Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Ultra Audio is a website which concerns itself with what it says... it's for those who are looking for the best way to get the most realistic sound out of their music collection. As you will learn, I've been neck-deep in these waters for years. Given my obsession to this hobby, and that I like to write, I applied and they accepted me - my first piece is an introdcution and the link is below.

Already I have received a shipment of things to review. And without going into the whys and detail, just for fun I put a device on the power line that feeds all our TV equipment. I didn't expect anything since it already goes into another box which is supposed to help clean up the nasties.

Son of a gun, the sound improved markedly. Not the picture - in fact it might be a little darker - I'm not positive. But where the sound used to be scratchy in the Ssss it's now clear. This is out of the old - 16+ year old TV speakers, as we're not at Hi-Def yet - very soon, when a connection scheme called HDMI 1.3 becomes standard (I expect that this fall.)

What fun.

Click here to read my first column.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

This beats the wadded tissue by a long shot. Besides, when you whomp on them they don't die - these scorpions are resilient little buggers. So when JAWS goes to work there's no squirming, no presidential commutation. It's game over.


Everything's bigger in Texas. So we haven't simply had a rainy summer - it's the rainiest summer since God invented rain. For some reason, lows have stalled over Texas repeatedly and we get days of storms, some pretty intense - like the 18 inches of rain a while from here - flooding, of course.

The clouds are truly spectacular. I tried but can't really show the scale of these things.

In a few minutes we will be in the blackness of a gully washer. We were planning to go to a (now cancelled) BBQ which would have been under a tent. There's some question about the tent successfully facing what's coming... let alone lightning ka-bobs.

THIS JUST IN... we've had 34 of 37 days of rain, and tomorrow NWS predicts 6 to 8 inches more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


This is about half of them.

I carried them from city to city (okay, MOVERS carried them) since, well, 1985. 16 Boxes, each about 50 pounds worth. Every time we'd move, they'd go too. And I don't even use a turntable!!! I just figured "someday they'll be worth a lot." Guess what? Wrong!

I had an expert - a local who runs a used record 'show' generously come over to give me his advice. He thought they'd get a certain amount. My first real offer was about 9 TIMES less. Ooops. Then I had another collector come look at all of them and make NO offer. Finally, just now, I sold to a local record store... at about a fourth of what the expert said I could get. Online research backed up the price range. Too bad I had the original figure dancing in my head all this time like sugar plum fairies in kids Christmas dreams.

Music from the 1974-1985 era is particularly disposable if mainstream (which most of my stuff was.)

I feel a sense of loss and at the same time, relief. Before we moved here I threw out almost all the tape recordings I had from me on the radio or me programming or producing things - there was a LOT - like a full big outside-size trash can. Radio is so ethereal that saving it as recorded somehow makes it more real (certainly longer lasting!) But I never listened to it and doubt I ever would. So out it went.

Terri is happy because now I can move some of 'my stuff' into the closet of records.

End of an era for me. Time Passages: Al Stewart should be playing. (wish I knew how to put audio to play automatically in a blog.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007


First some old business. I posted a picture (way below now) of a very large truck carrying a giant cylinder and invited people to guess what it was. Well, of course nobody did. There were several trucks carrying similar ones, too. What is was: the base for a wind turbine.

And more old business: I noted a baby Gecko scurrying in the dark as I shone a flashlight across the floor. Since then I put out a sticky-paper bug catcher thing under the sofa and discovered just today there are two babies frozen in glue. I wonder, though, if MOM is here too. Also how many in a litter? The glue stays.

Last night Terri had two orange earplugs on a window sill. Overnight something ate pieces of one of them (looks like cheese?) I know mouse droppings when I see them! There's a nice peanut butter surprise waiting for Mickey or Minnie now. I've raised mice, god help me, back in high school for some project. They breed like crazy... with large litters. Wood's rule of mice: there's NEVER just one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I'm becoming a reviewer for an on-line magazine under the SOUNDSTAGE NETWORK BANNER, for UltraAudio. This is an interesting sideline to my audio/music hobby. Basically, they will arrange for me to get and use various gear, put it through its paces, then report on my experiences. Every package will be like Christmas, only I have to return it in due course. That's fine. The adventure continues!

I'll post a link when my first article appears. I believe I will be reviewing a power conditioner which is claimed to be full out state of the art (and I'll bet you didn't even know there WAS such a thing!)

This isn't actually a job - it's more fun!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Maybe it's me, though I doubt it. Of all the customer-centric sites on the web, ONE stands out as the least helpful. I can't believe how convoluted their process is (and we've been customers with an account for years - heck, for 22 years!) FedEx has the hands down least helpful website. I am trying to get a rate. It asks from where to where? I put in the info. It can't find our account. I dig deeper and find the exact "to" address already stored. I activate that address, put in size, weight, value, ship date... and get taken to a screen that has nothing to do with what I seek.

And they call it a "courtesy rate."

I've never had ONE SINGLE positive experience on first attempt with their system.

Maybe it's me. Wouldn't you think it'd be easy to design a simple interface? The "tree of decisions" would branch so easily!

