Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Doing Penance

I broke my son’s favorite toy during my lunch hour. It was a loud, shrieking gizmo with flashing lights and electronic music that had begun to make even more noise, a horrid grinding, scraping noise. Since Jack was big enough to play with it, I’ve been meaning to spray some WD-40 in it, to loosen the screaming parts, to grease the wheels a little.

So this afternooon with Jack safely in his exersaucer, I sprayed the slime into the spinning, grinding part. I turned it on. Now the spinning part that made the terrible noise didn’t spin, but it still made the sound. Flipping the contraption over, I noticed 10 nice screws holding it all together. I fetched the screwdriver.

Once all the screws were extracted, I popped the plastic clamshell open, or at least as open as I could get it. One little brown wire was soldered to a contact on one half, the rest of the guts in the other. So I swiveled the top to the side and began to spray more WD-40 on the little cogwheels that apparently were binding.

Nothing. But then it didn’t have any power, either, so it was all okay. I started to put it back together but then I noticed more screws holding the cogs in place and a plastic piece that shielded the offending part that used to turn and shriek but now just shrieks. I removed it all and discovered what I thought was the problem: a little plastic belt that was attached to the motor which drove the cogs around was slack. Glory! It would be a simple matter to fix that.

I sent Eliana and Olivia to find a nice hair pretty or rubber band I could replace it with, but with no luck. By this time Marjorie came downstairs and stood over me. A pause. “You know this is his favorite toy, don’t you?”

I decided to put everything back the way I found it. I attached the plastic covers and holders over the cogwheel assembly and then realized the clamshell was completely apart: the little brown wire was no longer soldered to the contact. I traced the brown wire back through the junctions to the minature circuit board. Maybe the brown wire was a ground? Maybe it wasn’t that important? I didn’t think so. I screwed everything back together, re-assembled the gizmo, and turned it on.

The little brown wire apparently was important. I left the entire assembly on the dining room table and told Marjorie I had to go back to work to finish getting ready for the liturgy tonight.

But tonight I will pull out my soldering iron and get busy. That is, after I repent.