Saturday, February 14, 2015

Things that go bump in the night

Thursday night, after getting home pretty late from the Eric Bibb concert, I was just falling asleep when I heard a loud bang. Too loud for a gunshot, too sharp for fireworks. The tone was wrong for a backfire.

As I was pondering what it might have been, the lights went out. Since I don't live in Karachi, I wasn't thinking, bomb. Transformer exploded.

It got me to thinking about our senses, which are usually said to be far less acute than other animals. We do not see as sharply as the falcon, smell as good as the hound (unless we take regular baths) etc.

Still, even our feeble senses, combined with experience, tell quite a bit.

I recently spent several weeks in Houston, in a house that backed up to the sound barrier wall to the "610 Loop," the expressway that circles the center city. Almost every morning between 3 and 4, a motorcycle with a big engine -- a rice rocket -- was wound out to top speed.

Until one morning the scream of the engine taching up stopped abruptly. Did he blow his engine, I wondered, or his transmission, or did he spot a cop and back down?

The morning paper provided the answer: He had run into a pole on the off-ramp about a quarter mile from where I was. I didn't hear any sounds of the collision.

In looking up something about senses, I was surprised to learn how high the catfish ranks, in several ways.

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