Screen Crud

I was typing merrily away when I saw it:  a renegade period in the middle of my sentence.  I backspaced to delete it but even after my cursor passed by, it remained impudently in place.

What the…?

Closer examination revealed that it was actually a bit of crud stuck to my computer screen.  When I cleaned it off, though, I realized exactly how much more crud there was.

It looked like tiny splatters of… something.  I have no idea what.  I don’t eat while I’m typing, so it can’t be food.  (Although if I had a third hand I probably would eat at the same time.  Maybe our children’s children’s children will evolve a convenient third appendage after generations of keyboarding.)

Anyway, I don’t have a third hand, so the crudfest isn’t food.

Even though I’ve come close to spewing a mouthful of tea over my screen when I run across something particularly funny, it’s never actually happened.  So it can’t be beverage droplets.

If I’m going to cough or sneeze I contain it.  The crud definitely isn’t snot.  (Which is a comforting thought, because, eeuw.)

We don’t have kids and Hubby has his own laptop, so it’s not someone else’s crud.

Back in the days when cats shared our house I could have pointed the finger of blame at kitty noses, but the last of our elderly felines departed this world over ten years ago and my laptop is much newer; so that theory’s shot.

If I used voice-to-text I might suspect aerosolized spit, which, to my own embarrassment, I discovered we all emit while talking despite our best efforts.  But I don’t talk while I’m working.  Not even unintelligible muttering, which would theoretically reduce the spray range.

But if I’ve eliminated all the likely suspects, what is the screen crud?

I’m stumped.

I suppose it could be deliberately flung there by evil relatives of the sock imps:  Computer imps that reside in the cracks between the keys.

I’m imagining something like our university dining hall a couple of eons ago, where the meal wasn’t complete until at least one person had catapulted a spoonful of Jello onto the ceiling and made it stick.  By the end of the term that ceiling looked like a stained-glass window designed by a lunatic.

So maybe when I close the laptop at night, the laptop imps creep out and fling imp-Jello up at the screen.

Or it might be the invisible ghosts of long-dead copyeditors who are trying to change the punctuation in my work, only to be frustrated when I continue to type and the text scrolls down.

Maybe it’s a squadron of microscopic incontinent flying insects on organized strafing runs.

Or maybe it’s tiny spiders hanging from the ceiling, taking a dump on me as a comment on the quality of my work.  (Spiders are a tough audience.)

I dunno; but if you see me hunched under an umbrella while typing away on my laptop, you’ll know why.

Anybody else have theory as to the origin of screen crud?  Please tell me I’m not the only one getting dumped on by spider-critics!

* * *

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45 thoughts on “Screen Crud

  1. If you are going to repair my computer, bring your own keyboard. I eat and drink at my desk. Turning keyboard upside down and banging it on the tray will reveal enormous amount of crumbs.
    Laptop computer with separate screen, usually fly speck free, not always, and separate wireless keyboard and mouse. In times past I have spilled on my keyboard. They can be taken apart, washed, dried thoroughly and put back together. 50% success rate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hehehehe!!! All your theories are just so way out there..I could visualise each one of them! Hmm..what could that mysterious crud be…sorry..but I can’t think of anything better that the ones you’ve come up with..and I really did think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been thinking about this some more. It may actually be something like what happens to the inside of vehicle windshields. The plastics in the interior of the car out-gas the high-end or lighter volatiles from those materials, especially those in direct sunlight like on the dash and instrument cluster, and they condense on solid surfaces. The surfaces that the condensates are most noticeable on, of course, are the windshield and window glasses.

    Well, the same sort of thing happens in homes and offices, too. Carpets and especially glue-down floorings are heavy contributors, though not to the extent of car interiors. So are laminated-surface cabinets, again a glued-down material. And cooking contributes, too. (When was the last time y’all cleaned your range vents? And what did you find? No, don’t tell me.)

    So, over time, we might find a wide variety of ingredients wafting gently through the air around our electronics. They all coalesce on our computer screens and TV screens and glass-covered photos.

