Saturday, August 29, 2020

I did it!

Not exactly a “pet” story, but it’s my major accomplishment while hiding out in lockdown (unfortunately, I’m a high-risk person so cowering in my house is my Lifestyle of the Poor and Unknown—hey…could make a good TV series, don’t you think?):

With no further ado,  THE ADVENTURE OF THE FEETY-THINGIES begins:


The light below my microwave (the one that shines down on my cooktop) went out a few days ago. It had intermittently been working/not working and finally gave a zap! and a blitz! and stopped working entirely.  

Being Poor and Unknown, I dug out my Advantium Oven (that’s the microwave) installation manual. Looked up the type of bulb. And just for grins looked to see if i could order it from Amazon.

Turns out…I could!

And the price was pretty good—$8 (including tax) for 3 bulbs. Way cheaper than even the minimum fee for someone to come fix it. So I ordered, and day or so later, the package showed up at my door. 

According to that oven manual, the process of changing the bulb is straightforward:  You take out one screw—no info on whether Phillips or flathead—let the door drop down on its hinge, pull out the old bulb and push in the new one, then screw the door closed again. Simple huh?

Yeah. It SOUNDS simple. In concept it IS simple.

It’s the execution that’s maybe not so simple.  

I pulled out my handy-dandy screwdriver and set to work. Unfortunately, I didn’t know, the manual didn’t say, and I  couldn’t see whether the screw was a flat head or Phillips. After dorking around a little, I figured out it was Phillips. But my handy-dandy screwdriver’s Phillips head seemed to be too big. 

Wasn’t real sure, of course, because I needed a light to see for sure why the screw wasn’t unscrewing. But…duh…the light bulb that illuminated under the oven was burned out. (Who knew?) And the under-counter lights on either side of the range didn’t give enough light for me to see.  

Then I had to find a screwdriver with a Phillips head narrow enough to fit that screw. Finally got that after a couple tries. I unscrewed that little sucker, making SURE I caught the screw in my other hand and didn’t let it drop—black screw on black stove top with lots of gas sinkholes to lose it forever…not a good plan!

Thinking all the time, that’s me, right?

Then I eyeballed the existing bulb. And pulled it straight out, being careful to maintain the same orientation when I placed it on the counter so I’d know exactly how the new bulb should go in.

I opened one of the tiny little boxes of bulbs and the picture attached shows what it looks like—it’s a puny little sucker, not more than an inch long from end to end. And it ends not with a safe, sane screw connector. That would be too easy.

Yeah. The “connector”  on this bulb is two little wire feety-thingies. They’re pretty stiff, but still…two little wires. That’s it.

Now the problem is that it was nearly impossible to see where those little wire feety-thingies plugged in. It turns out there’s a kind of gray ceramic block with two little holes in it where those little feety-thingies go. Since the feety-thingies are not as big around as a straight pin, the little holes are…well…LITTLE. As in teeny-tiny. Practically microscopic. About the size of a period on this email as best I can tell. At least they didn’t seem any bigger than that.

So I’m trying to fit the feety-thingies into those two little holes without actually being able to see what I’m doing. I wear bifocals and getting my head at exactly the right position so the right focus point on the lenses brought the bulb and the gray ceramic block and those teeny-tiny holes into focus, all while practically standing on my head to see under the oven and having my hands block the very place where those itty-bitty feety-thingies go... IMPOSSIBLE. 

I finally dragged a dining chair over to the stove so I could sit down and get my head low enough to look up. I fiddled and pushed and tweaked and dorked around and felt the little feety-thingies go in—not that I could actually see what I was doing. I gave it a little extra push to seat it properly—and the glass of the bulb crunched. 

Epic fail.

So then I had to gather up the broken bulb, pull it out—only to notice that one of the feety-thingies was still in the ceramic socket.  Another search for my needle-nose pliers and happily, the stuck feety-thingie stuck out far enough that it was easy to grab and pull.  

