|News & Editorial Archives, 2013
Brusky Memorial Fundraiser
of the Cat Network and New Life Cat Rescue, both of West
Allis, WI, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who
donated this year to the Kittling
Memorial Fundraiser. This
has been our most successful
fundraiser yet, having brought in a total of $425.00. The funds
will be divided equally between the two shelters. This weekend, I
will have the honor of presenting both shelters with checks.
The people who
volunteer at these shelters work hard keep the cats
happy and healthy while the cats wait to be adopted, but nothing can
compare to the kind of undivided love and attention a cat receives when
it finds a permanent home. Your donations will help to make these
sheltered cats and kittens as comfortable and cozy as possible at the
shelters by providing food and supplies, or by easing the burden of
expenses, such as rent, medical care, and utility bills.
► ... and I Descended Into Computer
This article is loaded with technical jargon.]
When my home
computer, which I built in 2004, was on its last legs and
giving me up to ten Blue Screens of Death each day, I decided to
resurrect my recording studio's decommissioned computer which I built
in 2006. Since my studio's old PC was basically a clone of my
home PC (same XP Pro operating system and compatible hardware) all I
had to do was install the software I programs I use and then transfer
over my important files and documents. Although it sounds simple,
it was a time-consuming task that took two days to complete.
I believed the
problems with the first computer were caused by corrupt
operating system files, so I attempted a reinstallation of
Windows. Since my installation disc was not in perfect
condition, my gut feeling was that the reinstallation would fail,
leaving me with nothing but a case of computer parts, so I made sure
all of my files were safely backed up. Sure enough, the install
failed in such a way that I had no operating system, nor was I able to
access the BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM. The PC was dead in the
I bought a new,
sealed copy of Windows XP Pro (SP3) on eBay for $85
figuring a fresh install would solve the problem. I took the hard
drive out of the non-working PC, put it in my working PC, formatted
it,, put it back into the non-working PC and fired up the
computer. No video was coming from the integrated graphics on the
motherboard. Assuming the BIOS settings might still have been
sending video to the PCI slot where the graphics card used to be, I
reset the CMOS, twice, but still no video. The motherboard was
So here I was
with a non-working computer, but a reliable Western
Digital Raptor 10,000RPM hard drive and a new copy of Windows XP
Pro. I wasn't about to let them go to waste. Since the XP
Pro in my working machine had a few minor problems (mainly not allowing
me to update so that I could run the latest versions of programs) I put
the Raptor in my working PC, formatted the drive, took the rest of the
hard drives out, then installed XP Pro.
system installed and activated just fine, but that's when
the nightmares began.
The first thing I
wanted to do was update Windows, but the update
screen would hang, and hang, and hang. Since Windows updates
required Microsoft Internet Explorer, I assumed my MSIE was
outdated. As I attempted to install a newer version of MSIE, the
installation screen would halt and state that I'd first need to install
the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. (Well duh... I'd probably have
that if the Windows Updater worked!) Windows directed me to the
Microsoft site to get the Framework update, but the download button was
.NET Framework 2.0 on c|net's
Download.Com site. I downloaded it, installed it, and then I was
able to install the latest MSIE, but I still couldn't get any Windows
I searched online
for help, and that's where read about re-registering
specific DLL files. So I went to my command prompt and
re-registered about a dozen DLL files, but that didn't help. Then
I read about this process of stopping background processes, deleting
files in a specific directory, restarting processes, and
rebooting. Eventually, the updates started to download.
Then the second
set of nightmares set in.
Both of my
printers and scanner installed just fine, but Windows could
not see my graphics or video card. I installed the drivers, but
Windows still wouldn't see the cards. I spent hours
searching for the latest drivers, installing, reinstalling, rebooting,
and pulling my hair out. Windows just refused to see the
cards. So I decided to leave those things alone for a while and
put up with no sound and horrid 1024x768 resolution on a 24" LCD
monitor, all the while muttering expletives at Service Pack 3.
