Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Please Return Your Ears To Their Full Upright Position


...from Trousering Your Weasel.
Most of us are familiar with the routine of air travel. Once the paying customers are strapped down tight, and the massive vehicle improbably chugs into the air, there is a moment when, with an audible squlllcch, the flight crew turns off everyone’s ears. This is a courtesy warning, like the bong on an intercom system before the voice comes on, and it alerts passengers to the fact that the airline is a socialist state in complete control of their bodies. Everyone will be expected to contribute viruses according to his ability, and the airline will redistribute them according to need. Once both the cabin pressure and pathogen allotment have been equalized, the ears are returned to their original condition.

"If you see fire out the window, do not do your laundry."
That is the expectation, but things can go wrong, and after a recent flight, I came home to find my ears still turned off, and they have remained that way for three weeks and counting. Earholes are my primary means of allowing things to go in one ear and out the other, and I am finding things uncomfortably jammed up now that all ingress and egress has been prevented. It’s a problem. Because, on any given day, I have way more thoughts than I can really use, and only so many ways of getting rid of them. One way is to get them “on paper,” which is an old-timey expression meaning arranged digitally on a screen in such a way as they could be printed off on a less obstreperous printer than I happen to own. But very few of my thoughts can be disposed of in this way.

The bulk of them are on the order of

 “ba-dump ba-dump ba-dump ba-dump WHY do you build me up [build me up] Buttercup baby, just to huh. Do not, do not, do not forget to put that thing on the calendar about the bird! bird! bird! manamana doo-doo, doo-doo-doo…manamana doo-doo-doo Oooo! Ice cream? Don't mind if I…shit. Was that thing today?”

and these kinds of thoughts must be allowed to flow freely, or they will congeal and turn green and drain out my nose. Which is what they are doing. Endlessly. There is no explanation for this phenomenon other than thought-sludge because my head is far too tiny a vessel to contain this much material. I don’t have a lot of room up top for this kind of thing. Even my sinus cavities are negligible, which is one of the reasons I am not a prominent Italian tenor.

The stopped-up ear is very annoying at first, but after a couple weeks it is even annoyinger, and I am crabby about it. And no wonder, because the problem is that my crustacean tubes are blocked. The crustacean tubes are charged with regulating air pressure so as to protect the delicate inner ear bones (ossicles). The stirrup, the advil, and the speculum are very tiny bones that evolved from antique reptilian jawbones (fossicles) when it was found that they weren’t really doing anything important with them. And they must be protected because they’re not going to grow back no matter how many stem cells you throw at them. However, the fact remains that there is nothing wrong with the air pressure around here and my crustacean tubes’ attempt to regulate it makes as much sense as trying to rub the kinks out of a cat. There’s no call for it.

One likes to get straight to the heart of the problem, and I blame the airlines. It could be just human error, sort of like when my neighbor goes off to work and forgets to turn off his dog, and it’s going off all day long. So what with modern technology and all, maybe a call to the airline could clear this whole thing up. They might be able to do it remotely, if the ear reset button is in The Cloud or something and I can get an access code. Either that, or I have a cold. But that seems so far-fetched.

At least I can’t hear the neighbor’s dog.

61 comments:

  1. I see you and I enjoy the whole airplane experience in approximately equal measure. Which is to say, not at all. And what IS with those graphics? Does anybody really get any useful information from them? My husband says that's a cell phone, silly, not a washing machine. But it still doesn't make any sense. In case of fire DON'T call for help?

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    1. Maybe it's "if you see fire, sneeze on it."

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    2. Oh that's an easy one: if you look out the window and see the wing on fire, don't throw the washing machine at it.

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  2. And what about grabbing your seat (the airline seat ... not YOUR seat) to use as a flotation device.... uh huh.. right! they usually say this when you're over Kansas. But then... either my ears are stopped up or it's going in one and out the other. You crack me up!!!!

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    1. You remind me of that old line, "ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats, and place them in the chairs provided."

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  3. I had to get my ears cleaned out professionally the other day. The nurse was very professional as she exclaimed about the amount of gunk that came out! I never even thought about running a piece of thread into one ear and out the other. Wish you had written this earlier. :-)

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    1. I've always been very fond of reaming out ear wax. When I found out that many people (Asians, for instance) have flakes instead of wax, I felt so sorry for them. Flakes. Sad.

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  4. Had you considered seeing a doctor about the crustacean tubes and nose goo thing? I mean, they might be connected somehow.

    Used to be I could beguile the tedium of a flight by listening to the life story of the stranger beside me. Last trip, one guy slapped on sleep mask before we left the ground. And on the return leg, the football-player sized lad sitting next to me plugged into the onboard video screens and watched basketball so earnestly that he was grunting along with the players.

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    1. Just because two things both occur in your head doesn't mean they're connected. Any two of my thoughts, for instance.

