Posts Tagged 'Hearing loss'

What Was That Announcement? Things You’re Unlikely To See #5

live train information

Ah, just imagine…live text announcements to your mobile to translate the unintelligible mumblings from a station PA system. A technological step too far for Scotrail, perhaps, but maybe there is an alternative.

I often stare at the Information section of the train departures board in the hope that it will tell me something more useful than not to feed the pigeons, not to smoke within the station or not to leave my luggage unattended. It seems I am the only one, however, because everywhere you look on the concourse there are pigeons wrestling chips with their stumps, and pecking at fag butts and unattended suitcases.

Standalone live PA system announcements for the deaf/ HOH might arguably take up too much space on the board, but what if the pigeon alerts on the board could alternate with text announcements?  It would also help the 98% of the populace who don’t care about not feeding the pigeons and can’t make out the PA announcements either. Two for the price of one.

I know for a fact this system could work. Scotrail love alternating displays, and already have a sophisticated system in place at minor stations which only have one monitor. It somehow detects when you are about to look at the screen for vital train information, and immediately switches to a useless warning not to leave unattended luggage. I find the system is particularly effective when you are rushing.

I used to try and trick the sensors by pretending to look away as I approached, until I misjudged some stairs in the bowels of Glasgow Central and nearly ended up under the Garscadden train. If the secret alternating display system could be deployed usefully to make space for live text announcements on the main destination board, however, my embarrassing trip might not have been in vain…

Background photo cropped from Departures board, Glasgow central railway station  courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


It has been a bad week. For anyone, including the alarmed passer-by, who witnessed the swearing woman rooted to the spot at a street corner after touching one ear on Friday morning, I would like to announce that there is an explanation.

Since it is not the first time the scenario has happened, I feel it is now worthy of some definitions:

1. Lugstruck temporary state of paralysis induced by the realisation that your hearing aids are on the bedside table and not on your ears, as you’re running to catch a train or bus. The distance you are likely to cover before this realisation occurs is annoyingly governed by the equation: amount of pressure you are under to get to where you need to go, divided by degree of hearing loss. I seem to be able to get furthest on days where I cannot afford to be late.

2. Pessoptimism loop temporary fluctuating state of belief that you don’t need to hear anything today anyway, and that the 08:32 train will be leaving the station with you on board. Then reality dawns.

3. Hearing aid hotfoot ungainly sprint back to base to connect hearing aids to ears.

4. Delaid hearing aid related lateness, resulting from all of the above.


The Look of Love…and Hearing Loss

At the pub last night, the spouse ordered a bottle of cava in the hope that they would make the same mistake as they had last week, and serve us up a £45 bottle of champagne by accident. They didn’t, but the glamorous woman sitting in a group next to us was impressed with the extravagance of cava nonetheless. After a while, she caught the spouse’s attention.

“Excuse me, what are you celebrating?” she asked, emboldened by her own large glass of Pinot Grigio.

“Reaching the end of the week alive”, said the spouse cheerfully, before adding that it was our wedding anniversary in a week or two, in order to appear a little less cynical.

“How long have you been married?” she asked.

“Oh god, erm, it’s been about nine years…yes, nine years”, said the spouse, as the shocking realisation dawned.

“NINE YEARS?” shrieked the glamorous woman, in surprise.

I braced myself for what might come next, in case it was “What…to HER?” but my fears were unfounded.

“That’s SOOOOOOOOO sweet”, she crooned. “You both look so in love, I thought you’d just got together. You’ve been staring into each other’s eyes all evening.”

Each other’s lips, perhaps…

Test or Toast?

“Must remember to ask someone to put a seat on this flippin’ toilet”, I said to myself for the umpteenth time since the start of term, prompted by the familiar touch of cold ceramic. This encouraged me not to linger any longer than necessary, and turned out to be fortuitous. When I emerged from the toilet after the quietest few minutes I’d had all day, I discovered that the fire alarm was sounding and there was a distinct air of the Marie Celeste about the place.

Cripes, how long has that been going off for? I said to myself, glad that if this was a real fire, the missing toilet seat might just have saved my life. I spotted a freshly made cup of tea and a steaming bowl of porridge abandoned in the kitchen area, and this persuaded me it was time to leave. I set off for the nearest exit, feeling slightly nostalgic for our old building and its painfully loud alarm system which necessitated fingers in ears and a swift exit, no matter where you were when it went off. It was clearly put in place by someone who understood the difficulty of trying to empty a building of students in under five hours.

The new building, previously a call centre, has a much quieter alarm and it would appear that two toilet doors are enough to come between me and it. Just as I was wondering how many hearing impaired people had emerged from institutional toilets over the years to find themselves engulfed by a wall of flames, the fire alarm stopped. Thankfully, it was a test after all.

I added ‘get toilet seat’ to my high-level academic To Do list, and made a mental note never to spend more than two minutes in the toilet in future, just in case.

Kookybite Innovation #6

My quest for the perfect hearing aid-free digital piano playing experience is being hampered by a combination of total ignorance of music software and hardware, combined with extreme impatience with technological matters. The sort of impatience that can lead to things getting smashed up.

I want to equalize the output of my Clavinova as I’m playing it, to fill in the cookie bite, but I don’t know what I’m doing.  Recent exposure to my mistakes is causing the spouse to run away in terror with his hands over his ears whenever he sees the laptop going anywhere near the piano.

Someone invent this plug-in thingy that does it all for me. Pleeeeeease.


Update 11 Sep 2015…come on, I’m still waiting





These were the last words I heard for the next few minutes after audiology person No.1 connected a wire from his computer to the hearing aid in my left ear, as audiology person No.2 did a bit of on-screen adjustments. Moments later, there was a mouseclick and bang! I pulled my head away instinctively from a painfully loud noise in the earhole, but it was too late. The next thing I knew, I was in a silent movie, set in a hospital hearing aid clinic, with a very loud ringing sound in my head as the soundtrack.

“Bloody hell, what was that?” I said, rather alarmed that I now had no voice.

I never got an answer to my question because nobody else had a voice either, just moving lips. I guessed that those sliders hadn’t been set to zero after all, and I wondered if I was the only person that morning who was going to leave the hearing aid clinic deafer than I came in. Fortunately, my hearing came back after a few minutes, but I’ve been somewhat wary of computers and loud noises ever since.

Yesterday afternoon, I was reminded of this incident as I connected the sound output of my MacBook to my digital piano to partake of a bit of cheesy GarageBand fun. I’m still trembling. With 60 watts of Yamaha Clavinova speaker power behind it, that Mac startup chime is very loud. Beware.

Tweet Twit

Spring has definitely sprung, and it’s been birds, birds, birds all weekend on Bute. Big ones, small ones, ones that sound like birds, ones that sound like squeaky gates and car alarms, and ones that sound like cats miaowing. One of these days, I’ll find out what type of bird makes each sound, but matching the sound with a sighting of the bird is tricky, especially when one keeps looking in the wrong direction. The soaring gull high overhead today that sounded like a plane was an entertaining collage of ears, eyes and confused brain which made me realise that, with my defective sound locating faculties, I’ll never be able to get a job as an air traffic controller.

This was a double blow, since after this morning’s walk along the beach, a career in ornithology is now out as well. As I rushed to show the spouse this beautiful newly-hatched egg I’d found, I was rather disappointed to discover that it was actually a washed up ping pong ball.


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