Completely fed up with renting and landlords, sometime when I was in my twenties, I bought a house. It was not in the high rent district, most of the neighborhood was Hispanic, a good starter place. Fixer-upper I believe it was called. It had three bedrooms, one bath, one car garage, kitchen, dining room, and a living room. There was even a nice big yard more than enough room for a single man. One problem since it was on the other side of the tracks the place was broken into frequently. Not like today, no home invasions, I was never present, but my things would vanish.
This was a quiet neighborhood for the most part. I swear one night a police pursuit ended on that block and there were cop cars all over the place. One season a screech owl started a family in my neighbors palm tree. These guys look really cute but from dusk to dawn this thing made the most annoying sounds. This bird was nesting right outside my bedroom. I was so relieved when the baby owls were old enough to move on.
Cute but really noisy!
Some time during this these guys across the street started a band. They would practice during the evenings, on some days I thought I would go completely bonkers if they played “whiter shade of pale” even one more time. One evening, owls hooting, band playing badly I was sitting in my once quiet living room miserably contemplating the night ahead. I really needed a diversion.
I was sitting there thinking, if this much sound comes into my place, just what kinds of noises make it to the street. I was already aware how poorly insulated apartments could be. It was time for an experiment. Armed with my trusty tape deck on my stereo, I ran an audio cable out to the fence and setup a microphone. Listening through headphones I could hear the wind blowing over the mike in addition to the other sounds.
Up until then I always thought I was the quiet neighbor, no late night parties, I never brought home mariachi bands or did anything unusual. I was using a Jokari paddle, a wooden thing designed for some game. This toy was not child’s play. It had a rubber grip and it packed quite a wallop.
Impressive and effective!
I starting the recording and began using the paddle on my butt, all in the name of science, of course. After using it for a while, I wanted to get a sample of sufficient length; I pulled up my pants and rewound the tape. The sounds were loud, very loud. You could clearly hear the smack of the paddle over all the other noises. I can not imagine to this day just what my neighbors thought when sounds like these came from my house. It’s not as if you could mistake it for carpentry or some other DIY project. In all the time I lived there I was then acutely aware of just how “quiet” a neighbor I had been.
Today I do not have to be concerned about this at all. I live in the hills and I can barely hear my current neighbor’s electric guitar, and only if I am outdoors at that. Just fair warning you may be sharing more than you think when you play. I think somewhere I still have that tape, If there is any interest I will post the audio.
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