Photo of Robb Lightfoot as an infant fishing around in a toilet bowl. This may be bad, but realize that someone stood there with a camera, taking this picture, before -- I hope -- he was stopped. But who knows. He may still be there.

But It Worked Yesterday!

Unpleasant truth: Your phone, computer, or your car was OK when you last looked, but something went sideways in dead of night. Now they’re just paperweights, conversation pieces, or a driveway ornaments. And the warranties? Damn, they expired yesterday. What went wrong?

Good news! Probably not your fault.

Bad news. May not be able to fix ‘em. At least not without cracking something open, like your tool chest, your still-in-the-plastic service manual, or a bottle of wine.

As far as strategies go, a tool chest may impress, the manual will certainly depress, and the wine… Well, it may ease your pain and motivate people to join you and offer helpful advice.

So, let’s just imagine you’ve opened a bottle of wine, and I’ve sidled up to you. Of course your first response may well be: “Who the hell are you?”

A fair question.

I’m the guy, in my family, who is expected to keep things running smoothly, or at least not strand you in the middle of nowhere, at 3 am, in a snowstorm. This fixit job-description began at a very early age. I will admit that my skill-set, or lack thereof, has landed me with a broken-in-two car (quite literally) in the middle of the Mojave desert when it was a tepid 120 degrees in the shade. Alas, there was no shade and walking out to a deserted road was my only option. Another time, at age 15, I bypassed a safety device so I could work on a live, 2,000-volt circuit, misread a schematic, and the resulting explosion vaporized my ham-radio amp.

Oh, and, spoiler alert! I didn’t die, so that’s something.

But back to you and your problem.

You’re excrement may not stink, but I’ll bet that many of your once-prized possessions do. I’m talking to you, fellow Chrysler owners. And the worst of it is our “stuff” (shit) often just quits. For no apparent reason. At the most inconvenient time. When you thought you were “good to go” from the last outrageous repair bill.

You’re so desperate that you’ve decided to fix it yourself. After all, you watched the mechanic’s 12-year-old son fix your car in 10 minutes with just a screwdriver and crescent wrench. It took them longer to create the itemized bill for $544.39, and you even longer to be revived when you passed out on their shop floor.

That’s why we’re having this conversation.

I think I can help, and if nothing else, we can have some fun and strike a blow for people who’ve bought crappy products, which is just about anything short of a brand-new Toyota or a LG phone/washer/drier.

Wow. A phone that can clean your laundry? Who knew?

So, I share your pain. How many times have we all suffered through phones that quit after an upgrade, or the last payment, or both? Or computers that warn you have a virus, and when you click on the “help” button, you get a virus. Yep. Been there, too.

Oh, for the good old days, when you’d buy an AT&T boat-anchor phone uglier than an AMC Gremlin, and then, the next week, the cool new Princess phone or antique French Provincial reproduction models were released. But you were stuck with the indestructible plastic monster. But, what the hell, at least it worked. Some of those beasts are still in service, allowing us to talk with telemarketers. Thanks, Ma Bell.

The good/bad old days. Back then, when something failed, it would at least be entertaining. A wheel would fall off at speed—been there, or it would catch on fire—ditto, and smoke would start pouring out of every seam and orifice. Now things just

Where was I?

Yeah, I had to reboot. Sorry, another upgrade.

So, let’s cut to the chase. You’ve got tech problems. I’ve got somewhat-stupid solutions. My advice may be good, or it may be a cautionary tale. That’s for you to decide. And if nothing else, we’re going to put the fun back into failure. We’ll rip things apart, bandage them up, and let them wobble back into action.
And once is a while, we’ll grab the collar of someone responsible for these stinkers. My skills as a journalist have equipped me to track people down and pose the unpleasant questions. Such as: “Do your kids know what you do for a living?”

That’s all for now. I’ve got a long list of things to share, but I’m open to suggestions, too. Write me at

Author, educator, humorist, entrepreneur, astronaut - one of these isn't true. :)

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