Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Surge and Destroy

Posted in awareness, photography by Jason Gray on March 25, 2010

A veritable Black Plague for all things electrical has swept through my apartment leaving a wide swath of destruction in its wake. So far, I have, for certain, lost two televisions, a home theater system, a VCR, and my new turntable. A new printer might become an addendum to that list. Yes, it sucks big time…

All photos Nikon D300 with Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G or Tokina 80-200mm f/2.8 AT-x Pro lens.

On monday night, my wife, mother-in-law, and I were returning home after dinner at Zia’s on the Hill, our bellies stuffed with pasta and red wine, when I noticed a strange smell upon entering the apartment. Upstairs, I isolated the source of the odor as coming from around the television, and quickly decided that it was a combination of smoke and burnt plastic. I unplugged everything in the vicinity, and told my wife to shut down her computer (we both leave our computers idling). I ran into my office to shut mine down, and as it was shutting down, the surge protector tripped (thankfully, the computer and external hard-drive were fine, but the surge protector was fried). At this point, the lighting in the apartment started to become extremely dim in some rooms, and really bright in others. My wife and I went around unplugging everything, and then I called my step-father, who is an electrician. On the phone, he asked me if any of the lights had blown out, and just after he phrased the question, the lightbulb above my head blew out (which was literally installed less than 24 hours prior) followed by two or three others elsewhere in the apartment. I decided to turn off all of the lights as well. We spent the rest of the night in darkness…

The next morning, my step-dad met my landlord downstairs at the breaker box. My step-father found a faulty connection, repaired it, and everything has been non-poltergeisty ever since. However, on my day off, I decided to take stock of the casualties, and became pretty depressed about it. If you are wondering whether or not to buy renter’s insurance, I can give you five reasons why you should (see second line of this blog). In any case, I’m not going to look at this like I’ve just pissed away a lot of money; I’m going to look at this like a great opportunity to read a lot of books (yeah, right). Anyway, I took apart my old home theater system to make sure that I didn’t have any DVD’s or CD’s inside, and I was pretty shocked at how lucky we actually were. The initial power craziness occurred when I was not at home (remember, I walked in to the smell of smoke), and when I opened up that unit, I saw that it was charred from top to bottom, and there was a thin translucent fluid coating everything (step-dad told me that it was the melted remnants of a material that the manufacture applies to the internal components to protect it while the various parts are being soldered into place) and dripping out of the unit when I lifted it. It appears that a cylindrical thingy-mah-jig (resistor?) is what caught on fire, and it seemed to have a fire-cracker effect because it charred both above and below where it was positioned on the circuit board:

I got carried away in photographing the burn-out, and re-envisioned my stereo’s guts as a William Gibson landscape… Enjoy:

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2 Responses

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  1. curt said, on March 26, 2010 at 2:55 am

    oh wow, that is too bad. could’ve been worse but not too much! i’m sorry for your losses and if you need a tv fix, come over and we can watch METAL MANIA on vh1classics for five hours.
    My renter’s ins bill just came- I pay it once a year but only got it after I had my place broken into and things stolen. But you bet I’ll keep my ins paid up!

    CALABRESE at Cicero’s ROCKED. Pics on Myspace. 🙂

  2. jasongrayfineartist said, on March 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks, Curt! Remember Headbanger’s Ball on MTV? That was a great show! However, you might find me taking you up on that offer; weird though to think that VH1 is airing metal (wtf?!)…….


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