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December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas, From Fred « Politics As Usual »

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December 21, 2007

What Can I Say? I Know My Alcohol... « The Brain Fertilizer Way »


Find a Ultrasound school near you

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December 14, 2007

Westone Guitar Projects « Music/Guitar »

I mentioned that my next hobby would be fixing up guitars...that goal has morphed somewhat, but only slightly; it may be more accurate to say that goal has focused.

I think I may now love Westone guitars more than Carvin guitars.

The Carvin is a great axe, of course. If you want a beautiful new guitar that sounds wonderful, you cannot get one cheaper than a Carvin...and the Carvin lets you customize any guitar to your desires.

But it isn't every day that you can spend $1200 on a guitar. You can buy them for anywhere between $400-800 used on eBay, but that's still steep.

But reading about Westone (and its predecessor, Electra, as well as its successor, Alvarez), I really started to fall in love with what I read. Check out as much as you can in the link above, but the real convincing testimonies are here. Particularly check out the Spectrum, Pantera, and Corsair guitars. Most people talk emphasize:
1) reliability - the guitars are solid and apparently last forever (which increases your chance of getting a decent one on eBay)
2) playability - good action
3) sonic flexibility - the Westones all seem to always have coil taps, and often add in phase switching and unbalanced humbuckers, plus great output. Apparently they can sonically conquer some vintage Gibsons and Fenders, and modern Paul Reed Smiths.

Well, we'll see. I've picked up 3 in eBay auctions lately, all for right about $100 + $30 shipping.

The first is a true project. Someone disassembled the pickups and added a Roland guitar synth. It obviously needs to be wired up again, but I know I can do it after my experience with my JB Player. I couldn't see the paint condition very well, and I'm risking the neck/frets being in good condition...but at $130, I think it is worth the risk. I could probably part it out for more than that, as it has the full Floyd Rose Bendmaster trem system, the guitar synth, etc.

The second is a Frankenstein guitar. It has a really beautiful body shape, but the more I researched, the more I realized it may just be a Westone neck and trem stuck on a generic body. Oh, well, if it was done well, that's enough. I didn't realize it until after my bid was in, so this may be the guitar I eventually decide is a mistake. Then again, as long as it has the Westone electronics (and it does have the Westone push-pull coil tap, so there's hope), it gives me a guitar I can tinker with to learn about fitting the neck well into the body, lowering action, working on frets...if it needs any of those things. I'm hoping it doesn't.

The third is the one true, pure Westone. No disassembled pickups, no unidentified body, no guitar synth module...just a straight Anniversary Edition Spectrum II XA 1230. It's a semi-project because the paint job has some serious scars, and the input jack needs to be repaired. Still, the first is something I want to learn (refinishing a guitar), and the 2nd is either electronics, woodworking, or both, and I know I can do those. As long as the neck isn't messed up, it should be a great guitar.
I probably shouldn't have bought it, after the other two I already had. But the bid with less than an hour to go was just $71, plus $30 shipping. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if someone else got an XA-1230 for only $101, and it wasn't me! Clinching the deal on its irresistability (to me) was that its serial number was 7012345. I had to look closely to see if that was a photoshop, the numbers seem so unlikely. But I guess someone has to have that number, right?

It's also the only one of the 3 that I can be sure was actually a Matsumoku-made guitar (which is the builder that made the best of the Westones). They switched to making them in Korea in 1989, and while the quality is still good, the Matsumoku name is well known for quality guitars. The one with the guitar synth might have been made anytime between 1987 and 1990, and so could be either. As long as it is Matsumoku, I know it will sound great and last as long as the original pickups still work, or I put a good replacement pickup in it (like, say, Carvins). And the frankenstein guitar? Even if the neck plate says it is a Matsumoku, if it just the neck set on another guitar's body, can you really expect it to have the same feel as Matsumoku quality? Dunno.

But I've become a true Westone collector over just the last 2 weeks.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

December 12, 2007

PRC, Taiwan, and the US: How I Understand Some Things « China/Taiwan »

The PRC government is basically like the Mafia. You don't make it to the top so much as get enough power that you can declare yourself to be at the top and make it stick. Decisions are made in closed-room meetings based on personal power bases and areas of expertise/interest. The most common way to leave power is either by dying or being sent to jail. Avoid one of those fates takes finesse and more back-room deals for immunity/protection.

The Taiwan government and political system is basically like the Tammany Hall, "Political Support for Patronage", Political Machine system. Corruption, vote-buying, Yellow Dog journalism, partisan journalism, etc.

And the world diplomatic stage is like Junior High, with Taiwan being the loud-mouthed kid who won't back up his antagonizing of a bully, the US wants to settle every slight and insult by meeting by the gym after school, and the PRC is the back-biting gossipy leader of a clique that's trying to become the top "in" crowd, complete with reputation destruction, back-stabbing while being friendly to the face, etc.

Now you understand everything you need to know.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:02 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)

December 10, 2007

Chiefs Lose Again---Six Straight! :( « Kansas City Chiefs »

Good analysis by both David J. and the post's first commenter.

I even agree that the unsportsmanlike call against Marshall was B.S.

But: Geez, it's a bad year for KC. We were looking like we were on the verge of turning the corner to competence at 4-3, and in command of the division (having won on the road against both SD and Oakland). Then our O-line and injuries just decimated us. We've already had our 3rd-string QB play because of injuries to the first two, and we've already had our 4th-string RB get significant playing time because injuries kept the top 3 off the field.

But none of that changes the fact that our O-line is horrendous, and, as David J. pointed out, the receiver corps(e) isn't playing as well as the QB.

But on a day that everything went horrible and our O-line was only as strong as the soaked competitor to Brawny paper towels, I'm impressed that Croyle was over 50% completions and had as many TDs as INTs.

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December 06, 2007

But the the person who put the little girl into that situation should be publically castigated.

And I'm not talking about the gunman.

There are four principles in the story. Woman, daughter, friend, boyfriend. And guess what? Four different last names! Where is the daughter's father? And the boyfriend? 4 felony convictions. Yeah, that's good step-father material. This woman apparently has a history of making bad choices.

I hope her daughter doesn't repeat those mistakes when she grows up. At least the little girl shows courage; that should help.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:13 AM | Comments (49) | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2007

David J Expresses My Current Political Thinking « Link O' Admiration »

Lots of concise commentary on Harry Reid's Club for Loss, and a discussion of the relative merits of some Republican candidates vis a vis Democratic candidates in general.

Summed up with two perfect statements:
2) This country seems to be suffering from a deficit of serious, adult leadership.

The even better one, the one that I will now take as my personal mantra, below the fold:

Read More "David J Expresses My Current Political Thinking" »

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Posted by Nathan at 12:15 PM | Comments (359) | TrackBack (0)
Interesting Article on Kissing « The Brain Fertilizer Way »


I am an excellent kisser, by the way.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:11 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)