Silence, Blessed Silence

Cabin

Our ancestors enjoyed silence.  At least I hope they enjoyed it, because every invention they produced – every mechanical and electrical advance they made – has led to the constant thrum of noise that we in the developed world are immersed in.

Our forebears worked their asses off 16 hours a day.  When they finally huddled in their huts and cottages and cabins at the end of a long day, these hovels were not the insulated and breeze-resistant wonders we live in today.

It wasn’t so quiet that they could hear the grass grow.  There would have been the sounds of birds and animals and insects – all hopefully outside.  Then, along came technology, and constant, growing noise.  We have become inured to it, and most of us never even notice it.  It’s just part of our lives.

I had one of ‘those moments’ the other day.  Like the digital clocks and power indicator LEDs spewing light around my house, I became aware of how many things were constantly pumping noise into my ears.  I have four analog clocks spread around my house.  They’re all electric, running on batteries, but they all tick, tick, Tick, Tick!

The son doesn’t want the cats or dog messing with stuff in his room, so he keeps the door closed 24/7.  It could get a little funky in there, so he has set the thermostat so that the circulating fan on the furnace runs on low, constantly.  In the summer when the air conditioning, or in the winter when the burner kicks in, the fan ramps up to high.

In the winter, the air in the house gets so dry that I raise half-inch blue sparks, reaching for doorknobs or light switches, so we have a humidifier pumping moisture (and noise) into the atmosphere.  The mechanical timer on the water softener clatters away to itself in the basement, and the softener itself howls for about two hours, twice a week.  Beside it is the chest freezer, beside that is the ‘beer fridge’, plus the big one in the kitchen, none on constantly, but regularly.  Even the water heater burbles away to itself when hot water is used.

In an attempt to conserve electricity, Ontario has banned incandescent light bulbs.  The new CFL, compact fluorescent light bulbs are cheaper on power, but each has a starter built into the base.  These emit a faint 60-cycle hum when turned on.  I sit beside a tri-light bulb when I do my crosswords.  The greater the light output, the more pronounced the hum.  Two or three of those in a room, and the cats have their paws over their ears.

The tower for my PC sits below my desk, down in cat-hair country, so we decided to add a second exhaust fan, just to be safe(r).  The son’s PC is not always on, and only has one fan.  The wife’s laptop has one exhaust fan, but she plays a lot of games.  No Grand Theft Auto – more Canasta and Monopoly – but it was overheating, so now its single fan sits above a cooling pad with two more fans running.

Laptop

The wife has tinnitus – overactive nerves that make her ears ‘hear’ squeals and whines that aren’t there.  To cover up the fakes, so that she won’t go crazy, she often has the stereo on low, or a play list running on the laptop.

There’s the exhaust fan above the stove, when we’re cooking – the washroom exhaust fan – the washer and/or dryer – the dishwasher – the microwave – the stove-oven exhaust fan – the toaster-oven fan – the traffic noise from the four-lane Regional road, 100 feet from my back door – the four-year-old boy who lives in the other half of our semi-detached house, with his collection of bowling balls that he rolls down the stairs, and his seven-year-old sister who walks like a rhino.

I’m going mad – MAD I tell you!  (What?  Too late??)  It’s a wonder that the kids playing road hockey outside don’t tell us to keep it down.  I moved from a quiet small town to the big city (500,000) for jobs and amenities.  I shouldn’t complain, but I’m a Grumpy Old [retired] Dude, what else do I have to do?  If any of you want to comment about the levels of noise you have to put up with, YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP!  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!   😉

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Fellowship Of The Blog – Epilogue

 

Collecting My Thoughts

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We had barely stepped from the car in Buffalo, when the wife found a bright, shiny, good-luck penny.  This pattern continued – five days, five pennies. We took it as a continuing omen.  Despite our Exhaustive and GPS adventures, all finally worked out well.  We brought the pennies home as a memorial of a fun trip, and used them to start an optimistic new collection for next year.

I gave the previous year’s coin collection to the wife before we started.  Women seem to be able to get rid of coins quicker and easier than guys.  She doled out a handful, including several pennies, to the young cashier at Cracker Barrel.  We explained that Canada had discontinued minting pennies.  She seemed to have a problem grasping the idea of round up/round down.

We told her that Canada had also changed its dollar, and two-dollar bills, to coins, and showed her one of each.  She cooed that she collected American coins, but had never seen these, so we gave them to her.

