Friday, October 30, 2009


Well, it's been quite a while since since my last post. Let's face it; I'm not a good blogger. However, I never claimed to be in the first place. Maybe I'll get better, maybe I won't, but I'll keep it up.... as I feel the need to. But enough about that, there are other things to speak about.

I'm starting on a couple days worth of packing right now. The packing is because I'm flying back to Alabama for a visit on Sunday. This is the first time I've been back for a visit in two years, so I'm pretty stoked. I'll get to see my Mom, my only sister, my only niece, & one of my brothers.

The other thing that I'm really looking forward to is food. Now, Seattle has some of the best restaurants & cuisine I've ever eaten. But I just haven't been able to find good bar-b-q, grits, gumbo, or okra. I never realized how much I love okra (in gumbo & fried) until I didn't have it. Yeah, I know, it's an old story, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." I was also missing Sonic Drive-In's, but they opened one in Puyallup, so I went there & had Sonic. :) However, they still don't have Krystal or the northern equivalent, White Castle. I'll totally be filling up on Krystal at some point.

Anyway, I've gotta finish up some laundry, and get a good jump on the packing. By this time on Sunday, I should be at Mama's house. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Conspiracy Theories...

To me, Conspiracy Theories, all of them, are totally bunk, garbage. This because no matter what proof is provided to counter-act them, the believers will say the proof is doctored or flawed. The Conspirists themselves then continue to believe & propagate the theory.

This will be a very short entry because I have four words that debunk ALL conspiracy theories... "The Monica Lewinsky Scandal." This was a sexual tryst between two people, White House intern Monica Lewinsky and then President Bill Clinton. No one else was even in the room. Yet, news of this secret event went completely around the world and was report by almost every major newspaper and network & cable news shows. For two years this thing was debated, reported, & hashed-out ad-nausea.

Yet, this event happened in private, between two people, one of which was the leader of one of the most (if not the most) powerful countries in the world. The President of the United States of America was not able to keep this very small secret out of the public eye. If you remember, Bill Clinton was thought, by some people, to have actually ordered the murder of his Deputy White House Counselor, Vince Foster. Vince Foster was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gun-shot wound in a DC area park. Multiple investigations have ruled the death a suicide.

So, the "Government" is keeping the "real" evidence of... The Kennedy Assassination, The Faked Apollo Moon Landings, The Alien Spacecraft that crashed as Roswell, NM, The Fact that 'They' actually cased/staged/allowed the 9-11 attacks to happen, A car that can be fueled with tap water & get over 100 miles to the gallon, & President Bill Clinton having Vince Foster killed; a secret. And they are doing this via pay-offs, suppression of evidence, & death threats to parties that might speak out the "actual" truth.
However, they can't keep the secret of the President getting oral sex in the Oval Office out of the news papers? C'MON!!!!!

Hey, did you hear that Jim Morrison & Elvis are living anonymously on the same Tahitian island in the South Pacific? ;o)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Flaws in the Star Trek Universe....

I am a big fan of Star Trek. I enjoy the original series, Next Generation, Voyager (Don't care for Deep Space 9 & haven't seen Enterprise), and I like all of the films. However, there's been a couple of things about the Star Trek universe that have annoyed me.

The first thing that bugs me about Star Trek is the music. I'm not talking about the theme music or background music. It's the music they depict Star Trek characters listening to or playing for entertainment. In all the series (that I've watched) & the films, they depict the characters listening to or performing Classical or Jazz. I don't have a problem with either of those forms, but I prefer Rock, Metal, or some Pop music. None of the characters is ever seen listening to or performing Rock, Country, Blues, or even Folk music.

In the few instances that Rock or Pop music has been heard in an episode or film, it's always either some sort of galactic hippies (in the original series), or in the past (the First Contact film). It seems to imply, to me anyway, that those forms didn't "survive" or aren't "proper" in that present. It's like it doesn't matter, like it's not allowed. In First Contact, you can see that when Efrem Cochran plays his rock music, that most of the Star Fleet folks seem to act like it's a dentist drill. Granted, one part they dislike about it is the volume, but even after it's turned down, it's still seen as an annoyance. Then there's been no Country music that I've noticed. No Hip-Hop, no R&B, no Soul, no Funk. Especially no Latino music, salsa, rumba, bossa nova. It's not right & should be addressed.

