Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

All Things Must Pass

It was a little over a year ago that I knew my phone was obsolete.  I was one of the few, brave Windows Phone users remaining and Microsoft had announced that there was a Samsung Android phone being sold as a “Microsoft Edition”.  That simply meant the phone was preloaded with all the MS Android apps and you could get assistance on using it at a Microsoft store.  Whee.

And this change was a surprise, but not really so, since there was a Microsoft division that was doing nothing but writing nice software for Android and iOS and not writing anything for Windows Phone.  The up-and-coming mobile powerhouse apps hadn’t been developing for Windows Phone for a very long time.  But none of that was a concern for me, since all I needed was a way to call, text, read email, and browse the web when I was bored.  And play Solitaire. A Windows Phone did all that just fine.  Until it didn’t.  And that became infuriating, because I don’t ask much from my phone.

Early in my WP days, I used to visit Yahoo’s news site, but then Yahoo changed something and the pages started locking up, where I couldn’t scroll anymore.  So, I switched to MSN and happily used their news site for many years.  Recently, though, an odd bug started happening.  After a minute or so on a page, the page would reload, sending me back to the top of the article.  And it would happen again a minute or so later.  And again.  Then the browser would literally give up.  It would display this message:

wp_ss_20180320_0002

Now, there’s a message to piss off your users.  “We’re having trouble so we’re not going to try anymore.”  And when you clicked Back, you didn’t return to the previous page, your history was wiped out and you went back to the Start page.  Keep in mind, this is a Microsoft device, using a Microsoft web browser on a Microsoft website.  And it doesn’t work.  I’ve determined the root cause of the bug is the advertisements injected into the page by script, but without any ad-blocker or other customizations, a fix is out of my control.

Another recent shutdown Microsoft did was of Zune>XBox Music>Groove Music.  I don’t use streaming services, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.  But I also didn’t think it was going to affect Cortana’s music search feature (which is like Shazam).  I searched for a song recently and I got:

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Good job finding that song.

So that’s it.  I made up my mind I’m going to do what Microsoft wants me to do, switch to Android.  Now, where before I had a few available models of Windows Phone, I now have a choice of probably thousands of phones.  Which one should I get?  As a creature of habit, I chose a new model from an old company.  The Nokia 6.1.

Soon, I’m going to be able to be up-to-date on all the apps.  I can start collecting rewards from stores and restaurants.  I can start tracking this and that through apps.  I can use any fitness tracker I want.  I can play games – all the games.  I won’t have to get all pissed off and feel left out when I see:

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And hopefully, I can browse a goddamn web site without the pages reloading until the browser just shits the bed.

I ordered the phone on Amazon for all of $287, which I think is pretty cheap.  What do current phones go for now?  A good place to buy Android phones is the Microsoft Store.  Let’s see.  5 models for sale:  1 Windows Phone (out of stock), 3 Android Samsungs, and 1 Android Razor.  They are priced from $699 to $929.  Nope, I will not be getting any of those.  I don’t need a $1000 Solitaire game device.

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It Must Be Said

Grief is a strange phenomena.  It’s more than strange, it’s insidious.  It lies in wait and pounces when you least expect it.  And sometimes it refuses to come out no matter how much you demand it to.

The grieving process is exceptionally singular.  No one can do it for you.  No one can tell you how to do it properly.  There’s no training for it, it’s simply a core emotion.  It would be hard to say grief is instinctual, since it’s closer to an expression of our individual personality.

So indulge me for a short while as I try to work through some of this difficulty and achieve some closure.  As much as I would love to write the tribute first and deal with the messy circumstances afterwards, where they could be reviewed sans emotion, I feel that ignoring the details of the experience might be akin to letting a wound remain sealed up to fester, instead of opening it up and airing it out to heal.

The grief I am processing is the loss of my cat of 13 years, Rump.  Her actual age is unknown, but she was an aged cat and had been showing signs of slowing down.  But with each of my three cats I’ve had in my life, the end is always brought about by a sudden physical disability that requires euthanasia.

Rump’s first sign of trouble was a few weeks ago when I noticed she was becoming very picky about what wet food she wanted to eat.  Around the same time, I noticed she wasn’t eating as much, or any, of her dry food.  She lost weight rapidly and her sides became sunken in.  She also became less social.  These symptoms also happened with my first cat, Mess, and although I’d never had it diagnosed, I assumed it was kidney trouble.

