Modding Aviom Headphone Jacks

If you've played music in a live setting sometime within the past decade, chances are that you've used some sort of in-ear monitor or personal mixer system. Whereas in the past musicians were forced to compete with each other's sound through floor monitors, these newer in-ear/personal systems allow each musician to control their personal mix, which only they can hear in their headphones. As an added bonus, when you switch to an in-ear monitor system, there is no need for floor monitors, and therefore your stage volume can be significantly reduced. (And if you use direct systems, amplifier modeling, or isolation cabinets, you can remove all of your stage volume for everything except your acoustic instruments.)

Needless to say, these systems are great, and one of the most-popular manufacturers of in-ear monitor systems is Aviom, which makes several different types of personal monitors. Over the years, I have used their A-16 and A-16II personal mixers in a variety of settings. They're a little older by today's standards, but I still see them in use all over the country.

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These Aviom systems work great, but they have one nagging design flaw that I hear about from everyone I know who has used them: the headphone jacks are soldered to the circuit boards, but they're not secured to the case with a nut. As a direct result, the headphone jacks eventually separate from the circuit boards, causing the mixers to lose signal to one or both ears. And this happens a lot.

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Thankfully, there's an easy mod that you can perform on your Aviom systems to make up for this design flaw: you can remove the headphone jack from the circuit board, and replace it with a headphone jack that is mounted to the case. This is a pretty simple hack, and it usually takes me around 10 minutes per mixer to swap out the parts. With that in mind, you might want to modify all of your mixers at the same time. (Which is what I chose to do.)

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MODIFICATION INSTRUCTIONS

To perform this modification, you'll need:

  • A stereo panel mount jack to replace the old headphone jack
  • A small spool of wire to connect the panel mount jack to the circuit board
  • A small screwdriver to assist with removing buttons
  • A soldering iron, some solder, and basic soldering skills
  • OPTIONAL: Alligator clip wires for testing
  • OPTIONAL: Electrical tape to insulate the circuit board

WARNING: This modification will probably void your warranty. But these personal mixers are old enough that yours probably aren't under warranty anyway. But still, you might want to check.


STEP 1 - Remove all of the knobs and buttons from the front panel. The knobs should pull right off, but sometimes I need to use a small screwdriver to pop off the buttons. (Note: keep track of which buttons came from where, because several of the buttons have different holes that let the LEDs shine through.)

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STEP 2 - Remove the screws from the bottom panel, and I've highlighted all of their locations in the image below. The only tricky part about this step is that one of the screws is probably hidden under one of the labels, which is undoubtedly to prevent people from modifying their Avioms and voiding their warranty.

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STEP 3 - Open the case and remove the circuit board. Once you have the circuit board removed, you can locate the headphone jack, which I have highlighted in the following image.

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STEP 4 - Remove the headphone jack that is mounted to the circuit board. In every situation where I've replaced a headphone jack, I was able to simply pop them off the circuit board without doing any damage, which is probably because the continuous abuse of plugging and unplugging headphones has usually separated the headphone jack from the circuit board already, which is why this mod is necessary. However, if you try to remove the old headphone jack and it doesn't seem to want to move, you should desolder the old jack instead of forcing it.

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STEP 5 - Solder wires onto the circuit border in the locations shown in the image below. Pay attention to where the ground, left, and right wires are soldered. As you can see in the image, I use alligator clip wires to test out my soldering before I solder the wires to the new stereo jack.

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STEP 6 - Solder the new stereo jack to the wires, then test out the circuit before reassembling the mixer.

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STEP 7 - Mount the new stereo jack to the case. While it may not be necessary, I usually place a piece of electrical tape on the circuit board where the jack will be located, and I do this to keep the new headphone jack from coming into contact with the circuit board.

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STEP 8 - Secure the circuit board in the case, assemble the two halves of the case back together, and then replace all the screws, knobs, and buttons. (Make sure that you put the buttons back in the same locations where they were before the modification.)


That's all there is to it!

The first mod that you do might take a little bit longer as you get the hang of it, but once that's out of the way, any remaining mods should be quicker.


