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An annoying little mystery


Sand

Paranormal Maven
Ever have something occur that, though seemingly small and insignificant, is annoyingly difficult to explain?

Here in southern Arizona we have scorpions. I prefer not to encounter the little critters in the house. To reduce the chance of them getting in, like many Arizonans, I take a stroll out at night and eliminate the ones that have come onto the property. Scorpions have a very handy vulnerability. They glow a distinctive bluish-green in UV black light.

I have a couple of very nice black light flashlights which I bought at a small LED and electronics company in Mesa. The first one, which I bought about 4 years ago, I got at half price because it had flaws in its purplish metallic paint. Over the years a large spot had developed where the paint had come off, leaving an area about 1 inch by 1/2 an inch where you could see the silver metal underneath. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this paintless spot, other than to use it to easily distinguish the light from the other black light.

I had just spent about a week in Chicago visiting some friends. When I got home Saturday night I went to grab the black light with the paintless spot and was very surprised to find that the paint on both flashlights was flawless. There was absolutely no sign of the large spot where the paint had been missing. There was also one other more subtle oddity in the way in which the light now turns on.

My wife hadn’t gone with me on the trip to Chicago. While I was gone she and her sister had taken the light out a couple of times to do a scorpion check at each of our houses. But neither she nor I can think of anything she might have done which would have restored the paint on the light to a flawless condition. This model of black light has not been manufactured or sold by the company for a couple of years. So it’s not that she could have driven the 25 miles and paid $30 to secretly swap out the light.

It looks like it is destined to be one of those annoying little puzzles which I will never know the answer to.

An Arizona Bark Scorpion under UV light:


A stock photo of the model of black light flashlight:
 
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Reactions: Han

zaphrella

Skilled Investigator
Curious mystery. Great picture! That would be pretty neat to see out in the wild but better you than me looking for them. That picture is about as close as I want to get to the little critters. I will settle for my little fireflies/lightning bugs.
 

boomerang

Paranormal Adept
Yes, it's enough to make one sit and ponder the many-universes theory.

An odd one for me occurred one evening while sitting in a coffee shop. I watched as one of the employees, a very trim and fit looking young lady, walked over to a small child and very quickly lowered herself to the eye level of the child by quickly "squatting on her haunches", so to speak. She was no more that six to eight feet from me at the time and I happened to be watching the scene dead on.

You know how almost everyone, when they perform such a maneuver, will wobble (even ever so slightly) when they arrive at the lowered position with knees almost fully flexed, etc. ? In this case, it was almost as if the lady were on rails, or as if I were watching computer animated graphics. She executed the move with absolutely not one millimeter of excess or non-coordinated motion.

Maybe I am making too much of this. Perhaps the lady was a highly trained athlete, or dancer or whatever. Still her motions seemed so utterly flawless as to be downright strange.
 

Han

piscator ψ
Yes, it's enough to make one sit and ponder the many-universes theory.

An odd one for me occurred one evening while sitting in a coffee shop. I watched as one of the employees, a very trim and fit looking young lady, walked over to a small child and very quickly lowered herself to the eye level of the child by quickly "squatting on her haunches", so to speak. She was no more that six to eight feet from me at the time and I happened to be watching the scene dead on.

You know how almost everyone, when they perform such a maneuver, will wobble (even ever so slightly) when they arrive at the lowered position with knees almost fully flexed, etc. ? In this case, it was almost as if the lady were on rails, or as if I were watching computer animated graphics. She executed the move with absolutely not one millimeter of excess or non-coordinated motion.

Maybe I am making too much of this. Perhaps the lady was a highly trained athlete, or dancer or whatever. Still her motions seemed so utterly flawless as to be downright strange.
I had a similar experience when I was a lot younger, me and my friends were at the swimming pool, which had a separate diving pool, anyway, one of my friends pointed out this very large lady climbing the stairs to the diving board, we all thought the same thing (that there would be a huge splash, so we all watched. When she dived it was like slow motion, and I swear she made only the smallest of disturbance to the water, like a 10/10 dive, we were all gobsmacked. I wanted to see her do it again but she didn't. I am convinced something weird happened: like some kind of "assistance" and that taught me a valuable lesson, I was actually ashamed at prejudging her.
 

Sand

Paranormal Maven
Like the stories above every so often I have something happen that, while not overly dramatic or providing any great insight into the nature of reality, is annoying in it’s refusal to be explained. This has to do with a garage door opener. I have two garage doors. Each has its own opener. There is a keypad on the outside of the garage that is programmed to open the right garage door. The keypad is only capable of being programmed to open one garage door. It has never been programmed to open the left door. For a couple months the receiver in the right door’s opener has been failing. About 95% of the time both the keypad and hand held remotes fail to open the right door.