BUT…one bulb down. Happily, I bought three of them. Smart thinking, no?  (Actually, it was because that was the most cost-effective bundle—one bulb alone would have cost over $7.)

All right. Let’s try this sucker again. Sitting back in my chair—and being VERY careful—I squinted around my hands and the bulb trying to find those two little holes in the ceramic connector while trying to hold my head at just exactly the right distance to stay in focus. And put those stupid feety-thingies in both sides. 

Not one side only. 

Not the other side only. 

BOTH sides at the same time. 

This is harder than it sounds when you literally can’t see what you’re holding, or where you’re aiming, and those little connector holes are considerably smaller than the diameter of a straight pin. Way smaller. Practically microscopic. Nano-sized, in fact. 

Let me just insert an editorial comment here. Any IDIOT stupid enough to design a bulb that uses two skinny little wires as its feety-thingies instead of an easy screw socket deserves to be on my All Time Idiot List. Just saying…

OK. FINALLY got both feety-thingies started in the connector holes. Gave it a gentle push—and it wouldn’t go in. Went through this exercise about a half-dozen times—I’m elevating that idiot bulb designer to All Time Moron Status, by the way—and FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY got both feety-thingies in. Gave it a GENTLE push to seat it properly. And…took my hand away.

After all this, I hit the button to turn on the light—and it worked!!!!  Yes!  Full Light Worked!  Night Time Mode (about half-power) worked!! Yahoo!!!!!

That left only one issue. I had to screw the cover plate door back in place. With a black screw. On a black plate. Against a black bottom to the microwave. (Are you seeing a trend here???)  If I thought seeing the little connector holes for the feety-thingies was hard, finding the stupid place where the screw screws in was worse because again, having to practically stand on my head with hands and screwdrivers hiding what I mostly needed to see—and the hinge wasn’t solid enough to keep the door from wiggling front/back—everywhere except straight on so it lined up with the screw hole.

FINALLY got that in place. Screwed it in. 

And…I washed the cover lens for the plate (both sides, the inside before I screwed the cover plate in place). Washed the two vent filters while I was at it.  I don’t use those much for cooking because the noise of the fan drives me nuts so they don’t get very dirty. But they’re all clean and shiny now!

And I still have one bulb left from my 3-bulb package. I labeled the little box it’s in and put it in the island drawer. 

But I call this a SUCCESS!!!!!

My greatest accomplishment during lockdown!

Yesterday, I assembled a chair that came with essentially NO assembly instructions, just a picture that was singularly unhelpful.

But, I got it!

What have you done that's made you feel like celebrating a hard won victory?


nightsmusic said...

This is hysterical because I've been there however, I was not as successful and went through four bulbs! When we bought the new microwave, I studied the schematics for them all to make sure I could get one that had an actual bulb.

Let me make one comment about those actual bulbs. They are impossible to start in the hole! You can turn them 12 ways from Sunday and unless you've been gifted with the luck of the gods, it won't start seating. So yes, I'm still laughing at this because it's funny! But it's painful as well because...well... ;)

Katja said...

It isn't done, I'm still assembling it:

3 timelines, 4 POVs, 3 locations.

It also came without instructions. Not even a picture. No screwdrivers.

Just a few loose screws! 🤣

Bunny said...

I've been there as well, and that's why I bought a head lamp. It's hands-free and its light swivels, so I can aim it exactly where I need illumination. I've used it for everything from cross stitch to finding the button I dropped under the seat in my car. The bonus is, it makes you look like you know what you're doing.

glevin said...

Well done! Also, Katja stole my answer (and did so hilariously).

mhleader said...

The Adventure of the Feety Thingies was my own--and now guess what? Now I have the Adventure of the Toilet Trap. I haven't conquered that yet. I've checked online and it LOOKS easy. Which is why I'm going to ask Ms. Shark if she can express-mail me a giant slurpee of her best (strongest) scotch. Before I begin.