BONUS TIP:

There is one extra step that you can take in order to improve the stability of your Aviom systems. If you're using the stand adapters that allow you mount your Aviom systems on microphone stands, there's an additional hack that I use which you might want to consider. I plug a right-angle headphone adapter into the Aviom's headphone jack, then I plug a six-foot headphone extension cable into the right-angle adapter, and then I secure the headphone extension cable between the Aviom mixer and the stand adapter so that it cannot be pulled out of the right-angle adapter. This system will prevent the cable from being ripped out of the headphone jack, and if you're using heavy microphone stands, anyone who walks away from the Aviom system with their in-ear headphones will probably yank their headphone cable out of the extension cable.

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Dealing with Bullies

I hear a lot about bullies in today's schools, and I wish that we lived in a world where kids would never have to face a bully. But that being said, bullies are a sad reality, and I don't think that we'll ever find a way to fully prevent them from doing harm to others. Today's bullies are often hiding across the Internet and posting terrible things about their peers from the safety of their smartphones and PCs, but that wasn't an issue in my youth. When I was in grade school, I had to face my bullies every day.

When I was the sixth grade, there was some punk kid who tormented me every day, and I was tired of it. One day, this schmuck was walking over to me, but before he had a chance to say or do anything to me, I preemptively landed two blows to the stomach with my right and my left, and as he started to double over forward in pain, I landed a perfectly executed uppercut to his jaw that sent him reeling backwards into the dirt. As I stood over the out-of-breath mass of bleeding and blubbering shock that was lying on the ground, I told him emphatically, "Don't EVER mess with me again."

Several things happened that day:

First of all, this did wonders for my self-esteem. I learned that I could fight my own battles. I didn't need to be a victim, and I didn't need someone to fix my problems for me.

Next, NO ONE messed with me at school after that; this entire showdown had happened while everyone was out of class, so I had a huge audience watching as I obliterated my foe.

And last - the schmuck never bullied anyone again, and we eventually became friends. It may seem surprising, but boys are like that; they want to establish the pecking order, and once that's out of the way, they know who they are and they can move on.

This generation goes out of its way to shield children in bubble wrap from the rest of the planet, but fails to realize that it will NEVER stop bullying. Sometimes what a bully needs is a mouth full of fist to knock them into reality; trying to give bullies a lecture and "time out" will only teach them not to get caught. On the other hand, when bullies have the @#$% kicked out of them, that will teach them how to become better people.

September 22nd is National Veteran and Military Suicide Prevention Day

At the risk of Too Much Information (TMI), I'd like to share something that I've never talked about with anyone other than my wife.

Here's the backstory: a few years ago I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors, which is a disorder with hand & feet tremors that resembles a non-fatal form of Parkinson's Disease. I had hoped to retire one day and be able to tinker with electronics or play my array of musical instruments, but now I suddenly found myself in my mid-50s and facing the very real possibility that I might not be able to hold a pencil or a fork in a few years.

I went through all of the stages of grief; at first I was in denial, and then I was viciously angry at God. I kept asking Him, "Why me?" and "Why couldn't you just kill me?" It was humiliating each time I had to ask my wife to help me eat, or when I had to pull off the road and ask my wife to drive because my feet wouldn't do what they were supposed to. It was even more embarrassing when I was at a restaurant with family or friends and I kept missing when I tried to feed myself.

I eventually launched into a major depression, and all of this happened at a time when my job took a major nosedive; I was overworked and had a boss who had no idea who I was or what I did. As each day grew worse than the last, I finally reached the breaking point, and I want no sympathy for this - but I had my note written, I had all my accounts in order, I had all my passwords printed out so my wife wouldn't have to look for anything, and I had a noose all set to go. I'm great at tying nooses; I learned how to tie an ultra-secure noose as a Boy Scout, so I had everything tested and ready in our garage where I knew that nothing was going to fail on me.

I was literally within minutes of stepping into that noose when I was somehow distracted by something; to this day I don't recall what it was, but I stepped away and never stepped back.

I eventually found a doctor who put me on the right medications to manage my tremors, and I found a counselor to help me pass through the final stages of grief - from depression into acceptance. Now I look back at what almost happened and think, "Holy crap - what was I thinking?" But the truth is, when you're that depressed, you can't think. And you don't WANT to think. You just want it to end. In hindsight, I should have sought help sooner: I should have seen the doctor sooner, I should have seen the counselor sooner, and I should have told my wife that despite my day to day appearance, I really wasn't handling my situation.

