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Feb 07 2002 Kelly Norton
Not only has the weather capped the skies with a dour blanket for the past few days, but a crew of road constructionists has taken up residence outside my office window with what amounts to a jolly green giant sized sledgehammer. With this, they are apparently testing the old playground hypothesis that China is within the reach of an ambitious digger. For eight hours this thing replays the same loop; it lifts something like a solid steel Yugo into the air with a crane and drops it onto a foot thick tuning fork that is inserted into the earth. As soon as the shock waves begin to dampen inside my skull, the Yugo collides again with the tuning fork and a small cloud of smoke explodes from the point of impact, and my brain reels.

After ten minutes, I get up and survey the noise levels in all the other offices. They are nothing compared to mine, which is apparently an acoustic anomaly providing constructive interference to any unpleasing sound wave that approaches the glass.

After an hour, I begin to consider other places to work, but finally decide that moving all of my stuff would take too much time, so I crank the headphones up just above the distortion level. Just over the rhythm of Clint Mansell, I can still feel the sonic thuds rippling through my skull.

After four hours, my heart has synchronized with what I've decided is Zeus' sledgehammer and I have started subconsciously blinking in anticipation of each strike. Lunch saves my sanity.

But after eight hours, I give up and start using a copier paper box as a congo drum and dance around my office pretending that I'm making a sacrifice to some ancient hammer-toting god notorious for his cape of thick dark clouds which he uses to smother the world when he is displeased. I make ceremonial jewelry from plastic paper clips and stick Post-it notes of cuneiform symbols to my forehead. The god is pleased; tomorrow there will be sun.
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