Since the updater
was now working, I checked to see how many optional
updates I had to download. Well, in their own little tab under
optional hardware updates were files that Windows through I could
"probably use." One was a driver for my ATI x300se video
card. DOH! I installed it, rebooted, and instantly basked
in the light of a monitor displaying its glorious, native resolution of
By this time, it
was three in the morning. I left the sound card
for the next day. But, for whatever reason, the next day, the
sound card drivers installed on the first try! I had sound!
All that was left
the installation of the programs and transferring of
files (web pages, documents, photos, graphics, user profiles,
bookmarks, mail, databases, etc.) which went pretty much without
a hitch. I had to download an older Microsoft .NET 1.1 Framework
to install Microsoft Publisher, but that was the only snag.
The process of getting everything set up with my software programs took
several hours to accomplish, but the work is done. I have
ascended from Computer Hell rattled, but relatively unscathed.
► Goodbye To the Gargantuan Lyrics
day while on a gig, I was flipping through my enormous binder
of lyrics, grumbling at how the sheet protectors were falling apart as
well as falling out, one by one. Large binders have served me
many years, but they're extremely clunky to use, not to mention bulky
and heavy. Many musicians have moved their lyrics libraries from
paper to the digital realm. iPads are especially
popular with musicians, since there are so many apps available for
managing lyrics, chord charts, and more. I've seen iPads
being used on stage, but for me, they're a little too obtrusive.
screen is considerably smaller than a sheet of paper, so musicians
typically mount their iPads to their mic stands, quite close to their
The other day, I
picked up an Asus tablet — not a mobile device that
runs on apps, but a full-featured PC running Windows 7
Professional. It has a 12.1" screen, which is only about a 1/2"
shorter in height than a standard sheet of paper.
I am now in the
process of converting all of my lyrics to PDF
files. I found a PDF
viewer online that uses very few resources and opens files fast.
To view lyrics, I simply use the standard File Explorer program that
comes with Windows. One the left side of the screen, I expand my
Documents folder to reveal the lyrics categories I've set up in
subfolders, such as Polkas, Waltzes, Holiday, etc. When I select
a category, all of the songs in the category are then listed on the
right side of the screen. I click on a song title, and the lyrics
for that song pop up on the screen. When the song is over, I
close the lyrics window and then I'm back at the File Explorer screen,
ready to select another song or category.
► I'm Now a
Two-Fisted Mobile Phone User
been a cell phone user for fifteen years now, and have been with
T-Mobile for the past five. I am
grandfathered into a plan T-Mobile no longer offers which gives me
texting for $15/month. Voice minutes are 10¢ per minute
additional. I've never used very many voice minutes on my cell
phone, but now that I've dropped my AT&T land line, my voice
minutes have been adding up. If I'd use my mobile phone for 300
a month, I'd be looking at $45 in monthly charges.
$45/month is not
a lot compared to what some of you probably pay for
your mobile service, but I'm rather frugal. I wanted a less
expensive plan, and less expensive plans are available. But there
was a problem I needed to circumvent...
I have a Samsung
smartphone that I use with T-Mobile. It's
fantastic for texting and data, but the voice quality is sub-par.
Smartphones, in general, are not designed with voice quality in mind,
because most people use their smartphones for texting and apps.
That wasn't the case a few years ago, though. I have an older
Motorola Razr V3 flip phone, which is a phone that was built to have
loud and relatively clear voice quality. I thought to myself, if
I'm going to be using a mobile phone for voice calls from here on out,
then I'm going to want to use that old Motorola. But flip phones
are too clunky and
slow for texting, and not set up for data. It was then I decided
to search for an economical voice plan so that I could make use of my
Motorola for voice calls while I keep using my Samsung smartphone for
shopping around, I found PureTalk USA. They have a flex
plan that gives me 330 voice minutes for $20. So now I have
unlimited texting and all the voice minutes I'll likely
ever need for just $35/month. On the downside, I have to carry
two phones with me. But the advantages are unique: if I lose
either of my phones, I still have the other. Most importantly,
though, is that I get to enjoy the
individual qualities of each of my phones.