I was talking to a room clerk, and said that she must encounter lots of loud-mouthed assholes.  She told me of an afternoon when a man came in, with a cell phone jammed in his ear.  She already had several customers, and this guy was loud and obnoxious.  Apparently talking to someone about a girlfriend, every second word started with F…

When he stepped up to the counter, he was still ranting, and demanded a F…ing room.  She told him that she would deal with him when he was finished on his phone.  “I can F…ing handle booking a room.”  “Well, I can’t sir.  I’ll deal with you whenever you’re finished on the phone.”  Still bitching and F…ing, he stepped outside.  While he was still turning the air blue, another man stepped in, and asked to book a room.  “There you are sir!  Congratulations, you just got our last room.”  I can feel the Karma from here.

We took the wife’s laptop with us, because free Wi-Fi hotspots are now everywhere.  We could access the internet from our rooms, everywhere except in Buffalo, where we had to go to the office to connect, and sent emails back to the son and daughter.  We didn’t use the laptop, or request that Red Roof book us a room in Taylor (Detroit), and we were the ones who got the last room, and only because some guy phoned in and cancelled while I was standing at the desk, whining and crying.

After driving across the meadow in Ohio, when we were seriously lost, (it can be seen in a bird’s eye view on the map program, complete with cow shit) we suddenly came upon a hard right, 90° turn, which led us to Horst’s farmyard, house on the left of the road, barn and sheds on the right, and two teen boys playing in the road.

This track has run for 10 or 12 miles.  It can’t just be a farm lane! They looked at us like we were space aliens.  We had not seen another vehicle.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had.  This was the first spot big enough for two cars to pass, much less turn around to go back.  Peering past the boys, and a small knoll, we realized that the road took yet another hard left 90° turn.

Flying Saucer

 

 

 

 

 

I eased forward, and rolled down the window, and they approached the car.  “Excuse me; we seem to be really lost!  I’m looking for ‘Dog’s Body, Ohio.’  “Vell, vee arrr nut vrum arount ear.”  Of course you’re not!  I should have noticed the crop-circle landing spot in the pasture, for the UFO that I can zee see in the barn.  You’re the space aliens.  😯

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Every Red Roof uses a decorative border of stones.  At each one, we picked up a small, interesting one as a memento.  Ohio’s geological range of rocks possibly exceeds Southern Ontario’s.  They all went into our decorative terrarium, sitting on the ‘singing sand’ we brought back from Myrtle Beach.

With the current collapse of oil prices, the cost of gasoline in the US ranged from a high of $3.89/gal = $1.13/liter, down to $2.81/gal =     Ȼ 81.7/liter.  When we returned to Canada, prices had dropped – all the way from $1.18, to $1.16/liter.

I forgot to check beginning/end odometer readings for the trip, but gasoline receipts indicate that we traveled about 1200 miles.  This is about the same as BrainRants’ recent ‘Big Move’, but where he did it all in one nail-biting, nerve-jangling 17 hour dash, we took five days, although there were some nail-biting, nerve-jangling moments.  We completely circumnavigated Lake Erie, something we’ve never done before.

I am pleased with those who have accompanied us on our virtual voyage.  I am happy for those who have visited, and read, and liked and commented.  I am most happy with those who have shown polite restraint, and not lobbed over-ripe fruit and vegetables.  I hope that Jim Wheeler has seen some, or all, of these accounts, because he is intrigued with the social aspects of travel, but is a bit restricted.  Thanx to all!  New subject coming up.   😀

 

Erickson Expose

HE’S ALIVE….ALIVE!!

Just got home from my exciting trip, and only have a little bit of time and energy tonight, but I felt that should inform those of my readers who were worried and asked or encouraged me. The primary mission of the journey was a success.  I managed to locate and speak with Doctor Livingston Erickson in the wilds of darkest Ohio.

He is alive, and as normal as he ever is.  His vanishment from the social media scene has been caused by a fluke series of electronic frustrations.  It began with a PC that ate its own hard drive.  He located a used laptop, and spent several days building bookmarks, and teaching it other tricks.  Just when he got it domesticated, it went blind.  It still computed, but nothing he did could get it to display on the screen.

His internet access recently changed to a new, local Wi-Fi tower. In Ohio, they build these on top of tall hills, in an area well-known for lightning storms, but apparently no-one thought to install a copper grounding cable.

He had tamed yet another computer, to the point where he knew he had over 3000 unread emails, when the inevitable happened. He’s now impatiently waiting for fried circuits to be replaced, and a ground cable installed, and feels he should be ready to re-assume the title of Supreme Commenter within a week or so.

He and his wife were overjoyed to meet me and my wife, but were absolutely amazed that anyone would make the trip, and that others would be concerned enough to urge and encourage me to do so. I’ll give more details when that section of the Blog Fellowship series is published.

