Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

Joanne calls just as I'm stepping off the chair and putting my tools away.

A while back, I came home from work, flipped the light switch in the kitchen and started cursing. The hanging light above our breakfast table had been murdering light bulbs with gleeful regularity, offing them at the rate of one every few months -- when the light didn't come on, I figured we'd lost another one. But when I went to change the damnedable thing, my keen sense of observation noticed about an inch of water in the opaque glass bowl that surrounds the bulb. I have no explanation for how it got there, save that the universe hates me and is happy to violate the laws of physics if it means I have to stand on a chair. I took the bowl down, washed it out and flipped the switch a few more times, on the off chance that that would fix the problem. I also blew on the light bulb. I can't actually say why.

And that was it. I didn't want to fix -- or, rather, attempt to fix -- the problem because most household chores only present me with the opportunity to maim myself; while working with electricity, I could potentially reduce myself to a charred lump of carbon. I changed a light switch a couple of years ago without bothering to turn off the power at the circuit breaker, and managed to bridge the wires with my hand. That's not something I would want to do more than the five or six times I did it then, because it felt kind of cool.

But, finally, this weekend rolled around and I had a free hour or so and only the non-mobile child to tend to. Also, Joanne had mentioned the light and her desire to have it fixed every fifteen minutes since it had broken. So I sat Mike in his high chair and handed him the phone and told him to call 911 if anything went wrong. I climbed up on a wobbly chair with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a total disinclination to go outside and shut the power to the kitchen off. To make things even more dramatic, I also spread knives all over the floor.

And then... I fixed the problem. It was the damnedest thing.

The wire at the socket was melted and cracked, probably the result of the water -- however it got there -- closing the circuit in unhappy ways. I cut the wire short of the fried bit, took two links out of the chain that holds the bowl, hooked the socket back up and now we don't have to pretend we're being romantic when we're just sitting in the dark anymore.

So when Joanne called, I said, "Guess what! I fixed the light in the kitchen!"

And she says, "That's it? That's all it took? You let that damn thing go for four months because you were afraid to look at it and it only took you half an hour to fix?"

And there's a pause.

And she says, "That's not the response you were looking for, is it? Let me try again:

"That's great, honey! You're sure good around the house! Thank you!"

"You're welcome," I say. "My pleasure."

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is I'd love to hear from you!

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