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Wednesday: Bad ways to have your sleep cycle disrupted (#47 in a series)

Today's special: explosions on your desk. BLAM.

I've been trying to reorient my sleep cycle. I really have. I swear. I've been a good girl. I made the bed with enough layers to knock me out from the weight alone. I set alarms so that my meds get taken on time, a little earlier every day. I taught myself to pass out at the sound of Radio Netherlands on CBC Radio Overnight. I've been exposing myself to light and to coffee. I've been good.

I've been good.

So I have no idea why my desk went bang just now. What did I do wrong? Who did I piss off?

Well, other than that battery. That poor battery.

Okay, so I'd left a pair of batteries in my cordless mouse after I got back from America. I didn't have a chance to use that mouse very often once I'd gotten back, since there seemed to be some conflict between OSX 10.4.4 and the drivers. But it had only been a couple of weeks! Everything conflicts with 10.4.4 right now!

Did that battery hate life? Why did that little Duracell hate life so much? It's not good to keep that much rage inside. It should have told me that it hated me, and it hated life, and it wanted to die. It didn't have to wake me right before Radio Sweden came on, then spray its blood all over the mouse guts. What a selfish act. I didn't mean to leave it be. It might have said something. It might have said.

I should have known.

The other Duracell was so shaken, it couldn't be used again.

That poor battery. That poor other battery. How must the mouse feel? I won't know the extent of its shellshock until tomorrow. I cleaned it, and cleaned it, and I think I got all of the fluid off.

This is a tragedy. I don't know how I'm going to be able to sleep now. Battery suicide makes me emo.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at February 7, 2006 2:45 AM


Comment from: Bo Lindbergh posted at February 7, 2006 3:41 AM

That sounded like a fringe effect from a Nicoll Event. Did he pass through your town recently?

Comment from: TasteMyHouse posted at February 7, 2006 4:35 AM

I was once waiting for a checkup in a doctor's office, playing Kirby's dream land on my clunky gray gameboy (the only other available type at the time being the game boy pocket, and i didn't see the point in g etting another).


*SOMETHING* in there exploded.

all eyes on me.

I shrug.

everyone looks elsewhere, i keep playing.

the sound wasn't the same from that point on, but otherwise it worked fine.

no clue what it was! but i felt it go POP in my hands, i was *HOLDING* it.

makes you feel safe, don't it?

Comment from: HKeal posted at February 7, 2006 5:31 AM

That reminded me of Questionable Content.

Comment from: Canuck-Errant posted at February 7, 2006 7:52 AM

Ah, exploding batteries. Those've shut down LAX before, did you know?

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at February 7, 2006 9:18 AM

My mom was starting the car up once when the battery went BLAMMO. That was kinda scary.

Comment from: larksilver posted at February 7, 2006 9:28 AM

Y'know, I can't say I've ever considered what my batteries felt like. Sure, sure, I've known suicidal robots exist for some time now... but batteries?

Oh, woman, you've opened mine eyes and now I'm kinda weirded out. Great essay. A fairly odd way to start the day... better than exploding desks, I fear. Hopefully the coronary you surely suffered did not caused any lasting damage.

Comment from: ormond_sacker posted at February 7, 2006 10:41 AM

Had it been expressing any symptoms? Was it depressed? Schizophrenic? Bipolar?

Comment from: Doublemint posted at February 7, 2006 10:49 AM

It couldn't be helped. Batteries just naturally become depressed as they get old. Months of constant, unending toil runs them down, wares out their internal reserves, until finally all the hate and anger they've repressed eats away their insides. It's sad but it's the way of the beast.

Comment from: DarkStar posted at February 7, 2006 11:30 AM

Most batteries pass from this life to the next in a peaceful manner. On occasion, imporper charging can cause them to get hot under the collar and expolde, but few do it just to get a reaction. I've seen that mess, no one like to clean up after an electronic suicide.

Taste: It was probably a capacitor that exploded in your gameboy. They are far more volatile. Good thing it was the audio circuitry, and note somewhere more critical.

Comment from: chalcara posted at February 7, 2006 11:37 AM

*joins the mourning for the poor, poor battery*

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at February 7, 2006 12:11 PM

I bet there's a Jack Chick tract that explains how suicide condemns a battery to battery hell!

