Why is it that the U.S. manufacturing industry seems unable to make anything with an electric motor in it that works without generating enough noise to wake the dead (or, at least, the sleeping)? Its 2:00 AM in the morning, so the bathroom light has been turned off for more than three hours. And I'm not much in the mood for a Margarita, so I can quite happily manage without a constant supply of ice cubes. Though, as it's about 40 degrees (F) outside, I would like to have some heating please...
Yes, as you may have guessed, I've done the 22 hours end-to-end trip to the Mother Ship again, and am comfortably ensconced in a not exactly salubrious hotel room just outside Redmond for a couple of weeks as we get ready to toss the first Beta version of Enterprise Library 5.0 out into the arms of the baying public. And it's certainly fortuitous that I remembered to bring my airplane passenger earplugs within me.
In my little rented room, there's an air conditioner/heater, a large fridge/freezer, and a bathroom extractor fan. It seems like it's totally impossible to stop the bathroom extractor fan running - even if you turn out all the lights and sit in the dark for an hour. And the ice-maker in the freezer is designed to make clattering noises even when it's turned off and not actually making any ice. The fridge, freezer, and room heater motors are also obviously interconnected. As one switches off another one starts so that, together with the ever-active extractor fan, they provide a fascinating and ever-changing combination of whirring, clattering, rumbling, humming, and rattling noises.
OK, so I come from a somewhat backward area of the world (England) where we don't believe in air conditioning, and we have a gas boiler hidden away in the garage rather than electric fan heaters, but - as a civilization - we have advanced far enough to have a fridge, a freezer, and bathrooms with extractor fans. The fridge and freezer in our house are more than ten years old, yet still only emit a very faint hum. And the extractor fan turns off after five minutes. Even the central heating pump, located in cupboard next to the bedroom, generates an only just perceptible whirring noise.
Yes I can unplug my hotel room fridge at night (a procedure I've carried out during my last several stays here), and shut the bathroom door. But, even though I come from what we in England call "Oop North", where we're supposedly hardy enough to withstand the cold, I'm not hugely keen on waking up in the morning with icicles on my eyebrows like you see on those polar exploration documentaries. In fact, in relation to the geography of the UK, I really live in the North Midlands - so I'm nowhere near as hardy as many of the other more remote inhabitants of our tiny island group.
It's a well-known fact that Geordies go to local football matches in mid Winter (and in Russia when they're playing away) wearing just a Newcastle United tee-shirt. And the people of South Wales go shopping at Tesco in their pyjamas in the middle of the coldest Winter nights (see this BBC News story if you don't believe me). Meanwhile, Scotsmen quite happily run round on top of hills throwing cabers as part of the Highland games wearing (supposedly) just a kilt as a nether-regions windbreak.
Mind you, I did bring my MP3 player and noise-reducing headphones with me, so maybe I should just go out and buy one of those "relaxation" CDs. The sounds of waves breaking on a distant beach, or birdsong, or whales serenading each other hundreds of miles apart, perhaps. I suppose I could even go the whole hog and buy a DVD of a roaring log fire to play on the TV in the room, just to complete the effect of a nice cozy retreat away from home. Though the crackling noise would probably keep me awake.
Oh, and this week's title? Check out this page.