Friday, March 20, 2015

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: March 20th -- A technical blog item.

It's been over a month and ten days since I last blogged.   I have been simply deluged with work and vacations, and I'm making new improvements to the DITCOW podcast which have proven quite fruitful so far.

Back in February, the podcast returned to YouTube for live video streaming.  In addition, we developed some new tools for improving the sound of the podcast on our iTunes feed.

PLUS, we are now adding thumbnail graphics to more easily identify the individual episodes.  It brings some color to the shows.  Here are some examples:






So now to the reason I started this blog post:  after years of dealing with this lousy buzzing noise that's haunted my podcast quality, I finally isolated the problem!   When I started using the laptop as a sound source for my mixer, we started to hear electronic interference, a buzzing noise which I could not for the life of me figure out.   All I knew is that the source was at the laptop or the external sound card that connected to the laptop.    Here's what that interference sounds like:


It sounded just like that video above and it is awful!  Many of you won't hear it unless you listen really carefully but even at low volume it's nonetheless present, and it has been since at least 2011.  However, it was at low enough levels to tolerate.   Last week, I started to use compression via Audacity through the use of a very advanced new compressor plug in.   The problem was, the interference now was brought back up to loud levels.  Yesterday I was incredibly frustrated, spending much of the night working on where the sound came from.  I removed  cables, swapped out one external sound card for another, and kept working at it UNTIL...

...I read online that someone had the same problem and isolated the problem to ground loop noise, which is precisely what it is.  I added the term "Laptop" to my search and realized the power adapter had terrible grounding issues.  The online forums recommended to run the laptop on battery to reduce noise, so I tried it... would you believe it, the noise FINALLY went away!

So, at last, the podcast will now be noise free after 6 years on the air.  Better late than never.   I still have to work on why the output levels to hangouts were so hot last week.  Hangouts is a little too sensitive with its audio transmission and if you have the levels too high the audio starts soft-clipping... but you'd have to have the levels at about half the volume you'd use for audacity or Skype.  Very strange but I had it working beforehand when I sent audio through the Behringer UCA222 interface.  Now we have the SoundBlaster Audigy SE PCI card moved over from the departed production computer to our new Hangouts computer.

One other note, I now am using my Galaxy S4 phone to play audio and actualities.   The original production computer died last week for good, and I copied the files to the Hangouts PC.  Thus I needed an alternate device, but my phone can use a soundboard app now to play back audio clips.  Unfortunately, YouTube is incredibly picky about playing even portions of copyrighted music on the show, and I think that's really really poor.  Loosen up a little!

Hope you're enjoying the show!  Despite YouTube's tough music restrictions, the show is finding a new audience on YouTube and our video ratings have been very good this month.   I hope to return to the blog with non-tech thoughts soon.  'Til then, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: February 10th

It has been a great honor to have this opportunity to blog here for 7 years.  And now... I think I'm going to blog some more.

Well it happened!   This one caught me by surprise but I bet folks who follow "The Daily Show" regularly aren't as surprised.   Jon Stewart is leaving "Daily Show."  Incredible.   I'm not really sure how you follow up 17 great years of doing a daily talk show, but it's pretty impressive.

I don't follow the Daily Show regularly.  I used to, long LONG ago, so long ago that it was in a time when Craig Kilborn was doing the show.   I had no idea it'd explode the way it has... times sure have changed.

Stewart is incredibly funny.  It's a shame television is going to lose a... I'll go say it, an icon.  I didn't have to watch all 9000 episodes to appreciate his fine work.

To think, I was struggling with a tangible topic lately... and here you have it.  Losing a big part of the TV landscape is a big blow to many people.  I'm sure that blow will happen again in a few years when Bill O'Reilly leaves his "O'Reilly Factor."  I'm certainly no fan, and as a matter of fact, he's actually incredibly annoying to me, but he's got quite a ratings draw and an unmistakable personality.   When he goes it will be another blow to television.

The key to being great on TV isn't just being hated or loved -- it's that you matter.    The best guys on TV matter.. you remember them!   Great stuff.

Is it odd to have this much opinion of a show I barely watched?   I'd pop into DS now and again... it was a staple of TV.

