LOST part 2: Needle in a haystack

 

lost-hearing-aidThe queue to the gallery slowly inched forward in the rain, and I passed the time by thinking about the tedious business of getting a replacement hearing aid. I had just visualised the stage where they discover your ears need syringed after waiting two months for an appointment, when the gallery door suddenly opened and we were quickly ushered inside by the security guard.

Hearing aid search conditions inside had deteriorated rapidly since our previous visit, and as the spouse and I fought our way through the heat and noise of the crowd, I abandoned hope. There was no way a fallen hearing aid could survive, let alone be found in there.

The spouse was now beginning to get rather irritable.

“I mean how could you not notice the bloody thing falling off, surely you’d have noticed you couldn’t hear properly?” he shouted helpfully above the racket. “I mean, you were talking to people in here, you must have had it on, surely?”

I wasn’t about to go into explaining the black art of bluffing by talking at people in crowded rooms, so opted to be petulant instead.

“I can’t hear properly with the bloody thing on or off”, I snapped. “Not in situations like this.”

I stomped off into the crowd and began retracing my steps but, within seconds, it was clear that it was going to be a waste of time. People were standing all over my invisible thread, and trying to weave amongst them felt like tackling a rugby scrum. Wearily, I admitted defeat and went to talk at some nearby colleagues instead. Someone helpfully suggested I put out an ‘all staff’ email about my predicament, but whilst I was tempted by the thought of becoming the author of the most bizarre ‘Lost and Found’ email at the Institute of Artistic Endeavour since someone found an accordion on the front steps, I opted to keep my institutional dignity intact just for the moment.

The spouse was now keener than ever to get home, but once back outside in the rain, I decreed that there was a final check to be made. I picked up the invisible thread for one last time, and began following it downhill towards where we’d unpacked the luggage from the coach earlier in the evening. The thread ran out rather poetically just beside the ‘Hidden Hearing’ shop on the high street, but there was no sign of the aid. I found an interesting piece of red plastic in a pothole, though. It was now time to go home, and I was very much looking forward to attending to the trench foot which I was sure must be developing inside my sodden shoes. I wearily heaved my two rucksacks on to my shoulders and consoled myself that even if we’d found the aid by the bus stop, it would have been ruined by the rain anyway. It would have stood a better chance with the lonely slug back in Crianlarich. I stopped dead in my tracks.

“THE PHONE!” I shouted, clamping the spouse’s arm in a vice-like grip with excitement, “I think I listened to my voicemail when we first arrived back!  I need to take the aid out to listen to the phone…maybe it’s on my desk!””

“Well you’ve got bugger all chance of finding it on there from what I saw earlier”, said the spouse, a little disparagingly, I thought. “I’ve had enough of this,” he declared, ” I’m going home.”

Without even stopping to berate him for his heartlessness, I shot back up the steep hill to the main building, my two rucksacks now seemingly weightless in the excitement. I burst breathlessly through the front door, and pursued my flight up the architecturally acclaimed central staircase. As I skidded round the corner and into the office, I almost heard the soles of my hiking boots give a little tyre screech on the naked concrete.

My remaining colleague looked bemused once more, as I began the frenzied excavation of my desk, in the manner of someone looking for a vital piece of evidence in a suspense film. Unfortunately, there was to be no cinematic denouement just yet. Once everything on the desk had been thrown to the floor, I slumped into my chair, defeated. The desktop was bare.

I stared, transfixed, at the illuminated red voicemail light, and wondered who had left a message. I now remembered that the spouse had dragged me off before I’d had a chance to listen to it earlier. I wearily reached to drag the phone by its cord to listen, when… I spotted a cheeky little flash of red underneath. Eureka! The denouement had finally arrived. The aid had been hiding under the phone the whole time!

To the imaginary accompaniment of the Hallelujah chorus, I popped my lost hearing instrument on to my overjoyed left ear, and finally set off for home.

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LOST

crianlarich

Last night, the spouse and I had a nice happy glow as I prepared to leave the office. We had just returned from the annual student field trip to the highlands, and despite the foul weather, all had gone well. The last task of the day had been dumping the mud-spattered administrative relics of the trip on to my very messy desk, before heading home to relax.

“Can’t wait to get my wet shoes off and have a nice chilled glass of wine”, I said, as I ran my hand through my weather beaten hair. An unexpected sensation stopped me in my tracks.

“OH NO!” I shrieked, “IT’S GONE!!!!”

The spouse froze, and my colleague looked bemused as I bent double and frantically combed my left ear with my hand in the hope that I would feel something other than naked left ear. The right one was fortunately still making a hideous crackling noise when I touched it. I vigorously shook my hair with both hands, only to find it empty, and let out a serious round of expletives.

“WHAT’S gone?” said the spouse before the penny dropped. “Oh, for god’s sake, don’t tell me you’ve lost one of your bloody hearing aids”, he said, “When do you remember last having it?”

