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July 15, 2003

It is almost midnight again, I am logging into the system again, as it has crashed ag(blip)ain. Oh well. What can be done. I will need to buy a new PowerB(blipp)ook sometime soon... There was a high pitched blip there, was there no(blip)t?...
There was.
The blipping had started about 30 minutes ago. There would be just a very high pitched, very short, faint (blipp...) and then nothing.
I thought that maybe some device wanted to be charged, wanted to be connected to the almighty electrical outlet... (blipp) if I only knew which one of the devices might want that... It was not the oven, it was not the fridge, it was not even the intercom at the door.
Soon (blipp) I found myself standing in front of the smoke detector, staring at the barely glowing red "press here to test" button, which should be renamed to "press here to regret"... Oh, I was not standing on the floor either. It was just me, a chair and the detector. All of us smiling. (Blip.) The baige device looked at me with the smirk of a ventriloquist. I was looking at the detector, I was looking it in the red "do I look like HAL" eye and this thing still managed to outsmart me? (Not a good feeling to be outsmarted by a simple smoke detector.) I decided to check on the battery anyway. The instructions on the thing were pretty clear. I was one twist to the left away from silencing the secret beeper. I twisted, pulled the device off the ceiling... but instead of a battery... there was a simple -switch. 110V cables. This fire alarm did not trust Duracell, it only trusted ConEdison... I guess fires do not occur when there is a failure of the electric system in the building? 1989 logic. My building frightens me more and (blip.)
Here I was, standing on the same chair, in the same boxers and the same old disintegrating "Computer Museum Boston" t-shirt in front of the coat closet, waiting for the beeping opponent to give me another incriminating clue. (BLIPP!) there he was, we were getting closer. Now I only had to find the shoe of hat or box that could contain the device that could possibly have a system that would want me to be present at its death-bed.
It took a few more beeps and some digging around until I was equipped with an old mail.com baseball cap (1999 .com gift quality with brass buckle) staring at two old bags on the top shelf. (The floor around me littered with whatever else could have made any kind of sound. THe suspect ended up being the old vintage PanAm bag... or more BLIPP! its content. It was indeed an old smoke detector, one I had brought with me when moving here, an old one, one that used a battery. Just in case somebody had decided to burn something inside of the old PanAm bag, I would have known about it right away, of course and could get out of the closet with not a second of delay. (Boy.)
I somehow managed to open the device with my bare hands and to remove the battery successfully.
Now it is just me again, in shorts, t-shirt and a high quality hat, the sound of the air conditioner and good old Buddy Broadway. All the familiar sounds, the cars, the screaming, the policemen in their cars, discovering that button on thir dashboards that makes the syren go B÷ooooooop, bwoooop, bwoop...

The whole mini event reminded me of 1998, when my friend Alex Hefter came to visit New York City and decided to stay in the not very expensive hotel across the street from the New York Times. (Carter) The smoke alarm in his room also began to beep like crazy... He called the concierge, of course, and the reply was a real New York City classic.
The man at the front desk was just a bit annoyed:
"Sir, you have to take out the battery."
Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the somehow favorite ones...


BLIPP! bloody smoke detectors. i have smashed a few of those in my time.

(i was getting all worried for a few paragraphs that the powerbook was doing the blipping!)

Posted by: shauny on July 16, 2003 04:20 AM

HAL: i know everything hasn't been quite right wth me, but I can assure you now....quite confidently...that it's going to be alright again.

(to Witold after batteries had been removed)

Posted by: alexandra on July 16, 2003 01:07 PM
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