Projection, the Defense
Mechanism of the Modern World
projection is a defense mechanism in which a person with
undesirable personality traits accuses other people of
possessing the same traits, even when they don't. For example,
someone who is rude might
insist the kind and understanding people around him are the ones being
dealing with people like this more and more lately, because the
internet seems to be bringing them out of the woodwork. I recently had to deal with one
such person who disagreed with a
product review I wrote on Amazon.com.
I am a highly-ranked Amazon reviewer. If you were to list all of
reviewers from bottom to top on a meter stick, my ranking would sit at
the 999.85 millimeter mark. It's not that I write a
lot of reviews, but rather I take to write them well, and consumers
been finding them helpful. One of my product reviews on Amazon is
for a software library of
musical instrument samples. It is not a high-end library, so my
review points out the flaws as well as the good and exceptional
points. I rated the product three stars.
The other day, I received a comment on my review from someone who could
not simply disagree with my review, but went so far as to chastise my
opinion, challenge my credentials, and personally lambaste me. My
reply to this person was calm and professional. I established
my credibility as a professional musician and went on to state that
after working with the product extensively, I formulated an honest
review of the product and stand behind the review 100%. I did not
condemn this person in any way, but rather I reminded him that it's not
proper conduct to personally attack a reviewer just because you
with his review, since reviews are purely subjective. I let him
know that even though I don't agree with
how he feels about the product, I will still respect his opinion.
It didn't go over so well.
I've learned that if there's one thing psychological projectors hate
most, it's unassuming people with thick skin. The nicer you are
the more hostile they become toward you. His second commentary
more harsh, but my second reply was just as diplomatic as my
When this person
realized he wasn't going to break my professionalism, his anger got the
best of him. In virtually every sentence he wrote in
in his third response, he painted me to look like the worst kind of
human being on earth. Suddenly I was hateful, pompous, immature,
unprofessional, arrogant, condescending, spiteful, etc. His
comments became so abusive, Amazon actually intervened and deleted some
This person then attempted to go on a negative vote campaign, marking
all of my product reviews as unhelpful, which Amazon promptly
prohibited him from doing.
Out of curiosity, I looked at his own product reviews and saw that he
has quite a history of being
unable to accept and respect opinions contrary to his own. Quite
a few Amazon users have left negative commentary on his reviews,
pointing out that he should try to be more receptive to other people's
I've dealt with psychological projection most extensively as a public
figure, and it's always been internet-based – never in person.
in my experience, I've learned that when someone who doesn't know you
chooses to despise you and accuse you of being the exact opposite of
are, there is virtually nothing you can do or say to change their
minds. Trying to
reason with a psychological projector is futile, because the more calm
and sensible you are,
the more irrational they become. The person
who lambasted me on Amazon would make a condescending, spiteful remark,
and literally in the next sentence, accuse me of being condescending
and spiteful. He cited his credentials as a musician and
intimated that I was not as qualified as him to review the product on
Amazon. When I cited my credentials to satisfy his curiosity, he
then berated me for being so pompous and arrogant as to cite my
credentials. It was at this point I knew he was beyond reasoning
to shrug off derogatory remarks is a benefit that comes with being
confident in oneself. And
it's especially good to have a thick skin these days, because many
much differently from behind the
screen of internet anonymity than they do in person. In the real
people tend to follow behavioral norms. But, on the internet,
have deeply-rooted feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem often
allow those feelings to surface and dictate what they write. [See
the definition of troll.]
If they read anything they perceive as a threat to their ego, they
will respond with antagonism, and psychological projection is often the
defense mechanism of choice.
If you find
with someone who is verbally attacking your reputation, remain calm and
respectful, and let the
accusations bounce off. The attacker will become
incensed by your professional demeanor and unleash a volley of
increasingly hostile remarks in an attempt to bring you down to his
level. It is extremely important that you remain diplomatic,
collected, and kind toward the attacker. Eventually he will
realize he cannot break you, and he'll give up the
fight. His defense mechanism will have
backfired, leaving him feeling ten times worse than when he first
My win on
Thursday sealed my fate as our tennis league's #1 singles
the 2013 season. I apologize if that sounds like bragging, but
I'm especially proud of the accomplishment because
this time last year, coming out on top wasn't even a distant thought.
