The mystery of the misbehaving laptop.

Windows Error Funny

If it hadn’t happened for the fourth time now, I would have dismissed it as a mere coincidence. But today is the fourth time this is happening and it is leading me to the illogical conclusion that my laptop has a mind on its own. It reminds me of this story of the car being allergic to Vanilla Ice-cream. Which I reproduce here: (If you already know it--skip it and scroll down)

A complaint received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors:

“This is the second time I have written you, and I don’t blame you for not answering me, because I kind of sound crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of ice cream for dessert after dinner each night. The kind of ice cream varies so every night after we have eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It is also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem.

You see, every time I buy vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car wont start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I’m serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds: ” What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind? ”

The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an engineer to check it out anyway. The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well-educated man in a fine neighborhood. The engineer had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night, and sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start.

The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, the man got chocolate, the car started. The second night, he got strawberry, the car started. The third night he ordered vanilla, the car failed to start. Now the engineer being a logical man refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged therefore to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And towards this end he began to take notes: he jotted down all sorts of data, time of day, type of gas used, time to drive back and forth, etc.

In a short time he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to find the flavor and get checked out.

Now the question for the engineer was why the car wouldn’t start when it took less time. Once time became the problem - - not the vanilla ice cream the engineer quickly came up with the answer: vapor lock. It was happening every night, but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.

All models then had their gas systems changed. The guy got a new car and also had his car repaired (now it likes vanilla flavor). General Motors disseminated an internal official statement, demanding employees to take seriously any claims, even if it sounded bizarre, ” because maybe a great innovation is hidden after a vanilla ice cream.”

This morning my laptop refused to start. We pressed the power button and nothing happened. We checked the power chord, checked the power point, checked the battery (Took it out and put it back again) and even tried plugging it from different power points. No use.

I was working on a story for a newspaper (click on the word if you wish to see my published pieces) and it was almost complete. And I had promised to send it in today. So I badly wanted it to start---and wished for the nth time that I had saved my piece on my pen drive (Which I usually do, but had not done last night)

We (Satish and I) tried and tried to start it—the power button seemed fine but the laptop was completely dead. Then I had to take it to the laptop repair shop. The guy there just switched on the power button and lo behold, it started!

This is not the first time it is happening. It has happened three times before. Each time, he just touches it and it comes on. Fortunately for me, the last two times, it was my husband who had taken it and not me. (I don’t want the guy in the shop thinking that I have a crush on him and am making up excuses to take my laptop to his shop!) The first time, it was I who had taken it and a similar thing had happened. At that time I made them check the power button for any loose connection and they had assured me that it was perfectly fine.

Today too, we re-started it thrice in his shop and each time, it was working just fine.

I have no idea why this happens. Maybe my laptop enjoys the ride in the car! Or may be it is my laptop that has got a crush on that guy who owns the shop!(One touch from him and she splutters to life!) I felt like a complete fool when he just switched it on and it worked. (That too, I had to wait in the scorching sun for 15 minutes, for his shop to open. I, in my enthusiasm and desperation was too early to arrive ) I could almost hear the laptop chuckling when I was coming back.

Maybe the engineer who solved the vanilla ice cream mystery (Or maybe the engineers who read my blog) will have some logical explanation? I am flummoxed..


  1. Geek Squad to the rescue :D - (Completely remove the battery and try starting ur laptop in plug mode....)
    Other than that, try asking ur daughter to help you out. She might have the midas touch....
    Or use the Indian scooter principle - Tilt it for a while and start it..... :P

  2. Yup.. when u really need it, it never works!! ;-) Murphy's law maybe.
    As for the technicalities, i guess, it wont be as complicated as the pontiac thing, maybe just a small snack in the wires which becomes fine when it is shaken (the ride, in the care, remember)
    Ohh and yeah.. have a gala time fixing it! ;-)

  3. Red phoenix: yes --we did that (removing the battery and starting in plug mode) --thrice!!And once it was indeed my daughter who started it--but today even she couldn't do it.

    Smoking Joe: We tried shaking it too--but even i feel that it must be the shake in the car!

  4. Yeah yeah! its the laptop who's got a crush on this guy! After all, laptops are humans too :D

  5. I had read that vanilla-car story many years ago. And it sure was quite an interesting read.

    I have been through such situations many a times when I would call the waging machine technician and tell him the machine doesn't start and everytime he would come, it would simply start at the touch of a button! Happend 2 times before it actually didn't turn on in front of him!

    There is a saying in Hindi which goes something like "doctor ko dekh kar mareez theek ho jaata hai" :)

  6. I've read that car story!n i found it v.interesting too!

    n im no tech expert, so not sure why ur lappy is acting cranky. pls do let me know once u find out!

    mabbbe im weird but there are times when i really think abt the feelings n words these lifeless things will have to convey to us. Like my fone or bag or shoes or my much adored jewellery!

