Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Time · 6 January 2018

I wonder why it is that the smoke detector battery low indicator (a harsh beep about every thirty seconds or so) always goes off in the middle of the night. Either right after you are settled in and are in that perfect REM state or a couple hours before you get that right amount of sleep.

We usually change out the batteries in our smoke detectors each year. If we remember, right around the time we go off daylight savings time. But if not, right after that annoying battery low indicator tells us that we should have replaced the batteries going off daylight savings time. Which of course happens during the middle of the night. It is an odd phenomenon. That little noise does not interrupt the daylight or evening activities. Only being in dreamland.

It is an odd sound too. That little electronic chirp goes off every thirty seconds to a minute. I have never timed it because I am trying to wake up enough to figure out which one of the sensors is the one chirping. I listen right below one of the sensors. Chirp. Then, I move below the next one. Chirp. Then, I move below the next one. Chirp. Eventually, I figure out which one is the loudest when I am next to it and replace its battery. Or this last time, I just removed the sensor from its mount. I was confident that the other ones in the vicinity would be enough to cover for the missing one until I replaced the battery in the morning.

I figured out this latest routine after the previous time. That time, I changed the battery, then went back to bed only to hear the chirp, chirp, chirp again ten minutes after I had fallen asleep again. I did that routine three times before finally figuring out that I had replaced the battery in the wrong sensor. Or maybe that was the time before. Anyway, it was one of the last two times and the other of those, I had to go through several batteries until I finally found one that worked.

(Incidentally, I tested the battery I removed the other day and found that it is still perfectly good. Unfortunately, I do not have any other non-critical items that use nine-volt batteries or I would use all those perfectly good ones that we remove from smoke detectors in those items. I am not sure exactly why those detectors need to have pristine batteries, but that is okay. I am happy to change them. I just wish it was not always in the middle of the night.)

One of the strangest things about the chirping is that it does not just stop when the battery is removed. It almost always confuses me and makes me wonder if I got the right detector. This time, I almost went through the discovery routine again, but instead just listened closely to make sure I had the right detector. But instead of putting it up to my ear like a dunderhead (which just means that I did that before), I went to a place where no other sensors were and made sure I had the right one. Then, I remembered that there must be a capacitor storing charge and so I pressed the test button and heard the death knell of a digital cricket. Chirrrr… It made me feel good that I could remember something technical in my sleep stupor.

At any rate, I replaced the battery. Which ended the saga of the smoke detectors. But not the wondering. I am sure there are many other unexplained phenomena that could be discussed by experts in a thoughtful forum, but I could not think of any more maddening than why the smoke detector batteries always seem to fail in the middle of the night.

Chirp. Wait for it. Chirp.

All I know about the phenomenon is that regardless of how diligent I am about replacing those smoke detector batteries, one will surely fail. And when it does and that battery indicator starts chirping, I know it will be in the middle of the night.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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I Still Have Not Seen It · 30 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, the publisher, Lucasfilm, or the graphic artist.

As of the moment of this writing, I have not seen it yet. But by the time I post it, I will have. Hopefully. Until then, I will just go around with my fingers in my ears saying, “La, la, la. I can’t hear you.”

There are always must see movies that I have not seen yet. This year, it just happens to be another Star Wars movie. The Last Jedi. The interesting thing about movies you have not seen yet is that there are rules.

One of the guys at work saw the movie on opening night and said that it was certainly worth seeing. He did not give any plot points or any spoilers. He just said it was worth it. During the time he was not saying anything about the movie, another person was plugging her ears and saying, “La, la, la. I can’t hear you.” (I made that up this time, but it has happened before.) Then, another person explained the unwritten rule about elapsed time until you can talk about a blockbuster movie (after the La-la-la-er stopped la-la-la-ing). Apparently, it is two weeks. Or something like that.

Since the people I work with are teachers, that meant that The Last Jedi must be seen before our Christmas break ends. Or at least we need to see it before then if we do not want to hear about the movie. Plot points and spoilers are okay after said time period. I am sure those time periods vary depending on who a person spends time with, but that is apparently our expiration date. Or whatever you want to call that period of silence about the latest and greatest movie.

Working at a school, it is probably a good thing the movie came out right before the break. If it had happened a week earlier, all the students would have been talking about it and it would not have made any difference what the movie code of silence period was in the staff room. We would have all heard about the whole movie from a thousand different kids. Most likely. There are always the kids (and adults) who ask if you have seen the movie before saying anything. They are the ones who say, “Oh, you’ve got to see it. I won’t say anything else about it though. You just need to see it.” And then, they either say those same phrases over and over again, or they proceed to tell the whole story from beginning to end. Usually to a friend when you are still within hearing distance. Of course, there are also those who do the whole pantomime thing where they lock their lips and literally say nothing. They might even throw away the key.

I am not so worried about the code of silence period or people telling me the story. I will enjoy the movie when I see it regardless of whether I know the ending or not. Regardless of whether I know anything about the movie or not. Regardless of whether I see the movie in the theater or not. I do not even need to put my fingers in my ears and say, “La, la, la. I can’t hear you,” when people talk about movie around me. If I am going to see it, I will enjoy it.

Still, as of this moment, I have not seen the movie. So do not tell me about it. I would hate to run away with my fingers in my ears.

“La, la, la. I can’t hear you.”

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Christmas Traditions · 23 December 2017

Adoration of the Shepherds
by the Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst, 1622
This work is in the public domain.

I cannot believe Christmas is already here. Where has the time gone? And where have the traditions gone?

And the angel said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothing and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 ESV) Yes. I still hear Linus saying those words. Not every time, but often. Even if I have not watched A Charlie Brown Christmas for several years. I know. It is a time honored tradition. But somehow, we get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the season and forget some of those traditions. Or the children get too old for those traditions. Or we just stop traditions.

I was recently interviewed for our monthly school video production. The interviewer asked what some of my favorite Christmas traditions were. I said a few things, but what made the show was that my favorite tradition was reading the Christmas story from our children’s Bible. This little Bible just has the Christmas story. It has some songs too and we used to read the story on Christmas Eve to the boys when they were young. I remember one Christmas when my parents were at the house. All seven of us were crowded into one of the boy’s bedroom and we all listened to the sacred story of Jesus being born in a stable. I remember reading from that same children’s Bible as the boys got older too. Sometimes on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Christmas day. It was always a way for me to remind us all the reason for the season.

Of course, I did not have that much air time on the interview. I just got in the part about reading the original Christmas story from our Children’s Bible as one of my favorite traditions. Which was good enough. I do not know if anybody heard it, but I am glad I said it. After all, there are Christmas traditions worth repeating year after year. And reading the original Christmas story and hearing Linus tell it are two worth keeping.

I think this year, I might need to bring back A Charlie Brown Christmas into our traditions. And regardless of how old the boys get, I am going to keep reading the Christmas story from that old Children’s Bible.

And to quote another Christmas favorite: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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