Just before we turn out the lights, my wife says, “Alexa, play brown noise.” We then drift off to sleep, soothed by a mix of frequencies not unlike ocean sounds or a windy night.
I woke up one night, and noticed that the brown noise was louder than usual. I softly spoke the word, “Softer,” but the volume didn’t change. Then I noticed that much of the sound was coming from outside the bedroom rather than the Echo on my dresser. Stumbling out into the kitchen, the whole house was filled with un-soothing brown noise.
Where is that noise coming from? I finally figured out it was the microwave fan on high. We never use the microwave fan. It’s not vented, so it’s not helpful. Somehow the fan came on full power all by itself!
After I turned it off and crawled back under the covers, I had a few moments to wonder, “How did that happen? Has that ever happened to anyone else? What else occurs spontaneously?”
The first thing that came to mind was a rogue note coming from a pipe organ with no one at the keyboard. I think the organist called it a zephyr. A key or a baffle or something got stuck, causing a note to sound without anyone playing it.
If you fish around, you can find stories about spontaneous combustion, when something (or someone!) suddenly bursts into flame.
Things suddenly quit all the time. Light bulbs burn out. The internet goes out without warning. I just wrote about my phone dying a quick death. When the washing machine quits, it’s always full of water and wet clothes. I’ve heard stories of a picture falling off a wall or a book tumbling from a shelf.
Not as many things turn on all by themselves. Unless the power’s been out and suddenly comes back on. Or a smart device is programmed to come on at a certain time.
What if someone is using your appliances at night when you’re supposed to be sleeping? That’s a story for another time.