Thursday, March 30, 2006

music: Carpenters, and no apologies

Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters on PBS. I remember my Dad's friend dragging him in to hear "Ticket to Ride" and forcing a copy on him. It's an incredible debut record, I listened a lot to it and many subsequent albums. It's my parents' music, but it gave me the love of vocal harmony (in Yes and beyond) and appreciation of high-value production. The way they highlight certain instruments and the hi-hat and tom-toms, while bringing in washes of overdubbed harmonies on choruses. And throughout, Karen Carpenter's fantastic, deep voice, drenched in a blue deeper than melancholy. I know Bones Howe produced some of the later records, I'm not sure who produced particular ones. (Where's the IMDB equivalent for music?!)

I was amazed and almost repelled by Tony Peluso's screaming fuzz-tone electric guitar solo in the middle of "Goodbye to Love", which shows how sheltered my musical horizons were. He's too modest in the documentary, that was the genesis of the power ballad.

"I'll say goodbye to love, no one ever cared if I should live or die"
"Think I'm gonna be sad, She's got a ticket to ride, and she don't care"
"After long enough of being alone, nobody knew the pain I was going through"

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Friday, March 24, 2006

"Hypnic Jerks" Best. Group name. Ever.

I learned a term so perfect that I'm forming a group, "Hypnic Jerks", just to use it. Our first release will be a remake of Elvis Costello's "I can't stand up for falling down".

Darn Google reveals "The Hypnic Jerks" of the Old Town School of Music in Chicago, playing around 2004. For now I'll call my group "Misappropriate or Die."

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

electronics: the Sprint service shaft

The Sanyo MM-9000 do anything phone would not go into camera or video capture mode, so we brought it to the nearby Sprint PCS store, and also to get the latest firmware for the Samsung sph-i500 old-but-great Palm OS phone. There was no technician at the back (uh-oh), just a security guy (uh-oh!) who wouldn't talk to us and sent us to sales in front (uh-oh!!).

1. Manager Thuy Bui refuses to upgrade the firmware on the Samsung unless I pay Sprint $15, though in response to my PDAPhoneHome post some users have gotten it for free or paid and had the charge removed.

2. Thuy refuses to even look at the broken Sanyo phone. Sprint will only service your phone if you sign up for their Equipment Replacement Program, otherwise they make you contact the manufacturer for service! This despite the printed (and still online) manual for the phone specifically stating
For a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase, Sprint will, at its option, either pay the parts and labor charges to any authorized PCS® Phone service facility to repair or replace a defective product...
This is unbelievable to me, but common knowledge over at SprintUsers forum. Where's a lawyer when you need one? (In responding to my post others comment on Thuy's bad attitude.)

3. On my latest bill I see a "Handset Upgrade Fee" of $36. Apparently Sprint charges you to update their system when you buy a new phone. But the Radio Shack salesperson never said there would be a fee to use the Sanyo MM-9000, he only told us about the $75 discount for existing customers replacing a year-old phone. I called Sprint billing inquires and a very-hard-to-understand "Cathy" said this is an activation fee when you upgrade your phone, but she would take it off my bill.

Apparently there are a lot of clueless users who waste technicians' time, and there are people who abuse or deliberately break their phone to get a replacement (often cooler) model, so Sprint wants to charge for any kind of service. I do neither but I get shafted, warranty be damned.

I can't easily take my business elsewhere, people move to Sprint from Verizon and AT&T to get better customer service, like this user.

The modus operandi of many companies charging you a monthly fee (cable, cellphone, etc.) is turning into "We'll shaft you in multiple ways, hide it in the monthly billing, but then if you're willing to spend 20-50 minutes on the phone after the fact complaining, you can probably get the charges removed from your bill"

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Thursday, March 2, 2006

Snowboard: Malolo-lo-lola

Malolo 158cm snowboard, Ducati M bindings, Hail 8 boots; all BurtonAfter 21 years of renting and demoing, I now own a snowboard. I pulled the trigger on the Malolo 158. I wanted Mission bindings with the Capstrap over your toes, but Tahoe Dave's in Tahoe City had a "Ducati" model binding that's identical except bright red with dopey motorcycle logos. I didn't want the flash but it had a bigger discount. When renting I've been in Progression boots, but stepped up to the Hail with Superfeet footbeds. All on 20% sale plus I got a refund for my last demo rental, for $666 pre-tax.

The grapevine said "John" was the go-to guy for boot fitting, but "Adam Frey" did a superlative job, putting me on footbeds so I could drop a half size (custom cork to come later), showing me the lace-up sequence for best fit, adjusting the high-backs and toe straps for my forward stance, explaining all the binding adjustments, and correcting my doofus-osity. Highly recommended!

I would hate to be Burton's competitor right now; their range is so vast and generally high-quality that I didn't even bother going elsewhere for board and bindings. I did try Vans and ThirtyTwo boots but they didn't work as well for my feet.

And today's riding was just wonderful, though that was probably the deep powder snow as much as the equipment.

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