A few weeks ago I was out having a few beers with a friend. (only 3 or so beers) Around midnight I took an Uber home. The Uber driver seemed like a nice guy. He was a retired manager of a high end restaurant. We had a nice talk about his favorite restaurants in the area. Arriving home I walked over to the keypad and typed in the code. Unsurprisingly the right door failed to open. But then after a fraction of a second hesitation the left door started to rise. Since the keypad had never been set up to open the left door and was only capable of opening the right door, I was sure I would see my wife inside pressing the button to open the left door. She wasn’t there, and in fact inside asleep. The next day I thanked my wife for re-programming the keypad to open the left door. She had no idea what I was talking about. Throughout that morning I tried over and over to get the keypad to open the left door. It never did, never has since, and never had before that night.

Did the Uber driver have some device that could open any garage door? If he had, in a fraction of a second he would have had to make the determination that my keypad wasn’t working and trigger his device. If the keypad was working his device would have caused a second signal to close my door with some explaining to do. And if he had a device that would open any door, why didn’t all of the neighbors’ doors start opening? I have since talked to someone who installs garage door openers. He could think of no way to explain it, thought the idea of the Uber driver having such a device wasn’t realistic, and his only comment was, “maybe the aliens were flying over.”

Earlier that afternoon I had attended a MUFON lecture given by Colonel John Alexander. Maybe some strange psychic aura was still hanging around (just kidding). Whatever opened that door, I’m grateful. It saved me going to the darkened entry way and searching to unlock my door in the dark.

 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Like the stories above every so often I have something happen that, while not overly dramatic or providing any great insight into the nature of reality, is annoying in it’s refusal to be explained. This has to do with a garage door opener. I have two garage doors. Each has its own opener. There is a keypad on the outside of the garage that is programmed to open the right garage door. The keypad is only capable of being programmed to open one garage door. It has never been programmed to open the left door. For a couple months the receiver in the right door’s opener has been failing. About 95% of the time both the keypad and hand held remotes fail to open the right door.

A few weeks ago I was out having a few beers with a friend. (only 3 or so beers) Around midnight I took an Uber home. The Uber driver seemed like a nice guy. He was a retired manager of a high end restaurant. We had a nice talk about his favorite restaurants in the area. Arriving home I walked over to the keypad and typed in the code. Unsurprisingly the right door failed to open. But then after a fraction of a second hesitation the left door started to rise. Since the keypad had never been set up to open the left door and was only capable of opening the right door, I was sure I would see my wife inside pressing the button to open the left door. She wasn’t there, and in fact inside asleep. The next day I thanked my wife for re-programming the keypad to open the left door. She had no idea what I was talking about. Throughout that morning I tried over and over to get the keypad to open the left door. It never did, never has since, and never had before that night.

Did the Uber driver have some device that could open any garage door? If he had, in a fraction of a second he would have had to make the determination that my keypad wasn’t working and trigger his device. If the keypad was working his device would have caused a second signal to close my door with some explaining to do. And if he had a device that would open any door, why didn’t all of the neighbors’ doors start opening? I have since talked to someone who installs garage door openers. He could think of no way to explain it, thought the idea of the Uber driver having such a device wasn’t realistic, and his only comment was, “maybe the aliens were flying over.”

Earlier that afternoon I had attended a MUFON lecture given by Colonel John Alexander. Maybe some strange psychic aura was still hanging around (just kidding). Whatever opened that door, I’m grateful. It saved me going to the darkened entry way and searching to unlock my door in the dark.
Strange stuff does happen. There are also a variety of garage door hacks, including ones that monitors the keypad spikes assigned to the different keys. Here's just one article: This Hacked Kids' Toy Opens Garage Doors in Seconds

My first question is that if you got a lift via Uber, why bother going in through the garage? Seems like extra noise going on in the middle of the night. But apart from that. Why your garage door opened may have nothing to do with a hack. As a mundane explanation my first guess would be a power fluctuation caused by attempting to open the other door. I've seen this sort of thing with other types of electronics. I've seen a PC automatically start or restart just from static. Another time we had a spike that caused my TV to come on by itself. I could tell it was a spike because I use dimmers throughout my house and the room suddenly brightened and dimmed just as it happened. It may not be a situation you can recreate, but one thing you might want to try is manually unplugging and plugging back in the opener that mysteriously opened on its own to see if it triggers it to open.
 

