Sony MDR-1000X Bluetooth Headphones

So, dealing with listening to music on the iPhone 7+.

For the last couple of months, I’ve had the Dragonfly Red DAC and Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 and been quite happy with the sound, not to forget that I now have more than 2,000 songs in Apple’s lossless format on the device. But to be honest, this set up was a literal and figurative pain. Literal, because the MSR7’s grip my head tightly and become uncomfortable after an hour. Figurative because I’d have to plug in so much stuff and then deal with the cord dangling down (and sometimes getting the cord stuck on stuff in crowded situations).

I do have one pair of Bluetooth headphones, the original Parrot Zik 1.0, which I’d bought used several years ago and had fallen out of love with. Since I was in Hong Kong, I thought I might get myself a new pair of Bluetooth something but was hoping to get away without spending very much.

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Apple and iTunes Are Driving Me Insane

I may have finally hit the point where I am ready to abandon the iPhone and the Apple eco-system.

Something weird started happening when I got my iPhone 7+ a couple of months ago. Syncing, which had never been a problem before, suddenly became a huge fucking problem. I’ve had almost every iPhone and I have never had this problem before and Apple’s tech support has been almost absolutely useless in solving this.

When I sync, if I have new music that I want to copy to the phone, or have updated apps on my computer that need to be updated on the phone, sometimes what happens is the sync will start up, it will do the back-up just fine, it will copy the diagnostic information, and then when it comes time to copy apps or music to the phone, it just dies. “Copying 1 of …” and it just sits there, until after about 30 minutes or so it times out and stops, unless I’ve stopped it before then.

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Shock and Aw Shit

Monday morning Wednesday evening quarterback time.

The United States is not ready to elect a female president. Clinton or anyone else.

The media never truly went after Trump. Thanks to Facebook, people were unable to distinguish between real news and clickbait. The “responsible” media gave Trump a free ride for too long because it was good for ratings/profit.

Clinton had too much baggage as a candidate. Even though most of what Trump said about her during the campaign was either extremely exaggerated or a blatant lie, it successfully colored the masses’ perception of her. Too many people repeating the line about her being corrupt – based on what, exactly? The 20-something investigations that cleared her every time? But the point is, Trump threw it against a wall and it stuck.

I do not believe that Sanders would have done any better. Biden, maybe.

Actually all of Trump’s messages clearly got across better than Clinton’s. Despite 8 years of growth under Obama – economy, jobs, health care, consumer protection, climate initiatives – Trump’s anti-establishment message clearly registered more deeply than a lot of people expected.

And so the Republicans control the House and Senate.

It was an “anybody from the outside” victory. Not that dissimilar from Duterte’s victory in the Philippines. Parallels with Duterte, who has just won his battle to get Marcos buried in the national cemetery of heroes? Duterte was an outsider who got voted in by a public tired of high crime, corruption, and other issues. He only got 39% of the vote. Though the rest of the country seems to be falling in line behind him. Well, look at it this way. Duterte is Trump without nuclear weapons. (If the Philippines did have nuclear weapons, they’d be broken anyway.)

Clinton did win the popular vote, or so it seems to be trending, but not by enough to matter. I get the feeling that everyone thought a Clinton win was such a sure thing that many didn’t bother to vote. The one comparison I saw (I forget which state) showed almost 400,000 votes less than in 2012.

It’s possible to look at some of the key states where Clinton lost, add Johnson’s votes to her tally, and she would have won. So blame Johnson for diverting votes? But is it a given that people who voted for him would have voted for her if he wasn’t running? Should she not have been further out ahead so that those votes wouldn’t have mattered anyway?

The Republican strategy of blocking Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court clearly worked. So long Roe v. Wade.