Oh right speaking of staples... ok, I was going to post this online for my buddies, but I heard the phrase from my friend Lou in Hoboken that Vida Guerra... remember that fine piece of bottom?  Anyway, he said "she was a staple of FHM magaine back in the day."  Holy hell if she was a *staple* you would never get to close the magazine... that fine piece of bottom would be impossible to fold between papers am I right???

It disappoints me that California is too far away from Georgia for markets to import Georgia peaches.  I have had the privilege of eating the Georgia peach.. it happened for the first time in 2008 during the summer.  I told this story before, I was next to Madison Square garden and a little produce stand nearby was selling the peaches.  My goodness was that so good!

I ate one again last year, over on the Upper West Side.   There's something special in that Georgia Peach.  So much so I may consider a move to Atlanta just to be closer to them.  However, the California peaches aren't bad by any means.  When California peaches are on, they are way on.  So good!

Right now we're getting peaches from Chile at the grocery store.   Now that's a real import.  Pretty good!  4 bones a pound but pretty good, I only bought two.  

Brian Williams got the hammer put to him by NBC didn't he?   My goodness what happened here?   He seemed like a friendly voice, and a very likeable guy and suddenly we find he's making up stories from thin air.  My goodness!   I don't know what else to say.

Let's see, what else?  I did partake in pizza yesterday during "National Pizza Day".  Good times.  Nothing fancy, just a UCLA campus mini pizza.  Not bad.

I'm listening to a new morning show, but what it is is a familiar voice brought together with some fresh new ingredients.  The familiar voice is that of Mark Thompson, the clown who was one half of "Mark and Brian" on KLOS in their day.  Their last show together was back in 2012.   They were the closest thing the LA Market had to "Mike in the Mad Dog" on any radio station, when you consider longevity, following, and the amount of pull they had in the city.   I will NOT say that "Mark and Brian" was necessarily innovative or revolutionary or even that good a show, but there were moments I had a blast with it.

Those jokers would narrate my drive to school during college at Cal Lutheran.   They would do bits and fake interviews like many morning zoo shows, but their best moments were organic ones.  Spots where they were just talking about their day and their interests.  One of my favorite segments of their show was just them talking about fast foods and a whole conversation about Taco Bell.  Cracked me up!

When I moved to Santa Barbara, I was out of signal range of Mark and Brian and we were in a time when radio stations were not streamed regularly yet.  I couldn't use them to wake me up in the morning, so I had to settle for a Santa Barbara station... it turned out to be KTYD and another VERY memorable morning show but one that was short lived.

I'd need a whole other blog entry to write my tribute to the Matt McAllister/Julie Ramos/Chris "Hayseed" Whateverhislastnamewas KTYD morning program.. but that became my new kick.  It was a SUCH a good show and it was so Santa Barbara too!   Nothing like it before or since for the area.

Anyway, the years wore on in Santa Barbara and I detached from Mark and Brian.  By the time I moved back to LA, I was invested in other things and decided to use ESPN Los Angeles to stay up to date with sports instead of going back to Mark and Brian.  I didn't even make much note of their final telecast... by then they may have been a few notches past their prime or coasting on past laurels (sound familiar, NYers?).  Those years I listened were fun times though.  Mid 2000s or so, far from the peak of their show history.

This long story is just me saying, wow, it was neat to have some of that memory back in Mark Thompson's new program... and this guy is smart.  He can't redo Mark and Brian, and he doesn't even try.   The new show is less stunt driven so far, and more conversational and he's got some new buddies!   Longtime vet at Thompson's new station 100.3 The Sound Andy Chanley is his co-host along with a name some of you may know, Gina Grad.   Peppering the broadcast is Mark's old producer Danny from M&B plus his daughter of all folks Katie Thompson of the newly dubbed "Chick on the Street" in which daughter Katie trolls a random LA area location live on the air!

Truly a remarkable experience, and in a twist far more music oriented than what I remember from the old Mark & Brian show as you hear tidbits on music trivia, a daily "Time Capsule" feature for this day in music, and actual songs being played to pad program breaks.  I like it.  The loyalists who love a music only morning drive are incensed, but personally I feel like you can listen to worn out Classic Rock songs any ole time... I like the original content Mark presents.  Yeah it may ultimately be a money grab for Mark who now lives in North Carolina with his wife and broadcasts his voice from a home studio over Skype, but I think the show is holding up thus far.  Week #1 he was in the building doing the show live from the Sound studios on Wilshire across from LACMA.