“Oh how the hell would I know,” I wailed, ” if I knew that…oh, it could be ANYWHERE…for all I know it might even be back in Crianlarich!” My heart sank.

The image of our rain soaked group photo half way up a mountain earlier in the day flashed through my mind, and I hoped my missing left aid hadn’t fallen off there as it might currently be being ravished by a sexually aroused slug. Its circuitry wouldn’t stand a chance against an onslaught of rain, mud and mucus. I shuddered and felt a pang of anguish for my lost friend, alone in the wilderness. It was too horrible. I needed hope. I summoned up a more attractive memory and felt a kind of peace as I imagined the lost aid fallen at the side of the forestry path we’d walked with the students earlier; in my mind’s eye, the aid was gently cradled in a soft pillow of green moss, attentively listening for the sound of a tree falling in the forest to see if it made a sound if I wasn’t attached to it. Even though data logging had taken all the mystery out of that one for me, it was time I put it back in with wondering whether the sound of the philosophical tree falling would be similar through either an open or a closed hearing aid fitting without changing the programming? Well that’s what they told me earlier in the week at clinic O when I expressed concern at them slapping a pair of open domes on, when they’re programmed for tulip domes. Pah. The memory of my visit to clinic O caused negative thoughts to intrude on my verdant mossy pillow, so I urgently pressed on with my mental odyssey to find the aid. Where else had we been that day?

I paused to think; we’d been on a long bus journey to get back home after the trip, and I remembered being annoyed by engine noise in stereo, and road noise from the bus driver’s open window so I must have still had both aids. I’d definitely have noticed if one aid was missing because I’d actually have been able to hear the spouse on the bus if I’d had an empty left earhole. He gets very annoyed when he tries to talk to me in the presence of low-frequency engine noise with my tulip domes. Hey, wait a minute…low frequencies…I suddenly remembered being terrified by the sudden noise of a helicopter hovering just above the glass cupola in the ceiling of the gallery we’d dropped into briefly, after first arriving back in Glasgow. I must have had both hearing aids then, because it turned out the helicopter noise overhead was actually music coming from speakers at the far end of the room. I wouldn’t have heard it without the left aid. Aha!

“THE GALLERY!” I shouted excitedly. With renewed hopes, we set off to re-trace our steps out of the building, pausing briefly at the front desk before leaving. I needed to tell the janitor that if anyone handed in a hearing aid which was bright red on one side, silver on the other and beige up the middle, then it was indisputably mine.

Once that was done, the spouse insisted on one final check before heading back down the road to the gallery. “Look in the toilet by the shop, just in case you dropped it in there”, he said and I obediently set off, eyes tracking an invisible path on the floor, like Ariadne’s ball of thread in the Labyrinth. Once the toilet had successfully been eliminated as a last resting place for my missing hearing instrument, we followed the invisible thread down the wet pavement outside to the gallery. The spouse was getting very annoyed by then because, to his untrained eye, there were so many beige cigarette ends to rule out of the search. When we finally reached an overflowing bin and looked up, things got even worse and my hopes were dashed.

In the time since we had left earlier, a massive queue had formed outside the gallery entrance. It turned out the exhibition space had become crowded to capacity after news of a sponsored pizza delivery had spread quickly on campus. The slug sex scene on a muddy mountainside now seemed like a better end for a lost hearing aid than being trampled to death on the floor of a gallery by hundreds of hungry students. When the Dominos delivery had first arrived, greasy slices of pepperoni were dropping everywhere in an orgiastic frenzy of pizza ripping, but this wasn’t the worst of it. Even if the aid survived the trampling and the pepperoni, the little plastic tubs of sauce that fell unnoticed out of the boxes would finish it off. I had stepped on one by accident earlier, and noticed that my 160lbs psi pressure turned it into a lethal spicy paintball gun.

With heavy hearts, the spouse and I patiently joined the long queue, hoping for a miracle…

to be continued…

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It’s a Wrap

ha stickers silver2

During my most recent stint as a hearing research guinea pig at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research, the researcher asked if she could see my hearing aids to take a note of the model details. I did a surreptitious hygiene inspection and obediently passed one to her.

“Hmmm, the name seems to have worn off”, she said, peering at the naked beige underbelly in the hope of finding clues. I needed to step in.

“It’s a Danalogic i-FIT e-Series 71, courtesy of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde”, I said helpfully, “aka The Mighty Chipolata.”

Whether it was my unusually precise knowledge of the spec, or the unusual appearance of the aid which surprised her, I wasn’t sure.

