So I bit the bullet: I finally had to admit to myself (and everyone who I couldn't hear at restaurants and bars) that I'd lost the ability to hear normal conversation, at least at some frequencies. So this week at SCI's Hunters' Convention I visited SportEar, took a hearing test (which didn't go well) and purchased hearing protection and augmentation from the company.SportEar offers several units and several levels of hearing enhancement and protection. I wanted something I could wear all day while hunting, something that would enhance ambient noise and also compress loud noises like gunshots. So I purchased a pair of SportEar's Microblast 812 units. It's the tan unit in the middle of the picture you see here.Basically, we're talking a hearing aid here. But more than that, the Microblast is an open-ear, behind-the-ear, skin-colored hearing-protection and hearing-augmentation unit that improves my ability to hear not only conversation at restaurants and bars and trade shows but little things like squirrels scurrying across the forest floor and deer sneaking up on me. At the same time it offers protection from gunshots because it shuts down, it compresses loud noises when things go bang. I'm looking forward to wearing them, actually. And I'm looking forward to saving what's left of my hearing.