BUt...just since the lockdown began, I'm convinced that my house has been infected with the new Completely Overwhelming and Victorious Inanimate Disaster-Makers (2020 version), aka COVID-M20. What has gone wrong with my poor house includes:

* Broken upstairs HVAC which I haven't yet saved enough pennies to get fixed. (Those suckers are EXPENSIVE!) Sleeping in 90+ degree heat (North Carolina) is Majorly Not Fun.
* Broken dishwasher--I'm getting good at washing dishes by hand.
* Broken washing machine--enough said about that.
* Broken flapper valve in the Master bathroom toilet. I fixed that one all by myself--and tutoring via the Internet. (It was way easier than changing that damned bulb in the microwave!)
* Awning over my back deck half-fell off in a storm. It's hanging in there--like me.
* Dead overhead (only) light in the garage. It's 4-foot long fixture that needs to be completely replaced and 2 people to do that--and it's a 10-foot ceiling and not something I can fix on my own. I should mention I'm high-risk and living in lockdown 99% of the time? (Because there are far too many idiots around here who don't believe in masks. Or social distancing.)
* Dead bulb in the hall--another 10-foot ceiling...and did I mention I don't climb on ladders any more for very good reason?
* And, of course, the aforementioned broken/clogged toilet valve in the master bathroom. Girding my loins to attack that one. Soon. Really. I will. Pretty soon now...

I'm literally afraid to turn on/off anything in my house any more because it's determined to do me in with the COVID-20 disease.

I think it's winning, BTW.

Brigid said...

Oh, mhleader, at this point you may want to pitch a tent in the living room and just camp indoors.

Emma said...

See... Now I have a theory that more women need to be engineers for this precise reason. Who uses these things? Women! Who designs them? Men! (yes, I'm generalizing.)

For example, I needed a new stove last year. We looked around and looked around and I could not believe how many stoves have the controls ON THE BACK, so you have to REACH OVER FLAMES AND BUBBLING POTS in order to turn the heat down. Only a man who is really tall and has never cooked a meal on a stove in his life would design that and only a team of similar men in QA would approve it to go into production.

Don't get me started on mirrors that are placed too high, or pool floating devices shaped like sanitary napkins (I've seen them).

Oy... Okay, good luck to everyone with their fixer-upper projects!

Sherry Howard said...

I have wrangled with those lights! I keep a lot on hand because who can see without them?

My biggest accomplishments are twofold: keeping a hungry horde of kids fed while finishing several work-for-hire books and publisher’s edits on a middle grade novel. Whew!!!

Timothy Lowe said...

Oh, man. I've been meaning to fix our microwave light for awhile.

Maybe I'll let it wait awhile longer.

Adele said...

My adventure with Inconvenient Conveniences was a house where the only heat thermostat was half-way up the staircase and more than 6 feet above the stairs. You couldn't see what it said, you just had to stand on tip-toe, raise your arm, twiddle and hope for success. I think the original installer was a tall man standing on scaffolding. And. Not. Thinking.

Mister Furkles said...

Well, Janet, sounds like you needed two of the latest high tech tools: mirror and flashlight.

So, the big microwave over the stove--that's as wide as the stove--blew out when turned on. There's a video for that exact model on the Internet. Had to order the new fuse from Amazon. And, yes, a packet of six came.

So, after unplugging it, removing the top part that spanned the microwave, removing the front panel, and the guard plate: there it was. The bad little cylindrical fuse right next to a mother capacitor with enough charge to zap your fingers black. So, following Internet video instructions, the screwdriver is inserted into the contacts to discharge the capacitor. Now using the bottle-nose pliers, the bad fuse could be removed and the fresh one inserted.

With everything back in place and screwed in--less one screw that refused to go home--it's time to verify the job. Plug in the microwave and the lights on the front panel come on. Yea! The clock time-of-day set. Ready to go.

A plate with a hotdog on the turntable, the microwave door shut--click! Set the timer to 45 seconds. Push the ON button.

And the new new fuse blows.

