Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I've learned a new language !!!

...and didn't even realize it!

"I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off, I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves..."
                                      Bob Seger

"I woke last night to the sound of beeping
Wondered what had stopped my sleeping..."
                                     Mark Cowell

So there it was, titillating my eardrum, that high-pitched beep that has insinuated itself into so many parts of our lives.   I knew right away that it was the coffee-maker announcing that it had successfully brewed the morning stimulant.  I knew this because it was three short beeps.

I thought about going back to sleep but realized that if I slept for 90 more minutes, the coffee maker would express it's displeasure at being ignored by making two slightly longer beeps to announce that it was no longer going to keep the coffee hot and was turning itself off.

But, of course, that would never happen because in 30 minutes my alarm clock would demand wakefulness by starting a series of very loud, fast beeps that would not stop until I reached over and hit the snooze button.  And it would repeat its disturbing behavior until I finally got up.

Lying there, I realized that I have become completely fluent in beep-ese, without realizing it.

One long beep followed by two short beeps means that the washing maching wants me to put my newly washed clothes in the dryer.

One short beep followed by on longer beep means that the dryer wants me to fold my warm, snuggly clothes.

One very short but very loud beep tells me that one of the smoke detectors wants me to change its battery.  The smoke detectors irritate me because the battery changing beep is so short and surprising that I can never figure out immediately which of the three smoke detectors needs changing.   Futhermore, the time between one beep and the next is random and it may be five minutes before it beeps again.  This means I have to go around the house and stand next to each smoke detector until it beeps or unless I hear the beep somewhere else. 

In the case of an actual fire, however, the smoke detectors are capable of making a infinitely long, infinitely loud beep-on-steroids forcing me to flee the house -- not just because of the fire but to save my eardrums.   I know this because one of the smoke detectors loves to go off whenever I fry anything on the stove. 

I once had a digital wristwatch with a tiny but incessant beep built in for an alarm clock.  It also had a function whereby it would make one tiny beep every hour.  I had thrown the instruction booklet away because who needs an instruction booklet for a watch and because the instruction booklet was written in 4 point type and was unreadable anyway.  And was in French, Spanish, and Chinese. 

Digital watches are designed by engineers to have the fewest number of buttons with each button or combination of buttons designed to do multiple things.  Beep.  One o'clock.  Beep.  Two o'clock.  I threw it away.

When I try to escape my beep-filled home, I walk to the garage and unlock my car by pushing a button on the automatic device that is an addition to the actual car key and adds more bulk to my key chain.  My key chain -- so full of keys and remote gizmos that it makes permanent bulges in my pants pockets.  Not to mention that I don't remember what half the keys go to.  I probably have keys to places I unlocked twenty years ago.   But that is another story.

But when I do unlock my car, it makes two short friendly beeps to invite me inside.

My car likes me.  When I start the engine, it gives me five nagging beeps to remind me to fasten my seatbelt.   It gives me two longer beeps to let me know it is getting low on gas.  This is actually the same sound that the coffee maker makes when it turns off but I know the difference because the coffee maker is never going 65 miles per hour.    

And it I try to leave the car without taking my keys out of the ignition, it tries to immitate the smoke detector.   It's attempt is a bit feeble but I haven't left my keys in the car yet.

I am bilingual!!

Samual Morse would be proud.



  1. Wow, I admire your skills in beepese!! I must admit I have not mastered that language yet, for sheer lack of practise, since hardly anything in my home emits beeping sounds. The microwave gives off a cheerful "bing!" when it has done its job, my mobile says "pling-pling" when a text message arrives and has a nice guitary strumming sound as the ring tone, and the only real beep is the computer when it confirms that I have just pressed the "on" button. My coffee machine only produces the kind of noise water makes when it is heated, and the buzzing tone when the hot coffee runs through the pipe into the mug placed underneath. The iron is mute, and I have turned off all sound on my digital camera. Oh, the cat has some funny squeaks in her repertoire, but they hardly qualify as proper beepese, I'm afraid.

  2. I enjoyed the beepology lesson.
    Another reason not to drink coffee! My water-kettle (for tea) does not beep. I know it's done when it stops making a noise!

  3. Beep-ese! I like it, Mark. It's always funny when somebody's cell phone beeps to notify them of a text, and 3 other people nearby all wonder if it's their phones. Beeps are everywhere.

  4. whatever did we do before digital gadgets?

    Do they teach beep-ese anywhere? perhaps not, kids learn to imbibe it with their mother's milk, whereas I have to go through the painful process of listening to Beloved saying: what's that?" every time a beep goes off.

    Hah, I just realised I am not only fluent in beep-ese, I am also fluent in beep-explain-ese.

  5. I am so glad you threw your watch away. I always hated hearing a beep while working with somebody and I'm turning around going "What is that annoying beep?" Somebody's watch beeps the hour. Who cares?!

    I think I have most of the beeps you have mentioned but I don't think I am as fluent as you are. Most of the time I am walking around "Which beep was that and what does it mean?"

  6. I never want to acquire your proficiency in beep-ese. I wish life was as simple as when my kids were little and I could disable all their squeeky toys (a tail comb up the bum usually did the trick). I actually ask how much does something beep before buying electrical goods - and can affirm most salesmen are liars!

  7. Just a little beep from Paris! Actually what is missing is the little beep when someone is commenting on your blog! :-)


    (I don't know why on certain blogs (like yours now) you must choose the profile manually and then when I choose Google, it doesn't work.)

  8. :) I also got fluent in my son's girlfriends phone alarm when she had to get up in the morning. Because I would wake up minutes before it went off and it would go for a while before she woke up...you crack me up and that is a good thang...I did dream in Korean a few times while away, and I understood it?

  9. What a wonderful silly blog! My, what acute hearing you have. I haven't learned that language yet--I'm still alarmed by all things beepy.