Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smell Of Decompression

This is what I get for laughing at Stevie B when it happened to him.

On Sunday I decided to get handy in the kitchen. A few years ago I installed some halogen puck lights beneath the cabinets above the sink. This replaced the original fluorescent fixture which, while it did the job of helping me determine if I sufficiently rinsed the glassware, failed in so many other ways.

Since the sink part of my counter faces out toward the living room, I found it difficult to hold conversations between the rooms. The light from the cold, bright tube would shine directly in my eyes and my guests became faceless torsos with a brilliant halo. I could never tell if I was having a dinner party or a near-death experience.

The Grundtal halogen pucks from IKEA were a dramatic improvement, focussing their light directly down upon the work area. But the tiny halogen bulbs were in constant need of replacing. As soon as I changed one, another would burn out. Out of six lights it seemed there was always at least one that was out, usually more.

Last week I was down to one functional Grundtal puck. Replacement bulbs at IKEA are reasonably priced. But that means driving over there, parking in the deck and walking past the wafting aroma of cinnamon rolls and meatballs. That's before entering the maze of a store which has a way of making me feel like a rat in a Swedish lab conducting research in Attention Deficit Disorder. And not the brightest rat in the lab either. One of the stupid ones that goes in for just a bite of cheese and – by the time he does find his way out – is pushing more flat packs of dense particle board than he can fit into his little rat car.

Meanwhile, at my convenient neighborhood Home Depot, 20-watt G4 halogen bulbs are $5.99. Each. And I need six. Lost in the irony of my struggling with basic arithmetic in a light bulb aisle, a friendly bear in an orange apron asked if I needed assistance.

"Thank you, yes! What's five-ninety-nine times six?"

Having offloaded that task I awaited the result. The helpful orange bear took my dead bulb and held it up to the light as if it was a factor in the calculation. It was during this awkward escalation from simple math to algebra that I realized the answer was moot. There were only three G4 bulbs left hanging on the rack.

"Scratch that. Where can I find under-the-cabinet task lighting?"

So this weekend I replaced the Grundtals in my kitchen with energy-efficient and, most importantly, low-maintenance LED puck lights. Since I was going to have to reset the microwave clock anyway, I went ahead and replaced one of the kitchen electrical outlets with the GFCI safety outlet the home inspector told me I needed back when I was closing on the place. I did this while giving quiet thanks that at no time in the past ten years have I or JB been electrocuted in our kitchen. I promised myself that this New Year's I'd make that anti-procrastination resolution I've been putting off.

When I was finished, I snapped the circuit breaker back on and basked in the glow of my self-satisfaction. That's when I noticed a slight but distinctive aroma of electrically-generated ozone. I sniffed all around my handiwork but couldn't trace the source. I figured it was probably just that new-LED smell.

It was only last night that, after reaching fruitlessly for a handful of ice cubes, I realized what I smelled was very likely the immaterial spiritual essence leaving the still-twitching corpse of my refrigerator compressor.


  1. “Oh NOES! Quick, go find that bear again and ask for a new fridge!

  2. I'm still laughing at I promised myself that this New Year's I'd make that anti-procrastination resolution I've been putting off.

  3. The extent of my home improvement activities end with changing a light bulb so I give you credit for all your work. I have bring in the pros... I had a few outlets moved earlier this year and had our tv wall mounted. It cost $2,000 :-( so I really do envy your hutzpah even if it doesn't always go as planned.