hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

A New Music Blog Post Today!

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 1, 2018

Hi! I wrote a blog post on Scott’s Music Shak today. It’s about buying online music from independent dealers vs. Big Box sites like Amazon, eBay, and the like. I think I make some good points, but I’m biased. If you get a chance, go read it. And please, feel free to leave a comment. I’m not getting enough comments from people, and can’t figure out why. They’re emailing me, just not commenting on my blogs. And by the way, I implemented a new promotion today which you’ll see if you visit my site. If you sign up for my email list, found at the bottom of any page, you’ll receive semi-regular email newsletters containing a discount code for 10% off your first purchase over the next week. I intend to do this regularly. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to hear about sales, new items, new collectibles, new blog posts, and more. So, please consider signing up for the email list and joining in that way. Thanks! Without further ado, I leave you with “The Benefits of Buying Music from an Independent Online Dealer vs. Big Online Stores.” Cheers!

Scott's Music Shak

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Happy Birthday G!

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 15, 2018

I just want to say Happy Birthday to my sweet, wonderful, amazing, beautiful, intelligent, and talented wife, Gretchen. I’m going to try to make this the best day you’ve had in a long time. You are my world and I love you more than you can possibly know. I’m so grateful for you and that you’re my wife. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I love you and Happy Birthday, Bebe!

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Scott’s Music Shak: My New Music/Audio Shop & Website

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 30, 2018

Hi all! It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about my newish music selling business (Feb. 21), letting you in on some of the stuff I’ve been doing for the past six months, and providing links to my then-seven online shops. Well, I’ve made some changes. I’ve closed down two of the shops (on Bonanza and e-Record Fair) and I’ve created my own new music and audio website! I’m very excited about it. It’s called Scott’s Music Shak and it’s now open for business! If you don’t want to click the link I’ve supplied in this sentence, the URL is: https://scottsmusicshak.com/. It’s mainly a shop, and features a number of “Collections,” where most music lovers should be able to find something that interests them. I’ve only put in some initial inventory, but I’m going to be adding more on a near-daily basis. The Collections are “Vinyl,” “CDs,” “Cassettes,” “Accessories & Components,” “Rare & Collector’s Items,” and “Under $10.” I also display some Featured items at the top of the homepage, while I have a live Instagram feed at the bottom of the homepage. The Collections are toward the bottom of the home page, while a link to my entire Catalog is in the menu at the top of the homepage. At this point, I have 63 items in my Catalog, but I’m going to adding hundreds. It’s very time consuming to do so, so I can only add so many per day.

In addition to my catalog, there’s an “About” section, a section on the Goldmine Grading Standard, my Terms, and a “Blog/News” section, where I posted something today (“Are You Truly An Audiophile?“), as a matter of fact. Indeed, I’d be grateful to anyone who headed over there to check my Blog/News section out and possibly leave any comments, should they wish to. I’d also be grateful to anyone who wanted to suggest things I should add or delete or change or create (if possible), etc. I’ve done most that I can, but I could always potentially do a few other things. Finally, I’d love a couple of sales, if anyone feels extra supportive or inspired. I’m still learning how these transactions work. On my other shops that I’ve had (and I still have a few, though I’ll probably be closing or changing 1-3 others), the platform/website I’ve used has always handled the transactions automatically, sending me emails and texts when a new sale came in. This system is a little different and I have to be more proactive in how I go about things, so there’s a bit of a learning curve. I guess you could say I need and would appreciate some practice. LOL!

 

Scott's Music Shak

 

Anyway, I just wanted to announce the opening of my new website. I’m pretty excited about Scott’s Music Shak, and I have high hopes for it. I’ve done fairly well in a couple of my shops and I’d like to transfer my success to this website. Please come visit and feel free to leave comments or email me or do anything you want there! Cheers!

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A Great New Food Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 26, 2018

Hi! This is a bit of a plug, so please forgive me, but my wife, Gretchen, has started a new food blog called “Vital Vittles – Food Trends: culinary finds for foodies,” and I think I lot of people who are “foodies” or into food and/or cooking might enjoy it. In case that link didn’t work for you, you can find it at: http://www.vitalvittlesfoodtrends.com/.

On her homepage, she writes “I’m Gretchen –  a food enthusiast and part-time blogger. It seems like every time I go to the grocery store, I find more and more choices! The choices we have today are almost overwhelming. Food trends come and go and with these trends, major food companies compete for our hard earned dollars. I provide some help in this blog with my unbiased reviews and comparisons. Comments are always appreciated, especially if you have anything to add to help others decide if that new food product is worth the money.”

So she reviews various food products, with plenty of photographs so you know exactly what she’s writing about, how it looks, how it might look partially cooked even, and occasionally she’ll get a “picky eater” taste tester to compare to her own observations. Among the items she’s reviewed lately are DelMonte Fruit & Chia, Green Giant Veggie Spirals – Zucchini, Forager greens pressed vegetable chips, Hostess Bakery Petites, and more. For whatever reason, she’s been getting a decent amount of “Likes,” but not too many comments, so if you visit her blog and read some reviews you find interesting, I’d encourage you to comment, leave a question, anything really. She’d like to make this more of a two way conversation, I believe.

