Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

RANE - Why Made in the USA?

Rane manufactures in the US. Please remember on your next gear purchase! It's good stuff, too. I've never had a problem with a Rane product (I have several).

Why Made in the USA?: Rane manufactures in the USA because it is the best way for us to produce the musical instruments and professional sound tools our customers demand, respect, and deserve. It simply makes sense. Rane is proud to define, design, manufacture, and support all of our products from our single facility in Mukilteo, Washington USA. Doing so allows us to have a deep understanding of our product, our customer needs, and gives us a superior ability to support our products and react to customer wants and needs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Give it Away, Now

I try to not let politics nor religion creep into these pages about music.  Music should be a happy, non-divisive place, and both politics and religion are often tools used for both . However, something needs to be said about making  musical goods in China...

There are any number of really good arguments of why musical equipment makers shouldn't do this: patriotism, putting Americans to work, we've heard them all.  But one I've haven't heard and have been thinking about is how the manufacturers are trading short-term profit for long-term longevity.

When a company has something produced offshore, they have to specify what they want made.  That often means the American firm has to teach the Chinese company how to make it, along with any proprietary technology that company specifically developed and used in manufacturing.  Now, the Chinese are long known for industrial espionage, outright stealing of American technology.  However, by manufacturing American goods using American technology for an artificially low price, industrial espionage becomes unnecessary.  That technology is handed over to the Chinese (and other countries as well), and the American manufacturer, in buying the cheaply-made good,  pays for the pleasure of giving away his secrets.

This idea wasn't dreamed up in a vacuum.  I spoke with a bass guitar manufacturer who glowingly told me how he straightened out mistakes made on the production line in a Chinese factory. That line made instruments for nearly every major manufacturer in the US.

Eventually, I believe the Chinese manufacturing bubble will burst.  American lawmakers and manufacturers seem to be slowly coming to their senses, so more and more things will begin to be made in the USA again.  But by then, the horse is out of the barn. The Chinese will have the technology, expertise, and brand new factories with which to make these same goods on their own, without the Americans at all.  And then the fun starts...

American manufacturers will see their goods duplicated and sold worldwide for about one-tenth the price they now charge.  Only in this scenario, the difference will be that American manufacturers won't see any profit at all, only the theft of their ideas marketed globally. I suspect they'll have one hell of a time surviving.

So, manufacturer, if you're looking for quick profits, make hay while the sun shines.  And buyer: know that you're a part of it. If you don't tell the manufacturers, either directly or by voting with your dollar, you're complicit. I recently refused delivery on a bass because it was made in China (the manufacturer's website, which I researched before purchase, said differently). Eventually I bought American.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Never was, never will be.

Monday, November 14, 2011

So I moved to Florida... Let the Bass Games Begin

It's a big move, with lots of crap to take with me.  People accumulate a lot over the years, and I've accumulated a music store's volume of basses - most of which go unplayed.  So it occurs to me what a great idea it is to sell my fretless, since I haven't played it in years.

Now, this is the one-same awesome fretless Alembic that's on Rick Olaguer's songs to the right. It sounds magnificent. "I'll never play fretless again," says me to myself.  And on to eBay we go.

After a bunch of negotiating, off it goes to a nice guy in North Carolina.  He loves it, but is going to have it refretted.  Go figure.

I arrive in Florida, Tampa-ish, and start making my presence known. My bud, Ron Zebron, is working mightily on his originals, and says he wants me to play bass on them.  Killer, methinks. I love Ron and love his songs. "I'm thinking fretless," Ron says. The irony thickens.

So off I go into the nether regions of Sarasota to acquire or somehow purloin a fretless.  Alas, none to be had.  Never fret (sic), there is the internet. And there I find the dearth of 5-string fretless basses available. Immediately, it occurs to me to defret one of my long-unplayed basses, but which? Most I actually don't like anymore, because the strings are too close together. These are the basses - fine ones though they may be - that are being sold.

I become interested in an inexpensive LTD fretless 5. Specs look good. Sam Ash has them. Off I go. I play one. Strings are too close, just like the basses I'm selling.  But they show me an MTD that can be had 5-string fretless, as the MTD Kingston Saratoga.  Now, bear in mind, there are only a couple of manufacturers that make a fretless 5 anymore, much less one I can afford (I'm long done with "boutique basses), so I'm running out of options fast. Out comes the card, the order is placed.

