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Attack of the pineapple juice: a cautionary tale

20 AUG 2011

by lettowsky  19:00 h;
published in: Opera, General

Alek Shrader, Photo: Peter Schaaf
Well, friends, it has been a good while since I last wrote. While I am prone to stay indoors and enjoy the rainy weather (in fact, I love the rain), much has happened in our time apart and I’ll tell you all about it. Most recently, I had a little crisis with my computer. For any international traveler, a laptop is an important piece of equipment. It’s not just a toy for games and movies on long flights or days off (although it fits those requirements as well) – it’s really how you stay connected to the world, for communication and information on all levels. I always say (and I mean this) that I just need a bed and the internet when I’m seeking housing in the next city. I guess that implies that I would also have a functioning computer. As luck would have it, in a bout of clumsiness, I gave my laptop a generous drink of pineapple juice across the keyboard on the morning of the third Così performance. I quickly decided this was a mistake and followed the “Dang, I’ve Just Murdered My Laptop With Liquid” panic list:

1. Immediately turn off the power and remove the battery.

2. Turn the laptop upside-down to pour out as much liquid as possible.

3. Wipe any remaining drops from the surface.

4. Leave upside down and open to dry for at least 24 hours, or get it to a professional ASAP.

5. Pray.

6. Cross your fingers.

7. Cash in your Karma points for helping that old lady cross the street and giving to the needy so often.

8a. If it was a water spill and you’ve dried the computer sufficiently, the damage is done. You can either turn it on and see what happens, or take it to a professional to be cleaned.

8b. If the liquid was anything but water, DO NOT turn it on, even just to check. Instead, take it to a professional to have it disassembled and cleaned well.

In my case, I had to let it dry for the rest of the day as well as the next, as it was Maria Himmelfahrt and no computer repair shops were open (or pretty much any business for that matter). In the meantime, I couldn’t resist trying to fix it myself. After a small adventure of its own, I finally tracked down the correctly-sized screwdriver and set to carefully dismantling my precious device. I removed the keyboard and was met with a strong smell of pineapple juice, once so appetizing, now filled with mockery and regret. However, I was optimistic about what I saw: the juice seemed to have missed the computer-chippy parts and important stuff (I have no idea about the inner workings of my magical internet machine) and stayed mostly on the keyboard. The keys were very sticky, so I began to remove each one and rinse it with water. “You’re putting water on your keyboard?” you ask? Yes indeed. It’s become fairly common for laptop keyboards to act as a tray to catch lint or debris (or small amounts of liquid). The keyboard can be completely removed and rinsed; it’s only the wetness of water that will damage a computer (so let it dry thoroughly). Also, replacing the keyboard is fairly cheap. I left the keyboard apart for the rest of the day to dry completely. After this, I was too nervous to deconstruct the computer further, so I spent another long night in wondering. Isn’t that awful? As a singer, I always try to tell myself that worry and speculation will never change a situation (it is what it is, now work with what you’ve got). I guess it’s a little different when there’s actually something to be done besides waiting, but at night the mind just gets stuck on something and won’t turn off. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep.

At last, the morning arrived and I took a 30 minute walk to the computer guy. He called me about three hours later and I raced back to pick it up. 96 euro and a “special spray” later, he confirmed that the “inner parts were like new” and that I would only be plagued by sticky keys and mouse buttons. I can live with that! It might make typing (and blogging) a little slower, but I’m just happy I didn’t kill my laptop. Now I’m off to Billa; I seem to be out of pineapple juice.

Alek Shrader