“Danalogic? Really? …I’ve never seen one like this before”, she said, examining the two-tone results of my latest time saving decorative strategy. It involves applying self adhesive film only to the parts of the aid which are visible whilst on the ear, apart from the ugliest and most visible bit on top with all the buttons and holes which defies even the most dextrous decorator. The controls are the bit design forgot; they aesthetically scream ‘HEARING AIDS!!! AGHHH!!!’ and a mere glimpse can make people standing behind you in a ticket queue very restless. Even the most conformable self-adhesive material known to man* cannot surround the monstrous volume wheel and battery drawer protrusion without the whole thing looking like a badly wrapped parcel, or worse, a home made explosive device. Less is definitely more, I have decided, when working with sticky backed plastic and the Danalogic i-FIT 71.

If you’re in possession of a Glasgow-style NHS Danalogic yourself and you’d like to have a go at testing my minimalist wrapping strategy, here is a handy minimalist sticker template for the model shown. The Mighty Chipolatas in the picture are wearing lovely 60 micron Oracal film offcuts pinched from under my colleague’s desk while she’s on holiday (sorry Jo!). They’ve got blue metallic embroidery thread on the tubes.

*Oracal High Performance Cast 751, you can flawlessly wrap every part of a racing car with this sleek and cutting edge stuff, but the Danalogic’s control panel has got it beat. Mind you, if you think wrapping a hearing aid is a bit fiddly, spare a thought for these guys (and don’t be tempted to use a blowtorch on your HAs)

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Kookybite Innovation #12

Subtitle remote control

 

SeizeControl ® Covert Subtitle Activator & Volume Control

Are you fed up asking your remote-hogging partner for the subtitles to be turned on when watching tv, only to be told subtitles ruin everything? At the touch of a button, this nifty gadget transmits a signal to your tv remote and secretly turns the subtitles on without your viewing partner suspecting a thing. SeizeControl® is cunningly disguised as a half-used packet of hearing aid batteries, and since those things are all over the damn house, it blends in perfectly.

Sit back and enjoy the film, while your partner fiddles with the zapper in vain. Just as they’re about to ring Sky, you can turn the subtitles off just long enough to fool them into thinking it’s sorted, or if you’re feeling really aggrieved at their stubbornness, you can let them go right ahead and pay a £65 callout charge straight out of their own pocket.

Can also be used to control tv volume, to make it too loud or too quiet for your partner, depending on the situation.

Mwahahahaha!

Now Hear This

 

acoustic horn1

When this mobile acoustic horn appeared mysteriously outside the office the other day, I wondered if the students had finally found an effective way to ask me questions in the corridor without getting a completely inappropriate response.

Sadly for me, the horn is not a giant mobile ear trumpet designed to keep me at arm’s length in background noise, but an intriguing piece of work destined for the forthcoming final year Work in Progress Show. Nevertheless, I have had great fun having unusually audible conversations through it in the meantime. Eat your heart out Digital Signal Processing, ear trumpets are the way to go in state of the art concrete buildings.

Next on my amplification wish list is a modified version of the soundbox table and seat below, designed by Korean designer Jina U. I plan to use it for the cookiebiter’s Room 101: doing heavily accented overseas phone interviews, in a noisy office, on a non-hearing aid compatible Cisco phone. Can’t wait.

 

soundbox table and seat

It’s a turkey!

The Cookiebite Christmas cracker

 

What do you call a Christmas candle in a dimly lit room full of cookiebiters?

A microphone.

* * * * *

What do you call an obstruction in a hearing aid tube?

A blockade.

* * * * *

How does the cookiebiter like their Yuletide pizza done?

Deep pan crisp and even.

* * * * * 

How did the stolen NHS hearing aid die?

It was flogged to deaf on eBay.

* * * * *

Knock, knock

I said, KNOCK, KNOCK

Oh, forget it.

* * * * *

What do Twitter trolls and a badly fitting earmould have in common?

They both give terrible feedback.

* * * * *

A cookiebite woman with hearing aids walks into a bar…

…and straight back out again.

* * * * *

What do Rudolph, Bambi and private hearing aids for cookiebiters have in common?

They’re two deer.

* * * * * 

What’s the difference between children and invisible hearing aids?

The latter should be heard and not seen.

* * * * * 

Why did the dropped hearing aids get ignored?

They fell on deaf ears.

* * * * * 

What do you call a faulty hearing aid battery charger connected to a trip wire?

A deaf trap.

* * * * *

 

Okay, so that’s 11 of the best, but I got a bit carried away. Merry Christmas!

Things You’re Unlikely To See #6

spectacle wearer of the year 2015

 

Q. What’s the difference between hearing aids and glasses?

A. Aside from approx £3,500 per pair, nobody ever says “I like your new hearing aids” when you walk into a room.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Specsavers recently announced the winner of their Spectacle Wearer of the Year competition, but potential Hearing Aid Wearers of the Year are still waiting for their invitation to step forward. Go on, Specsavers, I’d love a holiday in the Bahamas and £10,000 to buy a pair of hearing aids that work…

 


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