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  5. When I got out of the military I swore I would never fly again, and made the statement that if I ever got on another aircraft i hoped it would crash and burn...since then i have flown a hundred hours or more - most of it in bush planes. So I know your pain.

    You might want to call a local clam digger to clear the crustacean. I know that the scallops they serve on commercial flights look like ear plugs but it was probably a bad idea to stick them in your ears.

    As far as the mind junk you described I have that all the time ... oops squirrell....especially at night. Buddhism calles it monkey mind...for me it is just normal.

    Glad you are back. Hope you feel better.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. I don't even want to know what they turn off in bush planes.

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  6. I'm not fond of flying but in three weeks I'm flying to India. I bet that will screw up my ears really good.

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    1. Plus, you get a whole new cute accent out of it.

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  7. I'm especially enjoying your drawing - you haz talent! - and the description of the bones in the inner ear - I recall having those drilled into my head so many times throughout my schooling, it's like they were preparing me for this post all that time :O)

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    1. I would like to have almost anything drilled into my head now.

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    2. O Jenni O! Hasn't that clever Murr inserted some funny bones into our ears?

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  8. Crustacean tubes are a bitch when they get encrusted.

    It's always a bad omen if you get the middle seat. I hope your cold goes away pronto, and the hearing comes back; I feel sure that it will. And then all those thoughts will flow more freely.

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    1. I got the hump seat in the family car growing up, and the middle seat of the airplane. It is my position in life. I'd say it was a bitch being small, but I've seen how Dave has to pleat up to get in an airplane. BTW, he got NO SEAT IN FRONT OF HIM for about 14 hours of flight. And the inscription on the back of the seat was really for the exit row: if you see flames, don't throw the door out.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I was merely going to suggest that perhaps you had not taken New Zealand scientists seriously enough about their suggestions to let loose the flatulence or as the headline reads: Let your flatulence fly, scientists urge passengers.

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    2. Ah! And yet it is in New Zealand where a flatulence tax was once, uh, floated. True. I will write about it shortly.

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  10. "Crustacean tubes"! Thanks for my chuckle today.

    I feel your pain. I've finally recovered from having the plague for nearly 2 months. Hope yours goes away soon.

    And hey, I learned something last week - I sat in an exit row seat so I got the emergency briefing as usual. But there was a pilot sitting next to me (not *the* pilot; *a* pilot, fortunately), and he volunteered this helpful advice: if you ever do have to open one of those exit doors, stand back - the plastic handle cover shoots all the way across the plane.

    That'd be me with the missing teeth: the only injury out of all the passengers...

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    1. Two months. Two months you say.

      I've noticed that you never hear anything good from extraneous coach-passenger pilots. Never.

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  11. Hoping by the time I write this that you can hear normally again.

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  12. The hostess used to come along, just before take-off, with some barley sugar. "To help your ears," she would tell us. Then they stopped serving barley sugar...passengers were stuffing them into their ears.

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    1. I would have. What the hell is barley sugar?

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    2. Candy. Like that stuff they use to coat apple-on-stick.About the size of a little-finger joint, so fit real snug in a lug.

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  13. I've been through this kind of thing before and I hate to tell you this, but the only way to correct it is to retrace your route exactly so that you can leave the problem where you acquired it. Hopefully, you've still got some frequent flyer miles left and whomsoever it was you visited will still be happy to see you.

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    1. No one I ever visit wants to see me again anytime soon.

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    2. Well, looks like you're stuck. Eh? What's that you say?

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  14. Like the pic of you "just flossing". I ended up with impacted crustaceans the last time I did a big flight, plus totally freaked out broncheoles and sinuses. It all lasted longer than the vacation. My kingdom for a tardis!

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    1. Excellent, Tiffin, you get a prize: I had to look up "tardis." Not a real prize, by the way.

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  15. First, I want to say it was great to meet you today at Chrysalis! Thanks for signing my book!
    My very first time flying was a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I thought my ears would explode. They began hurting as the cabin pressure was achieved and hurt for a couple hours after landing. I cried on the pane and the friend with me was telling me to chew gum, the stewardess told me to yawn a lot, someone suggested drinking water...nothing helped and I suffered the entire trip, which felt like several hours but I know it was not. I did nto have the problem flying home and never again.

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    1. Back atcha! I love that "chew gum" advice. You'd have to chew nuclear gum with tyrannosaur mandibles to get anywhere. Gum? Really? So you appreciate that I have had my ears stopped up for over three weeks. The babies have it right. Waaaaaah!

      PS I'm better now but only in the last few days.

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    2. I think they just wanted to see me jawing away with the blob of gum in my mouth. Yes, babies always do feel it and I was told if they nurse while it is happening, they will not have a problem. I bet a man would want to try this advice!!! LOL

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  16. "The stirrup, the advil, and the speculum"! I almost choked to death there; still have cracker crumbs up my sinuses. Damn you, Murr!

