Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beep, Flat -- Little Help? And the Project

I was in the geek room at work yesterday surfing some blogs while becoming increasingly annoyed by a small beep, the source of which I couldn't figure out. It was getting on my nerves with its regular beep every 45 seconds or so. It got to the point where I had to fire up my Windows Media Player and don my ear-buds to drown out the sound. I probably could've lived with it if I knew where it was coming from.

About that time Tracee stopped by to chat about getting some pointers for putting together a website. "Do you hear that?" I asked her after another beep. "That Beep?" she asked. "Yeah, it's driving me nuts" I replied. She said it sounded like an Annoy-a-tron. She told me that somebody had brought them into the training department not too long ago and it took them weeks to figure out what the noise was. In her case they were actually dealing with 3 separate Annoy-a-trons.

I lifted the following from the ThinkGeek website; the makers of the Annoy-a-tron...

Dear friends at,
I recently acquired the "Annoy-A-Tron" from your web site. Actually, I acquired two, thinking that perhaps two devices might be necessary to truly splinter the minds of my friends and co-workers. How woefully did I underestimate this powerful tool.

I have watched this simple device transform an (until-now) mild-mannered colleague into a spitting, cussing, paranoid lunatic.

He has ordered all of the staff he supervises (not a small number) to locate the source of the dread beeping before doing anything else (but since they are in on the prank, they haven't been much help). So he waits, white-knuckles gripping the edge of his desk, anticipating the next beep.

He has set a timer on his computer to track the duration between beeps. It hasn't been much help.

My favorite quote so far, nearly bursting that vein on his temple as he shouted it: "That beep has been F***ING with me for HOURS now."

He has called the facilities department to schedule a maintenance worker to investigate.

He speculates that "they" might be doing air-quality testing in the building. This beep must be some device in the ducts detecting dangerous levels of asbestos in the air. Or worse. Radon? Aerosolized mercury? Legionella spores?

The beep means something. What does the beep mean? Is it a warning? It sounds urgent, doesn't it? It's telling us to do something. But what? Replace a battery? Call the authorities? Evacuate the premises? Scrub ourselves with disinfectant and put on haz-mat suits and call our families to give them our tearful goodbyes?
I imagine that soon he will begin to take things apart. He will methodically dismantle all of the electrical devices in his office, creating an unusually precise metaphor for what is happening in his psyche.

I am reminded what a thin and fragile thread keeps us attached to sanity. Today, this tiny little device helped me break a co-worker's mind, and I thank you for the sinfully pleasurable schadenfreude.

My best to you,


Seattle, WA

If there was an Annoy-a-tron messing with me I was going to find it.

I spent the next 10 minutes standing on a table to poke around above the ceiling tiles from where the noise appeared to be coming from. No luck. Fellow geek Kelly went and found a flashlight so I could more easily see in the darkness above the ceiling tiles but I couldn't find the little bugger. About the time we were ready to give up Kelly opened a door in the hallway outside our geek room and found the source of the noise. An alarm had tripped to a ventilation system and needed to be reset. The people from Environmental were quickly on the scene assessing the situation. In fact, as I write this today they're still poking around the ventilation alarm.

But all of this got me thinking...hmmm...I could have fun with my own personal Annoy-a-tron. And I will. 'Nuff said as they say.

I was downstairs in the shop cutting glass last night when my cellphone rang; it was Rachel. "Kev, I've got a flat tire". She was a couple miles from home on her way back from Josh's house. It was cold but not the exceedingly cold we've been experiencing most of the winter. We were maybe in the low teens. She waved me down as I approached her on 175th street and I turned my truck around so I could shine my lights on the front of her car and the flattened tire. I wouldn't need the flashlight I brought.

She said she drove with it flat for a couple blocks before finding a safe place to pull over. Hopefully it would be repairable; I couldn't see anything wrong with it.

I suppose I expected her to take a seat in my warm truck while I did the work but she wanted to help. It wasn't too long ago that I made her bring some extra clothes along as she headed out the door for dance class in sub-zero weather. She didn't have a real warm jacket on last night but I think she wanted to show me that she was prepared to help however she could.

I showed her where the jack went under the frame and the order for loosening the lugs, jacking the car and replacing the wheel. I know...she should already know this but I'd yet to take the time to show her. She got right down there with me, shivering and all to watch what I was doing.

I stopped before going too far and pulled out my camera. I said, "hey, this is blogable." She smiled and let me take her picture.

We had the tire changed with enough time for me to stop by Fleet Farm on my way home to see if they could repair the tire. No such luck. He said there was too much damage done to it from driving on it while it was flat. Oh well. The mechanic at Fleet Farm said that Discount Tire in Burnsville may have the same exact tire and that I should give them a try. I did that after work today and Rachel is back on the road with good rubber all the way around.

I spent this afternoon and evening working on our entertainment center stained glass panel project. I wanted to get a feel for how the colors we've picked out will work together. I've possibly got one change to make. Where you see the dark triangular pieces of glass in the photo to the left, I plan to experiment with some other colors. They're currently a soft shade of lavender. It's a bit difficult to imagine what the finished project will look like from the photo but you get a general idea of the colors we're using. They're more earthy than what my digital camera captured.

I was hoping to have one complete panel done by the end of the week but I don't think that's possible. I'll spend some considerable time on it this weekend but we've got some warm weather moving in and my red Serotta is in need of some attention out on the roads.


John said...

Good that she found a safe place to pull over. I've told my wife and kids not to stop on the side of the highway...too dangerous. there are too many creeps that would take advantage of the moment and take a woman or young kid. Drive to a safe place. Tires, even rims, are replaceable!

Tim said...

That's why we pay for AAA roadside service. For $129 per year they will change tires, jump start, unlock your doors or tow you for free (there are restrictions, of course).

I've never used it, but Kim and Reed have both used it several times.

They contract out with local garage/service centers/towing services, so they don't usually take that long to arrive at your vehicle.

It ensures that some other poor sap is changing your tire on the busy highway or in the dead of winter.

And it's great for peace of mind. Highly recommended service!

Steve Saeedi said...

The safest tool for Rachel was having the cell phone to call you. And yes, there are too many creeps out there willing to take advantage of someone sidelined by a misfortune.

AAA is also a good emergency roadside service. I've had my money's worth out of them ;-)

Pdog said...

I have roadside assistance through Verizon. I think it is $2.99 a month and it does the same as AAA.

I can't believe no one jumped on "your own personal annoy-a-tron"?

I hear ir t everyday your at work.;-)

Kevin said...

For those with experience with roadside service, how long can you expect to wait for help? I've never considered this sort of thing. Maybe it's time to.

Beep. Did you hear that? Work with me on this please when you do finally hear the beep. Danku.

photogopher said...

I can relate to every story here except for your stained glass project Kevin.
I'll post my "beep" story on the forum.
Sue blew out a tire on the 626 last month during one of the snow days here in Portland. She called me and asked what to do. I got there and unlike Rachel, she had stopped the car on the side of a busy road going up hill on the ice. I was finally able to get enough traction to overcome the flat and gravity to move it into a safe place to change the tire.
Tell Rachel she is as smart as she is pretty.