It is 10 pm, and I'm sitting in my foyer, listening to my basement. It seems that when something is making that electronic "I'm low on batteries" chirp, you should attend to it before you hope to sleep.

We have an ADT alarm system, and, I tell you, that thing is a blessing and a curse.I can't imagine how I'd sleep when I'm alone if I didn't know that the little electronic sensors were monitoring the household activities. Plus, I have ours programmed to talk so that I know what doors are being opened when the kiddos escape. (It was super handy when they were little.) I like having the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms hooked up to an outside system so that they'll send help if we're all rendered unconscious by whatever dangers lurk in our house. (Thank goodness it doesn't have a "you need to scoop the cat box" alarm.)

On the curse side, it sometimes malfunctions, which usually happens at the dead of night, and nearly never when there is an actual spouse in the house. We actually had to change some of our system's configuration because it would test itself on the first Friday night of every month, usually shortly after midnight, and it would always find the same imaginary problem, and set off the alarm. Coincidentally, the spouse played poker on the first Friday night of every month, so I would be alone when the darn thing would start blaring as if the neighboring village was storming the castle. Made me crazy. And when things go wrong with the system, which they do, the service call is expensive!

So this afternoon, I occasionally heard a little "chirp" from the basement. It was innocent enough that I could ignore it without feeling much guilt. After dinner, it turned into a "chirp-chirp," and I actually went downstairs and looked around. I couldn't see anything amiss, and the alarm control panel was reading fine, so I continued to pretend it would go away. It wasn't until after I settled into bed that it moved up to a more urgent "chirp-chirp-chirp." I went downstairs and noticed that the light on the smoke alarm was flashing a little more often than usual, so I took it down to see if the backup battery needed to be replaced.

Bad idea...it seems that will set off the alarm. I managed to make it be quiet and, of course, the phone rang. It was cheery Miss ADT, "Hi, Mrs. SotS, I'm calling about your trouble alarm." Yes, I have an alarm, and it is causing me a lot of trouble. Now, here is a thing about an alarm system that uses your phone line. Nearly every time you do anything to it, it will disconnect your phone call. That is just a bad system when you are talking to the alarm company.

It's been an hour, and I've had about 8 different telephone conversations with 8 different people at ADT. One was sure it was the smoke alarm, so I took it down and went to bed. Except the chirp continued. Thenthey thought it was the carbonmonoxide alarm, so I bypassed that one (but only after setting off the alarm again)but that didn't fix it. So I've taken the system completely off-line and I'm listening. No chirps so far...I guess I'm sleeping sans alarm tonight, and tomorrow I'll get to fork over half my paycheck to have it put back to working order.

Every time we I have a problem with the alarm, I wonder if this darn alarm is worth the money and the hassle. We've not had an alarm when we lived on post, and we didn't have an alarm when we were overseas, even though we lived in town. We clearly can survive without it, but I've never dealt with a deployment without the electronic security guard keeping watch over me at night. I like knowing that the door is going to yell out if a child decides to go sleepwalking and that help will come if my furnace decides to poison us. So I guess you know where to find me between 8 and 12 tomorrow...I'l be waiting for the ADT guy, checkbook in hand.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to get some sleep.

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