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The Trickle - Motion Detectors

August 31, 2011 - Brian Ferry
There are a couple motion sensing lights in the Times Observer office. I approve. I assume they're easy on the power consumption. However, they cause me some irritation. Every time I walk into one of those two rooms, I reach out and wave my hand toward the sensor until I hear the tiny click that indicates the light is on its way to on. Why do I do this? It's not like I need the light to come on that moment sooner so I won't fall in the pit trap. I'm well aware of the dangers. I don't think the sensor will miss the rest of me. I believe the light will come on. I don't do it when the light is already on. (I don't think I do, anyway.) Perhaps the habit started when the switch was initially... switched over. (Sorry, couldn't help it.) But it's been years now and I still stick out that left hand. Yesterday I was thinking about this as I walked into one of the rooms. The urge was strong, but I resisted. You know what? The light came on before I ran over anything and I wasn't eaten by a lurking grue. (That's right, I got a Zork reference in my blog.) I figured that would be the beginning of the end. I thought about it. I didn't need to do it. I didn't do it. Good basis for forming a new habit. However, the four or five times after that, I stuck the hand out. Maybe this is a good chance for me to get a little math in. I'm going to estimate that my hand trips the sensor one-quarter of a second before the rest of me would. I'll estimate that I go into those rooms and activate the lights an average of four times each day, sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes the lights are already on. Assuming that I work in the building a convenient average of 240 days a year, that's 240 seconds or four minutes per year. I guess that doesn't seem too bad, especially when I compare it to the light I just wasted going into one of those rooms, activating the light, keeping it on for the couple minutes I stood there trying to get a picture, the extra time the light had to be on because I had to come back because the camera didn't have a card in it, the draining of my camera battery (which will require earlier recharging) from taking pictures of the sensor (which, naturally, took several minutes, because I couldn't just take one picture, I had to try to get the infinitessimally short blink of light in a shot. Didn't happen, but I shot maybe 60 frames (at 1/10th of a second), the removal of a computer from sleep mode as I processed that photo, and the energy use endured by my machine as I wrote this relatively pointless blog. Still, every little bit counts. I'll try to stop. The waving, not the excessive photography, nor the pointless blogging.


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