Well, I’ve always known she’s a darn good cook, and I’ve been encouraging her to write a book or at least some articles for publication for awhile now. She’s one of the most creative people in the kitchen I’ve ever met, taking recipes and modifying them every time, a little different, always experimenting, always good outcomes. She may not have written her book yet, but this is at least a foray into writing about various foods, and the reviews seem good to me, so again, hop on over to her site and read a few. You may learn a few things and find it interesting in general. She and I certainly hope so! Thanks a lot for reading this plug, and please consider helping her out with more readers, likes, and comments. One note: her blogging platform doesn’t allow for followers, which is a major annoyance, but it does have an RSS feed, and you can always bookmark her blog if you like it. And if you do like it, check it several times a week, because she tries to write new blog posts 2-3 times per week, which keeps her busy. Okay, that’s enough from me. Go check her out, with many thanks. Have a good one!  — Scott

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A Review of Deconversion: a Journey from Religion to Reason

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 5, 2018

Deconverted: a Journey from Religion to ReasonDeconverted: a Journey from Religion to Reason by Seth Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book! Seth Andrews lived my own exact life growing up, and we were both traumatized by the same types of things (the movie, “Thief In The Night!”), and we were both fundies/evangelicals for much of our younger lives before we both started asking ourselves some questions, before asking others, and began reading and researching, and while Andrews reached his conclusions and belief system before I did, I admire his resolve and his courage for “coming out” as an atheist in a strong Bible Belt city, because I live in the biggest Bible Belt city in America (I believe it was so named last year…), and unless you’re a Red State Republican bible thumper here, you don’t really feel very welcome in this city, and while I haven’t spent years as an out and out atheist as Andrews has, I may as well, because when I’m not on my feet “praising the lord,” I stick out like a sore thumb, and it can make one very uncomfortable. Yes, there there are “liberal” Christians here, as well as a few Muslims, about 25 Jews, possibly a few Hindus, although I haven’t seen any, some agnostics, some atheists, but no place to really gather and not be in church, because the only alternative is the Unitarian CHURCH, and while it’s a catchall for all beliefs and while they tend to make fun of fundies, it’s still called a “church,” so that kind of defeats the purpose. I’m reading Dawkins, Hitchins, Barker, George W Smith, and others right now, and it’s been really refreshing, and for the first time in my life, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, like I’ve been liberated, and I have Barker and Seth Andrews to thank in many ways, because unlike Hitchins, they’ve BEEN there, they understand, they know what it’s like to “deconvert” and how traumatic that can be for so many reasons, and I have found this book very helpful and very freeing and I recommend it for anyone going through a similar process or who has questions, doubts, etc. It helps fill it the holes, or flesh out the holes one finds gaping wide open in the christian bible. And the stress is not on what one believes, but what one doesn’t believe, unlike what many people think. Atheism is merely “a lack of belief in a god” or supernatural being, etc. It’s NOT a philosophical antithetical belief system, although individual atheists can choose to have antithetical beliefs or any belief they want; it pushes no life agenda, just ration, reason, being a good person, and a lack of belief in a god. That’s it, that’s all. It’s very simple. If there is no rational evidence to convince you that a god exists, you are thus not obligated to believe in a god, nor should anyone else. Very simple. Sure, you can go full blown philosophical and George W Smith does that, but it’s not necessary, and you can find out why by reading most of these authors and finding out in less than 10 minutes. In any event, I’m elated I came across this book and now I listen to the author’s podcasts and have found help, comfort, and entertainment in them. Strongly recommended for those encountering spiritual doubts….

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Subtle Changes To My Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 2, 2018

Hi All,

I haven’t written a new blog post since the last one, but I’ve been working on updating my blog. I was nosing around some of my PAGES (as opposed to Posts) and was horrified at how out of date some of the information was. For instance, my beloved wife of five years was still listed as my “girlfriend!” Geez. That’s bad. So, I spent some time updating some of my sections, and I thought I would key in any of you who might be interesting in seeing or reading over the changes.

First of all, I changed the About section at the top (upper left) section of the page. While I retained some of the older material, I both updated it (from one cat to two) and added some newer relevant material (entrepreneur, audiophile, etc.). So, if you want an updated bio to find out where I’m at these days, there you have it.

I also added some books to my Favorite Books section. Two new novels, one new work of nonfiction, five new science fiction novels, and one I call a “Straggler,” that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I don’t have links for all of these books to Goodreads or Amazon, and maybe I should, and I really don’t think I have the time to do so, but it’s a good idea I just thought of, but in the meantime, there are some good books listed there that might appeal to a lot of people, so feel free to check them out.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my Find Me Here section. First of all, some of the websites and social media sites were outdated to the point of no longer existing, so I had to make some edits. Secondly, I had sites listed followed by hyperlinks. So 2013. I thought why not make the site words themselves the hyperlinks? That’s only the obvious thing to do. So that’s what I did! Check that page out, please!!! You’ll notice two Instagrams and two Twitters. That’s because I have an individual account for each and a music business site for each. They’re both listed separately to make it easy to know which you’d be accessing. I have 13 links/sites listed there at the moment, and while there are more I may add in the near future, I thought that was a good place to start. And I need followers on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter music business pages, so please feel free to drop by and follow me in those places. Also, feel free to make recommendations or requests, because I’m totally open to all.

