The Secret Sensors

Kage Baker, as I may have previously mentioned, subscribed to the popular theory that our domestic machines have secret, hidden sensors in them. These sensors activate in the presence of unexpected cash. And what they do is make some vital piece of machinery DIE.

Tax returns, bonuses, advances, that feral twenty found in your jeans pocket – heck, I remember my skateboard developing arthritis of the axle joints upon my receipt of birthday money. As adults, it’s mainly our electronics that croak at the sight of sudden wealth – in the real jackpot of fail, the electronics that run our cars. Who among us, Dear Readers, has not had some portion of our computer-dependent automobiles short out because we were getting a 4 digit tax return?

Anyway. Today I got up, turned on my computer, turned away to put on my glasses – and turned back to a blank screen. Assuming (not unnaturally) that I had  somehow bollixed up the start button, I did it again – turned away to wrestle my T-shirt away from the little black cat, and turned back to … a blank screen. Again.

I pressed the button again, and this time I watched. For about 10 seconds, an error message appeared on the screen. It said: CPU FAN FAILURE. CPU WILL SHUT DOWN TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO CPU.

It’s because of that huge surprise payment from Disability. I just know it is. And I consider myself lucky that all four wheels did not fall off the car, instead.

Evidently the CPU only talks about itself in the third person … but setting aside its existential and grammatical eccentricities, it was for certain sure dead in the water. So my nephew kindly unplugged it from everything I have it plugged into, and I took it to Fry’s Electronics.

I love the Fry’s in Burbank. It has a giant flying saucer crashing into the front of its building, and inside is decorated with Varied Apocalyptic Visions – giant ants, death rays, several varieties of homicidal aliens, killer robots, signs warning of radiation and toxic waste. Also , it has a fantastic selection of candies on the way to the cash registers, such that it is nearly impossible to escape with your measly coaxial cable without three kinds of chocolate and a bag of gummy worms.

Perhaps more to the point, they are an authorized dealer for my CPU manufacturer. And, CPU fans not being enormously complicated pieces of machinery, it didn’t take long to fix it. Nor, to my amazement, did it cost a great deal. So, despite the activation of the secret sensor, I feel I got off pretty easy.

Of course, Kage had a second, contrasting theory to combat the secret sensor one. Or perhaps it constitutes a superstition – or, as Sir Terry Pratchett postulates, a substition: believing something to be true that hardly anyone else believes in. Kage’s particular ‘stition was that the sight of a blue heron meant money was due to arrive shortly. And I must admit, I’ve never known it to fail.

I saw a blue heron a few days before discovering the astounding automatic deposit in my bank account. And on my way back from retrieving my newly en-fanned CPU, I saw another. Which may mean that more money will be arriving to counter the computer’s secret sensor activation.

At the very least (as Kage also used to point out) it means I saw a blue heron today – and any day wherein you get to have your computer fixed, eat exotic candy and  see both giant ants and blue herons cannot be considered a waste of time.

So there am I happy.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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7 Responses to The Secret Sensors

  1. johnbrownson says:

    In my (considerable) life’s experience, it is absolutely true that a financial windfall triggers some kind of mechanical failure- if you’re lucky. It can also bring on some kind of health problem (a cracked tooth, a racking cough that results in an ER visit). The Goddess is loving and merciful but she’s not the only deity in the woods, and some of the others have a nasty sense of humor. The only known remedy is to spend the windfall as quickly as possible. This may result in a compassionate response, deity-wise, and deflect the misfortune. Probably not, though. Life, ya know?


    • Kate says:

      I don’t mind too much, Buffalo. Like it said, it could have been the wheels falling off the car. Or my limbs falling off me … a new fan in the CPU is as nothing! And there were the giant ants and blue herons, so the entertainment value of the day was very high. However, the dryer is making Camille-like coughing noises, so I think I’m gonna buy a new one ASAP!


  2. Medrith says:

    Love the concept of the substition. Mine is that I can’t ever buy a lottery ticket cause my art competition entry fees are my equivalent. I wish that blue heron one worked for me, I saw them pretty much daily in Indianapolis and see them pretty much daily here in rural North Carolina.


  3. Athene says:

    I think you’re right. We always have massive electronic infrastructure failure whenever Chuck sells a painting.


  4. Kate says:

    Athene: Apparently, the failure of electronics in the presence of spare money keeps some universal spirit level in balance. Nonetheless, it sucks. However, I’d much rather replace my CPU fan than my car’s dashboard display …


  5. Kate says:

    Medrith – I just keep telling myself that the mere sight of a blue heron is prize enough. And, most days, it is, too … we got them in Pismo because they had rookeries along the local estuaries. I get them here in Los Angeles because I live only a few blocks from one of the Alive Alive-Oh segments of the LA River, and the herons love it there. I don’t consider it cheating with the omen, because the herons are still the rarest of the water birds, so I don’t get a glimpse very often. Otherwise, I might be filthy rich – gods forbid!


  6. Mark says:

    While I have little to add on the subject of computer money sensors or the significance of blue herons in augury, I do agree with you of the amusement value of Fry’s themes… Burbank’s crashed saucer & invading aliens is on par with Woodland Hill’s Alice in Wonderland, especially the “down the rabbit hole” entrance. I was disappointed to dicover that the Oxnard Fry’s has little to no theme at all (Historical murals? Bah, humbug.)…while some of the other locations look pretty interesting.


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