Sunday, October 18, 2009

Investigation, Not Conclusions

Some gentle thoughts to those suffering from an unidentified noise in their homes:

1. Be mindful of jumping to conclusions. Any investigation can be derailed by getting distracted & focused on one theory, or idea. The collection and analysis of hard data is very important.

For example (and the example is a bit dramatic for effect), imagine the embarrassment a person might feel, publicly stating the noise they're hearing is being caused by some secret military activity, only to discover that the pipes leading into their house are vibrating in their walls. Rule out the obvious :-)

2. Similar noise, different source. This can be a tough one to get one's head around sometimes (especially if the noise is keeping you awake!). We are considering that while the Noise we're hearing may sound the same as a noise being heard elsewhere, there may be very different causes of the same type of sound.

3. Be objective with observations. People being bothered from an unidentified noise are asked to write down what they notice, when they notice it, and at what times. An example:
- Oct 16, woken up at 4:14 AM by a low hum sound, intensity level 8/10.
> 7:30 AM, left for work, intensity level 1/10.
> 10:51 PM, low humming noise started, intensity level 6/10.
- Oct 17, quiet all day.
- Oct 18, quiet until 5:00 PM, low hum started, intensity level 5/10.
> went to bed 10 PM, intensity level 5/10.
- Oct 19, turned on furnace fan; didn't want to be bothered by the Noise.
Please note, the above is only an example. But, it does provide an exemplar of what an objective, anecdotal observation can look like.

4. Follow the scientific method. We are with our investigation. There are many definitions of what the scientific method is. One such definition of this can be found at:

5. Expect to be part of the solution. Help is available. With regards to our investigation, we just ask that you be willing to put in some effort, too. There are many ways to help out, just ask :-)

6. Go visit your neighbours. Consider asking around & seeing if others are being bothered by the same kind of noise that's bothering you. Stop in at each other's places and listen - is it the same in both places?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Latest Article for the Ranchlands Round Up

Enclosed is a copy of the latest article on the Noise for the Ranchlands Round Up...


The Noise problem many Ranchlands residents are experiencing was brought up during the Ranchlands Community Association's Annual General Meeting, held on September 30. Dana Negrey, the resident who brought the Noise problem to the attention of the Community Association was present, as was Dr. Marcia Epstein of the University of Calgary and Richard Patching, Acoustical Engineer, Patching & Associates.

Dr. Epstein's interest in the Noise problem stems from her research pertaining to the effects of noise on people. Her research has led to her gaining considerable experience with noise investigations like this. Part of the process in finding a solution to the Noise problem is Dr. Epstein receiving filled in questionnaires on the Noise. These were first published in the August edition of the Ranchlands Round Up. Dr. Epstein said that, ideally, she would be able to receive questionnaires from everyone living in Ranchlands, indicating whether or not they are hearing the Noise, and if they are, to what degree.

Richard Patching has 31 years experience as an Acoustical Engineer and had literally been around the world conducting noise investigations and implementing solutions. Richard stated that a key element of this investigation is hearing from as many people as possible to begin getting a picture of where the Noise is being heard, and where it isn't. He also said that another key element is being able to take his recording instruments into homes to gain important data.

The recordings are not typical sound recordings. The recorders are specifically set up to record low-frequency sound, its duration, its intensity, and its frequency. The equipment is not set up to record speech or anything like that. A typical recording involves Richard and the homeowner agreeing on a time for the equipment to be set up. The equipment normally consists of a tripod, a microphone, a recording device about the size of a box of macaroni and cheese, and two cords. Ideally, the equipment can be set up in an unobtrusive place in the house for about 5 days. Richard uses a second recorder, a hand-held device, while setting up the other equipment. Residents concerned with privacy issues are assured that the recordings will only be used in reference to the Noise investigation, and Richard is offering residents the original recordings once he is done with them.

Dana has been collecting information and coordinating the investigation with Richard and Dr. Epstein, along with the Ranchlands Community Association. Dana's home was one of the first Richard recorded in. The recordings supported what Dana had been reporting earlier, namely that there was an unknown low frequency sound being heard at various volume and intensity levels, at constant yet infrequent intervals, in his family's home. The recordings noted a 40 Hz hum corresponding to Dana's observations.

Additional research is providing valuable leads, and will hopefully assist in resolving this problem soon. One particular item of note for residents: even though an individual is not hearing the Noise, it doesn't necessarily mean the Noise isn't present in their house. Richard Patching explained this further, describing how each person's individual physical make up and hearing can determine whether or not they can hear the Noise. This is another reason why it is important for Richard's equipment to record in as many houses as possible.

It is anticipated that after the recordings are taken, listened to, and analyzed, and once the questionnaires have been received, read and analyzed, that it will be possible to physically map out where the Noise is being heard, and where it's not. Subsequent steps can be planned after that.

Dr. Epstein, Richard and Dana, along with the Ranchlands Community Association, and some august members of the community are volunteering their time to work on this Noise problem. The investigation is big and as such, takes time. For instance, the recording equipment, also being volunteered by Richard's company, must be booked in advance by Richard. At the same time Richard must schedule appointments with individual residents. This action alone takes quite a while to coordinate and put in effect.

The Noise investigation is being followed by local and national news services. Last spring, Dana, Terry Avramenko, RCA President, and Owen Watson, resident, were interviewed by CBC TV News, CBC Radio News, CBC's Eyeopener, CTV Calgary News and City TV. The interest continued, with CBC Radio, CBC TV, and City TV conducting interviews and providing coverage of the September 30 AGM. News coverage was extended with Jim Brown of the Calgary Eyeopener speaking to Dr. Epstein, Terry being interviewed by Rob Breakenridge on CHQR AM 770, and Dana being interviewed locally by CTV Calgary News and nationally on the CBC radio show "As It Happens".

It would be possible to speed up the investigation if more manpower is provided, and/or additional assistance given. Unfortunately, the Alderman's Office is not prepared to help, stating the City deems the matter closed. Lindsay Blackett, MLA, has said he would see what his office could do to help. In the meantime, any Ranchlands resident with experience locating noise, working with sound, tabulating data, knowing how to seek funding, able to fill in a questionnaire, have recordings done at their place, and/or be able to keep a note on their calendars about what they notice about the Noise, please let the Association know at 403-241-0335.

Residents who may have missed the questionnaire can contact Dr. Epstein directly via email at A time can be set up to record with Richard Patching via email at Residents who do not have access to email can contact Dr. Epstein and Richard through the Community Association (241-0335). Residents experiencing Noise concerns can also send an email to

Citizens concerned by this Noise issue are encouraged to contact both the Civic and Provincial levels of government. Alderman Gord Lowe's contact infomation is / 403-241-5908; the Honourable Lindsay Blackett's (MLA) contact information is / 403-216-5444.

Noise problems are shared on-line at  “” – type the address without spaces into your web browser, removing the quotation marks before and after.

Friday, October 2, 2009


The Noise problem is garnering national attention. It was featured on CBC RAdio's "As It Happens" this evening (Oct 2). The podcast can be heard at:

A sincere "Thank you" to CBC for providing this coverage.

The problem is also being featured today on Sympatico/MSN's home page (screen shot attached)

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Thank you to everyone who attended the Ranchlands Annual General Meeting. The topic of the Noise problem was discussed. More details will follow within the next few days.

CBC Radio and TV News covered the meeting, as did City TV. The CBC article can be read at:

If the above link does not work, please copy and paste in a new browser window.