Very soon afterwards, Rump could not stand up on her hind legs and her right rear leg seemed weak.  Thinking the end was near, I started the golden treatment.  She was fed tuna fish twice a day, which she enjoyed immensely.  The fresh intake of food started filling her out and her leg strength came back.  This inspired hope, so I scheduled a vet appointment to see if her current condition was treatable.

The vet said that the hind leg issue was simply arthritis and the lack of eating was due to pain from an abcessed tooth.  They would need to extract the tooth, which was a fairly routine procedure and cats typically bounce right back after 12 hours.  So the surgery was scheduled and performed.  Along with the tooth extraction, Rump was caught up on all her shots.

When I picked Rump up from the vet, I was told she shouldn’t eat or drink for a few more hours, and that she was probably still a little dopey from the pain meds and anesthetic.  I followed their directions for that night.  Later that night, she got a little food, which she devoured.  I was a little concerned about the unsteadiness she was exhibiting.  She walked very unbalanced and was very distant.

Before bed, I checked up on Rump again, since she wasn’t coming to me, still being anti-social.  I was told the meds should wear off by 11 or so and it was around that time.  But when I comforted her and gave her attention, she just had a distant gaze.  One moment she turned sharply and stared down the hall, like she saw something.  Then she walked away from me and sat in front of the sliding glass door, staring at her reflection.  It was the most foreboding behavior I’d ever seen from her.  It was when I started to worry.

Rump did not come to visit me that night in bed.  When I woke up, she was sitting in the bedroom doorway, guarding the room.  Before leaving for work, I gave her a full portion of wet food, which she cleaned up in a hurry.  Her gait was still unstable, her back legs were weak.  I was happy to see her eat enthusiastically, but was concerned about her legs.

When I came home from work, Rump did not meet me at the door.  I called for her and she didn’t come.  Remembering how Mess began hiding when his legs started giving out, I started searching the house, dreading what I would find.  I found that Rump had been in the bean bag, because there was a puddle of urine in it.  Incontinence is a death knell, so my worry started settling into emotional preparation for what was to come.  I looked under the bed, I looked in the closet, then I noticed that Rump was curled in her bed in the bedroom, right behind me.  She didn’t make any sound of acknowledgement.

She had also urinated in that bed and had no interest in climbing out for me.  I picked her up, which brought out a pained meow and stood her up on the floor.  Her front right leg was paralyzed and her back legs were extremely weak.  Rump immediately went back into her bed and curled up.  So, this is it.

I called the vet, who told me to call a 24-hr vet hospital since their doctor had already left for the day.  I called the vet hospital and briefly explained that I needed put my cat down.  They set me up with an appointment in an hour.  It would take me about that long to drive there, too.

Rump was loaded up in the cat carrier because she proved mobile enough to jump – jump – out of her bed as I was carrying her in her bed to the car.  A stubborn bitch to the end.  The drive was long and somber.  Rump was quiet the whole way and rubbed against my fingers that were poked through the cage door.  At one stop light, I thought I could open the cage door and get my whole hand in there to pet her.  Nope, as soon as the door opened, Rump started pushing her way out.  Stubborn!

In the exam room at the hospital, I opened the carrier.  Rump charged out and I explained to the assistant that Rump just had surgery yesterday.  The assistant said, “And this is the result?”  It’s something I will probably never forget because of its (probably unintended) insensitivity.  I never intended to blame anyone for this.  Rump is an old cat and there are certainly risks with surgery, plus getting a heavy load of booster shots.  You can only hope for the best.

Rump and I waited for the vet to come in seated on the bench seat.  At times she was docile, other times, she wanted to roam.  I kept her by my side and tried to keep her calm.  The vet came in, checked Rump out and confirmed what we were going to do.  Then he took Rump back for weighing and installing an IV catheter to administer the drugs.

She was brought back to the room and I continued holding her on the seat.  The vet came back with a wee pad and a large pink towel that I could wrap Rump in.  He explained that they would be taking care of the billing soon, which is something I felt down about.  The last couple of times I’ve put my cats down, they perform the procedure, give you your time, then you leave and you get a bill in the mail, after a respectable period.  This paying in advance stuff was slightly hurtful for me.

