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Monday, 14 May 2012

Strange Sopranos and Vacuuming

Bada Bing
I was working on my usual Sunday chores.  Vacuuming and ironing.

As I find both of these excruciatingly boring, I always try to have an alternative method of sensory stimulation available.

I now subscribe to Audible, a library of audio books.

I find listening to one of my favourite authors as I drive to Nuova Lazio High School very relaxing. 
Getting involved in stirring tales of heroism, massacres, blood, gore and sex, puts me in the right emotional mind-set for another stimulating day of teaching and survival.  Listening to the continuing story on my way home has a similar effect.

But this method of "reading" really comes to the fore when I'm doing the boring stuff.

Ironing (Look, I'm not a complete wimp.  It's just that my Beloved doesn't come up to scratch to my Army-ingrained ironing values and standards.)
"Listening" to my Beloved rabbiting on about her favourite shoes, dresses, styles and rugby players.

It was while I was vacuuming the lounge that I became aware of a strange sound.

The book I was listening to was one of W.E.B. Griffin's "Corps" series, about the US Marines in WWII and Korea.  While I was listening to a description of the raid on some Japanese held islands in the Pacific, I could swear I could hear a soprano singing in the background.

This one would stop a .50 calibre bullet

It definitely wasn't part of the plot.  I'm not completely sure about what equipment the USMC would take with them on such a raid, but I'm pretty sure a large and weighty soprano wasn't on their Table of Equipment, unless it was some form of psychological warfare or as a mobile sandbag.

But the rest of the book was being well read by Dick Hill, in a straightforward narration, no sound effects or music at all.

Where the devil was that sound coming from?

I was using an iPod to listen to the book, with a pair of Sennheiser earbuds.  To cut off the sound of the Dyson I was using, I had a pair of industrial-grade ear defenders clamped over the buds, so the sound, whatever it was must be pretty loud.

A I vacuumed (or should that be Dysoned) my way into the Dining room, I tried to pick out any distinguishable phrases from the music.  It was infuriatingly just beyond comprehension and it didn't seem to make any sense.

As I worked I checked the TV.  It was off, as was the HiFi.  M'son was on his laptop in the back family room, but I could see he was using earphones.  My Beloved was in the kitchen making scones, and had the new Kenwood Chef churning away, so it wasn't her.
The great scone making machine


It could be the neighbours, but the nearest house was over 50 metres away, and I'd never heard any classical music from them before.

I switched off the Dyson, paused the iPod, removed the ear defenders and earbuds and listened.  No music.


Put everything back on and continued.  The sound/music resumed.

Hmm... Could it be some sort of heterodyning effect?  An electronic feedback between the Dyson's electric motor/the iPod and the earbuds.

Time to show off my credentials as a scientist.

Remove the variables one by one and study the problem.

Step 1. Switched off the Dyson, left all else on.  Music/sound stopped.  Aha, progress
Step 2. Switched on Dyson, paused iPod.  Music/sound continued.
Step 3. Switched off the Dyson, restarted the iPod, removed the ear defenders.  No music/sound.
Step 4. Switched on the Dyson, removed earbuds and ear defenders.  Music sound present and louder.  Actually it now sounded more like a high pitched shriek, and it was definitely coming from the Dyson.

Hmm...thinking about it now, I realised that the Dyson hadn't been sucking at its usual efficiency.

Oh Bugger.

Stripped down the hoses and attachments and finally found a NZ$2 coin wedged in a bend in a pipe.  This partial obstruction had trapped a range of detritus, almost blocking the pipe completely, and creating a narrow apperture which made a high pitched whistle when in operation.

I proudly made this discovery available to my Beloved, describing the steps that my razor-sharp, scientifically trained brain had utilised, and displayed the $2 for her inspection.

She just stared at me as if I was some kind of idiot, took the coin and put it in a pocket of her apron, gave me a gentle pat on the head (oddly similar to the pat she uses on the little shit-machine (the dog, not m'son)) and resumed her baking.

