block it out

That is not (necessarily) what we want to do when wearing headphones. “It” being any noise not coming from the headphones. Principally, we use headphones to hear what we are listening to better.  Or we may use them to protect our brain from radio waves.  GV never talks on her cel phone if not using a headphone.

The flight back from India this past week, since it was a direct non-stop, was a relatively long, about 15 hours.  Not so bad in first or business class, but it seems longer in a crowded economy cabin.  I was lucky enough to have a middle bulkhead seat in the first row of the economy section of a 777 wide body.  It was one row behind business class.  Being that the curtains are now transparent (at least on United’s flights), it’s apparent the (huge) difference in comfort.  And cost.

I was in the middle of two guys.  The guy to my left was a seasoned traveler.  An engineer for Honeywell who constantly travels around the world visiting their plants to check environmental issues.  He was heading home after a two-week around-the-world trip.  He was also a super-duper platinum member with United but could not get upgraded for this flight.  Since the financial difficulties a couple of years ago, the company changed its policy and their managers must fly coach instead of business.  He looked longingly into the cabin in front of us with dreamy eyes and told me how he upgraded on every other flight he was on except this one.

The guy, kid, on the other side was a high school senior going home after a several weeks abroad, having done various home-exchange assignments where he (as part of a group) helps local charities.  He’s not even out of high school and his recounting of the places he’s been (from prior years doing the same thing) rivals any seasoned traveler’s history.  He’s an intelligent young guy.  And he stinks.  I don’t know whether it was a diet full of Indian curry or a crusty shirt, but the smell emanating from him helped me practice holding my breath.

After all the communication formalities among us, my seat partners both donned over-the-ear headphones they had in their carryon.  One watched a movie and the other listened to music from a device.  I used the airline issued in-ear plugs and decided to watch a movie.  Between the low roar of the jet noise and the scream of the baby a couple of rows back, I had a problem hearing anything going on in the movie even with the volume maxed out.  As I was holding the earplugs into my ear just to hear, I realized this couldn’t be good.  My hearing isn’t bad.  But it will be if I keep doing this.  So I bagged the movie and read.  The guys on either side were in their own universe governed by what was coming out of their respective over-the-ear headphones.

After that flight I think I’ve become a headphone convert.  There are times when we need to block it all out.  Indeed times when it’s healthy.  We sometimes live in an environment with so much ambient noise that it pays to separate noise.

And of course there are those times it pays to hear everything.  A couple of friends in Colombia ride (cycling) with headphones listening to music.  That’s nice and romantic, but dangerous in my book.  There are times you want to be tuned into what you can’t see.

During the last couple of days, as I’ve been contemplating which headphones to pick up, I’ve noticed that I’m feeling much better.  It’s precisely two weeks after I started the antibiotics.  That medication must work.  And I’m thankful.  To make sure I wasn’t delusional, I hopped on the road bike and went for a 62 mile ride today.  Granted, I was pushing easier gears, was slower than normal and feel now like I’ve ridden 102.  Maybe this is the new normal.

I’ve got to go back and see the maxillofacial specialist and the surgeon this week to narrow down the surgery date.  It’s got to be soon.  Bone has got to be scraped or cut out.  How much I won’t know until they start digging.  If only I could find internal noise canceling headphones I could block out the trepidation of what is to come.  There is just too much noise going on inside which needs to be separated and blocked.  But it is what it is.  That is another project.

On the external side, if anyone out there in blogosphere reading this has any suggestions for over-the-ear headphones, I’m all ears.

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