Comment from: EsotericWombat posted at February 7, 2006 12:27 PM

Don't leave an "other Duracell" behind

Comment from: Reave posted at February 7, 2006 2:05 PM

The popping sound someone mentioned earlier was a capacitor. They come in two types: Disc and Tube (or cylinder, as the weirdos like to call them). For all intents and purposes, they're short-term rechargable batteries. They're used often to get more power to a circuit, or provide control to an AC circuit. Again, not important - they do something really important in all electronics.

Anyway, a few years ago there was an interesting phenomenon that ended up affecting a great portion of the PC industry. See, a majority of capacitors are made in Taiwan. Taiwan has a small problem. Well, not really small - industrial sabotage and spying are common there. And by 'common' I mean 'liek graffiti in New York.' Well, one company - we shall call them 'company X' - was developing a new type of capacitor that was effectively 1/10 the price of a normal capacitor. And it worked great, with only a slight problem: it lasted about 6 months before exploding. See, capacitors have something inside called a dielectric - it makes the little thing work. Well, after a while the dielectric will break down and 'cook off,' or explode. Nothing major, just a pop and it's dead. But they're supposed to last years. I mean, years years years. 6 months is pitiful.

Well, another company stole the plans, but did NOT know of the 6 month limitation. They sold the capacitors on the open market, and 90% of the PC companies out there bought them - I mean, they're cheap to begin with, but when you buy them in the millions, it adds up. Well, guess what happens to all of these computers 6 months later? Yep...

Now, I worked in a lab around this time. We had, apparently, over 180 computers with these bad capacitors in them. And sure enough, between 5-7 months after we bought them... well, it was like popcorn in the lab. I found it amusing.

Comment from: Ardaniel posted at February 7, 2006 3:42 PM

A lot of those crap capacitors wound up in first-gen Apple AirPorts, too, causing no end of headaches for end users.

As for batteries, the best thing to clean off affected items with is baking soda and water, to neutralize the acid. In a pinch, laundry soap works too. The batteries in my shortwave exploded months ago and I've yet to get around to finishing up the cleanup, if it's even worth it at this point...

Comment from: siwangmu posted at February 7, 2006 4:53 PM

(Warning: the comment you are about to read has turned out hella incoherent. Feel free to skip)

Okay, I'll read the comments in a sec, but for the moment:

I wish to GOD you could see my face right now. I mean, even with the typing and the scanning of the comments before I realized I had to say something about this, strong traces of this expression are still twisting my face.

I have never read anything so intensely horrifying and awesome. If it wouldn't make me feel ridiculous to be all critique-y and evaluative I would say something about the telling being pitch-perfect, inventive, evocative, what have you, but honestly I am too busy experiencing the thing to care about the technical stuff which I apparently felt the need to comment on anyway.

None of this makes sense, I can tell, but such is the effect here. It is the verbal-diarrhea-translation of this face which I am actually still making a little bit.

Which is to say.


I went back and added the little warning at the top.

I am STILL making the face.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at February 7, 2006 9:21 PM

Dying electronics or power capacitors make me emo :(

I've never had to deal with an exploding battery, but both my father's 286 laptop (286 laptop!) and my first gray brick Game Boy died horrible, screen-related deaths. Killing a motherboard is also very sobering: all the pieces are there, but there's no life in it. It's gone. Power it up all you like, there's nothing you can do to bring it back.

Reave - That's a very interesting story, and it explains a few things. Is there a place where I can find out more about this?

Comment from: Ardaniel posted at February 7, 2006 11:44 PM

Alexis: you might try http://www.badcaps.com/causes/ for more info on the whole corporate-espionage thing.

Comment from: DarkStar posted at February 8, 2006 10:51 AM

Cuasing the death of electronics for fun can sometimes be amusing though. We blew up an electrolytic capacitor in one of my first electronics classes at NAIT. You take a big ole cap, and hook it up backwards to a power supply. This essentially makes it angry. Voltage leaks through because it's not designed to handle it. Stuff gets warm, and then it makes a nice bang! and the magic smoke comes out. Along with all the insides.

It made such a mess. And it made such a smell. I think we managed to set off the fire alram too. Fun times.

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