At the urging of
my friend Nancy, I joined the league in 2011. It
was only my first year playing
tennis, and suffice it to say, I got demolished left and right. I
was also 225 pounds, and moving all that weight around on my 6' 3"
frame was shredding my
knees. Toward the end of the season, I managed to eke some wins
out over some of the moderate players, but I had a long way to
Too much pizza
and chocolate milk over the winter months packed another
ten pounds on me. Determined to lose the weight for the 2012
I heeded some healthy eating advice from Nancy and completely
changed my diet and eating habits. I continually lost weight
throughout the spring and summer [and biking over 800 miles certainly
didn't hurt] and, although my tennis game improved due to
markedly increased speed and agility, I was still only winning about
half of my
matches. I met a handful of other tennis players that year, and
discovered how playing
different people can significantly improve one's game.
By the end
of the 2012 league season, what I thought would have been a loss of
around fifteen pounds turned out to be a loss of over fifty. I
had become a lean, mean, calorie-burning machine.
I kept all the
weight off over the following winter, and returned to
the tennis courts in 2013 with determination to play harder and
faster. I had my sights set on being one of the top players in
our league, but had no idea how the season would pan out. My
first singles match of the year
was a loss, but then I started winning. And I kept winning.
By mid June, my record (both inside and outside the league) was
As of this
article's publication time, my singles record is standing at
36-11 (13-1 inside the league, 23-10 outside). Though the league
season is drawing to a close, and while I'm happy to have come out at
#1, the competition is by no means over. The top players in our
league are tough to beat. Any one of them could defeat me at any
time. This just happened to be my year, that's all.
tennis leagues have invited me to join them, I have no
intention of leaving the league I'm currently in. Our league is
made up of the nicest people with whom you'd ever want to play
tennis. There are no rivalries or egos. There is only
friendly competition. We serve up just as many compliments and
wisecracks to our opponents as balls.
There are still
two to three months of tennis to play yet before the
snow flies, and I'm looking forward to every minute on the courts.
► Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame Awards
a member of the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame, you received
(and hopefully mailed back) your nomination forms a couple of weeks
ago. How much time did you put into your nominations? Every
year, I take the time to put careful thought into whom I
nominate. When it comes to bandleader/musician categories, my
criteria for worthy candidates is rather
simple: a postitive attitude. I place a positive
attitude above one's musical ability.
We all know
highly-talented, popular musicians, and we could award them
year after year. They would be deserved awards, but in my
opinion, notariety and talent are not enough. I've worked with
many musicians over the years, and have found that some of the most
talented musicians can be ones whose attitudes are anything but
deserving of recognition.
If you're a
sideman, you will never get my nomination or vote if you...
bandleader, you will never get my nomination or vote if you...
- Are incessantly
late to your jobs
- Bitch and moan
about having to travel a few hours out of town now and then
- Take weddings
and private parties without hesitation, but tend to turn down
lower-paying club jobs
- Back out of
jobs, especially at the last minute
- Bring a
lackluster attitude onto the stage, night after night
Fortunately, I also
know a lot of musicians who are nothing like what I described
above. They may not be as well-rounded or versatile when it
comes to their musical abilities, but they are always pleasant to have
on stage, eager to play whatever jobs you offer them, and reliable as
itself. Those are the musicians who get my nominations every
year. In my opinion, they are what define being a winner.
- Have been known to
undercut or use dishonorable tactics to take jobs away from other bands
- Pay your sidemen
less for the same jobs than what other comparable bands pay
- Disregard people's
requests to learn and play their favorite songs
► Maintaining a
dieters would have gained most of their weight back and even
added a few more pounds, I've managed to keep 100% of my weight
off. What is my secret? It's eating healthy, eating less,
and getting exercise. It's really no secret at all.
When I first
started my diet in March of 2012, I completely
changed what and how I ate. It's those changes to my diet
that I still maintain to this day, and that is how I've been able to
keep the weight off. I'm not obsessively strict when it comes to
my dieting (if I find spaghetti in my mom's refrigerator, I will not
resist) but the major changes I made to my diet are now part of my
Below are some of
the food choices that are part of my diet.