At this time, Rump was alternating between sitting at my side against me and lying on her side on the bench.  I leaned down and listened to her chest.  No purring and a quick, light heartbeat.  She didn’t exactly seem “with it”, just dazed and staring.  On some level she was probably happy for me to be there, but I don’t think she was able to be interactive.  Rump then decided she wanted to be on the table, so I hoisted her up to the table onto the towel and she laid down right away.  I wrapped her up in the towel, to which she did not protest.  It’s not something she would ever have allowed before.

Once on the table and wrapped up in the towel, Rump fairly surrendered.  She stayed motionless and occasionally, I would check her heartbeat.  It seemed to be fading quickly.  I thought if the doctor doesn’t hurry up and get in here, Rump is going to go all on her own.  Then it struck me.  Maybe I had misheard everything.  Maybe this was the euthanization and Rump was going to fade off to sleep slowly.  That’s radically different than anything I’d been a part of before.  I stepped out of the room and asked if that’s what was going on.  A vet tech came back and clarified that no drugs had been administered yet.

When I went back into the room, Rump had her head raised, but put it right back down when I came back to her side.  She stayed still as the doctor eventually came in to clarify once more the procedure and the choices I had made.  And we went forward with it, what’s more to say?

The procedure itself was quite peaceful, since Rump was already so close to the end.  There was no struggle, gasp, or sigh.  And of course the immediate mourning came on, but it was relatively brief.  I headed home with an empty carrier and waves of tears.

Which brings me back to the grieving process.  In this case, I never really have had a total breakdown.  I will get a wave of sorrow, which brings on the sobbing, but then I straighten back up again and continue on.  Relating to current events, it’s more like the Kilauea volcano and less like the St. Helens volcano.  And until the pressure subsides, there will be unexpected lava flows.

Something I’ve been trying to keep in mind is a concept explained in Theosophy.  The phrase I use for the concept is slightly crass, but is meant to reduce the seriousness of death: “back to the bucket.”  To impossibly simplify the lessons of Theosophy, there are two things to consider.  First, humans have a soul that evolves over many lifetimes through reincarnation.  Souls are unique personalities, shown that every human on earth is unique.  Second, animals are still evolving into unique personalities and until they reach that point, have a “shared soul”.  The analogy is that animals are born and a portion of a single soul is instilled in them from a “bucket”.  The animal lives its life and when it dies, all that it has learned and experienced is returned to the bucket for all future incarnations to learn from.

So, when you comment that your pet “has personality” and you notice how your pet forms relationships with humans and seems to genuinely care for humans, you are witnessing the evolution of an animal soul.  If you have participated in that growth, by showing care and compassion and demonstrating trust and forging that relationship, you are contributing positive experiences to your pet’s next incarnation, when they go “back to the bucket.”

Considering that Rump found and chose me 13 years ago, which was about a year and a half after losing Mess, it’s not unfathomable that she chose me based on experiences from the same bucket as Mess.  It’s also not unfathomable that I will see her again in her next life.

Stop This Shit

https://blog.cheapism.com/lies-teachers-told-17314

I don’t do many commentary posts, but this article really dug at me and it came on the heels of a response I had given somewhere about Mike Rowe.  The commonality in both of these is that there is a line, and it’s not exactly a fine line, where information becomes inflammation.

To start with, the title is “50 lies you learn in school”.  Before you’ve read anything, the article is implying that teachers, the people trained to educate you, are purposely lying to you.  In order to lie, you have to know the truth.  So the article is saying that your teachers know the truth and have intentionally told you otherwise.

If you go through this slide show, you will start with moments of, “Ok, I didn’t know that”, and “Huh, neat” but then, less than halfway through, you’re hit with “You can’t end sentences with prepositions.”  Whether or not you agree or not, does this sound like a lie?  By the definition, yes, it is a lie.  However, that statement is not what is taught.  You would be taught, “You should not end sentences with prepositions.”  And that is not a lie, because it is not being presented as a fact or a rule, merely a guideline.  The same thing with “You can’t begin sentences with conjunctions.”  A style guide is just that, a guide.