What do you want to do? Get rates? Get delivery options? Track a shipment? Other?

Rates and Options would take you to the same page:

What size, weight, value? From where? To where? How fast (give options and prices.)

Choose method.


Their telephone tree is also maddening. The key is to shout REPRESENTATIVE at the recording before it does much. It's not going to help much anyway. Oh and it's so 'human' - you can hear her 'typing' while the computer responds to your words. It's nicely done but not helpful.

As of yet I have no quarrel with their shipping, but making it happen is an ordeal!

Friday, July 13, 2007


Let's see...

The Democrats are unable to fulfill the promise of their election re: the war.
The Attorney General has been caught in several lies.
The Vice President is pupeteering the president.
The leadership vacuum is sucking air from DC to Seattle.
Congress is unable to deal with major issues.
Chertoff has a bad gut. TSA is weak and we remain highly and dangerously vulnerable.
Immigration is no closer to a solution.
The FDA is lost in space.
The EPA is in bed with big biz. And the bed is shaking.
Billions in waste in Iraq.
New Orleans isn't fixed yet.
Republicans are deserting Mister Lame Duck Bush who appears desperate to my eye.

Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave so fast that he may get airborne.
And that war, based on WRONG 'intelligence' is fanaticism on all sides.
Meanwhile Bin Laden infests Afghanistan with new recruits.

I am ashamed of all these people in government. I still say VOTE THEM ALL OUT. We couldn't do worse starting from scratch.


It's ON. The South Carolina station on which we installed our new format went on the air at Midnight last night with the new format. I felt like a kid at Christmas. There was a lot of hard work and loooooooog hours behind the transformation. Already reaction is positive, including some sales (and we still have a lot to do.) . As it happens, the new file server in which everything audio sits, has an audio card (of three) with only one channel so every third event is only left side (it will be fixed Monday.) The GM sent me a fine bottle of Pinot Noir and we all toasted at 4PM. It's 5:43 now and I'm reasonably glowing with a sense of accomplishment and pride and grape. I'm also happy for the owner and GM - they deserve some real success for their hard work and investment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I've had my share of odd moments in my life. Here's another: I am listening via internet feed to a radio station format that isn't on the air till Friday. The station has their old format on their old automation system and the new version on their new system. My partner in this venture and I listen, tweak, find problems and deal with them so the launch can be smooth.

We've given them the format - what gets played, who says what where, etc. We've worked on sales for them, on logos, imaging - it's just far from here. Or, by internet, not.

We even do video conferencing. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Last night, after killing another scorpion - I think the rains brought them inside somehow despite Mister Bug Killer's best efforts - and after walking the dog, I got the idea to turn off the lights and shine a flashlight across our hardwood floors, to see if I could spot any of these nasties.

I saw what appeared to be a piece of dust or maybe dog hair or carpet fluff from an area rug under a couch... or was it a scorpion? (They are hard to spot on the wood due to their brownish color.)

I got a quick look in the flashlight beam... did you know that baby Geckos can run at 78 miles an hour? They can. That's what happened. I'm thinking - hey, is MOM here too? And did she have a whole batch of these wall climbing lizards? AND HOW THE HECK DO I CATCH IT because I don't walk across walls.

It was spotted and almost transparent. It skittered.

(* I found the picture above on the internet. The one I saw was even smaller.)

Saturday, July 07, 2007


4 inches of rain yesterday - power failure - back on, off, on, off rapidly, then off. We are supposed to be in the sunny side now but there are a lot of large clouds on the horizon.

At least we didn't get hit by lightning, though some hits were close. When it goes flashbang with no gap, that's close! Recently a neighbor lost about $70,000 is electrical gear due to a lightning hit. IT WAS THE SECOND TIME. His house is loaded with automation, plus lightning rods, a big copper ground system... ouch.

But this post is really about Austin and the people. Today we went to the larger Farmer's Market which is in a stadium parking lot along an expressway - not exactly rural. But "Everything sold must have been grown by or produced by the seller."

I threw the camera in the car just in case. Happily, there was plenty to note. One thing you can't see in the pictures is how friendly everyone is - it's not hard to have a conversation with a vendor or stranger. People are NICE in Austin. Accepting, too, which is a large part of the charm. A city with "KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD" as an unofficial slogan has got to be a cool place.

There were many wee kiddies and dogs, live music, fresh fruit and veggies, soy candles, goat's milk ice cream, pastry, and good ol' down on the farm home style jewelry. Huh?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I saw two guys light a skyrocket which went up about 20 feet then chased them down the beach.

I saw a firecracker take out an ant hill.

I saw a cherry bomb make the man next door very angry as it exploded while he was yelling at kids for setting off fireworks.

I saw a magic fireworks display upside down from the rear window of a neighborhood car full of neighborhood kids.

I saw a cherry bomb blow a piece off a lifeguard stand. Repeatedly.

I saw a shark with a cherry bomb stuffed in its mouth swim away... for about 5 seconds.

I saw a garbage can lid fly.

I saw some men with a shopping bag full of illegal fireworks enthrall all who gathered in the alley by the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

I saw fireworks come down on our friend's roof.