Second, is depicting real diversity. Of course the aliens (Klingons, Vulcans, Andorrans, Romulans, Ferengi) are diverse. However, when depicting people of Earth, though they are racially/ethnically diverse, they don't depict people wearing yarmulkes (Jewish), or kufis or other Islamic clothing. It's as if the whole Earth is one homogeneous religious mass. Why? I understand that the shows/films aren't about religion, but the people of the future would still have religion & practice it.

Finally, is the depiction of dissenters. In the Star Trek universe those dissenters are call Maquee (which I've probably misspelled). The Maquee don't believe Star Fleet offers a utopia; they think it only enforces conformity. It seems they are right to a point. People who don't want Star Fleet are considered outlaws. They aren't just left alone; they're arrested. It just seems wrong to me. I will agree that at least the series/films acknowledge the existence of these dissenters. However, they don't seem to be thought of as having any valid points of view.

I'll still watch Star Trek in reruns & films, but I'll always be aware of these "omissions" while I'm watching.

Friday, June 19, 2009

F1 Please Come Back to the USA....

Those of you who know me personally, know that I'm an avid (& sometimes Rabid) fan of Formula One auto racing. To me it's the cream of the crop, tippy-top, be-all-end-all when it comes to auto racing. These cars are amazing; they're high tech, can reach speeds of 250+mph, and they race on the best road/street courses in the world. For me a close runner up is the Indy Cars (& the now defunct CART), but only when they're making right turns as well as left. For me, it's the truest proof of how good a driver is. Driving in circles it boring, but I do watch the Indy 500 & a NASCAR race from time-to-time (when I'm bored).

Throughout the modern era of Formula One (starting in 1950), there have been US races on the ciruit. The Indy 500 was an F1 points race for years; they've also raced at Phoenix & Watkins Glenn. The latest incarnation of F1 in the US was back at Indy. However, in about the only good idea Tony George ever had (imho), they designed an F1 section within the infield of the track. Then they used the famous turn 1 & straight-away with the infield to complete the course. As an extra change, they ran in the opposite direction; turn 1 became F1's last turn on the track. It was great to watch them there, but for me it was a bit too sterile. Don't get me wrong, I loved it but wished for a better test for my favorite drivers.

The now defunct CART circuit used to race on some great tracks around the US. They did race some ovals (big & small), but they also raced a number of street & permanent road courses. To me there are three of these courses that would make a great F1 race in the US. Here are my top 5 track choices for the US Grand Prix....
#5 - Road Atlanta (Atlanta, GA): To the best of my knowledge there's never been an Indy or F1 type of race there (unless there was a Skip Barber Series there). I've watched several sports car races there via TV, and the course is really good. It has the elevation changes & good turns that would be a good test of skill. However, I think this track would take way too much renovation in order to be safe enough for an F1 race. Another potential strike against might be when the race is scheduled. If a Grand Prix were scheduled in Atlanta in August, it would be as bad (if not worse) than the heat & humidity of the Malaysia race.
#4 - Watkins Glen (Watkins Glen, NY): Hey, it's an awesome track, it was on the F1 calendar before & it's currently on the NASCAR calendar. With some renovation, I think it could be made F1 ready without too much cost. Another point in this track's favor is that it's fairly close to Canada, so this race could be billed as the North American Grand Prix, thus killing two birds with one stone.
#3 - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Lexington, OH): This is a really nice track. To me, it's very similar to Watkins Glen so it could offer the same caliber of racing. However, like Atlanta, I'm afraid that it would be too expensive to get it F1 ready. It also has the heat/humidity factor depending on when it's scheduled.
#2 - Portland International Raceway (Portland, OR): This is one of my favorite CART tracks. The CART races here were always exciting & interesting. It has the elevation changes & different turn types that would be a great test for the F1 drivers. Plus, the climate is way more moderate than most others. The potential downside is that the Pacific-Northwest is prone to a lot of rain. But then again, some of the best F1 races are in the rain so that could be a plus.
#1 - Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI): For me, this is THE BEST permanent road course in the United States. Some of my favorite CART races have been held here, and I've seen some of the best passes & maneouvers on this course. To me it wouldn't take much to get this course F1 ready, and it's also close to Canada & could take care of both races.

