Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Okay, this short post is kind of coming from left field, but that's just how my brain works.

You know how you can tell by the sound of something what it is?  Take for instance the sound of the UPS truck coming down the street.  Even if I can't see it first, I know that big brown truck is right around the corner just by it's distinct sound.  So what happens when you hear something and it's out of context?  Your brain plays tricks on you is what.  Even if its just for a moment.  I like it.

Street Sweeper
I was just sitting here at my computer and had that very experience.  I heard something and instinctively knew what it was.  But it couldn't be.  Maybe it was this other things instead ... and then, No, I knew it was the first thing and I figured out why.  For a brief moment I was very confused just by the sound of something.  No sight involved.

The pic on the right is what it was (not the actual culprit tonight).  The trick was that hearing a Street Sweeper in Aspen, in January, is like hearing a Snow Plow on the road here in July.  And the Snow Plow is what my brain thought it had to be, because it is indeed the middle of Winter.  But then my brain went, wait a minute, we don't have any snow on the roads.  A Street Sweeper in January, geesh, who woulda thunk it.

I know, kind of geeky, but it got me to thinking about sound in general.  And then more specifically about the prevalence of noise pollution in our society today.  Background noise is everywhere, especially in Urban environments.  And I think without even knowing it, this low level (and sometimes not so low level) noise can contribute to our overall stress.

Maybe this is not as critical as other things can be in our everyday lives, but it's just one more thing to think about.  Obviously it becomes more important when we're trying to sleep or perhaps concentrate, but have you considered its impact when you're eating?  I'm sure you've heard before to take time and enjoy your food.  Try not to eat when you're under stress or rushed, right?  Chew your food well, savor its flavor and smells, yada yada yada.  Well, what if you're trying to do this all while a loud conversation is going on right next to you, or you're sitting outside and there are dogs barking, and car alarms going off, and airplanes flying overhead.

I know, its not so easy to have all of your meals as picnics in the High Alps with the von Trapp family.  I wasn't trying to be depressing here.  It just got me to thinking is all.  Wouldn't it be nice if noise was the exception rather than the rule?

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