Monday, August 07, 2006

Thunderstruck

Here we go again. Why does God seem to have it out for me recently? (Well, aside from the years of mocking retards, the handicapped, excessively surfing porn on the internet, and a lack of practicing any sort of organized religion) He obviously does not want me to get a good night's sleep at least. Because, there I am, dead asleep at 3:30 AM last night, when the sound of heavy rain pelting my skylights wakes me up. It's coming down like sheets that echo on my skylights like a tribal drum, beating rapidly, accompanied by the periodic flash of lighting and loud bang of thunder.

This continues for several more minutes, the banging of thunder getting louder and louder, now waking the dog and putting her on alert. And that's when it happens. A flash at my window so bright the whole room lights up even with the blinds drawn, and an immediate bang, like a gunshot, loud enough to shake my bed.

I usually enjoy the sound of rain and thunder, but that's when it isn't accompanied by the sound of my smoke detector going off. YIKES! So, up I jump from bed, anticipating the worst, yet again. Did my house get hit by lightning and something is on fire? Oddly, the smoke detector stops after only a few seconds of operation and the power is still on. Weird? Maybe just a surge...guess I'll have a look around just in case.

So I walk out into the hallway and notice that the light in the spare room is on. The door is shut and I haven't been in there for over a week??? I'm pretty sure I couldn't have left the light on for this long. So, who turned it on? And why is it on now? I open the door to find the light on and no one inside, so I go to flip the switch off. Wait...it is off. I think this is probably creepier as I'm retelling it, much like the TV in Poltergeist, but this light is all about staying on, regardless of whether the switch is on or off. That's definitely not a good sign.

On to the breaker panel, once again. All the rest of the power is on in the house so I'm not too freaked out as I make my way down stairs. The rain and thunder are still echoing through the house, but my real fear now is fire. I'm about halfway down the stairs to the basement when the smell hits my nostrils. Oh crap! If you've never smelled the odor that accompanies an electrical fire, it is very distinct and nothing like that of a grill or campfire. And that's what I'm smelling. At this point, I'm moving considerably faster as I open the breaker box. There's no obvious fire spilling out and aside from the odor, which is more potent by the box, everything seems normal. Well, except for the light that controls itself upstairs.

My immediate thought is to shut off all the breakers for the upstairs so that the light (which is likely the source of some issue) is not continuing to receive a power supply. I flip off about 8 breakers which are all labelled as upstairs components, though none says 'kid's room' or 'spare room' or anything like that...stupid previous owners not labelling shit. I race back upstairs to see if this has shut off the light, but the damned thing is still on! FUCK! Three more trips and a series of shutting off groups of breakers, and I've finally located the right breaker. Thankfully, that has stopped the power supply to the light upstairs. But the smell still persists.

I've gotta get inside that breaker box. I run upstairs to grab a screw driver and quickly undo the screws that are holding the front panel in place. To my surprise, I am not greeted by a roaring fire. Instead, everything seems perfectly fine. Nothing is scorched or smoldering. What the hell?!

I make my way up to the spare room to examine the light switch itself. After undoing the screws, I pull out the switch. Again, no fire, no scorched wires, or any smoldering. Maybe the breaker being shut off stopped the problem? I again head down the two flights of stairs to the basement and am still confronted with the odor of electrical burning. It does not appear to be disappearing. It is pouring rain, but I step outside, hoping (well, in the sense that at least I'd know what's wrong) to see some sort of char or burned area. Nothing.

What do I do? It's 4 AM. Everything in my house, with the exception of the one light, appears to be working fine, except I'm smelling a burning odor in my basement. I debate calling my father for some quick advice, but at 4 AM I don't want to burden him and have my mother up for the next 3 hours worrying that my dog and I are going up in flames. Then I debated calling the Fire Department, but I really don't want to deal with all that hastle at this time of night, when there isn't anything obvious.

So, perhaps it wasn't the smartest move, but I decided going back to bed, having left the breaker off. Of course, I'm not going to sleep unprepared. I packed a bag of clothes that I wanted to wear along with Chloe's stuff and my keys, wallet, etc. and placed the bag by my bed, along with a fire extinguisher and a flash light. And now I lay myself back to sleep, prepared for the worst...a more shocking wakeup to the sound of a smoke detector going off without stopping, and the smell of both electrical and wood fire burning in my house and filling my lungs with smoke.

At 7:00 AM, my alarm (clock) goes off. I'm not on fire, but I am completely exhausted. My eyes are burning, not from smoke, but from lack of sleep. My body is weak from all the commotion I endured, so I call my brother to tell him what happened and that I am gonna come in a bit late today. I'm still alive, so falling back to sleep is much easier this time around.

At 10:00 AM, I wake up again, and decide it is time I get up and go to work. I begin my normal routine and eventually head downstairs to let Chloe out. FUCK! There's still that damned burning smell. It's been six hours! Something is still burning! Now it is not too early to call ol' Pops. After a quick recap of my late night events, we concur that the best step is to contact an electrician to check into this matter. He places the call, and they suggest we call the fire department as well.

And that is where my last two hours have been spent. First the fire department came and three firemen checked the breaker panel, the light switch and my attic, and concluded the same things I did. Nothing obvious...maybe it's the breaker that smells...wait for the electrician.

And then the electrician arrived. He went to the breaker box and turned to me to say, "the smell isn't coming from here." Is this good news or bad news? He suggested I check to make sure the washer and dryer were still working...check. Then he suggested I see if all my electronics devices were still working. Big screen...check. DVD player...check. Receiver...check. CD changer...check. TiVo...TiVo? TiVo?? How do you turn this thing on. The remote has no button for "on", so I push all the buttons. Nothing. And then we smell the box. TiVo is on fire. I completely unplug it and throw it out into the garage, the odor following me as I move it away. TiVo has been burning in my basement for the past 6 hours.

So, the light switch was replaced and TiVo is no more. So long "Comedy Central Presents...Mitch Hedberg" and "Making the Video: Boots are made for Walking," you had been there for a while. And so long to the newest episodes of "Last Comic Standing" and "Dog the Bounty Hunter."

Well, the mystery is solved. You've been Thunderstruck.

Yeah, it's alright.
We're doing fine.
So Fine.
Thunderstruck.

4 comments:

gman said...

dude that sucks... so... you wanna buy my tivo on the cheap? you could probably even get it reactivated for only 6.95 a month. just upgraded to the directv hd-dvr with tivo...

The J Man said...

I called Tivo and they're gonna send me a replacement for a small fee so that I can maintain the lifetime membership that I had paid for on the old one. Only thing is that I have to mail this old one back to them.

The J Man said...

Crap. Just found out that the TV in my study got fried too. No smell, but it don't work anymore. Sucks.

The J Man said...

Double crap. The DVD player in my bedroom doesn't work with any remotes anymore. At least it still operates, but no remote controlling is rough. This lightning is now starting to cost me a pretty penny in electronics.