I Am The Harbinger Of Mechanical Failure

So, yeah, about me and my harbingering1 of mechanical failure.  It seems like everything mechanical around me is breaking!  If I enter a room, surely something mechanical will burst into flames.

Probably the most spectacular of my mechanical failures of late is that my fridge is dying a long, slow, drawn-out, and pathetic death.  Awhile ago, my fridge started making a really loud grinding noise, which seemed to be emanating from the freezer part of the fridge.  I didn’t think that could be a good sign, but I did what any sensible person would. That is to say: nothing.  Then one day I opened the freezer and discovered that everything in there was thawed.  The loaf of bread which had been frozen solid was mouldy!  Gross!  So I told my landlord and he suggested that I put anything that wasn’t ruined into their deep freezer and he’d have a look at it.  But as soon as I had most of the stuff out of my freezer the cooling kicked back in and the freezer was functioning again. Weird, I thought. Perhaps there was too much stuff in there and some thing was covering up some important vent or something. So I put my stuff back in the freezer, making sure that it wasn’t pushed all the way to the back. And all was well for a few weeks.  Until the other day, when I went in the freezer and, lo and behold, everything was thawed again.  And, my fridge wasn’t very cold either.  And here I’d been thinking that I needed to switch the brand of soy milk I use because my last two cartons had gone bad before their due date.  Um, yeah, that’s because they weren’t being kept cold!  And the fresh olives I’d had that had fermented and I’d thought “how weird, I didn’t think I’d had them that long” – yeah, suddenly that made sense!  And the cucumber that had prematurely gone mouldy2. Again, all my stuff went into the deep freezer and my landlord had a look3. Verdict: the fridge is old. Probably dying. So now they have to buy a new one and, in the meantime, all my frozen stuff is in their deep freezer and all the stuff from my fridge that needs to be kept properly cold4 in the freezer section of the fridge, which is just about as cold as a fridge should be.  How cold is it, exactly?  I don’t know, because my thermometer is also mysteriously not working! HARBINGER!

Yeah, I put my thermometer in my fridge to find out what the temperature is in there before I went to work the other day and when I came home it told me: 20 degrees Celsius. Um, yeah, it’s so not 20 degrees Celsius in there!  Things are cool, just not cold enough to keep them from spoiling. But I have no idea what the actual temperature is.  Odd.

Also on my list of recent mechanical issues:

  • my headphones: the left ear of my headphones stopping working and so I bought a new pair.  I decided to go with a different brand that I usually do, as my last few pairs had been this one particular model of Sony headphones, but they always stopped working after about a year, and I’d had enough.  So I bought a pair of Maxell ones. I was actually quite impressed with the sound quality – and volume5. And then they promptly busted. I was just talking them off one day and *crack* – the headband part just snapped in half.  So off I went to London Drugs to exchange them.  And they were fine for a few weeks and then *boom*, the cord pulls out of one of the ears.  So, yeah, I’m on my third set of these headphones in a month!
  • videoconferencing equipment: which I use every month with little or no problem suddenly had multiple problems on Monday that the technician, who always keeps the videoconferences running smoothly, could not figure out.  The PowerPoint would not connect to the screen. The audio for our London participant dropped out every 5-10 minutes and she would need to hang up, re-dial into the videoconference (meaning we had to listen to a super loud ring every 5-10 minutes of the 2.5 hr session!).  The telephone participant was booted out of the session completely.
  • bus: Anyone who takes Vancouver transit knows that the trolley buses come off their wires at least once per trip.  But yesterday something happened that I’ve never seen before.  I was trying to catch the #4 at UBC and somehow the cord that attaches to the pole of the trolley bus (that the driver uses to move the pole back onto the overhead wire when it comes off) was flipped over top the pole and the pole itself was caught on the overhead wires in such a way that no matter how much the driver pulled on the pole, hey couldn’t free it from its entanglement with the wire.  Which meant that the bus wasn’t going anywhere until someone could get there (presumably with a ladder) to fix it.  And the driver of the #4 behind this trapped bus was all “I’m not scheduled to leave for 10 minutes.”  I’m not sure why the second bus couldn’t have just traded schedules with the trapped bus and left at that time, then the trapped bus could leave, after being untrapped, on the 10 minutes later schedule6. But apparently this is not the way things work and so I took the #17 instead.
  • my workplace’s entire network: At work today, The Great Convexity 2.07 kept freezing up today.  And, as I am wont to do, I assumed that it was something I had done.  Like I had too many tabs open. Or because I was trying to play a CD while I worked.  Sure, I do these things all the time, but this time T.G.C.2.0 must be mad about it.  As it turns out, the entire network was acting up.  Everyone’s computers were freezing.  One of my coworkers lost an entire morning’s work.  And it wasn’t just my department, but the entire organization (which is pretty big).  Awesome.
  • and then, of course, there’s my watch.  I managed to find the missing time piece and it sort of stays in the wrist band most of the time.  But now the wrist band is slowly breaking and will probably split completely in two any day now.