I just don't
go to McDonald's, Burger
King, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, etc. anymore. I literally have not
anything from those restaurants since I bought a salad at a Canadian
in April of 2012. I know it wouldn't hurt to go once in a while,
sometimes I do go to Culvers or KFC for grilled chicken, or Taco Bell
for a Fresco burrito, but as long as
I have the willpower to avoid fast food, I'll continue to exercise
To satisfy hunger after an out-of-town gig, I'll often pack sandwich --
ham or turkey on whole grain bread, no mayo. If I'm running short
time, I'll grab a protein shake and a couple mixed berry Nutri-Grain
I cut almost
all red meat out of my
diet, which is not easy for a burger and brat guy to do. But I
that I can satisfy my processed meat cravings by eating turkey sausages
on whole grain bread. Each one is about 250 calories with a
helping of ketchup, and contains half the fat and no processed flour.
Oceanspray makes both a Diet Cranberry Juice and a Light-50
Cranberry-Grape Juice. The Light-50, which contains half the
calories, tastes just as rich as full-calorie juice. The Diet
tastes, well, diet, and is barely acceptable on its own. But mix
the two together, and you get a great-tasting juice with approximately
75% less calories. Likewise, Mott's makes a light apple juice
that tastes just as good as regular jiuce. Mix it with diet apple
juice for the same effect.
Below are foods I often eat. While none taste quite as good as
their full-calorie counterparts, you can get used to them.
While dieting alone
is a great way to lose weight, exercise plays an important role.
Bicycling and tennis have turned my body into an efficient
calorie-burning machine. I literally have to eat more food during
the summer because I burn thousands of calories every week.
- Bread: Always
100% whole grain.
Reduced-fat (45-50 calories per slice).
- Crackers for
the cheese: Whole Grain Ritz.
Popcorn: Many are offered in a low-fat, light butter version.
- Orange Juice:
Both Minute Maid and Tropicana offer a "50" version with half the
calories and sugar.
- Other juice:
Minute Maid Pink Lemonade Light – very refreshing and only 15
- Potato chips:
Special K – 110 calories per 27 chips.
Grapes, oranges, etc. Natural sugars digest more slowly than
I know a lot of
people exercise, but it's my opinion that too many
people who want to lose weight don't exercise hard enough. Do you
walk or do you run? Do you bike at a leisurely pace of 10 MPH or
do you push it to 13 or 14? Do you let the tennis ball go by or
do you sprint toward it? Exercising for weight loss is more
than just being outdoors and moving around. It's about physical
exertion to the point of exhaustion.
When I play
tennis on a 95-degree day, I push my body until I get the
chills – the first sign of heat exhaustion. I literally sweat out
five or six pounds or more. When I bike, I average a pace of
15-16.5 MPH for the first ten miles, and that's on a hybrid bike
wearing normal street clothes.
There are no
secrets to losing weight and keeping it off. It just
takes common sense and willpower.
► Kids Will Say Anything –
played for an afternoon dance at a local establishment. It was a
typical gig. I've played it many times before. I offered up
my usual repertoire of foxtrots, waltzes, Latin, and polkas. What
was not typical about this afternoon, however, is practically
everything I played happened to offend someone there in one way or
Patron: "Can you play a
waltz without a polka beat?!?"
Me: "Um, I'm not sure
what you mean. I play all my waltzes in 3/4 time. Polkas
are in 2/4 time."
Patron: "Yeah, but play
them without a polka beat!" :::grumble grumble grumble:::
I gathered that what he was probably wanting to hear was waltzes in the
style of the 101 Strings Orchestra. Well, there's only
so much you can do with an acoustic accordion and a drummer, but we
made the effort and played a slower, melodic waltz, The Poet and I, in 6/8 time. No
sooner did we finish when a different patron came up to the stage.
Patron: "That's waltz
you played was soooo slow!"
