It never fails to surprise me that there is so much variation in perception among human beings.
The DH and I were out for a walk, and I said, "What IS that annoying beeping noise?" It sounded to me like an alarm clock going off, except it periodically stopped. The DH could not hear a thing!
As we walked, the noise grew louder. We passed several apartment buildings, then the sound grew fainter. We were more than a block away from the point where I first heard it, and it sounded like a smoke detector in a kitchen with too much frying going on. "Wow, good hearing!" said the DH.
For Hawaii, the tsunami alert meant warning sirens going off Thursday night approximately every hour starting at 10 pm. This is a wailing sound higher than a police or fire horn, and it is continuous for at least 20 or 30 seconds. The DH slept through all of them. Some time after the third one, I went to take a shower. The siren sounded, and the DH was pounding on the door. I told him to stop that, come in and please close the door. So, he finally heard the last one! I told him I'd printed out some news and emergency warning updates, so he went to read them. By the time I was out of the shower, he'd gone back to sleep.
In Hawaii, unless you live on a boat, at the beach or across from one, you are generally safe from the threat of tsunami affecting you. So those warning sirens are mostly for residents of those affected areas, and evacuation zones are clearly marked on online maps, and in our phone books.
The rest of us still hear the sirens, though. Since we live equidistant from a city park and a public high school, we get to hear sirens from both areas. The rational me says: "DH and I are fine. No worries."
The paranoid me has other ideas. At the start of this week, with the tsunami and its sad results in the recent past, I came home from a long, hot morning of errands, drank some cold water and changed into cooler clothes, but still felt exhausted. I slipped into bed for a nap, but woke with a start, as I thought I heard sirens! I went back to sleep, but woke again when I heard it again.
I now realize I was hearing someone's car engine (please fix it!) but also that there is a definite dichotomy between the logical, rational me and the actually quite paranoid me. I am in no way comparing my mental or actual state with those of the people of Japan, who are so stressed out just trying to survive. I am just saying my unconscious plays around with some wacky ways of thinking.
Homo sapiens - our perceptions and acceptance of the world vary so widely. The senses and the way we live with them and use them is so different.
I suggested that DH have his hearing tested. Or perhaps my own hearing on the higher range is more on par with a dog's!?
Wednesday, 3/23/2011 update: perhaps I need to invest in noise-blocking headphones?