Monday, February 25, 2013

Silence is a beautiful neurological thing

In Death Valley, given calm wind and no fighter jet maneuvers, it is oh so quiet. Relaxing.

Yesterday the headline Finding Your Own Cone of Silence in the New York Times caused an involuntary giggle. Because we're not in Death Valley anymore, Dorothy.

Let's work backward.

This morning while fleeing the house for Hacker Dojo, a tree-trimming crew one block away was yelling back and forth, probably due to a collective hearing loss from working near their own power tools. A sort of massive electric saw. Wow.

Friday was planned as a quiet day, for gathering thoughts and working on this blog. In an IM window Danny typed "hope you have a good quiet day". At that very moment a gas-powered leaf blower was screaming about 8 feet to my left. On the bright side, our neighbor's side yard is free of debris.

Monday (President's Day) took the cake. At 8:30am, the earliest possible hour allowed by the city, the unmistakeable sound of a jackhammer. Very, very close by. For three hours. Turns out the neighbor behind us is taking out his driveway. The bad news is, the job is only half done.

Ah, suburbia. Where people flee the noise of urban environments.

Of the categorization exercises in speech therapy, one of the most difficult was 'name 3 places that are quiet'. You might  say 'a church' but in churches I hear the cacophony of dogma. So I said 'a forest' and 'outer space'. Could not come up with a third.

Check out this short TED talk by Julian Treasure on the importance of sound in our daily lives:

For people like me who are sensitive to sound, the New York Times article recommends Headspace, a smartphone app to promote mindfulness.


  1. This reminded me of when we lost the tree in our front yard. The city guy who came to chop it up and throw it into the chipper wore no safety gear whatsoever. Good looking young 20's guy. I looked at him and thought something wry about age and invicibility. (And then went to coax the cats out from behind the microwave, which is apparently the safest place in the house if there are Really Loud Noises like a woodchipper.)
    The line about suburbia cracked me up. :)
    Thanks for posting the talk and the link - I'll check those out on my break.

  2. Wow. Flying bits of wood are like shrapnel!

    Those machines have serious power and I can totally understand why the yard crews use them. But when everyone's doing it, and everyone's trimming and cleaning everything obsessively, it's a circus! Bella doesn't like it either.