The people in charge of nagging us about testing our home smoke alarms don’t need to nag me. In addition to testing the smoke alarm twice a year when we change the clocks, I conduct frequent unscheduled tests.
When we moved into this house, there was a smoke alarm in the hallway outside the doors to the three bedrooms and the main bathroom. It’s as far away from the kitchen as you can possibly get. Whoever installed it cut a hole in the ceiling and wired it up.
I removed that smoke alarm at some point when it failed the Daylight Saving test, capped the wires, and replaced it with a battery operated model. I’ve replaced the smoke alarms several times over the years, but unless I want to do some serious ceiling repair, I have to install the new alarm exactly where the old one was. And I am ill-suited for serious ceiling repair.
It doesn’t matter what brand or model smoke alarm I install, the smoke alarm will always go off when I make chicken curry. It will also go off when we cook a whole chicken in the oven in a cast iron fry pan, even though we have the stove fan on high. I’ve just come to expect it.
This thing is loud enough to wake the dead.
When the blaring starts, I walk the length of the house to the back room, drag a chair into the hallway, climb up and unmount the smoke alarm. I then remove one of the batteries and leave everything on the chair in the hallway as a reminder to put it all back together and screw it into the ceiling again when the smoke clears.
I need these.
Lately the smoke alarm has started sounding when I’m in the shower. Something about cooler weather, all the windows being closed, and science. I know I can prevent this by turning on the bathroom fan and/or taking shorter showers. The problem is that I usually shower first thing in the morning, before coffee. I’m doing well if I can remember how to turn on the shower, never mind remember to turn on the fan. And I am ill-suited for shorter showers.
Last week I got in the shower and was part way through the Shampoo Terminal Loop (Wash-Rinse-Repeat) when the smoke alarm went off.
I got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around me, and went for the chair.
The chair had the big old 3-in-1 printer that I was going to take to recycling on it. I had to get a step stool from the laundry room at the other end of the house, and drag it back down the hallway to the smoke alarm.
By now the dog was up and howling along with the alarm.
Up on the top step of the step stool, I reached up to twist the smoke alarm off its base. It turns out I don’t have quite enough going for me that I can reach both my hands over my head while standing on a step stool and also keep a towel on. So at that point I was standing on a step stool with a towel around my feet and cursing at the smoke alarm while the dog stood there barking and looking at me the way dogs look at naked people.
That’s when my next door neighbor walked by, heard the smoke alarm and all the barking, and decided to look in the window to see if we needed any help.
“You folks all right?”
“Yeah, thanks. I got this.”
The idea of being able to wave at the smoke alarm to tell it Shut up! I’m just taking a shower, dammit, is even more appealing now. Also, you control it with a smartphone! Is there anything not to like about this?
Right now … it’s vaporware. But it’s coming. You can pre-order. I am holding out to see if my neighbor will just order it for me. Until this thing is real, I’m going to try the shower cap trick.
When hard drives fail, all is not always lost. Sometimes you can recover that data and put it on a working drive.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of Seagate hard drives fail. I haven’t seen the same thing with Western Digital hard drives. I won’t recommend Seagate drives, internal or external, to customers. They are just not reliable.
I had two external Seagate drives here this week, both from the same customer. He got them from a friend who’d had them connected to a Windows computer. The reported trouble was that they weren’t being recognized by his Mac. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just make sure they’re formatted NTFS, find out what version of OS X he’s running, and make sure his Mac can recognize a 2TB and a 3TB hard drive.” How hard can that be?”
The drives showed up. One was fine when connected to a Windows machine, but the only thing on it was the installation folder for Devil Program From Hell, the Seagate backup software. The other one wasn’t at all fine, and it beeped for a minute or two then went still. It wasn’t recognized by any of the computers I connected it to.
Once in awhile these crappy Seagate external drives will let you recover the data. Sometimes it’s just the interface that’s broken, and if you get to the hard drive itself you can recover the data.
Not when they’re beeping, at least not this one.
