An Old Dog’s Approach to Replacing Electrical Outlets and Other Thoughts

Since retirement, I’ve been very gradually casting about for another identity now that I’ve given up my professional identity. It doesn’t come naturally. I’m definitely not a handyman, although I’ve been learning a few skills.

For some reason, a large number of our electrical outlets didn’t hold power cords tightly enough. They were either cheap or worn out or both. Appliances would stop running because the electrical plugs fell out of the outlets.

That led to Sena picking up an 85 gross of various replacement outlets, which led to losing one of my best excuses for not getting the vacuuming done. Since then, I’ve replaced a large number of outlets (see “instructional” video below). Toggle switch replacements are another item high on the list of vital electrical equipment to replace, mainly because they also get loose with age.

Funny how that doesn’t work for me. I get tighter in my joints as I age, which makes it very hard for me to sit cross-legged on the floor while replacing outlets. Standing up is even harder. That excuse doesn’t work either.

I’m pretty keen on checking outlets and the like for power before I start messing around changing them. I use a UL approved voltage tester for that—an electric can opener. Don’t let that get around. I always shut the power off at the circuit breaker to be safe.

Another skill comes to mine. Yesterday I had to install a soundbar on our TV for the first time. After Sena returned that one for a refund because it didn’t seem to improve on the TV’s audio, I installed a sound bar and subwoofer made by a different company.

I had a heck of a time getting it to work. It came with enough cords to hook it up, either by optical cable or something called HDMI ARC cable. Apparently, ARC stands for Audio Return Channel. I still don’t yet know why that makes it different from a regular HDMI cable.

What should have been a 10 to 15-minute hookup ended up taking most of an hour because neither cable worked. It was mysterious. I even hooked up both of them. The sound bar was soundless. In disgust, I yanked out the HDMI ARC—and abruptly the sound bar was loudly functional. Just prior to that I think I had moved the power plug from a power strip to a wall outlet. I figured the power strip might have just got old.

On the other hand, I had switched the sound bar plug and a CD player plug on the power strip which had been working fine and the sound bar still didn’t work. It was either aliens or luck. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. I’m thinking about trying that HDMI cable again.

I have changed only in very small ways over the last 19 months (837,755 minutes; 50,265,308 seconds) since retirement. Some people say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I wonder if some people are just being ironic.

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