Me: "I know. It
was supposed to be. I announced that I was going to play a
Patron: "But it was TOO
slow! I can't dance to that!"
The entire afternoon went on this way. One person didn't like
that I creatively made a rhumba out of a country song, another person
didn't like the lower key in which I sang a waltz, one person didn't
care for me putting two different polkas together in a medley.
etc. Even though our music pleased the patrons in general as it
always does, anyone who didn't like something we played that afternoon
felt an obligation to make their opinion known. It
made for a rather frustrating day.
It's one thing to come up to the stage to chat, request
a song, or ask that the volume be adjusted. Everyone is more than
welcome to do that. But to dictate
what or how a band should play is
And I've found that I am not alone in this dilemma. Fellow
expressing the same concerns that some of the older patrons are
becoming increasingly demanding and unabashedly opinionated about the
music we play.
There's nothing wrong with being particular, but there is a time and
place to voice one's opinions. Imagine if, after playing a song,
member of the band stepped down from the stage, walked over to a
dancer, and started berating them for dancing incorrectly! If
a dancer has a complaint about the
band's music, they should not berate the band. They should talk
to the person who hired the band.
Arrogant, Troublesome & Tactless
ago, I returned home from jury duty to find that I had no internet
connection or phone service. As it turns out, my neighbor had
AT&T come out to install U-Verse that day. They worked on the
box that also services my residence. In the process of the
installation, AT&T service to my residence was inadvertently
I called AT&T's repair service to let them know about the
situation. I asked them to send someone right out to restore my
service, since I rely daily on my phone and internet connection for
business purposes. AT&T replied that it would be at least two
days before they could send someone out, and that I could be charged
for the repairs. I requested that the technician who was working
on the lines that day simply be re-dispatched to fix whatever it was
they accidentally broke, and asserted that I would not pay for the
repairs. AT&T claimed they could not comply with my request.
Taken aback by AT&T's blatant and willful negligence, I decided to
cut all ties with AT&T and cancel my services.
The next day I called AT&T to close my account, and was shuffled
through a maze of menus and customer service agents. The agents I
spoke with assured me I would not be charged for repair service, yet no
one was willing to dispatch a technician to my house that day either,
which is what I needed more than anything. Feeling that account
cancellation was still my best option, my call was eventually escalated
to a customer retention specialist.
This specialist must not have read the AT&T handbook before
starting her job, because she said all of the wrong things. She
claimed that it could have been mere coincidence that after thirteen
years of reliable service, my AT&T line was suddenly and
mysteriously disconnected outside my residence on the same day AT&T
was there working on the very box that services my house.
Needless to say, I am no longer an AT&T customer. I will
never again purchase an AT&T product or service. I wrote a
letter to Randall Stephenson, Chairman and CEO of AT&T, to apprise
him of his company's negligence, and I will also do what I can to
inform the public about the kind of service even the most loyal of
customers can expect from AT&T.
Please delete email@example.com from your address book, as it is no
longer a valid address. I may still be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Those of you who knew my home phone number,
please delete it from your directory. The general public may
continue reach me via my business line voicemail at (414)
546-3650. Friends, family, and close acquaintances who have my
mobile phone number should contact me there.
► The Audio Mix - What's Good For the Goose
Is Not Always Good For the Guitarist
studio, mixing means taking
all of the individually recorded parts of a song (the instruments and
vocals) and blending them all together. The goal of creating a
good mix is to make the music sound most pleasing to the general public
– not the drummer, not the guitar player, not the sax player, but
rather the people who will be buying the CD and hearing the music on
the radio. This is very important to mention, because sometimes
the musicians in the band will hear the final mix of their album and
not always agree with what they hear.
Creating a good mix is not about featuring every instrument in the band
throughout each, entire song. This is a common mistake made by
inexperienced audio engineers, and the result is a very cluttered,
busy-sounding recording. Rather, a good audio mix is like a
show in which you have one or two lead actors and everyone else is a
supporting actor. In an audio mix, the melody instruments and
vocals are usually your lead actors. Everything else – rhythm,
counter melodies, harmonies, arpeggios, fills, pads, etc. – are
supporting actors. They are not intended to share the limelight.