A couple of days later it arrives. Sigh. Made in China (the website said Korea).  This pisses me off. I made a commitment to myself to buy as little from China as I can (more on this in another post), so I check before I buy. MTDs used to be made in Korea, but they have let their website lapse. Anyway, the pickups can't be adjusted high enough. And it just sounds like poop - nothing like a Jazz Bass that, assuming from the pickup design, looks like was intended. Even though it plays OK, the negatives queer the deal. Back to Sam Ash I go.

Fortunately, I am a likeable soul (ahem...) and Carlo and Steve at Sam Ash Sarasota are super accommodating. After much playing and replaying of basses, I decide I'm going to buy a Mexican Fender DeLuxe Active Jazz Bass V . At least, if I buy Mexican, the guys who made it weren't in the US illegally. My plan is to have it defretted. Definitely the long way around, but what's a boy to do?

The bass arrives.  And... I love it. Best Jazz I've ever played, and that includes the vintage 1965 Jazz I had years ago. Better than Pedulla's version, leagues better than another Mexican J that I used to have. It sounds awesome, and as I'm playing it, it occurs to me what a sin it is to alter this bass. So now I have a killer Jazz bass, fretted.  And no fretless. And the irony is getting too thick to even cut with a machete.

I close my eyes, reach into my bass closet, and pull out one of my unplayed basses; off to the luthier I go. "De-claw her, " I say. But because it's now into the holiday season, might take awhile to get done.


So, I sell a killer fretless to have fewer basses. 3 months later I need to buy a new fretless, and end up buying a fretted bass that I didn't need. And I end up defretting one of my older basses anyway. And the overall number of basses I now have? Right back to the same number where I started. And my wallet is thinner.

Well, at least I have different basses that I like better than the old ones.  Maybe I'll play them all now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Woops! Upside yo Haid!

A Florida woman is facing a felony domestic violence charge after she allegedly tried to strike her girlfriend last night with a “female sex toy,” according to a police report.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Man throws potatoes at 66-year-old woman in Venice Walmart, police say |

I say this all the time: you can't make this stuff up!
Officers say that Grant approached the woman inside Walmart, 17000 Tamiami Trail, and claimed to work for God. When the woman told him she did not think so, Grant reportedly told her she was going to Hell, screamed profanities at her, pushed her shopping cart and started throwing potatoes from the produce section at her.

Man throws potatoes at 66-year-old woman in Venice Walmart, police say | "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Friday, August 5, 2011

'Rent Is Too Damn High Party' Founder Being Evicted From New York Apartment -

'Rent Is Too Damn High Party' Founder Being Evicted From New York Apartment -
"The man who ran for New York governor under the Rent Is Too Damn High Party banner claims he is being kicked out of his Manhattan apartment -- because the rent is too damn low, the New York Post reported Friday.

The Brits

> It was mealtime during a flight on a British Airways plane: "Would
you like dinner?" the flight attendant asked the man seated in the front row.
> "What are my choices?" the man asked.
> "Yes or no," she replied.*
**> **
> A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at a branch of
Sainsbury's but she couldn't find one big enough for her family.She asked a passing assistant, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?"
> The assistant replied, "I'm afraid not, they're dead." *
**> **
> The policeman got out of his car and the boy racer he stopped for
speeding, rolled down his window.
> "I've been waiting for you all day," the bobby said.
> The kid replied, "Well I got here as fast as I could."
> When the policeman finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid onhis way
without a ticket.*
**> **
> A lorry driver was driving along on a country road. A sign came up
that read " Low Bridge Ahead. "Before he realised it, the bridge was directly ahead and he got stuck under it. Cars were backed up for miles. Finally, a police car arrived. The policeman got out of his car and walked to the lorry's cab and said to the driver, "Got stuck, eh?"
> The lorry driver said, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ranout of
**> **
> A teacher at a polytechnic college reminded her pupils oftomorrow's
final exam."Now listen to me, I won't tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury,illness, or a death in your immediate family but that's it, no otherexcuses whatsoever!"
> A smart-arsed chappie at the back of the room raised his hand
andasked, "What would happen if I came in tomorrow suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?"
> The entire class was reduced tolaughterand sniggering. When silence
was restored, the teacher smiled at the student, shook her head and sweetly said, "Well, I would expect you to write the exam with your other hand."

