Editor’s Column: About that siren

I’d be willing to bet the number of Meeker residents who eat lunch every day is higher than the American average. I think we’re conditioned to respond to the siren. (Note: This is an opinion, totally based on anecdotal experience. If you don’t know what that means, look it up, because the rest of your media consumption has likely been influenced by the same.)
In the late 1890s, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov studied the physical response of dogs to being fed. To his surprise, he discovered the dogs responded physically before the food was in front of them. They responded (by salivating) to the footsteps of their feeders. That discovery prompted a larger study in the first part of the 1900s. Pavlov’s data has since been called “Pavlovian Conditioning.” According to further studies, animals (including humans) can be conditioned to respond physically to a particular stimulus, such as the ringing of a bell or the footsteps of one’s feeders.
When the “noon siren” goes off—a tradition generally limited to “factory towns,” I’ve noticed that I start thinking about lunch, because subconsciously, no matter what I’m doing at the moment, that siren tells me it’s time to eat, even when I’m not hungry.
I may be extra sensitive to this phenomenon due to the fact I’m working our way through grief and eating seems to require a social event, obligation or some other conditioned response. But it does make me question if I’m the only one responding like Pavlov’s dog to the noon siren.
Interestingly, Bangor, Wisc., sounded its town “whistle” at 7 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. for decades, marking morning, noon, happy hour, and end of day. Residents voted in 2015 whether or not to keep their whistles. (I haven’t found the results of that election yet.) One siren is fine, four is a bit much, in my opinion.

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Sincere congratulations to the winners of our local elections. May you step into (or return to) your offices with the knowledge, wisdom and grace to “lead without malice.”

By Niki Turner | niki@theheraldtimes.com

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