Sand

Paranormal Maven
Randall, thanks for the thoughts and the article.

We go in and out through the garage, particularly at that time of night, for a variety of reasons. One being that the garage doors are lit up by motion triggered coach lights while the front entry way is in the dark. Another is that it’s a lot quieter and less cumbersome.

I can’t see it being a hack. The Uber driver had a nice drive and conversation with his customer. He was probably about to get a 5 star rating and a tip. You can never be sure about peoples’ motives. But why would a comfortably retired Uber driver, when he sees his customer typing in a code to open his garage door, at that moment start trying to hack the customer’s garage opener? If as would be expected the keypad worked, the result would have been to close the door. It would have been a brute force hack that could have also opened the neighbors garage doors and, according to the article, taken over half a minute.

I suspect it was some freak electronic glitch. Just can’t envision how it happened. I can’t see the power fluctuation for a number of reasons. A power fluctuation that would result in the opener opening the door would be a very poor design. We’ve had the opener more than 10 years. Never once had it open the door on its own. I’ve never seen any indication of a power fluctuation resulting from the failing receiver board in the right door opener failing to receive the signal from the battery powered keypad. I have in the past, when replacing a switch, killed the power to the garage. When the power was restored it did not cause the doors to open.

In a couple weeks I’ll be getting together with a friend who designs electronics. It will be interesting to see if he has any ideas.

As you said. Strange stuff happens.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Randall, thanks for the thoughts and the article.

We go in and out through the garage, particularly at that time of night, for a variety of reasons. One being that the garage doors are lit up by motion triggered coach lights while the front entry way is in the dark. Another is that it’s a lot quieter and less cumbersome.

I can’t see it being a hack. The Uber driver had a nice drive and conversation with his customer. He was probably about to get a 5 star rating and a tip. You can never be sure about peoples’ motives. But why would a comfortably retired Uber driver, when he sees his customer typing in a code to open his garage door, at that moment start trying to hack the customer’s garage opener? If as would be expected the keypad worked, the result would have been to close the door. It would have been a brute force hack that could have also opened the neighbors garage doors and, according to the article, taken over half a minute.

I suspect it was some freak electronic glitch. Just can’t envision how it happened. I can’t see the power fluctuation for a number of reasons. A power fluctuation that would result in the opener opening the door would be a very poor design. We’ve had the opener more than 10 years. Never once had it open the door on its own. I’ve never seen any indication of a power fluctuation resulting from the failing receiver board in the right door opener failing to receive the signal from the battery powered keypad. I have in the past, when replacing a switch, killed the power to the garage. When the power was restored it did not cause the doors to open.

In a couple weeks I’ll be getting together with a friend who designs electronics. It will be interesting to see if he has any ideas.

As you said. Strange stuff happens.
Susceptibility to power fluctuations may not be so much a matter of bad design as a rare circumstance that falls outside normal engineering parameters. After all, if I were to the same reasoning with respect to my TV, I'd still be looking for the mystery. It's a lot more complex than a garage door opener, and was even plugged into a power conditioner unit, but because I actually saw the light fluctuate widely at the same moment, I have to think it's more than just coincidental. But maybe I'm wrong. It only did it that one time in the whole time I've owned it.

I tend to agree with you regarding the Uber driver. Hacking a garage door isn't something a thief would want to do while you were right there. But for a prank, the culprit would want you to see it. Any nerd neighbors who might like to do it for a gag?

Other ideas: My buddy had his basement lights turning on intermittently, seemingly by themselves and it turned out to be moisture behind the breaker panel. It could also be your inside switch. If it's wearing out or the wires are loose, it can cause that sort of thing. One other thing that crossed my mind ( that probably doesn't apply to you ), is if there's a safety switch that kicks in if the door encounters an obstacle on the way down. I used to open a garage door where I worked just by stepping down on the outside for a second.

The first spots I'd suggest to check are the power connection, the inside switch, and the connections between the the inside switch and the opener ( if it's wired directly to the opener ). In fact if the inside switch is wired directly to the opener, check the whole circuit. Something as odd as an animal chewing through it or something wearing through the insulation and causing a momentary short could also be a cause. In the meantime it might be a good idea to keep a closer watch on your place for a while, even take anything really valuable out of the garage until you're confident it was just some sort of glitch.

Anyway. Love a good mystery. Thanks for sharing and good luck in the investigation. If you get it figured out let us know!
 

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