What do you do if you are on a road trip with someone who likes to play music really loud -- especially if it's a genre you don't particularly like yourself?
Hmmm, it strikes me that the title of this column has the potential to be a tad confusing. I'm not talking about music suppressors that are really annoying -- I'm more concerned with finding something that can help me suppress really annoying music. Let me elucidate (don't try this at home. I'm a professional)...
Before we start, it might be worth taking a moment to set the scene. My wife (Gina the Gorgeous) has a humongous family on her mother's side. (She can actually trace the family back to Nova Scotia and then to Europe before the Pilgrim Fathers landed, but that's a tale for another day.) Gina's mother was one of seven siblings. Her mother's mother was one of ten. Most of the family lives in Louisiana.
About ten years ago we had a big get-together featuring just two branches of the family (branches at Gina's grandmother's level). It took the camping grounds at a really large state park to accommodate all of us. Did I ever mention that I'm really bad at remembering names and faces? But we digress …
Last week, Gina, our son Joseph, and I went down to Louisiana to celebrate Gina's birthday. During the day, Gina and Joseph visited with her mother and aunts and uncles and cousins while I worked out of our hotel room, then I met up with them all in the evenings. The reason for my mentioning this here will become apparent in a moment.
Gina loves music. She plays it all the time. She's also amazingly knowledgeable. If a tune comes on the radio and I say, "Who's that?" (or, possibly, "What's that rubbish?"), she will immediately respond with the group, album, track, and the year in which it appeared on the scene, and she's invariably right on all counts. (I can do the same sort of thing, but in my case I'm just making things up.)
The problem (for me) is that Gina likes her music really loud. Sheís also keen on listening to Christian rock when sheís driving. I think both of these things are wonderful … just so long as I'm not in the car with her. The downside for me comes when we happen to be taking a long drive together -- say an 8.5 hour drive down to Louisiana (just to pick a hypothetical example out of thin air, you understand).
Now, I'm the proud owner of some amazing MDR-NC500D digital noise-cancelling headphones from Sony. I picked these up on a trip three years ago when I went to give a talk to a bunch of engineers at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington (see Iím in love!).
These little beauties bring tears of joy to my eyes whenever I'm flying somewhere on a plane. The difference when you activate the noise cancellation is truly amazing. Since I had my backpack with me on our trip to Louisiana, I surreptitiously donned these headphones. Do you know, I hadnít realized just how much ground noise there is when you are travelling in a car -- even a really nice car like Gina's? When I turned on the noise cancellation, the rumble from the ground almost completely disappeared. Unfortunately, the noise cancellation doesnít work on things like music, so the end result was to make the songs Gina was playing sound clearer and -- paradoxically -- louder.
It's amazing how we humans can forget what pain feels like. Once we'd arrived in Louisiana, I was swept away by the fun and frivolity, and the horror that is Christian rock became naught but a distant memory … until the time came for our 8.5 hour return trip. All I can say is that there was much metaphorical gnashing of teeth and rending of garb on the way home. Thus it was that I decided something had to be done to save me from similar anguish in the future.
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