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Fun for Some

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The latest network dramas will never beat watching humdrum thunderstorms moving across the northern Iowa River Valley.
"There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person."

Periphery Demographic taken to its logical conclusion. For this particular medium, what's surprising is not that it has fans outside its target audience, it's that it has fans at all; it wasn't meant to entertain anyone, just inform them, or fulfill some other strictly functional role. But perhaps there's something hypnotic about watching the weather forecast on a perpetual loop, or maybe that educational short film has aged badly and picked up some unintentional hilarity along the way. Either way, you can bet most of the people watching aren't doing it out of a first-hand interest in the subject.

Not to mention that just about anything — anythingcan be made to appear sexy or even erotic.

Sometimes the makers will discover the extra audience, resulting in an Audience Shift. May overlap with Just Here for Godzilla if the Godzilla part makes all the boring parts worth it. Mundane Made Awesome is this trope when the subject isn't interesting to begin with, but becomes that way with a little imagination. Compare Incredibly Lame Fun, where something that bores other people in-universe has at least one character who thinks it’s interesting or fun. Compare and contrast Only One Finds It Fun.


  • Just about every form of transport ever invented. Ships, trains, planes, automobiles, hovercraft, funicular - you name it, there are people who'll travel around the world just to take photos of it or for the experience of riding one for its own sake. Even the infrastructure has fans - roadsigns, lighthouses, signal boxes and even roundabouts all have loyal followings.
    • Even public transit schedule and route guides can be surprisingly engaging, with all the different stops at key points of interest, transfer points to other routes, and some routes taking you to stops that let you board routes for different transit authorities, thus encouraging you to read their guide.
    • Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf collects photographs of telegraph poles - Chris Barrie took up trainspotting for a few months to try to get into his mind for the role.
  • The United Kingdom has the Shipping Forecast, a specialist weather forecast broadcast at odd hours on BBC Radio 4, which gives the wind conditions in obscurely named areas of sea like "FitzRoy", "North Utsire" and "German Bight" in extremely condensed terminology "Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, south veering southwest 6 or 7, turning gale 8 for a time, moderate or good". Sound like fun? Well, tens of thousands of landlubbers listen to it every day for its soothing rhythmic diction. The daddy of shipping forecasts is the 0048 bulletin, which gives a full forecast of all the shipping areas as well as conditions measured at the various coastal and inshore stations (and thus extending the list of interesting-sounding names to include the likes of "Machrihanish Automatic" and "Selsey Bill") and is preceded by the jaunty theme tune Sailing By. It is then followed by the Radio 4 closedown, which consists of the continuity announcer giving a pleasant sign-off before the British national anthem is played.
    • Sailing By could almost qualify on its own. Originally composed to accompany footage of hot-air balloons floating across an alpine landscape, it is not merely a theme tune but a time buffer used to ensure that the forecast goes out at 0048 precisely. Thus, one only occasionally hears it from beginning to end as it is played to fill in any time between the shipping forecast and the previous scheduled programme. It also acts as a distinctive sonic beacon for anyone trying to tune in. Befitting of these functions, it is a distinctive, repetitive waltz that many find highly soporific - it was for this reason that Jarvis Cocker chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs. Listen to it in full here.
    • There's an episode of Black Books where Fran is turned on by an ex-boyfriend's dramatic voice. She discovers he reads the Shipping Forecast and ends up... listening to it in bed...
    • Mrs. Bale in As Time Goes By listens to the Shipping Forecast. As she's a no-nonsense, stoic housekeeper, her love of the Shipping Forecast is just another way of demonstrating that what's utterly boring for other people is important to her.
    • In one of the Torchwood: The Lost Files dramas, the Shipping Forecast is taken over by an Eldritch Abomination.
    • In the radio version of Dead Ringers, BBC Radio 4 mob boss Brian Perkins gets bored reading it out, and tries doing it as a rap, with no change in the words.
    • The meditation/self-help app Calm has a fictitious broadbast of the Shipping Forecast in its "Sleep Stories" category, featuring unusually calm seas. There are two versions: One with an intro to explain the programme to non-Brits, and a longer version that goes straight into the forecast.
