It is not surprising at all that personal stereo, although invented in Germany and first produced in Japan, really took off in the United States. I have never had a problem with shutting out ambient noise and would have thought that my tolerance is pretty high in that respect. However, I am seriously considering getting myself an iPod along with noise-canceling earphones simply to be able to read in restaurants or cafes here in Boston. Americans can be incredibly loud, especially when talking to their mothers over the cell-phone or having a beer with a bunch of their friends – and both things seem to be very usual occurrences. Tonight there was a table of five people next to me at the local Thai restaurant who were talking simultaneously to each other at the level of volume that would be considered yelling pretty much anywhere in Europe. It seemed to not to bother anyone that it was next to impossible to actually hear anything – apparently it was talking that mattered.