Next, I briefly updated my Penguins Fan Page, although not by much. It essentially takes you to my website, to my Pens fan page there, but it also admits that it’s not up to date, and that I want and need to update it, and I plan to as soon as I find the time. Not too much there, and I won’t blame you if you don’t feel like visiting that page, although I’d be grateful if you would, obviously.

Finally, as far as my PAGES went, I made substantial changes to the My Sports Teams page. I made a lot of additions, with links to all of the teams I follow. I added an MLB team, three NCAA football “teams of interest,” two NCAA men’s basketball teams, a second women’s basketball team, a second women’s softball team, a second women’s volleyball team, and two NFL “teams of interest” as well. All in all, there are 25 teams listed for 10 sports, ranging from high school to college to the pros. If you enjoy sports at all, by all means, check that page out and feel free to leave comments!

Okay. Those are the changes I made to my PAGES at the top of my blog. But I didn’t stop there. I made more changes to the lists and widgets on either side of my main blog wall. On the left, I changed my Twitter feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak. So too, I changed the Instagram feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak also.

On the right side of my blog, I deleted some obsolete blogs in the Blogroll, added a couple of Bookstores, and made some significant changes to the Music section, where I deleted over a half dozen groups, such as Hungry Lucy and Unto Ashes, while adding over a dozen new groups, such as KMFDM, Rammstein, Pet Shop Boys, Within Temptation, Flora Purim, Neal Schon and others, AND I added a number of audio companies, largely audiophile-quality companies for those interested in such things, such as Bryston, Klipsch, Pro-Ject, Krell, Rega, and others. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can find anything from affordable entry level audiophile-quality turntables from Pro-Ject for $500 to Bryston amps for $6,500 to a Rega RP-10 turntable for $7,000 all the way to the new McIntosh XRT2.1K loudspeaker system for a small, little $130,000/pair. Yeah, you read that right. But hey, if you’re a REAL audiophile, you find ways to feed your obsession, right? Heh. Finally, I added a new section called Boutique Computers, listing some of my favorite custom designed and built computers and the companies that make them beneath the heading. It’s a long story and the subject for a blog post some time, but suffice it to say that after experiencing some unexpected tech disasters in the spring of 2017, I decided to go high end with the idea of very high end for a very long time with the goal of expandability, so I had a “boutique” computer custom built for me, realized I had been short sighted and that it wasn’t sufficiently expandable, returned it, had another with 34 drive bays started being built by the same company, but work on it got bogged down, I grew impatient with what I viewed as their ineptitude, so I cancelled our contract, and I went elsewhere. I ended up with a Xidax X-8 Glacier, the specs of which are pretty awesome. I could have gone even more awesome, and maxed out some rigs to see how much it would cost to go uber awesome. The Falcon Northwest Mach V maxed out at $24,000 while the Digital Storm Aventum was just about $30,000! For a tricked out PC. One that would still be tricked out five years from now. But the Xidax I got cost a great deal less and will still be a quality computer five years from now and has enough storage capacity to last me at least 10 years or more, and that’s what I was looking for after a quality processor and quality GPUs. Anyway, like I said, a story for a different blog post….

And I guess that’s about it. For now. Next, I’m going to have to write another “real” blog post, eh? I’ll try to do so sooner than it took me last time. By the way, in my last post, I mentioned that I have seven online shops at the moment, although I’m trying to close two of them. I’m also considering opening my own e-commerce-based website, my own shop, and shutting down all but one of these shops (because this one, on an audiophile site, gives me lots of sales), but that would be a major commitment, both in time and money, and I’d lose the global audience that’s built into some of these sites for the uncertainty of people not ever knowing about or ever finding my own new site. So, it’s a bit of a gamble. But I wouldn’t have to pay all of these fees for transactions, I wouldn’t get banned from listing items because I’ve allegedly listed “too many” of a certain type — when I’ve never listed ANY of that type before! — I’d have complete control over my inventory and pricing, my marketing and promotion, and my social media sites could all point to my website instead of my Facebook site — which has not translated into sales at all — and ideally, if I could get people to jump to a “landing page” on my site and enter their email for a discount or a promotion of some sort, I’d be able to send out email newsletters on a semi-regular basis, maybe weekly or bi-weekly, offering both tips and promotions, which is what you’re supposed to be doing to get sales, according to all the data. So, if anyone reading this has any opinion on this gamble, I’d love to hear it. I think longterm, the good outweighs the bad, but upfront, it would be a massive timesuck, a hell of a commitment, and I’d have to work very hard to get people to notice this site. But it couldn’t be any worse than several shops I have right now, so I don’t see what I have to lose in that regard. I really only have 2-3 sites where I’m selling anything, really only two, and I’d be glad to dump the rest in exchange for full control over my own inventory, pricing, shipping, listings, promotions, everything. Lemme know your thoughts and thanks!

