Glaringly Obvious In Retrospect

Sometimes you wind up embroiled in projects that viewed in hindsight, you wish you really had never started. For example, today I was replacing the mouse on my mom’s computer. While at her desk I noticed that the entire monitor screen seemed coated with this dark film. There was a light clear film-free irregular area around the very edges of the screen’s perimeter, which was just wide enough to make it apparent how dark the rest of the film was.

Curious, I licked a finger and tried to wipe away some of the grunge at the edge. My finger blackened right up, so I figured this was just the result of cleaning the screen with Lemon Pledge or something. Thinking I was doing her a favor, I asked Mom if she had some glass cleaner. Armed with paper towels and Windex I quickly widened the clear area to a couple of inches around the perimeter. But in the center of the screen, the dark film remained unabated. This was progress, but now the screen looked like hell. It was as if some translucent amoeba was oozing out from the center of the screen like a menacing shadow.

I was clearly getting a bit frustrated as Mom watched me scrub at the screen. To her credit, she did offer that she could probably manage to get along with the screen in that condition. However, I recognized that this offer was borne of the same sort of maternal martyrdom that would cause her to make great sacrifices like offering me the last cookie. I knew well that had I been the tech from Geek Squad, she would have been thinking about having my father impound my vehicle pending a suitable resolution of this visual abomination I had created. I just couldn’t leave it like this.

It was slowly dawning on me that this film I was trying to remove was, in fact, the monitor’s anti-glare coating. But I kept dismissing those thoughts because that stuff is bonded to the glass and doesn’t come off. But as I tried various household cleaners to no avail, it be came clearer that the correct statement was that it doesn’t come off everywhere. I even tried a razor scraper and extra fine steel wool. Each effort resulted in a small clear blotch here or there, which at this point made the problem look worse, not better.

It’s interesting that there is a new bevy of possible solutions that open up once you reach the point of deciding that you’re okay with the device you’re trying to fix becoming a boat anchor. I was at that point. So it was time to go to chemistry class. Acids (vinegar), bases (ammonia), benzene solvents (paint thinner), something would have to make a difference. But not so much…

Like all problems in life, chances are, you aren’t alone. And chances are even greater that someone has written about your problem on the Internet. So through the grotesque screen I started a search. I quickly found a promising albeit long thread. It was clear there were others with this problem who had pursued much the same approach that I had. Some had gone a bit further and tried oven cleaner, Comet, and Soft Scrub. But their results were not hopeful. One guy had solved the problem by placing the monitor on the railing of his back deck and blowing it to hell with a shotgun. I was chuckling, but thinking it was probably good that my dad was out on an errand and I didn’t know where he kept his shells anyway.

Then I ran across a suggestion one guy claimed worked. He said that using acetone on a Brillo pad resulted in a clean monitor after about 40 minutes of scrubbing. Sure, this was going to make quite a mess, but at this point I figured, what the hell? I also figured I’d need to go to the store, but on request Mom produced a fresh box of Brillos and an industrial size container of nail polish remover. I was a little surprised by the latter as I’ve never known her to do her nails except for very special occasions. But I’m sure this bottle was on sale and she got a very good deal on it.

And voila! After about 40 minutes of scrubbing, I had a clear, clean, and scratch free monitor. Nobody was more surprised than me. And unlike how the Geek Squad Tech would have fared, I got a sandwich and a piece of pie for my efforts.

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