Rest easy, the lost is found, even if he’s silent on WordPress a bit longer. In the meantime, spread the word – King John the Digital is alive and well.

My personal thanks to AFrankAngle, whose assistance and guidance made this trip the enjoyable success that it was. Now Soon, back to our regularly scheduled program.

 

Archon 😆

Out Of Touch

The good little New York, Jewish son called his momma every day while she wintered in Florida.  One day, in the middle of a conversation, he realised he couldn’t hear her.  He began clicking the hang-up button, and shouting, “Momma!  Momma, are you there?  Can you hear me?”  A technician, obviously aware of a problem on the lines, cut in and said to him, “I’m sorry sir.  You’ve been cut off.”  He replied, “I know, but should that affect my hearing?”

I don’t know how you “connected” people do it.  We were cut off from reality for a couple of days, (no smartass comments, please) and I was amazed at what I’ve grown used to, and reliant on.  The third novel of the Jack Reacher series arrived as an e-book, from the library.  The wife downloaded it to her laptop, and proceeded to put it on the son’s old Kobo, so that I could read it at my convenience.

The Kobo accepted the download, and she directed it to present it for reading.  “Restarting,” and then, nothing!   She plugged it back into the computer, but the computer wouldn’t even recognize it.  Took the little pin out, and poked it in the Reset hole in the back, poked it in the hole twice, three times, pushed it in and held it for ten seconds.  Did I mention, Nothing??!

Took it over to the electronics store.  The “Expert,” who was only a fetus last week, did exactly what we had done and then shook his head.  Apparently, the Kobo site mentions, “bricking,” where all the programs, and downloads, and commands, somehow run together, and jam the unit.  Even leaving it for six months for the battery to run down for a cold reboot, might not unjam it.  We decided to buy another one.  We thought of trading up, but decided to take a brand-new copy of the five-year-old tantrum-thrower.

We took it home.  The wife downloaded the Kobo library program to it.  It said, “Restarting,” and froze!  Damn, damn, damn!!!  The wife went to lift her laptop, and couldn’t hear the fan running in the cooling pad.  (See damn, damn, damn, above!)  Back to the electronics store the next day, for a no-charge replacement, and a $25 cooling pad.  Third time’s the charm, and I’m finally reading Reacher.

I took the wife to a Podiatric appointment Monday.  When we got home, she tried to phone the daughter.  No dial tone!  That meant that somebody, whose name is ME, had to ensure that every phone in the house is firmly on the hook.  Sometimes, the cats order pizza, while we’re out.  All phones a-okay, must mean it’s a Bell problem outside, so the wife punched in 611 on her cell phone, to reach Bell.

The home phone is Bell, but her mobile plan is with Telus, so she got the Telus office.  We’ve had problems with Bell services before, so we know the drill.  Again, ME, went around the house and unplugged all the phones except the last one used, (we know that one works!) including the DSL computer modem.  She dialled 310-BELL, and prepared to play the game.  Unplug all phones, including computer feed.  Done!  Plug back in a phone you’re sure works.  Done!   No dial tone.  The problem’s probably outside, but Bell has no other complaint, or work being done in our area.

The computer feed was working, but the phones weren’t.  How, and why unplug it?  Imagine two pipes, coming to a tee, and feeding the same tap.  Okay, then why unplug the computer?  That line may be affecting the phone line.  We need you to be home.  When would it be convenient to send out a tech?

We have appointments Tuesday and Thursday.  Could you come on Wednesday?  Sure, no problem.  The son works midnights, and hopes to sleep all day.   And if the problem’s  outside, why do we need to be home?  Bell might have to enter the house.  Okay, we hope to not see you on Wednesday.

We went to a chiropractor Tuesday morning and Costco in the afternoon.  When the son got up Tuesday evening, he told us that Bell had fixed the problem externally, and then rang the doorbell about 2:00 PM, which set the dog off, which partly woke him up, to hear the one phone ringing.  He trudged down the hall to the computer room, and heard the dog barking on the phone.  The repair tech was still outside.

We asked for a specific day and time, for a specific reason.  It was nice to get our phones and computer back a day early, but, while it was super-efficient, it was bureaucratically unreliable.  Just as we were preparing dinner, the phone rang.  It was Habibi – sorry, “Kevin” – wanting to clean my ducts.  Oh joy!  It’s a good thing we’re on that Do Not Call List.

