Over the past year or so, MrLogical and I have noticed that Son#2 has gradually begun to operate on the circadian rhythms of a lemur, become increasingly more alert as the sun sinks into the horizon, and reaching the height of his wakefulness just as MrLogical and I are stumbling towards our beds. This, of course, means that he is not sleeping quite as much as he should be, and has been finding it challenging to rise when his alarm clock goes off each morning. Son#2's particular strategy is to set his alarm for an unrealistically early hour and then hit the 'snooze' button repeatedly, until everyone else in the apartment is wide awake and seething with resentment, while Son#2 seems to barely register the fact that he's hit the snooze button.
This is not, actually, very unusual for a teenager - at least, not for ours. Son#1 went through a similar phase at about age 14, and MrLogical and I addressed the problem by purchasing an alarm clock reassuringly called 'The Sonic Bomb.' The Sonic Bomb's claim to fame was the fact that it was the loudest alarm clock procurable for money, and that its alarm volume could be set all the way up to 100 decibels which - according to the online description - rivaled the volume of a jackhammer. The Bomb also included a small vibrating pad which - connected to the alarm clock with a long cord - could be placed under the sleeper's pillow, complementing the alarm's piercing tones with a powerful bed-shaking vibration that, it was promised, would jolt even the deepest sleeper into consciousness. Indeed, the first morning he used it, it sounded exactly like a garbage truck was backing up into Son#1s bedroom, so powerful were the rumblings and the shrill beeps of the alarm. We had no further problems with Son#1 getting up on time, as long as he remembered to set the alarm, and have every confidence that he will be able to get himself up and to his lectures at the University when the time comes.
Based on our satisfactory experience with the Sonic Bomb, you would think that we would simply buy another one for Son#2 when he started manifesting this inclination for the sleeping schedule of the Undead. Unfortunately, while the Sonic Bomb worked well in our large, detatched American house in the suburbs, there was no way it was going to work in our small apartment in Seoul. I had no doubt that any use of the Sonic Bomb - even on a reduced-decibel setting of 'blender' instead of 'jackhammer' would result in swift (and justified) recrimination from our neighbors both above and below us. However, Son#2 solved our problem for us by finding his own alarm clock.
Son #2 is a huge fan of the BBC television series, 'Dr.Who' which is described by Wikipedia thusly: "Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior appears as a blue police box. Along with a succession of companions, he faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help people, and right wrongs."
If you haven't seen Dr. Who, there's really no point in my describing it further, except to say that the recurring bad guys in the show (who are sort of like the Klingons in Star Trek) are a race of alien-types called 'Daleks'. 'Daleks' - as far as I understand them - are fairly small, soft-shelled aliens which house themselves inside a larger mechanical contraption (think R2D2 but shaped like a triangle) that allows them to travel around and try to exterminate all their adversaries without getting hurt themselves. In this way, they are similar to an alien hermit crab. Anyway, the Daleks all have loud, grating mechanical voices which - while they are capable of normal communication - mostly say, "Exterminate!" usually when they are just about to try and kill some other non-Dalek life form.
This, then, was the alarm clock that Son#2 chose for himself, insisting that all he needed to be able to leap up and face the day was the grating, mechanical tones of an alien, croaking 'Exterminate!' at him every morning.
So it was that we ordered the Dalek alarm clock from our favorite Think Geek catalogue with the understanding that, if Son #2 did not consistently rise when it went off, it would be confiscated.
So far, so good. We've had the clock for a week now, and, even though the apartment is so small that MrLogical and I can hear it croaking 'Exterminate!' all the way in our bathroom, we don't mind. Son#2 is getting up in enough time to perform his ablutions, groom himself appropriately, and make his way to the bus stop in a civilized manner instead of tearing out the door looking like a bridge troll and uttering the cries of the condemned.
It seems that the catalogue was not exaggerating when it promised us that "Nothing gets you out of bed like the threat of extermination."
(For those of you who have not yet experienced the joys of Dr. Who, here's a link to give you an idea as to what's waking Son#2 up every morning now: Dalek, "Exterminate!")