Brian Culbertson Makes Me Want To Hurl

A good friend of mine shared the following video of Brian Culbertson and his band playing a medley of jazz pieces, Back in the Day and So Good; my friend introduced the video as an example of "a band hitting on all cylinders."

I really like jazz, so despite never having heard of Brian Culbertson before, I watched with anticipation. However, I was sorely disappointed, and I responded that I totally loved the band, but I thought that Culbertson was overly tiresome. I really wished that Culbertson hadn't shown up to the gig, which is a really bad thing since it's his band and his gig... and I closed out my comment by stating that this was just my $.02 on the subject.

Someone else accused my observations of being overly jaded, to which I replied that my critique wasn't meant to be a jaded response; I sincerely watched the video 'cause I love jazz, but just as sincerely I felt robbed. The video starts out with Culbertson jumping around his band members like a Jack Russell Terrier, then Culbertson starts acting like he's calling the shots for a band that is obviously so well-rehearsed that they could play their parts in their sleep. (I haven't seen that level of self-aggrandizing pomposity since Yanni fell from grace.)

When Culbertson's piano melody finally comes in around 0:30, it's actually kind of a let-down; it's a poppy, pseudo-jazz hook, but Culbertson's faux attachment to his own amazingness during the first 2:30 of the video literally made me laugh out loud. When the band changes piece to "So Good," Culbertson's piano melody steps it up a notch; it's a much better hook, but Culbertson continues his useless, Yanni-style directing motions. I laughed out loud a second time when Culbertson pulled off his pouty stance and walked away from the piano around 4:15. (Seriously? What purpose did that serve?)

Around 4:25 we finally get to Culbertson's piano solo, which for an entire minute is nothing but smacking the black keys of the piano, which is an old trick used by less-talented pianists; play a song in Db and stick to the black keys and you'll be playing a Db pentatonic scale, which means that you'll never hit a wrong note or a sour note. Seriously - anyone could have played the first minute of his solo; regardless of whether they can actually play keyboards. At around 5:30 Culbertson finally wanders off the black keys, but that's only for a descending line during the last few seconds of his solo, after which he assumes his "menacing look" and struts over to the bass player, where he acts like he's getting in the bass player's face - for no @#$% discernible reason other than being a schmuck. (The bass player has some cool, funky chops, though.)

Around 6:35 I was surprised to see Culbertson switch to the trombone, and as one of my friends pointed out - Culbertson pulls off a pretty good solo for about a minute. However, by this point I was already so annoyed by the previous 6½ minutes of Culbertson's frenetic prancing about that it overshadowed his single-best moment to shine. After Culbertson's solo, the sax player does a great job of eclipsing Culbertson's preceding solo, but that doesn't stop Culbertson from raining on his parade by uselessly gesticulating in the sax player's face for a half-minute or so. After that useless escapade, Culbertson switches back to the trombone for the remainder of the song.

I made a comparison to Yanni earlier, and there are several reasons why Culbertson really reminds me of him; Yanni was one of the most self-absorbed SOBs on the planet, but he managed to surround himself with awesome musicians who made him look and sound great. Yanni's orchestra over-rehearsed everything; there was no improvisation when playing live - every 'solo' was purposefully-written and memorized, yet Yanni still felt the need to gesture like he was some sort of gifted conductor, even though his orchestra could have played with blindfolds. Or as one concert reviewer stated, "Yanni's orchestra was amazing; the only thing that could have made them better would have been for Yanni not to have shown up." In many ways, Culbertson seems like a Yanni reincarnation in a different genre; his band is amazingly-skilled, and they're incredibly tight, but Culbertson's arm-waving, prancing, faux-conducting, strutting, and posturing ruined it for me.


FYI - for an example of my Yanni comparison, watch the following video; you'll see a lot of the reasons why Culbertson's mannerisms reminded me of Yanni, except that Yanni doesn't play any solos to save himself from looking like a useless appendage.

By the way, the great irony of Yanni's flowery statements in the above video about how his musicians "bring great beauty, strength and color to his music" and how they "breathe life to his notes," is that the piece they play in the video isn't even Yanni's!!! It's actually a traditional American fiddle piece called The Old Grey Cat; one of Yanni's musicians introduced it to the orchestra, so Yanni slapped a different name on it, (World Dance), and started claiming that it was his. What a tool.

Desert Riding Bokeh Videos

When you somehow manage to bump the camera button on your phone in its waterproof case during a desert ride and it creates an experimental bokeh-art film in your honor...

Anti-Vaxxers are Still Idiots

Earlier today, an addlebrained anti-vaxxer posted a link to this bogus article on a social media website: FDA Announced That Vaccines Are Causing Autism. That article was, of course, immediately debunked by other people through a myriad of fact-check articles, such as Debunking False Vaccine Claim, Is Autism Now Disclosed as a DTaP Vaccine Side Effect?, etc. But even if that claim had been true for that single vaccine, that would still not apply to the hundreds of other vaccines for which there is incontrovertible proof that they do not cause autism.