To put is simply, I like this combination of old and new.  An old fella's voice mixed in with some fresh, ahem (forgive me Andy Chanley), talent.  Katie is a riot!   It also cracks me up that Mark refuses to even acknowledge Brian Phelps (the "Brian" of Mark and Brian) individually.   

The show is "Mark in the Morning" on 100.3 The Sound and it's off to a good start.  Now to see if the rest of Los Angeles is as receptive.  I'm a big Andy Chanley mongo for whatever it's worth.  I think that guy is a quite a wisecracking funny dude and even his mid day DJ shift in years past was fun.

Certainly whatever this is beats listening to "Mike and Mike" and their tired old schtick on ESPN Radio.   Have a good morning fellas!


Dave vs the Meats at Fogo de Chao: Dave Wins.

I'll spill a lil secret:  I was at Fogo de Chao last weekend.   The thing was: I had money to spend given to me at Christmas-time and to this moment I hadn't spent it.   I originally tried to go a week earlier but it was a DISASTER.  Even with a reservation the wait was over an hour for a table and Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian Steakhouse with all-you-can-eat menu, was packed.  I had no chance.   I drove by, saw how busy it was, and kept on going that particular Friday.  I decided to just try the Bludso's WeHo outpost and went in about 9pm and they were out of meats... all they had left was a lump of pulled pork.  Unbelievable!

That day did not go so well.. .I settled for Wendy's.   One week later, it was a far better experience.   The tables were many and the servers attentive.  I made the reservation and my table was ready 5 minutes early.  In my reservation form it had a little section called "Special Requests."  Oooooooooooh I love the special requests!   I always like to put in silly things to see how the restaurant responds.  So for "special requests" I wrote "cookies, if you have any."

The meal goes very well.   I was smart this time and didn't load up on the salad bar.   Just a little pile of kale and a tablespoon of scalloped potatoes.  The little sides of plantains, cornmeal sticks, and cheese balls were added to the table, and then it was chow time!   They start you off with the cheap meats... sausage and chicken, but we all knew the good stuff was another layer away.   More and more racks of meat kept coming in waves.  We worked our way up to the sirloin, then the Picanha, the ribeye, and the tour de force, the bacon wrapped filet mignon,  My goodness it was all so good.   Then we went after it again with some of the cuts.  Everyone was tremendous and responsive and the water was quickly filled.

Once it was all said and done, I got the bill and I was ready to go, but the server came over and said "unfortunately we couldn't get you cookies, but all of us got a real laugh out of the request.  We DO have some chocolate lava cake for you, on the house, I hope you don't mind!"

Do the dance!   I certainly had no issue with this compromise!  Graciously I accepted -- what a treat!   A couple folks came over  and so did the choco lava cake with a side of ice cream.   I told everyone "man this is so good!  Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed that little humor."  The hostess ladies said to me as I left "we really got a kick out of your cookies request!"

That was a pretty cool moment.  Thanks for taking in a minor indulgence on this blog space, no pun intended.

Big meals like this have happened from time to time, and many of them are with people I care about, loved ones and friends.  This particular one occurred on my own.   It was a somewhat rough week at work, and a night like that hit the spot.  Thanks to the fine people at Fogo de Chao Beverly Hills!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: January 12th

Happy New Year everybody and may it be a good 2015 to you!

I honestly feel very worried about this year.  I feel like all sorts of bad things will happen to me or people I love.  I hope not, but I had this eerie feeling on New Year's Eve about it.   You just never know -- I will hope for the best and make the most out of the worst.

I want to make a special salute to the guy who invented Raisin Bran.   He looked at his bowl of Total one day and said, "hey why don't I add some raisins?"  Then he added them and decided to save the step for the rest of us.   What a great man that guy is, the Raisin Bran inventor.

What is green anyway but a color?  And the name of a guy who plays for the Golden State Warriors?  And the light that says you can go now.  

