Thursday, September 29, 2005

In which David rants about his wireless router

Our Internet connection got very slow. Problem was the router. My ISP Earthlink sold it to me years ago. Their tech support used to be stellar, even after it moved to India. But for a long time it's been a disaster.

I called them and they sold me a new wireless router for free, plus a free USB wireless adaptor for my laptop all for signing up for 1 year of $8-month support. Seemed simple at the time. Paid extra for 2 day delivery.

SEVEN DAYS LATER - the box came. The router wired up easily and increased the speed to what says is 63% of normal for a Covad connection. "MAY NEED HELP" it told me.

The USB connector they sent was for WIRED connection - USB to Ethernet. Useless.

I don't need wireless - but since I had the router now I wanted to test it. But I had no laptop adaptor. At Best Buy I bought a wireless USB adaptor for $50 more than free. And they sell the same Linksys wireless router for considerably less than my total cost from Earthlink. I feel slightly cheated.

It took me about an hour of computer hell to get wireless working. I wrote this post wirelessly while listening to Fools Paradise on WFMU wirelessly, but dumbly deleted the message when I'd finished it. Be careful what you click.

The moral of the story - listening to 50's Rock and Roll makes overpriced tech support seem unimportant. Doesn't make it better. Check out Earthlink yourself. The router is fine but wireless will stay disabled on my computers.

Music Reviews
Computer Headaches

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

In which David has a Clarinet Flashback

The back-story: I played the clarinet for many years, got pretty good, did some interesting things. Didn't teach much because I wasn't a good teacher. About 10 years ago I gave up playing completely. Never looked back.

Cut to the present: we have three houseguests, marine biologists from Mexico, here to study worms. One day they visited Venice Beach.

This is a picture of Guillermo. He purchased this Del Rio Mini-Sax at the beach. A black tube with eight large holes, sax mouthpiece and reed. (Technical nit pick: it's cylindrical so it's really a Clarinet not a Saxophone.)

I played and sounded just awful. Ask anyone who was there. I wonder if it could ever sound good..

Of course Guillermo wanted to play. Suddenly I was giving him an introductory clarinet lesson. I explained how the sound was produced, how to attach the reed with the ligature, the embouchure. In ten minutes he improved a thousand percent.

For decades playing the clarinet was a HUGE part of my life and a lot of people knew me only as a clarinet player. Once I decided to stop, quitting was easy. People still ask "Do you still play?" I don't miss it at all - and playing this little travesty of a clarinet made me not miss it even more.

Good luck, Guillermo. Like my Father told me, half an hour practice a day!

Music Reviews

Monday, September 26, 2005

In which David links to writers he respects

Some new links in the Sidebar: websites of journalists I try to read regularly. I don't always agree with them, but fundamentally they are coming from the correct direction. (Which means coming from the opposite of the Right.)

  • Molly Ivins - a Texan with the expertise to compare GW's shenanigans in Washington with those he pulled in Austin . Think of her as the un-Anne Coulter.

  • Robert Fisk - America has many decades of Middle East errors ahead of us before we can match our history to the British. Fisk tells the story in a very personal way.

  • Robert Scheer - I know his voice from KCRW's Left, Right & Center. A 60's leftie still true to his beliefs.



Saturday, September 24, 2005

In which David doesn't often go to the movies, but ...

... tonight we saw Tim Burton's Corpse Bride --- see it with someone you love on Halloween. (Leslie cried at the end.)

I'm not a horror fan; this is played for laughs. I do like fine animation (notice the cool shadow effects) and musicals (Danny Elfman's movie music is a secret pleasure). Too bad about the silly Peter Lorre imitation.

On first viewing this movie wasn't as satisfying musically as Nightmare Before Christmas, but my expectations were lots higher. One song was pure G&S. No Kurt Weill moments in this score.

I did notice the name Jane Horrocks in the cast - watch Little Voice and you'll notice it too.


Friday, September 23, 2005

In which David collects random thoughts

The recent Jet Blue landing (with the front gear sideways) was the perfect media event. Fatalities were avoided and the media had plenty of time to set up. Anyone who's ever flown could relate to the terror.

A Peace March against the Iraq war? I'm pleased an anti-war movement has formed even without a draft. But I think withdrawal will cause more problems for US in the long run than suffering through. We're stuck over there. (Hey, and I still call myself a liberal).

Millions of dollars made by rock tours this year: Stones, U2, Eagles, Paul of the Beatles. People are willing to pay big bucks to hear their old "friends". Exactly the same reason people go to classical music concerts.

I'm a luddite. I tried a high-tech disposable 3-blade razor for almost a year. But I'm back to my tried-and-true double-edge safety razor - used it since I was a teenager. It's cheaper, less wasteful and gets my face lots smoother. Slightly more nicks. (3 blades is old hat. They have 4 and 5 blade ones now.)

Last disc in the player: Tango Fusion Club - Electronic Tango Beats, Vol.1


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

In which David envies the Leisure Classes

No proletarians here, I guess.I saw this sign in South Pasadena today. It's advertising recreational classes given by the city for seniors with too much extra time. Find a link to current offerings here. (The famous and unrepaired Rialto Theater is in the background.) I'd like to be part of the "Leisure Classes"
  • No job. (A large trust fund instead)
  • The butler serves cocktails, or maybe just tea, a 4 p.m.
  • I could look down my nose at "those people"
Later it occurred to me that a certain political aphorism needs updating. My new version: Leisure Corrupts, and Absolute Leisure Corrupts Absolutely. It's a real American Problem. I Googled the phrase. Alas, the thought is not original.