Okay, have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!

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Selling Music Online…

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 21, 2018

Audiophiles

McIntosh XRT2.1K Loudspeaker System: $130,000

 

Hi! Sorry it’s been so long. Obviously, per my recent posts, my life has changed a lot, and I have a lot less time and energy to blog. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that between extremely poor health and other projects, it’s fallen down my list of priorities, unfortunately.

I thought I’d update you on one of my recent projects though. Among other things, I’ve turned my passion for music into a … business (?) … and I have opened a number of online shops where I’m selling new and used vinyl LPs, CDs, and cassettes, as well as audio components and accessories such as turntable mats, turntable cartridges, preamps, and speakers, among others. In addition, on a couple of my sites, I’m also selling a few “vintage” books and planning to add more. Furthermore, I have a couple of social media accounts at Instagram & Twitter where I post pictures and links to articles, posts, sales, & the like, so all of this keeps me very busy. I currently have seven – 7!!! – online shops, plus Instagram & Twitter, so thank goodness I can do all of this on my own schedule, eh?

 

Vinyl LPs

 

Seven shops are too many & I’m in the process of shutting one European one down right now. I then plan to shut another one down after that, leaving me with five. I may even trim it to four later, but for the time being, I have to get it down to five. I’m contemplating creating an e-commerce-based website for all of it, but that would be such a major time suck, PLUS I’d be on my own competing against the big boys and the littler ones, that I don’t know how feasible or wise that is.

I have been doing fairly well recently on one site that’s more audiophile-oriented: Discogs. I’m getting several sales a week there now, although at first it was hard to get going with no feedback. Now I have some, and I have orders out in the mail that should generate more when they arrive, ideally, so that’s been paying off. eBay has allowed me to sell some albums, as well as a few components & accessories. The site is really strange, though, because as soon as you’ve had a successful sale in an area, they WON’T let you list another related item for THREE MONTHS to penalize you (?) I guess, although they’re also penalizing themselves too, financially. How stupid is that??? So, when I went to list some preamps recently, because I had sold one, the site wouldn’t let me. More bizarrely, when I went to list a set of Klipsch speakers, the site said I was past my limit, although I’d never listed and obviously had never sold speakers there before! WTH? So, eBay isn’t making me happy these days, although I just sold an LP from there yesterday. Thus, I’m actually using more than one account with them.

 

Scott's Music Shak & Shop

 

My main site, although NOT my main selling site, is a Facebook Page: Scott’s Music Shak & Shop. I’m trying to get it known as a music and audio resource, a place people can come to for good content, photos, videos, polls, and yes, a Shop. While the Shop has not taken off, for whatever reason, some of the articles have gotten quite a few hits, or “reaches.” Some of the things I’ve posted about, whether writing them myself or sharing other posts, have included how to clean your vinyl, the top 30 goth albums of all time, how to rip your vinyl to your computer, Jeff Beck’s only Top 10 album, the Goldmine Grading Standard (the most hits of any post to date), cork turntable mats, the top “smooth jazz” albums of the ‘80s, what a preamp is & why it’s important, what a DAC is, etc. Possibly for budding audiophiles & the like then, as well as most music fans.

Meanwhile, what kind of music am I selling? Both new & used, as I said. On Discogs, the majority of my inventory is industrial, followed by goth, hard rock, electro, alternative rock, blues, classic rock, EBM, techo, experimental, funk, indie, pop, synth-pop, jazz fusion, & so on. In my inventory, I list over 40 different genres. I also have a variety of rare & hard to find items, such as an Australian promo copy of Nitzer Ebb’s Showtime, a very scarce (especially in the U.S.) Russian copy of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night with the text in English and Russian, mostly Russian, with the labels virtually entirely in Russian, and an incredibly rare unreleased Czech promo copy of Iron Maiden’s Killer LP. I’ve only found one other dealer in the world selling this one, & it’s very valuable. I also do custom searches for people for specific titles or groups. I’m doing one now for a customer in Italy who’s a Linkin Park fan. I’ve found him a couple of Russian titles he doesn’t own & a couple of Australian titles, one quite rare, he doesn’t own, so that’s good. Meanwhile, I’m searching for some Japanese titles for him that are proving difficult to find.

