Re: Noise cancelling headphones
While I never discount the possibility that I am just very odd, I've always though that there was a reason why mobile phone calls annoyed and distracted me so much. That was more or less confirmed by two studies; the first, conducted in 2010 at Cornell, the second in 2013 at USD.
They're easy enough to find but the conclusion are exactly what people could tell you - having to listen to mobile phone calls is distracting in ways that ordinary, two-sided conversations (or other audible annoyances) are not.
The proposed explanations from both groups was that the brain is automatically trying to process language and when only half a conversation is audible, the brain has to try harder.
This has always been my assumption too - language processing often seems to happen sub, or semi-conciously, but when you hear what the Cornell researchers called a 'halfalogue', the extra work your brain is doing to try and process it brings it up to a level where your far more aware of it.
Not that I am against a reduction of all such annoyances in planes and other confined, public spaces - trains, buses, restaurants, shops, cafes, etc... - but I, personally, find mobile phone calls to be a special type if annoyance, and it seems I am not alone in that.