Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

June 30, 2007

Loud Crowes Coming Back to Nashville

Actually, the band is called the Black Crowes; they’re coming to the Ryman Auditorium at the end of August.

I saw them play at the Grand Ole Opry House in the early 90’s, and they were fantastic.  I’d like to go see them again, but I’m not sure my ears could take it.

At the time, that was the loudest concert I’d ever been to. It surpassed the Boston concert I’d seen in the 70’s by quite a bit.

As a former soundman, I’ve never understood the reasoning behind  making everyone’s ears bleed. I’ve often wondered why OSHA or the FTC or some other government agency hasn’t enacted some rule regarding sound pressure levels, either for the workers or the patrons.

There’s this myth that “louder is better”. It may be true to some extent, but louder than a jet engine isn’t better; it’s dangerous.

I started  wearing ear plugs to concerts and club shows about four years ago. I’d gone to a show at the Mercy Lounge and my ears rang for a month afterwards. I ended up having a hearing test that showed some damage in the 4kHz range. Luckily it was only temporary, but I learned my lesson.

That show at the Mercy Lounge now ranks as the loudest one I’ve ever heard. The performer was Sonny Landreth, and the sad part about the loudness was that it takes away the subtleties in the music. I’ve seen him at another venue since then and it was a lot better. I saw Hillbilly Casino at the Mercy Lounge a couple of months ago, and again, it was way too loud for the venue (even with ear plugs in it was borderline uncomfortable), which suggests that  the sound engineers they’re using don’t know how to deal with the live room.

Anyway, I doubt I’ll go see the Crowes. The ticket prices start at $35, and that’s just way too much to pay for a band that hasn’t had a decent album out in a decade.

June 26, 2007

NASCAR: Still Letting Rules Violaters Get Away With It

The cars of Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson failed pre-qualifying inspection at Sears Point the other day. NASCAR has been pretty strict on policing COT rules infractions (even ones without any performance or safety issue), so everyone is expecting the hammer to drop on the two crew chiefs and a hefty fine and points deduction.

Big deal.

They’ve already gotten away with it as far as I’m concerned.  NASCAR didn’t let the two cars qualify, but still let them start. If the rule infraction was so bad, the teams should have been sent home.

Gordon started 41st and finished 7th, while Johnson started 42nd and finished 17th. Together they took over a quarter of a million dollars in prize money away from the other teams. Sure, NASCAR will probably fine the crew chiefs and drivers and maybe even suspend the crew chiefs.

It should be painfully obvious however, that that doesn’t work. If your crew chief is sent home from the Daytona 500 and you still win, what’s the punishment there? “Oh, that shows how deep the talent runs at Hendrick Motorsports,” some might say. That may be the case, and reports are that both crew chiefs are preparing their teams for their suspensions.

But can anyone explain to me how a car can win if it’s not on the track? Obviously, it can’t. Fines, points deductions, and suspensions aren’t working. Tell the team to pack up and go home, then you’ll get their attention. Basically, that’s all three penalties in one. Plus, they may end up having to refund some sponsor money. It won’t take too many missed races for the sponsor to start putting pressure on the teams to behave.

As far as the race itself goes, as usual with road course races, it bored me nearly to tears (at least what I watched of it).  That race is way too long. I’d pass by that channel in my channel surfing, and it just seemed to go on forever. There’d be 50 laps to go, then 45 minutes later, there’d be 45 laps to go (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much).

I did watch the last 10 or so laps (or was that the last hour?) and was interested to see if Juan Montoya would run out of gas or not.  I wonder if they intentionally said they were two laps short just to get Kevin Harvick to back off?

June 15, 2007

Jury Duty

According to a report by the National Center for State Courts, more than one-third of Americans will serve on a jury at some point. They say that’s an increase from 30 years ago, when that number was only 6%. (Hat tip: Ben Cunningham at Taxing Tennessee).

I’m still amazed at why someone would want to avoid jury duty. In the summer of 2001, I received a subpoena for jury duty here in Nashville. Everyone I told pretty much asked me what excuse I was going to use to get out of it or commented that they were glad they’d never been subpoenaed. Read the rest of this entry »

June 13, 2007

NASCAR: Junior Drops a Bomb, Part 2

When Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced last month that he was leaving DEI, I posted my reaction (and a prediction) to it in a post titled “NASCAR: Junior Drops a Bomb“.