You know how when you go all the way into the pool people say you're underwater?  How can you be underwater?   When you put yourself in you are IN the water!  If you were underwater you'd be beneath the floor of the pool. 

Well it happened, during a trip I made to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, CES, I made a stop at the NYNY Hotel and Casino.   Never got a room there before, but my goodness, what a great spot.   It's got the feel of a mini NY, and even brought over some of NY's best spots.   Gallagher's is in the fake NY within the building, and outside of the building, next to the fake Brooklyn Bridge, is a new Shake Shack location.  No joke!  I went in to try a burger, and truly, it *was* the bread.  Very good.   Incredibly good!   Still not as good as In N Out though, oh ho ho ho!

Nonetheless, I loved it.   CES itself was a dream.  I think I would have liked to spend more time in the cumulative exhibit halls, but that would have required another day.  I will try to make that happen next year provided I have the means and the allotted time to do so.   CES really showcased it all -- new advances in robotics, stylish, exciting new TV's, some good interviews on stage, and for me, the best in high end home audio systems over at the Venetian's "Tech West" section of CES.  The Convention Center is the meat of the show, which is known as "Tech East".   I have more to tell but maybe another time.  Truly great.

I decided to start playing craps using the "don't pass" bar.   This all started when I met a old friend of mine, formerly a coworker, who coincidentally was in Vegas at the same time for CES.  I had no idea.  HE had no idea!  And when he saw my posts on facebook about Vegas, he messaged me to say he was in town.  How cool was that?  We went to a buffet at Caesar's known as the Bacchanal.  Ohhhhh baby, we have a new entry to the Dave in the City "top buffets in Vegas."  I thought for a while that the Wynn and the Cosmopolitan were the two best and nobody was close -- not so!  Bacchanal at Caesars now becomes the third entry in quite a triumverate.  Here's what they do at Caesar's that they don't do at the others, pre-shucked oysters.  YOU WON'T EVEN BELIEVE IT.  So good!   So exceptional... they even made this kielbasa that just blew me away.  Yes, sausage... a huge fan of the sausage there.

Anyway, after that experience, my friend asked if I could show him some of the games, so we went to one of the craps tables at Caesars, 10 dollar table.  I put in a few bones and showed him how to put the bet on the pass line... and then those clowns went 7 out four times in a row!   Outrageous!!  I got so mad and one of the dealers, the lady there, said "you could try the don't pass bar!"  I told her "oh nobody does that bet, people would get all mad at you."

Then, after getting cleaned out at Caesars, I thought it over.  I was in bed thinking of the "don't pass bar".   The next day, my buddy and I were at the LINQ and I tried it out.  I tried to keep a low profile until I foolishly said "wow, quite a run you got going there" to one of the fellas.  He was the shooter and the shooter was hot, and he was tweaking me saying "well you gotta bet on luck, don't bet against luck!"

Up to his turn, I was doing pretty well w/ the Don't Pass bar... I put down the bones on the bar and the point rolled a 4.. 4 had almost no shot, so we felt good about it, and then won w a 7-out.  I tried it again, no odds, just the don't pass, and BOOM it hit again.  A guy or two left the table, then said shooter just went off, but after a while I adjusted and put my bones on the PASS line, then it 7'd out.   He was a nice dude and all too, he was a UCLA alum in fact, noticing our two UCLA denoted CES badges.  We wore those badges the whole trip, it was quite the conversation starter!

Anyway, despite the probable dirty looks I got, the Don't Pass appears to be good craps strategy.  I think I came out of that exchange down just ten but I was at that table for a pretty good while.

Good trip, lots of fun, I want to be back!

Since that day I have been testing out craps strategies on various simulators... an app on my phone, web apps, etc.  Fake dollars of course.

The Calvin Johnson rule is a dumb rule -- get rid of it!

With that said, I think the Packers are a deserving entry into the NFC Championship game.  I don't think it really matters whether Dallas or Green Bay goes to Seattle, the Hawks are playing at an exceptional level right now, defensively.  Good luck to both teams.

That's all from here... if you want to hear one of the most influential albums of the last ten years, pick up on "" from Justice, a French Dance Music group.   It's otherwise known as "Cross."  I've heard it a couple times in full and songs from it over the last decade since the album came out.  Incredible music!  A great collage of samples.  Lots of fun!   

