Inventive Issues

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but curiosity is its indulgent grandparent.  You know; the grandparent who feeds their grandchild as much candy as s/he can hold and then returns the child to its parents ten seconds before the kid spews technicolor vomit all over the new rug.

(For the record, I thought my mom was remarkably heartless when I stumbled in the back door many decades ago and announced, “I don’t feel good.”  I was looking for a hug and some sympathy, not a bellow of, “GET OUTSIDE!”  I didn’t make it in time, of course.  This is one of the many reasons why I never had kids.)


Hubby and I are both inventors.  We’re blessed (or cursed) with the kind of rampant curiosity that frequently leads to… *ahem* …interesting results.

The problem with inventing stuff is that you usually don’t get it right the first time.  Or the second.  Or sometimes even the tenth.  Our house is like a cross between Hogwarts School of Magic and a lunatic asylum: a place of sudden loud noises, unidentifiable odours, and shouts of triumph or chagrin.

Most of my experimentation is culinary, so it’s generally pretty unthreatening (unless you’re Hubby, who has an automatic gag reaction to garlic and curry).  I love to create new recipes, which is wonderful when I perfect the new dish; but not so wonderful when I end up with three saggy, soggy gluten-free cakes that taste fine but have the texture of shredded paper marinated in half-set wallpaper paste.  (I did finally get that recipe right, though!)

But I’ve never actually risked our health or safety.  Unlike Hubby.

He’s an electronics genius; but if one of his inventions goes wrong there could be showers of sparks, the resounding SNAP! of an electrical breaker tripping, and/or the throat-closing reek of scorched insulation.

Which is why, when I was upstairs sewing the other day, I only had a momentary thought of, “Gee, this serger is starting to smell a little hot” before I bolted up from my chair and dashed down the stairs, following the ever-increasing stench of burnt plastic and yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”

Surrounded by a faint miasma of smoke, Hubby gave me a sheepish grin.  “Don’t worry, my power supply just tripped the breaker.”

He carried the carcass outside and we opened some windows and turned on the fans.  But the smell didn’t seem to be dissipating.

We prowled through the mancave and inspected the surge suppressor and outlet that had been connected to the offending device.  Nada.  But the smell wouldn’t quit.

After sniff-testing the mancave several times over the next few hours (and I can’t recommend that as a pleasant Sunday-afternoon pastime) I finally discovered that the culprit wasn’t one of Hubby’s inventions at all.  One of his PC fans had seized, and it was crouching there smouldering quietly and waiting for night to fall so it could kill us in our sleep.

We banished it outdoors in disgrace, but I didn’t sleep easily that night.  I kept imagining the firefighters questioning us while we huddled outside our burning asylum house:  “But didn’t you smell smoke?”

“Well, yes; but that’s normal…”

Any inventors in your house?

* * *

P.S. Just hit 75% on Book 13, and I hope to announce a release date soon.  Woohoo!

41 thoughts on “Inventive Issues

  1. Just noticed something. Hubby said, “Don’t worry, my power supply just tripped the breaker.”

    I get a visual from Back To The Future. Marty is in Doc’s basement, turns the gargantuan amp with the monster speakers up to ELEVEN, plugs in his axe, and strums–whereupon paint blisters and glass shatters for a four-block radius.

    So Hubby has eight Cray’s multipli-cross-paralleled in the basement, huh? An old version of 2-D AutoCAD will extrude skyscrapers–full scale and furnished–without using a 3-D printer–anywhere with the aid of a GPS-enabled modem. Emails will be delivered before they’re even composed, much less sent. The calendar function in his office suite software will call up THE ACTUAL DAY IN HISTORY, past or future, at the click of a mouse. And the mouse itself has four legs, fur, and a modest appetite for rare cheeses. The dot-matrix printer will produce any currency in the world–as actual currency and not counterfeit. And the most disturbing aspect is that the 3-D printer has a fondness for redheads…

