Why TGIF Was So Needed After this Terrible Week
TGIF because it’s been a very tiring week. It began with a chain-reaction disaster that ended up with my home office/ bedroom looking like a workshop for potted plant production, and my Microsoft Surface Laptop and phone drowned, with a total cost of around $1,000.
To make matters worse, I could not clean it up before my wife returned early from shopping and saw the whole sordid mess. So now any time I piss her off she reminds me what a total klutz I am, and what a costly blunder it was to keep water in an open glass instead of a capped water bottle.
I’ve been crying and aching tired from all the cleanup plus resolving technical issues involved, but even I must laugh at the comedy of errors. Have you ever seen an accident that keeps unfolding, like the slow-motion blunder below?
Here’s how my slow-motion, chain-reaction blunder played out.
I was at my secondary desk, a folding table of vinyl composition board with a black leatherette covering. I mention the desk’s construction because it factors into the severity of the damage I managed to wreak. You see, its edges have a rectangular metal frame to support the table top. This construction makes the sides slightly higher than its inner portions. That means that, unlike an ordinary office desk which is perfectly flat, my “desk” forms a shallow lake when you pour water onto its top.
I was using my Surface Laptop, situated center left on my “desk,” and I reached for my headphones. The headphones were sitting on an adjacent, primary desk that forms an “L” shaped workspace making half of my bedroom my home office. Just to the left of the machine, I had two pocket notebooks (the paper kind) and my smartphone. Between the headset and the “targets” sat my glass of water. The wire to the headphones caught my water glass and turned it over. The water naturally went into my smartphone and the pair of pocket notebooks filled with treasured notes on various topics. It quickly filled the shallow sea the uneven desktop allows.
I moved as fast as I could manage to try to dump any water from the phone and I tossed the pocket journals up onto the oversized ledge our garden level condo boasts. I intended to get them off the sodden desktop immediately and somewhere that I could splay them open to dry before the non-indelible ink became spread across the pages in wet-watercolor-effect fashion. And yet again, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The notebooks did not land on the ledge, they hit the window above my desk and being wet, they slithered down it to hide behind a 15-inch-long planter filled with snake plants.
That resting spot would be the slowest place imaginable to dry the books, so I bounded up, in full panic mode now, and attempted to reach behind the potted plants to retrieve and arrange the notebooks for drying. Boy does haste make waste! I managed to slide the planter a bit too close to the edge of the ledge, and over it went. It hit the desktop lake and sent a tidal wave of water along with a generous helping of potting soil onto the right rear of the Surface Laptop. Another tsunami breached the back of the desk and cascaded onto the power strips and power supplies on the floor. Already waiting for the deluge was the bulk of the potting soil and all the snake plants. The carnage littered one whole side of the room right to its door.
I tried to relocate, and shake dry each piece of electronics in triage fashion, but my quick estimate of the most severely threatened was way off target. I saved the Surface’s power supply from the floor first. I could see that it was sitting in very muddy water. But it only costs $9.99 to replace. Worse, it survived my mistreatment just fine.
I disconnected the power strip on the floor form its AC source. Only after tending to these easily replaced items did I even realize the water had gotten on the right corner of the Surface Laptop, with a smattering on its keyboard and more in the port where its power supply connects to it. I mopped up the keyboard and power input port with paper towels from the kitchen, then inverted it where I hoped gravity would keep water from getting to its internal circuitry. The one item that at was worth over $1,000 and had more than 5 months of setup details to replicate did not fare so well.
Not knowing the future, I set to cleaning up the dirt and retrieving the poor, abused snake plants. With water-sensitive items drying, I had just launched into scooping up the dirt when my wife walked in and calmly commented, “The cat didn’t do that.” Leo the Cat loves the ledges in our place because he can watch the outside world through the windows it supports. Also, he’s fond of pushing items he can move over its edge to watch them fall and bounce. But she was serving notice that I could not blame Leo. A, he was at my son’s place, establishing an ironclad alibi. And B, as she had clearly calculated, he’s nowhere near strong enough to slide an oblong planter with room for four snake plants around. Of course, I wouldn’t have blamed him had he been with us.
I am honest enough that, after I realized I had made soggy toast of the Microsoft Surface, I fessed up to killing it. Since it was still under warranty, I could have just carried it in and told Microsoft support that it would no longer take a charge. That would have saved me just over $500. It wouldn’t even be lying, just omitting details of how it got broken. It was tempting. Since it’s an unserviceable sealed box, Microsoft techs would never know WHY it wouldn’t charge. But I would know, and even to evil megacorporation Microsoft, I couldn’t do that.
I spent much of Saturday finishing the cleanup by doing two massive loads of wash to get dirt and mud off of throw rugs, clothing, towels, and sheets. The surface worked Saturday morning, but then the charger light began to flash intermittently, and its flash slowly eroded till it went out altogether. The battery charge indicator showed a 45% charge. I left the charger connected and used the Laptop for another half hour, and it was down to 42%, That confirmed the light was giving me valuable feedback about how the charging system was feeling after the previous day’s abuse. So, before the Microsoft Store in Boston’s Prudential Plaza closed, I called and made a Monday afternoon appointment to take the Surface in for service.
I paid the Microsoft support staff $59 to transfer as much as they could from the damaged Surface to its replacement. With just 42% of the battery left, there was only so much they could do, and I didn’t even think to put the laptop’s data on a USB drive before taking it to them.
I mentioned this saga carried on till this afternoon. When I got the machine home, the first thing I noticed that was wrong was missing apps. Pretty easy to resolve that one. But there was a problem with my Google Mail inbox. It wasn’t synced to my main Asus computer’s Google Mail inbox any longer. It only showed mail to my Gmail email address, which is my secondary email. My primary email, my personal domain mail, wasn’t there. And it showed the last two years of my Gmail address email as unread even though almost all those messages had all been sorted to appropriate folders on the Asus machine and displayed as such on the now deceased Surface.
Microsoft phone support was able to spot the problem. The machine was set as a corporate machine and had no assigned admin. The fix was to do a full reset, which meant all the recovery work I had done got trashed and had to be done over again. Worse, I had the old machine set to facial recognition login for its convenience and security, but the image got flushed down the reset drain. When I tried to log in, I found that the previous twin-authentication login, unfortunately, survived the reset. But without a working phone to receive text reset codes, I did not have two ways to obtain a verification code. It took the better part of a day to get past that hurdle. Yet even after seeming success, I kept running into the double verification challenge every time I downloaded a new app from the Microsoft store or did anything that substantially altered the machine configuration. Knock on wood; I think we got that resolved this afternoon.
And so, TGIF! I needed the break.