Now, hard drives do not beep, so this sound was kind of surprising. It turns out that sound is made by something mechanical crashing into something else mechanical. If you want to see what that looks like, check this video.
I took the case apart and extracted the hard drive. (There”s a helpful YouTube video on how to do that without wrecking the case here.) Then I connected the drive to my computer with a USB to SATA cable. Then I sat there and listened to it beep some more.
I think all they had on there were movies or tv shows. But I’ve seen these Seagate External Hard Drives fail before when used for backup drives. Please don’t buy these drives, it only encourages the Seagate people to make more of them. If you have customers using them as backup drives or as the only place where they’re storing important data, please get the customers to let you replace these drives with something else. Do it soon.
We finally had a beautiful, warm, sunny day, and I took advantage of the opportunity to take a bike ride on the Greenway.
I’ve ridden the Greenway quite a few times, but this time I started in Mission Creek Park and rode “the other way” toward Gallaghers Canyon. It’s been a few years since I’ve gone out there, and I wanted to check it out again. I found well maintained trails shared by cyclists, walkers, and dog walkers. It’s a great ride on a nice day.
Starting at Mission Creek Park and heading on the Greenway toward Ziprick Rd, you’re riding a little uphill and a little bit on big gravel. That doesn’t last long. Keep going past the Ziprick entrance and you’ll come to what looks like the end of the Greenway. Just jog onto Creekside Road, which is a wide residential street, and take it a couple of blocks until you come to Gerstmar.
There’s a nice little park at the Gerstmar entrance to the Greenway now, and there are public washrooms there. Jog right, toward the creek, then onto the Greenway. Mission Creek is on your right. People’s back yards are on your left. This part of the route is pretty flat and smooth. I found plenty of dogs and people walking, and a few other cyclists.
Pretty soon you’re out of the back yard portion of the trail, although if you look left you can see there are houses on the road kind of above you. Looking right, you can see across the creek. I’ve seen deer and coyotes there, but not today. There are bear sightings over on that side from time to time. Today, just rocks and trees.
The trail narrows and there is a little up and a little down, a couple of twists, and then a nice beach. Be careful as you come around the curve. There are often dogs playing there and the trail is pretty narrow if you have to do an unexpected dismount.
Ride through the trees a little farther and you’ll end up on singletrack. When it’s raining, this is basically mud. Today it was absolutely perfect. No mud but not dry enough to be dusty. And purple things and yellow things and pink things on either side. Stunning.
This short track will take you past the bike skills park at Hollywood Road, right exactly at the spot where Randy Zahara assured me that the off-leash dog area would be, back when he was in charge of dog park prevention. That would have been a terrific place for an off-leash dog area, but some study or other determined that there wouldn’t be adequate parking for that. It’s great that these kids have a bike skills park, and that there also appears to be adequate parking there.
Continue across the road to the parking area for Scenic Canyon Park. There are also washrooms here, and lots of parking. This area seems pretty heavily used, at least on a beautiful Saturday, by people out for a walk alone, with other people, and with dogs. The trail is beautiful, winding through wooded areas and across bridges.
And then…the trail is closed. You can see that it continues, but the dire warning of falling rock and trail erosion was enough for me. I stopped for a bit to watch the creek and headed back the way I came.
When I got to Ziprick this time I crossed the bridge and took the smoother side of the creek back to the Eco Centre.
All told, this was just over 13 kilometres (8 miles). With a couple of stops to take pictures and admire the view, it took me an hour and 20 minutes. You might want to ride it faster, but I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. Here’s a gallery. You can click through it.
Bike skills park
Scenic Canyon Park
Fast-flowing Mission Creek
Bridge across Mission Creek
Trail ends here
Ready to head home
What rides in or around Kelowna do you like? Please leave a comment.
I'm an American living in Kelowna, BC (Canada) with my husband, Eric, and my dog, Sandy. I miss the Peet's Coffee and Mexican food that is so easy to find in my beloved San Francisco Bay Area. But not the traffic. Having given up driving way too fast, I still stay up too late and drink far too much coffee.