To achieve a good mix is an art that takes years to develop.
Among other things, an engineer must know...
In a good
mix, there can't be too much bass or treble, there can't be too much or
too little reverb, dynamics must be tastefully contained, the lyrics
must be understandable, but most importantly, the instruments must be
balanced to support the melody in a way that the general public is
acclimated to hearing. To achieve this quality – and this is very
important – the engineer must approach the mix from a completely
- ...how the
frequency ranges of specific instruments and vocals will "sit" in a mix
relative to their apparent volumes
- ...how to use
equalization and dynamics processing to help define or blend
instruments and vocals.
- ...how to
design a stereo landscape so that the recording sounds spacious, yet
effects, such as reverbs and delays, can work both with and against
- ...how to
manipulate the recorded instruments at different times to create
contrast which combats ear fatigue
What exactly is a neutral perspective? It's how the general
public hears music. When people listen to music on their iPod or
over the radio, don't
focus on everything going on in the background. They hear the
song as a whole. They
mainly follow the melody and
feel the beat.
Musicians, on the other hand, listen to music a little differently,
especially when it comes to mixes of
their own music. Instead of listening to their song as a
whole, musicians instinctively anticipate and tune into specific parts
the song (often their own parts) and then over-focus on those
They begin overanalyzing the volume of those parts.
Oftentimes they will become so
critical of their performance that they'll begin hearing, and
they need to fix, problems that don't actually exist.
The art of mixing is literally more about what not to feature than what to
feature. A good mix usually means pushing select recorded parts
into the background, and using them to fill out the body of the music
and help build a stereo landscape, and nothing more. The
instruments are still there, but they are not going to stand out.
Instead, they play a vital role in providing a foundation on which the
Listening to music from a neutral, fresh perspective is a skill that
experienced audio engineers can employ. More than anything, it's
that skill that creates good mixes.
I'm Not Coming Back To
As much as
appreciate the concern of friends who have asked me to come back to
Facebook, I have no plans to do so anytime soon.
It's now been
1½ years since I quit Facebook, and I have
found the tranquility very enjoyable. I still keep in contact
with friends via email and the phone, and I've grown to prefer it that
way, because when a friend contacts me, they have something specific to
with me -- not something
frivolous to share with the entire world.
best part of living without Facebook is living in blissful ignorance of
worries and troubles. That may sound cold, but isn't it simply
the way things were before Facebook? I remember reading far too
status updates about people being hospitalized, laid off, and
especially separated or divorced. Now I have no idea what's going
on in most people's lives, and that allows me to focus more clearly on
my own life.
The only problem
I've run into is when friends solely use Facebook to
dispense important information, such as when someone dies, and the
information never leaves the confines of Facebook. I've
missed funerals and other events as a result. I do not
feel guilty, though, since I can't attend an event I know
nothing about. I have also deduced that some friends must be
using Facebook as their only means of communication now, since they've
completely abandoned email.
The main reason I
don't use Facebook is because of their nefarious
model. Facebook is a data mining service first, and a social
networking service second. Once they discovered they could make
billions of dollars by harvesting and selling your socialgraphic
information, every minute change to their interface has revolved around
nothing but maximizing profit. Facebook uses deceitful tactics
such as making it seem like you have more privacy that you actually
have so that they can grab more information from you, and purposely
making their interface more convoluted than it needs to be to increase
your exposure to advertising. Facebook banks on the
people are far too trusting when it comes to dispensing personal
information. And Facebook also banks on the fact that people are
so addicted to social networking, Facebook can freely tinker with the
safety and reliability of their service and nobody will leave it.
Well... except me.
Hardware, Family Video, Pet World Warehouse, and Sports Authority have
in common? It's
the unmistakably lackluster, forced greeting you receive every time
you walk in the door.
