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Mar 12

Ha Ha! I win!

But it was a long and difficult war.

So, in the saga of The Broken, I’d already lost a light bulb (in a fixture waaaaaay up high).  kindly offered a loan of one of those long bulb-changing-sticks, but I decided I had better just buy one anyway.

Steps in changing light bulb

1) Buy bulb-changing-stick and attempt to remove old bulb.  This is trickier than it seems, in that you have to kind of jam this little cage around the light bulb, which wouldn’t be terribly difficult except for the fact that the bulb is sheathed and there’s not much wiggle room.  I am also missing the (almost exclusively male, I suspect) “force it gene”, so I don’t like pushing things when there’s clearly the sort of resistance that might end up with glass shards in my bed.
2) Take bulb to Home Despot.  At this point I figure I’m way ahead of the game, in that I actually have a bulb to match (as opposed to my more normal approach of a bulb burning out, ending up at Home Despot, and then trying to describe the bulb to one of the orange-aproned people [“Well, it’s sort of egg-shaped and is medium bright with one of the little screwey-in parts”]).
3) Discover that having a bulb to match is not All That when the bulb is devoid of any markings.
4) By process of elimination (proper screwy-in part, right diameter), decide that bulb is a 60W halogen.
5) Once home, dig through giant expanding file folder of everything that was related to house addition in 2001.  Become unreasonably pleased to (a) find the fan brochure and (b) deduce from the light kit  description and the bulb packaging that I’ve actually chosen the correct one.
6) Put new bulb in bulb-changing-stick
7) [This step is intentionally out of chronological order].  Have moment of remorse when writing blog entry that I didn’t think to write down the bulb type before throwing away the package.
8) After some amount of cursing, get new bulb threads engaged properly (something I find difficult even in the best-case head-on scenario).
9) WE HAVE LIGHT!  HOORAY!  REJOICE!!!
10) Moment of joy quickly passes to be replaced by overwhelming panic:  THE BULB-CHANGING-STICK WILL NOT LET GO OF THE BULB.  HEAT!  FIRE!  MELTING PLASTIC GOO!
11) Calm returns as I realize I can just turn off the light at the switch and deal with the dislodgement of the bulb-changing-stick at my leisure.
12) THE SWITCH WILL NOT TURN OFF!!! HEAT!  FIRE!  MELTING PLASTIC GOO!
13) Calm returns as I realize I can just turn off the switch at the breaker box.
14) THE BREAKER IS NOT LABELED!!!  HEAT! FIRE!  MELTING PLASTIC GOO!

(Repeat steps 13 & 14 while flipping off and on every breaker in the house.  Notice none of them seem to correlate with the light.  Turn off ALL THE BREAKERS to be safe.  Listen while UPS boxes cry.)

15) Belatedly discover that the breaker in question is the last one in the breaker box and controls the utility room lights …where the breaker box is.
16) Grope for emergency lantern.
17) After returning to bedroom, see that the bulb-changing stick is still stuck to the bulb in its socket. (Don’t ask me what made me think that somehow finding the right breaker would entirely resolve the problem, but I did.)
18) After tugging on the bulb-changing-stick several times and wishing wholeheartedly for the coveted “force-it gene”, unscrew the pole and bulb.
19) Net progress at this point is -1.  Now I have a gaping hole (which is somehow worse than a non-functional bulb, which you can at least pretend you’ve *chosen* to leave off.)

(This is where the Stupid and Stubborn sets in.  I get this way when there’s something that is “taunting” me with its wrongness.  And it’s sufficiently late and I’ve taken an Ambien.  Note:  Ambien increases susceptibility to Stupid and Stubborn.)

20) Get ladder (ladder, of course, is stuck in corner of still-dark utility room).
21) Put ladder on bed (I warned you.  Stupid and Stubborn).
22) Climb ladder while ladder is on bed (I was thinking something like “well, gee, Cirque du Soleil people would do something like this, so I should be able to too.”  Give credit to Ambien for that logic.
23) Stand on the “do not stand above this step” step.
24) Change FRIGGIN’ bulb already.
25) Dismount. Return ladder.  Turn on breaker.  Figure out how to disable the switch (by pulling out a little tab-jobby with my chief tab-jobby-pulling-tool:  tweezers).  Decide I should probably quit for the evening. (Probably the smartest decision I’ve made to this point).
26) Sulk for several days about the light situation.  Finally, when it has taunted you enough, call Smarthome to troubleshoot the switch (which, just ’cause I can’t Keep It Simple Stupid, is X-10).
27) Switch is, as I expected, ka-put.  What I hadn’t expected is that it was my fault.  Turns out that with X-10 switches (particularly ones controlling halogen bulbs), if the switch is on when the bulb makes contact, the resulting spike is enough to cause a short.
28) Order new switch.  (Things at this point are going much better, so drama quotient is much lower).
29) Replace old switch with new (YAH ME!).  I had labeled breaker (after the earlier kerfluffle) so I was able to kill it without trauma, remove the faceplace, unconnect and reconnect appropriate wires and get the whole contraption stuffed back into the VERY TIGHT junction box.
30) Rejoice.

Notes to myself:
1) Next time write down (you have a blog, dummy!) the bulb name
2) Next time make sure the switch is OFF before installing the new bulb
3) Next time don’t climb up on the ladder on the bed
4) Next time you have anything built, suggest that the electrician use a junction box that’s +1 more slot than will actually be there (assuming that’s not illegal).

Notes to companies that make electrical stuff:
1) If you want me to turn off the switch before removing the bulb, you should tell me that!
2) STOP using Phillips head screws to hold the switches into the junction box and using flathead to screws to hold the faceplate on the wall — that’s inefficient and causes me to have to find TWO screwdrivers that are the right size.  Why does anyone even use flatheads at all?  Are they somehow much less expensive to manufacture than Phillips?
3) Write the info on the bulb in permanent ink.  Or etch it, or something.  (Yes, I looked on the collar and so did orange-aproned man… nothing there).

Now, to tackle the incar iPod hookup.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2007/03/12/ha-ha-i-win/

2 comments

  1. jhvilas

    Halogen bulbs run extremely hot, as you’ve guessed by now. The package for the last one I bought cautioned not to get even fingerprints on it: I think the oil on your fingers will catch on fire. I wonder if your new bulb is pre-doomed.

    1. gina

      I wonder if your new bulb is pre-doomed.

      Oh, let’s not think that way, shall we? ;-)

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