Well, that's my opinion about the situation. Maybe I'm totally wrong & none of these track would work. But from what I've seen in racing in recent years, I think they would all give us some great races.... :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sometimes work REALLY sucks....

Well, I'm on-call (or on-pager as we say) for my job this week(end) until Tuesday. I work with computers by the way (in case you didn't know). Normally, you get calls throughout the business day & sometimes a call after-hours (some even very early in the am). However, this weekend's been the worst I've ever experienced.

It pretty much started with a network outage (unplanned) on Friday around 2pm. An e-mail was sent out that it should be fixed by 3am the next morning. I had a bad feeling about the whole situation.

I was awakened at 3:30am yesterday with a page, and on average, I got paged about every hour after that. I finally finished working around 8:30pm last night & was in bed asleep within an hour after that.

This morning, another page at 3:30am. It seems that even though the network outage was fixed, apparently some addresses were changed & not corrected on our mid-range computer. This meant we had similar issues as the night before.

The frustration in this for me is that I'm getting paged for things over which I have no control. I'm basically a code-monkey (or software-simian for you Dilbert fans), with means I have no problem writing a program. However, I'm not very well versed in how systems operate, and these issues relate directly to system issues. Bad for me.

I've already been involved in one conference call about this, and I have another scheduled for 4pm. Plus, I've already been 'volunteered' to wake up at 2am tomorrow morning to check some jobs. arrggghhh!

As you can guess, for me, Tuesday can't arrive fast enough.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gay Marriage & Judicial Rulings....

A lot has been going on recently on the subject of gay marriage. Some say that it shouldn't be allowed because it demeans marriage for non-gays. Others think it's okay as long as it's not called marriage; they prefer the term "Civil Union." Still others don't believe it should be allowed in any way, shape, or form. Some states have enacted actual gay marriages, and some have allowed it under the term of "Civil Union." There are court cases pending on the issue throughout the country. It seems like a lot of ado about something that's (in my mind) very simple. If two consenting adults truly love each other and want to make a life-long commitment of living together & sharing their lives, I think they should be allowed to do so. I don't think it demeans anyone else's commitment, and I think there is precedence for my view.

When I was very young, there were a number of states that made it illegal for people of two different races to marry. This was in the mid-1960s & the years before. Now it's kind of hard to believe that if I, a Caucasian male, wanted to marry (let's say) an African-American female, it wouldn't be allowed in some states. My home state, Alabama, was one of them. The thing that's so astounding, to me, is that people used to use religious texts (the Bible mainly) to justify this. It's the same thing that's used to justify being against gay marriage. It wasn't true about marriage between races, and I don't think it's true about gay marriage.

The other aspect of this is when some folks claim that allowing gay marriage will make a mockery of "traditional" marriage. This is a totally laughable claim for me. I have to ask how letting two people of the same gender marry can make a mockery of marriage? No one's been able to give me a plausible answer to this question. This is especially true when I bring up people like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cher, Mickey Rooney, Britney Spears, & other celebrities who marry & divorce as the winds or seasons change. Why aren't they pointed out as making a mockery of "traditional" marriage? Some have answered me that, "at least they were marrying someone of a different gender." "So what?" I retort. It's more a mockery, to me, when people use marriage as a convenience that can be discarded when it's inconvenient.

During the last election in November of 2008, there was an initiative on the ballot in the state of California. Known as Proposition 8, it was set up to establish, in the California Constitution, that marriage meant a union between a man & a woman. With a lot of lobbying & support by the Mormon church (formally know as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; LDS for short) it passed. The passing means that the Constitution of California was changed, and gay marriage is now illegal. I think it sucks. However, I don't now, and haven't ever lived in California. So it really & ultimately doesn't effect me. But I still don't like it.

