destructive energy with so little noise
Tuesday, January 27 2009
Throughout the night my throat had hurt so badly that I'd actually found myself organizing my dreams around each dreadful swallow. It seems that vertebrates swallow the same way that they breathe. It can be a conscious process, such as when you swallow a mouthful of baby kangaroos, but it can also be an unconscious process. As you sleep, you swallow regularly to keep saliva from pooling in your mouth (why the body doesn't just reduce saliva production is a puzzle). When you have a sore throat, every swallow comes as a brief vacation in Guantanamo [how dated will that reference be 20 years from now?]. Sleep seems to muffle all the senses, including those for pain, but my sore throat was severe enough that I suffered even in my dreams.
I also suffered from a persistent cough that, like the sore throat, had developed only in the past twelve hours. I was still coughing this morning after I got up, but once I suited up and went out into the cold, the coughing ceased and I felt almost healthy. As for the sore throat that had tortured me all night, it's much easier to ignore when all your senses are occupied.
My reason for venturing out into the brisk winter morning was to bring home the rest of the firewood I'd recently cut up; it didn't make sense to leave it out to be buried by the coming snowstorm. Before I'd had coffee or anything to drink, I'd brought home two carloads of wood and had cleared the nearby forest of all cut-up firewood.
Later today I went into town to run some errands. The first of these was to buy a new electric chainsaw at Sears. The new Craftsman is an improvement over the old Remington in several respects, though it is also heavier. It has a longer (18 vs 16 inch) chain bar and a more powerful (4 vs 3 horsepower) motor. Hopefully its motor is better constructed and doesn't, for example, expose its armature and brushes to sawdust and other debris (some evidence of Intelligent Design that I didn't know about until I'd opened up my moribund Remington).
After I'd bought my saw, I went to Hannaford and bought groceries. It was perhaps the single largest solo grocery shopping trip of my life to date. It was also the least-self-centered. Gretchen usually does the grocery shopping in our household, and when I go it's usually to buy the things I eat: corn chips, fancy mustard, beer, bread, avocados, peanut butter, etc. But on this trip I was buying as much for Gretchen as I was for myself. I also bought a half dozen or more packages of various cold medications to restock our medical supplies in the aftermath of our synchronized illnesses.
Later this evening I gave the new chainsaw a try and was impressed by the raw power. It's unsettling to get so much destructive energy with so little noise (the closest rival would be some sort of welding or plasma cutting machine). It drew so much power from the woodshed electrical outlet that the woodshed light went dim and stayed that way whenever I was had the saw running.
Some might wonder why I'd bother having an electric chainsaw when I have already have a gas-powered saw. The answer is ease-of-use and noise. A gas chainsaw is unpleasant to use and more sensitive to storage conditions. But I can just leave the electric chainsaw out in the woodshed, available whenever I have an odd piece of wood to cut up. It turns out that about a third of my firewood arrives at the woodshed still needing to be bucked into woodstove-compatible sizes, and it's best to have an electric chainsaw for such jobs. The gasoline chainsaw is exclusively for use in the distant forest.
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