May 2nd, 2007


Oh, my poor fan: you are lost to me!

So I'm sitting in my office, and it's freakin' hot in here. I know there's nothing to be done about such a thing, so I set about turning on my fan.

Now, my fan has been working very poorly (to the point that most people would give up and call it "broken") for over a year. Do I care? Not a chance. Just because something is slow and takes a bit more effort to enjoy doesn't mean it's outlived its usefulness (says the guy who prefers his 8-bit NES to a Playstation 3).

So I go to turn on the fan. It's a normal, every day Boston 9" oscillating fan, the kind you see on everyone's desk. It would have been 10 years old this October, according to the sticker on the bottom.

Over the past five years I've worked here, the fan has developed what we'll call a "quirk" (a much more even term than "flaw"): it requires you to open up the cage and manually start the blades moving, because the motor doesn't have the ability to start the blades on its own. I have always thought about this as if I were preparing an old bi-plane for takeoff. I just needed one of those silly hats with the goggles that Beryl Markham and Amelia Earhart used to wear, and I could shout, "Contact!" when the blades caught and the fan began to turn on its own.

I totally need one of those hats. But that's off-topic.

Anyway, today, I decided to see if I could do anything to improve the fan's condition, because, honestly, it was making some weird noises and having trouble turning. And if you can't show a little love to your appliances, you might as well find another line of work.

So, I unplugged the fan, snagged my screwdriver, and began taking it apart. Really, there was only one screw to remove to get to the motor, and I was in.

I glanced over the motor, and said to myself, "Well, first things first: clean it and see if it works!" So I got out my compressed air and went to town on the motor, blowing all sorts of dirt and dust around.

"Well, that might do it," I said to myself, the usual optomism of someone who doesn't know a thing about maintenance creeping into my voice. "Let's give it a shot."

So, the plug goes back in, and I hit the button. It turns! I smiled at it, noting that it wasn't turning quickly (though it was moving faster than other initial startups over the past year), and wondered if I should go deeper this time.

"FFFp!" it shouted at me, a bright blue flame shooting from the center straight toward the ceiling.

And then all that was left was the sickening smell of a dead appliance.

I guess it showed me what a little love is worth!