Tag Archives: noise

The iPhone Revolution

The little mechanical monster has been in my life for exactly one day longer than the little fuzzy monster. Both have had profound effects.

Once he finally stopped peeing in the bed, Monkey Boy began to curl himself around my heart and now has a pretty firm grip. The phone has proven to be both a bane and a boon, but more boon than bane. Case in point: lunch today at Royal Host.


Four tables of young women with small children all competing to see who could scream the loudest. The only single adult was the man at the next table who couldn’t stop blowing his nose.

iPhone, earphones, and Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”. LOUD. Foul mood to fair in under 30 seconds.

The phone exists to serve me. I am the Goddess.

Death by Noise

140916_1511~01A few months ago, the Powers That Be tore down two old houses next to mine, subdivided the land into three small plots, and construction has begun on two of them.

This is how I’m going to die.

They, or rather, one guy with a staple gun, started a few weeks ago on the furthest away. It’s the most gawd awful cheap construction, nothing but a pile of plywood boxes held together with staples. They built some like that near where I used to live and there were cracks in the outside walls before the owners had even moved in. Most likely this house will fall down long before the owners can finish paying for it. I guess you get what you pay for, but still, I feel bad for them.

Work started on the closest plot a few days ago, two guys this time, with the obligatory staple gun, plus a nail gun. Everything is being done with power tools. Gone is the sound of a hammer hitting a nail. Instead of Dueling Banjos, we have dueling staple guns, a fast forward kacha-kacha-kacha attack on the senses, not unlike a woodpecker attacking a tree, without any of the charm.

No more the gentle voo-bah, voo-bah of Bill Cosby’s Noah building the ark. Instead they have electric handsaws that produce a high pitched screeching whine that is threatening to rip my brain out through my ear canals. Take the sound of a dentist’s drill, amplify by a thousand, and don’t forget the delightful way the sound goes on and on as it ricochets off the surrounding houses.

One of the guys is bronzed and muscled and had an attractive dusting of sawdust on his black tank top today. That didn’t stop me wanting to go test my kick boxing skills on him. I fantasize that they will suddenly see the light, lay down their tools, and join the peace corps. Don’t they realize I only quit smoking a few months ago? Don’t they know I’m living with a crazed feline who attacks my feet when I’m asleep and produces poo more pungent than the chicken I left in my gym bag last summer? How much patience am I expected to have?


A friend recently asked if we’re the kind of people who keep our windows closed and locked. Nope. Unless there’s a downpour, they’re pretty much always open. We’re rather fond of air.

“But you close them at night, of course,” says she.

Nope, not even then, but a lot of our neighbors do. At our old house, the people next door closed and locked not only the windows but also the shutters, even on the second floor. It would take a rather determined thief to bust in from there, and they really didn’t seem like the type of people to have diamonds and rubies and stacks of cash lying around, although you never know.

My current next door neighbor closes her shutters round about 5:00 every single day. And she doesn’t just close them–she shuffles outside in a pair of over-sized slippers and slams them with a vengeance. I have come to associate the sound with nice things like having a tooth pulled or finding a package of rotten chicken in my backpack.

Come to think of it, in the fourteen years we lived in the old house, I only closed the shutters once, and that was because a typhoon hit us head on. In four years, I have never closed them here.

As close to idyllic as life in Japan seems, petty thievery is not uncommon. But honestly, we really don’t have anything worth stealing. On the other hand, we do have a custom designed, highly sophisticated system of old shoelaces we use to tie the screens closed.

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This is not intended to keep bad guys out. If they want in that badly, they’ll find a way. But it does keep Twitchy in, and keeping her safe is much more important than protecting the Prada handbags and tiaras and mink coats that I will never own anyway.

Join Me: Stamp Out Backhoe Sex

When I looked out the window this morning at 8:00 there was only one.

By 8:30 there were two.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAWho knew backhoes were hermaphroditic?

Look at them cuddling and cooing, in public no less. Have they no shame?

They must have skulked off for a quick snog because by 9:00 they had produced a chain saw. The lovely tree in the foreground is now kindling.

no backhoeJoin the Anti Backhoe Public Sex League. Our manifesto:

1. All backhoes should be spayed or neutered before they are allowed out in public.

2. Backhoes shall not be permitted to touch themselves or others of their kind at any time.

3. All backhoes shall be required to encase their limbs in latex at all times.

Accept the manifesto. These things matter.

Spitting Nails

Just yesterday I was telling someone that the destruction next door, under my bedroom window, isn’t so bad. They’re tearing down two old wooden houses, and had been doing it mostly by hand, so the noise was fairly manageable.


At 8:30 this morning I was awakened by the dulcet tones of a backhoe fitted with an enormous pincer. It was picking up great chunks of twisted metal and broken concrete and putting them into a truck. Despite the early hour, it was kind of cool. The guys who drive those things really know what they’re doing and its deft mobility had a certain beauty to it. Plus, these guys are predictable. At precisely 10:00, fifteen minutes of silence as they took their morning coffee break.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAt precisely 12:00, they broke for lunch. By the time I got back from the dojo, they had switched out the pincer for a shovel. Still not too bad. It scraped up dirt and bits of wood and other debris. Fairly civilized.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAt precisely 3:00, afternoon coffee break and then, oh joy, oh rapture, they switched out the shovel for a jackhammer attachment so they could break up the concrete foundations. My house has been bouncing and jumping ever since.

At precisely 5:00, they shut it down for the day and peace once again reigns.

But another peek out the window reveals that they’re not quite done with the foundations. To what raucous surprises will I awake in the morn?  Must go to bed early so I am up early and prepared for whatever awaits. They’re just doing their jobs; it would be unfair to introduce them to Mouse in Tokyo spitting nails.

Cicada Pee

Just for fun, let’s play around with active/passive voices.

This afternoon, we were sitting under a tree, enjoying the breeze and digesting our lunches, when a cicada peed on my husband’s head.

This is not a cicada. This is a cute little ladybug. Cicadas are too ugly.

A cicada peed on my husband’s head.

This is clear and direct and probably paints more than enough of a picture for most folks. But just in case it doesn’t, cicadas are hideous, grey creatures with bulgy eyes, nasty spindly legs and over-sized translucent wings. The males spend their lives chasing the females, as happens with most species, but their chosen serenade is a high pitched screechy buzz that, when the horny little buggers really get going, will make you want to tear your ears off or bury your head in a bucket of sand. (Wikikpedia, you are way off the mark calling this a “clicking sound”.) They have a nasty proboscis type appendage they use to suck sap out of trees and said sap becomes cicada pee. If you happen to step on a dead cicada, the resulting crunch will travel up your spine like a jolt of lightning and leave you quivering and slightly nauseated.

Now let’s try the passive voice.

My husband’s head was peed upon by a cicada.

In this case, my husband’s head has been spotlighted as the victim and the repulsive cicada has been relegated to the back seat where he belongs. On a positive note, the use of the delightful “upon” is clearly called for by the passive voice and has given the sentence a certain lilt lacked by the active voice. But the passive has also given the sentence a formality that the active didn’t have. It took the punch out of the pee, so to speak. (The pee had the punch taken out of it?)

Japanese people generally love cicadas and their song is called a sentimental hallmark of summer. My husband used to catch them and stick them in my face saying, “Look! Isn’t it cute?” He knows better now.

The little wretches are hated by me…actively.