26 November 2013

My next headphones from Sol Republic

I have found my next headphones.
After many years with my old Sony headphones, it is finally time for a change. I have been looking around for a new set of cans for some time, and of course the Beats by Dre caught my eye. They are an excellent set, but I could not see myself dropping nearly $200 on a set of headphones.

After some research online, I came across Sol Republic and was impressed by the positive reviews that they received. I was especially concerned with the quality of the sound as well as the comfort of the headphones. Sol Republic seemed to be the best choice and so I set about locating them nearby because I not order headphones online or buy from a store without having had the opportunity to listen to them first. I Googled to see where Sol Republic were available near me and found them at Target. I went there and was very impressed by the sound quality but also rather frustrated at the generic tracks that were available to listen to at the display.

My next stop was Best Buy and here I was able to connect my HTC One to the headphones and listen to some music that I would actually be playing through the headphones. I find that one of the best tracks to sample both bass and treble very quickly is "The Last High" by The Dandy Warhols. After listening to this track I was sold. Now I only had to find a sale (cheap bastard here) and the Sol Republic Tracks headphones will be mine.

Lo and behold, as I was at Kohl's last night I saw the exact same Sol Republic headphones although they were not on sale. Then I remembered that I have a discount that starts   today. That sealed everything for me. After work I am going to pick up a pair of these beauties and I will let everyone know how well they hold up for me.

25 November 2013

Something to be Thankful for

As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been thinking about how things are going overall. Once again, by taking myself back 1 year and comparing the situation then to what I face now, I realize just how much progress I have made.

In the past weeks, Spartacus, one of our cats has been dealing with an ear infection. The treatment for this has been rather costly. The vet visits and exams, the associated medicines that we have to apply each day have run several hundred dollars. If this had happened to us last year, I would have faced some really difficult financial decisions about how to pay for this. There is no question that Spartacus will be taken care of. The cats are just like children in the sense that they are not something that one takes the responsibility for without incurring the expense.

Having said that, this year I was able to just pay for the expense without making any major sacrifices. While I was rather depressed about taking the money out of savings to cover the costs, I was thankful that I was able to do this without hesitation. It proves that things are still getting better. 2014 will mark a major change in my financial situation as yet another bill will finally be resolved. By the summer, I will have more disposable income available which will go into my savings.

The thought that I would have reached this point was unimaginable at this time last year, let alone in the several years preceding that. I have stuck with my Plan to get out of debt and it is working. There have been some tweaks to the plan over the years, but the basis remains the same. I am now paying part of my bills every paycheck rather than trying to pay a complete bill every two weeks. This has lessened the pressure on my bank account tremendously. It has also allowed me some flexibility in getting everything in order.

Spartacus is worth the expense, no doubt about it. It makes me feel good to know that I can handle this unexpected expense without the threat of throwing everything into chaos. I will recover my savings balance in time, and it will be there for me the next time that I have to make a decision like this.

The point is that I am doing better than I was at this time last year, and for that I am very thankful.

50 years with The Doctor

Since last Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, I thought it was about time to mention it here. I have been a fan of the show since the 1970s. Being in the USA, that meant always hoping that the local PBS affiliate would pick up the program in some way or form. Dr. Who would be shown at 11pm or midnight on either Saturday or Sunday night. The Sunday nights were the worst with school the next morning. Remember that this was in the old times before VCRs were available. There were times that the show was not on at all, and it was at then that the local sci-fi fans would unite and assist in the annual pledge drives and offer matching funds to the station on the condition that the station show Dr. Who again.

One of the facts that we face when the show was actually on was that there were so few seasons and episodes available. I had been watching for several years, seeing Tom Baker only. When an episode was finally shown with Jon Pertwee didn't know what to think! We were so naive that we had no idea about the concept of regeneration! It took forever to figure out the chronology of the series, and which Doctor came in what order. It was more than 10 years after I started watching before I had ever heard of Peter Davidson to know that he replaced Tom Baker.

I am glad that I have had the pleasure of being a Whovian. It does not define my life, but it does constitute a part of me, and for that I am grateful.

14 November 2013

Progressives vs Democrats

One of the most disappointing aspects of being a Progressive is the behavior of the Democratic Party on any given day. Whereas I want to confront injustice and RWNJ lunatic schemes, Democrats often seek to find the nearest available shelter to prevent them from taking a principled stand on anything. The ACA website issue is the latest case in point.

There are major problems with the ACA website, but nothing that is insurmountable. There are too many Democrats willing to run away from this issue, or sit by and join the RWNJ criticism rather than being constructive and passionate about the overall goal of providing health care to Americans. RWNJ obviously despise the ACA, and have publicly stated on numerous occasions that they want to revoke the law and let things go on as they have before. That is what makes them RWNJ lunatics, the resistance to change, especially to change that originates from an African-American President.