    But, then again, who doesn’t. Just sayin’… 🙂


    • Bahahaha!!! I’d modestly say that you’d likely be disappointed if you got a close look at Hubby’s mancave and workshop in real life; but the truth is that he very well MIGHT have exactly what you’ve described. There’s so much electronic gear in there that I’m not even sure he knows what it all does… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. LOL until you got to the computer…hadn’t thought about that ever as an issue…ok…so now I do have to think of that as an issue…..on the inventor side…heh I’m all for it…only wish I had the ability..:)


    • You can bet I’ll be thinking about that computer the next time I’m travelling and my computer is sitting at home and plotting against me! And I think the most important quality for an inventor is the willingness to fail… and fail… and fail. Hopefully before ultimately succeeding; but not always. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t have an inventor, but I had a mechanic. Once, a very long time ago, I was working on my undergrad degree, and I was writing a paper for an English class (can’t remember which one). I’m just typing along, sentences are flowing out of me at a rapid rate and then the unthinkable happens. Big POW and the power goes out and so does my computer. I sat there in a panic. OH NO, OH NO… wonderful flowing sentences were GONE!! I came storming out into the garage and proceeded to question the offender. “What did you do?” “Compressor? What compressor?” “What do you mean, you accidentally blew it up?” “You plugged it in and tried to use your what?” “Power tools? When did you get power tools?” At that point I let the offender know exactly what happened. With apologies up the creek and back, he promised me he would fix it. The very next day a guy we knew from church came over and retrieved my paper, well not all of it but enough that I could continue. So my mechanic, even though he blew up the compressor, managed to get my paper back. I will never forget how he looked when I told him what happened. I will never forget how many phone calls he made to “make it right” for me. It’s these crazy insane moments in life that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I wish he was still here to blow up his compressor.


    • Speaking of losing important work on a computer, well, been there. In college, senior year, mechanical engineering major. I’d been working on my senior design project for a whole semester and was almost completely finished typing it all up. Doorbell rings, I’m the only one home at the moment, so I go answer it. Some door-to-door crap, not interested, give them the brush. Go back to computer, and our tiny little calico kitten that had been sleeping by my keyboard is now awake and romping around chasing its little tail–ON MY KEYBOARD!!!!!

      My screen (amber monochrome, the killer deal at the time) is a sickening mess of scrambled data. I almost died. Gently placed the kitty out in the hall, closed the door, and tried to salvage the mess. To no avail.

      Called in every marker with all the EE and Comp-Sci types I knew at school. A steady stream of seriously talented geeks traipsed through my house…and every last one of them struck out. Comments of, “Bro, you are SO screwed,” and, well, more of the same were the most constructive things they’d offered.

      So when my wife comes home from work, I’m a basket case. I’ve been trying to call my instructor for hours without success. He’s disappeared. I’m SO screwed.

      My wife says, “C’mon, let’s get out of the house for a while. You’re close to a stroke, so you gotta turn it all off for a while.” So we walk the few blocks to the mall to krooz the joint and window shop. Which was all we could afford to do at the time. (I was a full-time student, she was the full-time bread winner.) We did that a lot. Dump the kids with a neighbor and take a little break from reality for a couple of hours, pick up the kids and their friends and return the favor to the neighbors. It worked.

      So we’re in the mall and round a corner. Yep, my instructor and HIS wife are out chillin’ at the mall, too! I start babbling about my kitten and my senior project and don’t stop until I run completely down. Instructor looks skeptical. His wife elbows him and says, “Cut him some slack, dear. He couldn’t make up a story like that. Certainly not with his wife backing him up and nodding at his every word.” Instructor, I think to myself, is a lucky man. His wife has a GLORIOUS smile.

      Sez he, “Can you have it to me by five o’clock the day after tomorrow?” (Which is the last possible minute to turn it in for the semester.)

      “Yes, Sir!” sez I.

      “Then, see that you do.”

