Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Weekend Jinx Before Thanksgiving

This piece was written before I experienced the most recent malfunction that peaked last night with my laptop. Previous and current blog comments, along with some other computing functions are affected. I’m unable to access my comments and don’t know whether or not visitors are able to comment now. Some of this may or may not be associated with occasional blog comment troll corruption the past two weeks. Hope to resolve before weekend over.


Have you ever noticed that if any appliance or utility is going to breakdown or malfunction the occurrence is almost always on a weekend, close to a holiday or special celebratory occasion, if not actually on that very day?

I can recount numerous instances when that has occurred, including a Thanksgiving Day years ago when the guest bathroom commode overflowed. In the kitchen we were busily preparing our dinner feast so didn't welcome this distraction. Makes me wonder if I’m the only one to whom these crazy-making disruptions happen, or if some how I’m jinxed?

This current event was one of those jinxes designed to upset a weekend just before another Thanksgiving holiday. I was convinced that not only was I slated to face a physically uncomfortable weekend or longer without heat, but that I could likely expect resolving the problem would result in major furnace repair costs. How disappointing to much later discover I brought this all on myself. I can’t blame the equipment, an incompetent service person, some other household member, or even a pet.

The work week had not been exempted from requiring my involvement in emotionally filled situations with patients and family members. They were necessarily having to make major life changing decisions limited by choices, none of which were desirable. I welcomed the week ending.

Finally, on my way home I made a brief stop to purchase some fresh vegetables and fruit featured at one of my local farmers market type grocery stores. My mouth salivating from the colorful food’s visual stimulation, I was primed for dinner and spending the remainder of the evening engaged in mentally relaxing activities. First I would wind down with PBS financial reports followed by national and International news, then Bill Moyer’s habitual thought provoking weekly program.

I had long since perused the now quite old news from my daily newspapers delivered to my driveway about 5 A.M. early that morning. Even then their news was old, but I still enjoy holding a newspaper in my hands, scanning the pages, sometimes settling in to read more in depth some respected writer’s perspective about some issue. What grabs my attention lately are the ongoing investigations into monies paid to individuals associated with our California Public Employees Retirement (PERS) pension plan investments. I read with disgust some more excessive consulting monies being paid, financial greed going on, as some other cities, counties and States have discovered within their own similar pension plans, but I digress.

My default mode in many instances when I bypass reading, television, other activities is to seek my computer’s screen and keyboard. That night I violated my commitment to myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour, meaning before midnight, or at least right after Charlie Rose’s PBS TV show ended at 12:30 A.M. but I finally retired. When I awakened much later Saturday morning I delighted in lounging in bed, then performing my regular exercises and listening to L.A.’s one remaining all news radio station, KNX. Instantly, I hear the latest local, national and international news including sports headlines, weather and freeway driving conditions. If I want more in depth information on any story, I make note and can refer later to the Internet.

Another radio conveniently located in my bathroom is perpetually tuned to National Public Radio (NPR) allowing me to enjoy their fare on every visit. I’m inclined to believe I listen to this station more since I’ve gotten older. I don’t think it’s my imagination that I perceive myself taking more frequent excursions to this increasingly popular room in my house and lingering there longer. A couple more radios in other rooms, including one old-fashioned dial radio that also plays cassette tapes, allows me to extend whatever program fare I might choose to follow further when I leave those back rooms.

Saturdays and Sundays KNX airs two special several hour long shows, portions of which I occasionally hear. The first program is a call-in cooking show conducted by former caterer, Melinda Lee. Everything you might ever want to know and information you might never have thought of to ask is discussed either by her, call-in listeners or on her web site. She almost makes me want to cook some previously untried by me foods as a consequence of the serious but fun manner in which they’re discussed. I wish she had been on the air years ago when I was cooking more.

Her program is followed by “Make It Work” with Jeremy Anticouni and Tim Conway, Jr offering the latest tech news, other technical information and support with their on-air program and after-the-show webinar (that’s a live listener participation Internet interaction.)

Lolling in bed debating with myself about when I would arise, I began to notice my bedroom felt much colder than usual. This realization occurred somewhere in the middle of Melinda Lee’s resolving one home cooks concerns about how to prepare sweet potato fries prior to Thanksgiving Day and another caller’s query about what kitchen pan could be used to bake some fancy concoction since he didn’t have the exact one specified in the recipe. The remainder of her show and that of Jeremy’s and Tim’s became background commentary for me as my actions necessarily began focusing on the house heating question.