In a press conference today, Junior finished his bombing run. He announced that he’d be going over to Hendrick Motorsports. In the “I told you so” department, I pretty much nailed that one.

What I didn’t nail was which driver Hendrick would boot to make room for Junior. I predicted that it’d be Casey Mears. Instead it’s going to be Kyle Busch to gets the hook.

While Busch has won a few races, he certainly hasn’t won any friends. His driving style would lead one to believe that he runs out of talent a little too soon. Now the rumor is that he’ll be going to DEI in a swap or to Ginn racing next year. Either way, he is a proven winner, and despite his over-aggressive driving style, he should be able to land with a half-way decent team.

The next question in the Junior saga is, who’s the sponsor? The obvious assumption would be Budweiser moving back to Hendrick. I’d guess there’s probably an 80% chance of that happening. As far as the car number goes, I daresay that Junior’s replacement will be driving the #8 next year; I don’t see DEI relinquishing control of that number.

So, one piece of the Silly Season puzzle gets put into place for 2008. Now we need to see where Busch lands.

June 11, 2007

The Sopranos Anticlimax

I missed pretty much the first season or two of HBO’s The Sopranos. I’d gotten into watching Oz and was ticked off that they took one of Oz‘s actors, Edie Falco. She played a prison guard in the show. Anyway, I eventually got interested in it and over the last three or four seasons made a point to watch the new episodes.

So last night was the big series finale. After all the blood shed last week, the consensus among show watchers was the Phil was going to be successful in getting rid of Tony. The show kind of just plodded along until Phil got hit, then started plodding again. All the time you’re watching and waiting for Tony to finally get his due.

Then at the end, the screen just goes black. That’s it. Tony and his family are at a restaurant about to eat dinner. All through the final scene you’re teased with all these ominous people in the restaurant, just wondering which one has been hired to kill Tony. As it turns out, the only suspense was whether or not Meadow would figure out how to parallel park. Then you hear the bell on the door ding, and nothing. No ending music, no resolution, nothing.

So, I guess the “moral” of the story (a story about characters with no morals) is that life goes on. Maybe crime does pay after all.

All I know is, I’m canceling HBO. No, not because of the way The Sopranos ended, but primarily because it did end. There’s nothing left on HBO I’m interested in watching. They canceled Carnivale and Deadwood, which were two really great shows. So I’m finished with HBO. They may have some great original programs, but it’s not worth my time getting into them just so they can cancel them later.

UPDATE: Called Comcast and had a very weird experience. The first call, I pushed 1 for English (this is America, I shouldn’t have to do that), then plugged in my 10 digit phone number, and was then told someone would be with me shortly. Fellow picked up, I said “I want to cancel HBO” and he asked me for my phone number and address. Then said he wasn’t the one who did that, and couldn’t transfer me to the one who did. I actually had to call back. The lady I spoke to on the second call was able to cancel HBO just fine. Strangely enough, she wasn’t even interested in knowing why I canceled. Anyway, it’s going to save me $144 a year, so it was worth it.

June 10, 2007

Jericho Battle Won (Sort Of)

At the beginning of the fall TV season in 2006, I started watching Jericho. I was intrigued to see how they’d handle the “end of the world” scenario. Much to my surprise, the show seemed very realistic, and the reactions of the characters in the show were very believable. The only “suspension of disbelief” that was necessary was the assumption that several US Cities were victims of nuclear explosions.

Over the course of the first half of the season, several plot lines emerged: can the citizens of Jericho avoid anarchy; is there still a United States of America; who’s in charge of the government; who was responsible for the bombing.

Then CBS made a stupid mistake. They took Jericho off the air for a couple of months; a mid-season break that seems to be popular these days.

The show resumed in mid-February with a synopsis of the first half of the season. Since I had the series set up to record on my DVR, I ended up watching that episode a couple of days later. Things happened, and I wasn’t able to keep up with the shows as soon as I’d like (but I still had them on the DVR). Then I discovered that Jericho was available via Comcast’s On Demand service. They had the whole first half of the season available, so I took the opportunity to watch it again. I didn’t catch up to the current shows until a couple of days after the season finale had aired.

Which brings me to my next point: Network television needs to realize that the traditional “watch it when we air it” paradigm is way outdated these days. Just going by the Nielson ratings isn’t enough. TV networks need to be able to monitor on-demand viewings (from both cable providers and their own web sites). Surely Comcast reports to it’s content providers how many times a show is watched on demand…?