In which David hears things

Here's a short list of things I've heard on the news in the last few days. Until very recently it seems to me that these things were never said in public by important people.

  • George W. Bush suggested that Americans should conserve gasoline.
  • He also talked about our government providing help to poor people.
  • In an interview on BBC, a conservative fundamentalist minister from the U.S. said "America is a theocracy" - and he meant it as a good thing
  • There really IS a civil war in Iraq.




Monday, September 19, 2005

In which a Docker Award goes to Oolon Colluphid

They gave out "Emmies" last night. So why shouldn't I give out awards too. (There's no voting - I'll just decide.)

For the character in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that I've always wished had a bigger part, The Docker Award goes to:

Oolon Colluphid, author of "Well That About Wraps It Up For God"

(Low, well-modulated disembodied male announcer voice, as Oolon approaches the stage: "Mr Coluphid has also written the trilogy of philosophical blockbusters, Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who Is This God Person Anyway?)

P.S. Real Hitchhiker Fans might be interested in THIS, whatever it is.

P.P.S. In my copy Adams spells it both ways: Colluphid and Coluphid.

P.P.P.S Another H2G2 link. Way too much stuff.

P.P.P.P.S. Be sure to check for the animated Babel Fish Hitchhiker's Guide entry on the movie DVD, under bonus features.

Docker Award

In which David eats cheese before bed

An NPR article caught my ear: Study: Eating Cheese Can Alter Your Dreams.

It said eating different sorts of cheese can affect the content of your dreams. For example - Blue Stilton caused wacky dreams while Cheddar caused dreams of celebrities. This science was sponsored by the English Cheese Board - only English cheeses were studied. I'm completely skeptical - I'm sure they had way too few subjects in the study.

But just imagine - further research could help a person control their dreams by the type of cheese they eat before bed. A cocktail of Monchego, Brie and Limberger might make you dream, say, of sex with a supermodel. There's a science fiction novel lurking here. Terrence McKenna would have said it's not fiction.

I'd like to add to the research. That night I had a little bit of Port Salud cheese before bed - and I had a long vivid road trip dream with an episode in a gas station near a mountain. That's all I can remember now.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

In which David first refers to his hair

I often tell people "I'm having a bad hair life." Now is not the time to go into why, but you should know that I have a bushy, ill-tempered ponytail.

Early this morning I was walking back from Starbucks (I won't bother to explain why). I passed a man on the street. He spoke one word to me; "Banderas" he said.

I stopped. "Excuse me, I don't understand." I thought he had spoken in another language (possibly Armenian - no time to explain that either).

He said "Your hair makes you look like the movie star Antonio Banderas." (Yeah, right.) But I thanked him.

Usually when I get mistaken for someone famous, it's for Penn Gillette - but now is not the time . . .


In which David introduces a new character

I'm predicting this blog will contain the name Leslie frequently.

That would be Leslie Harris - my trophy wife. The two links in the sidebar both give more information about her . . . but the first thing you need to know is that she's into worms.

Those would be polychaetes - sea worms: fantastic, colorful, ubiquitous little critters. Some of her best worm-pictures are viewable at the NHM website. Got questions about worms? Ask Leslie.

She was, of course, the first person I shared this blog with. Her reaction seemed very positive. She set two rules for me to follow. The second rule is that I can't tell you the first rule.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

In which David plugs Ham Hocks and Cornbread

No, not food. Hamhocks and Cornbread is a set of 4 compact discs published by JSP Records with 118 R&B tracks from the late forties through the early fifties, about the time I was busy being born.

Think Honkers and Shouters. Saxophones and Boogie Beats. Up Tempo and High Energy. Seems to be one track per artist. Not many household names. Great Stuff. I'm hooked.

I bought mine at for about $20. My second 4-disc set from the period - I recommend the other one too - The Big Horn (The History of Honkin' & Screamin' Saxophone) on Proper Records. There are lots more sets like these that I have my eye on.

And if you need an intro to this style I suggest Fools Paradise on WFMU. (It's a radio show on Saturday afternoons, easy to hear on the net & it's archived - listen anytime.)

Music Reviews

Friday, September 16, 2005

In which David Rewrites the Pledge of Allegiance

Under God is back in the news again.

I've often thought that I'd prefer to live in a country that has as its default national troth something like this:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, justice and religious freedom for all."

Isn't that something both an atheist and a fundamentalist could support? (Er, on second thought - no, probably not.)

And why is it we pledge our commitment to the physical flag - and not to the Republic (let alone the Democracy) - or even directly to Liberty and Justice?


In which David reveals what he listens to while listening to NPR

Tango music. Yep, I listen to two audio tracks simultaneously. The emotional tango music makes a great background soundtrack for the "drama" of the news broadcast.

The tangos are mixed down in volume - just like a movie score.

I listen to local NPR broadcast mixed with a web broadcast from Radio Tango

Batanga Radio has another fine tango stream.

Music Review

In which David fails to find an interesting first comment

Every new adventure begins with the words "Why am I doing this?" It would be so much easier not to bother trying new things.

If you, future person reading these words, discover that this blog hasn't changed in months . . . years . . . then you'll know I couldn't find a good answer for the question.

My philosophy will be . . . keep it short.