Just Can’t Say Good-bye

I have 6 guitars. Probably, five too many. I also have five amplifiers of various wattage, size, and electronics. I need to get rid of most of them. Mostly, because they take up a lot of space and I’m long “retired” from the live music scene. I decided I would try to play one each week for several weeks and find out which ones I could part with. It is an impossible task.

Of the collection I currently own, the oldest is an Ibenez 6 string semi-acoustic. For the unguitarist group, a semi-acoustic is most identical to a classic 6 string that can be played by itself but it has an electronics plug that allows you to amplify the sound through a sound system or amplifier. Frankly, it sounds just a little “tinny” (very metalic bright) acoustic but has electronics that make it sound very mello through an amplifier. I’ve had that guitar for about 25 years, maybe longer. It is in remarkable shape. It is not the top of line model but it isn’t a Christmas present toy either. When playing live, I ran it through a Crate 85 watt amp my father purchased for me from a music store on Main Street in Smithtown, NY. It has several channels that allowed me to connect a microphone as well. It has made me a lot of pocket change over the years and got me through a lot of weddings.

The second is a Taylor 6 string semi-acoustic. Again, not the top of line model but not a beginner’s model either. I’ve owned that since the Fall of 2012. I used to play this through a 20 watt solid state Behringer piano amp that can include build in effects. It was quite the work horse. Through this amp the Taylor works and sounds great. The third is a Yamaha Pacifica 6 string electric modeled to look like a Stratocaster. I purchased that with a Peavy solid state 35 watt amplifier that can similate a whole bunch of stacks, cabinets, and amplifier modes. Frankly, I used that sparingly during my life performance days.

The prettiest of the group is a Tacamini 12 string jumbo that is almost identical to the one played by Glen Fry of the Eagles. I used that a lot live and when I played in the “church chorus band”. Since you have to tune it down one whole note (E being the common tuning / D being the 12 string tuning) I learned a great deal about transposing music from one key to another and really learned the value of a capo. That is also a semiacoustic and sounds phenominal acoustic or amplified. I played this live and through a 150 watt Behringer Sound System. It has many of the same effects as the Behringer piano amp, above, but has many inputs, level pans, monitor outputs and room simulators.

My favorite guitar is a 2015 Fender Telecaster American Standard Delux blond 6 string made in the California plant (that appears to have since moved to Mexico). It is, by far, the most expensive and is one I consider to be a “real” guitar, probably because I only consider price as being the gauge in determining what is real and what is just a hobby guitar. I play that through a 35 watt Fender Tube Tweed reissue. It has a “bright” channel and over drive capability. I have only used that twice in live performance. But, I love it. As a side note, there are four guitars I have always wanted. The Fender mentioned above because Bruce Springsteen plays a similar model; a Gibson Les Paul similar to the one Peter Frampton plays; a Gibson Byrdland semi acoustic hollow body similar to the one Ted Nugent plays; and a Gretsch Streamline 6120 like Brian Seltzer from the Stray Cats plays. I can’t see really ever having the justification for making those rather large purchases.

Finally, I have a Fender Bass (market entry) model that my son gave me a few years ago.

The end of my little week long playing experiment made it clear none of these would be leaving. Each time I began to play one it brought back memories of certain events and I began to feel like they were old friends who had stopped by to chat about the past. All of them still sounded great and although my voice has weakened and long gone out of tune, it was so much fun to pick them up and start singing.

I guess we have all something tucked away in a dresser drawer, hidden away in a closet, or collecting dust in an attic that should have been disposed of long ago but tug at us to remain in our possession. Everytime we see them, they bring up memories, both happy and sad, and leave a strong feeling of nostalgia. I decided to mount these all on their guitar stands and spread them out throughout the house almost like art or furniture accessories. Everytime I move from room to room I inwardly smile and feel a small sense of peace.

I have a small group of close friends. And, I won’t be getting rid of them any time soon.

Some Things Can’t Be Ignored

I was referred to an editorial, well – advertisement is a more accurate description, by a journalist employed by one of NY’s papers. The journalist is explaining why he voted for Trump in 2016 and why he is going to vote for him again next week.

