Hoffman's Houston
don't drink and type

Ken Hoffman's case of the extraordinary laptop soda spill disaster and recovery

Ken Hoffman's case of the extraordinary laptop soda spill disaster

Date* at the Long Center with woman sitting in front of laptop
Few things are worse than a laptop disaster.  Photo courtesy of Long Center
Pet of the week - Harley Labrador retriever
Handsome and husky Harley is our pet of the week. Photo courtesy of Citizens for Animal Protection
Date* at the Long Center with woman sitting in front of laptop
Pet of the week - Harley Labrador retriever

A couple of weeks ago — and it wasn’t my fault — my Roomba robot vacuum cleaner (best household invention ever) got caught on the power cord of my laptop, which caused the laptop to slide across my dining room table, which bumped my 2-liter bottle of refreshing Diet Pepsi, causing it to topple over.

I spilled two liters of soda on my laptop. The soda went everywhere, drenching the laptop, dining room table, my pants, and my dog Sally who sleeps under the table while I work. (She’s so sweet.)

What do I do now? I ran for a roll of paper towels and tried to sop up as much soda as I could. My laptop froze on what I was doing. Thank goodness I was checking a restaurant’s menu. It could have been embarrassing. (Way more embarrassing.)  

That’s when I started doing everything wrong to save my laptop. I tried turning the laptop on and off, over and over. I let it sit, still on, still plugged in. I used a hair dryer on it.  

I need a laptop. When I’m watching TV, I have the laptop on my lap. I like looking things up. It’s a very annoying habit to other people. Before taking a hammer to my laptop and tossing it, I brought it to one of those phone and computer fix-it stores that are everywhere now.

I confessed to the guy, I spilled name-brand soda on my laptop, and now it won’t work. He asked when I spilled the soda, how much soda were we talking about, what kind of soda was it, and what did I do when it happened?
I told him, a few days ago, more soda than the BP oil spill, Diet Pepsi, and I kept trying to turn it on without success.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Here’s what you should do: first turn your computer off and unplug it. Then turn it upside down on a towel. Don’t do anything for a few days.

Then go buy a new computer. Yours is kaput.


The guy said leave the laptop with him, he’ll give it a shot. He asked where I bought my laptop. I told him, one of those home shopping channels. More eye rolling. “You know this a really cheap, crappy laptop, right?”

He called the next day. Yeah, he thinks he can fix it, but he’ll have to order a new keyboard and a few other parts that I had no idea what he was talking about.

This was odd. He said that diet soda is less harmful than regular soda because sugar in regular soda can eat away at delicate computer parts. (Note: I am not happy with Buffalo Grille for switching out Coke Zero for Diet Coke on its soda machine. If the pancakes weren’t so fantastic and huge, the size of manhole covers, I might re-think my breakfast joint.)

I asked the computer guy, is there a Mr. Fix-It and customer confidentiality agreement? Or a HIPPAA privacy law for computer geeks? Like you won’t squeal if you find something squirrely on a customer’s computer? It’s possible you may find some correspondence between me and a prominent bookie in town.

(True story, at least the way I heard it: one time at a staff meeting at my job, the boss was demonstrating something on his computer, which was projected onto a wall.  His computer conked out, and he asked if anybody had a computer with them. A co-worker, and I know him, said okay, the boss can use his. There it was. His homepage included a link to a bizarre, fetish site that was really off the wall. And now it was on the wall. The Benjamin Moore paint company has never produced a color redder than my co-worker’s face that day.)

The computer guy fixed my laptop. The cheap parts that the soda ruined, he replaced with better, more expensive parts. He said the laptop will fire up faster now, and he installed a few programs that maybe I shouldn’t tell anybody where I got them. Anyway, $149 later, he was right, my formerly cheap laptop works better than it ever did.

Pet of the Week

Name: Harley, as in the Joker’s lady friend Harley Quinn, grappling legend Harley Race, and the Harley half of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Birthdate: March 1, 2015. I’m fully grown, which is good news since I’m, well, not a lightweight. I tip the scales at a mighty 106 pounds. Truth be told, I could afford to lose a few.

Ethnicity: I’m a Labrador mix fella. I don’t like to brag, it’s not my nature, but everybody at Citizens for Animal Protection says I’m the sweetest pooch, like ever. My two best tricks are “shake” and rolling over for tummy rubs. I know a bunch of other commands, if you’re into that sort of thing. I am a big’un, jolly dog. I behave well at the dog park and I love people. Not so much cats, so no blended pet families, please. Here’s the best part of me – I’m house broken, woo hoo!

Come and get me: If you’re in the market for a big ol’ fun dog, I’m your boy. Just email adoptions@cap4pets.org and they’ll make arrangements for you to meet (and hopefully adopt) me.

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