Hairdryer used to dry socks

Conventional hairdryer technology proved reliable and formed a key part of my disaster-recovery measuresPhoto: Peter Cochrane/

Written in my office a day after a strange series of events and dispatched to via a fixed LAN connection.

Everything in life seems to come in clumps. Births, deaths, marriages, car accidents, domestic appliance failures and bad technology days are typical examples. I put all this down to the quantum theory of life – more commonly known as Murphy’s Law.

And there is no escape. Thermodynamics tells us that, but sometimes it feels as though you are getting more than your fair share of misfortune.

I have been working off the Gulf of Mexico, and at night I would leave the air conditioning switched on and my equipment on charge ready for the next day. Three nights ago I was awoken by a splash of water on my face. When I turned the light on, I found water dripping from the ceiling and running down the walls.

My hotel room air conditioning had failed, and at 30C and 85 per cent humidity there was water in abundance. It covered every surface in the room, and my laptop and phone sat in small puddles.

I jumped out of bed, grabbed a towel, shook my phone and wiped all the water off the front and back. My laptop was also wet, but the lid was closed. As I picked it up, the water ran off and out of the keyboard and down the screen.

Well, the upshot was that I eventually got my phone working but it refused to lock onto any carrier. My laptop only had a partial click on the trackpad, and I had lost the drag function.

To add insult to injury, my last pair of clean socks was sodden. Fortunately, the bulk of my work was done and I was within a day of heading home. The hairdryer in the room did a good job on my socks even though the way I used it was somewhat novel, as the photo above shows.

I partially recovered my phone using the same source of dry heat. However, my laptop was…


…not so good. But it was just about workable for what I had to do. So on the way home, I bought an external mouse for use on the flight and I was soon operational again after a fashion.

The first flight from Cartagena to Bogot