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March 21, 2005


A couple of words of warning about the home theater. Carefully plan where the components are going to sit: don't make the mistake I did & place a disc changer with its tray above eye level! (believe me, it is much easier when you can actually LOOK at what your're insewrting) Actually, the mistake was in not watching the professionals I had hired to do the installation: by the time the install was done, it was too late to move the components. Also: if you are planning the HT to be a semi-permanent fixture, use conduit to hide as much of the cord-tangle if you can (and those little colored tabs can help with ID'ing cables, too). Good luck.

Thanks for the tips, Jay. I'd already decided to put the DVD changer below the television for the reasons you're giving, but the HT receiver can go above eye-level. Actually I was toying with putting it in a closet somewhere and just operating it using those remote transcievers that you can mount in the wall and paste the re-transmitting LEDs over the IR window for each piece of electronics. But we're even more sadly wanting for closet space than most homes, so I would've had to put it in the attic.

What sort of conduit did you have in mind? I had a few different ideas on this: first, to put wallplates where I needed them. Second, to just saw some PVC pipe lengthwise, then texture and paint it so that it's nearly invisible. I've seen the cable wraps, which are nice but aren't the level of invisibility that I'm after.

Slarti: One brief quibble about MRIs versus CTs: The one thing that CTs are better at than MRIs is differentiating liquid versus solid. For example, CT scans are the method of choice for evaluating whether someone has bleeding in the brain or not. MRIs, while more sensitive for most indications, aren't as good for this. Other tests that might be of academic interest include an MRI, functional MRI, PET scan, or simply an EEG. (Why is no one discussing EEGs? They're cheap, easy, give results pretaining to function, and can be done at the bedside. Getting a bedbound person into an MRI isn't the easiest thing in the world to do and isn't necessarily risk free either. Has Schavio had an EEG?) But none of these tests are needed to show that much of Schiavo's cortex is gone and that it is likely that that which remains is non-functional, likely to be made up more of glial cells and scar tissue than neurons. The CT very clearly demonstrates that.

On things kids say:

My 2 year old has recently started to ask to be kissed if she hurts herself, rather than running crying to us. For example, she will come running and say "Mommy, kiss my knee" if she falls down or "Daddy, kiss my finger" if she bangs it on a toy. So about a month ago, we were at a restaurant when she turned to me and said "Daddy, kiss my tongue" and stuck it out. I assume she bit it, but we were very lucky no one from Youth Protection was there.

my guys used a rectangular-section flat (plastic) counduit to shroud some visible cables (speakers, mostly): if you have a molding/baseboard to abut them to, they have a lower profile than a (presumably half-round) pipe like you described, and might be lower-visibility.
Also: if you are into re-transmitting stuff, think about hiding your components behind a door, and use an IR "eye" for the master remote (so you need only 1 "eye" and 1 remote").
Oh, and a DVD changer (with presumably, a single tray) is usually not a "height" issue: my problem was with a 5-disc-tray CD player, which now requires a stepladder (or really steady hands) to load.


Re: Schiavo, I just scanned through about half of the Guardian Ad Litem report, and it's pretty much completely at odds with what the "save Terry" people are saying. It's pretty compelling. You may be right about CT vs MRI, I have no idea. My point was simply that the comparison of scans was poorly done. There are a great many normal CT scans available online; any of those would have been a better pick than the unfocused-looking one they did pick.

Also: if you are into re-transmitting stuff, think about hiding your components behind a door, and use an IR "eye" for the master remote (so you need only 1 "eye" and 1 remote").

I did go over that, didn't I? Yes, I could do that. My younger brother's HT system has his entire electronics rack-mounted and wedged into a utility room in his basement. I simply have nowhere convenient to put it. My older brother has to-die-for stuff, all of it hidden and remoted as you described. He could actually do the whole schmeer for me except he lives a long, LONG way away. I could put a door in front of the receiver, but that'd mean making a door and something to hinge it to, which would be a bit of a chore. Doable, but a chore. In case you're wondering why we didn't have trained professionals do this, we've got quotes by two different ones, neither of which will deign to do the actual work. Everything related to construction is insanely busy these days.

I'm still lobbying for space to put the turntable. One can always hope.

