#814 – Cacophony

The Book of Biff #4 preorder sale ENDS TODAY!

I grew up near train tracks and I currently live near some. It’s funny how my brain can tune out such a loud sound. I’ll be talking to someone on the phone and they will ask “What is that sound in the background?” It will take me a few moments before I realize they are talking about the train.

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37 thoughts on “#814 – Cacophony”

  1. Space Butler says:

    That train would be a lot quieter if it was a maglev train.

  2. benkenobi says:

    hehe, I live by a train as well. I don’t hear it at all, when family comes to visit, the only one who sleeps well is me.

  3. Jon Bovi says:

    The shame here, is that the conductor won’t get the message until after the damage is done.

  4. Bononoman says:

    i’m confused, is that money? or something else attatched to the magnet?

  5. Greyryder says:

    I believe that would be a note.

    We live about a mile from a CSX mainline. It’s amazing what a difference the wind direction makes in how loud the trains are.

  6. Space Butler says:

    In the nick of time did I make my most fortuitous purchase of book 4

  7. linuxxorcist says:

    i’m always amazed that while i occasoinally stay with relatives in the okanogan (fruit-growing region of BC, canada) with a tourist-train (steam train tour of the one maintained stretch of the heritage railroad) buzzing by every 2 hours monday to friday, the annoying thing is the bird scares (propane cannon, loud bang) going off every 15 minutes

  8. skydivertodd says:

    I spent a couple years living in Point Loma in San Diego, CA. The notable thing there was that our house was less than a mile or so from the line flown by jets taking off out of the airport in downtown San Diego. Not only that, but my high school also sat under this same take-off pattern.

    Occasionally, one would be so loud that classes would stop until the aircraft was past. Teachers hated that, because it meant the plane was low and out of the true pattern they were supposed to fly.

    We regularly had phone conversations at home that stopped until an aircraft was past. What was more fun, though, was to take friends visiting as tourists downtown to the traffic light at the other end of the runway (hidden behind high fences) and tell them, “Count the rivets.”

    They would freak when a huge aircraft came in for landing less than 100ft overhead!

  9. gelugon2105 says:

    Where is Chris Halbeck’s book marketed? Is it marketed in the Southeast Asian region? My family will love this book – they like trying to figure out the gist of the joke, and this one is platinum.

  10. Grent says:

    I gotta say, I just read the entirety of this comic so far and I absolutely love it. Keep up the good work! 😀

  11. ThatSomethingGuy says:

    Where I live, there’s a train track literally at the end of the back yard. It’s true that you somehow learn to just tune it out. It’s like, having some screaming lunatic run through your house periodically, and you’re just like “Huh? Oh yeah, that’s just the crazy guy.”

    For a different assault to the senses, visit Rotorua, New Zealand. It’s all over geothermal activity, and so constantly reeks of rotten eggs. Live there for a fortnight or so, and the smell somehow disappears.

  12. laeming says:

    I grew up on a main road with similar effect.
    Also spent 2 years on a train line – took me about a month to tune the sound out.

  13. Nilly says:

    Mmmm, I live about twenty minutes from the nearest railway area (I live near a dying steel mill) and on some days I can’t hear the train, but if the air is just right, not a hint of fog, not much wind… BLAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWW.

    No, seriously. That’s what it sounds like. O_o

    My grandpa Joe lives literally six houses down from a double railroad track. I love him to death and love to visit, but I cannot stand those railroad tracks. >_< It’s even worse when there’s two at the same exact time.

  14. Sean says:

    I live about 100 feet from train tracks (a commuter line, so there’s a train every 10-30 minutes All. Day. Long. 5 AM to midnight), and sometimes when I’m on the phone I have to say, “please wait, I won’t hear a word you’re saying till that train goes by”. Otherwise, I’m pretty oblivious to the noise. Except when a freight comes through at 3 AM and you can hear the full-blast horn echoing off the hills and making the shelves rattle.

  15. Chris says:

    @Grent – Thanks!

  16. Also living near a train…was there for the first 6 months or so, now nobody notices it. (The trains are also a lot quieter than they used to be for some reason)

  17. Greenegg says:

    At one point in my life I lived underneath the main flight path for McChord AFB near Tacoma, WA. By right underneath I mean that you could count the rivets on the planes as they came and went. I don’t know how many phone conversations went:

    Me: blah blah
    Them: what the heck was that noise?
    Me: What noise?
    Them: Are you deaf or something?

