Reset the Govee H5054 Water Sensor

This leak detector works well, but once triggered, there’s no apparent way to stop it from beeping. Even removing the batteries doesn’t reset it.

In some ways, a persistent alarm makes sense, as you would want to know if it was triggered in your absence, even if the water and sensor are now completely dry. But I do wonder how many customers assume it’s a single-use item and discard the unit after it has been triggered. (I considered it.)

The reset procedure is unnecessarily obscure. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold down the button for at least 5 seconds.

There’s no good reason to hide this function — a single press of the unit’s only button should, intuitively, turn it off. In fact, the company’s marketing material says to press the button to mute the alarm. Apparently, the copywriters have never used the product, as that is decidedly not how it functions.

Fortunately, the tech writers have used the device. According to the user manual, there are other arcane button presses to change the volume of the alarm. Who knew? (And, frankly, why? Being loud is a good thing. The aforementioned copywriters tout its 100db alert as a key feature.)

The Govee support website doesn’t have a copy of the user manual and their FAQ search returns nothing for words like “reset,” “water” or “leak.” I didn’t try “annoying” or “STFU.”

Despite all this, if you’re looking for a very inexpensive water leak sensor that works (and, in particular, won’t be easy to ignore), I recommend these! The best deal is from the Amazon.

Book Review: The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch

Published in 2019 on the 50th anniversary of the series, the overall theme of this book is how an unsuccessful TV series (never cracking the top 30 in ranking) went on to become a syndication and cultural juggernaut.

Alice from the cover the book

Like many of my generation, I grew up as a latchkey kid who came home from school and immediately plopped down in front of the television to watch reruns of The Brady Bunch (and Sherwood Schwartz’s other masterpiece, Gilligan’s Island). So the nostalgic appeal of this book was immediate, although ultimately I was slightly disappointed, as I had hoped for more sociological analysis and less Hollywood Reporter or, sometimes, TMZ.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading it, and some highlights include:

  • The Brady house is the second most photographed house in America, after the White House.
  • The secret sauce of the show is its simplicity and the mirror it held to the viewer. If you had a similar family, there was a character for you to identify with. If you didn’t have a family like theirs, you wanted one.
  • The earworm of a theme song served an important purpose — it was a cleverly disguised exposition of the premise before every episode. A technique also used by Schwartz for Gilligan’s Island.
  • It was revealed that Mike Brady was a widower, but like the fate of Fluffy the dog, what happened to Carol’s husband is still a mystery.
  • The show was filmed using a single camera to minimize the time that the children needed to be on set, so they could attend school classes between scenes.
  • Lucille Ball plays two major roles in the history of the show. First, the success of her movie Yours, Mine and Ours got the series green-lit by the network. Secondly, her invention of recording shows for later playback allowed the Bradys to be syndicated, which is where it flourished.
  • The show invented the “family vacation” trope with its trip to Hawaii.
  • The pornographic parody of the show is the best-selling adult video series of all time.

On the less interesting side, the author’s insistence on detailing cast lists (including those who didn’t get the roles) for the various spinoffs and reunions didn’t hold my interest. Furthermore, as a pop culture writer, I would expect Kimberly Potts to know more accurate years for defining “Generation X.” (Douglas Coupland, who wrote about his generation using the name, was born in 1961.) Finally, this book incessantly reminds the reader that Robert Reed was difficult to work with. Yeah, we get it; TV’s favorite father was frequently a little bitch.

I found my copy of the book in the closeout section of Unabridged in Boystown. You can get yours from the Amazon, of course. The photo I’ve included here is detail from the excellent jacket design.

Fix for a clanking Kohler toilet

If you have a Kohler toilet in your home, it’s likely that it makes a “clank” sound when you flush it.

According to two professional plumbers and Kohler tech support, this is normal. (Unbelievably.)

Kohler's toilets have a proprietary flush mechanism that uses a cylindrical riser, instead of a lever, to actuate the valve that controls the flow of water.

The clank is caused by the cylinder hitting the underside of the tank cover. (You can confirm this by removing the tank cover and flushing. If the noise is gone, you found the problem.)

The fix is to put a couple of very thin rubber feet under the tank lid to raise it. The tolerances are very tight — it won’t take much to move the lid out of the way. Try something like this.

To be more specific and to help the findability of this tip, the toilet I have is a Kohler San Raphael 1.28 GPF Elongated One-Piece Toilet. Part number 1126374. Model 3722

You’re welcome.

If you see something, say something, but not to us

I’m walking through Millennium Park in Chicago. There are many visitors around, and in parts of the park, prep work is underway for the NASCAR race this weekend.

I'm on a sidewalk near the Pritzker Pavilion. Oddly, there's not another person in eyesight, ahead or behind me. Chalk that up to it being a weekday mid-morning.

Ahead, I spot a backpack on a park bench. The backpack is overstuffed, and sitting upright, as if it has been carefully placed. I look around more carefully, and I'm all alone. "Hmm, that's weird," I think and keep walking.