Democrats are spineless, there I said it. They are too concerned about winning elections, and raising money from Progressives without advancing any of the causes that Progressives actually want to see happen. This is one of the major problems that Democrats have, they don't stand for anything as much as they claim to be against RWNJ policies. At least they say this when they are asking for money. When the time comes to take a principled stand, Democrats are more interested in poll numbers and protecting their position than anything else. This makes Democrats just another group of politicians, and NOT Progressive warriors that we desperately need right now.

Quiet Time

A blog entry I forgot to post last night.

After a rather unspectacular day at the office, I decided after dinner that this is a good time to write. There is nothing particularly interesting going on, but perhaps that is what makes me feel like writing.

I got home late after a meeting ran well past it's allotted time this afternoon. Just another peril of working with people on the West Coast and dealing with their time zone. By the time I got home, it was already dark and I was feeling rather tired, if for no other reason than the darkness.

After dinner, I decidas not that this would be one of those "No TV" evenings for me. Since there is nothing that I have heard of that is especially newsworthy going on, I decided that it was not worth my time or effort to catch up on things for once. I believe that we all need time away from being over-stimulated by the infoporn that passes as news these days.

I am happy here without any distractions other than the cats demanding attention from time to time. It feels good to not have any noise other than the licking of the computer keyboard, and since I am in control of that, it is OK.

I believe that we all need quiet at times in our lives. Time without external stimulation and the perceived need to respond to people or things during which we can allow our minds to open up without the fear of being overwhelmed by things we cannot control. I feel so much more relaxed during times like this. It does me good to simply be quiet and focus on writing. I need to do this more often, but like so many of us, I backslide on this promise far too often.

Hal is in the other room on the phone with his sister. I envy him his close relationship with his family. I am an only child and both Mom and Dad are dead so I never have the chance to be part of any extended family. It is what it is, no amount of wishful thinking will ever change that. Perhaps that is one of the things that make me enjoy silence more than most people. Hard to say, but it does seem that way.

At any rate, I am here for the evening and will try to keep my mind occupied as best I can.

11 November 2013


There are times when I simply need music in my life. I switch on Google Play Music and access my library to just drift away. As songs drift by using random play, my mind takes me back to the places and times in my life where I first heard the song or to a point in my life when the song holds a particular relevance.
Since I have traveled the world in the Navy, I often can see places and people that I haven't thought of in years as well. I travel without leaving the apartment, and it feels so good.
Music is the greatest creation we have as a species. It is universal and appeals to everyone.

08 November 2013

A John Lennon Quote

We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight.”

This is a quote from John Lennon. It has always been one of my favorites because it gets right to the heart of the problems of the world that seem to defy resolution. We just had an election in the US that placed a Progressive view of things against a very reactionary and conservative view. Thankfully, the Progressive side came out ahead here in Virginia, but the election was still very close. I have a difficult time reconciling my beliefs with those who would keep the population held down.

The problems that we face cannot be summed up through this one quote, but I believe that there is a larger truth that is addressed in these words. The rights of a segment of the population are constantly being held hostage by the reactionary political agenda of the conservatives. The believe that the LGBT community should have no rights at all, let alone equal rights under the laws that govern our country. The constant attacks on the LGBT community are an effort to keep all of us blind to the larger truth, and that is when one of us, or a segment of the population is held down then we all suffer.

I have heard all the arguments about LGBT wanting “special rights” when in effect the opposite is the case. LGBT only want the protection and the equality that is already guaranteed to them under the law. There are no “special rights” when the law is applied evenly and fairly to us all.

The latest episode is the remarkably insane argument that granting LGBT their rights under the law somehow commits a greater crime of stifling the “religious freedom” of those who wish to continue the persecution of the LGBT community. I find it hard to believe that so many otherwise normal people would be willing to entertain this type of insanity and lend it credence. If your religion is based in hatred to that degree, then I really see no need of it at all. That is because the
same people who want to claim this privilege are the same ones that claim their religion is based on love and not hate! Nothing about this argument makes any sense whatsoever.

John Lennon speaks of having to hide to make love while violence happens all around us in broad daylight. He was, and is, absolutely right about this. What is wrong with us when this type of activity is so prevalent in our country? Even as LGBT rights are becoming more accepted and recognized, those who resist are becoming more and more desperate and more and more hateful at the same time. To cloak these feelings in the excuse of god is rather sickening. And yet, these same people are the most willing to glorify violence in the name of their religion and its purity. The rhetoric from the conservatives is offensive and harmful to everyone, but we allow it to go on regardless.

Perhaps we will reach a point in the future where these issues will have been resolved. I have my doubts that I will live to see that day because religion is a strong addiction to break. Admitting that you have been lied to and used for the benefit of others cannot be easy, but I believe that is what it will take for all of us to really be free. We can be free without god and religion, I personally do not see a way in which we can be free and still accommodate the outdated dogma of religion.

John Lennon was a truly insightful man. He was taken from us far too early. Remember that he was taken by the very violence that he talks about in his quote.