Friday, June 22, 2007

Windmills of my mind

Coming home from town this morning, I noticed that the windmills at Cefn Croes weren't turning. I'm not sure why - we've got wind,* after all. They probably switched them off yesterday because there was too much.** But whatever the reason, it gives me a chance to finally check my theory. And sure enough, as I sit here typing in my near-silent office, the deep rumbling hum that bugs me so on windy days is conspicuous by its absence.

There is the occasional hair-dryer-on-wheels whine of the off-road bikes roaring down the nearby forestry tracks on day two of the Welsh Enduro Rally, and the soft plash of rain as it hits the road and lawn outside my window, but of the distant grind of heavy gears - blissfully nothing.

This is a huge relief. I have very sensitive hearing - though oddly enough I am quite incapable of focussing on one voice in a crowd, and I can't hold a conversation in a room where a television is playing. The thought of creeping tinnitus slowly robbing me of one of my senses was not a happy one. Now I know that external forces are at play, I can rest easy, at least for now.

It is alarming, though. I had heard some of the more rabid anti-windfarm campaigners complain about subsonics ruining their lives, and passed it off as a fantasy brought on by too much yoghurt knitting. But now I know it's true, I have to be a bit more tolerant of them, even if they do insist on wearing such odd clothes.

* Oh, very funny. Stop sniggering now.
** It's true. Quite often the wind at the top of the hill here is too much for the machinery to cope with. So not only do the windfarms not work when it's too still, but they don't work when there's a good breeze blowing either. And when it's just right, they turn them off for maintenance, or because the grid doesn't need the electricity. You may have guessed that I'm not convinced by large scale windpower generation.

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Blogger John R said...

Being Mr Pernickety, they're not 'subsonics' - sound, by definition, can't travel slower than its own speed; the blade tips travel at subsonic speeds to cut noise, but the noise itself... - but infrasound, sound whose frequency is below the human audible range.

Not that it helps much, but still... :-)

June 22, 2007 4:03 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Nice to see the League of Pedants is alive and well, John;}#

I used the term 'subsonics' - incorrectly as you point out - because it was how the sensation was described to me by one of the aforementioned knitters of yoghurt.

Technically it might be described as infrasound; except that I can hear it. Only not right now, which is nice.

June 22, 2007 5:50 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

The sound wouldn't bother you at all if you worked with earmuffs on.

And... I'm sorry about sound problems, really. I get ringing in my ears plenty and it drives me mad... BUT I'm all for clean energy. Wind power is something that should be utilized. I honestly don't know why we don't see more of it here.

June 22, 2007 9:32 pm  

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