  • The London Underground map, originally just an experiment in applying electrical diagramming techniques to the Tube. Yet today, it's one of the best known symbols of London, and comes on posters, T-shirts and ash trays. It's since spawned a first-parody, now-real strategy game Mornington Crescent, as well as Mini Metro, a video game that involves drawing lines on a map to connect stations to serve passengers.
    • In a similar vein the New York City Subway map, and the subway itself, has quite a fandom outside of New York. Considering the amount of movies and TV shows that take place in the Big Apple this really isn't surprisingnote . The Chicago L has quite a fandom as well.
  • A lot of old filmstrips (usually from The '50s) were meant to be educational, but are now considered hilarious. Duck and Cover is the most famous of these. Gaia Online, a forum site that makes no pretense of being educational, has a special part in its cinema gallery for filmstrips like Duck and Cover, so people can laugh at them.
  • Numbers Stations — coded messages broadcast on radio by and for the Government Conspiracy — have something of a cult following. They sound pretty cool, with monotonal voices reciting numbers or Military Alphabet letters, along with weird electronic noises and canned recordings of cheesy musical dittys. Shortwave radio enthusiast Akin Fernandez even released The Conet Project, a set of CDs with recordings of them, which proved popular with musicians who have used the recordings for sampling purposes (e.g. Wilco did so on the song "Poor Places", but were sued for copyright infringement by the label that released the box set, though a settlement was reached and the sample remained on the album).
  • Before it underwent Network Decay, The Weather Channel in the United States continuously broadcast local weather conditions and forecasts, and many people tuned in for long periods of time. At some point it switched to having the local conditions/forecast "on the eights"; i.e., at eight, 18, 28, etc. minutes past the hour.
    • Penny Arcade plays with this, when Tycho convinces Gabe that the Forecast Channel on the Wii is actually a game.
    • Maybe It's Me also parodied the phenomenon by having the mother get hooked on the Weather Channel during the brief period they had a pirated cable hookup. The writers had no idea that was Truth in Television until that moment.
    • Repeated now with local television stations and their automated digital weather subchannels. You can seriously get lost in following distant weather patterns coming into your area and the routine of the same 35 background songs and six commercials airing over and over again.
    • In Stargate SG-1 Jonas Quinn is from an alien planet with technology roughly on par with the early/mid twentieth century. (They are working on their analogue to the atomic bomb.) When he comes to Earth he finds the Weather Channel fascinating and watches it for hours; when questioned he explains that the ability to predict weather with a relative degree of accuracy is like watching the future.
    • The Weather Channel and similar things being used like this is pretty commonly used as a form of "white noise" for insomniacs needing something to lull them to sleep/block out other noises so they can sleep (e.g., predictable, low-level, boring noise as opposed to, say, the news or a barking infomercial or a loud movie or concert) and by people who need distracting noise blocked out so they can concentrate but don't need the noise itself becoming a distraction: writers, artists, etc.
    • Some cable systems have TWC's Weatherscan service, which is essentially "Local on the 8s" in an endless loop, with relaxing music. It's like TWC tailor-made this for people who like the forecasts, so they could theoretically keep it on 24/7. However, Weatherscan has been largely discontinued and only some random small cable systems continue to use the service.
    • The cult following concerning the smooth jazz tracks used during the local forecasts was so big, TWC actually released compilation albums.
    • Going down the rabbit hole even further, there's a fan community that's more concerned with the WeatherSTAR computers installed at cable systems that generate the local forecasts, with many either emulating them or outright salvaging the originals.
    • Back before the digital switchover, the BBC used to broadcast a loop of "Pages from Ceefax" between midnight and 6AM, with assorted soothing library music on in the background. It was oddly relaxing for anyone having trouble sleeping.
    • ITV Nightscreen was very similar to Ceefax, also being shown during the overnight hours, however it had a broader range of music, including dance, and whereas Ceefax featured news and weather, Nightscreen promoted upcoming programmes on ITV.
  • If you're sick of TWC's Network Decay but still want a soothingly repetitive weather-related background noise, try weather radio. It's a continuous loop of a speech synthesizer reading off the forecast and current conditions. If you want to crank the "watching paint dry" meter up, there's WWV, a shortwave radio station run by NIST that does nothing but beep every second, announce the time in UTC every minute, and occasionally read off space weather conditions of interest to radio operators. If you're wondering how you can buy an "atomic clock" from the local drug store, it's actually synced up to WWV with a small internal antenna.