"Word to the wise: when your (nearly) four-year-old daughter calls you a "buttock" (guilty, but beside the point), admonishment is somewhat diminished in effectiveness when preceded by uncontrollable laughter."

I'll have to remember that when mine gets to that age. Currently she's (nearly) two and has some...unusual vocabulary. Or maybe not. Are most kids able to distinguish between wheeled and track excavators by the time they're 21 months old? Maybe we shouldn't have exposed her to the truck board book at such a young age.

I see your point about the normal CT. I'm afraid I'd barely looked at the normal before, having been blown away by the patient's.

The "Heh" comment was for Dantheman's post on his kids, not for anything Schiavo-related.

Terri Schiavo has had at least one EEG ( I know since I saw a lawyer holding it up.) It found no noticeable brain activity.

slarti -
What is your single most prized piece of vinyl? C'mon, it's an open thread, you know you want to geek out about it just a little bit. My top two are bee-yoo-tee-ful copy of the original Riverside pressing of Monk's Music, and a very nice copy of Country Preacher by Cannonball Adderley. Oh, and My Aim Is True. Oh, and.....

Corrected link: My Aim Is True.

I love my record collection. Some things, like the Lincoln Center Chamber recording of the Moszcowski Suite for Two Violins don't exist on CD, while others do -- but just aren't the same.

Case in point: my favorite album, "Ella and Louis." Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, the Oscar Peterson trio (Herb Ellis, Ray Brown) and Buddy Rich on drums. Some of the best songs ever written. I have it on CD - in fact, I even have a backup copy :-) but the vinyl sounds different, and it is of the period. Love it.

Hmmm...I'd have to say, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Japanese pressing. Or maybe it's the English pressing of DSOTM. Or maybe it's the Smithsonian's Six Partitas for Solo Harpsichord. Or Ry Cooder's Bop Til You Drop.

There's a lot there, but it's really more of an assortment than a collection. And somehow I've lost some of it (probably the divorce, in which we were supposed to keep what was ours), notably The Fixx's Reach The Beach and Shuttered Room. Oh, why couldn't she have taken the Kajagoogoo album? For pure fun, there's The Romantics (self-titled) and Split Enz's True Colours. For utter cheese, there's The Kings (Are Here).

Most listened-to? Friday Night In San Francisco, which is one of the best live performance recordings I've ever heard. And with DiMeola, McLaughlin and DeLucia on one stage, it's a bit magical.

For those of you who prize older Genesis, I've got Japanese pressings of three other albums: Selling England By The Pound, and Trick of the Tail and one other (can't recall if it's Foxtrot or Nursery Cryme).

Oooh, favorite vinyl. Can I play?

I've got some random old Audiophile Records 12 inch 45 that I don't even have the appropriate cartridge to play. I think that it's some old-fashioned Dixieland. But it's a gorgeous, thick slab of translucent, ruby-red vinyl with flat milled edges. (You sometimes see these records on the platter in turntable ads.)

For stuff that I actually listen to - David Bromberg's How Late'll Ya Play 'Til is a sonic favorite with music that I actually like. Little Feat's Waiting For Columbus is a great sounding live recording, plus there's the Neon Park album art that the little CD fillers just can't match.

For stuff to show off the stereo with, there's a Water Lily recording of Hamza el Din called Lily Of The Nile that's jaw-droppingly beautiful. It's recorded using a coincident-pair mic technique (Blumlein) that produces true stereo sound with a depth of field that is scary. The Wilson Audio remaster of Rhythm Devils Play River Music (incidental music from Apocalypse Now) is a real freak show, but I also kinda like the music.

I must be old. No love for 45's ?
You're right Slart, was just listening to Race with the Devil the other day, very clean.

Little Feat's Waiting For Columbus is a great sounding live recording

Agreed. One of my favorite song lines of all time is this:

Some kind of man, he can't do anything wrong;
if I see him I'll tell him you're waiting.

Mercenary Territory has got to be a shoo-in for the audio-track to a future Wiki entry on "embouchure". My dad still doesn't believe it can be done, despite the evidence.

As for the rest, well, this guy said it better:

Read Horswispr's review for some lyrical insight. I'm going to just provide some more musical points.

Lowell George was probably the best slide player of the era. Did I forget Duane Allman? No. Lowell was better. And the guy wrote a little of everything very, very well. A great lyricist.