The other type of tactic this article uses is on display with “The tongue map”.  The slide says “The tongue map drawn back in 1901 is a lie.”  And this is what REALLY pisses me off.  It is not a lie when you do not know any better.  The slide immediately says, “Scientists now know…”  which means they were not intentionally hiding the truth back in 1901, they just had limited information at the time.  This is repeated over and over with “facts” that had to be revised as more information became available.  That does not make the original facts “lies”.

Another tactic is playing with words.  “There’s no gravity in space” is clearly a lie.  Why?  Because the proper statement is “There is not a substantial amount of gravity in space.”  The article proposes that not being explicit enough is a lie.  Then the slide show starts to get into fringe medicine, such as “You need milk for strong bones” which cites as a reason some potential cronyism by an executive.  There’s a couple of “facts/lies” I have never heard before in my life. “Blood is blue in the body”? 

All in all, this is a terrible article, and let me now explain the Mike Rowe connection.  There is a growing wave of anti-intellectualism here in America.  It is dangerous as fuck and since about 2016, it’s been blowing up everywhere.  It is the absolute proof that Idiocracy is coming to pass.  It’s not enough that people are not taking the time to educate themselves, which is damaging enough, but now there is an active effort by some people to discredit other people who are intellectual.

Here’s the gist of how it works.  You find some information that used to be considered factual, but now, because of additional study, is not considered wrong.  And that former information is not labeled “obsolete”, but is instead touted as a “lie”.  The argument is that the “smart people” lied to you all these years with that incorrect information.  But the insane part of that argument is that it was the “smart people” who corrected the mistake.

The goal of this article and other examples of it (like Mike Rowe’s position on science) is to cause people to distrust information from learned sources.  They want people to ignore “best practices” because they are not completely proven yet.  Even if they are proven, what is proof?  They want everyone to live in a “We just don’t know enough yet to make a decision” mindset.  Conservative to to the point of regression.

Florida, The Bakery

I’ve been seeing a lot of billboards lately with a new slogan: “Drive Baked, Get Busted”.  It just kind of appeared out of nowhere and suddenly, it was everywhere.  Ok, yeah, police want (stupid) people to know that driving after getting high is a bad thing. 

I looked this promo campaign up and yes, it is new this year.  Supposedly, it’s because of the new medical pot law in Florida.  If we’re going to have medical pot, we need to let people know that you can’t take your “medication” and go for a drive.  Here’s the funny part.  The ad campaign is primarily targeted to 18-34 year olds.  Exactly the ones that would need medical stoning plants.  Secondarily, the ads target 55-74 year olds.  You know, the ones that smoked pot all the time when they were… 18-34.  But anyway, fuck yeah, Gen-X!  You’re not targeted as pot smokers.  And I find that really dumb, because everyone I knew growing up was perpetually high.

It kind of got me thinking about the whole PSA campaigns for any sort of impaired driving.  First of all, what idiot doesn’t know that driving under the influence of anything is bad? (Anything but driving under the influence of Jesus)  Second, if the person doesn’t know naturally that it’s bad, is a billboard really going to educate them?  Sometimes, I see messages on the traffic warning signs that say, “DUI – Decide before you drive” and I think a lot of people are like, “Already done.”

You just wouldn’t believe the frequency I see impaired drivers on the highways.  If it’s not some drug, then it’s probably tiredness.  Tiredness is an impairment that doesn’t get enough attention.  Maybe a billboard or two would help: “WAKE UP, MOTHERFUCKER!”

The 80’s Synth Invasion

As my music collection grows exponentially, I find it doesn’t grow in any sort of order.  It grows opportunistically.  For example, I don’t particularly buy what I want, I buy what’s available.  And that’s fine, because my tastes are broad enough (and always growing) that there’s always something I’m willing to buy.

It was a little while ago that I picked up my first album by Survivor.  You know, Eye Of The Tiger and all that.  Actually, that was the album I got.  When you’re familiar with a band’s hits and you want to become invested in them, you can take the easy route and buy the greatest hits album, or you can be a man and just buy an album.  At thrift store CD prices, being a man doesn’t cost a whole lot, so that’s where I went.  And I liked it.  They had a good sound and I put Survivor on the list for future album purchases.