I saw a fireworks display that literally brought me to my knees, but it was the early 70s, you know?

I saw fireworks over the Mississippi.

I saw sparklers sold under the counter at a bike shop.

I saw road flares double as fireworks.

I saw people smuggle fireworks into Minnesota from Wisconsin.

I saw cherry bombs shot into the air with a sligshot.

I saw a firecracker blow apart a model battleship.

I saw a pack of firecrackers thrown down a stairwell make my neighbor very, very upset with me.

I saw M-80s explode.

I saw a man awakened by a firecracker under his bed.

I saw fireworks in Winnipeg.

I saw fireworks make a 6 cylinder car drive very slowly.

I saw myself light the stump of fuses on "duds."

I saw fireworks while anchored in mid Lake Minnetonka.

I saw 6 fireworks displays in the distance simultaneously.

I saw fireworks from above them in a plane I flew.

I saw fireworks indoors at rock concerts.

I saw fireworks in a stadium.

I saw fireworks smuggled from Europe in my suitcase.

I saw fireworks over Niagara Falls.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I don't have or want one, but they sure look cool! I have a new phone that does more than I care about. But those iPHONE ads got me thinking...

Imagine this - this is not available, but perhaps it could be. It's a marriage of utility and technology. I call it utilogy. Okay, here's the thing - you enter a website and answer a whole slew of questions about your likes and dislikes. These answers are verified by your new EverythingPHONE which also has a lie detector built in. The website is an offshoot of a dating/mating service. Hooked up (here's where it gets REALLY good!) to micro-GPS targeting. In a - ahem - social situation it'll give you a screen pointer to the EverythingPHONE carried by the person who most matches your desires. Huh? Wouldn't that sell?

Great ideas are simple ones. Wipe out loneliness and rule the world!


Or how did you come to find my blog? It's an amazement to me! Could you maybe drop a comment? What did you like or dislike? What would you like to see or read more of?

That's a map of recent visitors. Don't worry - it doesn't trap any personal information like what you have stashed in that box in the bedroom closet.

But I'd sure like to know how you came to find this - because I'd like to do more of whatever it is that is attractive to build a larger viewership. I almost wrote "audience" but I guess that's a throwback to my radio days.

Actually, we have our new radio format placed on a station which is having engineering difficulties, so it's not on the air just yet - but very soon! Why is this station better than others? A wider playlist. Yet every song is familiar and a hit. Less meaningless talk. More music in the morning - no adrenal laughing-at-themselves morning crew... and we think we've given the station an attitude of irreverence, which is personally gratifying. Management/ownership has been great to work with and we are looking forward to station number 2. (Actually number 3 but the one in Canada is our laboratory.)

I've been trying to acquaint political consultants with a new strategy I represent (nothing to do with radio.) I find there are two kinds of political consultant -"not in" and "voicemail." Innovation alone means nothing - you have to get it out there and I will not be denied. I think my problem is I see so many uses for this tool that I expect others will too after a brief explanation (because that's all it took for my promotional brain to grasp in its entirety.)

I'll shy away from some consultants who I think may represent some I would like to see out of DC for the rest of their lives and their children's lives.

The election process in the US is so screwed up anyway. But at this time, people are mighty upset with both parties and you can expect upsets galore in the next round!

Monday, July 02, 2007


It sure will be tough to beat the entry below. It's a treasure chest of fun!

Well, yesterday we went to the Factory Outlet Mall in San Marcos where fat people go to shop on Sunday. Since Terri has .001% body fat and since mine is carefully hidden, we didn't 'fit' in.

The Mall is huge - I believe every brand in the world is there. A lot of them sell branded junk. I stopped into the popular SONY store which was selling refurbs (rebuilt returns) at greatly reduced prices. I overheard some things: "Do you Deliver?" "Well, this is the last one and there's no box, but yes we deliver anywhere in Texas for $100." That seemed mighty nice for those who live in El Paso, but not that nice for folks down the road a piece.

I must say that the Blu-Ray high definition demo on that Last One set was spectacular. But that $100 is to your door. You want it IN the house, get Moose and the football team over for some ice tea and grunting.

Another guy was selling a flimsy "protector" which I'm pretty sure couldn't stop spit let alone lightning or Spike, Reddy Kilowatt's nemesis. (BTW: If you understood any of the last three words you are old and educated. Congrats.)

We dodged rain pretty much all the way. Traffic was running about 75-80mph. We got home before Don Henley had stopped singing.

On one of our stops, where I sat in the car while Terri went in a store to touch everything on every rack, my eyes slowly focused on the car parked in front of us. It was... a what?

A Megane. A Megane from MEHHEECO. Why would they give an Irish name to a Mexican car? I'm unclear on all this. Whoops. I just asked Google and Google said it a Renault from France. Which makes less sense.

Later I watched the Concert For Diana which NBC chopped up and ran as hamburger. I don't know why Diana is such a haunting persona... but as they showed pictures of her (which were spectacular) I felt sad. There was something about Princess Diana that made you want to protect her and be in her circle of charm.