Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wow, yet another year gone, and I only had 1 blog post in 2011!  I promise I'll post more in the coming year (I don't believe in New Years resolution, so that's probably as close as I'll get to one).  Like last year, I wasn't sure how many things actually happened this year because it was such a blur, but here they are as best as I can remember at the moment:

The Bad
  • The father of close family friends passed away.  I've known the family for most of my life and losing him was like losing an uncle.  May the soul of Francisco Buenconsejo rest in peace.
  • Needed laser retina surgery AGAIN because I had a torn retina for the 3rd time
The Good
  • Photographed 1 wedding (better than none!)
  • Attended my cousin's wedding
  • Got more house projects done
  • Worked on reviving the Filipino American Society
The Awesome
  • Celebrated 3 years of marriage with Sophia
  • Found out Sophia was pregnant with our 2nd, and the baby will be a boy!
  • Celebrated Cecilia's 2nd birthday
  • Watching Cecilia develop even more

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Years Later, I Still Miss Dad

This year, 2011, marks the 10 year anniversary of my dad's death. Thinking about everything that has happened in my life since he left this world, it feels like the decade has just flown by. Since his death, I've graduated college, worked for 3 different companies, I've been unemployed twice, met and married my wife, and had my first child. It's sad to think dad wasn't around physically for all these events in my life.

One of the things I've been surprised by over the years is how little things remind me of dad. A commercial on TV, a scene in a movie, music, food, and just about anything else can conjure up memories. And after having my first child, seeing anything associated with fatherhood can also trigger thoughts of dad. It's bittersweet to think that my wife and I had our daughter when I was the same age as my dad was when him and mom had me. I am going through a lot of the same experiences he did, so I feel a closeness to my dad I didn't feel before, but I can't talk to him about it. And he won't be able to meet his grandchildren in this life, only in the next.

I don't mean for this to be a depressing, sad post. If there's one thing that has given me comfort over the years, it's my Catholic faith. My dad was a good man, but he had his flaws. Don't all dads? I have memories of dad being a great human being, and memories of dad behaving not so greatly. So is he in heaven? I don't know, and unless the Church proclaims him a saint, no one can know for certain. My hope is that he is in purgatory, because that means he's on his way to heaven, and it gives me great comfort to know I can continue to pray for the rest of his soul. Even if he can't help me anymore, I can still help him. And when I enter into the next life, I hope to see him again.

Eternal rest grant unto the soul of Pedrito Acierto, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul, and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Goodbye 2010!

Last year, I did a "The Bad, the Good" type list for the year, so I thought I'd do it again this year. I wasn't quite sure how many things actually happened this year because it was such a blur, but Sophia and I were talking and there were indeed a lot of things that happened. So here they are as best as I can remember at the moment (had a little wine to ring in the New Year):

The Bad
  • Had to replace the Element's windshield 2 times
  • Needed laser retina surgery because I had a detached retina for the 2nd time
The Good
  • Got a job!
  • Photographed 3 weddings
  • Got lots of house projects done
  • Elected president of the Filipino American Society
The Awesome
  • Celebrated 2 years of marriage with Sophia
  • Celebrated Cecilia's 1st birthday
  • Watching Cecilia develop: going from being non-mobile to walking, babbling more and more, starting to eat solid foods, etc., etc.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Headphone Soapbox

I've written before about the headphones I use and I still use them to this day (here's a blog post I wrote years ago about them). Recently I modified the PX100's by replacing the ear pads with bigger replacement pads from Radioshack to make them more comfortable. I also cut a hole in the middle of the pads (called the quarter mod or nickel mod to describe the size of the hole) so I could hear higher frequencies better. The modifications have made a BIG difference and I find the PX100s have a whole new character. They're much more comfortable now and sound much better. Here are some photos I snapped:

After doing the mods, I got to thinking about headphones in general and how overpriced they can be, especially for those well marketed headphones made by Bose and Monster Beats by Dr. Dre. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a headphone snob by any means and I do think the headphones by Bose and Monster Beats sound very good. But I don't think the quality of sound of Bose and Monster Beats headphones warrants their high price.

To illustrate my point, here's a frequency graph I got from HeadRoom which compares the Monster Beats Solo headphones with 3 headphones I own (Grado SR60, Sennheiser PX100, and Sennheiser HD280 Pro).