I slid out of bed, slipped on some shoes, walked across the room to stand beneath the wall register situated above the master bath doorway. My arm reached upward with outstretched fingers to just above the register’s edge. Yes! There was air coming out, but it felt rather cool. I turned and walked out into the hallway to the thermostat (without my reading glasses) but could determine the temperature was heading toward 60 degrees, lower than where I had it automatically set to turn on. I moved the thermostat settings to jog any possible interior mechanisms sticking, but detected no appreciable change in the furnace function.

A few years ago I elected to keep my semi-automatic thermostat when our son offered to install a new completely automatic digital unit shortly after his Dad died. I just remember hastily thinking I don’t want anything new, nothing changed until I can become more familiar with the status quo. Now, I was thinking, I should have let my son put in that new unit, as I bent my head slightly to check the settings for first the air conditioning and then the heat. I squinted my eyes to better see those small printed words. Even though they weren’t clearly visible the settings on each seemed to be appropriate. A few trips back and forth to feel the register air, then alter the thermostat A/C and heat settings, listening to the furnace sounds confirmed no change, no heat.

I opened the door to the furnace closet immediately noticing the chart my husband had drawn and placed inside the door to track the permanent filter cleaning record. Uh oh! I had forgotten all about that little cleaning task these past six months. I had broken my very efficient upkeep record established since assuming that new filter care responsibility from my husband those few years ago. Surely, the filter couldn’t be so dirty as to prevent any warm air, but what did I know, maybe it was possible. Nothing to do but clean that filter now.

Hastily returning to the bedroom I pulled a sloppy-looking pair of knit slacks on over my pajama bottoms, grabbed an everyday wear fleece jacket I put on over the P.J. top and headed back to the furnace. Out came the filter with my usual struggle after reminding myself which of the furnace door fronts had to be removed first in order to remove the other one. I double-checked for the arrows presence on the filter frame’s end so I’d be sure to re-install the unit proper side down later and know which side to penetrate with spraying water when I cleaned it.

The not unusually dirty-looking filter and I went outside where I immediately turned on a water hose forcefully spraying the cleansing force all through that filter. I was really hurrying because the time was now 2 p.m. The sun was out, but would be falling off the horizon’s edge all too soon after being hidden much of the previous hours after I had awakened for my expected leisurely day. Once the sun is out of sight, the outdoor air becomes increasingly colder and my filter’s drying time might not be sufficient, I knew.

Unable to stimulate my furnace to produce heat I decided a call to those who installed our unit was the next step. Considering this was a weekend, probably they wouldn’t be available for service until the first of the coming week. I knew we were predicted to have some cooler temperatures this weekend, ones that would normally cause me to want to take the edge off with some heat indoors, especially at night.

Having grown up in the Mid West I was well-acquainted with fall chills and winter’s truly cold freezing below zero climate. After almost forty years in the southwest and southern California I have become acclimated and more sensitive to temperatures I once wouldn’t have thought of as very cold. The temperatures I could expect without heat this weekend until service repair people could come would be considered a lovely warm winter day in traditional colder climes, but not quite so for me anymore. So, I reconciled myself that with heavier clothing layers, an extra bed blanket or two I could be quite comfortable without furnace heat. Consequently, I concluded I might as well wait a while to call the furnace repair men or the gas company.

About three hours later the sun was gone from the sky, the outdoor and inside air was decidedly becoming much cooler, so any further fast filter drying time was past. I examined my furnace filter noticing only the slightest darkened color indicating moisture residue at one frame corner’s bottom edge. I determined the filter was mostly dry enough and returned the now clean product to it’s permanent furnace resting place where it now belonged.

Furnace doors replaced, closet closed, I turned to look one more time at the thermostat, thinking that I should try starting the furnace one last time just in case the filter’s cleanliness state actually had the power to prevent heat blowing through. This time, the hallway was just enough darker I sought a small flashlight to shed a little light on what I was doing, and picked up a nearby pair of my reading glasses.

What a surprise was in store for me with my visual perception enhanced! The heat setting was off, out of place by one mark. Once I set the thermostat correctly, put the desired temperature marker in place, this caused the furnace to not only turn on as it always had before, but enabled the blower to fully emit warm air. I’m still not sure what exactly happened, because the furnace was providing heat periodically as needed all this Fall. I had definitely awakened some mornings to the luxury of warmth.

I do recall a week or so ago a too warm room one wee hours morning. I, apparently, had forgotten to turn the heat down before I went to bed, so I stumbled from the bed half-awake to adjust the thermostat setting without my reading glasses. I can’t be sure, but believe there is a distinct possibility this is when I may have set in motion the events that disrupted my day.

