Artificial world

I was amused by an anecdote in a news story a couple of months ago, where a ballet director became enraged at the sound of a cell phone at the rehearsal – but then realized the sound was actually a bird trilling outside an open fire-escape door.

But then it happened to me, twice. You know that chirping sound that smoke detectors make when their battery is running low? I hunted around for the offending detector for a minute before realizing what the sound actually was. And then, later, had to think for just a second about which one of our home office machines was making that low beeping sound, when I realized it too was a bird. And then, a third time, a faint high beeping noise … which turned out to be our new coffeemaker, which alerts when it’s done brewing (a feature we were unaware of). All this, no doubt, because we’ve opened more windows than usual in the unairconditioned summer heat, and there actually is a fair amount of not-very-wildlife in our little suburb.

So I guess I don’t get outside enough. But then a couple of days ago, I _was_ outside (admittedly just walking from a parking lot to work), and I hear a really loud chirping sound … but I knew all along what it was. It was the sound aid for the blind at the busy intersection between buildings at my company. When the “Walk” signal goes on, the two signals at opposite ends of the crosswalk alternate making loud chirps. The funny thing about this, though, is that the sound cuts off just as soon as the steady white “Walk” signal changes to flashing orange “Don’t Walk”, or after about two seconds. So I’ve never managed to make it more than a quarter of the way across the street before the sound goes away — I hope that no blind person really needs to have that sound as a guide all the way, or they will find themselves suddenly abandoned in the middle of a busy street…

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