Firstly, anything from the the paper in question will be suspect for some time now considering the horrendously embarrassing “scoop” they received on the Hunter Biden lap top story. A story so bad even William Barr didn’t touch it. A story so bad not one GOP ass licker chased it. A story quickly shown to be a desperate attempt by Trump to throw shit up against to the wall to see if it would stick. It fell right off. Towards the end of his editorial he is almost whining about how his employer’s 1st Amendment Rights were squashed when all other journalist outlets showed it was a joke. If he was so concerned about his employer’s position why hasn’t the employer done anything since? Don’t worry, Rudy’s on the job. He’ll fix it for you.

Now, let’s get into the editorial.

We can skip over all the garbage regarding the 2016 Election other than to point out, if you read what he writes closely, he makes it clear he didn’t “vote for Trump”, he cast an anti-Hillary vote. So did a lot of other people. So what.

He goes on to admit Trump has a questionable background and complete lack of experience. He was hoping for something better but, “Four years later, everything has changed, not all of it for the better.” Frankly, I’m waiting to read exactly what he feels is indeed better. (Crickets)

He claims Trump has produced peace and prosperity. We should be able to stop right there because neither of those two things happened. Trump hasn’t done one single thing to promote peace. He has simply been very lucky that nothing has happened during the first four years on his watch.

He claims Trump’s most admirable trait is that he has kept his promises. I struggle to find any single one to which he refers. If it’s building the wall and making Mexico pay for it, well, that’s easy. Mexico didn’t pay for anything. And, the wall, what ever version of “a wall” you believe in, didn’t get completed. If he refers to clearing out the swamp, we’ll it’s very clear all he did was bring in all his yes men and women and weakened the country on the whole by putting people lacking in any type of experience into roles that clearly have no clue about. If he refers to the big tax break, well, sure you got your pitiful “tax stimulus check” but you lost a bunch of great tax write offs. A) you essentially either broke even or are now paying more on April 17th, and, B) that goes away after 5 years. So, essentially, you’re screwed. If he was referring to all the jobs he was going to bring back to the country, that fell flat on it’s face. Period. I guess I could look up all of Trump’s “promises” and then pick them apart one by one but I’ve already made my point.

While I agree eliminating regulations and cutting taxes sounds good, all we now get is more polluted water and more polluted air. Regulations have been put in place to control big businesses from placing profits above the lives of the public. I’ve already covered the cutting taxes farce.

Regarding Iran, nothing new there. Every president since Reagan has been putting pressure on Iran. We can just skip over that segment.

Getting other countries to pay more for NATO was, indeed, a good thing. Making the country a laughing stock; having other world leaders literally laughing behind Trump’s back during a major meeting of world leaders (all caught on camera); leaving us in a position where no one trusts us; and outright demolishing the reputation the US had as a world leader is nothing to be proud about.

His discussion on China fails to mention Trump’s family’s business connections there; the fact that all of his threatened sanctions and tariffs never materialized; and his failure to contain their aggressive positions in the South China Sea and most of South East Asia makes it clear Trump has no policy for responding to same.

Regarding the corona virus, you heard it with your own two ears. Trump admitting on tape he knew how dangerous it was and he held back cautions to the public. Why, because “he didn’t want to cause a panic”. What panic is that? On Wall Street? Was Trump afraid the one and only good thing going on would crash too? He lied to the public. He endangered lives and some may have lost their life because of him. And, that IS the point. As far as a rapid progress on a vaccine is concerned, there is nothing rapid about it. We should hope not. We don’t need some hastily developed medicine that could injure us in other ways.

He states an “honest score card must also include the disparities in the states’ performances”. Hmm, well, that score card will also Trump lied about everything to do with the virus, was giving out bad information and making ridiculous suggestions while criticizing the science, scientists and experts all of tried to protect us. Indeed there were fatal flaws. But they resulted from the poor performance of Trump.

The rest of his advertisement is really just the same old arguments we hear day after day. Nothing more than cry baby retorts about protecting one of most failing presidencies in American history.

Perhaps the kicker is the last two paragraphs in the editorial, and I quote the author direct,

“Thus, the election is not just Trump vs. Biden. It’s also America vs. The New York Times.” And, that’s what this was really all about. Trying to have the employer’s paper stand toe to toe with the NY Times. He loses that one every day of the week. He says it’s not just Trump vs. Biden. Here I agree. I’ll quote Biden on this one: “The character of the country is on the ballot.  Our character is on the ballot.” 