Lowell was the kingpin but man, what a surrounding cast. Musicians' musicians. We're talking complex chords, changing tempos, key changes, odd time signatures. Just when you think everything is all messed up in this huge jam, they come right back into a straightforward groove.

Now, the highlights:
"Fat Man in the Bathtub"--Groove to the bone, with the vocals of a desperate and lonely man. Lots of syncopation and time signature changes. Great percussion work from Mr. Hayward and Mr. Clayton drive this tune.

"All That You Dream"--very vocal-like slide work from Mr. George.

"Dixie Chicken"--a tour-de-force. Incorporates Jazz, Blues, Dixieland and ol' fashioned Rock and Roll. Great piano solo from Mr. Payne and Dixie-style horn work from the Tower of Power horn section. What is hip? This is!

"Mercenary Territory"--Mr. George plays a stinging slide solo that ends with him scaling the high e-string past the fretboard. This is followed by an absolutely stunning tenor sax solo that starts down and dirty in the lower registers only to follow a similar pattern laid down by the earlier slide part. He ends up squeezing higher, higher notes before hitting the highest note you've ever heard from a tenor sax. Breathtaking--literally!

"Willin'"--A simple acoustic guitar, country-style song with half-spoken, half-sung lyrics. This song paints quite a vivid picture. It's also a favorite sing-along for fans.

"Spanish Moon"--A minor-key song that has a great mid-tempo bass and drums groove. Great call and response vocals shouted out and some pained and powerful wailing from Lowell.

On all cuts, Paul Barrere lays down some great supporting guitar with a few leads of his own that are nothing to scoff at. Kenny, Sam and Richie always lay down a mean groove. Bill Payne plays multiple positions; rythym, solo, fills, and background on piano and synth and shines on everything.

These are just a few of the highlights on this CD. There's not a bad cut on here. All of these tunes are best-represented in this live setting, unlike most live albums we've come to know. The Tower of Power horns was a key ingredient to the greatness of this work.

Greatest live work of all time? I believe it may well be.

I've always thought so. Sheer live-music exuberance combined with a generous dollop of talent and FINE, fine recording quality. I was actually thinking of this when reeling off my favorites, but I've tossed it out a few times on the web and gotten no response.

"but I've tossed it out a few times on the web and gotten no response."

On my hard drive, along with the original albums, but just there along with everything else from the era. Almost everything, I took Zappa & Beefheart off, which is the milieu George grew out of. I love Love, though. That LA scene bred an eclecticism and I can never quite get a grip on Little Feat. I recognize the perfection and admit it to be my loss, so I keep listening.

Sounds as if you have a Little Feat fetish there, bob.

I've always thought so. Sheer live-music exuberance combined with a generous dollop of talent and FINE, fine recording quality.

Yeah, I'm not sure how much studio overdubbing there was, but Massenberg was/is a genius. One of the few things that the "Deluxe Edition" CD has over the vinyl is that they added some of the tracks that were recorded at Lisner but left off the record. The Red Streamliner that ended up on Hoy-Hoy is one of my faves.

I actually had Red Streamliner on my tape of Waiting For Columbus. I think I needed some filler for the end of one side, and it turned out Red Streamliner was exactly the right length. So, funny that it would up on the Deluxe Edition.

bob - I know a lot of folks who can't quite warm up to Little Feat, so you're not alone out there. I got turned on to them in the mid '70s in Cleveland by some Baltimorons that I went to college with, so I really didn't connect the band to the LA scene at the time.

Feat had a big fan base in Baltimore without much of a national following. I don't know if that sort of thing happens much anymore - local cult bands that aren't local to the area. I remember Southside Johnny headlining a week of shows at the Cleveland Agora when he couldn't even get arrested anywhere else outside of the Jersey Shore.

A couple days ago my 4-year-old son asked me to explain the drawing on my T-shirt, a stylized blockprint-style horse. I told him that it was from the Chinese Zodiac, a "game" (we don't take this stuff seriously) where the year someone is born is described by an animal. I was born in the year of the horse. He was born in the year of the dragon (which he thought was very cool, and of course asked for a T-shirt with a dragon on it). I said I couldn't quite remember what animal Mommy's birth year was, so he suggested that it was "the year of the skunk," an idea he found terribly funny.