Recently, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, and a lot of people are upset about that. However, I actually have to applaud the Court's decision even if I don't like it. As stated before, Proposition 8 amended the Constitution of California. The Court's job is to determine if a law is unconstitutional, and in this case, it's not; it's part of the Constitution. It's not the Court's job to disallow an amendment to the Constitution. So, though I don't like it that the amendment was passed, I do like that the California Court did it's job. What needs to be done is to re-amend the constitution to repeal Proposition 8. This was done when Prohibition was enacted; an amendment was passed the allowed the sale of alcohol. That's what needs to be done in this case. However, its up to the people of California to do this, not me in Washington, & not Pat Robertson in Virginia. This is an issue for Californians & only them. Until a federal law or amendment is passed, everyone else needs to stay out of it.

To sum-up, two people who love each other & want to share their lives together should be allowed to marry. It's no one else's business. That's my two cents anyway.... :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1st 100 Daze...

So, according to the talking heads on the news, Barack Obama's administration is closing in on its' first 100 days. These 100 days are seen as a bench-mark for how the future of the administration might be. I'm not so sure about that. I think the 100 day mark is not an indicator for anything, except the passage of 100 days.

Take, for example, the George W. Bush administration. I didn't vote for him, & I didn't think he had what it took to be the president. However, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted him to prove me wrong. And he almost did.

During his first 100 days, he rescinded a lot of good things the Clinton administration did. But I was still going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then 9-11 happened. Initially, I was totally surprised with how well W seemed to be handling the situation. He seemed to be showing restraint. He seemed to be doing what a president should, reassuring the nation. It seemed like I'd been totally wrong about him. That was until he started talking about going into Iraq.

We were involved in a war in Afghanistan in which we were trying to find Osama bin Laden. He's the guy whom we had been told had planned & organized the 9-11 attacks. At one point, it looked like we had him, but he escaped. I didn't blame W for that (not then anyway) because things like that happen. But when he started up about Iraq & Saddam Hussein, I was like, "What the hell did Iraq have to do with this?"

Everything I could find about Iraq & 9-11 pointed to.... nothing. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. Even the news, initially, was saying that. But when people like me started raising the same questions I had, the W administration came out with their, "You're either with us, or against us"
BS. I noticed that the bulk of the news outlets started reporting what came from the White House as truth. They didn't even seem to be checking any facts or sources. It was like being inside the book 1984.

Well now we've been out of that administration for 100 days. We now know (at least most of us do) that W's administration had no reason to go into Iraq. Even though I agree Saddam needed to be deposed, that was not, and still is not, our job. Even Bush said he wasn't about nation building, but he ended up being about nation building in Iraq. I've not seen anything that proves this, but I think he did it to shore up his father's legacy. Either way, a lot of people died and are maimed for life, for no good reason. And where's bin Laden? Still on the loose somewhere.....

Anyway, back to Obama. He inherited a huge mess. The mess didn't get made overnight, it took eight years to create. So it won't be cleaned up overnight either, but I hope it won't take 8 years. Barack seems to be working hard to get things turned around. To me, I think I can see some small things changing for the better. He seems like a good guy too. I'll admit I was reluctant to back him at first. It was mainly due to the experience issue, just like with W. I'd been burned on that before & I was worried about history repeating itself. To me it doesn't matter if the President is Democrat or Republican. He just needs to follow the will of the people at large & not pander to special interest or religious groups.

I'll admit that I'm not too surprised to see some Republican folks already doing/saying stuff like "we're worse off now that under Bush," "I can't wait until Obama's out of office." Jeez people! Give the man a chance! He just might be the best president in 50+ years. Of course, he could be turn out to be the worse too. But you'll never know until you see what he can do. And just because he's part of a different party than yours doesn't mean that he's automatically bad. I gave W a chance back in 2001; he totally showed me how bad he was, but I did give him more than 100 days. I was fairly ok with him until he started up about invading Iraq.

Anyway, let's not be too quick to judge Obama or anyone else. Give them a fair chance. I think we should be able to see where things are heading in about 6 months. That's my take on it.... :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Where the hell have I been.....

Well, I've been not blogging for one thing. For another, I've been just doing stuff. Other than that, I have no explaination or excuse, not that I need either. :)

My brother & his wife & son came to visit early this month. It had been about 5 years since I saw the FloJacks, so it was good to see them again. My nephew had really grown in that time too. When last I saw him, he came to just under my chin (I'm 5'9" by the way), now he's almost as tall as I am. They grow up so fast. :)

In other news, I've gotten a new fridge & stove; they were delivered today. Both are very nice, the stove is the kind with a ceramic top, digital temp control for the oven. The fridge has a much larger freezer and those great adjustable glass shelves. There's also plenty of storage space in the door.