Vote for America. Indeed.

What is Trump’s Real Motive – Covid-19

Over the past few days Trump and some of his lesser intelligent staff members at the White House have been touting “herd immunity” as the answer to Covid-19. I should remind you that every solution presented by Trump and his lesser intelligent staff members at the White House have 1. quickly been proven as false information by the science community and 2. never worked. (Which leaves one to wonder why anyone with half a brain would either try what they recommend or pass it on to friends and loved ones as good information.)

So, let’s stop here for a moment as I would encourage all those who do support Trump’s claims for herd immunity to stop reading this blog post, go to the internet and look up three sources of information on herd immunity. Otherwise, your ability to comprehend this post, written at a third grade reading level (the reading level this writer) will be too much for you.

The next question is why would Trump push information that is blatantly false and would end up getting hundreds of thousands of people infected?

Is he desperately grasping at straws as the election moves closer and everyone clearly sees he did practically nothing to protect the country? Maybe, I guess one could argue he’s making suggestions as if he is in a brain storming session and just throwing out everything he can think of (well, he’s really not coming up with these suggestions anyway) hoping something will work. Frankly, that’s giving him too much credit.

Is he hoping that voter turn out will be suppressed by hundreds of thousands of new infections? Maybe, but that will backfire in his face because most moderates and Democrats wear masks and otherwise try to comply with CDC recommendations so it’s only his core, Qanon followers, and other mental incompetents that will get sick.

Is he trying to make the general population as cash strapped and in debt as he is by exposing it to massive amounts of uninsured medical bills and budget crushing prescription costs (think of all his attacks on the Affordable Care Act)? That’s rather sinister but a likely result. But, then again which segment of the population would suffer the most? (See paragraph above.)

Is he trying to weaken the population so it can’t defend itself from a foreign invasion? Highly unlikely. Not a very good military strategy.

Is he trying to weaken Democrats and moderates so they can’t physically remove him from office should he decide not to accept the election results and turn his “Proud Boys” loose on the American public? Again, really not a good strategy because it is clear he’ll be removed by Federal Marshalls and see three paragraphs above.

Well, I’m at a loss. I can’t really say why Trump would ever continue to press a health strategy that, well, isn’t a health strategy at all.

News So Fake Even the Trumpkins Knew It Was a Lie

So, when was the last time the NY Post broke a huge, I mean election changing huge, story?? I’ll make it easy for you – NEVER.

I guess I am not the only one who immediately knew their front page story about Hunter Biden’s emails with the Russians was a complete farse. Fortunatley, we have a free press cored with investigative journalists. They proved today they are so important to a democracy…… so important to THIS democracy. Even Fox News was extremely hesitant to report on this “October Surpirse”.

If your first question wasn’t why did the computer repair guy pass the information onto Rudy Guliani rather than the F.B.I., then perhaps you need a refresher on philosphical ethics, morals, and logic. Come on !!!!!!

Another fortunate event in this whole mess what the fact that the computer repair guy folded so easily. Obviously, not being a good liar, he couldn’t even get his own story facts straight and was, literally, sweating so much he probably lost 3 pounds during the interview with the throng of journalists who knew his story was bullshit from the get go.

We’re coming down to the wire on this election. It doesn’t matter who your guy is. CHECK THE FACTS !!!!!!!

The GOP War on the Postal Service – Scamming the Public Again

Donald Trump has been bashing, maligning, criticizing, and making blatantly false statements about the United States Postal Service for months now. He, however, might not be the first GOP member to attack the postal service in the never ending quest to make it a private enterprise (owned by a bunch of GOP members with some kind of inadequate and incompetent level of logistics experience). That honor goes to the GOP in general who came up with some very creative ways to make the USPS look bad. Aggresiously bad.

This is so odd considering the USPS enjoys a 91% approval rating with the American public. It delivers 47 – 49% of the WORLD’S mail to over 160 million locations in the United States alone. It has received $0, zero, zilch, nil, nothing – absolutely no government funding since 1982. It was, at one time, singularly, the one and only best employment place for blacks. As of April 1st, 2020, and supported by a TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AUDIT, when you remove the scam about to be discussed below, the USPS has been a profitable enterprise FOR DECADES.