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    1. Very sorry to have involved your sinuses, Susannah.

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  17. Oh, Murr, if only we'd had you instead of Dr. Morris for SPTH 101! I love my field of endeavor, butyou make it a romp-

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  18. Crap. The manamana song is now today's earworm. Thanks a lot, Murr. I suppose it could be worse. Here's one for you in return: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

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    1. Oh man, Ditty, you Rick-rolled me, and you didn't even try to hide it.

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  19. Replies
    1. Do come back! We're going for full-out snorts here.

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  20. Great picture of you using mental floss.

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    1. Sadly ineffective, however. Maybe if I knot it up to get the lumpy bits out.

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  21. Oy vey! I hope your Crustacean tubes get uncrusty and you can hear again soon.

    Wait... you probably can't hear that.



    I SAID, OY VEY! I HOPE YOUR CRUSTACEAN TUBES GET UNCRUSTY AND YOU CAN HEAR AGAIN SOON!


    :)

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    1. THANKS! I CAN HEAR PRETTY GOOD RIGHT NOW! I should start playing some better music.

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  22. When we flew to London from Portland many years ago with our the 7-year-old daughter, she was bit in the crustaceans somewhere over Monitoba (or was it Montreal? Anyway). When we landed after 30 years of screams and blubbering (and she was unhappy, too), she announced that she was never getting in a plain again. So we left her there. Oh, wait, no we didn't. We just waited until the flight home was going to leave and drugged her. And ourselves. She got the benadryl, we got the scotch.

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    1. You are a fine, fine father. On one of our legs home (Air Pacific: highly recommended), I was startled to see real food being offered and apparently real drinks, apparently all free, and I don't really like liquor but I can manage a gin and tonic, so as an experiment I asked for one. Sure enough, they handed over a giant tumbler with three inches of gin and a whisper of tonic, and didn't charge me. I choked it down because I am a huge fan of free food and drinks, and no sooner had I set my tumbler down but the good woman with the flower in her hair whisked it away and returned it full. In spite of which I got the crud.

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  23. Can we edit? "then" not "the; "plane" not "plain" Good grief, where's the scotch?

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    1. Aren't you jealous of me? I can delete my comments forever and retype. And don't think I don't do it. I'm always horrified to see a comment of mine in someone else's blog with a big ole mistake in it.

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  24. You should have done well in
    Anatomy class. The ear bone connected to the tail bone and all. Be thankful all you got was a bad cold. You could have caught TB on the right plane.
    I saw a mom nursing a baby to help equalize the ear pressure. I asked the stewardess but all I got was a damn candy.

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    1. Huh! On the right plane you could have gotten herpes.

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  25. I have an ear (the left one) that's been ringing for the past, oh, twenty years, I guess. Probably has to do with the fact that for another twenty years, long ago, before I sat down permanently behind a keyboard (the typing kind, not the piano-bar kind), I was a percussionist and did a lot of practicing in closed rooms with ten or twelve other percussionists all playing at the same time and fortissimo. Anyway, most times I just forget that it rings and it doesn't bother me, until I'm alone in some quiet place and it drowns out the silence with its awful high-pitched whine.

    There's a character in one of Osvaldo Soriano's inimitable novels who also has a ring in his ear (not like a pirate or a punk, the kind I have). This guy lives in his car or in any of various whorehouses around the country where he's friendly with the madames and always welcome to spend the night as long as he pays for a little lovin'. Anyway, his main possessions are a classic Ika-Renault Torino and a Smith & Wesson.38 Police Special, both of which he has inherited from his late father. The Torino he uses for his great adventures all over the Argentine Republic. The revolver he employs as preventive medicine. That's right, for he has discover that a gunshot at close range is the only thing capable of suppressing the ringing in his ear for awhile and of thus keeping him from going mad. So every now and again, he stops along the roadside in some suitably abandoned place and fires the .38 as close to his ear as he can bear, and, for a brief spell, aaaaaaaaahhhhhh, blessed silence.
    You get the feeling that he allows himself this luxury so as not to actually stick the barrel in his ear and pull the trigger.
    Hope you get unplugged soon. Great piece, by the way!

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    1. Dan, weren't you also a world-famous sniper? That could have been it.

      I have tinnitus too. Both ears, but the left one in particular, and I remember exactly when it started--going over the metal-grate bridge with my window open, past someone using a jackhammer. Permanent damage from that five-second shot. I routinely put my hands over my ears now when I walk past leaf blowers and the like. I don't care if it makes me look like a pansy.

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    2. Dang! I was going to invite you to visit me. But most have my neighbours have leaf blowers. Some have chain saws, all have power mowers and whipper-snippers(those lawn trimmer gizmos) And some have small children and some have teen agers and THEY ALL USE THEM!
      I often need to wear ear muffs when I'm in this room.

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    3. Leaf blowers are the things most likely to send me into a homicidal rage.

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