Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Like many, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been consumed by the drama that is unfolding as we speak – impeachment, Ukraine, testimony, Trump, etc.  Which is a good reason to step away and think about something else.

So how about foghorns?  In recent weeks we’ve had low fog in the bay, accompanied in the background by the unique sound of several foghorns.  Often they seem to recede and I don’t even hear them, until I pay attention and there they are.  At least two and sometimes three distinct sounds, one lower in tone than the others and each occurring at various times.

Okay, fine, so what?  Is there a problem here?  These things have been around forever, so what’s new?  What’s new is that I can’t figure out how these foghorns are of real value.  I looked up a definition and found:

foghorn is a warning signal that makes a loud noise when it's very foggy. The sound of a foghorn is a warning to sailors and ship captains. ... Its warning noise lets those at sea know when they're approaching a rocky coastline or other obstacles they can't see in the fog.

I could have guessed and come up with a similar definition.  But it doesn’t help.  If I were on a ship in the fog how would I know where the foghorns were?  If they get louder does that mean I’m in trouble and should go another way?  And which way exactly?  Sounds like a very imprecise danger signal.

Maybe foghorns were the best they had a century or two ago.  But this is 2019, and we’ve got GPS to guide us.  Seems to me that at best the foghorns can confuse the issue.  Having said that, I’d vote to keep them as a pleasant reminder of a simpler past.  We don’t need them to avoid accidents, but listening to them repeat themselves in their distinctive way puts a smile on my face.


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