When I think back on my time in the military, I realize that soldiers are taught to be completely self-sufficient, and I think that makes it hard for veterans to ask for help. But if we veterans are honest with ourselves, we were never completely self-sufficient. In every duty station where I served, I was surrounded by awesome folks who knew exactly where I was at, and we all helped each other. Oh sure, there was the occasional jerk or two in each unit that we couldn't trust, but for the most part - we were surrounded by people who understood all the ups and downs that we were facing.

Now that my situation has changed for the better, I've found a support group for my tremors where I can hear from other people that have gone through what I'm going through, and it really helps. To be honest, that's also why I love a veterans group that I belong to. There are parts of my life that no one outside the fraternity of the Armed Forces will understand, like why I laugh out loud every time I see a yellow bird lying dead outside a window. But all of my fellow veterans get it.

To finish off this post, I'm doing great now - and I've learned to take each day one at a time. I don't mean to make light of anyone's burden, but I look at the following images all the time. The image on the right reminds me that I shouldn't try to do everything alone, and the image on the left reminds me that the same drive and determination that enabled me to endure and do amazing things in my youth is still there, and I can tap into that drive and determination in order to help me make it through the stupid things I face today.

Never-Quit-and-Seek-Help

The Final Arbiter of Truth Isn't Me

Most people who have known me for some time have realized at one time or other that I tend to point out fake news when I see it posted to social media, and I have made no apologies for doing so. Over the years I have simply decided that I cannot bear to sit idly by when someone posts an article that I know is either an outright hoax or a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth.

With an upcoming election just around the corner, I have seen more and more people posting articles that simply aren't true about both candidates. I know that people want 'their guy' to win, but you shouldn't have to stoop to dishonesty and deception to promote your candidate.

Welcome-to-the-Post-Truth-World

However, my corrective behavior has quite often made people somewhat angry at me. I realize that no one likes to be thought of as a fool, and when someone (like me) points out that someone else is posting garbage, a few of those people have their noses bent out of shape when their gullibility is revealed.

That being said, the argument that I have had presented to me is, "Who made YOU the final arbiter of truth???" That's a great question, and my answer is: no one. Because I am NOT the final arbiter of truth; TRUTH is the final arbiter for itself.

If I post an article that refutes something that someone else has posted, that means that I have taken the time to do the research that the original poster failed to do on their own, and I have found a reputable source that sets the record straight. If I cannot find a reputable source that refutes something, then I do not post a correction. It's really that simple, folks. If you post crap, and I can prove it's crap, then I'll post something that says it's crap.

So to anyone who feels uncomfortable with the notion that I might shine a spotlight of unpleasant truth on your false narratives, you have my permission to unfriend/unfollow me, that way you can continue to wallow in the empty darkness of your comfortable lies. Otherwise, fake news is fair game.

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Numbers Never Lie...

There is an old adage that says, "Numbers never lie, but liars always use numbers." Over the years I have seen this adage reinforced and demonstrated countless times, which brings me to the recently-released video titled Viral Issue Crucial Update Sept 8th: the Science, Logic and Data Explained. I've seen that video a few times (because people keep sharing it on social media), and there are several glaring issues with it. But before I continue, let me be very clear about something: I think the pandemic lockdown was unnecessary, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Please keep that in mind as you read everything else I say below.

The First Major Issue with that Video

First of all - and this is most important - the numbers of infections and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic should be lower than for other viral outbreaks because we closed businesses and made everyone maintain social distancing and wear masks!!! It should be readily apparent to anyone who is capable of reasonable thought that the extreme measures we took to combat this pandemic were directly responsible for this pandemic not being nearly as catastrophic as it could have been. THAT. WAS. THE. WHOLE. POINT. I personally think we collectively overreacted, and the long-term damages to our economy will be felt for years to come. But that being said, our overreaction had the exact effect for which it was instituted: less people got sick and/or died. So the very same people who keep saying, "Well, the pandemic wasn't that bad after all..." are affirming that the drastic measures we took were extremely effective. For this single reason alone, the entire argument in that video evaporates. The lockdown did what it was designed to do. End of story. (As a reminder, I think the lockdown wasn't necessary; but that doesn't mean it wasn't effective - because it was.)