The link between vaccines and autism has long been debunked, and people need to stop repeating this very harmful lie. Here is the scoop straight from the FDA: "Scientific evidence does not support a link between vaccination and autism or other developmental disorders." (See the CDC article Vaccines for Children - A Guide for Parents and Caregivers for more information.)

That being said, another gullible village idiot felt that it was necessary to ignore both scientific research and reasonable discussion and repost the following alarmist image as an attempted response:

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The numbers published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that those affected by Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are less than 15 per 1,000, and any increase between current the numbers and the 1960s is attributed to heightened awareness of the disease, better diagnostic procedures, and the classifications of new ailments within ASD like Asperger Syndrome. (See the CDC pages like Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Research, etc.) What is more, research conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has shown that autism begins in the womb, and is thereby unaffected by childhood vaccinations. (See Autism Spectrum Disorder: Progress Toward Earlier Diagnosis, Autism Risk Unrelated to Total Vaccine Exposure in Early Childhood, etc.)

That being said, the so-called link between autism and vaccines was based on a single research paper that was later unequivocally proved as a fraud, formally retracted from publication, and the doctor who published the paper lost his medical accreditation due to multiple conflicts of interest, unethical behavior, and manufacturing the data in his report. (Basically, this one doctor published a fraudulent study in order to make money. See MMR Doctor 'Planned to Make Millions,' Journal Claims, Antivaccine hero Andrew Wakefield: Scientific fraud?, and hundreds of other articles published about this scandal.)

In the wake of this controversy, the FDA, the CDC and the NIH have spent millions of USA taxpayer dollars on research that has categorically proven that there is no link between vaccines and autism. (See Vaccine Safety: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism, Vaccine Safety & Availability: Thimerosal and Vaccines, and dozens of other pages on both the FDA, CDC, and NIH websites.)

However, this hoax refuses to die because people who are unaware of the actual research keep reposting bogus images and articles like those shown above, and dangerous diseases which we had almost eradicated from the planet are making a comeback. In the USA, this is especially prevalent due to the lack of daily suffering that is seen in underdeveloped countries; this false sense of security was paradoxically caused by the success of our vaccination programs. (See Vaccine Safety Questions and Answers.) As a result, more children in the USA are growing up with a greater risk of contracting an unnecessary disease than they are of autism.


NOTE: Another reliable and respected source of information is the Mayo Clinic, which states the following in its Autism Spectrum Disorder article:

No link between vaccines and autism spectrum disorder

One of the greatest controversies in autism spectrum disorder centers on whether a link exists between the disorder and childhood vaccines. Despite extensive research, no reliable study has shown a link between autism spectrum disorder and any vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted due to poor design and questionable research methods.

Avoiding childhood vaccinations can place your child and others in danger of catching and spreading serious diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis), measles or mumps.

In other words - if you are a parent, do not fall victim to the misguided anti-vaxxer paranoia that is infesting social media and other fake news outlets with disinformation; do the world a favor and vaccinate your children. Attempts to demonize our successful and scientifically-verified vaccination programs is ridiculously naïve, and future generations will look back on our present-day anti-vaxxer hysteria with the same level of contempt and disgust that we have for the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s.

Desert Cycling Bingo

As I was riding my bicycle through the Arizona desert outside Tucson yesterday afternoon, I saw a good-sized Gila Monster, which was my first sighting for this year.

20180422_173258-01

This fortuitous discovery came just a few days after I had seen my first rattlesnake for the year, which got me thinking: perhaps I should track a few of the familiar objects that I see every year, which quickly expanded to common occurrences and mishaps. A few minutes later and I had randomized several of my semi-routine desert riding experiences into the following bingo card, where I have already encountered a few of the more-prevalent items this year:

Stung by Wasp inside my Cycling Jersey Rode in 100+ Temperatures PR on RRC Saw a Rattlesnake Ran Out of Water
Saw a Tarantula PR on PHL Saw a Coyote Hit by Wasp in Face Passed by a 20-Something During a Climb
Run Off the Road by Car Passed a 20-Something During a Climb Rode in 110+ Temperatures Got a Flat Tire Ocotillo in Bloom
Rode in 90+ Temperatures Saw a Gila Monster Fell Over Hit by Cicada in Face PR on SNP
Saguaro in Bloom PR on FHC Hit by Grasshopper in Face Threw Chain During a Climb Saw a Roadrunner

Where the following abbreviations apply:

Abbr. Description
PR Personal Record
FHC Freeman Hill Climb
SNP Saguaro National Park
PHL Pistol Hill Loop
RRC Riparian Ridge Climb

As you can see, there are several items which I have yet to see or do for the year, but only four months have gone by; there's plenty of time to fill up the list.

New HTML Tags for Useless Text

Just in time for April Fool's Day, here are some new HTML tags for useless text.