So, let’s consider these few items: the United States military is a service. Correct? That is, tax payer money is used to fund their operations including benefits for their “employees”. We, the tax payers, really don’t actually see, smell, hear, touch nor taste the benefits of that particular service. But, we certainly do benefit by the protection it brings. It should be noted, there is really no, what so ever, revenue stream the United States military provides. The United States Postal Service is a service. Correct? That is, tax payer.. wait a minute – stop right there.

In 2006 a group of Senators and Congress folks, all who had logistic companies in their district and / or stock or other financial interests in United Parcel Service, FedEx, DHS, etc., came up with a scheme to make the USPS look horrendous and thus eliminate it. That scam was called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. In brief, it mandates the postal service PRE FUND it’s pension system. So, what does that mean? If your bank came to you and said, “Over the course of your life you will probably buy three cars and two houses. The average car is $40,000 and the average house is $400,000. Therefore, we are going to start charging you principal and interest on $920,000 now. Because, you’re going to do it in the future.” That’s exactly what this scam does. It projects pension benefits into the end of the century, an amount of roughly $335,000,000,000 (335 billion). That’s insane. That’s inappropriate considering no other branch of government has to fund itself. That’s a scam because on paper the USPS looks like a huge loser but take away this mandate and they flourish. That’s a crime because GOP members will benefit when they start up their own version of the USPS.

Then, to strangle the USPS even more, it is forced to put all of its funding into government bonds. You know, those extremely low yield, long term financial instruments.

So, to conclude, we now see the USPS is actually profiting, is actually an impressive revenue stream, and provides a great service that has been in existence SINCE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN in 1775 !!!!!!!! This continued attack, from a financial argument, against the USPS has no merit. For if you are to believe the GOP logic for privatization, then you need to privatize the military, the housing department, the energy department, the education department, the FBI, DEA, DHS, Justice Department, the Senate, Congress, etc etc. You know, all those agencies that DON’T have a revenue stream.

DeFunding The Police – Let’s Think About That

Have you ever watched a British police show?  Off topic for a minute, the writing is extraordinary.  They are fascinating to watch if only for the differences in the method of policing and investigating.  If they are investigating a crime and you catch their attention, they can get your phone records and your bank records from the get go.  Then, when you’re brought in, your lawyer has to, more or less, just sit there while you’re questioned.  And then you hear this phrase, “We need to keep our inquiries within budget….”  That’s right, each investigation has an actual budget.  And, if they hit the budget, that’s it, game over.

Now, back to the issue at hand.  Our police departments also have a budget.  And, let’s not kid anybody, police departments can be a revenue stream for a municipality.  Fees for alarm permits, job application finger print cards, accident reports, and the good ol’ here’s your ticket to the policeman’s ball.  Frankly, they’re already underfunded.  And, this is what happens when they’re underfunded and there are calls to cut even more funding:

  1. Inability to properly vet applicants.
    1. Cut backs in applicant investigation squads have detectives racing through the application process.  It is easy to see how bad eggs can slip through.
    2. Cut backs in the technology these investigators could have used in the form of databases makes it easier for a bad cop that got fired in South Carolina to show up in Montana and get another policing job.
  2. Inability to properly train officers.
    1. Officers coming from other jurisdictions are, most times, pushed through an accelerated academy so they can get them on the street quicker.  Again, the ability to catch bad eggs during the training process is decreased.
    2. Sensitivity training.
    3. Teaching self defense moves to limit suspect injury while enhancing handcuff abilities.  (Probably poorly worded but you get my drift.)
    4. Real, enhanced, civil rights training.
    5. Real, enhanced, criminal rights training.
    6. Real, enhanced, first responder training.
  3. Inability to equip officers.
    1. Body cams – enough said.  They all need them and not all jurisdictions can afford them.
    2. Self defense and offensive weapons.  Sorry folks, they need to be able to go on the offensive when necessary.  Think back to that bank robbery in LA when the bad guys had full body armor and the advanced weapons.  The cops had to go to gun stores and beg for loaners !!!!  Insane !!!!!
    3. Patrol vehicles.  These things run 24 hours a day.  The wear and tear budget alone is punishing.  Not to mention car accidents, vandalism, and theft.
  4. Slower response times.
    1. When you have to lay off officers there are cut backs in shift coverage.  That means less officers available to respond during certain time periods.  There is a police department on the east end of Long Island that has past experiences with one car, ONE CAR, covering the entire township during a midnight tour.  One car.  Where’s the back up?  What happens if two calls come in at the same time?  Funny story, one night the back up came from a Conservation Police Officer that just happened to be at a State Park close by and was monitoring the local police on his scanner.  CRAZY !!!!!  And, not so funny.
    2. Some jurisdictions have all volunteer ambulance and fire crews.  Long Island, NY, for example, has historically been all volunteer.  (Note: those volunteers are better equipped, better trained, and sometimes levels above their professional peers in quality of service).  But, they sleep at home.  So, when the car accident happens, the first responder is the cop, not the rescue crew.  What happens when, due to defunding, the closest car is 5 minutes away?
  5. Call / Job Priority.  With only five cars running when there should be eight, which call gets pushed to the bottom….. the bank robbery, the car accident, the dog locked in a car on a hot day, or “suspicious odor emitting from the residence of… (dead person)”?

