Last night I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by my lovely wife. “Joe there is a clicking noise I hear and it is keeping me awake.” It took me several minutes to wake up and realize this was not a dream. Then as soon as I stood up at the side of the bed I needed to pee. I finally joined her wide awake to seek out the troubling noise. Before I began, however, I installed my hearing aids. I could have faked the whole search by keeping them hidden in the charger, but I would have felt guilty about it all day.

I quietly walked around the house looking for sources of possible noise. Is the refrigerator door open? No, is it the smoke detector? No, is it outside? Open the door and listen while feeling the cold breeze chill me, no. Room by room we traipsed listening for a noise. I heard nothing even with the aides turned up, Irena heard a faint sound coming from the second bedroom. I picked up the clock, nothing, I opened the window, nothing, I sat on the edge of the bed and listened calmly for a few seconds, nothing. After searching every room this way it was time to head into the basement. Again, I searched every source of possible noise, furnace, water softener, water meter, toilet pump, sump pump, back-up sump pump, nothing.

It was time to tell my story of being awakened several times by a horn that went off in my head in the middle of the night. Each time it happened at the same hour. I walked the house looking for the source of noise. In my case the sound was a dead ringer for the sump-pump backup horn. It is a battery operated pump and when it triggers it also sounds an alarm that sounds much like a siren. Each time I investigated for that noise but the house was silent, but I kept hearing it in my head. Another time, it sounded like water running through a pipe. That time, I actually went outside in the dead of night to see if I left the water running into the pond.

After that incident it occurred to me to put my fingers into my ears and to block out all external noise. The siren kept sounding in my head, and I concluded it was the tinnitus. I have experienced tinnitus, or continuous ringing in my ears for forty years, and I hear it now as I write this. I have become accustomed to the noise and forget about it, but I believe my brain is inventing a new way to get my attention. Most likely a similar thing is happening inside Irena’s head. Or, maybe, she heard Halloween ghosts creeping around the house.

We both calmed down after the fifteen minute shakedown of the house, and went back to sleep.

Pictures Dance on the Wall

The picture below spells a disaster in the making for sure. Vision this train of oil cars running through your backyard when one of them jumps the track and crashes into your swimming pool and explodes. One explosion begins another and thus the chain reaction begins a mile long disaster of flaming hot crude spewing thick black smoke for miles. I had the Canadian National run through my backyard within one hundred feet of the house. The scenario I described is easier to make happen than a potassium nitrate explosion in a deserted truck. All it would take is to loosen the bolts between sections of track to cause a derailment. Another problem I had with the CN is the noise they generated. Think about a mind numbing clickety-clack that goes on for ten minutes each time one of these mile long rains runs through. I hear the argument that I should have moved if I didn’t like the noise. Try selling a house with a railroad in the backyard. Eventually, I did sell and now I live one mile away from the same train. I still hear it, but not to the extent as when is ran through the backyard and all the dishes rattled on the table and the pictures danced on the wall.

Because of the ease with which a terrorist, or a prankster can cause a derailment, I agree one hundred percent with building the Keystone pipeline. Oh, I also had a pipeline buried in an easement between my house and the RR tracks. It was there for many decades and no one knew. There was no evidence of the pipeline except for the orange markers required by law.

When I bought the house a jungle of wild trees and shrubs covered the pipeline easement, and blocked the view of the trains. Then one summer a crew came through with a brush hog and chopped the living hell out of this mini forest. The reason? Federal Law required the pipeline company to have full view of the line from the air. They flew over in a helicopter looking for breaks in the line on a regular schedule. I lived there for twenty years and we never experienced a break.

Pipelines can become one with the environment if we choose. Yes I have heard about some that are so one-with-the-environment that they break and leak bad stuff into rivers. When a leak happens and the break is found the problem is quickly mitigated, usually without harm to anyone. That is, except for the time one spilled into a Oregon stream. A fly fisherman flicked his cigarette into the water and caused a an explosion that  blew his ass to kingdom come giving us another reason smoking is bad for your health.

Mail AttachmentSee the clear groove cut through the forest in the photo above? Where were all the tree huggers when the railroad built this line? I could hear all the trees crying in Illinois when this happened, yet it got built anyway.

If Warren Buffet is smart as people say he is he will make a deal with the pipeline company to use his RR right of way for the pipeline. Think of all the work it would save and how many trees would be saved too.