I've also been hob-nobbing with celebrities. My friend, Baby-Girl, was playing sax for a band putting on a benefit for cancer. The band was an all-star line-up of rock legends. I'll see if I can remember them for you. There was Alan White (drummer for Yes & John Lennon, and the event's organizer), Chris Squire (bassist for Yes), Trevor Rabin (guitarist for Yes), Mark Hudson (of the Hudson Brothers), Elliott Easton (guitarist for The Cars), Roger Fisher (former Heart guitarist), Simon Kirke (drummer for Free & Bad Company), Taylor Hawkins (drummer for Foo Fighters), Michael Shreive (drummer for Santana), Eric Bazilian (of the Hooters), Nona Hendrix (of La Belle), & Sheldon Reynolds (guitarist for the Commodores & Earth, Wind & Fire). The great part is that I actually got to shake hands with each of these people. They were all very nice and didn't give off an ego trip at all. By the way, Baby-Girl was awesome, and she looked even better, as she usually. She's just awesome in every way.

That's about all I can think of to write about for now. I'll try to post more often (where have I heard that before).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

T Minus Seven Days & Counting...

In just seven short days I will have a house full of refugees (or house guests if you will). It's my youngest brother & his family (wife & son). They will be flying up from Florida next Friday to stay with me for a week, and I am so excited. I've not seen them in almost five years. It will be so great.

I think this is a first, people from Florida, where it's now in the 80s temp-wise, taking a vacation in March to Seattle, where it's barely breaking the 50s. I've told them to all bring coats, and it will be chilly, and it could be rainy. But I think we'll have lots of fun anyway. :)

Actually, this will probably work out really well. Being that it's the off-season, we shouldn't encounter many crowds at the main tourist spots around town. Therefore, we shouldn't have to wait in many, if any, lines. My main hope is that we have a few days of sunny skys, because the views will be awesome, and I want them to experience the scenery.

That's about all I can think of about this topic, so I'll just sign-off. :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Light at the end of the tunnel???

I don't think I've mentioned this before (and I'm too lazy to check my previous posts), but my apartment building is undergoing renovation. It's been in that state since I moved in back in September. I moved in anyway because the rent was less than my previous place by about $500, and I really like this neighborhood. Because of the renovation, the landlady is knocking another $250 off the rent while it's ongoing. How cool is that? :)

When I moved in, the landlady, a lovely older woman named Mrs. Anderson, said that she had been told the renovation would be completed by mid-December. That didn't happen of course. It's nice to keep the lower rent going, but I will admit that it's been a bit of a pain seeing all the cracks in the walls and the bare drywall ceiling for the past 6 months. But the charm of the neighborhood, & closeness of the busstop really does outweigh the 'under construction' condition of my digs.

Well, this week the workers have finally come back to finish up the inside of my place. The work has been good quality, though the pace has been slow. They came in on a Thursday in the 1st week of December, worked that day, and didn't return until 2 weeks ago. When they came back, I was assured that they would finish everything by 3-6. They worked on Monday & Tuesday of that week, and didn't come back any other days. I called the site boss on Monday (of this week) and asked if they were ever going to finish. This time he assured me that all would be completed this week. Each day I saw small signs that people had been in the apartment, but didn't see any real signs of work being done; until today. A note on my door said, "We'll be back Monday to finish up, hang the blinds, & clean up." After Monday, I may actually be able to put things where I want them, and not have people come in a couple weeks later & move them all around. What a concept that will be. :)

I'll have to discuss this with Mrs. Anderson, but there's still work to be done on the exterior. Therefore, I won't be able to access my parking space until that's completed. I believe our agreement about the lower rent was, 'when the scaffolding comes down, the rent goes up.' So my lower rent should continue for a bit longer. However, I doubt that will be the case when I pay May's rent. But it's looking like there's some light coming in at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I felt like I should post something today, but I can't really think of anything linear. Therefore, I thought I'd do some random bullets. It's a technique used by many bloggers, I'm sure, but I'm copping it from one of my favorite blogs Miss Zoot.

