I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

This morning, at 4:19 AM, Tiff and I were happily asleep.

At 4:20 AM, we were not.


Then silence. A smoke alarm had gone off, at full blast, very briefly. (It’s apparently a newer model that speaks the problem to you in a pleasant female voice that doesn’t sound very alarmed. “Fire. Fire.”)

I jumped out of bed to fight the fire and ensure our safe rescue. I quickly scanned the apartment to find it, hoping it wasn’t between me and the extinguisher in the kitchen.


No smell. No smoke. Not even any dust in the air. No carbon monoxide being detected by anything. Batteries are all fresh. AC power wasn’t interrupted. Another smoke alarm 6 feet away hadn’t been triggered. Absolutely no problems at all.

So we figured, since it had only briefly alarmed, that it was a fluke and went back to bed. But this is easier said than done, since we were briefly very surprised and shaken from a solid sleep to do something presumably fueled by sudden adrenaline. And there was that nagging feeling that there really was something on fire that we couldn’t find, see, or smell, and that was now somehow escaping the smoke detector’s detection.

Soon, we were able to fall asleep.

For a few minutes.


Damn it.

So we disconnected that one and waited until morning. Now, the stress of worrying about missing a real fire that we can’t find increases substantially after you disconnect a smoke alarm, despite having another one 6 feet away. It took a lot longer to fall asleep that time.

Fortunately, Ask MetaFilter saved the day this morning when I was doing some quick research: it was probably dust, spiders, or dusty spiders.