Which do you suppose is worse, being awakened at 3 a.m. by a false fire alarm, or being awakened at 4 a.m. by a yowling cat demanding food?
It seems like there is a clear answer here, but if I were still teaching and a student offered cogent arguments for either, I’d go with it. So I have decided that the yowling cat is worse. I leave it to you to grade my arguments for their cogency.
When Tia was here, as I mentioned in passing, one of our new smoke detectors went off. At 3 a.m.
I never did see Tia, so I’m not sure what she did; when I finally, belatedly, heard the beeping and realized it was not a large truck backing up outside our house (I was puzzling out why Dusty needed such a big truck and why they were already at work when I finally realized none of that made sense), I found Lynn wandering around the house, not much more awake than me. But she at least heard the “fire, fire” the detector issued.
Now, having just been trained in fire safety at work, I can tell you what we should have done: we should have left the house and called dispatch to send trained personnel to make sure there wasn’t any fire. Instead, the alarm stopped of its own accord, we didn’t see or smell anything, and we all went back to bed, and hopefully to sleep.
I did, the next morning, send an e-mail to Dusty. Let’s review: the vacuum tripped a breaker. Either the microwave tripped a breaker or the breaker broke the microwave. While testing buttons in my shower, I tripped yet another breaker. It took four tries to get a hall light switch to go on. Once we put dimmer switches in, lights started flickering. A smoke detector was activated for no apparent reason. I already experienced our first power outage, no matter how brief.
For Dusty, the answer lies in one of two areas: the units are faulty, or there’s a problem with delivery of the electricity. He did say that in a quest for safety, the electrical code now specifies a type of breaker that is three times as expensive as regular ol’ breakers that worked just fine, and three times as sensitive. He had a story about a floor-level heater that tripped the breaker every time the homeowner attempted to turn it on.
The solution — not that you read it here, and I certainly didn’t hear this from any code-compliant construction type — is to get your inspection and then replace the expensive breaker with the regular one that is not compliant but functional.
The dimmer switches probably are less at fault than the bulbs they control, and we need to invest in dimmable bulbs. (This is different than dim bulbs, of which you may know a few.)
The microwave issue is being blamed on the microwave, particularly since other microwaves have worked on that same circuit. So Lynn returned the broken one to Walmart and got a different brand, still in the $50 price range. No problem so far, other than we’ve heard nothing from True Value as to when the superstructure microwave we paid for months ago might arrive in undented fashion.
But a smoke detector is an entirely different ballgame. If that’s not reliable, what is the point of having them? Dusty’s first suggestion was to replace the 9-volt batteries that are supposed to be brand new. These are all wired into the house, but there must be battery back-up. Then, while he was looking at the errant detector, he noticed a red light coming on briefly. I told him I’ve seen that on a regular basis, so he pushed the “test” button and then the “hush” button, and since then I haven’t noticed any red.
I don’t know that this solved the problem, and the electrician was on vacation (because that’s where all the sub-contractors have been when we needed them), so perhaps this week we will get a more definitive answer of why there have been so many electrical mishaps during our first month in new construction. (Yes, it’s been a month — can you believe it? We can’t.)
But I’m going to put the cat ahead of this, because while I lay awake for half an hour, perhaps an hour, wondering if it really was an alarm we should have worried about, when Marrakesh started yowling this morning, he left me awake for two hours or more.
We are still trying to figure out New Marrakesh. We don’t know if he just coincidentally got sick as we moved, or maybe the move set off a virus, or perhaps the move just disturbed him. We don’t understand it: he adapted just fine to his weeks at the shelter before we adopted him, and he marched into our house when we brought him home like he owned it. So I’m disinclined to believe it’s the move.
But I have no explanation for any of his behavior since he’s arrived. He’s been going out, although he doesn’t seem to want to be out as much as he used to, and he only tried to go out one night. All of this is fine with us, by the way, although Lynn did want him outside on bird patrol this morning because every bird we’ve never seen before in the neighborhood has descended to dine on our new grass seed. (He’s out there now, and it’s working — nary a bird in sight.)
He seems to be fairly well recovered from his ailment, whatever it was, but his food consumption has been extremely slow to recover. And this is the part we really don’t get: he will only eat if we put food on the floor for him.
He has a $149 feeder that responds to his microchip, so that he can eat whenever he wants. In theory but not always practice, it keeps Na Ki’o from eating whenever he wants, because he would be eating continuously, 24 hours a day. But now Marrakesh will not go near his feeder.
We have a green plastic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bowl, just a regular bowl, but he won’t eat from that either. If we take the exact same food that’s in his feeder and the Turtle bowl and put it on the floor, he will eat it.
This has to be policed, to keep Na Ki’o from helping himself, so I am doing a lot of standing around, feeding pinches of food to a cat who used to eat at least a cup of food a day and who up until recently was taking three days to go through one-third of a cup. Now he’s getting about a third of a cup every 12 hours.
Until this morning, when he decided at 4 a.m. that he was very hungry. He tried staring at Lynn, who didn’t take the hint, and then yowled at me, the bulb dim enough to take the hint and get out of bed to hand-feed him at 4 .m. And again at 4:45. He plowed through almost the entire third-of-a-cup, so he was hungry, but what was wrong with the full cup of food right there at paw in his feeder?
I don’t know exactly how cogent my arguments have been, or that I really presented any. A faulty fire alarm kept me awake for an hour; a faulty cat (whom we love for all his faults) kept me awake for two — therefore, it is worse to be awakened by a hungry cat than a fire alarm.
I’m sure that makes mathematical sense even if it isn’t a passing essay grade.