Somewhere within deepest darkest microwave is a short. Damn!

Craig F said...

Ever since I was a young boy I have had a horrid curiosity about taking things apart. I learned early to put them back together again, for the sake of being able to sit down.

By this stage there is very little I have not tinkered with. The only thing that I think others can do better is air conditioning. That is only because I don't want to spill Freon into the atmosphere.

Barbara Etlin said...

I'm in awe that you managed to do this.

We had those kind of light bulbs to light the kitchen counters. When they burned out, we tried to replace them and gave up.

No success stories, but here's another giving up story. We bought an assemble-it-yourself dining room table. The instructions identified eight kinds of tiny screws. They were so microscopic we couldn't tell them apart. We returned the table.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I love love LOVED reading this story! Sorry you had to go through it, but WOW what a retelling! Thank you for sharing it :)

mhleader said...

Emma, I am totally on board with your theory about men designing stuff for women to use. I have house-hunted several times, and simply cannot believe how many kitchens are so poorly designed they're almost unusable.

When I moved into my current house (13 years ago! Wow!) the kitchen was so bad that it was literally unusable. Stove crammed tight against the refrigerator. Unusable corner cabinets. A small island that not only wasn't centered between sink and fridge, but was so close to the fridge that you couldn't actually open the refrigerator door all the way.

I had to literally gut the whole kitchen down to the bare walls and ceiling (and get a counter-depth French door style fridge so I could open the doors), move the island, and rebuild the kitchen before I had anything that was usable. I spent 2 months living in packing boxes while the contractor made my still-tiny kitchen into something I could, well, you know...cook in.

DEFINITELY designed by a guy. Or at a minimum, someone who had never so much as boiled an egg.

Beth Carpenter said...

A round of applause for those of you who are GETTING THINGS DONE!

Panda in Chief said...

Oh man does this sound like a familiar story. I definitely need to get one of those head lamp things!

My story is also light bulb centric. In my little office area off of the living room/dining room, there are recessed low voltage lights. When the first one burned out (Fortunately these bulbs last several years) I just couldn't figure out how to change them. I had extra bulbs, so I could see that they were those ones with the little feet, but it was definitely NOT apparent how you got the old bulbs out and the new ones in.

I decided to defer the solution for...well...several years, until more than half the bulbs finally burned out. It didn't matter all that much, since for some years, I mostly used this area for piling up mail, but when I started making my needle felted pandas, I needed the work space. Also light.

My S.O. former building contractor was no help. So, now we are deep in the quarantine shut down, and I REALLY need light to work, so I went on Youtube on the off chance that there was a video about how to change these bulbs, and damned if there wasn't!

Apparently, you have to pry the whole damn assembly off the ceiling (which fortunately is a low soffit running around the perimeter of the (small) room, which then hangs by some wires that plug into the electrical box for each light, then there was a little glass cover for the bulbs and all that has to get put back together before you snap the whole mess back into the ceiling. After I did the first one I got the hang of it and now all the lights work (for now)

I am very glad I resisted the suggestion that we put lights up in the high, peaked part of the ceiling in that room. It was a little add on room that's only about 8" x10", but with the little peaked roof, it looks bigger. I would never have been able to change the bulbs in that part of the ceiling, and it would have just shown up the cobwebs, so what's the point of lighting the ceiling anyway?

Congrats to all the other do it yourselfers fighting the good fight! I'll save the saga of my oven for another day.

AJ Blythe said...

This was a fun read. Okies, so not much fun for you guys going through it, but on the sidelines it is.

Mine is a not-so-successful story. Day 1 of lockdown, our toilet wouldn't flush, it sat there, full to the brim laughing at us. Luckily we do have another toilet! But that toilet resisted efforts with plungers, wires, chemicals...and anything else we thought might work. Only after life started back up again could we get a plumber, who seemed to take great delight in telling us our old terracotta pipes were full of tree roots.

Silver lining...during the drought and summer fires, our sewage kept our trees alive.