  • I recently did a post about a couple of my favorite shows. However, I omitted one, "Burn Notice" on the USA network. I think it's one of the best spy dramas in quite some time.
  • The company at which I'm employed is very big. It's a multi-national. However, I'm continually amazed at how homey it feels. I get the same sense of community there as I did at my last company. It was a small textile company.
  • I've recently been invited to play guitar with some guys from work. This past Wednesday was the first time out. It was the 1st time I'd played in a group in five years or so. It was the 1st time in more than ten years that I played guitar in a group. I played bass in the last group. It's still fun. :)
  • Recently, an old Air Force buddy tracked me down via facebook. We lost touch and I hadn't heard from him in quite a while. Technology is amazing some times.
  • I'm wondering when the construction crew will be coming back to finish their work on this building. It's been almost 2 months since they last did any work on my apartment. It's very frustrating.

That's all I can really think of for now. I think I can expand a couple of those into full-blown posts. Thanks for tolerating my rambling. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great TV....

I'm sure many of you have heard that old adage that, "TV is a vast wasteland." At times I'm inclined to agree; especially when it comes to a lot (make that, most) of the "so-called" reality shows. However, in the past two seasons I've found a couple shows that I feel are real gems. Both are dramas; both are "cop" shows, and both deal with "Life." :)

The 1st of these is the NBC show "Life" starring Damian Lewis. The show debuted last season, and the premise is that Lewis portrays an LA police officer who is wrongly accused & convicted of the grissly murder of his best friends. After 12 years of hard time, his conviction is overturned, he's freed, he wins a multi-million dollar wrongful imprisonment lawsuit, and he asks for his old job back (which he gets). The reason for getting his job back is so that he can find the real killers & bring them to justice. Of course, part of the subplot is that while in prison he was brutally beaten (due to his cop status) by other inmates. He did his share of retaliations (or at least we are led to believe he did), made some good allies, and found inner peace through Zen.

Now that he's out, he find wonder in the advances in technology since he's been away. He also loves fresh fruit so much that he's seen eating some at least twice each episode (is was constant in the first season). He also has a "conspiracy wall/room" in his extremely sparsely furnished mansion, in which he has photos of those he beleives were "in on" his frame-up & the murder itself.

Initially, I wasn't sure I'd like the show. I'd seen Lewis in a couple of films, and he always played the heavy (bad guy). From that, I wasn't sure if I could believe him as a good guy. However, his acting is so good that I'm totally sucked in during each episode. Often I find myself disapointed when the episode ends.

The other show is ABC's "Life On Mars." It's also a cop drama, and it's on the same night as "Life," therefore you'll probably need to set your TiVo for them both (that's what I do). This show debuted this season, and it's premise is that NY police detective Sam Tyler is struck by a car while pursueing a serial killer on foot. He then wakes up in a vacant lot to find himself in the year 1973 (instead of the present). He goes to his precinct, the 125, and finds that he's supposed to be the new transferee to the unit.

Now I don't remember the name of the show's star (who portray's Tyler), but other cast members are the beautiful Gretchen Mol (from "Rounders" & other films), and heavy-weight actor, Harvey Keitel. Actually, I initially watched the show just because of Keitel's involvement.

A lot of the show is Tyler dealing with being in '73 (when he was actually only 4 years old). He runs into his Mother, and the Father that abandoned the family in that year. He also meets a cops who will later become his mentor on the force. Other situations with which he must deal is the rampant chauvanism still present in the department, the kick-backs that are part of "business as usual," and the lack of modern technology & detective skills that he's used to using.

This show is also well written, and I find myself hating to see its episode end as with "Life."

There are other shows I feel are "can't miss" television, but I think this is enough for now. Be sure to check them out; I think you'll enjoy them as I do. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Myth is Dispelled.....

I totally cop to being an old fart. I'm just three years shy of 50 (as of last month anyway). So when I started listening to music seriously, when I was around 11 or 12, there were a few formats you could get, vinyl LPs, vinyl 45s, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, & reel-to-reel tapes. Actually, when you examine those options, there were really only two choices, vinyl & tape. I was in my early 20s when CDs were introduced. Since that time there's been a debate about which media has the better sound quality. A lot older folks, around my age, will say vinyl while others tout the clarity of CDs & mp3s. However, I'll tell you a secret; they're both wrong. Furthermore, the adage that vinyl promotes better sound quality is a total myth. Before I explain my previous statement I need to make sure everyone has the same knowledge about sound & audio technology. This will only need a pretty simple explanation, so bear with me.