 

 

If you know anything about online selling, you know that it can be slow going. I’ve done a lot of research, read books, even signed up for a class, and I know the stats, the standard thoughts & beliefs, etc., so I’m thinking long term strategy, but sometimes it’s hard to be patient. The good news is, I’ve only been doing this for three months, and all the research I’ve done on Etsy, for instance, has indicated that it’s common to go six, nine, or even 12+ months before you get your first sale. Well, I just opened my shop there about a month ago, & I’ve had two sales there now & hope to have more as I learn more online marketing strategies. And at my more “established” (a whole additional month – wow!!!) shops, I’ve been getting more sales, particularly at Discogs, over the past month, so things are trending upwards. This is good & necessary, because I sank a lot of money into acquiring a lot of cleaning, packing, & shipping supplies, as well as some inventory to supplement my existing inventory. I’m determined to provide the best shopping experience possible, and that means I pack better than anyone, I use the best, thickest, most protective outer sleeves on my vinyl, I ship within 24 hours, I communicate well & respond to any communications quickly & effectively. And I offer additional services, such as the accessories & components & custom searches (the searches are free) for anything & everything. I can’t get anything, but I can get many-to-most things for customers. So far, my feedback has been 100% positive & my only frustration has been that not everyone who has bought from me has left me feedback, which hurts me & my reputation as a seller, & I know it’s not because they were dissatisfied, because if they had been, they would have contacted me about it, but they didn’t, so obviously, they were okay-to-pleased with their purchases. So, that doesn’t make me happy, but there’s nothing I can do about it. In any event, I really enjoy doing this & I’m doing this not only to earn a few dollars (and that’s ALL I’m earning – a few…), but because I really love it. I love making other people happy with music & being able to act as a resource for others when possible.

Naturally, I’d love it if any of my blog readers were to visit any of my shops. I’d love it if any of you liked or followed me at the sites that allow that, & of course, I’d be grateful for any sales too! But by no means feel obligated. I doubt any of you will, but I had to put that in there. However, if you do visit my shops, you may notice some crossover in some of them, i.e., some postings of the same item in a couple of the shops. Most of the time, that’s because I intend to be shutting down one of those shops in the near future and am trying to get all of the inventory at those shops listed elsewhere before I do. But you should encounter original items at each shop too, especially at Discogs, Facebook, & eBay, to a lesser extent. So, please visit. Also, please follow me on Instagram & Twitter. Let me know you’re coming from my blog to ensure I follow you back, and I’m thinking of the best way to give out a promotion to my blog readers on purchases you may make. How about this: I’ll refund my blog readers 15% off any item they purchase UNDER $100!! In order to get that refund, you’ll have to email me to let me know what you purchased when, & provide this blog post’s URL, as well as the item’s URL, title, cost, etc. You’ll also have to provide me with your PayPal email address, because I only take PayPal everywhere except Facebook, which only allows me to take Stripe. I’ve never refunded anyone on Stripe, but I’m sure I can learn how, & I now know how on PayPal, so send all of this info to me at scottsmusicshak AT gmail DOT com after you’ve made your purchase, and I’ll refund you, ideally, within 48 hours. Sound good? Sound like a deal? Cool. I am now going to post links to my shop & my social media accounts. Once again, I’d be grateful to anyone who visits any of them. All of them have some to many original items, so overlook any cross-posted ones you may see. And feel free to offer suggestions too! I’m all ears. Thanks everyone. Cheers!

 

 

ACTIVE Online Shops

  1. Facebook Page: Scott’s Music Shak & Shop 
  2. Discogs
  3. Etsy: Scott’s Shak 
  4. eBid: Scott’s Shak
  5. eBay

Current Shops I Intend To Close

  1. e-Record Fair 
  2. Bonanza: scottsshak’s booth  

Social Media

  1. Instagram: scottsmusicshak
  2. Twitter: Scott’s Music Shak  @scottsmusicshak

 

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A Review of The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 1, 2018

The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital WorldThe New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World by Damon Krukowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is more than just a simple “back to vinyl” sermon, refreshingly. It’s a highly scientific and socio-psychological look at the history of recorded music, the transition from analog to digital, and what that means to people and society.

Damon Krukowski writes as a musician, music fan, and techno nerd, yet mixes this all together quite skillfully. He writes about context, signal, and noise in ways that will make sense to most readers.

Krukowski writes that people hear in stereo sound. That having two ears allows us to make the small, even tiny, mental distinctions providing much-needed context for the world around us. He tells one story, among others, of a person falling over while riding a bicycle wearing earbuds because, while they were focused on the sounds that were being delivered in their ears, they weren’t able to integrate and HEAR other sounds in the world around them. Krukowski asserts that our stereo hearing is incredibly accurate for providing context for what we actually hear (and need to hear, for the most part) while our brains separate signal from noise.

And what’s the distinction? The author explains that signal is the foregrounded sound we’re supposed to concentrate on, ie., music in this case, while noise is the allegedly “unnecessary” sounds that interfere with our being able to focus on signal. The role of technology in separating signal from noise provides the allegedly purer sound that one obtains through digital transmission, eliminating noise entirely. But the question is, is music without (analog) noise what we really want to hear? Krukowski makes the case that it is not.

Krukowski’s “The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World” skillfully examines the science, physiology, and effects of the changes from analog sound to digital sound, not only over time, but now in the rapidly changing musical media world in which we live. By putting our audio experience of recorded music into a bigger context of how people interact with the world, he offers a more intricate view than many who bemoan the emergence of digital music as it’s experienced through devices like head phones, iPods, and even smartphones. He argues that the digital delivery of music replacing analog, tactile music has largely been responsible for the loss of community represented by now many distant-memory record stores where people could hang out, chill, and talk with others about music and other similar interests, while shopping for tangible, artistic items of value that one can hold and play and hear signal WITH noise. He then calls for the re-introduction of the noisy environment once surrounding all music, that would lessen the near-total isolation with which people now experience music.