  • Webcams and streaming feeds of entirely boring things - road junctions, the sea, a coffee pot - can become remarkably popular. This Mitch Clem strip explores the idea.
  • Many people, especially in the United Kingdom, have an interest in the non-program parts of television: test cards, fault announcements, etc., otherwise known as continuity. See the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System and its affiliate sites.
    • Transdiffusion started out as a bunch of British schoolkids in the 1960s who were obsessed with TV presentation, and soon began setting up their own little "network" via audiotape, and soon distributed audiotapes of music and homemade programs all across Britain; they closed up in the 1970s, but Transdiffusion was revived on the Internet in the late 1990s, now as a repository for all sorts of pres stuff; the leader of the original TBS, Kif Bowden-Smith, now serves as the editor-in-chief of the revived TBS.
    • The Test Card Circle, also from the UK, began as a society of people united by their enjoyment of the library music used during test card transmissions and who now archive the music used during the non-program portions of TV broadcasts generally.
    • And then there's TVARK, which not only documents idents and such, but program intros, and ads of all kinds, like tangible evidence of how Snickers in the UK was once named Marathon. Not to mention similar sites like The Ident Gallery, TV Whirl and The TV Room.
    • Public Information Films also provoke intrigue, to the extent that there is a community of YouTubers amassing huge collections of these things.
    • The Rebroadcast Standby Tests carried out by the BBC in the days of analogue (and described in the Real Life section of the We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties page) were avidly watched by self-described "anoraks" (a British colloquialism for geeks) despite occuring in the early hours of the morning and consisting of nothing but a test card, a tone and a speaking clock.
  • The broadcast of a burning Yule Log is an extremely popular "program" in New York City during Christmastime.
    • Watching any fire burn seems to be strangely hypnotic.
      • Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, where the family is reimagined as 17th-century Puritans: Bart and Lisa have their eyes glued to the fireplace, with Marge feeling concerned that the fire might be too violent for them to watch.
    • In Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Sugar uses a burning candle as a meditation aid: he sits and stares into the flame for hours.
      • This is actually a very common way of achieving meditative focus, especially for followers of Neopagan religions.
  • Similarly hypnotic: some cable providers have one channel that's a digital fish tank. One can spend quite some time just... watching it.
    • For a similar effect just watch this.
    • According to one story, this all originates from one channel that never intended to show a fish tank at all. It was intended to be a perfectly normal channel, but it went on air before they had their material prepared, so for the few weeks of meantime they turned the camera towards a nearby fish tank. When the channel actually started showing programs, they got a lot of complaints from people who preferred the tank.
    • A similar idea was used by the now-defunct UK satellite channel Rapture (which showed teen/young adult programs, extreme sports and EDM mostly); for times when they weren't showing any programming, they'd show mice in a habitrail.
  • Bubble wrap. It's meant to keep items safe during shipping, but whenever anyone talks about it, it's in reference to popping the bubbles. (See also Kids Prefer Boxes.)
    • In Red Dwarf's third series episode "Timeslides", one of Rimmer's classmates from boarding school made a fortune by painting it red, cutting it into squares and marketing it as a tension sheet.
  • Screen savers. Sure, they're meant to protect your monitor from screen burn-in (or were, back when people still owned monitors that were vulnerable to it), but look at those colored tubes go! Oooh. Shiny.
    • Screen savers are like a cut-rate version of the Demo Scene.
  • Wikipedia. Proof that ours is not the only wiki that will ruin your life. The prose style is usually boring, and the tiny text is hard on the eyes, and yet....
    • The boring, humorless prose can be quite amusing when the article you're reading is about a humorous topic such as a famous joke, or something everyone should already know about, such as humans.
    • Wikipedia has spawned Wikirace, a game where the object is to get from one designated article to another using as few links as possible.
    • While we're on the subject, this Wiki. How many other people do you know out there in your everyday life who enjoy cataloging tropes and their examples?
  • Trainz Railroad Simulator and other railway simulators. Though the Scenery Porn probably helps, which even non-railfans acknowledge is a point in rail travel's favor in real life.
