Gadgets, Gizmos, and the Exasperating Mysteries of Life

I wondered if the smoke alarm’s tendency to chirp at 2:00 in the morning when the battery is old had anything to do with the temperature, so I read a few articles, and apparently I was right. The cooler temperatures in those pre-dawn hours affect the battery output, and if the battery is getting low, the smoke alarm chirps. I was excited at seeing this confirmation of my surmise until it occurred to me that this scenario did not fit with my 2:00 am chirping because I’d turned off the air conditioner, and the temperature at that time was the highest it had been for several hours. Since I know that high temperatures also affect batteries (my car battery went dead in July one year, which is how I found out), it’s possible the high temperature had an effect, but the house had been hotter earlier in the day.

So I’m back to thinking that the early morning chirping is one of those exasperating mysteries of life, like the annoyance of a cricket in the house, the irritation of mosquitoes in the bedroom, the disturbance of a dripping faucet, the nuisance of a running toilet valve.

One of the articles I read was really an ad for a smoke alarm that had a built-in 10-year battery, which is all fine and dandy, but what happens in ten years when the thing starts chirping at 2:00 am and a simple battery substitution doesn’t eliminate the noise? I’ll stick with what I have for now. Maybe the next time I need to replace the smoke alarms, the ten-year devices will last to my expiration date, and will annoy the folks who end up in the house. A present from me, so to speak.

Considering the success I had in changing all the batteries by myself, even to the point of dragging a ladder from the garage into the house, I thought I’d tackle another little project involving a gadget that I’ve been putting off — installing an automatic garage-door closer.

My door is equipped with a non-automatic closer — me! — but since I am preparing for my old age, and since I tend to be a bit absentminded at times, I figured an automatic closer would be nice. I followed all the steps of the instructions, even found the “learn” button on the opener and set up the ladder so I can reach it, but somehow, the closer and opener didn’t connect. I tried again, but got the same non-result, though the two gadgets are supposed to be compatible. Another exasperating mystery.

If I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong, and if The Bob ever declines enough that travel is again an option for more people, I’ll see if my brother can get the gizmo to work the next time he comes to visit. (The closer was his idea in the first place, so he should be able to.)

Meantime, I am trying to get in the habit of being patient and waiting until the door is completely closed before taking off. Considering that not everyone in the neighborhood is as honest as my immediate neighbors, I figure it’s best not to give the larcenous neighbors an opportunity to sneak in before the door is completely closed. (That’s one of the ways felonious folk break into people’s houses, and even though the garage isn’t connected to the house, I wouldn’t want anyone in my garage illegally anyway.)

Gadgets, gizmos, and the exasperating mysteries of life. What a day!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Open Sesame

Oh, frabjous day! So, I’m mixing my quotes — Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Jabberwocky — but I don’t care. My garage opener has been installed!

No more struggling with a car cover, no more sweating out storms to make sure my car doesn’t sustain any damage (as if even a bucket of my sweat would stay a single hailstone or slow so much as a gust of wind), no more announcing my away-from-home status by the absence of the vehicle. The bug is snug in its beautiful new home, and oh, how wonderful is modern day magic! I don’t have to say open sesame or crack a sound. All I do is press a button and . . . presto. The door opens by magic.

And the magic is all mine.

The wonderful magician who installed this magic apparatus understands me well — he double bolted the mechanism to two different trusses to make sure there is no way it will ever fall on my car. (Worrier that I am, that thought did cross my mind and even my lips.)

Sometimes I worry that I’m getting too caught up in the things of my current life, but how I can I not? It’s all so magical. Water comes to me with a twist of a knob. Wastes are washed away with the touch of a finger. Foods heat up without a flame. My non-nomadic abode requires no effort to put up or take down — it stays put. And the sturdy walls protect me from the elements and even provide my own microclimate.

Magic for sure!

When the installer left today, I took a short ride for no other reason than the thrill of opening and closing the door. The creepy, thieving, drug-dealing, loud-music-playing neighbor took that very moment to wander down the alley, which made me especially glad about the secure garage. It made me nervous at first, his seeing inside the garage, but maybe it’s for the best. This way he knows that he can’t easily get to anything in the building.

It would be nice if everyone in the neighborhood was as trustworthy as the rest of my neighbors, but I suppose any magic kingdom needs its trolls and trollocs, its devil toads and poison mushrooms, its evil minions. At least my nemesis is only human. But I’m straying from the point. Or not. After all, I’m talking about magic, and that includes the protective spells of locked gates and secure buildings that keep the crone safe.

Yep. Magic.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator