Saturday, April 2, 2011

Weekend Randomness...

We had hail this afternoon. For about three minutes. At first, I was like, "Get a load of this." But then I remembered the day I moved into my first apartment in Virginia. We had hail that day, too -- and if I remember correctly, tornado warnings, if not actual tornados. It was kind of wild to me -- the hail then was a lot worse than what we had today. And this was in April 1998. So it's not all that unusual to see this here, I suppose.

But when I think of how cold and snowy these last two winters down here have been -- really, they were on a par with your average central New England winter -- I can't help wondering how much of this is due to global warming. Just because the planet is getting a little warmer overall doesn't mean it's not going to get colder than usual in places you wouldn't expect it to. A conservative friend of mine asked me what I now thought about global warming during the previous winter, after we'd been hit with a couple of good-sized weekend snowstorms. Then the summer came around, and it was brutally hot and humid the whole time.

During which, my conservative friend said not a word about global warming...

* * *

My voice is returning to it normal pitch now. I still have a liter of snot in my sinuses -- and it's annoying as hell. But whatever this is, I'm gradually getting over it. Very gradually.

I'm suspecting, though, that this may be a work-related issue. There are six people who work in the pre-press room five days a week, and to differing degrees, all six of us have this problem. And then there's the plate room, where I spend most of my time at work. I've been burning about 90 percent of the plates for that print shop for a year now, and there's something about that room that isn't quite right. It's the only room there that stays at the same temperature year-round, for one thing -- mid- to high-70s. For another thing, the lights are orange rather than white, since the plates we use are ultra-sensitive to white light, and I swear, working under those lights for hours on end month after month has rendered my eyes a little too sensitive to sunlight for my own good -- I often wear sunglasses when I'm out and about, even when the sky is completely gray. The lights in my apartment are 60-watt at the brightest.

And a third this may be the chemicals we use for the plate processor. We do the whole MSDS thing, I know how it works and how to read the labels, and I know how to handle the chemicals properly. All the same, my exposure to them is probably greater than that of everyone else at the plant combined. I think back to the first week I worked at that plant, essentially cleaning parts of the press I was assigned to because it had yet to be reassembled after being taken apart in the previous building it was housed in and transported to the place it's in now. Those chemicals I used were overwhelming -- I got off for the week early Saturday morning, and come Sunday, I was coughing up a little blood. I'm not coughing up blood now. But I'm coughing hard enough to wonder what the hell is going on...

* * *

Sometimes, I forget to wear earplugs when I'm working with the plate processor. I always wore them when I worked in the pressroom -- those machines can get pretty loud when they're running 500, 600 feet per minute. The processor is not that loud. But after a few hours with no earplugs and listening to the noises it does generate, I start getting this odd tension in my head. It doesn't hurt, or affect my motor skills, but I do have to get out of that plate room for a while just to try and dissipate it. I take dinner breaks a lot of the times this happens.

It seems my hearing is getting more sensitive to noise, much the same way my eyes are getting more sensitive to white light. I occasionally wear foam earplugs to bed. Lots of people these days seem to be terrified of silence. Not me -- I grab it whenever I can get it, fuck all this noise. Sometimes, the best part of my day is when I'm lying in bed for the night, earplugs in, eyes closed, room completely dark, when all I can hear is my own breathing and heartbeat, and I feel myself drifting away until I have to come back in the morning. It's rather peaceful and enjoyable.

And I'd have more of these pleasant nights if it wasn't for the neighbors who seem to be afraid of silence...

* * *

Not that it's silent in my apartment at the moment -- I've hooked my CD player up to my keyboard amp, popped Naveed by Our Lady Peace in, and set it on shuffle. Not too loud. Just loud enough to drown out the leather-lunged ramblings of the next-door neighbor who has friends over and a few drinks in her this Saturday night. I'm not mad or anything -- it's Saturday night, you gotta have some fun sometime. But damn, woman, you sound like Monique on angeldust tonight! I can't handle that right now, so I'm playing some music...

* * *

Now I've got Throwing Copper by Live playing. And the selected song is "Lightning Crashes." Which is one of my top ten favorites of all time. This calls for some YooToobery...


My favorite songs tend to be the long or longish ones that start off quiet and slowly build up to a crescendo -- what I like to call the Led Zeppelin approach to songwriting, because Led Zeppelin did that better than any other rock band ever will. (That's why "Stairway To Heaven" will always be the number one rock 'n roll song of all time.) I love songs like this to no end. It's like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Or an ugly duckling turning into a swan. Or rain creating a rainbow. It's... just... beautiful...

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