That day came a bit later when I picked up another of their albums.  It was my morning commute CD today.  And my experience with the album really led me to thinking deeper about music in the 80s.  Eye of the Tiger was released in 1982 and the album I was listening to came out in 1986.  My thoughts led me to create a shitastic “comic” to express my thoughts.

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The initial point I was trying to make is that the ‘86 album had 10 songs, and 9 of those songs were all keyboard, with the guitar relegated to chunking out 8th notes for rhythm.  The closing track was guitar-driven and really felt out of place with the rest of the album.

Something clicked with me when I listened to each song as it started out with synthesizer chords.  I felt really sorry for the guitar player – well, main guitar player.  The keyboardist also played some guitar.  I suddenly understood the huge pushback against synths from rock acts, which, being a keyboard player myself, I never really appreciated.

Survivor isn’t the only recent instance I noticed this, although it was the most visceral.  I had recently picked up Europe’s album Wings of Tomorrow.  Everyone knows The Final Countdown, sure.  And if you heard the rest of The Final Countdown album, it is also very synth heavy, but it is also well-balanced with guitar work.  But on Wings of Tomorrow, which is the album just before The Final Countdown, there are hardly any synths at all.  The change is remarkable.  Also from the 80’s is the band GTR, a band that was formed by two guitarists who wanted a guitar-driven album.  That’s how bad it was back then.  I didn’t grasp how much of a statement they were making.

Then the Linn drum machine came along and it started to put the pressure on drummers.  Now they could be replaced with rock-solid precision that could be edited at will.  Gina Schock had to fight with the producer to play on The Go-Go’s Talk Show album.  And Mutt Lange, I love his sound, but his reliance on drum machines really grates on me.  I still remember when my innocence was broken when I realized the ZZ Top album I loved so much had no real drums on it.  And then it began a real-or-not hunt on every album I had, which is not how music is supposed to be. 

But there is an infinite palette of music out there for consumption.  I can lament Survivor softening up into a synth ballad band or I can just put on any hair metal from the same era and hear guitar.  There is always something on offer from some band, even if it’s not the band you want to hear it from.  Guitar songs never really went away, they just spread out.  And with my ever-expanding collection, I still find them.

Light Music, Heavy Music, Light Words, Heavy Words

With 1,200 CDs in my collection, it’s probably an understatement to say I have a broad taste in music.  Yes, I do have concentrations of genres and time periods, but I can wander pretty far away from center.  And because of that, I feel sorry for people who are stuck on the same band or the same type of music, or who only know things that are on the radio.

Some music is challenging to me, that which I call avant-garde.  The Residents fall into this group, because I typically hear their music as a bunch of noise, or as music constructed so simplistically I can’t take it seriously.  And because of that difficultly to connect with the music, I consider that music to be heavy – even if they’re playing three notes over and over on a toy piano.  I say it’s heavy because it takes effort to listen to it. 

I also have a liking for death metal.  but not all death metal.  Death is one of my favorites because I find the whole thing hilarious.  Like there’s no way you can take the idea of someone vomiting up their own internal organs seriously.  It’s the audio equivalent of watching a horror movie.  But then there’s Sepultura, which is a Brazilian death metal band.  English isn’t their primary language, but they try.  And when I hear the broken English about the topics they write about, I just get the feeling they mean it a little more, because after all, they did try and translate it.  And that bugs me.

But then on the other end of the scale, I do like Indigo Girls.  But Indigo Girls, to me, is heavy, too.  I suppose you’re probably thinking: your evaluation of music is so fucked up.  But hear me out.  Indigo Girls isn’t heavy music, it’s heavy lyrics.  And I don’t mean heavy as in they make you go, “Whoa, man, that’s deep.” (Yes will do that well enough, thank you.)  I mean that their lyrics are SO weighted with metaphor it becomes unbearable to listen to for a long time.  I mean, I can handle a few metaphors in a song, but when you have to squeeze one in every verse, or god forbid, every stanza, well, it’s gonna wear me down.

Indigo Girls is nothing like Sammy Hagar, who I don’t think would ever get kudos for being a deep lyricist.  That’s not entirely fair, because there’s some of Hagar’s stuff that actually has some potential emotion in it.  But I consider his lyrics to be light and breezy.  Don’t think about them too much and just go with the vibe – usually partying and sex.  It doesn’t take a large vocabulary to express that stuff.