The frequency response for Bose headphones weren't available because HeadRoom doesn't sell them, I'm guessing because of Bose's licensing costs.

The Grado SR60s have the flattest frequency response, which explains why they sound the best to me and why they have the most detail. The HD280 Pros have a little more bass then the SR60's and the PX100's have less treble than the SR60s. But take a look at the Monster Solos, they have the least amount of treble out of all the headphones, along with having a LOT of bass. This will lead to a lot less detail and clarity in the music. Here's another graph showing both the Monster Solo and Studio headphones compared to the Grado SR60s and Sennheiser PX100s:

The Monster Beats Studio headphones (green line) have a pretty flat response, but the Grado SR60's is still flatter.

Graphs are well and good, but where I really have my beef with Bose and Monster Beats is the cost of their headphones. Bose's Triports start at $150 while Monster Beats Solos start at $179. For better sound (in my opinion), you can get Sennheiser PX100s for $69, Grado SR60s for $79, or Sennheiser HD280 Pros for $99.

So why do Bose and Monster Beats get away with this price gouging? Like the graphs show, I think they fool people into thinking they have better sound by increasing the bass frequencies. Generally, I think people judge sound quality by the amount of bass (I used to be like this too). Those with more refined tastes listen for both bass and high frequency treble (I find car audio guys are like this). Professionals, like Audiophiles and recording engineers, listen for a flatter, more detailed response because this more accurately presents the music as it was meant to be heard. Personally, I prefer detail and flat frequency responses because I have a home recording studio and I need detail and accuracy for mixing purposes. You can't mix well if you're getting too much bass or treble from the speakers or headphones.

We all want better sound. Those earbuds and headphones that are packaged with iPods and other mp3 players just don't cut it. But, good sound doesn't have to be expensive and I hope I've shown that with this post. The next time you're at Best Buy and a person in blue tries to sell you Bose or Monster Beats headphones, don't let them talk you into buying them before you've sampled some Grado, Sennheiser, or other great headphones out there.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Get Angry!

There seems to be a big epidemic out there right now that people are really concerned about. The news did reports on people who suffered from this disease. It was spreading wildly and there were rallies against the disease saying it must be stopped. What's this disease I'm writing about? Anger.

If that first paragraph seemed like hyperbole, it was. I don't think all the anger out there is a big deal, but for some reason people seem to be really concerned about it. I have even been accused of being an angry, paranoid right wing nut. That's fine, but anger happens for various reasons and I feel the news media and people who don't like the angry reactions expect us all to be more Vulcan (logical with no emotions) than human. I happen to believe we should be more human than Vulcan.

The best way I can illustrate how anger isn't all bad is to relate to you my experiences in customer service. I've never worked in a customer service position per se, but working at an embroidery shop and as an engineer at an architecture firm, I have plenty of experience dealing with customers and clients. And yes, I've dealt with some who got angry. Here are my observations about why anger happens:

-The most obvious reason customers get angry is because they don't get what they ordered, or they don't get it on time. I've had to rush orders when deadlines were missed. I've also had to redo orders when we made mistakes on an order. The customers have a right to be angry and when we were truly upfront and honest about our mistakes, their anger was curtailed most of the time. The government has not been upfront or honest with their mistakes as of late and the improvement to the economy they promised is way overdue. Sounds like a business that has messed up, doesn't it?

-Another reason customers tend to get angry is when they feel they are not being heard. I've had to correct orders when one person who took the order didn't communicate all the information to anyone else, hence the customer felt we didn't listen to their requests. Recent polls have shown most people feel the government no longer listens to them. Sound familiar.

-Lastly, some customers are just naturally angry people and can't be appeased. This rarely happens and is by no means the norm, but these people are out there. The best thing to do is just be patient with them and try to meet their requests as much as possible. I wish the government would at least try to appease people's anger instead of saying they're too angry and ignoring them.

If the government acted more like a responsible business, then maybe fewer people would be angry at them. People have a right to their anger, especially when they feel their government isn't doing the job they were created for: serving the people. Now, I must say that it's not right for angry people to take out their anger on just anyone. We should all be civil and be able to debate and discuss without yelling. But in the end, anger is just a symptom of something deeper and it only manifests when no other means of communication seems to work. There's no clearer way of communicating dissatisfaction than anger and it seems that's the only way to get the government's attention nowadays. Hopefully this will now change with the government now more balanced.