So now we will have a businessman with no previous political experience who knows nothing about science and doesn’t like to read, who was the choice of the KKK, Putin and North Korea, who does not believe that climate change is real, someone who has no respect for minorities, someone who has made his money by cozying up to the Mafia and hiring illegal immigrants and burning all of his partners, someone who has scammed the public through failed businesses such as Trump University, someone facing a multitude of lawsuits, someone accused of molesting multiple women and cheating on all of his wives, as president. We know his agenda already – tax cuts for the rich, nuclear weapons for everyone, abandon NATO, disable Obamacare (with no replacement in sight), and the possibility of slashing Social Security. Better take that Cuba vacation and smoke those Cohibas now while you can.

Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Sean Hannity in the cabinet. Russian operatives in the White House or – or is that going too far?

All we can do now is hope that he won’t be as bad as people like me fear – that he was overplaying to the crowd or that even the Republican-controlled Congress won’t go down some of the paths that he’ll want to lead.


As if that wasn’t bad enough, my mother seems to have taken a turn for the worse today. She was doing pretty well this morning. The doctor came, she was all chatty and smiling, but within a couple of hours after he left …. I’m not going to go into details.

Except that I’ve been so distracted today that I have managed to delete almost half of my iTunes collection – probably in the range of 50-60,000 songs. And then I reformatted the drive that stuff was on. And then I overwrote everything on the drive with new stuff.

As it happens, every album in my iTunes is also stored on a RAID drive. But going through all of those thousands of albums to find the ones I need to restore? Making sure everything is tagged and has artwork? Updating dozens of playlists? Never going to happen, I know this.

I could buy a program for $20 that would copy stuff back from my iPhone to iTunes – only about 10% of what I deleted but clearly the most important stuff. And then get back to the 90% … never?

I almost forgot it’s all backed up to Backblaze as well. I checked. The stuff I need to restore is around 775 Gigabytes. Yikes. Backblaze will shove it all on a 4 TB drive and ship it to me for US$190. Good luck getting it delivered in the Philippines, eh? The largest zip file they will prepare for downloading is 500 gig – but how long would that take me to download?  I think somewhere between 5 and 10 days.  So I’m preparing little 10 gig chunks (they will only let you request up to 5 restores per day) and that will take awhile. I’m not going to restore everything – too many things I only played once or never.

Well, at least California and Massachusetts passed marijuana legalization bills. If Clinton had been elected I definitely would have considered a return to the U.S. for a few years. But now? Maybe not so much.

Distractions

Mom is home from the hospital. There is still a long ordeal ahead. At least my wife and I finally don’t have to go to the hospital every day (something we did for 18 days) and can do some stuff for us, getting out briefly on both Saturday and Sunday.  Which was nice.

Saturday we just went out for a walk along Bonfacio High Street. The TLC channel had some huge event going on, celebrity guest that “Cake Boss” guy, not a thing for us. We had lunch at Pink’s, a franchise of the legendary Hollywood hot dog joint, brought to Manila by the folks behind Wildflour. My second time there. I stuck with “the Hollywood Legend” (your basic chili dog), my wife had the “Don’t Mess With Texas” (bacon, cheese, cole slaw, barbecue sauce). We agreed it’s quite okay but still prefer Lazy Bastard.

Sunday we splurged a bit and went to Salvatore Cuomo, the Manila outpost of an Italian restaurant from Japan, and as odd as that concept might seem, it was absolutely fabulous start to finish. Here’s their custom-built pizza oven:

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And here’s the pizza we had:

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A four cheese pizza onto which the server drizzled a small amount of honey – the right flour, the right kind of pizza oven, this may now be my favorite pizza in Manila. I also couldn’t resist their platter of salami, parma ham and mortadella and full marks go to their spaghetti with salmon, mushrooms and olive oil (which also included cherry tomatoes, olives and capers). Knock them down a notch for being a stand-alone restaurant that for some reason did not have a functioning toilet. Nevertheless, we will return. We were there mid-afternoon, were told at night reservations are an absolute must.