I was once talking with a woman about music and she told me that words were everything to her.  Well, that was kind of a problem because I really like instrumental music.  She was really, really into 38 Special, which isn’t bad, but it’s pretty light on both music and lyrics.  And there’s definitely a place for it.  I like 38 Special when driving because I don’t have to think much about it.

But my point was going to be that words themselves aren’t “everything” to me.  A lot of times, I can listen to a song for years and never know the lyrics.  I’ll know the important ones, but I may miss out on whole concepts in the verses.  I recall one time, I looked up the lyrics for a song I loved and the story wasn’t anything like I thought it was.  It ruined the song for me.

Because of my non-reliance on the lyrics, I shouldn’t really have a problem with foreign music, and in many cases I don’t.  I have some German punk rock and you can probably guess, you don’t need to know what they’re saying.  It’s just aggression from start to end.  And that works for the song.

I suspect for some people, the thresholds of light and heavy, whether musically or lyrically are much lower, so their breadth of music consumption is more limited.  On rare occasions, I daydream about being a teacher in school teaching Music Appreciation.  My experience in high school for Music Appreciation class was kind of a joke.  It was people bringing in tapes of songs they like, we all listen to it, then the teacher makes some commentary on it.  One time, we were listening to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”.  We all knew the song well enough since it was playing everywhere at the time, and just when the chorus changed key, the teacher jumped up and stopped the tape.  “You hear that!  That’s a key modulation and it’s used to generate more excitement in the song.”  Yeah thanks, you just killed the excitement we all just got from the key modulation.  Me, being one of the few musicians in the class, did the outrageous.  I brought in Rush’s La Villa Strangiato and drew out all the themes on the blackboard and pointed out how the themes entered and reprised throughout the nine minute song.

My approach to music appreciation would literally be a class on how to listen to music.  Start with rhythm – learn how to count a beat, learn odd time signatures. Learn how songs are structured, so you can say things like, intro, verse, chorus, bridge, and coda with confidence.  Learn about instrumentation, so you understand the application of sparse arrangement and dense arrangement.  Probably some other stuff as well (like minor/major keys), but after the foundations are laid, then start with genres, and break the songs down based on past lessons.  That’s how music appreciation should be, teaching you how to appreciate a wide variety of music.

So, Are YOU A Collector? Clearly Not.

As I posted recently, I went on a CD safari and ended returning with 20 CDs.  15 of those were purchased from two flea market vendors, both of whom said they were collectors. 

In the first booth I went to, I felt I was in a hurry for time, so I scanned the discs very quickly, looking for smooth cases.  However, I saw one CD that I had scored on my last flea market trip that was a valuable find.  The CD wasn’t in a a smooth case (actually a shitty, flimsy case), so I was curious what a normal edition of that album looked like.  When I opened the case, I was surprised.  Similar to my previous reaction to finding gold, I said, “Oh, it’s a red-faced Polydor.  Nice.” 

Only a real geek would say “a red-faced Polydor”, right?  That’s a statement that would come out of the mouth of an orthinologist.  Like, you should log that in a bird-watching book along with the time and location.  But, I didn’t log it, I bought it.  WHY?  I already had one and it was a valuable one at that!  Sometimes, you can’t explain these things to collectors.  Different is good.

When I got home and cleaned the CDs all up, I researched what I had purchased.  Now you may recall the post about my $300 find for $3.  Well, this time, I paid $5, and wouldn’t you know it?  Someone has paid over $500 for this CD.

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I now have both of these CDs.  What’s the difference?  100% appearance.  These are the two CDs.  They have the same music.

imageimage

And when I say they have the same music, I checked.  They DO.  I posted this on Relative Waves.  It’s the same.

That’s two waveforms overlaid on each other.  There’s no green or white peeking out anywhere.  That means no differences. SAME SAME SAME.

Anyway.  So now I have a new most valuable CD.  Again, by a large margin.  In fact, my collection value went up by over $1000 from this last trip.  After all, I did find a bunch of other rarities.

Music Transcends Spirituality, Or Does It?