Weird TV news moment

Weird TV news moment: To some, suspect sketch looks like WJZ reporter telling the story - Baltimore Sun:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flat tire tech

I was whining some time ago about having a slow leak in a tire.  What I found out is that occasionally aluminum wheels will corrode around the tire bead, causing it to stop sealing air.  The fix: break down the bead and clean the wheel. Worked for me. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cha Cha

Harry is playing with the Cha Cha Boys this Sunday, Feb 20. If you remember, they were one of Baltimore's premier bands in the 80s, and a full-blown reunion is scheduled.  Look for some old friends, maybe make some new ones! It's an all-ages show, so the kids are welcome.  It's at The Bowman on Harford Rd in Parkville, Sunday Feb 20, 8-12.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Driving Safety

My wife's employer recently required her to take an advanced driving class.  From what I hear, it was great, but most of the information was really just good common sense.  But I think it should be required, since no one anymore seems to have any sense - common or otherwise.

So I thought I'd post a couple of things I've been thinking should be in cars.

  1. When you put the car in reverse, there should be an audible warning outside the car.  The stats on kids getting run over is larger than you'd expect, but not only that, it would stop the random idiot from backing into you when he, for whatever reason, puts his car into reverse at the stoplight and doesn't return it to forward drive.
  2.  When you blow the horn, the high beams should come on and flash.  With the stereos, phones, DVD players and such in today's cars, who can hear your horn?
  3. Distracted driving is the major cause of accidents. So simply limit the controls and "appliances" that are in a car's dashboard. For example, take the "car information center." Do we really need to know our car's mileage at 70 MPH on the freeway?
  4. GPS: Not only often complicated for the average driver to operate, but they tend to be a visual distraction. I'm thinking make them audio-only while the vehicle is in motion.
  5. DVDs in cars.  A pox on them. Outlaw them.  By any measure, it's a hallmark of bad parenting to want to slip in a DVD for the kids while driving; spend some time with your kids, or don't have them in the first place. But bad on adults: I've seen people actually watching porn on their car DVDs as they drive. Not that I'm down on porn, but it backs up traffic because everyone around wants to watch, too.
  6. Instruct cops to actually take distracted driving seriously. If I see one more woman doing her makeup, doing her nails, or talking on the phone while passing like she's at NASCAR, I might give up driving altogether. Men: you're not immune: I often see guys reading the newspaper, or reports, or using electric razors while driving. The workmen driving pickups: You are not race-car drivers. You are in an ill-handling pickup truck.  Slow the hell down! And those who do no-handed driving - that's just beyond the pale, but I saw a woman doing it yesterday. A month ago I saw a guy driving while holding a soup bowl in one hand, and feeding himself with the other.  It's unknown what he was steering with.
  7. Since we can't do away with lazy people, we have to legislate our safety when we venture near them.  In snowy areas, such as it is here in Maryland, people need to be forced to clean off their cars. In particular, SUV drivers don't clean off the roofs of their cars, because there's a lot to clean off, and it's hard to reach.  But that snow will come off sooner or later, probably on the highway after it turns to ice, blasting right onto another car.  Windscreens are often broken when these large chunks of ice hit them.  Boy, is that dangerous, but beyond that most insurance companies don't cover glass replacement.  Windshields very often cost well over $1000, and if you carry a high deductible, that amounts to serious money.  All because the fool in front of you was too lazy to spend 30 seconds and clean the snow off her roof (It breaks my nails!)
  8. While on the snow issue, I saw a,n absolute moron the other day driving with a car covered in snow, and  - I kid you not - only cleaned off a patch of her windshield directly in fron of her about 1 foot square. You could clearly see (pun intended) that she could not. Unbelieveable.
So there's just a couple of ideas.  Man, It's getting worser and worser out there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Speeding Up FIOS Internet

I got FIOS a few months ago in response to Comcast's internet dropping out incessantly.  FIOS has been like a rock, but unfortunately also like a stone in terms of speed.  I mean in some cases, as slow as dial-up.  The answer is to optimize the internet registry settings.

FIOS knows this, and has a speed optimizer tool to do it for you.  Unfortunately, it doesn't always work.  Being on Windows 7, it didn't for me. But I found the problem.

You can go to the FIOS speed Optimizer page, and it will tell you to run Internet Explorer in Administrator mode.  No problem.  But when you try to click on the critical "optimize" link, nothing. It just stares at you.

The trick is to run the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer.  I had been using the 64-bit version, which is the default IE for Win7 64-bit.  So, run IE 32-bit in Admin mode, go to the Optimizer page, follow the directions, and it should go. Whee!

Sheesh, you'd think the FIOS guys would tell you this.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The tooth fairy

The tooth fairy teaches children that they can sell body parts for money.
  - David Richerby

Zebron and James