The only reason I am giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is that he sometimes gets caught up in going seriously too far into hard technology that one might need an engineering degree to fully appreciate, and the middle has an extended section that drags a bit as a result. However, he ultimately delivers a very thoughtful analysis at how rapid technological change leads to unanticipated social consequences that aren’t always good. A very interesting and decent book and recommended for all audiophiles, vinyl (and CD) enthusiasts, and music lovers in general.

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A Review of Long Beach State: A Brief History

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 1, 2018

Long Beach State: A Brief History

Long Beach State: A Brief History

Long Beach State: A Brief History
by Barbara Kingsley-Wilson
Scott Holstad’s review
4 out of 5 stars

 

As an alumnus of Long Beach State, or California State University Long Beach, as it’s officially known, I was really excited to hear this book existed, to get it and read it. And I largely, mostly enjoyed it, and am glad it was written. I liked learning lots of information about its founding and the early days, its growth through the ’50s and ’60s, and even interesting info when I was there for grad school in the early 1990s…. But… I was annoyed it was only “A Brief History,” because as one of the largest and most diverse universities in California, I thought the book could — and should — have been easily three times longer and STILL left out lots of info! The author picked a few key topics and wrote short three and four page chapters, and I felt she could and should have written 10, 15, and 20 page chapters on topics such as, say, the sports programs. Nothing about the baseball team, which went to four College World Series beginning while I was there, or much about the women’s basketball team, which went to two women’s Final Fours during the years my undergraduate alma mater, Tennessee, was winning its first of eight national championships. I also found parts of it depressing, as how while the state created the school, initially as a teacher’s college, and then as a four year state school, and finally as a state university with numerous graduate programs, including even several PhD programs now, there was never enough money for the school to do anything to help itself, and thus, for years, it was just dirt, and muddy when it rained, parking lots, with dirt roads cutting through the campus, and how it initially started in two apartment complexes and how the first buildings, still in evidence there, looked like Soviet-era concrete block bunkers, which I found depressing when I was there, and you could tell how it went through growth spurts just by looking at the differing architectural styles, and how it’s always been a commuter school, unlike Tennessee or UCLA, two other non-commuter schools I went to, and the lack of support for most of the sports teams — except for women’s volleyball, strangely, although in fairness to that excellent program, it’s won a crapload of national championships and finished as second place runner up many other times, so what awesome success, but the school has had other sports programs that have experienced success, such as the baseball team, and at times, the basketball team, and I was disappointed to see how the small part on the basketball team focused on the early Jerry Tarkanian years and never mentioned coach Seth Greenwood, who was coaching when I was there and how two of our players were drafted by the NBA while I was there, one of them especially experiencing great success playing with Karl Malone in Utah, or even how the recent teams have experienced great success and have dominated the conference, gone to the NCAA tournament, and become nationally famous for playing any team, any time, anywhere, and plenty of top 20 teams, such as North Carolina and Kansas at those schools, and being very competitive, even beating some, such as top 20 Xavier, losing at UNC by only 3 points, etc, before going on to own its conference once conference play started. Nothing about that. I would have even liked to find out some info on the water polo and beach volleyball teams! Oh well. I appreciated the history of the Greek system there, because it was an issue when I was a student, as I recall, but again, felt discouraged that CSULB constantly had to hold fund raisers in the community to do things like buy tons of peach trees to plant to hide the ugly concrete buildings, and put brick patterns on the walls of some of these buildings, thus starting a new architectural style, begging for money to finish the famous Long Beach State Pyramid, where the basketball team plays, on how they had to start a new Scholars program, done while I was there, to bring up its academic reputation and attractiveness to students by giving school valedictorians a free ride — which worked! In the 1980s, US News & World Report rated LBSU as a pretty crappy school, but for the past decade or more, it’s gotten outstanding scores in a number of areas and has been listed as basically one of the three most ideal and attractive largely non-PhD granting universities in the West, and how it’s the best school for the money, the best ROI-type school in the entire country, and one of the most diverse schools in the country, and how the students who graduate from Long Beach owe less than most students from virtually all of the other universities in the country, etc, so it’s gotten high US News scores for a long while now, and has established itself as a decent academic school, thanks to a number of good programs instituted in the 1990s and up. I’m very proud of how far my first graduate alma mater has come in just a few short years, relatively speaking, starting with practically nothing and progressing to an appealing, well regarded university. I also enjoyed reading about all of the celebrities who attended Long Beach State, like the Carpenters (they were building the Carpenter Auditorium, or whatever its proper name is, while I was there), Steve Martin, Steven Spielberg, Chris Carter, and numerous baseball players, among others. I already knew about most of them, but it was still cool to read details I didn’t know. And I had to laugh about the t-shirt I read about regarding the now-gone football team. It reads “Long Beach State Football: Unbeaten since 1991.” The program was shut down back in 1991, the year before I got there, after new and legendary coach George Allen had died unexpectedly, because very few people supported the teams by attending the games over the years, and it was a huge drain on an already always tight school budget. I was deeply disappointed to attend a school whose football program had just been shut down, especially after going to UT, where the team competed for — and won — national championships on a regular basis, but a lot of smaller schools shut down their programs back then, like East Tennessee State University, just up the road from Knoxville 100 miles, among others because it takes a LOT of money to have and run a college football program, especially if you want to truly be competitive. I came to accept this over the years, and embraced that t-shirt’s slogan to the point of ordering one from the school just a week ago, literally, and I’ll now proudly wear it and laugh to myself as people will undoubtedly look confused when they see it.

