vital connection…zip, zero, nada.  The contraption was as dead as a doornail.

Inspiration struck when I noticed that the little red light indicating juice coming from the power box was not lit.   A trip to the basement is indicated.

The fuse box is located in the back corner, behind the furnace where there’s a single, naked bulb with an on/off chain about two inches long and an old furnace filter that I’ve kept because inside it is the body of a petrified bat that, apparently like a cat, died for his curiosity in exploring the inner workings of the heat source (Kind of like the mouse that died in the air conditioning drain…but that’s another story).  I’ve been thinking that it would make a great science project or something but nobody does those any more.  I may have to give it up.

Anyway, I take my trusty flashlight and head down there and Lo! And Behold! A breaker has, indeed, been tripped and all I have to do is flip the switch all will be well.  Actually, I had to flip it twice because something didn’t catch just right the first time and it “thunked” off again.

So, I arrive upstairs, flip the surge protector (We’ve got all of the modern conveniences here) to “ON”.  The computer paraphernalia lights flickered.  There was a sort of low hum coming from the surge gizmo–Is it supposed to do that?  Then a flash–a very small one–a little “pop”, and the whole thing was gone again, leaving that funny plastic/electrical smell that means, “Don’t do anything electrical or your fillings will melt and your hair will catch fire!”  Oops!

I call my handy-dandy, all-purpose electric-stuff guru, Scott Russell, of Scotchman Electric, who advised me that that surge sucker was dead, a lost cause, and would have to be replaced, chop-chop.  He also said that the friendly folks down at Garrettsville Hardware might, very likely have a replacement, so that I would not have to traipse to some distant computer outpost to get another…which as it turned out was a good thing.

Bright and early the next morning the defunct surge protector and I showed up at Garrettsville Hardware.  First big question : How many joules? (I don’t deal with questions like this very well before noon…or after noon, for that matter).  My consultant (Casey Everett) and I narrowed it down to either 1500 or 3000 joules (Pretty good, since neither of us knew just what, exactly, a joule was.  Electrical, for sure.  Later research revealed that a joule–symbol, J–is the amount of energy expended passing an electric current of one ampere through resistance of one ohm and was named for an English physicist, James Prescott Joule. Aren’t you glad you asked?).

Took the 1500 J device home–7 grounded outlets, no waiting–WRONG!  I didn’t have more than seven things to be plugged in BUT some of them were really FAT and took up too much space, not allowing the rest of the plugs to get their share (Sort of like a litter of piglets , with the “runts” missing out on their dinner).  Back to Garrettsville Hardware.

We’re in for 3000 J, maximum protection…and an additional $15 or $20…and 9, count ‘em, 9, grounded outlets.  Check fuse box.  O.K.   Untangle cords.  O.K.  Plug in surge protector.  O.K.  Plug in various pieces/parts of the computer and printer.  Lights going on.  Push “ON” button.  SUCCESS!

And here you have it.  Lights are on, blue, red, green, yellow, orange.  Words are appearing on the screen.  Perhaps there’s a computer Muse that I angered who has now been appeased by the acquisition of joules.  Whatever.

Anyway, now the phone doesn’t work.