The Second Major Issue with that Video

The presenter in that video makes no secret about ignoring comorbidities, which is when someone has an existing condition and dies after contracting COVID-19. However, ignoring comorbidities is a cheap way to manipulate the data to skew the numbers and make them seem to indicate what you want them to say, rather than what they actually say. Let me give you a hypothetical example: if I'm living with cancer, but I get shot by a gun - it is the gunshot that killed me, not my cancer. That's blatantly obvious to everyone with a brain. It's the same thing if I'm living with heart disease or lung disease and I am shot - it's the bullet that killed me, etc. Now substitute the coronavirus for the gunshot. If I'm living with cancer, but I contract the coronavirus and die - it is the coronavirus that killed me, not my cancer. It's the same if I'm living with heart disease or lung disease and contract the coronavirus and die. In each of those scenarios, I was managing my illness until I contracted the coronavirus, which is what actually killed me. What the presenter in that video is attempting to do is to discount all of the deaths where something else was present in the pathology, which artificially (and dishonestly) deflates the numbers of actual deaths. That is wrong from a scientific perspective, and it's wrong from a data perspective, and ultimately it's wrong from an ethical perspective - because for all intents and purposes he is lying. Period.

The Third Major Issue with that Video

Because of the presenter's immoral manipulation of the data, you're not getting a full picture of what's going on. In several areas of the planet - like India for example - the numbers of infections and deaths are both continuing to rise. The 'bump' that the presenter keeps showing over and over is only true for a few regions of the planet, but it's grossly inaccurate for much of the rest of the planet. Also, the presenter made the claim several times that the pandemic was largely over by the beginning of Summer 2020, and that is patently false for many areas of the globe. Once again, if you look at India alone, their outbreak started at the beginning of Summer 2020. Brazil's struggle with this pandemic started about a month before India. New cases in the United States peaked around mid-July and have slowly been decreasing since then, but still - the United States is just one country. From a global perspective, we're still in the thick of it.

The Fourth Major Issue with that Video

It is absolutely hilarious that this presenter keeps reinforcing almost all of his talking points based on an analysis of... Sweden. That's right - this dweeb is basing the majority of his arguments on observations for a tiny slice of the world that few people visit unless absolutely necessary, which is a country that has less than one tenth of one percent of the global population. The coronavirus was largely managed in Sweden BECAUSE IT'S @#$% SWEDEN!!! You CANNOT compare the United States, or Russia, or India, or pretty much any large, industrialized nation in the world with Sweden. North Carolina may have the same population as Sweden, but it's surrounded by other states; interstate commerce is constantly bringing a fresh influx of people through its borders, and at the end of the day - PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO VISIT NORTH CAROLINA. North Carolina has actual BEACHES that bring people from all over the country, not a bunch of unpronounceable fjords that are only popular with retirees on cruise ships.

Conclusion

Returning to my opening statement, there is an old adage that says, "Numbers never lie, but liars always use numbers," and that concept nicely summarizes the entire video.

In closing, let me reiterate - I think the lockdown was unnecessary. And if I felt so inclined, I could probably back that up with empirical evidence, and I'll bet that I could pull it off without having to manipulate the data and lying to the world about it, too.


POSTSCRIPT:

If you're interested in learning more about the subject of manipulating data dishonestly, there's a book called Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception that I stumbled across recently. I have only read the synopsis, but after seeing so many people try to manipulate public opinion by manipulating the numbers that they use to reinforce their arguments, I've added it to my reading list.

Remembering Tucson's Bob Cooke

I grew up in Tucson, and I have fond memories of a local radio DJ that many people in town loved to listen to back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, to put things in perspective, radio isn't the same as it used to be; more and more of the contemporary radio programming is syndicated, playlists are dictated by countless business decisions, and - to be honest - fewer and fewer people are listening to radio as it fights to compete with satellite services, streaming apps, and digital audio. (I will admit, I personally listen to a collection of MP3s that are stored on a flash drive whenever I'm traveling in my car these days.)

