As you might recall, my hairdryer tried to kill me in November. I have since deemed it the winning appliance in the 2007 edition of Kate Versus Technology. It narrowly edged out the microwave in our apartment, which steadfastly refuses to let me cook anything on less than 100% power, and every printer on the sixth floor of my office, which steadfastly refuse to function correctly in general. But as much as I curse the useless "power level" button and enraging bond paper debacles, they never tried to inflict bodily harm. Most of all, they were never on fire.
Which is why I am a little nervous that we already have a contender in the running for Kate Versus Technology 2008. No, it's not Hairfryer's successor. So far, the little red ConAir that could is on my side.
I have long had digital camera issues. One was stolen from Sigma Chi. Another gradually gave up on life, vanquishing its preview screen to comatose blackness-- only to suddenly revive itself at Viva's one night! Seriously, I have no idea what happened; I think it might be possessed. And another had a bitter falling out with its dock-port-thingy, leaving me to feed it non-rechargeable batteries. But never before has the battery charger turned on me.
So last night, as I set about charging batteries to prepare for ice skating photo ops and perhaps a moment with the Stephen Colbert portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, I plugged the charger into the wall. Upside down, but whatever; I do it now and again. I folded a sweatshirt, looked toward the charger-- and saw something smoke-like wafting out of the charger.
A brief moment of panic ensued, obviously, as I pulled the adapter off of the wall, held it in my hands (it wasn't hot), and hoped it wouldn't burst into flames or explode all over me. Against my better judgment I held it closer to my nose to try to detect smoke. I didn't. Nope, it smelled like ammonia, not smoke.
Where should I put it? In the bathroom? Fewer flammable things... but potential electrical fire plus water equals bad decision. Seriously, a fire I can't extinguish with water? That is terrifying. But anyway. On the balcony? Nothing really flammable out there... maybe I should just throw it off the balcony? Eh, probably a less good decision.
In the end it was fine. I brought it to a different outlet, plugged it tentatively into the wall, and waited for the building to implode or for toxic fumes to overtake me. But for reigniting (ha) my fear of electrical fires and briefly emitting some weird ammonia-esque chemical, I nominate you, battery charger. I'll be watching.