Another sort of distraction, looking at this web site that lists every show at the Fillmore East in NYC and trying to remember which shows I went to. I can’t pin down the exact shows (bands often played there 2 or 3 days in a row, 2 shows per night) but …

June 5 & 6, 1969 – The Who, Chuck Berry, Albert King

October 20-25, 1969 – The Who

February 6 & 7, 1970 – Delaney & Bonnie and Friends with Eric Clapton, Seals and Crofts, Wilbert Harrison

May 8 & 9, 1970 – Mothers of Invention, Insect Trust, Sea Train

May 15, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

July 9-12, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

September 17-20, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

(I probably didn’t go to all of those but can’t remember the exact shows I attended)

November 25-28, 1970 – Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

April 16 &17, 1970 – John Mayall, Boz Scaggs, Randall’s Island

April 25-29, 1970 – Grateful Dead, New Riders

May 20, 1970 – Leon Russell, Taj Mahal, Donny Hathaway

June 5-6, 1970 – Frank Zappa and the Mothers, Hampton Grease Band, Head Over Heels

Suffice to say that for every show I did go to, there were 5 more that I wish I’d gone to. Allman Brothers, Hendrix, Floyd, CSNY. How did I miss a night that had Joe Cocker, Fleetwood Mac and King Crimson?  Big Brother, Tim Buckley and Albert King? Neil Young, Steve Miller and Miles Davis? The Kinks and the Bonzo Dog Band?

The above prompted by seeing on Facebook that my piano teacher Barry Goldberg’s band The Rides (with Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd) is doing some gigs next year with Buddy Guy, and then checking the dates for the one and only time I saw Buddy Guy live.

Other distractions, looking at the mega-box sets coming out in time for Christmas.

Bob Dylan – The 1966 Live Recordings

36 disc boxed set of every recorded show from his 1966 tours of US, UK and Australia. Pretty much the same set list night after night. A relative bargain at US$106, but not so essential. All this stuff has been available on bootlegs for ages but probably/hopefully the audio will be noticeably upgraded.

Pink Floyd – The Early Years 1965-1972

Okay, fasten your seat belts. 11 CDs, 8 Blu-Rays, 9 DVD’s, 5 7-inch singles. “7 individual book-style volumes, featuring much previously unreleased material. The Early Years box set contains unreleased tracks, BBC Radio Sessions, remixes, outtakes and alternative versions over an incredible 11 hours, 45 mins of audio (made up of 130+ tracks) and live and TV performance in over 14 hours of audio-visual material. The content includes over 20 unreleased songs, more than 7 hours of previously unreleased live audio and over 5 hours of rare concert footage, along with 5 meticulously produced 7″ singles in replica sleeves, collectible memorabilia, feature films and new sound mixes. Previously unreleased tracks include 1967’s Vegetable Man and In The Beechwoods, which have been mixed for the first time, specially for this release.”

The price for all this goodness? US$571. I will have to take a pass. Even though this for me covers the Pink Floyd that matters to me. For me the Pink Floyd albums that matter are the live disc from Ummagumma, Meddle, Dark Side, Wish You Were Here. Then Piper and Saucerful. And then everything else (yes, including The Wall).

There’s also yet another reissue of The Band’s The Last Waltz (CD/blu-ray boxed set) and a 5 CD super deluxe version of The Who’s My Generation.

The Rolling Stones are flooding the market – following their recent mammoth Rolling Stones In Mono box (which sounds really great) there’s a new studio album (all blues covers) and the Havana Moon CD/blu-ray box of their recent show in Cuba. I’ve lost track of how many live albums/videos the Stones have released in the past ten years but this new one does have this:

(Watch it to the end – it’s worth it. Or if you’re really impatient skip ahead to 5:12 and watch to the end.)