On my recent mega-thrift run, I picked up a particular CD from a thrift shop.  The thrift shop had one of those CD sections where everything was religious music.  The CD caught my eye because the title was “Portraits in Synthesis” and the cover was very new-agey, although the back design was a little chaotic.  The CD seemed like it would be a nice new-age synthesizer instrumental album, so I spent a couple bucks and got it.

When I got home, with my 19 other CDs, I took a better look at the back and saw the tracks were named all… uncomfortable names.  Things like, “Fairest Lord Jesus”, and “Lord Be Glorified / Spirit Song”, and the rest were similar.  Of course my reaction was, “Goddamn it.  This is a religious album.”  And I left it on the kitchen table while I cleaned up and cataloged my other finds.

The next day, I saw the disc sitting on the counter and picked up it again.  I read more of the back and realized, yes, it was a synth album.  It just had weird song titles.  I looked inside the booklet and there were no lyrics, so, yes, it’s instrumental.  What’s the deal with these titles?

I researched the label the album was published under and learned that it was a subsidiary of a religious music label.  This new child label was made to take advantage of the growing “new age” music popularity of the 80’s.  How weird.  When I think new-age, I actually think of “anti-religion”, not in any evil way, but you know, new-age spirituality. 

Think of the issues that come up when Christian music lovers can’t listen to new-age music because it conflicts with their personal beliefs.  “I can’t listen to this because it’s new-age, and that involves crystals and tantra and whatever a chakra is!”  Well, music finds a way, right?  We’ll publish the same kind of music, but we’ll use religious titles that invoke the names Lord and Jesus and then there’s no moral conflict!  What a genius idea!  It’s genius, but it’s sad, too.  Music doesn’t have any religious affiliation.  It’s agnostic.  And the sad part is that agnosticism isn’t good enough for devout believers.  If it doesn’t fully walk the walk and talk the talk, it’s evil.

I was testing out my car stereo after doing some work on it and the only radio station I could pick up was the local religious station.  Go figure, huh?  And some woman had called in to talk to the radio host and explain how she loved the station and how it gave her whole house a worshipping feel all the time.  That’s what you want your whole life to be?  Like you’re in church all day?

But I try to keep in mind the lyrics from NOFX’s Happy Guy, from Punk In Drublic (Something the devout would never hear anyway):

Don’t try to judge him, his theologian ideal
His hopes may be false but his happiness is real
Don’t try to judge him, he’s just a man

Ooo, You’re So Slow and Tasty

Provocative title aside, this is just a post bitching about upscaling at eating places.  You know, where the normal menu, which has existed forever, just isn’t good enough anymore, so the place has to try new, fancy shit and to hell with what we had before.  I’ve said before that I’m a fan of the standards, the basics.  When I go to a place to eat, I usually know what I’m getting, so all this new and better stuff doesn’t really appeal to me.  Yeah, I suck.  Deal with it.

I have read numerous times in articles about how McDonalds keeps trying to attract new customers by making new things.  There’s plenty wrong with this.  First off, as all American investor-driven companies, McDonalds is not allowed to just be.  They must forever be growing.  There is no satisfaction in being good.  You have to be better, quarter after quarter.  So, to that end, McD’s tries to grow their customer base by selling different things.  The problem is, these different things are more complex.  They take time.  They fuck up all the efficiencies that made the McD’s of olden times great.  You want a plain old quarter pounder?  Well, it’s going to be a bit because the party in front of you ordered Flapacheetos and McDonkles and we have to specially prepare each of those.

The exact same thing has happened the last couple of times I’ve been to Dunkin Donuts.  The party in front of me doesn’t want donuts or coffee.  They want, “An everything bagel, toasted, with butter, and bacon and cheese.  And then another one just like that, but a plain bagel.  And what do you want?  Ok, a croissant, no wait, another bagel.  What kind?  They’re all right there.  What’s that one?  Never mind, just make it plain.  And what do you want on it?  Bacon?  No.  No bacon.  Cheese?  Sausage?  You like sausage.  Yes, you do like it.  Just sausage and cheese.  And I’m going to have a coffee, with half and half and two sugars.  And what do you want to drink?  I don’t know if they have that…”  And 15 fucking minutes later, because they can’t take my order until they finish the order before me (FUUUUUUCCCK!), I order my two donuts.

