Cat, Meet APC

January 21st, 2008 - 5 Comments »

I’ve got an old cat (Catskill) who really doesn’t like it when we go on vacation. You can pretty much count on him urinating somewhere, generally in my office, to show his general dissatisfaction with the turn of events.

When we got home from our recent trip to Costa Rica (below), we smelled an odd, plasticky smell in the house… definitely not cat-peeishTM. I looked around and couldn’t figure any obvious place it was coming from, until later in the evening when I entered my office.

This time, Catskill seems to have picked the wrong place to pee. He likes to do it in a corner, and in one corner of my office is the powerstrip that connects most of the networked stuff in my office — wireless hub, phone, DSL modem, SimpleShare server, printer, etc. He decided to pee directly into the powerstrip.

The carpet under the powerstrip was melted, nothing on the powerstrip was running, and there was a strong creosote smell. My first thought was lightning (since a phone cable was melted), or a device that shorted. I unplugged all the devices from the power strip to figure out which one caused the issue, plugging them into another power strip to make sure if anything had an issue I wouldn’t burn the house down. They all worked! Even the other side of the outlet that the APC was plugged in to was working fine, and no circuit breaker had been blown. Then I noticed the yellow stain on the power strip.

Apparently it caused a flareup in the room… there’s creosote covering all the power cables, the phone cable under the strip was completely melted, etc.

Catskill has been acting somewhat traumatized. I wonder why?

Top of APC
Top of APC… note the smoke marks around the outlets the cables were plugged in to.

Bottom of APC
Bottom. Nice melting around the hanging holes, and a big melt where there was a phone cable under it.

Rug Burn
The carpet. Flare marks (this is post-cleanup). Glad it’s a wool carpet, or we might not have had a home to come home to.

The Culprit
By request, the culprit. Note the malevolent expression.

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5 Comments about “Cat, Meet APC”

davew Writes:

Excellent story!This is right up there with Jerry Pournelle’s tale of the time a car hit a telephone pole and connected the neighborhood high-voltage power supply to the lines feeding his house. He had a very long and detailed summary about which devices functioned afterwards and how well the power strips worked. It’s nice to know that we spend extra APC power strips for a reason.

tony Writes:

SOS™ (spit on screen)

I just have this mental image of your cat getting lit the hell up, and his skeleton flashes once or twice.

That ought to teach him.

Anita Writes:

No wonder we never see Catskill when we visit. He is dreaming up new mischief. That’s teach you to leave the door to your study open. Great story — something like Ringo and the mushrooms.

FFPF Writes:

Wow, I sympathise with the cat. Anyone who has ever found a farmer’s electrified fencing with their urine stream will understand.


Wesw Writes:

That’s why i got a dog thats little like a cat (mini pin) but yeah they get mad and decide to let it out then suprise for them this time instead of suprise for you. Glad your house didn’t burn down that would have sucked.