In terms of TV, aside from The Walking Dead (season 7 episode 1 was so gruesome and sadistic that it took me 2 weeks to watch the entire thing, and I’m someone who is not put off by gore in film and tv), there is Westworld and John Oliver, of course. But also The Good Place (something I should really hate but don’t) and Pamela Adlon’s Better Things (stunning and original) and I’ve only just discovered Black Mirror which is amazing.

And we actually made it out to the movies to see Dr. Strange, and I’m glad I did.

And if all continues well, I’ll be in Hong Kong next week for a few days.

 

 

 

Still Hanging On

My mother has now been in the hospital for 15 days but the news is getting better.

The news I got on Saturday morning had me rushing to the hospital thinking it could be her final day. it appeared that she was losing her battle with pneumonia. I cried a little bit while talking to her, something I hadn’t expected.

But she made it through Saturday and by Monday the lead doctor was saying he thought she might even be able to come home by the end of the week. However, she is still getting most of her nutrition via IV and is unwilling to eat more than a few bites of food at a time. That’s one problem.

Another is that we put her on morphine a few days ago because the other painkillers simply weren’t cutting it. I have no personal experience with morphine and from what I’ve observed of how she’s reacting to it, it’s nasty stuff, at least for someone her age. She has no pain, most of the time, but she’s also completely incoherent. I was against having her sedated like crazy while she finishes recuperating – in part to focus on getting her eating again – but she has barely slept and talks non-stop 20 hours per day. Tonight I asked the doctor to increase the sedatives and see what happens.

We’ve spent the last two weeks eating fast food from the various places across the street at the Rockwell Business Center in Ortigas. That means McDonald’s, KFC, Juju Eats, Kimono Ken, Mongkok, Mary Grace, Yellow Cab, Jollibee, Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Krispy Kreme, Yamato (they’ve got blueberry danish and mini chocolate croissants and some days that’s been all we’ve been able to get her to eat). It wasn’t until the last couple of nights that we felt confident enough to get in the car and go somewhere else to get some real food.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to the Jewish Association of the Philippines (not that I expect any of them read this). The Rabbi has visited the hospital twice, once even bringing someone along to play some blackjack with my mother, because she said she loved it. Unfortunately she wasn’t up to it that day. Some of the other members came by yesterday and took me out for coffee and offered a lot of moral support. I’m not a very active member of the congregation by any means so I was really touched by these gestures.

I’m supposed to go to Hong Kong next week but I suspect that won’t happen. Maybe the week after.

I’m just exhausted. I’m amazed that I haven’t been drinking myself to sleep every night but oddly enough I haven’t had a drink in two weeks – maybe it’s just that I really hate drinking alone and every night my wife has been asleep within 10 minutes of our walking in the front door. Still smoking though – my plan is once my mother is really out of danger and back home I’m going to start up with the Champix again.

Anyway, I realized it has been 8 days since my last blog post, thought some people might be curious how we are, we’re still hanging on, still hanging in.

I’ve Had Better Lives … Or Have I?

It’s been a hell of a week. Literally.

I’ve mentioned previously about my mother’s injury, her fractured pelvis. I didn’t realize until just a few days ago that her injury happened on 9-11 (2016).

Last weekend it seemed that she was improving. She was off the pain-killers, so more lucid, in better spirits, joining us in the dining room for more meals. But on Monday morning she was in constant pain, not from her pelvis, and we carried her out to the car and brought her to the hospital.

More than 8 hours in the emergency room, at which point they determined that she had an infection, her heartbeat was irregular and she was showing signs of malnutrition. (I can’t say that the last was a huge surprise given that her doctor wanted her to drink two cans of Ensure per day and it was taking her 3 days to finish even one can.)  So after hours and hours in the waiting room, she was admitted to the hospital and put on all sorts of IV’s for medication and feeding. No solid foods, not even any liquids.

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I’ve Smoked For 42 Years Thanks to Michael Jackson, Now I’m Trying to Quit

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Unlike most people who smoke cigarettes, I didn’t become a smoker until I was 20 years old, definitely old enough to know better. Up until that point, I’d only smoked healthy things like marijuana and hashish. Cigarettes came along at a time in my life when I was trying to cut back on grass, and for that I blame Michael Jackson.

