Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Haze into Brilliance

It's a light switch turned on. It's a radio properly tuned. It's like cable TV versus air transmission. It's better than getting a brand new car.

Several weeks back I rose from that wheelchair of hearing loss and began to walk...make that run...heck, make that fly!

When I left the audiologist's office I knew that surprises awaited me. The first one knocked me back against the car seat. I knew the door would creak loudly. I knew the engine would roar. What I forgot was that I left the radio on to it's normal volume and that stunned me. I looked at the dial to remember where it was set and turned it down to an acceptable volume and later reset the tone controls. That's where the re-education process began. Presto! I heard the turn signals for the very first time.

Minutes later one of those damn gulls Oshkosh is famous for squealed about two feet over my head. I ducked, looked up, and it was really 30 to 40 feet in the air. At the New Moon about ten people were around me and I could discern all speech. Later in a conference room in the library I attended a meeting, sat in the middle, and could hear all people who spoke. A young woman I never understand asked a question from the front row and I never missed a beat. Every day brings new experiences.

Re-learning my hearing may take three months or as long as a year. It's like moving near a rail line. You learn to tune certain things out after a time. Car doors are tuned out now. The computer keyboard isn't. The keyboards sound about as loud as an old Smith Corona manual typewriter that needs to be oiled.

Telephones are still a problem but not as big as before. I still need to complete the L.A.C.E. program to improve my word comprehension, but I'm so-o-o-o happy with the progress thus far. Hearing aids have improved dramatically since the ones from the early '90's.

Widex is the brand name. Mine are equipped with four microphones and several programs. On one setting two microphones are directional to wherever I look. On that same program the other two microphones are omnidirectional to the sides and the back. Another program is good for music and all four microphones become omnidirectional. I was asked by the audiologist if I had used the music program. I have. At sunset I sat quietly at the edge of a pond with frogs, bullfrogs, crickets and more. As night approached the noise became deafening which to me was a total delight!

For the audiophiles: Each hearing aid is divided into a fifteen band EQ. In addition to that each EQ band is adjustable in width so certain bands can be wider or thinner if need be! This is sophisticated electronics.

It is exciting to enter the world of the hearing again. It's just as exciting as the blind person who sees or the person who gets out of the wheelchair and walks again.

In the early 1990's I was brought up to 79-80% of normal hearing. This time the various tests show 100%, 100%, 97%, with the lowest one being 95%. In the past hearing aids could not bring a person to 20/20 like glasses work. This is nothing short of amazing.

I have been hurt by bad hearing my entire life. Shortchanged in jobs, relationships, in every aspect of living. I've had supervisors make life a living Hell. I worked at a place in the early '90's where I would be all nerves everytime the P.A. clicked on. I worked with a Jerry, a Dari(Darrelynn), Kari, Larry, and one more Jerry. I could never tell if it was me. A recent low point was when I was told that I had 20% word comprehension. I understood two words of ten which only improved by using my sight to lip read and guess at the nuances, i.e. movement of shoulders, a tilt of the head, eye movements, etc.

All is well that ends well. I thank my audiologist Juliette Sterkens of Fox Valley Hearing of Oshkosh who did a wonderful job beginning to end and also to Theresa M. who helped make this possible.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Coon Clobber King

Gas rose another eight cents to $3.07.9 today. In your travels (hopefully a little slower) this summer take a look at the old silos, those bright blue Thermos bottles in the sky called Harvestores, and those white and sometimes black giant garbage bags on the ground. They all store feed. Many old silos are vacant, capless, and have negative value due to the cost of tearing down. I haven't seen as many Harvestores being built as I used to. A lot of farmers are using those long giant plastic bags.

Many years ago a Harvestore ran $25,000-$35,000. I don't know what they run now but you can tell if they are paid off. The Stars and Stripes is proudly attached near the top. Those giant garbage bags run about $250 and are not reusable.

The Harvestore takes less land since it is vertical but anything vertical can be dangerous due to falls. Years ago fatal accidents were common with the old silos. The Harvestore does a much better job containing the feed but those plastic bags are cheap in comparison. Plastic bags split and varmints feast.

Lazy raccoons like to break a hole and live and multiply near the bags. Enter the coon clobberers. Coon clobbering could be called 'Redneck Polo'. It takes a young person with good dexterity who likes to work nights. The equipment consists of an all terrain vehicle and a baseball bat. Guns are not used since they put holes in the silage bags and bullets lower the value of the feed. The ATV is driven at a high rate of speed and the surprised shined raccoon is hit in the head with as much force as possible to kill it. Hell of a job description.

One of these guys is currently in demand in northeast Wisconsin. I don't know his name but he could be called the Coon Clobber King. He recently set some sort of record by getting 200 in one session.

Could this replace the corn shucking contests of a century ago?