You can be as political as you want.  You can be as anti-cop as you want.  But, at the end of the day, you’ll be the first one to dial 911 when someone is breaking into your house.

We don’t need defunding.  We need MORE funding.  And, for those of you who are still so anti-equip-the-police, perhaps the better thing to do is monitor where the money is being spent and hold police departments accountable to prove money was used to hire a sociologist to teach at the academy regarding the local population specifics; law experts to teach civil rights training; body cam purchases; etc.

The police are the figurative line between chaos and civility.  You can try to pretend otherwise all you want.  They need more funding.

Trump Administration Violates Geneva Convention

Uniform – “una” (one) / “forma” (form).  Clothing that is assigned to members of the same military unit to show or demonstrate that the people wearing the uniform belongs to the armed forces of a particular State (capital S, meaning country).

A military or police uniform is used to separate them from the rest of the civilian population.  During armed conflict they can lawfully take part in combative action.

Obviously, the lack of a uniform indicates a person is a civilian and therefore cannot be attacked.

The armed forces in the United States have very specific regulations regarding uniforms.  In fact, the regulations are hundreds of pages long (369 at last count).

Distinctive signs on the uniform, like rank, lanyards and arm patches can be removed in combat situations for covert operations. 

 Undercover work or espionage mostly take place without proper identifying clothing even though it may be unlawful under international law. 

International Humanitarian Law Article 44(7) mandate the wearing of identifiable uniforms during conflict.

Article 48 of the Geneva Convention states the military must wear distinguishable uniforms and “… must conduct their operations only against military objectives”.

The 1907 Hague Regulations Article 1(2) and Article 4(A)(2)(b) of the 3rd Geneva Convention of 1949 mandate the need for elements of affiliation (shoulder patches, badges, unit designators).

The failure of a military member to distinguish himself (by removing his patches and other identifying marks) is in breach of the law of war in violation of Article 37 (1)(c) and Article 23 (b) of the 1907 Hauge Regulations.

The military units that fired tear gas at the demonstrators in Washington DC remain, to this day, even in the age of aggressive investigative journalism and the internet, unidentified.

The Trump Administration is in violation of the Hague Regulations, the Geneva Convention, and International Humanitarian Laws of War.  This is not even to mention the violation of Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 1385 that states the military does not take place of civilian law enforcement.

Finally, were those “military personnel” really military?  Or, were they private contractors like Black Water?

Did the Trump Administration just declare war on the civilians of the United States?

Taking Kangaroo Court to a Whole New Level

Ok, so I’m not even going to try to hide my feelings on this. Everyone knows I absolutely despise this president and have now lost all respect for, not only the Republican Party but the Democrats as well. You will be shocked to learn I did NOT want Trump impeached. Well, I have to take that back, I wanted him impeached but I don’t want him kicked out of office for several reasons. 1. It gives all his supporters the fake argument that Congress moved against the will of the voting public to remove a dually elected president from office. 2. I want him to face the next election where he will learn how much the American public has been disgusted by his tenure in the office. Then again, I actually hope he DOES get re-elected. What???!!!!