Well, his name was Michael Jackson, but you called him Mickey – if you called him Michael he’d beat you to a pulp. The famous Michael Jackson was just 16 years old and still with the Jackson 5, and Mickey didn’t like the comparison.

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My Bob Dylan Playlist

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Bob Dylan speaks onstage at the 25th anniversary MusiCares 2015 Person Of The Year Gala honoring Bob Dylan at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The annual benefit raises critical funds for MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance and Addiction Recovery programs. For more information visit musicares.org.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Congrats to Bob Dylan, the first songwriter (and the first American since 1993) to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I didn’t become a Dylan fan until the 70s, more a factor of my age than anything else. I knew the singles and I knew him from the numerous cover versions of his songs. I never really focused on any of his albums until the release of Blood on the Tracks. Once I became a fan, I became a lifelong fan. The first time I saw him live was with The Band around 1973 or 74. I’ve seen him many times since then. I’d rank the Rolling Thunder Revue shows I saw very highly, but then again late 90’s in Jones Beach was also fantastic. The last concert I attended was a few years back when he came to Hong Kong. I’d gladly see him again.

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I Saw Duterte Speak

My company is a member of the Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The PCCI held their annual conference this week. Our CEO couldn’t attend and so I was “asked” to attend in his place. And then I heard that Philippines President Duterte was one of the scheduled speakers. But I couldn’t find  the schedule online anywhere to know when he was speaking, who else would be speaking, what topics would be covered, etc.

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I arrived at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay early enough on Wednesday to hear the speech from VP Leni Robredo. Sitting all the way in the back of this airplane-hanger-size ballroom, the acoustics were horrible and it was difficult to make out a lot of what she was saying but it appeared to be a standard “we’re great and we’re gonna be greater” speech, with some focus on spreading growth to the poorer people in the provinces. No one could argue with that. The teleprompter was placed in an awkward position that had her constantly looking off to the side and she also kept nodding her head up and down as she spoke – someone needs to tell her not to do that.

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iPhone 7 Plus – Changing the Location of Your Backups

If you’ve been following along, you might recall that I got the new iPhone 7 Plus with 256 gig of RAM, the intention being to use that additional space for Lossless (FLAC) music files. I’ve so far added in more than 60 gig of FLAC files.

And then I ran into a problem – well actually two problems.

The first problem is that when I got the phone and set it up and then upgraded from iOS 10.0 to 10.0.1, it went into recovery mode. And the same thing happened again yesterday when doing the upgrade from 10.0.1 to 10.0.2. I have not had a chance to search around and see if this is a commonly reported issue or not. I may bring the phone to the Apple store when I am in Hong Kong this weekend.

Doing all of these back-ups and restores came with a cost. Like many people today, I use a relatively small solid state drive (SSD) for my C: drive. Mine is 223 gigabytes. I try to put as much as possible on other drives – all my data, most application installations and so on.

iOS is treating all of these FLAC files as “Documents & Data.” That means that this 60+ gig gets backed up every time I back up my phone. And that used up all of the free space on my C: drive. All of it.

iTunes does not offer you any options for location of your iOS device back-up files. They go on the C: drive, hidden away in a directory called C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync.

I did not want to go out and replace my SSD. And I didn’t want to delete all those FLAC files from my phone. Finally I found a solution here. Basically what you’re doing is creating a symbolic link in the MobileSync directory to a new backup folder, which can be located anywhere you want (in my case, on my E:\ drive).

This may sound complicated but it’s not. That page does such a clear job of explaining it that I was able to get it set up in just a few minutes, and working right the first time. I now have 129 gig free space on my C:\ drive.

I won’t say this is a life saver for me, but it’s saved me from an expensive upgrade.