I have learned that I better use my reading glasses and even a flashlight anytime I decide to adjust the furnace thermostat. Most importantly to me since we’re having consistently Southern California-cold nighttime temperatures, I do have heat and didn’t need to hire a repair person. Also, my furnace filter received a needed long-overdue cleaning. I’ll add the filter-cleaning task to my written calendar schedule now instead of assuming I’ll remember to do so every month or two.

I remember wanting to purchase an extra permanent filter when we had these high energy saving combination A/C and furnace units installed, but my husband insisted that wasn’t necessary. I think if the filter wouldn’t be dry enough to re-install sometime after cleaning, a spare on hand might be wise. I still like that idea, or maybe I can just use a disposable filter as a spare, so think I’ll look into those possibilities. Hm-m-m! Next time my son visits, I think I’ll allow him to install a new fully automatic digital thermostat, or maybe I’ll undertake the job myself.

♥ Hope you’re all enjoying your favorite holiday foods,
are toasty warm as I am. ♥


  1. You just reminded me that I need to run all my anti-virus, anti-spyware programs, I've gotten sloppy on that of late!!!!

    I think there's a corollary to Murphy's Law that covers such thinga happening on holidays.

    Hope you have an awesome day!!!!

  2. I hope everything else gets fixed, especially the computer! We are lucky enough to have toilets overflow (or quit working totally) just before guests are coming, and once my over went out while an out-of-town guest was baking a cake for someone else. There's a law, Joared, I am sure of it! Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

  3. If misery loves company you have some. I wrote a blog about my Thanksgiving curse and I think we have both been jinxed.

    In my case I do need to hire a repair man to install a new doorknob due to a problem that must have been caused by me, although I am still mystified as to how it happened.

    Being a homeowner can sure create problems at the most inconvenient times.

  4. Hooray! I'm actually able to access my comments. Tried to visit some bloggers the past few days, but certain Blogger blogs wouldn't allow the comment popup so I could write, others did -- weird! Still some unresolved issues elsewhere, but this is progress.

    My anti-virus and anti-spyware run automatically and are up to date. Have added some program up dates, including security, and any one could be giving my computer indigestion. Am thinking I should add any updates only one a day, wait another day or so to see if all runs smoothly, then add another. Could at least pin point the offender more readily. Hope to have the issues resolved sometime this weekend or whenever my guru can make time to troubleshoot.

    Bear with me as I've chosen to go the CAPTCHA route here for a while.

    Kay, Kenju, Darlene: Think your blogs were among those that didn't let me comment. I quit trying before I even got to some others.

  5. Are you pulling your hair out yet JoAnn? Between you and Darlene and your Thanksgiving's a bit freaky. Computers, furnaces, bathroom doors, YIKES....I definitely have my share to add to the list. I KNOW you can well remember my little flooding problem in a couple rooms of my house a few years ago around Xmas when I did my famous 'run' around my living room coffee despair. I also remember having to replace my oven right before having a houseful of people the Xmas one or two years before that so we could cook for the whole crew that was staying here. I've had my share of furnace problems in the past too sweetie; which initially led to my spectacular flooding problem....SO, yes...NOW, I get my furnace checked every year at the beginning of the season just to make sure everything is running smoothly. You don't think I'm a little paranoid, do you? JoAnn...with us ladies living alone...I think we've got to cover all our bases... Hugs, Joy

  6. Yes, I have often thought about the digital thermostat swap out. But as my luck generally runs with those types of things, I fear that if I did the change it out, every time I adjusted the thermostat the commode would flush so I’ll just leave it to the professionals – no matter how “simple” they say it is to do.

    And speaking of stuff breaking, I adhere to the belief that if something is going to break it will be at a critical time when it is most needed and in concert with that – two other things will break also.

    The world is pretty much broke right now. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a repairman to fix that?

    Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

  7. Joy: Covering all our bases is surely the name of the game. I probably should have the gas company come out once a year in the Fall. Now that I think about it, seems to me we used to do that and it was a free service then. Not sure if my husband kept having that done or not after they started charging for it, but think it could definitely be wise for me to do in the future.

    Alan G: Your luck sounds like what my luck would likely be two-fold -- the commode would flush and the oven would turn on -- assuming I hadn't electrocuted myself first.

    Oh dear, I guess the two other things breaking could refer to what's happening with my computer. Hope it's nothing more.

    Cop Car: Have tried twice to copy your comment you had to email me 'cause you couldn't get CAPTCHA to accept it here. The copy from my email and paste to here would not work. Your comment seemed perfectly acceptable to me so there seems to be some sort of conspiracy aimed your way. One more thing not working correctly to discuss with my guru.

  8. thanksgiving jinxes seem to be growing :( happy belated thanksgiving from arizona