I'mmmm back, baby!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Say Hello to Ottis and Andy in Seattle: Co-Champions of the "Kids Club" Football Picks Contest!

I am pleased to announce the winners of our "Kids Club" Football Picks Contest.  And the winners ARE:

Andy in Seattle
and
Say Hello to Ottis

Both finished with a 34-29-3 record to complete the first place co-championship.  Way to go fellas!  We'll give you the final standings here:

Andy: 34-29-3
Ottis: 34-29-3
John: 32-33-1
Ron: 27-35-4

Major props to Andy for coming from way back in the standings, numerous games under .500, to reach first place.  An incredible comeback for Mr. in Seattle.  Oat Man did a good job keeping pace despite some 0-4 weeks (everyone had their share of 0-4 weeks with the unpredictable college season).  Now we'll show you how their final picks went.  These were four bowl picks made in mid-December plus two picks from NFL Week 16.

Andy in Seattle (2-4 for Week 16)
Hit with: Rice, Duke
Missed with: Alabama, USC, Patriots, Broncos

Say Hello to Ottis (2-4 for Week 16)
Hit with: Mizzou, Vikings
Missed with: Alabama, LSU, UNC, Broncos

John in CT (3-3 for Week 16)
Hit with: Duke, Vikings, Packers
Missed with: SDSU, Cincinnati, Minnesota

Ron in NJ (2-4 for Week 16)
Hit with: Texas A&M, Vikings
Missed with: NIU, LSU, Auburn, Lions

One overarching observation about the final picks: Bowl games are nearly IMPOSSIBLE to predict.   The later you get into Bowl Season, the harder it gets as well.  Teams like Florida State, Alabama, and Baylor seemed like good plays but ultimately failed to cover the spread.  NFL went better for most of the club and most fellas either split or swept the two NFL games to close Week 16.

It was a fun year, and a great contest.  Props to all who participated: John, Ron, Andy, and Ottis.  Here's to future success picking games!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dave's Christmas Thoughts of the Day: December 21st

Ho ho ho Merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry Christmas!

Last blog entry before the big holiday season.   Well!  I have a question for you.   When you shower, do you take the bar of soap and scrub your feet?  I bet almost nobody does... isn't that funny?  How do they get clean?   Somehow I've gone on this way and not worried about it.   I do rub a dub the tops of the feet sometimes, but never the bottom.  It's funny this only occurred to me this year.

All done with the present shopping except for a couple things.  I have a gift to purchase for one of my grandmothers and an additional item to add for my father.  Aside from that, it's all in the books.   I did almost all the shopping online this year.  Saved me a ton of trouble and I really haven't fought through any lines.   For me it's the way to go!

Ever try the "Beef Bowl" cut at Lawry's?   I'm dying to give it a spin sometime soon, and perhaps my moment is at hand.  I've developed a sort of tradition at Lawry's.  Every year during the winter or Fall, I make one trip to Lawry's for a meal.  Unfortunately, most of my friends don't care for prime rib, so to date I have made every trip to Lawry's myself.  It's too bad too because it's a great experience.  Anyway, the "Beef Bowl" cut is an enormous, monstrous, simply ridiculous cut of standing rib roast that usually is served to participating players in the Rose Bowl game.  However, it's available to order as a civilian if you can pay the price.  I haven't up to now but maybe that time is changing.   I get a nice little cash bonus from the departments (not in the thousands or anything, but enough for a good steakhouse meal) before the Winter Break.  It's truly a nice gesture by all.   I can use it this year to furnish this beef bowl prime rib meal.   Here's a look at it:






I got a version of the picture with a guy seated next to it so you get an idea just how bit it is... the beef is six inches thick!   Outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!!

Would you be able to eat the whole thing?  I'd love to try and find out.

On Saturday I kicked off the college bowl season with a trip to Tony P's for breakfast.   I think I blew everybody away coming in so early... it wasn't even 10am yet.   Everyone was friendly, nonetheless.  I ordered the pancakes and bacon... that was some of the best pancakes I've had in my life!  Eating that while watching Nevada and Louisiana-Laffayette punt the ball around was a good time, the game wasn't good at all, but the food was exemplary.   I ordered coffee with it and had about a dozen refills.  No wonder I was up past 1 that night.

