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JISHOU, HUNAN — “Drill, baby, drill” is not just a slogan for Sarah Palin’s energy policy. Unfortunately, it’s also an apt description for what I have to listen to morning, noon and night when I am home.

The university is running out of dormitory spaces, so last month the uni tore down an unused water treatment plant and started construction of a new dorm, right down the hill from my humble abode. The project has included drilling and jackhammering though the limestone for the foundations and underground whatnot. Constantly. It starts around 6:30 am and, except for meal breaks, continues all frakking day until about 11:30 at night.

It’s like having Con Edison outside your apartment almost 24-7. (Sorry, that’s a New York reference, but substitute your local utility company — “dig we must” — if it makes you happier.)

The jackhammers stopped about 10 days ago, thank the stars. Now we just have to listen to two of these impact drills banging away all day.

I’ve been watching the construction as it progresses. Considering rate at which they are working, I am guessing that the uni wants this new dorm finished and ready to be used before the fall term starts in September. So far, the crew has built three retaining wall from concrete, mortar and chunks of limestone wrested from the hillside, and chiseled out the trenches for the foundation walls.

A self-erecting crane was set down about two weeks ago. The boom on this sucker is long enough that it skims the treetops next to my apartment building. I was on my balcony one day and the sight of the boom swinging in my direction made me instinctively duck. The boom is just about level with my apartment.

Crane skimming the trees near my building

Jishou rests in a valley between two lines of low mountains, so if the university wants to expands, it has to crawl up the side of the mountains to the east of campus. The apartments for foreign teachers and students, and many postgrads lies on the top of one of those hills. Here’s a view from the roof of my building.

View from the top of my building

As a friend of mine used to say, “Progress sucks,” but we need more dorms. At least I am not right next door. I have no idea how those folks are coping with the noise.

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