1518: Typical Morning Routine

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Typical Morning Routine
Hang on, I've heard this problem. We need to pour water into the duct until the phone floats up and ... wait, phones sink in water. Mercury. We need a vat of mercury to pour down the vent. That will definitely make this situation better and not worse.
Title text: Hang on, I've heard this problem. We need to pour water into the duct until the phone floats up and ... wait, phones sink in water. Mercury. We need a vat of mercury to pour down the vent. That will definitely make this situation better and not worse.
Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: The explanation is not explaining much, more like describing what happens at the moment.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.


Waking up to an alarm can be annoying, especially when one has difficulty in turning the alarm off. This comic takes this to a ridiculous extreme, whence the comic derives its humour, especially when paired with the title describing it as "typical."

In this comic, a guy with morning hair (Hairy) is shown using his phone as his alarm clock. It can sometimes be complicated to turn off the alarm on a smartphone when groggy. The guy has apparently exited the alarm app by mistake. In some OSes, simply exiting the app doesn't close it, requiring you to use the app switcher to close it. As of when the comic was posted, Randall uses both iOS and Android according to 1508: Operating Systems. As such, he is taking an unusually long time turning the device off. Getting annoyed, he's decided to remove the battery to forcefully shut off his phone. However, in the process, he accidentally drops his device down an air vent. Unable to get it out, he tries to remotely brick it (erase important system files rendering the device as useful as a brick). However, he seems to have accidentally gone into airplane mode in the confusion, thereby cutting off all wireless communications with the device. Airplane Mode also has a side effect where by turning off all communication components, the phone conserves charge where the phone will now last a week, rather than typically a day or so.

Rather than dealing with the noise for weeks, he proposes that they just move out instead. We never see who he is sharing the bed with.

In the title text one of the two gets the great idea to pour water into the vent until the phone floats to the top. Then realizing that phones do not float in water. Mercury, however, is a very dense liquid (the only metal that is liquid at room temperature). The phone would certainly float on it, though the very toxic nature of mercury makes pouring it into the air supply a somewhat less-than-stellar idea.


[The panel is completely black, with white text. Small lines indicate from where the two voices are coming, and also from where the alarm goes off. A small broken square surrounds the first word spoken.]
Alarm: Bleep Bleep
Voice (right): Urgh
Voice (left): Your alarm is going off
Voice (right): Huh?
Voice (left): Make it stop.
Voice (right) Urrgh
[The panel is completely black, with white text. Small lines indicate from where the two voices are coming. Several small lines surrounds the last "sound" which is not spoken. The alarm noise is continued from the previous panel and continues over the top of the frame directly into the next panel.]
Alarm: Bleep Bleep Bleep B
Voice (left): Hit snooze.
Voice (right): I'm trying. I closed the alarm app and I can't... I'll just pop out the battery.
Voice (right): Whoops!
[The lights have turned on so it is now a white panel with black text. The voice to the right came from Hairy with morning hair. He is leaning over the side of the bed, looking down the air vent through which he has dropped the phone. The other person to the left is not shown. The alarm noise still continues from the previous panel and continues over the top of the frame directly into the next panel.]
Alarm: eep Bleep Bleep Ble
Off-Screen voice: Make it stop!
Hairy: It... fell down the vent.
[Hairy is sitting in his bed with a laptop. The person to the left is still off-screen. The alarm noise still continues from the previous panel and continues over the top of the frame out of the comic the the right.]
Alarm: ep Bleep Bleep Bleep Ble
Off-Screen voice: Can you brick it remotely?
Hairy: Trying... I think I fumbled it into airplane mode?
Off-Screen voice: The battery could last for weeks.
Hairy: You know, maybe we should just move.

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If he has hair, shouldn't he be called Hairy by definition? Sidenote: Did I really just use the word whence? 05:57, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Added first draft for the transcript. This is my first edit here, so feel free to clean it up. 06:02, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I think that this is still Cueball because his hair isn't a different colour to his head. The only reason we can see it is because it's bed hair, and he hasn't combed it down yet. 06:06, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