All in all, it’s a decent little book, and I’m glad it was written and I’m glad I read it. But I STILL wish it wasn’t a “Brief History,” because I think the school deserves a “Comprehensive History,” and I guess I’ll just have to wait to see that one written some time in the future. Recommended for anyone who has ever attended or graduated from Long Beach State, as well as any interested Cal State University system supporters and Long Beach/L.A. County residents.

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An Overdue Overall Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2017

12/31/17

Hi. Last day of 2017 and I’ve blogged almost nothing at all this year. I regret that, but it’s been the toughest year, toughest two years, of my life and I haven’t had the ability to blog or even write book reviews like I once did. I started an “Update” blog about 6-7 weeks ago, but never got very far, and have been horribly ill for a week, and don’t have the strength to finish it, but I’m determined to write a blog post for 2017. I’m including what I had gotten done last month at the bottom of this post, but am just going to give a brief synopsis here to let those of you still reading this blog know I’m still alive.

2016: I had 8 minor surgeries, most on my back. I had at least 33 tests and procedures that were diagnostic tests for my stomach ailments alone, the final result being I was ultimately tested for the rarest of diseases into 2017 with no results, leaving the doctors to discard me and wish me the best. I also had at least two strokes in the fall, the second of which was pretty major and continues to impact me to the present. Before the strokes, I had lost the ability to drive, and became largely homebound except for 2-3 medical appointments a week, every week, for which I took either a city disabled van or taxis. I had to start walking with a cane in late spring. The strokes impacted me in various ways, as my memory started to fail, and I lost my balance and coordination, resulting in numerous, regular falls. I was also on 3 of the 5 strongest pain medications in the world, whose side effects messed me up, but none of which really helped me. I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications of any type around November 2015.

2017: This year, I’ve only had two minor surgeries for my back, both failures. I was scheduled for a third, but the surgeon refused to do it, saying it’d be useless. Gretchen and I later met with the chief surgeon who said even a major surgery would not only be ineffective, but counterproductive, and he refused to perform any. He recommended as my only realistic hope an experimental and dangerous brain surgery that is hard to find and obtain. More on that in a minute. Before that, I started to experience more falls and greater memory impairment and even total memory loss, progressively, day by day. We explored getting me a home health aide, part time, but can’t afford one. I’m now wearing one of those fall alert pendants. Gretchen’s worried she’s going to come home from work and find me at the bottom of the stairs with a broken neck. I started having bizarre “episodes” — don’t know what else to call them — beginning March 31, in which I woke up and started wandering around the house at 3 AM, disoriented and unable to control myself, resulting in 15 falls, the last of which Gretchen witnessed as I tripped in the dining room and fell face and head first onto our hardwood floors, breaking my nose, knocking me out, and busting the hell out of my head. The pain in my head was unreal. I didn’t care about the nose or anything else. I refused to go to the hospital, even though four paramedics were there when I regained consciousness, working on me, and trying to convince me to go to the hospital. I don’t go to ERs. I had a horrible experience in early 2016 and vowed to die at home with dignity than go back to another damn ER. I tried to get a CT or MRI for 10 days, but no one would refer me for one without my going to the ER. Finally, on the 11th day, I went, had a CT scan, was told I had a severe, probable long term concussion, had possibly experienced some brain damage, and that was a joy. According to multiple doctors, I had already experienced brain damage with each of my strokes. My nose bled 24×7 from then into June, and the incident screwed up my neck and back, forcing me into home healthcare PT. My memory impairment and losses became much worse from that point on. I experienced more “episodes” like these in August and September, and have watched my memory deteriorate badly, as well as seeing my forgetfulness increase exponentially. It was about two months ago when this orthopedic surgeon stated I need Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, which has a 4% mortality rate, and which is available for Intractable Chronic Pain possibly only at Mayo and the Cleveland Clinic. One of my doctors put me on a supplement for memory loss/retention two months ago, and earlier this month, my neurologist put me on a hard core medication for severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, while allowing it’s possible I may be in the early stages on Early Onset Dementia. I am 51. I no longer expect to live to see, say, 54. And this drug he put me on has caused a very serious adverse reaction, or reactions, so that over the past week to week and a half, the symptoms have been so bad, I’ve honestly felt I was going to die several times, and today is the first day I’ve had the energy and wits to actually get online and do anything. I’ve simply been lying here trying to survive during one of the most hellish and painful weeks of my life, sick to death.