    • SimSig, an electronic railway signalling simulator derived from training software for signal box staff, though a non-Rail Enthusiast could still enjoy it as a slightly unusual and not very fast-paced puzzle game.
    • Even more so, some broadcast companies will stream train journeys - from one hour to several long, with just ambient sound. These videos are also mildly popular on YouTube, mainly filmed in England and around New York City.
      • Of course this has been taken to its logical conclusion and many of those same YouTubers stream videos of journeys in train simulation games. These videos often draw more views than the ones with actual trains.
  • Listening to CB radio chatter became a trend in The '70s. Americans' obsession with the lingo even spawned the hit song "Convoy".
  • Many people make a hobby of using radio scanners to listen in on emergency services and/or air traffic communications on UHF and VHF bands.
  • Some people like to listen in on conversations between radio hams. Lurking on repeater networks like the WIN System is encouraged because that's how a lot of scanner and SDR listeners get interested in getting a ham license.
  • Prime Minister's Question Time in the British Parliament is a popular show... in the Netherlands. The attraction seems to be the rather surreal nature of the whole performance, with its leaping to the feet to catch the speaker's eye, referring to opponents as "the honorable gentleman" followed by some form of insult, and of course the ritual of asking about the prime minister's calendar for the week before asking a completely unrelated question on some random topic. The Large Ham persona of former speaker John Bercow also used to be a big draw for many.
    • C-SPAN in the United States also gets a small (but very loyal) viewership of PMQ's.
  • Sirens. Plenty of YouTube videos of outdoor warning sirens, fire truck sirens, and also many kinds of horns and whistles. Many comments about the beautiful sound of the siren in the video, and sometimes references to Silent Hill.
  • The Web as a whole has given enthusiasts of obscure subject matter a platform to share their unusual hobbies and interests with the world. And sometimes, the world notices. YouTube in particular is full of this stuff. Home movies of people's pets, demonstrations of obscure pieces of technology in action, copied-off-videotape footage of TV production company logos, even old radio newscasts and other radio broadcasts from across America and possibly around the world... It's never been easier to find yourself returning from your lunch break with a brand-new obsession.
  • Google Maps (or any other map program with street/satellite view) can be very engaging for some people as they explore towns, streets, and other areas from the comfort of their home instead of actually going to the locations in person. It can be even more fun to explore areas you have already seen in person just to see how it compares to the real thing (for example, seeing an empty lot in the past images while the same location has a collection of stores in the present). Granted, this sort of thing is probably as old as maps themselves; it just required a bit more imagination in the days before the Internet.
    • The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The List" parodies this. To complete an item on their mother's dream list, Gumball and Darwin take her on a world tour... on Elmore Maps, the show's Bland-Name Product equivalent to Google Maps. During the "tour", among other things, they see Richard driving onto a ramp and flying into the air, and land themselves on a patch of thin ice which breaks and lands them underwater, where they get eaten by a big fish.
  • There's a community of "tingleheads" who like watching videos or TV shows that induce a pleasant, soothing "autonomous sensory meridian response" (ASMR). What kind of videos? Instructional films on folding towels, making tea, painting (such as The Joy of Painting episodes), etc. And TV shows that show people signing for packages, punching in for work, etc.
  • In a word: vintage!! Pretty much vintage anything (even vintage newspapers) will have a devoted fanbase, but special note can probably go for vintage advertisements. Whilst people back in the day probably saw advertisement to be just as annoying as people do today, the entertainment factor may lie in the artwork and/or outdated slang.
    • And then there are people who seek out relics of long-dead retail stores and chains, ranging from price-tags and reciepts to former locations that have been repurposed, or often left to rot, often with "labelscars" (a scar left behind by a previous sign) adorning the building. There are whole communities that revolve around this stuff, ranging from regions to one chain.
  • Thanks to some of the more questionable ethics of mankind, this trope is at least Older Than Steam. Public punishments, especially executions, were ostensibly intended to demonstrate the power of the ruling authorities but enthusiasm for them meant they quickly developed into public spectacles throughout the world and continue in several countries today.
    • In the same ghoulish vein was the subversion of the visitor system at Bethlem Hospital - better known as Bedlam - by high society, who paid considerable entrance fees to treat the asylum as a human zoo.
