It was anything but an average night in South Puffin. The temp dropped almost to 50°F. I woke in the dark and didn’t want to get up because it was c-o-l-d in that room. Actually c-o-l-d in this whole house. I did get up eventually because the alarm sounded like robot bees.
That’s unexpected because I should wake to oldies music or, at worst, commercials, one after another.
I used to have a wonderful GE clock radio on my bedside table. Super-Heterodyne receiver. Direct entry keypad for time and radio tuning. “Woodgrain” finish. Gradu-wake. Two alarms, each with completely separate controls so I could set one to turn on the radio and the other the alarm buzzer. And did I mention direct entry? None of this tap-and-hold-and-hope-you-don’t-speed-past-the-time setting.
It died, darn it.
Now I have two alarm clocks by my bed, one set to turn on a gentle radio, the other to wake me with the alarm. Two separate appliances to do what one did. Two separate appliances with the same Stone Age controls my 1970s GE replaced.
Anyway, robot bees.
South Puffin is over the horizon from pretty much everywhere so we have no over-the-air broadcast TV and our few FM radio stations are the ones with antennas right here on the island chain. I generally tune to an oldies station (it’s The Mix for anyone who cares) with its antenna on Survivor Island, the island known on maps as Boot Key. There is no bridge to Boot Key any more, so when the station goes out, someone has to swim the channel.
That happens with some frequency.
Still, this morning, the station was playing; it was my antenna that screwed the pooch. I reached out to the power cord from under the blankets and the mad bees faded into the Crests singing 16 Candles.
Cold out there, so I pulled my hand back. The bees returned.
I’m thinking the mad bees are electronic noise.
I put my hand on the cord again. “Sixteen candles in my heart will glow…”
Back under the covers. Bzzzzzzzzz.
Radio Bob tells us that Most clock/table radios use the power cord as an antenna although an iPod with an FM radio uses its headphone cord as the antenna! I don’t know how the radio chip in cellphones works. FM radio waves travel line-of-sight, meaning more-or-less in straight lines. Objects that get between the transmitter and receiver weaken them.
The antenna is me.
This is not a new phenomenon; I’ve always been able to affect radios although it doesn’t always happen. I do it to the stereo in my North Puffin study. I do it to the living room A/V system here. I’ve done it at Rufus’ and Lee Bruhl’s and Fanny Guay’s. Even Liz Arden noticed it once.
Ms. Arden and I talked about it this morning. She’s an Electrical Engineer so I figured she’d know. She thinks it may be impedance matching.
“Hmm,” she said. “You need a broadcast engineer or RF guy.”
Radio Bob says there are plenty of sources of interference like ham radio operators, computers, TVs, fluorescent lights, and electric fences. The hams have been quiet. I hadn’t started the computers, TVs, or twisty fluorescents (I was still in bed, remember?). And South Puffin ordinances forbid electric fences.
Radio Bob says Get a better antenna or a better location for it. Or move me to a different room.
In our next episode, Liz Arden asks why she turns off streetlights when she drives by.
Really. I’ve seen it happen. She can drive along in her motorized roller skate and a streetlight will go out as she passes only to come back on again a minute or so later. It’s happened often enough not to be coincidence.
I think it’s her Cerulean aura, but I’m open to other theories.