We don’t Facebook.  We don’t Twitter, and we can live without telemarketers.  I was only without my blog, and the internet, for a little over one day.  No reading others’ posts, no comments, no likes, no online crossword, no definitions, no translation, no MapQuest, no researching arcane trivia.  I was going mad, I tell you, MAD!  For a disconnected old curmudgeon, apparently I need a lot of connecting – but I’m not getting a Bluetooth.  Even Putin thinks they’re gay.

Now that I’m back online, anybody got a comment?  Wanna click my Like button?  Anybody??  I’m feeling very lonely, and unloved, and disconnected over here.

 

 

What Was I Saying?

I was saying that some people take being connected way too seriously.  I just read a post by a blogger who went to Disney World for a week, and didn’t take along his laptop.  He’s an early-morning person, and was awake each day shortly after 6 AM.  Despite being in the Mouse house, the rest of his family didn’t wake till 7:30 or 8:00 o’clock.  He bitched that he could have done most of his blogging and following before they woke up.

I thought, “What would you have done if you’d taken them camping, out in the woods?”  Then I read the paper.  There, in the tech section, was an article about this little metal fireplace.  This thing uses the heat from the fire to produce electricity with a heat exchange unit.  Then it uses the electricity to run a blower to get more heat from the fuel, and spread it around a campfire.  And finally, it does what every techie wants.  It pumps the excess power to a USB port, to be used to recharge cell phones, iPads and laptops.  Just what every camper’s wife wants.  He’s never away from the office.  And you can use the recharged phone to take a picture of the bear that ate you.

Grandpa was sitting on the porch, when Billy came out and headed towards his crappy little car.  Grandpa says, “Where ya goin’ Billy?”  Billy answers, “Gotta take the car to the garage to get it fixed.”  “Aw, you don’t need to take your car to a garage.  Why, in my day we just used some Scotch tape and baling wire.  Want me to fix it for you?”  “Sure Grandpa.  Go ahead!”  Grandpa swaggers over to the car and confidently throws open the hood, only to be faced with a confusing array of pipes and wires and tubes and cables.  He stares for a few seconds, slams the hood, and says, “Take it to the garage, Billy.”

After spending over $2000, at least my car starts, first time, every time.  But, if I back out into the street, and don’t straighten the wheels before moving forward, the traction control still growls at me.  I growl right back, but the wife is not impressed.  At least the anti-lock brakes don’t fail, or kick in unexpectedly.  I haven’t been locked out for a long while, but the speedometer has been falling asleep several times in the last week.  Even if Billy takes the car to a garage, there’s no guarantee that they can/will fix it.

A believable explanation for why the black guy was stabbed to death in the park by the white guy, has surfaced.  It brings to mind two related quotes.  The best-laid plans of mice and men, gang aft aglee, (often go wrong) and, Oh what a tangled web we weave, when others we practice to deceive.  It seems that the female involved, used to be involved with the black guy, but he was too sexist and controlling.  Apparently she dumped him and went on to find another boyfriend, who happened to be white.  They all run in the same circles and know the same people, so she made it known that she had a new white boyfriend, to keep the overly-possessive black from harassing her.

He and his ego did not take this well.  He spread the story that he was gonna “get the white guy”, and “get rid of him”, so he could have the girl back.  This was done as a scare tactic, but when it didn’t work, he thought he’d up the ante and threaten him with the fake gun.  The new boyfriend didn’t scare easily, and, to ensure his safety, and that of the female, he obtained and took to carrying a large knife.  When the black guy jumped out in front of them in the dark, waving a firearm, he immediately stabbed and ran.

The young woman will not be charged with anything.  She didn’t carry the fake gun, or try to scare somebody with it.  She didn’t obtain or carry the big knife for self-defence.  In fact she may not even have known it was present.  If either of these two geniuses had done their thinking with grey cells instead of hormones, one kid wouldn’t be dead, and the other mixed up with the law.

Two stories from today’s paper.  A man had his driver’s licence seized when he was charged with drinking beer in a canoe while fishing on a small local lake.  What busybody called the cops?  I’m sure they weren’t just cruising past.  The drunken-boating charge was eventually dropped, but “The System” forgot to give him his licence back.

The second story, immediately underneath, concerns a young, female teacher who survived the tsunami in Japan.  The story says she plans to return to teaching English-as-a-second-language at the rebuilt village on Japan’s Pacific Coast.  The US has an Atlantic and a Pacific coast.  Canada has both of those, plus an Arctic Ocean coast, but, no matter how hard I look at the map of Japan, I don’t see anything except Pacific Coast.

I’ve ranted myself dizzy….no, wait, I came in that way!  I have to get some rest so that I can get up early (?) to take the daughter to the anti-violence fair in the park.  I’ll tell you all about it, in a very passive way.