<BLAH></BLAH>

Defines Unnecessary Text

Extended attributes are:

Attribute Example
RHETORIC <BLAH RHETORIC="Political" ALIGN="Liberal">

This could be used for: "So, my fellow Americans, I feel that this is a strong issue about which I was asked that should not go unnoticed by this administration because it impacts all of us where we live as people of this great land that....."
ACCENT <BLAH ACCENT="Southern">

This could be used for: "Yawl jus' don' figur dat I be fin tuh be slaypin muh ferty wanks afore I goes huntin' latah."

<BLAB></BLAB>

Defines Disparaging Text

Extended attributes are:

Attribute Example
RHETORIC <BLAH RHETORIC="Gossip">

This could be "Gossip," "Slander," "Hearsay," "Rumor," etc.

Used for statements like: "Did you hear what Marc said to Luis? OHHH! You've gotta hear this...!"

Soul-Crushing Meetings

A friend of mine posted the following image to social media… and as someone who has had to attend more than a few soul-crushing phone conferences, I thought it was hilarious.

Soul-Crushing-Meeting

That being said, I thought this play set was missing a few things that would add to its realism.

For example, why doesn't it come with a whiteboard and four dried-out markers?

In addition, the conference phone should come with dozens of lifelike features, such as Dropped Calls, Random Static, Open Microphone Keyboard Typing, Private Background Conversations, and 15 minutes of 'Can You Hear Me?' dialog. This would turn your kids' 5-minute meeting into hours of troubleshooting entertainment - every time!

Adventures with the Easter Vampire

A few years ago I wrote a blog titled "Adventures with the Tooth Werewolf", where I wrote about how I rose my children with a belief in the Tooth Werewolf instead of the Tooth Fairy. In that same blog I also briefly mentioned that I had come up with the Easter Vampire instead of the Easter Bunny. (I'll bet you wish your parents had been this cool, right?)

That being said, one of my daughters sent me the following video, which she appropriately-labeled, "The Easter Vampire?"

Smile

Atheist Prayer Warriors

Did you ever notice how many atheists are actually the fiercest prayer warriors?

Every time they declare, "GD this!" or "GD that!," they are - in fact - calling on a God whom they claim does not exist to intervene on their behalf.

The tragic part about this fact is that in so doing they are praying more times per day than most Christians.

Recovering a Mirror Set on Windows 10

I run a mirror on the C drive for one of my Windows 10 systems, and a few nights ago that system wouldn't boot; I kept getting errors like "VOLMGRX internal error" and "A recently serviced boot binary is corrupt". I tried a few of the automatic Windows 10 recovery options while my system was rebooting, but nothing seemed to work. Skipping past the steps it took to get there, I also tried using the "bootrec /fixmbr" and "bootrec /fixboot" commands, with no luck, either.

However, since I was using a mirror set for the primary drive, I was able to do the following:

When I rebooted my system, I chose Troubleshoot for my startup option.

windows_10_recover_mirror_set_1

Step 2 - On the Troubleshoot screen, I chose Advanced options.

windows_10_recover_mirror_set_2

On the Advanced options screen, I chose Command prompt.

windows_10_recover_mirror_set_3

When the Command prompt opened, I typed the following commands:

diskpart
list volume

This returned a table like the following illustration, and I looked for the volume which showed status as "Failed Rd":

Volume ### Ltr Label Fs Type Size Status Info
---------- --- ----------- ----- ---------- ------- --------- --------
Volume 0 C C-DRIVE NTFS Partition 1848 GB Failed Rd Boot
Volume 1 ESP FAT32 Partition 500 MB Healthy System  
Volume 2 WINRETOOLS NTFS Partition 454 MB Healthy Hidden  
Volume 3 Image NTFS Partition 12 GB Healthy Hidden  
Volume 4 DELLSUPPORT NTFS Partition 1087 MB Healthy Hidden  

Once I knew the volume that was having the issue, I was able to run the following commands to recover the mirror set:

select volume 0
recover

I knew that the recovery was going to take a long to complete, and I could have used "detail volume" command every few minutes to check the status, (which will show "Rebuild" in the status column). But the truth is - it was already way past midnight, so I simply went to sleep for the night. When I got up the following morning, everything was fine and I was able to reboot successfully.


FYI - The following article has all the information you need about using the Windows DiskPart command, although be forewarned - you can really screw up your system if you do something wrong.

DiskPart Command-Line Options

Happy Pi Day!!!

In honor of "Pi Day" (3/14), here are the first 256 digits of Pi set to music... (which was achieved by taking the numbers in Pi and overlaying them on a C major scale).

At first I thought about overlaying the digits on a pentatonic scale to create a little more harmony, but it turns out that it wasn't necessary. (Of course, the bass line and drum parts add a lot, too.)

I also thought about doing something with a pentatonic scale, but as I said earlier it didn't appear to need it. I also thought using about some sort of timing extraction from the numbers in Pi instead of using 8th notes, but most of my experiments started to sound far too random and chaotic.

FWIW - I also did a version in 7/8 time, just 'cause... you know... RUSH.