My spouse, on the other hand, did not.

Dantheman:So about a month ago, we were at a restaurant when she turned to me and said "Daddy, kiss my tongue" and stuck it out. I assume she bit it, but we were very lucky no one from Youth Protection was there.

We started to blow on those painspots ;-). Works from a distance too, and for dirty toes, painfull bottoms....

slartibartfast: Great that you found such an involved teacher for Emily. IMHO engaged individuals are quite often better for kids than professionals who might not have the same kind of rapport.

De Tocqueville is completely light and engaging -- and still wise, insightful, and apropos -- reading; you should breeze right through it.

Slarti, do you have a link for the guardian ad litem report?

Nevermind, found it.

My son, who will be 4 next month, has been watching "Willow" a lot lately. Yesterday, I offered to help him with a game he was playing on the computer, and he replied, "I don't need any help from a Peck!" :/

Interview with Naomi Klein, who has recently been in Iraq, and who has just come back from talking with Giuliana Sgrena in Italy.

Very interesting: very worth reading.

But Sgrena is still getting more space in the media than Ismail Swayed al-Obeid, the deputy commander of the Iraqi army in western Al-Anbar province, who was killed by a US checkpoint a couple of weeks ago. This is an Iraqi ally, not the commander of an insurgency force, remember: the US military appear to be less responsive, however, when it's "just" an Iraqi who was killed. (7 news items for the killing of an Iraqi ally: 7820 for Giuliana Sgrena.)

The Pentagon's response is a simple, blank denial.

Now how is this?

1. Ismail Swayed al-Obeid never existed. The Iraqi police officer who reported his being shot just made the story up out of whole cloth.
- This is actually one possibility that occurred to me. Names in Arabic are difficult to google on in English, because of the multiple possible correct spellings, but if anyone reading this can, and can confirm that there was a Brigadier General Ismail Swayed al-Obeid who hasn't been heard of since mid-March this year, that would be helpful.

2. Ismail Swayed al-Obeid is alive and well and was never shot at.
- The Pentagon have not asked him to make a statement saying this because...?

3. Ismail Swayed al-Obeid was shot and killed, but not by US troops.
- The Pentagon have not explained who killed him since the US troops didn't because...?

4. Ismail Swayed al-Obeid was shot at and killed by a US "checkpoint", of the same kind as attacked Sgrena, but the soldiers at the checkpoint lied about it and said nothing happened.
- The Pentagon is not running a further investigation because...?

5. Ismail Swayed al-Obeid was shot at and killed by US soldiers, and the Pentagon have accepted the military coverup to make it didn't happen.

Any other possibilities?

Any other possibilities?

I'd love to help out, but my black helicopter is in the shop for its regularly scheduled maintenance. They're finicky buggers if you don't do the proper maintenance.


Macallan, I know this sounds horrifically conspiracy-theorist, but:

1. On 16th March there was a news item about Brigadier General Ismail Swayed al-Obeid being shot and killed at a US army checkpoint on the 15th. Source: an Iraqi police captain, Amin al-Hitti. link (my journal, which links to the original news item via the sources by which I found it)

2. He was said to be deputy commander of the Iraqi army in western Al-Anbar province - leader of the allied Iraqi forces, not the insurgents - a US ally, in other words.

3. The official Pentagon response is simply: no such incident was reported

Okay. Did Captain Amin al-Hitti make the whole thing up from cloth? Did the reporter Amin al-Hitti talked to make the whole thing up from cloth? Did the incident happen as described, but someone, at some level, is running a cover-up?

If there is no Brigadier General Ismail Swayed al-Obeid in al-Anbar province, and never was, wouldn't you expect the Pentagon's response to be just that: no such person exists, or at least does not hold the rank of brigadier-general in command of the Iraqi forces?

If there is such a person, but he has not been shot by US soldiers, wouldn't you expect the Pentagon's response to be "He's alive and well and hasn't been shot at"?

So what did happen on Tuesday 15th March?

Dismissing the whole thing as "black helicopterish" isn't an answer. As I noted above, Giuliana Sgrena, whose injury (or even death) had no long-term tactical significance, is still taking up a thousand times the news space as the death of this Iraqi Brigadier-General.

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