In recent years I mainly listen to music through good-quality headphones. I've been surprised to find how many apparently random environmental noises show up in studio recordings.
Perhaps the most well-known example is Led Zeppelin's _The Ocean_. About 1.5 minutes or so into the song a telephone can be heard ringing in the background. Some LZ fans claim it was an unexpected call-back from a pizza place nearby.
Within the last week I was listening to some new alternative group's studio track and clearly heard a metallic thud in the background that sounded like someone hit or knocked over a live microphone stand.
On the other hand, there have been a few songs that deliberately incorporate phone rings. I've noticed a few songs in the last decade (mainly urban / rap genre) that seem to incorporate ring tones in the background (repeatedly, like on every chorus). I've often wondered if that was done simply to screw with listeners' heads.
Beyond these sorts of things ... Some instrument (particularly synthesized) sounds or combinations thereof are so aurally similar to phone ringer sounds that I find myself pulling off the 'phones to double-check that there's no incoming call.
I'm always hearing doorbells in the shower, though now I think on it, less so since my recent house move..
I heard a really weird aural simulacrum (no, sorry, there has to be a shorter name for it!) only the other day. I grabbed two large dinner plates one-handed from the dishwasher, and as I lifted them out, they clanged against each other, and for a brief moment, I clearly heard a woman's voice. I can even tell you what voice it was! You know the voice that says (in UK) "the number you have dialled has not been recognised"? Same voice, same tone. I could make out no words, but it was quite uncanny, though I realised within seconds that it was no more than the brief ringing of two plates.
My wrist watch has a flat watch glass, so it often reflects lights (the sun especially) as a small disc on walls, ceilings, etc. But I can always identify such 'orbs' by moving my wrist and seeing them move synchronously.
But I just experienced a more puzzling example. There's a window in front of me, and I could see an 'orb' apparently outside the window. Although it followed the movements of my wrist, it didn't coincide with the reflection of my watch in the window.
After a bit of thought and experiment, I finally worked it out:
A ceiling light was reflecting off my watch, then off a table in front of me, and then off the window back into my eyes!
This would have been more obvious if the illuminated part of the table had been brighter, but because of the shallow reflection angle very little light from the table itself radiated back directly to my eyes, and most of it went on to the window. But when I'd figured it out I could see, very faintly, the light patch on the table.
An interesting practical demonstration of optics! 8)
I can debunk a story that hasn't even reached FTMB yet!
'Gollum' was a hoax after all: 'monster' spotted in China mountains was actor shooting advertisement
Viral photo of Lord of the Rings-esque "monster" taken by Chinese tourist turns out to be actor in makeup
By Malcolm Moore, Beijing
11:46AM BST 26 Jun 2014
It was the stuff of nightmares. On a sunny day in the mountains near the Great Wall of China, a lone hiker turned a corner to find a mysterious creature with bronze skin and long drooping ears, squatting by a pool of water.
As the blood drained from his face, he summoned the presence of mind to snap a photograph so that he could post the creature on the internet.
The gollum duly went viral. After the photograph was posted on Tuesday, it was reposted more than 30,000 times and gathered 24,000 comments. Some suggested the creature was an alien, others wondered if it was half-man, half-pig.
The image inspired rambling flights of fancy; long stories of the childhood of the beast, orphaned in the wilderness, or descriptions of its ancient lineage.
But on Thursday, a more mundane explanation emerged. An actor posted more photographs of himself being made up and posing as the creature while shooting an advertisement.
"This was an actor wearing a costume," clarified Beijing's police "He was filming an advertisement."
"The actor has provided pictures of himself in the costume to prove it," added the local government of Huairou, the county where the hiker took his snap. "The actor was taking a loo-break and was still wearing his costume".
Maison Dieu Place 'fire' turns out to be spilled nail varnish remover!
By MikeSims | Posted: September 14, 2014
DOVER fire crews were called to a "blaze" last night - but it turned out to be a bottle of leaking nail varnish remover.
A panicking resident in Maison Dieu Place thought they could smell burning at 6pm last night, so called the fire brigade.
But when firefighters arrived they were left red-faced as crews found a bottle of nail varnish remover leaking down the back of the sofa.
A spokesman for the station said: "They reported a strong smell of fumes, and in a small confined space it smelt quite strong."
'Escaped crocodile' was inflatable toy, police discover
Police officers called out to a report of a suspected escaped crocodile in Plymouth discovered the "animal" was an inflatable toy.