It is not Cueball when he has hair. It is not hair enough to call him Hairy. He has obviously still hair in the last panel, where it is less morning hair, and it is now clearly black (as Hairys). But there is too little air for it to be Hairy in my opinion. However, if it should be either of the two it would be Hairy. Makes no sense to call a guy with hair (any hair) Cueball. I have removed all reference to Cueball and the hairy category that was also added. Since we do not know who is lying beside him, we cannot even use this to say anything about him. --Kynde (talk) 07:27, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Someone has changed it to Hairy. See further comment below. So lets call him that. --Kynde (talk) 07:44, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I don't see how this comic is about sarcasm or language. It contains language, but it isn't about language.
Update: Oh, right, the title text ends with a sarcastic comment. 06:17, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I'm not convinced that the character in the title text is being sarcastic. Randall uses that kind of "would be X and totally not Y" talk in other comics and in his What-Ifs. In the times I've seen it, the character speaking it comes off as hilariously naive as opposed to sarcastic. 04:35, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

I think that the character should be Hairy, as the name is "used by xkcd explainers to describe male characters with hair and no other distinguishing features."--17jiangz1 (talk) 07:31, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Well then lets call him Hairy then - see discussion above though... --Kynde (talk) 07:44, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I would like to be the first to point out similarities between this comic and 349: Success. He starts with hitting snooze (easy) then needs to switch applications (not really worse yet, bear with me), remove battery (losing whatever is unsaved in RAM), bricking the phone (losing it, though maybe just until he has time to reinstall the OS) and finally is willing to fill the flat with mercury vapours (which is a major health hazard). 11:32, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I am not so sure that metallic mercury is "extremely toxic"; of course, some mercury-containing compounds are. "Extremely expensive"? Yes, compared to what one usually throws into an air vent, but many metals are far more expensive per kg than mercury. Jkrstrt (talk) 15:15, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

For sure, but in the amounts they would need it would be quite an expense, not to say heavy burden to get back home with. The vapours from the mercury would be flowing into the apartment from the vent and it is not something you wish to get inside. --Kynde (talk) 16:00, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Air Vent

Is having an air vent in your floor something common? o.o Pinkishu (talk) 09:28, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, but I had the same question. See wiki links in the updated explanation. --Kynde (talk) 10:21, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Also, pouring water in the vent will short-circuit the smart-phone which gives us the same result as bricking a smart-phone. sirKitKat (talk) 09:55, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I also though of that and added it. --Kynde (talk) 10:21, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Adding enough water to drown the speaker should drown the noise? Puggan (talk) 12:43, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
And pouring mercury will dissolve some of the metals in the phone. 10:01, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Not necessarily if it actually floats on-top. But I'm questioning if a smartphone lies flat on a surface, would the mercury then actually get beneath it? I would not be surprised if it would make it stick to this surface. Of course if you put the phone on top of a pool of mercury, it would not think. Not much would! But this is a different story. Hopefully they just move out instead ;-) Or maybe get really awake and start to think. Will add this last part to the explain --Kynde (talk) 10:21, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
I think that long before mercury (significantly) disolves metal in the phone, it would already have shorted out various bare metalic wires (as per water, only better). The question is whether the miniscus effect of the mercury allows the mercury to enter the casing quite as easily as water.
As to the possibility of a flat phone being held down by the mercury you pour over it, I think that's unlikely. Maybe a limpet-like (flanged outwards) case flush to a flat surface could exclude the liquid metal from getting under the edges of the phone to allow a suction effect to counteract buoyancy, but that's not a common shape for phone cases which are rarely even sharp-edged perpendicularly to the faces. Mercurial pressure would end up edging under the more realistic curved edges and remove any residual 'stiction'.
(I also read the "make this situation better not worse" as a continuation of the former text, not a response by the other speaker. It's a common meme for a single person to suggest a monomaniacal plan of action with escalatingly ridiculousness, and then to cap it off with "And I see absolutely no problems with that..." whilst forgoing traditional emoticon indicators of humour, to continue the 'deadpan serious' tone.) 16:43, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I think "Forced-air Central Heating" is a better explanation for Hairy's vent than "Underfloor air distribution". Forced-air heat/cooling is very common in the US, and the Wikipedia entry has a good picture of a floor vent. -- 16:41, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Just open the vent! 23:39, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

Noise and battery

How much effective are today's phones in making noise? If they use the same circuits as for playing music (which I suspect most do), I don't think they will be able to do it for weeks, even in airplane mode ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:30, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Spelling and Commentary

There are a couple spelling mistakes. 'hos' in the first sentence, 'cold' instead of 'could'. Probably more.

Instead of correcting the spelling, I was wondering about the tone of the explanation. Specifically, shouldn't this be written in a more neutral tone without the side commentary?

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the contribution. Just curious. 11:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Please just correct spelling if you find errors. Not everyone who contributes are native English speakers. So bear with them and help by just correcting spelling and grammar. --Kynde (talk) 13:37, 29 April 2015 (UTC)