Strange noises

The other thing about living in the middle of nowhere is that whenever it rains hard, the internet gets jumpy. I imagine my satellite dish hunching over to shield itself from the rain – silently cursing me all the while – and as a result not transmitting jack shit. I think the explanation for storm-related satellite internet outages is slightly more technical than this, but not by much. I suppose I should be glad it’s not a tornado.

(Also, did you hear that the asteroid that the astronomers thought might hit us in 2036 will in fact not hit us? This is a relief. I get worried about things like this. I think it’s stress related. I had a roommate once who would get paranoid about food poisoning whenever she had a deadline looming. To each her own I guess, although in my defense, getting freaked out at four in the morning about potential asteroid impacts twenty-five years in the future is less exhausting than the food poisoning thing, because with asteroids you are under absolutely no obligation to clean anything. I will never forget the morning I woke up thinking “why does it smell like bleach in here?” And it was my dear roommate, in the kitchen, with a spray bottle of bleach-water, rubber gloves and a sponge, staving off panic.)

Finally. I was sitting in my office this afternoon listening to nothing at all and I realized I could hear the music that one of my colleagues was playing – it was something techno-like that I could not identify. I had been listening earlier on to sections of Rodelinda, and given how well sound carries through walls in our building, I ended up wondering how much of it other people could hear, and (if they heard it) what it sounded like to them. It’s like wondering how English sounds to someone who doesn’t speak it as a first language. (I’ve heard various answers to this question: “definitely Germanic” – “the vowels are weird” – “it’s a little like Dutch” – “you Americans seem to slide up and down in pitch a lot when you talk” – indeed I have heard so many different answers that I’m not sure it’s even a meaningful question.) I tried to remember how opera sounded to me when I wasn’t familiar with it, but I couldn’t pin down a memory specific enough that I could make anything of it. My other half, who is capable of being impressed by a Joyce DiDonato recital but who definitely does not get some of my other obsessions, says that “all female opera singers sound the same to me, and all male opera singers sound the same to me” but this claim is so preposterous that I suspect I am being gently mocked.

I could ask one of my colleagues – I’m on pretty good terms with the person on the other side of the least sound-proofed wall of my office – but that would be weird, and I suspect the answer would be “I had my hands over my ears and was writhing on the floor in pain” or “it sounds like Adam Sandler doing his “opera guy” routine” or “eh, it’s not my thing.” Which is fair enough, I guess.

8 thoughts on “Strange noises

  1. Thank you for the potentially coffee-spewing comment this morning. Fortunately, I swallowed my mouthful of coffee right before reading your final paragraph!

    I worry about how my office-mates are reacting to my current Lohengrin obsession. So far, everyone is being polite. Or they really aren’t writhing in pain (that reminds me of one of my favorite biblical expressions: “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    Also, kudos on the profanity! Happy Friday the 11th!


    1. Maybe you’ll make a convert or two to Wagner! (although I think for some people who don’t like it, opera does really probably cause weeping and gnashing of teeth)

      I need some sort of profanity ticker widget to track my progress 🙂


    1. Satellite connections can be a real pain – I have one because I am in a sort of bizarre dead zone between two different cable internet providers, neither of whom wants to hook up high-speed internet to my house.

      (If it snowed here, not only would my internet go out, but experience suggests the whole town would probably shut down!)


  2. hohe, love the simple explanation :-D. i didn’t know about satellite internet or that storm causes loss of signal! but it turned out here we have to deal often with loss of scientific measurements in our data sets when there’s cloud too, i suspect it’s along that line (absorption, scatter…, may be, i should look..)
    I had a colleague stopping by yesterday voicing his concern that there wasn’t music coming out of my office! mostly i blast it after 9pm or so and occasionally have people coming in guessing what i’m listening to or giving tips on which recordings to check out 🙂


    1. If you find out the technical explanation for the satellite thing, let me know – I’m curious.

      I also tend to turn up the music later in the day – I figure if it’s after 7 or so, no one’s going to mind because almost no one’s going to be here. (People go home early here.) I’ve never had anyone come in to talk about music, though. The offices of the other two people in the department who like classical/opera are on the other side of the building, so we don’t get to overhear one another’s music very often.


      1. i found a pretty good figure here. it falls under a science/category of “remote sensing” . So essentially, across the wave spectrum, some is safe to be used from space for studying the earth, and certain waves are absorbed by different gases in the atmosphere or plants or whatnots. So to study cloud heights for example, they might fly a satellite which sends 2 wavelengths, 1 penetrates the cloud and one absorbed by clouds, then analyze the signals to deduce cloud types etc. (and the differences in retrieved wave signals within the cloud can tell us what gases are present in the cloud, e.g., CO2…) we do the same to study sea ice, ocean, atmosphere.. for tv and internet, it seems they have to use a certain range of wavelengths that are absorbed by water vapors, hence your rain problem :-).


Comments are closed.