Monday, April 4, 2011


Before we left for Austria, Neil and I received a mailing from Denmark's National IT and Telecom Agency. We couldn't understand a word of it. I thought it might be advertising. Neil wasn't sure and we put it in a stack of papers to be taken into Neil's office and translated by his Danish coworkers.

Flash forward a couple of weeks.

This morning while I was in the shower, the doorbell rang. This set off a series of events which involved dogs barking and then Riley crying and I was seriously annoyed. Twice in the last week, the elevator has been stuck on my floor (once my fault, once not) and a neighbor has mercilessly rung my bell until I answered the phone hooked up to the door bell and agreed to go out and close the elevator door. This morning, I assumed this was happening again and got very frustrated. I was drafting a note to hang in the elevator in my head for the rest of my shower.

About 30 minutes later when Riley and I left the apartment, a business card fluttered to the ground when I opened the door. It said "RING VENLIGST" in bright red and all caps. Turns out this just means ring please, but it certainly looked like an angry "RING PLEASE".

As soon as we were out on the street I called Rene. He answered and said something in Danish and I began to speak in English. I explained that I was in the shower when he rang the bell and asked what I could do for him.

Rene: "Ah, I went to your home because we're receiving some interference and it's coming from your apartment. I sent a letter a few weeks ago."

Me: "Oh, yes, we got your letter but we couldn't read it. My husband planned to take it to work for translation when he returned from his business trip. But, interference?"

Rene: "Yes, something is putting out a signal in your home."

Me: after quickly thinking about all of our electronics "Could it be the baby monitor?"

Rene: "You have a baby alarm? Yes, that's it. Is it from the United States?"

Me: "Yes"

Rene: "Then it's broadcasting on American frequencies and that's causing the interference."

Me: "Oh, I am very sorry. We had no idea."

Rene: "Well of course not, you couldn't have known."

Me: "So what do I need to do, buy a new monitor?"

Rene: "Yes, and please stop using the other one as soon as possible."

I happened to hang up the phone while standing in front of a baby store, so I walked in, found the exact monitor I purchased in the US (only the European version), paid a good $60 more for it than I did in the US and went on with my day.

When I got home, I learned the dissapointing (and rather obvious) news that the European version of the monitor reports the temperature in the baby's room in Celcius. I also revisited the original letter we got from Rene. It came with a lovely brochure, which clearly indicates that we were transmitting a very upsetting signal. Funny that I didn't pick up on that in the first place.

I mean, look at the way he's grasping his head.

I actually have several questions about all this: What was our monitor interfering with? How did they track it right to our apartment? Why didn't they notice sooner? Have you ever heard of a baby monitor drawing the attention of a government agency? No? Well, now you have.


  1. Great story. I love living through your experiences vicariously -- particularly the ones that make me laugh out loud... :)
    Hugs to your men!

  2. This is kind of awesome. I'll ask my teacher about it and report back if I learn anything interesting :)

    You're sort of like Christian Slater in "Pump Up The Volume"

  3. I think your experiment should be the following: when you return to the US, use the European baby monitor and see if the FCC comes knocking. :-)

  4. Ha, I do wonder what that poor man on the brochure is hearing! Was it interfering with the radio, or with secret transmissions? Curious...

  5. I'm FINALLY catching up on your blog, and it's awesome as always. Keep the posts coming. I'm glad to hear you're doing well, even though the government is knocking at your door!! :) What a story!