Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Great Beeping of '07

My wife and I got home later than usual last night, welcomed by six smoke alarms blaring just as loudly as their manaical speakers would allow. According to the neighbors, this had been going on for a good long while. Just to get it out of the way, no, there was no fire. There were no dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. There was just noise. Massive, massive decibel levels of noise.

I flipped the breaker ever so helpfully named "Smokeys" or some lame thing, and we set about hunting down each of the unholy ear-gouging devices. Grab, twist, pull it down, yank the AC plug, flip open the side and rip out the 9-volt. As if to add to the surreal nature of this process of systematically finding and killing these hateful abominations, several of them hissed with static and gasped with high-frequency squeals as the last watts bled from their capacitors. Die! Why won't they just DIE?!

Our poor cat was already neurotic and jittery, so this whole episode was just terrific for her. I hate to think what being showered in that acoustic magma feels like after hours and hours, let alone for a critter of super-sensitive hearing. My tinnitus is noticeably worse, my wife could barely focus on her homework, and our neighbors would be quite justified in either pitying us or hating us, all because someone thought it would be smart to design a system of smoke alarms that:
  1. Never shut up no matter how long they're raised
  2. Connect to each other and all go off if one is triggered
  3. Are each, individually, deafeningly loud
  4. Cannot be turned off remotely by cutting power
  5. Give no hint as to which unit's faulty sensor started the whole mess
Yes. Brilliant.

So far, home ownership has been just fantastic. What's next, I wonder? Wait, I know. All the light bulbs simultaneously explode, raining sparks down on carpet and furniture and starting fires on every floor. The smoke alarms aren't replaced yet so nobody is warned, the pipes all magically route natural gas instead of water, and the entire place goes up in a huge plume of smoldering annihilation. Oh, and then our insurance company turns out to be a subsidiary of Enron and vanishes without a trace, our cat miraculously survives only to sue the bejesus out of us, and the homeowners association fines us for burning without a permit.

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