First you need to know about two things analog & digital. Think of digital as a light switch in your home. You flip the switch one way & the lights are fully on; you flip the switch the other way & the lights are fully off. That's digital; a switch that's either on or off, no in-between. Digital is usually represented by either a 1&0 or by a line or square/rectangle.

Now, think of analog as replacing that light switch with a dimmer switch. This time as you turn or slide the switch the light goes from being totally off to very dim, then brighter & brighter until the light is fully on. When you move the dimmer the other way, the reverse happens until the light is fully off. That's analog; a state that's continually changing between two base values (on & off). Analog is usually represented by a curved symbol that resembles an 'S' laying on its side.

Any sound that you hear (birds, traffic, TV, etc) reaches your ears as an analog signal. Sound is analog. CDs, MP3s, & DVDs are all recorded in a digital format. Digital is great for these because it takes up much less space. The problem comes (in my opinion) when you want to make sound (analog) a digital signal. In that conversion from analog to digital & then back to analog (so you can hear it) parts of the original sound are lost forever. I'll show you what I mean.

In the picture I've provided, the green line is a sound you can hear as an analog signal. The sound is changed to an MP3 by digitally sampling the analog signal at various points. This is represented by the green & blue rectangles. Note the bits of pale yellow showing between the green wave & the green/blue samples; those are bits of the wave that are not picked up by the conversion to digital. Now granted the signal is actually sampled at a very high rate, so the missing bits are very, very small, but there are still bits missing. Part of the original sound was never picked up. Some will say that the signal has been cleaned up; I don't agree.

There is still more to be done. You want to play the sound back later. Your ears only hear in analog, so the digital signal has to be converted back to analog. This conversion back to analog is represented by the red line in the drawing. So now the signal has been stripped once in a conversion, and even more has been lost in the conversion back to analog.

Back to the myth of vinyl. When people say vinyl LPs have better sound quality, it's true... but only for LPs that were recorded in an analog format. That hasn't happened since around 1990. Therefore, if you have a vinyl LP by, say, Coldplay, it has the same quality as a CD or MP3 of the same album. So it's not the vinyl that has the better sound quality, it's the analog recording itself. Of all the formats I mentioned before (LP, 45, 8-track, reel-to-reel, cassette) vinyl is the best because tape tends to have a hiss that can never be taken out.

To sum-up, vinyl LPs are not better than CDs or MP3s, etc. It's the analog signal that's better than the digital signal. This is not only my belief. I was saying this as far back as 1986, but no one would listen to me. Then around '89 I read an interview with Neil Young in "Spin" magazine. He said that he started recording all of his stuff in digital instead of analog. He said that he did this because he couldn't stand to hear the difference in the recording anymore, so he just went to digital right off. That way he always heard it in digital, and thus, didn't hear any differences. I was vindicated then.

Oh, there is one great thing about vinyl LPs that CDs & MP3s will never have; liner notes. I know that there are liner notes on CDs. However, you have to have a magnifying glass just to read them. On the LP you can just read them. This is more of a factor for me as my eyes get older.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that I love my CDs & MP3s. It's very hard to carry a vinyl LP or 45 in your jacket pocket. :) By the same token, I still have a working turntable & about 200 vinyl LPs. I'm currently working on putting all my vinyl onto my computers hard-drive.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Habits Die Hard (if at all)...

I was once a smoker. I started smoking in high school. However, I didn't really smoke that much then, just a butt here & there, mainly with friends. When it developed into a habit was when I went into Basic Training with the Air Force. That was 1980.

Back then, there was no ban on tobacco in the military as there is now. I started smoking in earnest because smokers were given smoke breaks. Those who didn't smoke had to stay in the barracks & clean, shine shoes, make beds, etc. I wanted an extra break, so I took up smoking. By the time those 6 weeks were done, I had a regular habit. I was smoking about a pack a day.