After those two depressing paragraphs, there were other things that happened in my life. In 2016, Gretchen and I created a startup that I poured myself into far more than I should have and it badly impacted my health. We decided, due to having to delay opening for business indefinitely while suffering tremendous costs and state taxes, to start to shut things down this fall, and I’m still trying to tie up loose ends, as I’m able to. Additionally, both Gretchen and I have started new side businesses, just to see how they’ll do, part time. Just really getting underway, but who knows? Gretchen’s oldest son was married last month in Maryland, so we made a long car trip to the wedding, which was lovely, but it was hard on me. Still, it would have taken a lot to make me miss that, although we didn’t decide I would actually go until the last minute. It was touch and go. Nonetheless, it was a joyous occasion. It was also good to see the rest of her family and meet some new in-laws.

Gretchen is busting her ass holding down the fort, working full time, having to do all of the errands and chores I once did when I was mobile and more able, and still find time for her side projects and to look after me. She stays very busy. And as limited as I am, I stay busier than I want to, mostly with technological projects that would take too long to go into. I’m worn out now. Sorry. I wrote more than I intended, but I just wanted to say I haven’t forgotten you folks out there, and I miss interacting with you, and if my health ever improves sufficiently, I’d like to resume blogging and book reviewing, but I have no idea if or when that will be. I hope everyone has been doing well, has had a good holiday season, and here’s to a good 2018 for all of us. Cheers!

— Scott

 

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Hi! I don’t even know where to begin. I haven’t posted a “real” blog post in nearly a year. It’s kind of stunning, because I’ve been blogging since 2003 and used to every day, but the past year and a half have worn me down until I no longer had the strength, energy, physical or mental abilities to continue doing so, and had to call a halt to it.

Lessee, for the past 3.5 years, my health has been unbelievably bad. Most of you know I have Trigeminal Neuralgia Type 2, a very rare, very, very rare, extremely painful head and facial pain disease, considered the most painful disease in the world, typically referred to as “The Suicide Disease.” I also have three other head pain disorders, including Cluster Headaches, which are also known as one of the most painful disorders in the world, and which I’ve also seen described as “the Suicide Disease” in some sources.

After having had a nice little break from that, my head and facial pain came back with a vengeance in the summer of 2014, but this time bilateral, which is unusual. I immediately had three minor brain surgical procedures, but I told my doctors they wouldn’t help, as this pain was different. I was right. Then, in early 2015, my back started giving me real problems again. Serious pain to match my head’s serious pain. I’ve had back problems on and off for six years, but like my head, it had been off for a couple of years, and this was an unpleasant surprise. I went back to my orthopedist and started seeing a rheumatologist, who told me I had “massive” amounts of osteoarthritis throughout my body and would need two hip replacement surgeries at some point in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, my orthopedist told me my DDD had gotten much worse, and I had other problems in my back as well, which I knew — spinal stenosis, a broken tailbone, nerve damage, etc. She sent me ultimately for six months of PT, but it didn’t help at all. In February 2015, sick of being far too overweight, I went on a massive low carb diet, ultimately averaging 6 carbs, then down to 4 carbs, per meal per day. I lost weight and it felt good. However, and I do think this was coincidental, about four months later, I started developing stomach problems that developed into a nightmare. At first it was just gas after meals, but then it was joined by nausea, and progressively advancing, stomach pain — incredibly severe stomach pain. So severe, it easily matched my back and head pain, each of which were at least a 10 on a 1-10 scale every day without a break. This happened over a period of months though, so I had no idea it would get so bad.

I suffered through the remainder of 2015, still losing weight from my diet, but my stomach was causing me to lose my appetite, along with my stomach shrinking from my diet. My back didn’t improve, my head didn’t improve. I had a new neurologist, who was trying things like Botox and steroid injections, as well as Trigeminal nerve blocks, but nothing helped. By November 2015, I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications, both OTC and prescription, with one exception that helped me so little, it was almost a non-issue. In January 2016, after two months of bugging her, my pain doctor put me on a new, much stronger pain medication with another strong pain medication to take for “break through” pain. The new ones had lethal side effects. I’m not joking. I had to be really careful about how and when I took them. And when I took the other one in conjunction with the first one. But they, too, didn’t really help, and their side effects seriously fucked me up in the worst way. I complained about both the low dose of the main one and the break through pain med, but my dose on the ER medication was not increased. The new IR literally almost killed me. Taking both, and a third to boot, almost killed me. Several times, I basically lost the ability to breathe and my tongue swelled up so much, it largely cut off my breathing passageways. Another time, I became paralyzed from the chest down, and Gretchen had to lie me down — I had been standing — where I lay for a couple of hours until it wore off. I thought it was going to kill me then for sure. Backing up a moment, in December 2015, I also lost the ability to eat. It’s hard to explain. I couldn’t eat, didn’t want to eat, got sick at the thought of eating. I’d go 3, 5, 7 days without eating anything, then take a couple bites of rice and a bite of chicken, and go vomit. I was nauseous when dinner was being made. My diet was thrown away; I now had some form of eating disorder, for all intents and purposes. I lost about 150 pounds…

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