But back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, radio was king. For most music fans, radio was usually the only way that you discovered new artists, and it was also how you learned that your favorite artists had released their latest albums. There was no Internet back then, and before MTV launched in 1981 there was generally no television coverage for rock music news. In short, if you liked music, there was radio - and that was it.

When I was in High School, there were two rock stations in Tucson: KWFM and KTKT-FM (which would later become KLPX). Each station had their fair share of DJs, and there was one DJ who drifted back and forth between those two stations: Bob Cooke. He was Tucson's premier funny man - he always had the best jokes, but he was never over the top. (Well, perhaps on occasion...)

I recall staying up late on far more nights than I will admit to finish homework assignments as my semesters came to an end, and Bob Cooke always played requests from students all over town who were engaged in similar last-minute pursuits. And Bob was freakin' hilarious about it. I would call and ask for something by Rush or The Doors, then someone else would call and ask for song from a different band, and so on. Bob played them all. He had a ball as he expressed his faux sympathies for all his listeners slaving away with their books and typewriters, and you knew he was glad that he wasn't working on all that homework.

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One of the particularly amusing parts of Bob's shows was when he was required to read advertising copy live while on the air, because he could never do it without messing with the scripts that he had been handed. I vividly recall one morning when he was reading the advertisements for Farmer John's Sausage Links, which Bob humorously changed to "Farmer John's Wieners." He kept saying the rest of advertising copy incorrectly, and therefore he had to keep starting over. However, restarting the script meant that he would eventually run out of the music that was supposed to play in the background, so he would have to start over - again and again. The entire episode was side-splittingly funny, and I laughed so hard I probably cried...

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People who grew up in the "Naked Pueblo" (as Cooke used to call Tucson) will remember that Bob was tragically killed by a deranged radio listener in August, 1982. (See https://bit.ly/2RswW5o.) People throughout the Tucson valley mourned his untimely death at the young age of just 28 years.

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It's hard to believe that it's already been 38 years since his murder, because I can still remember countless hours listening to Bob's priceless and bizarre sense of humor. I'm sure that he would have retired years ago if he had had the chance to live a full and happy life, which means both Bob and the classic radio format that made him famous might have been able to ride off into the Arizona sunset together.

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Green Eggs and Spam

I can't speak for the Navy, Air Force, or the Marines, but the Army was cursed with some truly awful food. As you can see in the image below, I have eaten actual green eggs on more than one occasion. (And unlike the photo below, they were usually served floating in a tepid pool of disgusting water...) With that in mind, when someone posted this photo, I thought that it deserved an appropriate ode in the style of Dr. Seuss...

I used to work for Uncle Sam
But never liked Green Eggs and Spam

Not in a tank, nor in a boat
Nor in a Jeep or Gama Goat

Not on the border in Germany
Nor in the rain or snow or sea

I did not like them in Korea
They only caused bad diarrhea

They were crap in Iraq and Afghanistan
So I still don't like Green Eggs and Spam

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The Untimely Deaths of Innocent Cities

First of all - in the interests of transparency - I have been outspoken against Trump in several blog posts on multiple occasions. I mention that in order to stress the fact that I do not a horse in this upcoming election race, so to speak. With that being said, here is my perspective on what has happened as far as riots across the country were concerned, all of which can be backed up with very simple Google searches.

As we have all seen, in the wake of George Floyd's and other tragic deaths, protests erupted across the country, and justifiably so. However, many of these protests quickly devolved from peaceful assemblies - as defined and protected by the Constitution - into quagmires of violence and crime. During all of this, the mayors of predominantly liberal cities - e.g. Seattle, Chicago, Portland, etc. - ordered their police departments to step back in order to allow protestors to "express their opinions." As a result, we had debacles like Seattle's CHAZ/CHOP - which made Seattle a laughingstock to the rest of the country. Nothing was gained by that event; it only made Seattle's already inept leaders look horribly worse. However, other major cities did not learn from Seattle's mistakes.