1Yup, “harbingering” is a word. Dictionary says so.
2Yeah, apparently I wasn’t too good at picking up on hints, eh?
3He’s a retired electrician, so he actually does know what he’s doing.
4Like soymilk, eggs, cheese, tofu.
5The Sony ones were too quiet, even at max volume.
6Krista, if you are reading, perhaps you can explain to me why this isn’t an option. ‘cuz it makes sense to me!
7Which is what I call my computer at work.

Image credit: Do Not Set Self on Fire photo: Rick Lee on Flickr
Image credit: Fire Kills Children photo: Mr. Tickle on Flickr
P.S. Yeah, I realize that those photos don’t actually represent what I’m talking about in this blog posting. But I came across them in Flickr looking for appropriate photos and they were just too funny to pass up!

Comments |8|

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  • Uhm… I would have told the teleconferencing person who kept needing to dial in to just give up after the… probably 3rd attempt. Otherwise it’s completely unfair to everyone else.


  • But that would be completely unfair to her. She needs to participate in the session as part of her training with our program and it’s not her fault that there’s some weird glitch in the system that was making that happen. Hearing a loud ring is the lesser evil compared to being shut out of one’s training program.


  • In Russia the trolleys are always having problems similar to your bus. However, there, the drivers just crawl up on top and take care of it themselves. And, these drivers, they’re usually women, wearing miniskirts and 3 inch heels. It is a sight to behold!

    Stacia’s last blog post..Get outside!


  • Cool! If I ever got to Russia, I will feel at home on their transit! (Well, other than the drivers wearing mini-shirts and 3 inch heels!)


  • Since I was personally addressed in your post (squee!) I will try to explain why #4(b) cannot leave on the leave time of #4(a)(and hopefully I will make sense!)

    – #4(a) actually was stuck for almost 2 hours while waiting for the overhead line crew to come with the truck and free it, so it was not available to leave on the leave time of #4(b) so the problem would not be solved only shifted ahead 10 minutes(good for Dr. Beth, bad for people wanting the later bus)

    – bus drivers here do not have scheduled coffee or lunch breaks, the driver of #4(b) may have been driving for 4 or more hours without a rest and needs that recovery time, and access to the bathroom.(There is no bathroom at the other end of the route so when you are at UBC you just ‘go’ because it will be 2.5-3 hours before you are able to ‘go’ again.)

    – the driver of #4(b) may be scheduled to be ‘relieved'(change drivers) at 5th & Granville, if he leaves early he will still have to wait there for 10minutes until his relief driver arrives

    – the TMAC system(that screen beside the driver) tells the driver when to leave, where to wait etc., you can’t just tell it to subtract 10 minutes.

    – a bus driver can be late but CANNOT be early, you can be disciplined for “running hot”(running ahead of the time on your TMAC)

    -and many more boring bus reasons

    It seems like it would work but it would not. Sorry!


  • Cool, thanks for that info Krista! I knew you would know! It seems I had a very simplistic view of how the bus system works – as a rider of buses, to me buses just come and go and then we complain when they aren’t on time or are broken or whatever – and it’s good to hear from someone on the inside how complicated things are. So I can now stop being so grumpy about that. Thanks! P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at your sister’s party on Sat!


  • @Beth: it’s a question of the needs of the many vs. the needs of the few. In my view, having a disruption every 5 to 10 minutes in a 2.5 hour session (maybe you were exaggerating for effect but going with what you’ve said) is completely and totally unfair to the other x participants. I know if I had been one of the people without problems I would have been incensed that my session was being disrupted so frequently because 1 sole person was having issues (or the equipment was having issues with 1 sole connection). That’s at least 15 disruptions. If the choice is cut one person off for one session or disrupt however many other people were involved, I’d vote cut the one person off no contest.


  • But I’m thinking of the magnitude of the problem, not just numbers of people. I wasn’t exaggerating the 5-10 minutes, but even 15 slight annoyances (as I got pretty fast at clicking the “pick up” button to make the ringing noise shorter) for the 10 people in the room is a lesser evil than one person being denied their training for a whole session (of which we only have 8 per year). It’s not just the number of people effected, but the level of effect that needs to be considered.


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