Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter, Christmas, Small Town America, and News

Thursday, December 16, 2010. Tis the season for inflatable snowmen, wreathes on the light poles, and two "Happy Holiday" signs over Main. Also snow,crystal-blue skies, and not-so-clear skies.

Inflatables abound in Sauk Centre's first computer service's yard. December 13, 2010.

Advent is counting down, too, toward Christmas.

Monday: A beautiful, crystal-clear winter's day. December 13, 2010.

Tuesday: also a winter's day. Our Lady of the Angels' not-so-new-anymore heated sidewalks really help, this time of year. December 14, 2010.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald front page reminded me of reasons why I love living here. It's not that this example of small town America is some perfect little care-free haven, where improbably cheerful folks live just the way it was in the 'good old days.'

I remember 'the good old days,' by the way: and they weren't. Which isn't quite another topic.

Sauk Centre Herald: This week's paper, and a recent issue.

The top headline this week is about wind turbines, a wind farm that's planned for this area, and concerns that a couple of folks have about it. It's not the aesthetics of the wind turbines that bothers them: They've heard that the blades make infrasound. That's another invisible thing that may hurt people. Or, not.My guess is that we've got more trouble with the 60-cycle hum generated by the power grid: but I'm not terribly concerned about that, either.

For what it's worth, the National Institutes of Health posted some interestingpapers on infrasound:
How much of the concern - and worry - about infrasound is legitimate, and how much is somebody finding a new way to get research grants, I don't know.

It's possible that there is a real problem.

On the other hand, I remember when everything caused cancer. During those particular 'good old days,' we were also warned that some carcinogens caused heart attacks. These dire threats were discussed - quite seriously - in newspapers and magazines, and worked their way into college textbooks.

Some of that, ah, concern was based on reality. Some - well, we've moved on to other terrifying threats.

I don't doubt that some folks won't like living near wind turbines: some of them because they really do feel funny when the things are turning. The abstract of that June, 2010, publication mentions "abnormal states in which the ear becomes hypersensitive to infrasound," and very carefully suggests that some folks might have problems with low-frequency sound from wind turbines. Maybe.

As for "infrasound" as such? It's just a five-dollar word for sound that's so low-pitched that we can't hear it. I'm a little disinclined to be worried about sounds I can't hear: since the same abstract points out that we're bombarded
with infrasound each time our heart beats, when we breath, and when we cough.

Still, it shouldn't hurt for the Missouri university folks to dig a little deeper into how our ears work.

Then there's the front-page article about a Christmas tree with 1,000 lights - but I gotta leave something for Sunday.

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