No matter how
a sales associate tries to fake sincerity,
customer greetings always carry undertones of embarrassment. When
you walk into the store, the sales associate closest to the door (even
if they're fifty feet away) will look up just long enough to blurt out
an annoyingly insincere acknowledgment. Their voice says "Hello",
but the tone in their voice says "I
can't believe they're making me say this!"
people working in stores and restaurants are not there because they
like helping people -- they're there because they need
jobs. We all know that. So why try to force them to
who they aren't? Very few people have natural customer service
skills, but stores that
want to come across as genuinely friendly can only do so by finding and
hiring the people
who have those skills.
noticed my website appears to be a
little wider, and the text is larger. Since I began designing
websites in the 1990's, I've always designed them so that they would
format well on older, low-resolution monitors. If a web page is
not formatted for an older monitor, then people using older monitors
will have to keep scrolling from side to side to read all of the
content on the page. But content formatted for older monitors
will appear to be very small on the newest, high resolution monitors.
In the 1990's,
people were using monitors that displayed a
resolution of 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels high. In the early
2000's, a lot of people were using monitors with a resolution of
1024x768 pixels. But monitor resolutions have continued to
increase virtually year after year. In fact the monitors I just
installed in my recording studio run at a native resolution of
1920x1080. Many websites, when viewed on a monitor of that high
a resolution, are annoyingly small. The reason is because the
higher a monitor's resolution, the more content the monitor displays,
content appears smaller.
This website is
for old monitors, which means that its pages will look "full-size" on
old monitors. On a very old monitor, the pages are too big for
the screen, and reading them requires constantly scrolling the pages
from side to side. On a newer, high-resolution monitors, the web
pages appear relatively small.
Some people are
still using old monitors, so I don't want to create web
pages that extend off of those people's screens. Yet, I don't
want to create web pages that are too small to be read on today's
high-resolution monitors. My
latest website redesign
meets the two concepts in the middle by adding just 200 pixels to the
width of my web pages and bumping up the text size. This will
keep the pages formatted for older monitors, but the larger text size
will make the content more readable on newer monitors.
of my websites, for the time being, will continue
to be formatted for a minimum width of 300 pixels, since that is the
resolution of many smaller mobile phone screens. But my mobile
pages also automatically reformat to fit larger screens depending on
whether a viewer is holding his smartphone vertically or horizontally.
By the way, if
you're using a really old monitor, it's long past time
to buy a new one. Hardly anything on the internet is formatted
for 800x600 monitors these days.
TIP: If you're
looking at a web page and find the text to be too small
to read, hold down the Control (Ctrl) key and press the plus (+) key on
your keyboard to enlarge all of the content on the page.
► The Two
Cats Are a Match Made In Heaven,
on December 24th, I stated that
Snickers and Arthur did not yet meet. No one knew whether or not
the two cats would get along. The following day, Christmas Day,
they met for the first time.
day went better than expected. There was very little hissing or
batting. Within two days, they learned to tolerate each other's
presence. Within three days, Arthur attempted to play with
Snickers, but Snickers was still uneasy. Within five days,
however, they were playing with each other.
on the role of the older, protective brother with
ease. He has taught Arthur things like when to meow for treats,
and where to jump onto the kitchen counter. Arthur keeps Snickers
active by instigating rigorous chasing and tumbling play sessions.
The fact that I
unexpectedly adopted both cats on December 20th,
Kittling's birthday, is no coincidence. Kittling (my first cat,
1992-2009, affectionately known as Kitty) put on her angel wings and
led Snickers to Prairie Lanes in Markesan where she knew I'd be on
December 20th, 2009. Snickers was cared for by Clyde and Darlene
Olson before I took him home.
Kittling knew I
been thinking about getting a playmate for
Snickers, but that I was also worried about how a new cat would fit
into the home. What would happen if I adopted a cat that didn't
like Snickers, or the other way around? So Kittling came down
from heaven once again and did the work for me. She found Arthur,
the perfect companion for Snickers. She led Arthur to the home of
a friend who knew I liked cats and would call me to help the cat find a
home. Agatha Ulrich and Kathy McGarry took care of Arthur before
I picked him up the next day, December 20th, 2012, and adopted him into
It's been exactly
one month to the day Arthur was introduced to
Snickers, and I'm happy to report that they are the best of
friends. I'd even go so far as to say