Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Perversity of Inanimate Objects (And Some Animate Ones Too)

This my my father's IOWDT and it works great, which I wish I could say for my own.

My Indoor/Outdoor Wireless Digital Thermometer has been acting up. Either that or I'm having a nervous breakdown for the holidays. Possibly both.

My father sent me this interesting gadget for Christmas about ten years ago, when I was living in a pretty little house in Winter Park, Florida. You wouldn't think you would need a thermometer of any kind in Florida: hot all summer (day and night), mild all winter (night and day.) But it was oddly interesting to rise at 7:00 o'clock on an August morning, in a house cooled to 72° (F), to see on the digital thermometer that it was already 88° (F) outside. (Not to mention the humidity.)

It was a hip enough tool that my neighbor, Thad, who is usually way ahead of me on the techno curve, saw mine and bought an Indoor/Outdoor Wireless Digital Thermometer for himself.

The IOWDT came with me when I moved to California in 2009, and for one year lived in the kitchen of my apartment, where I could check the highs and lows as I was making my coffee in the morning.

When I moved into my family home, after the deaths of both my parents this year, I found I had two IOWDTs: one that belonged to Dad and my own. Since his transmitter was in the backyard, I put my transmitter on the front porch. And since his receiver lived in the kitchen, my receiver lived on the dresser in my bedroom.

You don't have to travel far at Fort Chapman to check the temperature. Backyard, front porch, kitchen and bedroom. We're covered.

However; my IOWDT has a quirk, not discovered in Florida, for reasons which will become clear.

On Tuesday, November 23, 2010, the SF Bay Area had its first night in which the temperature dipped below 40° (F). It did so at 4:00 a.m. I know this because, when it gets below 40° (F), my digital thermometer goes only to 37° (F) and then flashes and holds and beeps three times every thirty seconds until you ... until you what? The first time it happened I was so sleepy, I took the thermometer, beeping loudly at me in a scolding manner, down the hall and set it in a bathroom and went back to sleep.

My sleep was punctuated with soft beeps from down the hall that lasted until morning. In the morning I had the presence of mind to remove the battery, but of course, by then it had warmed up outside and later that day I inserted the battery and put the thermometer back in my bedroom. This can't possibly be the way this thing is programmed, I reasoned.

On my Dad's version, in the kitchen, it showed the temperature had actually dropped to 30° (F) that night.

On Night Two of the cold weather, my IOWDT hit 37° (F) again, this time at about 3:30 a.m., and again started beeping and flashing. This time, I took out the battery and went back to sleep. Later that day, a brainy Thanksgiving house guest took it upon himself to look into the issue: sure that I was just a silly lady who didn't understand digital stuff. He couldn't fix it either. There is no program button on the gizmo that I can find. Or he could find either.

My father was a notorious cheapskate. Do you think he found a discount version of this thing for Florida that doesn't go below 37° (F), and, if it does, then starts to beep and flash so you'll go out and light up your oil pots so your citrus won't freeze? Or what?

I'm stumped. And its not the only thing that has me stumped this week. There is some animal around here that is digging up my lawn. Tearing out one particular corner of the lawn, sod piece by sod piece, and tossing the pieces in the air. Just this one spot, several times a week.

"Oh, that's a skunk, looking for grubs," said the man at the Garden Store. "Or a raccoon."

"In the middle of the afternoon?" I asked. I thought those creatures were nocturnal.

"It's bad this year," he told me. "The animals are very hungry."

So was the man at the Garden Store. He sold me, for $99.99, the YardGard, another digital gadget that has been vexating me ever since. It kept the creature away, for a few days. And then we had rain. "Do not use the Yard Guard in rainy conditions," read the YardGard directions.

Was I supposed to run out and put an umbrella over the thing? It is for the YARD, which, by definition is out of doors. How can one not use it in the rain?

After the rain, the YardGard made a whistling noise for several days, which kept the creature away, for sure. It also scared most of the neighborhood dogs, cats, birds, and some of the little old ladies walking by my house.

Yesterday it conked out. No low or high frequency sounds. No red light when a creature passes by. Nada. Zippo. I tried new batteries but that did not do it. The YardGard is dead.

I was so depressed, yesterday afternoon I curled up with a really boring book by Antonia Fraser about 16th century England and read about Catholic "recusants" and the foreign King James I--he was from Scotland, eh gad!

While I was thus distracted, the invisible creature returned and was back at my lawn with much gusto. Sod everywhere. Grubs absconded with.

I put a blanket over the damaged lawn corner and covered the blanker over with boards and those presto fire logs (looks pretty strange, I'll admit) so the creature--not having, I hope, an opposable thumb--won't be able to lift up the blanket and tear up the lawn for a few days. Until, of course, it rains again.

At which point I'll have a wet blanket. Instead of just feeling like one.

Robin's new yard guard methodology.

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Jay W. said...

Here is the manual which has a section on clearing the alarm:

Robin Chapman said...

Hi Jay: That is for my father's model. My model number is 63-1033, and it doesn't have a Hi/Lo button. I'm going to try the reset button and see if that helps.

Jay W. said...

Ah - that one looks like it always has the alarm on for remote sensors when on channel 1. Maybe you can switch to 2 or 3 in the remote is its manual

We're almost in that alarm temp range tonight in C. Fla!

Robin Chapman said...

Jay: this is so great! I'm going to switch to Channel 2. You may have saved me. BTW, when I first moved to C. Fla in the fall of 1989, my first Christmas there was so, so cold! The power was on in my (new) house for 1 hour each day and it was 17 degrees outside!!! Hope it is warmer for you. Thanks for helping me on this. Now, on to the mystery creature eating my lawn ...

Jack said...

Hi, Robin. Glad you got the gadget issue taken care of. As for your yard, how about coyotes? Anything buried in that section they may be drawn to? They're getting more aggressive, as you may have seen recently on Animal Planet.

Jack said...

PS to my comment: Check "coyotes Los Altos". You'll see an item at, "Coyote Behavior Puts Los Altos On Wildlife Watch".

Robin Chapman said...

I don't know if coyotes eat grubs or not, though I have seen both coyotes and foxes in the hills around here. I'm beginning to think the damage has been done by two nasty crows who live around here. I found new batteries and have my YardGard going again, plus the blanket is staying in place until I can get this thing licked. It is, what you might call, my Bah Humbug decoration!