Of course, a common sense examination of what was happening around the country would immediately demonstrate that there were fewer and fewer "protestors" participating in the actual protests, with an ever-increasing set of opportunistic looters and violent anti-police thugs (e.g. Antifa) showing up and instigating wide-spread violence. When our ineffective combover-in-chief offered to send in troops to help these cities, his offers were refused, with people like House Speaker Pelosi likening federal troops as "Stormtroopers," and House Whip Clyburn calling them the "Gestapo."

That being said, it is a matter of speculation why these mayors allowed their cities to descend into chaos. The conspiracy theorists would have us believe that the Democratic Party thought that they could manipulate this situation into disparaging Trump ahead of the election, and I have to admit - I think that theory is entirely plausible. However, if so, they played their hand too soon, because now the violence has gone on for months, and people are tired of it. However, for the most part, people are not pinning the blame on Trump anymore, because people are smart enough to realize that he's too far removed from the communities that are being targeted by the rioting, and people are starting to wake up to the idea that it's their local leaders who are failing to restore peace in their cities. As a result, Democrats running for office (both local and federal) have begun to drop in the polls, so now these same leaders [sic] who ordered their police departments to step back and allow the rioting, looting, and other crimes to persist, are starting to take to the airwaves and denounce the very same rioting, looting, and other crimes that were previously happening unabated on their respective watches.

So here's my final analysis: there is no single public leader who may have actually said the words, "I support rioting." However, many public leaders' inactions allowed the riots to form and to continue, and all the while they did nothing about the violence and crime that were the logical outcomes of said riots. If we are to believe the voices of the "woke generation" that "Silence is Violence," then I think it is perfectly acceptable to say that any of these mayors who let their cities burn, and ordered their police departments to stand down, and refused federal assistance, were tacitly supporting the rioters, regardless of their useless rhetoric on the matter.

Legend tells us that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned, and then pinned the blame on Christian martyrs. However, history would eventually reveal that the Christian martyrs were innocent, and Nero's actual intention had been to clear out neighborhoods to extend his palace. Now it seems as though a similar scenario is playing itself out on our modern stage; Democratic mayors fiddled away as their cities burned, and now that their communities have been reduced to ashes, the lost and disenfranchised are looking for whom to blame for their suffering. Like Nero before them, Democratic leaders are trying to blame the innocent, but if history repeats itself, the public will realize where the real guilt lies.

Taco Bell Isn't What It Used to Be - And They Don't Care

In recent years, Taco Bell has removed several tried-and-true items from their menu that I have ordered for decades, and they have replaced those menu items with - crap.

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Believe it or not, I sent Taco Bell a letter asking if they bother checking with their customer base before making unilateral decisions that impact millions of loyal customers. And believe it or not, Taco Bell replied back - with the exact sort of dismissive, marketing rhetoric that one would expect. ("We test all of our menu items ... blah, blah, blah.")

In the end, I think Taco Bell has someone at the helm who is trying to shake things up and attract new customers, which is a good thing - but only so long as you don't piss off your original customer base. With that in mind, it's pretty obvious to most people who used to love Taco Bell that they suck now; but what's worse is - they really do not appear to care.

 

Sniff, sniff... I miss the Enchirito...

(... and Steak Baja Gorditas... and Volcano Burritos... and Double-Decker Tacos... and Pintos & Cheese... and Caramel Apple Empanadas... etc.)

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What's Really Important in Life

Someone once asked me a series of questions like the following:

Can you name who won the Best Actor Oscar for the past five years?

Or who won the Grammy for Best Female Vocalist?

Or who won the Baseball MVP?

On the other hand, can you name five teachers who made a difference in your life?

Can you name your five best friends from High School?

Simmer on those questions for a few moments...

In our present reality, the mainstream media is continuously tripping over itself to ask various "celebrities" what they think of this subject or that. But why should we care what they think? More often than people might realize, many of these "celebrities" are moral degenerates who contribute little more to society than to provide cheap entertainment, while expanding the drug trade and denigrating both females and minorities within their respective communities. With that in mind, I reiterate my earlier question: why should we care what they think?

Now, look back over those initial questions that I asked, and think about your answers for them. Which is more important? Is it some impersonal "artist?" Or is it the people who have genuinely mattered to you?

Once you think about life with the right frame of mind, it's pretty easy to see what's really important (and what isn't).