JG put up a reading challenge that she is going to do. It is called the 50 book challenge. Stunningly you have to read 50 books in a year. Should be do-able! I'm in.
One thing I have been discovering about having the podcasts is the odd things that it does to your head. I find that I am not able to listen to it and hear another conversation. It is the relentless nature of the podcast. Naturally, it refuses to respond to any distractions I may be enduring and doggedly continues onward. It also has, like the devil in those medieval paintings, the advantage of perching on my shoulder and whispering in my ear.
That's one aspect.
Another is that it affects your hearing. I never go around with both earphones in as I want to be able to hear ambient sound around me, but something odd happens when I do this, and there is essentially a form of auditory multitasking I am calling on my brain to perform which it is startlingly ill-equiped to deal with.
Thinking about it we almost never have auditory imput that is both exclusive and different for each ear. Our brains are not meant to handle this. I get an odd feeling in my head when it happens. More so that when two people are talking to me simultaneously. Closer to the sensation I get when two people are talking to me, one in English and one it Catalan. You can pretty much see the processors overheating when that happens. This is even odder.
Another oddity is the near complete loss of the ability to locate sounds in space. We were at Cosmo Caixa this weekend and there were some auditory experiments using stereo headphones. One of them was the sound of someone shaking a box of matches and you could trace where they were all around you, over and behind you, even down low on the floor behind your chair. Quite amazing.
With one headphone in? Gone. This, I believe is not exclusive to the speech nature of the imput but would occur equally if I were listening to music.
Finally was a weird and quirky bit of distortion I got the other morning. I was walking along quite early with the dog when I was utterly certain that I heard a very young baby cry out. You know that cry that babies have in the first few weeks/two months? That one. I was in a little park and I had a really good look around, and not surprisingly did not come across an abandoned baby. (Thank goodness) Then I heard it again. I still could not locate it in space at all. This was a baby calling out. I looked over at a sign that was attached to a metal barrier with electrical ties and which was blowing in the wind as the likely culprit so I watched it while waiting for the sound again. Heard it again, and even looking at the sign, I was not sure where the sound came from.
After this I stopped the podcast and removed the headset. Then I waited again. I briefly debated going home, there was clearly no abandoned baby there, but the fact that it sounded like such a young child drove me to remain till I was 100% sure what the sound was. Once the headphones were off I easily identified it as the sign moving, but was quite surprised to discover that it did not sound much like a baby crying at all when I had both earphones off.
This distortion to the sound was what I found most interesting. I think I should have been some kind of neurologist, because I would love to know what was going on in my head at that point. What weird quirk was distorting the noise to the point that I could not only not distinguish its location, but I was also quite unclear about the nature of the sound.
It will be interesting to see if I become a more skilled auditory listener under the onslaught of experience or if I just mess with my head.