      I did. Made an A, too. Had to completely redo the whole thing from scratch, but I handed it to him in person with something like forty-one minutes to spare. Then went home and slept for two days.

      Oh, the kitten died. Of old age. Twenty-three years later.


      • OMG, my guts are wrenching just thinking about it. How lucky for you that both the wives were there when you encountered your prof! See, this is why married men live longer. 😉 And I’m glad your kitten (and you; and your marriage) survived the experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Back in the day we had a 386, running WordPerfect something. At 3:00 am my son pounds on our bedroom door almost sobbing. He had accidentally deleted a paper he had been working on due in the morning of course. Fortunately there was a mickey mouse retrieval software package on the computer which I had been playing with a few days before. Took me 15 minutes but I got it back and was the hero.
        One of my professors was three years into his PhD project which had something to do with mouse genetics. The university changed feed suppliers without telling anyone and all his mice died as the feed was very inferior. Computers are better.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, lucky break with the software retrieval! I often miss the days when I could tell DOS to delete something and it would do it without questioning me six times: “Are you sure you want to do this? Really sure? Really REALLY sure???” And then I remember the time I was working on a machine and slammed in “deltree c: /y”. I had intended to include a subdirectory path in there… oops. No software retrieval there.

          Your prof must have been ready to force-feed those dead mice to whoever made the decision.


  4. And now I’m going to be completely paranoid about our PC burning down the house . . . I’m glad you found the offender. AND the thing that was burning 🙂 I suppose technically you already knew who the offender was – hah


    • LOL! True, dat. And you’re right: Now every time we go away for a week and leave our PCs running so we can remote in, I’ll be wondering whether the house will still be standing by the time we get home. Grrrr.


      • That made me think about telling those “foreign tech support” that call in to tell that you have a problem with your computer and they want to fix it, that I had let them “fix” it and the result was my computer caught fire and partially burnt my house down and where could I send the bills for repair. They couldn’t hang up fast enough and the number of calls I was getting from them stopped not long after that.


  5. I was wondering yesterday how far along you were on the book. 75% is great. Can’t wait.

    We used to have an electrical construction company. I got real good at telling people that would call in about something smelling electrical to trip the breaker for the offending item and then set up a time for one of our men to go out and check out the problem.


    • Yes, better safe than sorry! The new electrical codes here in BC require arc-fault breakers for all circuits that service wall outlets; and GFCIs for all outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoors. Theoretically it makes us a bit safer; but I’m still happier when something questionable is disconnected from power completely (and moved OUT of the house).


  6. Yikes, that’s scary. Wouldn’t be too good if your new house burned down. 😳

    As for your husband having a gag reaction to garlic, oh boy, that would really limit my cooking options. I use it in most meals I make!


    • I love garlic, but I don’t cook with it when Hubby’s around. But I always joke that whenever he travels, I sow my wild garlic! I just try to have the house aired out by the time he gets back.

      And you’re right; after having the house finally (almost) complete, the thought of losing it to fire is absolutely horrifying. Fingers crossed that that’s the closest we’ll ever come!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I get so used to funny smells that I rarely question them anymore. I suppose someday the fire marshall will wonder why our smoke detectors were non operational. When they go off several times a day you start ignoring them anyway and the fire extinguishers are all nearby.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 1. I am THAT grandparent. 2. Early in my marriage my wife and I were at the hardware store and I bought two fire extinguishers. She thought I was crazy. Until the day I almost set the house on fire and used one of the extinguishers to prevent the need to call the fire department.

    and for your reference: Those cans of spray foam installation – yeah, they’re flammable, never, never use the foam near a water heater with a lit gas pilot light. Trust me, it isn’t pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes. Absolutely. But only in the garage. My wizardry is permitted in the house only after *successfully* completing a rigorous assessment period. But it’s perfectly okay for me to invent my brains out in OTHER people’s houses…just not my wife’s, er, ours. Long story. Don’t ask.


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