    It was amazing that my brain could tune out a jet engine on approach.

  18. caffiend says:

    >< couldn’t resist the lure of the 4-pack .. you are an evil evil man Chris

  19. Chris says:

    @caffiend – Awesome thanks!

  20. sco3tt says:

    I used to have tracks running across the back of my yard and I-75 across the street in the front. I could tune out annoying noises so well that it wasn’t until the third year before I realized I was married.

  21. crackers says:

    it only took my first week in a Muslim country to tune out the 5-times-per-day prayer call

  22. i.half4 says:

    Before the caption downloaded, I thought Biff was experimenting with a magnetic sound capturing device. A train’s loud, but it’s no cacophony.

    Sorry to be such a lingual stickler.

    “How often does the train go by?”
    “So often you won’t even notice it.”

    – Jake & Elwood Blues

  23. Chris says:

    @i.half4 – Maybe you live near a brand new “only loud” train.

  24. Linzleh says:

    Hope Biff’s magnet & note won’t be considered an unattended package…

  25. i.half4 says:

    No, I’m arguing in defense of a word, and a beautifuly specific one at that. A cacophony is a multitude of different sounds. A train may make a bunch of different noises, which one could argue become more than the sum of their parts. But in the end, it still amounts to the sound of a train.

  26. Chris says:

    @i.half4 – Ok. I am unable to find a definition that requires the source of a cacophony to be multiple distinct entities. Most have something such as “harsh or discordant sound.”

  27. i.half4 says:

    ..And then it occurs to me to look it up first:

    From the Mac desktop Oxford American Dictionary:

    cacophony |kəˈkäfənē| noun ( pl. -nies)
    a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds : a cacophony of deafening alarm bells | figurative a cacophony of architectural styles | songs of unrelieved cacophony.

    DERIVATIVES cacophonous |-nəs| adjective

    ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from French cacophonie, from Greek kakophōnia, from kakophōnos ‘ill-sounding,’ from kakos ‘bad’ + phōnē ‘sound.’

    Okay, a cacophony of alarm bells would be fairly equivalent to the cacophony of a train… to some people. But I’ve always thought of trains as making a sound of symphonically orchestrated parts, and not a dischordant one at all.

    Take me to Capitol Hill to hear a debate on high speed rail funding. Now *there’s* a cacophony for you. Umm… sorry about the length.

  28. i.half4 says:

    I recently went to Pottawatomi Bingo and Casino in Milwaukee for the first time and like, Oh Wow! There is this sound in the great chamber of slots. You can hear the cacohony of it if you only listen close, but then there’s this other sound that rises above it all. Words fail.

    But then again, waxing poetic… It’s sounds like a choir of fallen angels, or maybe not yet fallen. Jesus always was the look the other way type, y’know. But actually, to really describe the overtone, you would have to think of something purely modern. A choir of angelbots?

  29. i.half4 says:

    Hey, I missed the Les Paul connection. His first problem in developing the electric guitar was isolating the vibrations of the string. He started by using the heaviest material he could find. A piece of steel track.

  30. Mikko says:

    i live near one of trafic congested intersections of this town

  31. Dzelda says:

    I hate the town train, every time that sucker goes off it blasts half my hearing to heck, and then scares the living bejeezus out of me! *shudder*

    I dont think Biffs gonna get the message to that conductor. The sound would drive him off beforehand.

  32. -2! says:

    Via rail just went on Strike today and at first i thought this was a political comic. I need to get a ride to work that doesn’t listen to the news.

  33. Radical Edward says:

    I remember living in the forest. For some reason, besides the fact that downtown was not that far away, you could away hear the train come into town.

    I remember being late for school because of the train. But that is another story.

  34. weerd2normal says:

    i live near airports, so i always hear leer jets over head, and when friendscome over they say that they cant stand the noise and they dont know how i put up with it

  35. -2! says:

    It took me until today (right now actually) to remember that we have a train track near my house… I can’t remember the last time I heard the train so it might be decommissioned, or I am just tuning it out.

  36. GuyD says:

    I don’t live near a railway but to an international airport. I only notice the very loud planes, but when someone visit us, they often ask how we could handle such a noise!

  37. SurveySays says:

    I lived by a train when i was little. then we moved way out into the country. i went from noise to complete silence and had to re-learn how to sleep. mom eventually fixed the problem by buying me a radio and letting it play at night. then CD’s were invented and mom got me a boom-box. it was never silent again.

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