A woman called for help after she saw the 3ft (1m) imitation reptile in her garden at Cundy Close at 12:20 BST.
She asked two neighbours for assistance but called emergency services after they agreed it was too dangerous to approach the creature unarmed.
Police snapped into gear arriving with snare poles, nets and riot shields.
Devon and Cornwall Police also alerted a team of wildlife experts from Dartmoor Zoo to help.
The officers threw water over the "crocodile" from a safe distance and gingerly approached when it did not move. It was only then, on closer inspection, they realised it was harmless.
Despite warnings to never smile at a crocodile, they were left grinning as they removed the toy from the garden and placed it in police custody.
While the police response was scaled back, Dartmoor Zoo team was stood down.
"I was making my lunch in the kitchen and looked out into the back garden," said the home owner, who did not wish to be named.
"It was pouring with rain and I saw what I thought was a crocodile in the garden. I went to my neighbour's house to ask if they would come and have a look at it.
"They did think it was a baby crocodile and suggested calling the RSPCA or the police. We decided to call the police as I have a three-year-old and was worried.
"A policeman and a policewoman arrived and at that point we were all a bit suspicious because it hadn't moved.
"One of the police officers bravely went out to have a look. They threw water on it and it didn't move. I'm absolutely mortified."
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that officers attended the incident following the woman's call.
"We received a call from a concerned member of the public reporting that an escaped crocodile was in their garden, approximately 3ft in length," the force spokesman said.
"Police officers attended and bravely investigated. The beast turned out to be an inflatable toy crocodile. Police have apprehended the crocodile." 8)
The spokesman said it was not known how the toy had come to be in the woman's garden.
Dartmoor Zoo said experts were regularly called out to deal with escaped pets including lizards and snakes.
"The team were on the road with all the equipment needed," said the zoo spokesman.
I just saw ghostly shadows on my kitchen wall. At first I assumed it was my own shadow, but the movements didn't match mine...
Finally I realised that the sun was reflecting off the back windows of a van in the car park, and casting shadows of people walking by!
Obviously the time of day and the time of year limit when this effect can be seen, and that assumes a van with the right windows is parked in a particular place, which is why these 'ghosts' are rarely seen!
Mostly my misperceptions are visual, but I had an auditory one today. (Yes, that is a word, I checked!)
With me being half deaf, you might expect these to be more common, but in fact if I hear something I don't understand I grumble 'WTF was that?', and don't think about it any more.
Today was different. I was on the town bus heading for the coast. In the distance I heard police, fire or ambulance sirens, maybe a couple of streets away. A short while later I heard them again, and I wondered if there was a major incident going on somewhere. But there was never a sight of an emergency vehicle or a blue light. When I heard the sirens again, I began to wonder if I'd got this wrong, somehow, and gradually it dawned on me that the noise was coming from the bus transmission on gear changes! Doh!
In my defence, I'm pretty sure I've never been on a similar vehicle to that particular bus. (My return trip, with the same company, was on a larger bus with more normal transmission noises.)
A real classic just now: walking along the corridor back to my flat, I noticed through one of the windows a bright light. I was looking through some trees, and over the roof of a house in the next street. The light seemed to be attached to some ochre coloured structure. Was it a drilling rig or something similar? It was a big piece of equipment to bring into a suburban street. I was thinking that I'd have to take my camera round there and get some pictures.
But first I got my binoculars for a better view. They were hugely out of focus, probably having last been used to look at some wildlife in the garden. As I focussed in, suddenly my perception changed. I wasn't looking at some kind of big machinery in the next street, but at something much smaller and actually on the roof of the house - a set of chimney pots! Doh!
And the light, which looked so artificial? One of the pots had a steel cowl of some kind on it, and this was reflecting the bright sun! And there I'd been, half-imagining a War of the Worlds type scenario, with alien machines from Mars landing...
A picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, so I took these a few minutes ago.
The first one represents the naked eye view, and the other approximates to the x7 binocular view:
The big difference from what I saw at lunchtime is that the sun has moved, and the 'bright light' is not visible. (I think the steel cowl is in shadow here.) There's also a TV aerial there which adds to the sense of 'structure'.
Another point to mention is that there are 3 windows in the corridor, but the chimneys are only visible from one of them. It was the bright light that first caught my eye. If I'm here tomorrow I'll retake the second picture, and try to capture the light as well. (But possibly, if the cowl moves with the wind, the angle may not be right if the wind direction is different.)