Oops… That was me! July 16, 2008Posted by dorigo in personal, physics.
This afternoon I intended to follow a few presentations at a meeting of the CDF Joint Physics working group. I had spent the better part of the morning trying without success to purchase time for skype phone calls -there must be something wrong with my credit cards- and in the end I had resigned to the idea of calling in with my cell phone. My take is that if a problem can be solved by throwing money at it, and you have that money, it is not really something to worry about.
The other problem I was facing involved some planning: my kids wanted to spend the afternoon in a nice beach on the south-east coast of Sardinia, Capo Boi (see picture below), but the meeting would take place at more or less the same time. After realizing I was not going to be able to be in two different places at the same time, we went to the beach anyways, and after setting our camp, I asked Filippo and Ilaria to leave me alone for a while, and I dialed the US number which would connect me to the meeting.
I could follow the discussion reasonably well even in the absence of video -when showing plots the speakers were smart enough to say in words what you should take away from it-, but at some point the spokespeople asked remote sites to mute: they were getting noise back from the open lines. I initially thought it was due to somebody else: I was hearing noise too, in particular there was somebody talking Spanish in the background. After a second generalized invitation to mute, I started to suspect I was at least one of the sources of the problem. Could they be hearing back from my cell phone, which I was keeping with a hand over the microphone ? To be sure, I moved further away from my kids, who were shouting and crying, as usual. I heard no further complaint from Fermilab, and I could listen to the whole part of the meeting I was interested in. Then, sweating and with a hot ear, I threw the phone in the tent and plunged into the crystalline water at blitzing speed.
The afternoon was very pleasant, and I got acquainted with a school of curious fish that stationed right in front of our place. As we returned home, however, I checked my mailbox, and found out I had been identified as the source of background noise by my italian colleagues! They could not be sure, but they had a clear suspicion… I had to apologize with them, but I could not do the same with the other guests of the meeting, which had now been over by an hour already. It is quite unfortunate that I have never learned how to mute the microphone of my cell phone during a conversation…
In any case, if you were at the meeting today, or worse, if you followed it by video or audio call and had trouble hearing the speaker due to noise resembling waves hitting a beach or kids screaming at each other: I apologize!