  • The Birdsong Station was a twenty minute loop of birdsong that played from 6am until midnight on British digital radio for two years as filler on a vacant frequency. There was an outcry from fans when it was eventually taken off the air.
  • Emergency Broadcasts are also of particular interest to some. The fact that the United States's Emergency Alert System has a wiki viewable here should be enough to clue you in on this. Fan-made emergency alerts are quite common on YouTube as well. There's also a nostalgic appeal for Americans who watched TV before 1997, when the Emergency Broadcast System was replaced with the Emergency Alert System; as well as those who grew up watching cable television in the 20th century, when emergency override broadcasts (nicknamed "local access alerts" due to EASyPLUS EAS equipment giving it that name when used to relay them) done by local authorities served a similar function. There are many old EBS tests and occasional actual activations available on YouTube.
  • The Prevue Guide, which was an auto-scrolling cable TV schedule listing grid in network form, was nothing if not hypnotic, especially for its synth music and cheesy ads. It also boasts a Periphery Demographic among Amiga enthusiasts, as it was the computer that powered the network during the '90s; like with the Weather Channel, a fan community exists that has salvaged the original machines and reverse-engineered them to run emulations. Sadly, interactive programming guide features from set top boxes would render the channel, then known as the TV Guide Channel, increasingly obsolete, as it shifted towards a more entertainment news direction, finally dropping them in its current incarnation as Pop TV.
  • Somewhat hidden on Netflix's streaming archives is an 11 minute program simply called "Example Show", which features very long, extended shots of fountains and other scenery in or around Netflix headquarters, and, eventually, one actor doing some seemingly random things. It was created to help makers of consumer electronics test how well their product streams Netflix, and was never meant to seen by the general public. Though designed to be only accessible if you search the title, it ended up becoming known to users because it appeared on their RSS feed. People watched it out of curiosity, and some found Surreal Humor in moments like the actor moonwalking while using a laptop, giving a Large Ham Shakespeare monologue, and repeatedly clicking his teeth.
  • Auto Exchange, a magazine made with the intention of selling used automobiles, somehow has a fanbase mostly consisting of automobile enthusiasts that make Fan Fiction of it.
  • The Webdriver Torso videos were made by Google to test YouTube's compression algorithm, and thus aren't intended as entertainment. However, before they revealed this, some people got enjoyment out of watching the videos, finding patterns, and speculating on the history of the channel.
  • Television news is meant to inform and not to entertain. However, people, especially in the United States, have found enjoyment in the graphics and music, and even set designs, used by news programs.
  • A really NSFW and somewhat horrific example is found in various websites meant to catalogue and show real life injuries or deaths, images of medical procedures, or other incredibly disturbing content. To some, yes, they are extremely fascinating. No, we're not linking any of them here.
  • Vexillology is generally considered to be admiration for as well as the study of the history, symbolism and usage of... flags. Vexillologists, vexillographers and vexillophiles alike have promoted the concept of flag design, and have even created entire organizations (such as the North American Vexillological Association) dedicated to vexillology and promoting "good" flag design. The city of Pocatello, Idaho even rose to (very brief) national fame because the NAVA (and Roman Mars of 99% Invisible in a TED Talk) nitpicked its flag design and forced the city to change it. The same Roman Mars TED Talk actually led to more than 50 city flag design projects.
  • Fire alarms are meant to help people evacuate buildings quickly, yet many YouTube channels dedicated to fire alarms and collecting them have sprung up throughout the years.
  • The opening and closing logo fandom is probably one of the most well-known examples, with compilations of television and film companies' animated logos throughout the years being all too common on YouTube despite their only primary purpose being to tell you what the name of the film or TV show's production company is. There is also a wiki dedicated to them, known as the Audiovisual Identity Database (formerly the Closing Logos Group). A few particularly popular television logos actually got prominent enough online, often because of their perceived Nightmare Fuel factor, that professional companies took notice - Klasky-Csupo took the construction paper face from their 1998 vanity plate and made him into a developed character named Splaat, even giving him his very own webtoon, while the classic Screen Gems logo received a mockumentary short titled The S from Hell that capitalizes on its perceived creepiness.
