Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rotting tuna smell in the closet

Every now and again, a truly wretched smell emanates from Nim's room. Foul, fishy, and rank, the smell pervades the whole space for a time, and then just as mysteriously dissipates. Time and again, this leads to a futile search for the source. It is as if there is some ossified fragment of a tuna sandwich hiding in the closet, which is occasionally knocked about enough to emit ghastly vapors from its gooey center. But there's no sandwich to be found.

But, lo, last night, we solved the mystery. Chad mentioned that he had found something on the web about electrical problems occasionally leading to strange odors; it turns out that some plastics can emit a fishy smell when heated. He snuck into her room after bedtime and patted all the outlets to make sure that nothing was hot or likely to incinerate itself in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, I was thinking about the light bulb I just replaced that morning. Nice bright 75 watt bulb in an ancient fixture that used to contain a paltry 40 watt bulb. Said ancient fixture was cranky when I put the new light bulb in -- the part around the bulb wiggled quite a bit because there wasn't really enough clearance for my fingers to turn the bulb straight and it kept trying to cross-thread itself. Just before bedtime, the plastic shield ring around the bulb fell off right into Nimue's (clean) barf bowl (the permanent barf bowl in her bed is another story...). At the time, I didn't really think about it, but jammed it back into place, knowing that it probably loosened during my fat-fingered struggle to replace the bulb. However, armed with the hot-plastic-smells-like-fish theory, I pulled it out again and sniffed. PFFFFAUGGHHGGHGHG!!!!!! The ring was a nice bubbly toasty brown like a good roasted marshmallow, and smelled like -- you guessed it -- rotting tuna.

The new bright hot light bulb was clearly at fault this time. The previous fishy odor incidents were probably caused by the light fixture being bonked a bit by people climbing up into Nimue's bed, putting a slightly different part of the plastic shield ring closest to the bulb and setting free a fresh cloud of fishy fumes. Time for an upgrade.

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