At the end of the walk, there happens to be a Chicago Police SUV. Two officers are inside. I approach, and through the open window I tell one of them about the unattended bag. She says, "OK, thanks" as if I had interrupted her telling a story about some perp she beat up. I laugh slightly and add, "Well, if you see something, say something, right?" She replies flatly, this time not even looking at me, "OK, thanks."

As I walked away, I realized that if it turns out to be a bomb. I'll be the primary "person of interest." At the end of the block, I glance back at the patrol vehicle. Both cops are still sitting inside.

Update: It apparently wasn’t a bomb. At least not one that exploded.

Book Review: The Case of the Grinning Gorilla

This book is the fortieth in the Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner. If you’re more of a television person, it is featured in season eight of the show. (I’m slowly working my way through the episodes via streaming, which I’m loving, but man those were long seasons back in the day.)

The basic premise of the story seems to be that a medical researcher is mistreating his primate subjects and a brilliant gorilla turns to thievery, and I presume, eventually to murder. I’m a little fuzzy on the details for reasons that will become clear below. Mystery File has a nice plot summary with minimal spoilers, if you want a more reliable summary.

The writing is sharp, the plot flows well, and I didn’t mind hearing the voices of Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale in my head as I read the snappy dialog. This is my first encounter with Gardner’s writing, and I want to come back for more at some point.

But that point is not now. I didn’t finish reading this book. It was engaging and enjoyable, but current demands on my time have me in “short attention span reading mode”, and a sweeping mystery — with its cast of many characters — is not conducive to irregular consumption. Every time I picked up the book to read a chapter, I found myself a little lost in who was whom and what they had done. Rather than continue to struggle, I asked for a continuance (see what I did there?) and returned the book to the Little Free Library where I found it. (You can begin your search for a copy on the Amazon.)

But now I know that Gardner should be on my reading list, and I have a new appreciation for the television series too.

Please and Thank You

Today I noticed a new book at Barnes & Noble: Please, Sorry, Thanks: The Three Words That Change Everything. (Amazon link) The cover says: “Those three words are the foundation of all healthy relationships and successful careers.”

I haven’t read this book, nor do I need to because my parents raised me correctly. It’s astonishing to me how many people don’t ever express their gratitude to others.

I worked in a retail store for a dozen years. By decree of the owner, every customer was thanked. Either for their purchase, or just for visiting the store. Today, most clerks don’t even say “thank you” when concluding a transaction. (If you haven’t noticed this before, you will now.) Sometimes, in a show of only mildly satisfying passive-aggression, I'll cheerfully tell them “you’re welcome” as I depart. This probably makes me a jerk.

And the lack of gratitude is not just at the individual level, but organizationally too. I spent years editing, writing, and publishing a monthly newsletter for a local neighborhood group. I did it because I love my community, but I never received a thank you or acknowledgment from the leaders of the organization. Not even when I resigned my position.

Just the other day, I dropped off several boxes of household goods at the local Salvation Army Donation Center. A person working there accepted my items, told me where to pile them, but never expressed any gratitude for providing them with free goods. This, from a business that relies entirely on the kindness of others!

It is sad that a book reminding people about expressing simple, cost-free courtesy has to exist, but I hope it changes the world.

Book Review: God, Human, Animal, Machine

This 2022 publication by Meghan O'Gieblyn is subtitled Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning.

gordon meyer holding book cover

I’m not certain how to categorize this book. If the book is journalism, it’s overly dense and repetitive, but appropriately neutral in its perspective. If it’s intended to be an academic tome, it’s superficial, omits too many important precedents, and lacks a thesis. But it does raise several significant questions and offers some interesting insight.

The author is a former fundamentalist who seems to have replaced her Christian belief system with fundamental materialism. (I should clarify that I am not a fan of either position.)

As I was reading this book, there were many occasions when I almost decided to quit and let it go unfinished. But, I kept reading, as there were just enough intriguing (but largely underdeveloped) tidbits to pull me along. By the time I reached the end, I felt like I had finished a big tub of movie theatre popcorn. I enjoyed it, but with some shame, and I knew I probably should have stopped myself sooner.

What kept me going was the contemplative observations about technology, and my heart sung at citations to the work of the great sociologist, Max Weber, and more rarely, Hegel. But throughout the book, I couldn’t help notice the complete lack of references to Marxism. At first, I was irked that the book ignores a wide swath of relevant scholarship, but I eventually chalked it up to the author’s Wheaton Bible College education, where the writings of Marx were probably forbidden.

Aside from Weber, I was also glad to find discussion of Ray Kurzweil. Clearly the singularity is relevant to her discussion and perspective, and she addresses it quite well. But there are a few other relevant works that I was hoping she’d bring into the conversation. The writings of philosopher Robert Anton Wilson would provide broader context to her observations, and the books The Soul of A New Machine and What The Dormouse Said would steel her arguments.