    Voila! Mystery Spooge Revealed!

    Or not. But it’s a decent guess, I’d think. Just sayin’…


  4. I’m voting for fly poop. They’re shy so you don’t usually catch them in the act. That said, I do often drink or eat in front of the screen because I often need a moment to reflect on what pearl of wisdom I am about to share with the world and I work better when I’m not distracted by hunger.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Duane beat me to it! I vote for fly poo, too. Er, not voting-voting, just agreeing with Duane.

    I have my own desk at work but I also have occasion to work at several of the other computers in the run of a month. It’s amazing how dirty ALL the screens are, except for mine. The keyboards, too. It’s one of my pet peeves 🙂 Do people just not notice? Ewww!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ewww indeed! Back when I worked as an IT tech, I couldn’t believe how gross people’s computers were. The keyboards made me want to wash my hands just from thinking about touching them. And don’t even get me started about other people’s desk phones. Brrrr!

      Then again, some people do eat and drink while they work. I’ll never forget the helpdesk call I got from an employee who said he’d ‘spilled some Coke on his keyboard’ and now some of the keys didn’t work. No kidding. When I got there and picked up the keyboard, about half a can of Coke ran out. I always hated getting support calls from that guy…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I get that stuff on my cell phone screen. And just today, I figured out what it is! It’s eraser dust from dry erase markers! No kidding. My cell phone is either in my shirt pocket or in my hand in math class. I have my students download free unit conversion apps, and we use them in the math class I teach. Since I write homework problems on the board, I also use my phone’s camera to snap a photo to assign the same (or a totally different) problem to the other section of that class I teach. And if students are out sick or whatever, I can text the photo to them so they don’t get behind. Also, students can submit homework that way if they’re stuck at work or out of town or whatever.

    At least half of my students have day jobs, and most of those require travel several times a semester. Thus, taking attendance is sometimes a fairly brief exercise. Case in point, this morning I had ONE student in class. The others are either stuck at work or or doing something else job-related or have sick kids at home. But they’ve all got their homework assignment. And two have already texted photos back of their completed assignments.

    Now the stuff that gets on my computer screens? The answer to that question continues to elude me.


    • Wow, what a creative way to deal with assignments – how lucky your students are that you’ll let them work that way! My first thought was that it would be disheartening to have only one student show up for class; but when I consider it, I guess it’s not really that much different from teaching online seminars. And it would be great to be the lucky student who gets your full attention – usually you have to pay extra for one-on-one teaching! 🙂

      The ‘dry-erase crumbs on the phone’ was a brilliant deduction – let us know if you figure out the screen crud…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember clearly what a bunch of inconsiderate megalomaniacs my profs were when I was in my students’ place a hunnerd or two years ago. I try to make my students’ college experience better than mine was. Got my master’s years later at a different institution, and it was like night and day, a much friendlier and certainly a more compassionate place. I learned a great deal more from my instructors (ALL of them) than just subject matter, if you see what I mean.

        All of our buildings and campuses have WiFi, so why not use it? And we also have a text-based and email-based campus-wide alert system, too. It’s handy for weather alerts, school closings due to winter weather, and all that. But it’s also for potentially deadly things like an active shooter situation, God forbid.

        So I have my students in every class I teach sign up for these alerts on their phones, and I have them place their phones face up on their desks (ring tones silenced, of course) so that if we should have some sort of notification, everyone’s phones light up at the same time. We’ll notice it even if my phone is in my pocket or away from me on my desk while I’m in front of the class.

        Just part of the service, y’all. And have I mentioned lately that I love my job? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

          • Oddly, I don’t like that term much. I mean no offense, but that word was invented by teachers to somehow inflate the importance of their profession. The teachers I know who insist on referring to themselves that way generally are the ones who are desperately grabbing all the grad school degrees they can tack on so they can claw their way up out of the classroom and into administration. Away from the students.