So it continued throughout the rest of my stint in the military and beyond. I pretty much leveled out at 2 packs a day, which at the time was about $4 a day. After about ten years of it, I started thinking about how much I was spending on smokes each week. It was close to $15, and at the time that seemed to be a lot. I was thinking that I wanted to quit.

Then, one day my Dad needed me to take him for his annual MRI at the time. The night before, I smoked the last cigarette in the pack. I hadn't decided to quit yet. I remember thinking that after I picked Dad up the next morning, I needed to stop & get a pack of smokes. But Dad was running late the next day & I had to drive like crazy so he could make his appointment. The cigarettes would have to wait.

After I got him to the MRI place, I asked the receptionist where the nearest convenience store was. It wasn't within walking distance, and I didn't have time to drive there before Dad was finished. So, I was going to have wait until we were headed back home to get my cigarettes. But, Dad wanted to go straight home, and we started talking so I completely forgot to stop.

To make a long story short(er), I went the entire day without a cigarette. The odd part was that I didn't realize it until about 7pm that night. When I did remember, I thought, "Well, let's see how long before I really crave one. When I get a real craving, I'll buy a pack." I never got a cigarette craving. Somehow, I had quit smoking without even trying. That was back in July of 1990.

Why am I telling this boring-assed story? Because about 2 months ago, I started having cravings for cigarettes. I don't know what's causing this. The strangest part came last Saturday. I was in a convenience store buying a soda; when I went up to the counter to pay, I came within an inch of asking for a pack of Camel filters (my former brand). It almost popped out when I put the soda on the counter. It was really weird. Even now the thought of having a smoke is actually kind of nice. But, I don't think I'll be having one any time soon. I'm just wondering why these cravings are coming back now? I'll be damned if I know....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's fer Supper....

For a lot of folks (if not all), what they'll be having for dinner, supper, the evening meal, etc. For me, it's not really so important. That's probably because I'm single & only have to satisfy myself.

Most of the time, my dinner consists of a bowl of cereal & milk. Some of you are going, "ewww cereal for supper?!?! What's wrong with you?" There's nothing wrong; I just prefer it. It's quick, easy to prepare, and keeps me from eating too much most of the time. It's also a good source of fiber (since I like those types of cereal), so that's a plus as well.

Now I can cook, and I do enjoy cooking. However, I learned to cook for my family, and there were six of us. Therefore, I can't cook a meal just for one. I don't know if it's a mental block or a lack of planning.

Sometimes, on Sunday, I go ahead & cook a meal. I then portion it out into six servings and freeze them to eat later. I'll take one or two to work for lunch, or I'll have a serving for supper when I get in. Just nuke it for a bit, and I'm ready to go.

Right now, I'm eating a bowl of Kashi's shredded wheat with organic milk. It's very good. The Kashi cereals have just enough sweetness without being overpowering. I may have another bowl.

Bob Appetit.... :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What weather we're having....

I'll tell ya, we've been having more than our share of extreme weather the past few weeks. Here in Seattle, starting around Dec 15, we've had two weeks of snow, then a warm up & nothing but rain and very gusty winds.

When I moved here, everyone told me the weather is fairly stable here. It's nicely warm in the summer & chilly and rainy throughout the winter. That's been true mostly, but the recent weather has put that on its ear. The snow was about a foot deep in most places (deeper in some places), and it kept everyone inside for the most part. I worked from home for a week solid. The buses were running about half as often, which meant about an hour/hour-and-a-half wait most of the time. Then when a bus came by, so many folks were waiting, and the bus was so packed, that not everyone got on.

Now it's been raining since Sunday, and not the normal rain. It's been raining hard & very windy. Yesterday there were 60mph gusts all around the area. Today's been pretty windy too. It makes waiting for the bus much more of an ordeal.

The local news is talking about how how towns like Kelso & Chehalis are really getting flooded. Hell, I can even hear it raining from inside my apartment, and that's not normal.

However, I know that this is just a fluke. Our weather will be back to normal soon. The weatherman just said we should have sun by this weekend. That will be GREAT!

One thing that living in Seattle has done for me. It's given me a better appreciation of the sunny days when we have them.

I hope the weather is good where you live. :)