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… and back again

First case today was to do a hearing test on a three-week-old baby. Second case of the day was fitting hearing aids to a one-hundred-and-two-year old woman. Third case was starting the hearing aid fitting process for a six week old baby. One of the things I love about this job is the variety of people I see


After yesterday’s heavy snow fall I went out for a long walk today. One of the most noticeable changes (apart from my camera underexposing every shot because of the whiteness) was the way the acoustic environment had changed.

Everything sounds different, everything is dulled and deadened

Why does snow have such an effect on sound? Snow – at least new fallen snow – is a matrix of ice crystals, with lots of air held within it. It acts like a damper, like a silencer on a car. Once sound waves get inside the matrix they get absorbed, bouncing around within the air spaces. Snow has a high reverberation absorption coefficient, particularly in the high frequencies. It’s even higher than the acoustic wool which is used in the soundproofing of acoustically treated rooms.

Sound is normally bouncing off all the surfaces around us. Walls of buildings, fences and trees, all are reflecting sound back at us. This might be sounds we produce ourselves, voice or footsteps, or sounds produced artificially. The surfaces around us are normally reflective. As soon as we have a layer of snow all that reflection is gone. No more echo, no more reverberation – at least until the snow has been hard-packed.

So on my hearing aids I swapped my open ear moulds for completely occluding and really tight Microflex moulds. Add Direct Audio Input shoes – microphone disabled – and plug in the Walkman.

That’s put an end to Frosty the F$#*ing Snowman.

Can’t hear anything other than my own choice of music (which today is Gabrieli (Uncle and Nephew), Albinoni, and Monteverdi). As we get closer to christmas I may need to up the sound power and go for Gotterdammerung to drown out the jollity.

My own voice sounds a bit weird though, definitely got occlusion.

Q: How can you tell if a pro-athlete is taking performance enhancing drugs?

A: They’re on a bicycle

I don’t watch sport, I find it boring watching a bunch of people running around a field, or kicking a ball back and forth. I enjoy being out cycling, but watching cyclists is mind-numbingly boring.

Only once did I follow sport for a short time. That was more out of professional interest when Phonak, one of the major hearing aid manufacturers, sponsored a pro-cycle team. The team only lasted around three seasons – it was wound up because of recurring drug use amongst team members, including Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton who were sometime team mates of Lance Armstrong. Maybe that’s what you get when you have Alex Zulle as a team manger. Since then I’ve been deeply cynical about pro-cyclists. I just assume now that they’re all taking performance enhancers.

Damn, I must make more of an effort to stay away from Foyle’s. Made the mistake of going in today, spent £200 and came away with only three books.

The book I went in for: \textbf{\LaTeX} and Friends by M R C van Dongen. I use \LaTeX all the time when I’m writing, and have been trying to get colleagues and students to use it too. This looks like a good book to teach them.

The book I have been waiting for for a while: Hearing Aids by Harvey Dillon. the 1st edition is one of the books I refer to most, but sadly technology has rendered it almost obsolete. At BAA conference last November Harvey mentioned that the second edition was in editing. Finally it is published so I had to get a copy.

The book I should have resisted: Auditory Electrophysiology by Atcherson and Stoody. But I bought it anyway. Damn.


Edible, but Formulaic. No different to any other breakfast in any other formulaic hotel.

And why do hotels never cook their eggs to order. 10 minutes on a hotplate and they’re like bricks.

I remember as a kid going to a hotel in London and the breakfast table included Kedgeree, Kippers and Devilled Kidneys. Why do hotels never provide these interesting dishes for breakfast anymore?

Eclipse Users Group tomorrow, so came up on the train today. East Midlands rail, which have good customer service and such, but the journey itself was cattle class. Cheap though.

Decent hotel this time, with a good menu and an even better wine list, so looking forward to dinner later.

Then I have to sit down and read up on ASSR…

Upgrade of AuditBase, our main Clinical System / Database last night. Servers upgrade overnight with all linked computers updated on log-in this morning. Got the first bus into town this morning so that I would be able to start dealing with the flak early.

Stunned Amezement…
No Flak. Everything went absolutely to plan (that’s a first) and I had all computers upgraded inside an hour.

Too Good To Be True…
See if we can overload the system today. If it’s going to fail I want it to fail today, not in two weeks time…

Another trip to Derby mid month for the Eclipse Users Group meeting, this time staying in a decent hotel near the railway station.

Couple of issues to bring up. First is Peer Review and alternatives to using online file-sharing services to exchange data; second is ASSR dBnHL-to-dBeHL corrections, specifically the difference between the values built into the Eclipse and the values provided by the eSP website.

All the extra work I’ve had thrust at me over the last year, all the crap that’s been dumped on me, all the extra hours I’ve had to put in, all the stress I’ve had.

All worth it, just to see the look on a mother’s face when she realises that her severely deaf baby has just heard her voice for the first time

I love my job.

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