Dunkin Donuts used to be a donut shop.  There used to be a time, and it wasn’t really all that long ago, you could get in and get out.  Now it’s a goddamn café.  It doesn’t need to be one.  In fact, McDonalds also has what they call McCafe.  That’s the trap.  McDonalds also used to be fast food.  There’s nothing fast about it anymore.  The same articles that talk about McDonalds adding new menu items to attract new business also say the restaurant owners hate it because it slows down their service times, which just backs everything up and irritates the customers, like me.

I say fairly often that I have pity for people growing up today because they have no idea that fast food used to be good and tasty and now it’s just processed bullshit.  And now the service has gone to shit right along with the food quality.  You know, Chipotle had something pretty good going for a while, until that whole poisoning thing happened.  That’s another company that is probably going to get desperate and start introducing new items.  You’ll know it when a new menu item has to be built off the conveyer line.  And that will be the next nail in the coffin because it will reduce the efficiency of their service.  Let’s see if they survive long enough to kick themselves in the teeth.

Safari 2018

A little over a year ago, I went on a CD hunt, and I recently chose to indulge myself again.  This time, I would travel to a remote metro city with a whole new, fresh collection of thrift shops to plunder.  The trip would be two hours to get there (and coincidentally, two hours to get back).  But that’s quite ok, because driving is something I do.  The MX-5 has 263k miles on it right now and shows no sign of giving up.

I plan on making a couple of alterations to the car before this road trip.  The first is removal of the Zune integration with the stereo.  It’s been fun, but as time wore on, and Zune support in Windows went away, it’s less of a thing now for me.  I’ve gotten back into CDs, which seen to have more fidelity than the Zune audio pumped through a 3.5mm cable, even when the files are lossless.

While I have things disassembled, I also plan to implement the traffic power cable for my GPS and hide the ugly bits behind the dash.  Right now, I have a frankencable coming up from my center console and up the dash.  It doesn’t provide a traffic antenna for the GPS and said GPS bitches about it every single time I start it up.  It will be nice to be rid of that stupid alert and also to have the traffic info for better routing.  This will involve purchasing an add-on 12v socket that I’ll hide behind the dash and plug the GPS power cable into it.  I can’t understand why they don’t design GPS power cables to be either plug-in or hard-wired.  Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve torn the interior of my car apart.  I used to do it on a monthly basis.

And then, a trip like this is something that must be done solo.  I can’t imagine the mind-numbing boredom of sitting in a car as a passenger for hours on end, then slogging around dingy shops for a full day.  I have a list of 20 locations to hit in the remote area, including one bona-fide music store.  I’m not sure if I will have time to hit the flea market while I’m there, but I’ll certainly try.

Friday after work, I spent a couple of hours fighting in the car, routing the power cable for the GPS and removing old audio stuff.  That was a success, or so I thought until I went out for dinner that night.  Now I have an alternator whine in my front right speaker, so I’m going to have to take the dash all apart again and be a bit more cautious with my power cable and audio cable routing.  Worse, it means my Saturday trip (two hours each way) will be in silence.  Oh fucking no.

I headed out early in the morning and made it to the flea market just as it opened.  I found two large CD sellers and spent more than I usually would at a flea market.  I paid more per CD, but I think I got some good items.  (Wait for the post on this.  You have no idea!)

The rest of the day was pretty sad compared to the flea market.  Many thrift shops were closed or out of business.  The music store I went to had outrageous prices, like $8 for used CDs, and nothing remotely collectable.  Well, that’s not true.  I treated myself to a Gold CD for $50.  I’ve said before, you can’t really go wrong with those.  They keep their value.

I finished the day at an old favorite Thai restaurant, which was amazing as usual.  Just like the good old days when you would judge how good the food was by how long your tongue would burn after the meal.  And it was a while.

The traffic feature on the GPS did its job and told me when construction was coming up and when I would be delayed by traffic and for how long.  At one point it was counting down when the traffic jam would end and almost as soon as it said it was over, we started speeding up again.  Amazing.

So tomorrow is car stereo repair time.  And tonight has been cleaning, logging, and ripping.  I’ll do some relative waves posts with some of the new editions I picked up tonight as well.