            Me? I still think of myself as an engineer. Or perhaps a recovering engineer. That still makes me giggle. 😜

            Liked by 1 person

            • I don’t think engineers ever truly recover – they’re born, not made.

              Reminds me of the joke about the female engineer having a baby. She and her engineer husband and the doctor are in the delivery room, and finally the baby is born. Eagerly clutching each other’s hands, the parents ask, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

              The doctor takes one look at the baby, shrugs, and says, “It’s an engineer.”

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello, my name is Jessica and I too have…screen crud.

    I’m always surprised how it seems to appear from nowhere, but then I clean my screen and it’s obvious it’s been there a while, quietly amassing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Diane, I have a feeling that the screen crud is the result of paranormal visits of the tiny kind. Not many folk are aware of these tiny phantoms that leave subtle clues behind, but they are known to at times cause all kinds of havoc. Frustrating havoc at that… with just a tad of mystery. Yes, you’ve described them to a tee.😆

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well you’ve pretty well identified all of the possible sources of the “Computer Screen Scuz” that I could think of……..except one.
    Let’s see now…. how to put this, how about: the screen acne is not on the outside, it’s on the inside. If so then the next question must be: Where do you like to go when trolling the internet. Never mind I don’t want to know. If your explorations take you to ……..places, then be advised that there is medication for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Diane,One of the favorite colorful expressions of my old Uncle Hugh, who lived down in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, was: “……….sometimes you gotta pick the fly shit out of the pepper….” or “…….that is harder than picking the fly shit out of the pepper……”. I am sure that I am prejudiced on this point but my view it that you almost have to have spent time every morning and evening in a cow barn helping to milk by hand 35 Holsteins to really appreciate how pervasive that fly shit can be. Those irritating little bastards are everywhere all the time in warm weather. Of course, I am sure that the great heaping piles of cowshit in the barnyard and the really fresh stuff in the gutter behind the cows is a fly’s version of nirvana. That said, the few little dinky windows of the cow barn were half opaque from generations of tiny dots that were like a 50 years history of fly dumps. And if carefully scrutinized (as only a very bored 10 year old with nothing else to do can scrutinize) one would discern that individually each fly miniscule drop of fly impudence looked a helluva lot like the “renegade period” that you describe on your computer screen. Hence my theory that a lost itinerant cow barn fly surreptitiously invaded your work space an impudently desecrated your computer screen with a single “renegade period”. How’s that for a theory? By the way, I use the same small spray bottle of stuff  that I use to clean my eyeglasses to also periodically take a swipe at my computer screen, thus thwarting the “fiends of flydom”. Keep smilin’,DuaneP.S. ‘Tis an uncommonly fine fall day just south of the border at Ye Olde Hunting Camp today:

    Liked by 1 person

      • We lived on a farm from the time I was a toddler up to the third grade or so. I learned to milk, but I was too young when we had milk cows to actually contribute any significant or worthwhile volume to the process. So my job was to feed the cats and especially the flocks of kittens we always seemed to have around the house and the barn.

        Them: (mew, mew, mew)

        Me: Squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt…

        Them: MEW slurp MEW slurp MEW slurp MEW slurp MEW

        I could hit a hungry kitten square in the face with a stream of fresh, warm milk from six feet, and I never missed.

        Thus, the cats all loved me. The cows…well, probably not so much.

        But here’s a strange little tidbit. If I approached a cow in a milking stall with a bucket in my hand, the cows invariably would all stomp their feet and otherwise give off stern ‘go away’ sorts of signals. They did that for whoever approached them at milking time (so it wasn’t just me, okay?).

        But if I walked up to one in the barnyard, completely out in the open, empty-handed, and with a herd of cats following me, the cows would stand stone still and let me feed the kitties all they wanted. Even my mom and dad and older sister noticed the difference.

        I’ve generated a number of theories to explain this phenomenon, but I wouldn’t put any money on any of them. So I’ve just filed it away under Things That Make Me Go, “Hmmmm.”


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