Anyway, after over 20 tons of nuts were delivered to CBS, they cried “uncle”, sort of. They’ve ordered 7 episodes of Jericho for the mid-season next year. The producers have said that they’re not going to use the 7 episodes to wrap up the series, but will proceed as if they were going to be on the air for the foreseeable future.

What that means is that if Jericho’s ratings (by whatever measure) don’t improve, we could be in the same boat again next year, with Jericho ending on a cliffhanger and its fans left out in the cold.

So if you’re a fan of Jericho, you need to get a bunch of folks interested in the show. If you’ve never seen the show, CBS will be rerunning it this summer, so watch those episodes to get up to speed. It’d be a shame for the network brass to cancel it next year after all this effort went in to saving it.

June 6, 2007

Bill France, Jr., RIP

Bill France, Jr. passed away Monday, fittingly on a day they ran the postponed Dover Nextel Cup race.

I think that it could be argued that he resided over the Golden Age of NASCAR. He took over from his dad and grew the sport in the way it needed to go. When he left a few years ago, you could almost see the sport start going downhill: TV ratings are declining, historically significant tracks losing dates, cookie-cutter tracks taking their place, competition getting boring.

Granted, during his tenure, he had drivers like Earnhardt, Petty, Waltrip, and others who made the races exciting to watch. But I don’t believe NASCAR made any major changes like they have recently with the so-called “Car of Tomorrow”. The car of tomorrow has proven to be a dog to watch; it hasn’t added anything to the excitement of the races.

Also during his watch, NASCAR held very few Cup events on Saturday night. We’ve just completed a three-week run of Saturday night races. That has a major effect on local tracks, which until recently were where the next generation drivers came from. Nowadays, it seems like most drivers come from some open-wheel series, so I guess it’s a moot point that NASCAR is killing the local tracks.

The current leadership of NASCAR can’t hold a candle to Mr. France. May he rest in peace.

May 10, 2007

NASCAR: Junior Drops a Bomb

Wow. So I hear that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had called a press conference this morning. I figured it was to announce his new contract with DEI for next year. Was I ever wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

May 6, 2007

Implied Consent

I started riding a motorcycle in 1974. I rode a Honda XL250, a street legal dirt bike (nowadays they’re called dual sport bikes). I rode that bike until 1981 (when it got stolen). In 2002, I got the itch again to start riding. I bought a Kawasaki KLR650, a 650 cc dual sport bike. Since there’s no dirt around Nashville, I ended up trading it in for a Yamaha V-Star 650 Silverado cruiser. I’ve been riding that bike now for almost 4 years.I’ve only had one incident where I actually needed the helmet. This must have been in 1976 or ’77 during the summer when I was on vacation from college. In the area of East Tennessee where I’m from, there are a lot of hilly areas. I was on a road near my parents’ house when I saw a little hill that looked like it’d be fun to climb.

The top of the hill couldn’t have been more than 20 feet, so it wasn’t a big one (I’d already had experience climbing bigger hills in strip mines that had yet to be reclaimed). I got a run at the hill and too late noticed it had a little hump in the middle. When the front tire hit that hump, the front end came off the ground. Next thing I knew, I was flying over the back end of the bike, like I’d been bucked off a bull. I landed on my butt and my head went backwards into the ground… right onto a big rock. If I hadn’t been wearing the helmet, I’m not sure what would have happened. At the very least, I’d have been knocked out. Worst case scenario is that I would have died.

You could say then that I know a little bit about motorcycles and helmets. Read the rest of this entry »

May 5, 2007

Not So Freeware

Like most people, I have on occasion needed some software that I didn’t have, but also didn’t have money to buy. So I do a Google search for the next best thing: freeware.

Freeware is supposed to be just that, free. But it seems that there are some software authors out there who don’t have a clue. It always cracks me up to see statements like “to keep this software free, please donate”.

Either the software is free, or it’s not. You can’t have it both ways.

On a related note, the big dust up over at Digg a few days ago is still causing ripples to flow though the blogosphere. What’s amazed me most is that I’ve seen a few authors, of both software and books, come out in support of what the Digg owners finally did, which is to capitulate to a bunch of hooligans who have no respect for intellectual property. So I guess that means if someone steals their software codes and publishes it on the net, they’ll be all for it right?

Somehow, I don’t think so.