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Saturday, December 4, 2004

As you know, each week I find a new way to waste my Saturday. Todayís squandering started early. I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up a little before seven this morning when I heard something click. At first I didnít know what it might be, but I wandered around the house and saw that all the lights that were on were at about half their usual brightness.

It took me a few minutes to absorb this phenomenon, and to put a name on it. Brownout. Iíd never been in one before, but this is how I imagined one would be. Even the digital displays on such things as clocks and microwaves and VCRs and the like were dimmed down drastically. I flipped the switch in the laundry room and the light came on (dimly), but the fan did not.

I have to admit, it scared me. I wasnít sure what to do about it. Phoning the utility company didnít seem to be in order. What would I say, that the electricity hadnít gone out? That the power was still on? That the light inside my house was nearly as dim as the hazy early-morning sun on the other side of the miniblinds? So I went to bed.

Sleep eluded me until the power did go out all the way. Then I was on familiar ground, and I let myself drift off. Many hours later I woke up to the flashing numbers on the clock radio on bedside table. I got up and methodically went through the usual routine, resetting clocks all around the house.

Then I turned on the TV. No problem. Then I pushed the power button on the remote for the stereo receiver. Nothing. I pushed and pushed that button, finally assuming there was something wrong with the device. So I pushed the power button on the receiver itself. Still nothing. I unplugged it and plugged it back in and pushed the button. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

When I realized that my receiver was fried, all the air went out of my balloon, all the wind out of my sails. It occurred to me that Iíd forgotten to turn the receiver off during the brownout, so something really bad must have happened then. Itís out of warranty and would probably cost more to fix than replace, and this comes at the worst possible time for an unforeseen expense.

But I canít be without a receiver. I donít want to listen through the TV speakers when I have an expensive set of external speakers and an elaborate wiring system connected to a dead receiver. And I canít listen to the radio or the CD player at all. I donít think anyone can expect me to survive more than a day or two of work without music. Iíll have to replace the receiver as soon as possible, possibly as soon as Monday (because Iím not going shopping on a weekend day in December).

22 November 2004

Clouds, looking south from my yard.

Three Netflix DVDs sit next to my TV. None of them will be watched while I have to listen to tinny audio, not even the Jackie Chan flick. (Okay, itís not exactly your typical Jackie Chan flick. Itís Around the World in 80 Days, the 2004 Disney version.) If I donít watch DVDs on the computer, Iím certainly not going to watch them on a television set that isnít connected to a home theater system. Itís a good thing Netflix doesnít care how long I keep them.

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Since the best thing I watched on TV tonight was a 1957 kinescope of Julie Andrews in Rodgers & Hammersteinís Cinderella on the local PBS channel, maybe the extremely low fidelity sound technology was appropriate. But just this once.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Overstocked
" Just because my dream of being the Rosemary Potato Guy was an inedible failure doesn't mean there isn't a potato dish in my future, something that will get me invited places."

Four years ago: May Your Days Be Merry and Bright
"For all the faults and perversions that the Christmas season has gone through, with your drunken office parties and your Sunday ad inserts and your Gap commercials, I still love it."

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