  • Similarly, there are television show bumpers, Eye Catches, and "Coming up Next" cards, particularly for TV networks or animated shows. It could only be for a few seconds, but have included some rather memorable graphics or a catchy tune. Furthermore, the "Up Next" cards have been announced by several legendary voice actors, including Ernie Anderson, Harry Shearer, Frank Welker and Phil Hartman.
  • Television closing credits were very well-liked due to a variety of reasons including that it gave the viewer a chance to see who portrayed a certain character, allowed them to hear a truncated version of the opening theme song and/or a hilarious Stinger or outtakes or to see the aforementioned closing logo. Needless to say, the infamous Credits Pushback created in the mid-90s has gained a backlash from enthusiasts of the tradition.
  • 90s' Astra promo videos. The were originally produced as infomercials or info programs at best, but did accumulate a decent fanbase, given that they featured animated space scenes, sending off science fiction vibes to many people.
  • Liminal space photography and rendering has spiked as a fandom thanks to The Backrooms and Kane Pixels' The Backrooms helping bring attention to this concept. The idea behind this is that some place old and out dated is filmed or photographed because the location has an oddly nostalgic mood and feels displaced from time (to put it one way), but relatively new locations are also fair game as they might have an odd feel to them as well.
    • Examples include old and decaying malls with high contrast from the dark and closed store outlets, vacant parking lots at night with eerie lighting, old office buildings that feel decades old, and new and unusual architecture that may or may not be intended to invoke liminal space vibes, among many possibilities. This may branch into old collectible items that also invoke a similar mood, such as old coin-operated carousels from the USA of the 1970s - 1980s like as those found outside of department stores of the era (Kmart for example).
  • Believe it or not, censorship (in certain scenarios). Those familiar with the original content can have fun with watching and/or comparing the odd, clumsy, unintentionally hilarious, or otherwise unfitting efforts at censorship (case in point, the made-for-TV version of Showgirls featuring heavily edited scenes and dialogue, mismatched voices and most infamously, digitally-added clothing). Some others who find a particular scene or character to be unnecessary Fanservice or Fetish Retardant may like the censored version better.
  • The Kitschy Local Commercial. Even as the quality of such commercials has gone up over the years (but not by much, as it really depends on the cinematography skills of the creators, their budget, the effectiveness/necessity of the product or organization they're selling, and of course, their own charisma/believability as an actor), fans still can admire the homegrown nature of the ad in addition to its graphics and memorable jingle. Being endlessly parodied in pop culture also helps with its popularity.
    • Related to this, public access television. As the Trope Codifier of No Budget, fans can get a kick out of all of the aforementioned pleasures of the local commercial and provide their own content to be shown as a one-shot or a continuous series.
  • The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, referred to as the Chemical Safety Board or just CSB for short, periodically releases videos detailing real-life industrial accidents that were investigated by the organization, complete with animations showing what happened leading up to the incident. The videos are mainly made to inform workers and companies that work with potentially dangerous chemicals of safety hazards they pose and to help advocate for updating safety standards. However, the high-quality animations and narration, interesting subject matter, and the easily accessible videos which are published on the CSB's public YouTube channel, lead many people to watch them for their sheer entertainment value. On just about any CSB video, you can find plenty of comments from people who don't even work around dangerous chemicals who nonetheless watch the CSB's videos out of genuine enjoyment.
  • myNoise is a website with a variety of white noise and soundscape generators, usually intended for blocking out distracting noises for study, work, relaxation, sleep, or other meditative purposes. Most of these generators are of nature sounds like rain, oceans, flowing creeks, birds, and wind, with some others using tonal sounds and yet others being what's effectively user-adjustable music. The "Calm Office" generator was intended as a joke, but ended up actually being a hit as explained in this CBS article. During the early years of the COVID-19 Pandemic, when workers had to work from home, this generator actually helped many listeners get in the headspace for work, as the sound of a typical office is often associated with productivity. This led to a sequel generator, "Vintage Office", which is noisier and thus better intended for blocking out unwanted noise, and also explains the story behind "Calm Office"'s unexpected popularity in its description.
    Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon, myNoise admin: I was a little embarrassed though: devoting so much effort to traveling the world to record quiet nature ambiences, and being praised for noisy office sounds. Ouch!