Here are just a few of the tasty nuggets that I collected from the book:

  • Our brains can’t fundamentally distinguish between interacting with people and interacting with devices. (Clifford Nass, Stanford)
  • Metaphors die when we forget that they are metaphors and take them literally. This has happened to the “computational theory of mind.” Our brains are not computers; our computers are not brains. But you’d never know it by listening to people talk about A.I., and other technologies.
  • For most of human history, we accepted that our lives were being watched, listened to, and supervised by gods and spirits. Not all of them benign.
  • Science set aside consciousness because it is too difficult to study objectively. This led to metaphysical avoidance, and eventually, metaphysical denial.
  • If the fascists in Florida want to protect people, they should focus on transhumanism (a concept born of the 1800s) instead of transgenderism. (This sentiment is mine, not the authors, to be clear.)
  • Wikipedia goes to great lengths to obscure the human authorship of its articles to imbue itself with the aura of a holy text.
  • The theory of a “participatory universe,” briefly mentioned in the book, led me to this interesting summary.
  • The author’s college offered only one course in Literature, and it was focused exclusively on works with Christian themes, such as stories by C.S. Lewis.
  • Standardized testing is all about making students look good to an algorithm.

I know this review has a bit of a negative tone, but ultimately, I was left with 35 notecards of compelling tidbits or references to explore. That’s a successful book, even though I didn’t always enjoy it. If you’d like to dive into this book for yourself, pick up a copy at the Amazon. I found mine at Barbara’s Bookstore.

Book Review: Dictionary of Imaginary Places

How does one write a “review” of a dictionary? I’m not certain, but that hasn’t prevented me from trying to do so previously. (And if you’re not already familiar with Magic Words: A Dictionary, be sure to remedy that gap in your knowledge.)

I’ve been wanting a copy of Dictionary of Imaginary Places for a long time, and I finally found it for a good price at Half-Price Books. (Which can yield some great deals if you’re a knowledgable shopper and weed out the absurd prices that they sometimes ask)

photo of book cover by gordon meyer

Written in 1980 in the style of a travel guide, it catalogs about 1200 fictional locations from plays, poems, and books. (It does not include television or movies, so even if it were a contemporary publication, Schmigadoon would be omitted.) The authors have also, wisely in my opinion, restricted the selections to earthly, reachable destinations — there are no off-planet or future cities included. (Can you imagine if they didn’t impose these limitations‽ The book would be voluminous.)

Many of the locations are accompanied by delightful illustrations and maps, but for me, the Travel Agent-style descriptions are the star. The book is indexed by author and publication, but I wished for one based on continents, such as North America. (Although I recognize that many imaginary locations are not bound by such concepts.)

My favorite entries are entirely personal and probably not interesting, so I’ll simply cite one example, which from this point forward is my favorite city in the world — Abaton. It’s a city of ever-changing location, and thus is an unreachable destination. It was “discovered” by Thomas Bulfinch in 1892.

Begin your search for the Dictionary of Imaginary Places at the Amazon, but for a more complete experience, let a copy find you.

Blink No More

blinnking red light gif

I know this is a pipe dream, but I really wish that manufacturers could agree that a solid light means “OK” and that a blinking light means “attention.”

To me, it’s very natural. A blinking light is “help, help, help” not “I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m OK.”

But I’d settle for the opposite, if that’s the best I can get. The situation right now, where some devices blink when they are fine, and others do not, just undermines the communication that status lights are supposed to provide.

YoLink and SwitchBot are the two most annoying offenders in my networking closet, as of today, anyway. When I add a new device, who knows who might join their ranks.

A friend pointed out that annoying lights can be muted using dimming stickers. I haven’t tried them, but I might. Because my next rant will be about LEDs that are just too damn bright.

Furthermore, you kids stay off my lawn!

Synology’s broken Download Station app

I don’t think too much about my Synology NAS device. Its “DSM” operating system is chock-full of apps and options, most of which I ignore, apart from dutifully keeping them up to date.

However, there is one Synology app with which I have a love/hate relationship: Download Station. The main feature of Download Station is downloading torrent files. But I don’t use for that. The feature that I (attempt to) use extensively is automatically downloading files distributed via RSS enclosures, such as podcasts.

Sadly, however, Download Station has a fatal flaw and I can’t rely on it. It is unable to follow server-side redirects for attachments. (The biggest offender using redirects in RSS feeds are the bastards at

Synology knows that Download Station won’t follow redirects. I reported this bug and their tech support has acknowledged that they can reproduce it. They say that it is in their queue and will be addressed in a future release.

They’ve been saying this for three years.

Clearly, Synology doesn’t care that Download Station is broken.

Oh, it gets worse. When Download Station encounters a redirect, it keeps the download task in its queue, even though it will never be able to complete it. Eventually, the queue fills up, and Download Station completely stops working until the queue is manually cleared.

I have not been able to find a replacement for Download Station that runs on the Synology, so instead I use the butt-ugly gpodder (on my Mac) to download the podcasts that Download Station can’t handle. Then, I dig through the gpodder underbelly, find the files, and manually copy them to the Synology drive for later use.

At some point, my Synology device will die. (I’m already on my second one.) When it does, I probably won’t replace it with another. Their lack of response to this issue has soured me on any future business.