  7. I don’t want the guy in the shop thinking that I have a crush on him and am making up excuses to take my laptop to his shop!

    hahahaha you're killing me! Sorry, I know this is serious business, I'd freak out if that happened to me and my laptop. Hope someone will give you a solution.

  8. haha.. weird things happen in life...
    you just gotta deal with them... very funny post though :-)

  9. hmm.....had read it before..its good:)...[some things do have logic]!!.....didnt know that things also have gender:D....

  10. he he ha ha ha :) cant control my laughter..

    I had a similar experience - I must have been in my twelth std when I decided to switch over to lens..those days , my friends would go to the optholmologist for around a month or two for continued supervision , before they could start using lens on their own - so obviously I expected my doc to want me come to him for appointment for sometime too..

    So when he handed over my soft lens, I asked him, which days of the week I needed to come for the further appointments..

    To which, the young ( I think handsome too ) doc replies, tongue in cheek , " you dont need to come for checkup.. but if you want to visit us, you are alwys a welcome " !.. Needlesss to say I went all red !

  11. yes it happens sometimes with computers ,have faced similar situations ,there is no particular reason you can find .....

  12. that was hilarious!
    lol.. your laptop has a crush on the repair guy?? must be!

    so u did finish the job for the newspaper huh?

  13. Black coffee: yes i had already finsihed it--thats why i was desperate to retrieve my work!:)

    Stalag: gald to hear that its not just me!

    Veena; LOL-I can only imagine his reaction and yours too :)

    Brocasarea: my friend calls HIS laptop shaitan singh and claims it is a male :)

    Raaji: true--it is weird.

    Devil Mood: See stalag's reply.TWa happy to hear it happens to him too :)

    Pavi: Unknown to us, they may be alive! (Now I know the vodka that I am having is beginning to take effect!)

    NM: rightly said--My husband too says the same thing!

  14. Pointblank: bad bad laptop!

  15. hihiihhi, the laptop likes you and wants to "go out " with you!


  16. obviously your laptop was near a source of strong elctromagnetic interference and there might be laptop ghosts hovering around!!;-P

    it has happened to me as well..kinda weird and like you said we are made complete fools!;-(

  17. Been some time since I passed by. Loved the car story. Guess your laptop has a contageous disease.... now mine isnt starting up properly. Please do tell me the cure! :-)

  18. maybe ur lap top is not a morning person...try black coffee

  19. ps..time to buy a new laptop

  20. Next time try starting the laptop in front of the shop just before that guy opens the store.. this way you can avoid all the embarrassment :)

  21. err...a letter to the laptop manufacturer? Will they send over a techie? Will they respond! Oh dear...the suspense! :P

  22. I think its the rides in the car that it a pet dog would!!! :-D

  23. Ritu: That theory is increadingly beginning to make sense! :-D

    Meira: Don't know--laptop is about 4 years old now.

    inolongeram: true!!That is the best suggestion so far. Imagine--I drive there--stand in front of his shop, switch on laptop and drive back.LOL!!

    Wyvern: Yes--i think so too.

    Gayatri: :)

    Tys: Or Vodka!

    Arvind: Wish i could!

    Mathew:Fools is putting it mildly!!

    Vidya: naughty laptop!

  24. lol!!!! Try tilting it to oen side like the old vespa scooters...and then if it doesn't then give it a shake....
    it works for my remote controls and sometimes for my cell phone too ;) heheh
    And for my engineer husband i'm the real joker in the house now...but he doesn't understand the moves I use on such gadgets.... :(

  25. Prats: Last tme purvi did that it worked. Doesnt work always though!

  26. scratching my head to figure our the problem with ur lappy. thank god, my lappy works fine as of now

  27. hope its working now!!

    since i am seriously technologically handicapped, can be of no help whatsoeva!!

    but hey i had laugh in any case! :p


  28. Hehehe....nice post.
    this reminds me of the time when my bike(college-going days) would refuse to start some mornings. I wd roll it to the nearby repair shop & there it wd start at the first kick. When it happened 3-4 times the mechanic started looking at me no he didnt think i had a crush on him, he thought I was playing the fool:-P

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  30. Its kinda simply stupid to do what I suggest, but since I've worked with laptops, and am a halfway geek, try this-

    Next time it happens, take out the battery, unplug the power cable and press the power button for about 15 seconds. I know nothing's connected and it won't start. Its called a power drain.

    Do that and then plug in the battery. Works 99% of the time. Else, its the lappie to computer shop. Or perhaps an exchange offer.

  31. lol tht happened to me many times...its like a saying in telgu: you have your glasses on ur head n look for it everywhere...


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