It's so nice to be acknowledged.

Sometimes it's good to be a Scientist.

Science Rules


  1. Typical scientist - you went through all that hard work, and somebody else took all the money.

    1. You noticed. Thanks.
      It makes me feel so much better.

  2. My dealing to my bridge on Sunday took quicker thinking, and I'm only a musician.

    1. Yes, but your bridge was a physical component that moved, so you could see where the problem lay. Deduction was not necessary. I win.

      BTW Wasn't that a bloody terrible session on reports this afternoon. I feel a rant coming on.

  3. Nice tale of when hoovering didn't suck.........


    Oh come on!

    1. Oh, Ha Ha Ha.

      Who is the sucker, and who is the suckee?

  4. I'm reading the Nobel Prize nomination form right now sir! Our fore fathers would be so proud of our crowing achievements

    1. Please don't get carried away. It was a simple act of genius, and I'm far too modest and too sensitive to accept the nomination.

      Mind you through in a Swedish blond and you've got a deal.

  5. Now tell us TSB dear, do you wear a little frilly pinny when you do the ironing and vacuuming? That would be a sweet sight.

    1. Categorically and finally no.

      I do however wear a lace cap.

    2.'s totally nude except for the lace cap then?

    3. nursemyra: I'm not completely sure what you mean, but if you mean what I think you mean, then I mean to tell you that that is a very mean comment...they don't make lace caps in that size, and it hurts.

      Tempo: Look, for once and all, I DO NOT VACUUM IN THE NUDE. Although that was the excuse I gave to the giggling nurses at A & E at the time of the Great Suction Accident of 1989. I wonder if nursemyra was working there?

    4. Great Suction Accident of 1989? Tell us more (ha ha mind the pun tellus!) Have you made a post about that yet??

    5. Sorry VG, I cannot tell you any more about the '89 incident. It did make the BMJ as the worst excuse of that year however.

  6. I still want to know what song this coin was singing?

    1. I'm not sure, but I think it was either:
      "The hills are alive with the sound of music"
      "Money makes the world go round"

      But I'm not an expert in vacuum generated currency mediated musicality.

      I'll have to ask looby; he's the expert in the more esoteric philosophies and subtle paradigms.

    2. It might have been Belgian Hoover Music (I'm not making that up... it was what we used to dance to in London in the early 90s), so called because the characteristic synth sound it used sounded a bit like a hoover when it's developed a sudden passion for a bit of tablecloth. Here's a first rate example of the genre from Joey Beltram.

    3. Iooby: I thought you were making it up, and even after listening to the music clip I'm still not sure. It sounds to me more like an old file being held against a grinding wheel rather than a vacuum sucking cloth. Hey there's a name for a new band:
      Vacuum Sucking Goth.

  7. Given the state of the world's economy the coin was probably singing "I've got plenty of nothing, and nothings plenty for me"

    1. Oh, don't be so cynical.
      It probably remembers when it was bright, newly minted and the world was full of promise and goodness.
      When banks and bankers were respected and trusted.
      When $2 could actually buy you something worthwhile....yeah, you're right.

    2. Yeah Right - Like from the $2 Shop when that was the maximum price they charged. THy have all changed thier names now to reflect rising prices - The 1, 2, 3 ,Dolare SHop or PriceBusters or whatever.

  8. I like your methodical approach to diagnosing the source of the sound. You must be a Virgo.

    1. Sorry to disappoint, but according to Mr Web, I'm a Scorpio. Yes I am methodical and organised; in my job it's the only way to survive.

  9. Is the moral of the story "When you find money don't tell anyone"? My husband used to do similar to me, and then perform his magic of making it disappear.

    1. Ah, well spotted Austan, that could well be the moral of the story, but I don't really do morals. I had mine surgically removed when I became a salesman in 1979. It makes life so much simpler.

      My Beloved doesn't even have to see money to make it disappear.

  10. Replies
    1. Yes one does. They help to remove the everyday tedium of life.


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