The little things make me smile.   I never knew Mitch Hedberg did promos for the Atlanta Thrashers long long ago.  That made me smile.   I know it doesn't sound like much, but he did a good job with them.

I know what Mentos are, but it was funny to think about it going through the years.  It was candy, so I thought, but what particular candy was it?  It was last year when I learned Mentos are mints.   They can be chewed too so that they go down more easily.

A big atta boy to the Pittsburgh Steelers for making the playoffs!   First trip to the 'offs in three years!   Feels like it's been quite a long time, but nice to see the 'offs again.  I hope this time they don't get embarrassed at the end as they did against Tim Tebow back then.   The Steelers' defense really isn't any good, but they can have good games when they cheat with an aggressive blitzing pass rush.  Horizontal offenses like the Chiefs are such a good matchup for the Steel City and it played out Sunday afternoon.   A NICE win for the Steelers., setting up Sunday night vs the Bengals with a chance to clinch the AFC North Division.  Looking forward to it!

Hard to believe the Steelers made the playoffs after looking so dead, so lost, so beaten in the first month of the year.  Kudos to Mike Tomlin for getting his boys to believe.  That's a good offense too... it's been fun to watch although frustrating too because they often were playing down to bad teams and losing because of it.

Christmas is a great time of the year.  It's one very few moments of the year where most of society comes to a pause so we can all be together, with our families and some friends, to recognize the birth of Christ, and celebrate our own livelihood.   Many of us, the non-religious ones, emphasize the personal and family reunion aspects of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  However, I always recognize the religious undertones of this time of year.

I also like cookies!   I associate cookies with Christmas, inexplicable as it may be.   Santa eats cookies.  Families bake cookies.  I eat cookies.  It all comes together.

I am so thankful to be healthy again after the absolute worst flu of the year 7 days ago.  It was so bad that I couldn't move.  It basically killed my weekend.  I felt terrible... and I wasnt all there for three days straight.   The next four days were recovery.  I haven't gone to swim the whole time, even up to now.  However, I now am back to full health, and today, on a Sunday evening, I feel so very grateful.  Thanks so much for good health!  I hope to retain my well being through the rest of the month.

I am thankful to once again make it through another year alive, with a roof over my head, and good family to turn to.  I'm thankful for friendly faces and dependable people.  I'm thankful for continued employment and a good hobby with the DITCOW podcast.   It is great to be a functional part of society.  I hope for more good things in 2015.

And to all of you who read this blog.  My thanks to you for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it.  Go out there and have a great holiday season!   Take care and see you again soon.  Merrrrrrrrrrrrrrry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Kids Club" Football Picks - Week 16: December 16th

It arrives!  The final week of "Kids Club" picks in a most exciting contest.  Here we go, the picks for Week 16 - Four Bowl Picks this week plus two NFL picks.

Say Hello to Ottis (32-25-3)  
Alabama -9.5 vs Ohio State
Missouri -5.5 vs Minnesota
LSU -7 vs Notre Dame
North Carolina -3 vs Rutgers
Vikings +7 at Dolphins
Broncos -3 at Bengals

Andy in Seattle (32-25-3) 
Alabama -9.5 vs Ohio State
Rice -2 vs Fresno State
Duke +8 vs ASU
USC -6.5 vs Nebraska
Patriots -10 at Jets
Broncos -3 at Bengals

John in CT (29-30-1) 
SDSU -3 vs Navy
Cincinnati -3 vs Va. Tech
Duke +8 vs ASU
Minnesota +5.5 vs Missouri
Vikings +7 at Dolphins
Packers -10.5 at Bucs

Ron in NJ (25-31-4)  
Northern Illinois +10 vs Marshall
Texas A&M +3.5 vs West Virginia
LSU -7 vs Notre Dame
Auburn -6.5 vs Wisconsin
Vikings +7 at Dolphins
Lions -7 at Bears

First place is up for grabs.  We'll announce the winner of the contest in January!  Good luck to all the picks!