Let’s start with our Democrat friends. So in a rush to get the impeachment they didn’t subpoena the White House staff because that would end up in additional lawsuits and would take too much time. Hmmm. Then they said failure to produce the witnesses was additional proof of the presidents obstruction of Congress. On it’s face, yes. In reality, no. Trump is like any other citizen enjoying the right to defend himself.

I imagine many Republican seats in the Senate and House will be a lot more subject to turn over because of this. Even moderate Republicans here in Arizona, one of most pro-Trump venues, wanted witnesses. Martha McSally might very well lose this Fall because of her vote.

I can’t believe not ONE, not one, Democrat voted No. It’s appalling that both sides, but for two Republicans who really didn’t care either way, voted along party lines. That’s not in the American Citizen’s best interest. That was in THEIR best interest.

Now, getting back to hoping Trump actually wins in November. Consider the Senate turning Democrat. The House remaining Democrat. Talk about a lame duck presidency. He’ll be lucky if he can get his White House food budget approved never mind anything of substance.

At the end of the day, the Senate made it clear they consider themselves subservient to the president. How wrong. At best, they are actually above the presidency. At worst, they are equal. What they did was make it clear one of branches of government is now simply irrelevant. That’s right, we can probably do away with the House and the Senate. They don’t do anything but enjoy all the benefits they deprive the American Citizen of, take extended recesses, and vote themselves raises. And, regardless of whether their Republicans or Democrats, if all they are going to do is vote the party line, they are wasting our tax dollars – again.

I will make a prediction that the final vote will not come before the Superbowl nor before the State of Union because the Senate will hope holding the final Impeachment decision up will reign Trump in from an endless self-praise speech next Tuesday.

The only thing the Senate can now do to save any little respect they have for themselves is to, at least, censor the president in some fashion. But, that’s never going to happen either.

And, don’t even get me started on the news media.

What is DMR Radio? Is it the new “HF”?

I’ve been a licensed amateur radio operator for some time now.  My original license was a Technician License granted under KC2MLT.  Around 2013 I updated to a General License with a vanity call, KD2KEV.

I usually “worked” the 2 meter band but discovered my handheld could “hit” many more repeaters on 70cm (440 band).  Recently, I was listening to two other stations going back and forth about “packet radio”, a concept I still haven’t gotten yet, and then one of the guys said, “I have to look into DMR”.

Now, that’s a phrase I’m familiar with because most of the law enforcement agencies in our country have switched over to digital trunking with Motorola products.  DMR is quite similar as it uses handheld radios that link to repeaters on a particular frequency.  Then, you monitor certain “talk groups” within that repeaters range.  The talk groups for first responders are usually assigned by venue (city) then department (police department, fire department, parks and recreation) and then precinct or firehouse, or park location, and then there can be specialist talk groups for car to car, detectives, fire Marshalls, park supervisors, etc.  DMR on the amateur side is similar in that talk groups can be assigned to particular Ham Clubs, cities, specialist groups (think Facebook Pages) like Phoenix Trail Riders or Thunderbird Radio Club.

Well, after an initial investment based on a warranty when one of my radios went kurplunk, I received an AnyTone 878 Bluetooth with GPS.  Various internet sources claim this radio is the bomb.  So far, I’ve gotten compliments on the purchase from many other stations.  HOWEVER, I hadn’t made one single digital contact.  It seems I could barely reach the local repeater on a place called White Tanks Mountain on the far west side of the Phoenix Valley (actually located in Waddell, Arizona and part of the Maricopa County Parks System).  Frustrated beyond believe, I hit the internet again and discovered my issue could easily be resolved with a Hot Spot.  A hot what?   A hot spot is a tiny piece of engineering miracle that allows you to connect to other Talk Groups via the internet but by using your radio.  So, think of your hot spot as a little router connected to your home’s router, connected to a modem, connected to the internet, connected to a particular DMR Master (I use Brandmeister) that houses connection ports FOR THE WORLD.

AND, get this, you can connect it / tether it to your cell phone and use it in the car or any other place that doesn’t have internet (but a cell tower needs to be in the area).

So, essentially, my little DMR handheld became an old fashioned HF radio that could circle the world without the need to wait for certain sun spots, propagation, time of the day, and antenna availability.

Did HF become a dying skill much like morse code?