Hodge: Electrical meltdowns can prove a unsettling

When it comes to anything technological, mechanical or electrical, I am best to keep a very safe distance…

Today’s original column is likely still floating about in techno-space somewhere looking for a lonely doorstep on some lonely planet upon which to land.

Clearly I have no idea where it went and quite frankly I am just as perplexed as to how it disappeared. (I am refusing to acknowledge the reality that I probably just hit the wrong button somewhere, somehow).

Instead of accepting some personal responsibility for the now missing column I prefer to play victim and suggest that I have no knowledge of how it vaporized.

While the ‘how’ may be a mystery the ‘why’ is not. It is something long time friends laughingly refer to as Hodge Luck.

When it comes to anything technological, mechanical or electrical,  I am best to keep a very safe distance away from it. Safe as in a long, long way—certainly well out of my reach.

It seems whenever I touch such things (especially electrical) they have the unique and complex ability to blow up, explode, implode, melt down, or simply quit.

It’s a discouraging and frustrating phenomena sadly saddled as a personal burden for as long as I can recall.

Part of my lack of confidence and insecurity comes from nearly anything electrical screwing up the minute I lay hands on them.

Machinery and equipment simply wait for me to show up so they can malfunction.

My first recollection of the dubious skill was around age 10 or so when I would attempt to turn on the old black and white television we had.

Attempt being the key word because most of the time I received a minor shock and literally saw sparks fly as I reached out towards the set to pull on the metal knob.

A loud zap or pop was often included in the light show and more often than not I would jump back from the set slightly tingling from the experience.

Others, including dear old dad, often found the routine somewhat amusing, however I rarely shared the sport of it all.

When it was suggested that the cause was that I was wearing socks or creating static on the rug, I countered that by putting on shoes or slippers.

However, the minor electrocutions would still occasionally continue.

Televisions were not the only source of electrical obnoxiousness.

To this day, I occasionally get zapped by radios, fridges, microphones—if it is plugged in or has a battery I am at risk.

Flashlights often stop working when I hold them, only to work for someone else later.

Cell phones and computers routinely quit or simply shut down for no reason.

After a while it became a bit of a bad joke at the newspaper offices, especially when my skill kicked in on a deadline day and the malfunction was critical.

One would think that with such weird luck around electrical stuff that I would have gone into a business that involved operating something like vegetables or trees rather than computers, cameras or PA systems.

But no that would be far too logical. Instead, I spent much of my career and spare time in the entertainment world using microphones, electronic instruments, or setting up and running light shows.

If playing dodge-that-charge seemed silly enough with TV sets and computers, then operating stage lighting systems running at 220 volts really pushed the gambit.

One nearly fatal day while working with a band at the Village Green Pub in Vernon, I somehow managed to arc myself between my 220-volt power snake and the 110 volt line running the PA system.

I remember hearing the boom as I literally was blown into the air for a few feet before crash landing into a massive biker playing pool.

As I lay on the floor vibrating from the aftershock, I remember looking up and seeing the hulking pool shark standing above me looking surprised and with his pool cue raised threateningly above my head like he was preparing to finish me off.

I remember thinking “Go ahead—Why not?” as I thrashed about in pain. All the hair on my arms and chest were seared and I smelled like burnt hair for days.

While no one ever figured out what happened, it was suggested that the sound man had used a faulty chord. For the members of the band, they jokingly chocked it up to ‘Hodge Luck.

Fast forward to today.

I recently purchased a new lap top (that’s another saga) and due to ever increasing arthritis in the hands impacting my book writing project, I decided to purchase a Dragon Speak program (speak into a headset and it dictates onto the screen).

Having successfully test driven the program a few weeks back, I decided to write today’s column with it.

Everything was coming together rather well and I was 80 per cent done with a humorous tale of a recent trip in Vancouver when suddenly Dragon Speak disappeared from the screen.

An hour of searching revealed nothing so I finally gave up and contacted Computer Geeks for help.

Nearly two hours later the young wizards at that online service managed to restore the program but, naturally the column was gone. When I asked what he thought I might have done wrong the techy replied, “No idea sir, never seen something like that before with Dragon Speak. Weird. I’d say it was just bad luck.”

Hmm…where have I heard that before?