Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Guitar, Agile AL-3100 (Les Paul clone)

I don't talk much here about playing guitar, mainly because I'm not very good.

I'm a competent strummer, and can get nifty sounding licks down OK if I practice them a billion times.

There's just no substitution for talent, no matter how many hours I practice. Maybe Santa will bring me some talent this coming Christmas.

I had a real Gibson Les Paul for a number of years, but, well, I'd rather not talk about having to sell it. Imagine having to sell a beloved pet.

While I love my cheap clone guitars that are like Fender Stratocasters and Fender Telecasters, I really missed playing that Les Paul.

I finally, after much searching found a guitar brand that makes less expensive versions of Gibson Les Pauls.

The guitar brand is Agile, and they are made in Korea and imported and sold in America by Rondo Music in New Hampshire. (Rondo music and their people are AWESOME to deal with, and all of their guitar brands are amazing, amazing values.)

So about three weeks ago, I ordered an Agile AL-3100. I can say with all honesty, that this guitar is absolutely every bit as well made as the "real" Les Paul that I used to own. I just cannot put this guitar down. I play it unplugged while we watch TV!

Anyway, here are some photos...
The top photo has the most accurate color of the front of the guitar, the others have too much of an orange look, but they were taken with flash and not natural light.

Oh, and the price? Literally one-sixth the cost of a Les Paul Standard ($400 vs. $2400). So even a no-talent hack like me can own a really fine guitar without selling a kidney.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Large Hadron Collider Finally Smashes Some Atoms!

You might not care about CERN's Large Hadron Collider that has been under construction on the Swiss/French border for over ten years, but as a dye-in-the-wool science geek, I'm excited that this collider, by far now the largest in the world smashed some hydrogen protons together this morning.

The collider is an elliptical tunnel of 17 miles in length in which atom protons are whizzed around the circuit by superconducting magnets until they are at 99.9% of the speed of light and then their paths are crossed at certain points to where the protons collide.

They then fly apart like cars in a head-on collision.

These collisions are carefully controlled to happen inside what are essentially many-layered digital cameras about the size of a three storey house and then the images are examined to see exactly what the constituent parts of these protons are.

This collider, the largest ever built, was designed to be able to hopefully see some sub-atomic parts that have long been theorized but that scientists had never had the right tools powerful enough to actually capture one's image.

For example, one sub-atomic particle, the Higgs Boson, is perfectly provable with mathematics, but in science, theory must be followed up with an actual test that allows the theories to be proven empirically, or with the five human senses.

Theoretical physicists believe the Higgs Boson to be the sub-atomic particle that causes material to have mass, and is the only particle in the present standard model of particle physics that has yet to actually be measured/seen with scientific instruments.

The initial collisions of the Large Hadron Collider that were successful today will hopefully be the first experiments that allow the physicists to make some long sought after observations.

Rock on LHC!

Yeah, I understand that probably no one reading here gives a hoot, but hey, it's my blog.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lee Majors, the Bionic Man

or, How My Life Has Come Full Circle

My back is in pretty poor shape, hence the conspicuous lack of posts over the past few months.

One of the current issues I deal with, and have for many months now, is that my back pain will wake me up at 2-4am most nights. And with the kind of pain I have, there's no going back to sleep.

So I have consequently been getting to see all the eye candy offered for sale on late night infomercials.

But the other morning, I saw a commercial - a regular one, not a 30min infomercial - that had Lee Majors on it.

When I was a boy, in about 6th or 7th grade, around 1974 or so, the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man came on.

I totally dug the whole NASA/Space Program stuff as a kid, so a show about a former astronaut that is nearly killed in a crash, who is rebuilt with "bionic" parts that make him able to run along with cars at highway speeds, and an artificial eye that allowed him to zoom in on distant bad guys sans binoculars was pretty much tailor made for this guy when he was young.

Later, there was a "Bionic Woman" who was similarly pieced back together with a few different but complementary bionic parts than was Steve Austin.

He had the bionic eye, she had the bionic ear; get my drift?

So the other late, late night, or early, early morning, take your pick, what did my eyes see but a commercial starring none other than Lee Majors. The Bionic Man hero of my youth.

What was Steve Austin, astronaut, on a commercial for?

Well, ol' Lee Majors has gotten kinda old.

Now I'm no longer a spry young lad either, I'm 48 with a really bad back, so me and Mr. Majors could sit and compare ailments I'm sure.

So I was sitting there waiting for my pain medicine to kick in and ol' Lee starts to tell me about...

The Lee Majors Bionic Hearing Aid!
The Lee Majors Rechargeable Bionic Hearing Aid combines digital hearing aid technology with the ultra convenience of a rechargeable battery, so you can enjoy noticeable, digital quality hearing improvement without the hassles of traditional battery-operated hearing aids.

Which is basically a rechargeable, non-prescription hearing aid for us no-longer-faster-than-a-corvette type broken-down humans.

Now I've had tinnitus all of my life. As a kid I remember at quiet moments sitting and listening to the high-pitched whistle in my ears. Then working for years around jet airplanes at DFW and ATL airports only added to the problem. Now, at middle age, I'm getting the normal hearing loss on top of the tinnitus.

But even at the age of 48, there's ol' Lee Majors, still trying to be my hero by offering to sell me a bionic ear to help me better hear his commercial with.

And I thought, man, life has come full circle for me.

Lee Majors gets to be a hero to me in my youth, and then many years late to be my loss-of-hearing savior in my steadily less well heard middle age.

What's next, over the counter Bionic Knee Replacements for when my knees give out?

It's hard to grow old enough to find out your heroes have gotten old and sad enough to hawk hearing aids on late-night TV.

And also, since the Bionic Woman was the one with the bionic ear, shouldn't it have been the aged, but still lovely, Lindsay Wagner who was trying to sell me on a hearing aid at 3am?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Drunk Do You Have To Be... try to resuscitate a dead opossum?

You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – Police say they charged a Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a long-dead opossum along a highway. (Opossum photo taken by Rex Lisman)

I know the old song line, "the girls get prettier at closing time" but man, this is some kinda drunk to do this.

I'd love to see the cop car's video of the man and opossum, if there is one.