I splurged the other day. I went out and bought something for myself that I really didn’t need. However, I have been thinking about buying them for a long time so it wasn’t a snap decision. Since I am doing a lot more exercising, listening to music and listening to audio-books, the one thing that has been lacking in my arsenal of technology has been a really good pair of headphones.
You have to keep in mind that in my younger days when I had a full head of hair, I used to work in radio and I was a stereophile (a person that collects High Fidelity equipment). So I know good headphones. The earbuds that Apple and Google give you with your phones are not high fidelity. They sound nice, but they lack of lot of oomph in the bass and mid-range.
So I went to the nearest Best Buy electronics store and plunked down $400 on a set of Bose Noise Canceling Headphones. By the time I got home and unpacked them I was having a little buyers remorse. These headphones almost cost as much as my new iPhone. Never the less I read the instructions and powered them up.
What happened next sort of caught me off guard. These things really do cancel out noise around you and they really work. The bonus is that they have really GOOD sound. I can hear bass lines and treble that I never knew were there before. But it is the sound canceling feature that really blew me away.
Bose has found a way to determine what is ‘man-made’ noise around you and cancel it out. How they determine what is man-made and selectively cancel out rhythmic patterns and frequencies is a mystery to me, all I know is that once you flip the switch the rest of the world disappears.
That isn’t to say you can’t hear around you. You can, but all of the humming, clicking, rumbling and clanging goes away and the world becomes a very quiet place. In some cases almost too quiet.
I have learned that these headphones are not something you wear in public. You won’t hear cars coming or sirens or loud air conditioners which can be un-nerving and dangerous. Wearing them outside and listening to music is like being disembodied and floating among your surroundings. Strange indeed.
What they are better used for is sitting in a noisy environment where you want to concentrate on something. They are unbelievable in this role.
The headphones taught me that there is pollution all around us that we just take for granted. Few of us actually know what silence sounds like anymore. We live in a mechanized society where our brains have learned to filter out a lot of noise, or so we think. Once you take it all away, the brain does some funny things.
Mohamed Ali passed away last week. I never really cared much for the man, his personality and brashness sort of rubbed me the wrong way. But I will gladly admit that he was a great man. He grew up poor without a father in a lower class neighborhood and had to deal with racial segregation and racism as a youth. He rebelled against all that and used his athletic ability as a platform for social change, to battle injustice and to fight hypocrisy. A worthy legacy for any of us. The world is a better place because he was here. So while I did not care for him personally, I have to admire his ability, tenaciousness and his moral center which benefited all people.
Gordie Howe died this week as well. Now I don’t know diddly about hockey. I am not from Canada, and the idea of grown men putting on ice skates and running around with sticks to hit a solid disk just seems sort of weird in my book. That said, my gosh, I could never do what he did. The agility, athletic prowess and skill needed to excel at hockey for as long as he did is well beyond me. Like Mr. Ali, Mr. Howe left the world a better place when he died.
Unlike Ali, Howe did it the opposite way. Instead of being brash and bold and confrontational, Howe put his head down and just worked at it day after day. Instead of fame garnered in 10 or 15 boxing matches, Mr. Howe went to work every week for decades and in so doing gave the City of Detroit a hero that every young boy could look up to. “You see son, this is what you get with patience, determination and perseverance.”, many a Michigan father would have told his son.
Without a doubt, Ali had the larger impact on society. Mr. Howe didn’t have to deal with racism and segregation. Repressed people all over the world know Ali, only Mid-Westerners and Canadians probably know who Gordie was.
So I was a bit perplexed this past week when I turned on the news and every channel was covering the funeral of Mohamed Ali in great detail, while Gordie Howe only gets a passing reference before the next commercial. I didn’t see any interviews with old teammates, or community leaders or political figures singing Mr. Howe’s praises. But they were all lining up to throw accolades at Ali.
My conundrum here is the uneven media coverage of the two. Broadcast television extols the free thinking radical that shakes up the system. It no longer lauds the hard working every-man who makes a difference through a lifetime of hard work and dedication. Instead it praises the lottery winner or the miner that strikes it rich and not the poor working stiff that scrimps and saves everyday to put their children through college. So why is this? Is this a culture that praises the brash and confrontational or a culture that promotes its long term growth?
My fear here, is that the media is pandering to the lowest common denominator. You don’t have to work hard to get ahead, just be loud, obnoxious and stamp your feet until you get what you want. Who are the people watching all the news stories about Ali? People that want to do it the Ali way? Definitely not the people that did it the Howe way.
In the early days of media, the Howe example was standard. It was the ‘American Way’ to work hard, be honest and seek change within the system. Now the media says rebel against the system, only chumps work hard. The media is pandering to the quick and easy.
They were both great men, worthy of ‘equal’ praise. Which isn’t what they are getting. That makes me angry, because that isn’t indicative of the country that I was raised in.
So we took this road trip from Arizona to Colorado during the spring. Just the wife and I. It was our 10th wedding anniversary (I have outlasted all her exes!) And I was damned if I was going to drive almost 2000 miles in a Prius. Hello Enterprise Rent-A-Car and their “Luxury” Fleet. So the wife and I abandoned the Prius in long term parking and picked up a jet black 2016 Cadillac XRS.
As we pulled way from Tucson and I depressed the accelerator my first impression was, “Way to go Cadillac, this is the car that Darth Vader would drive home after a long day of working on the Death Star.”
While this sedan is big, sleek and functional, it can also be fairly aggressive when pushed. Power? Oh gawd yes, there is a lot of that. Three hundred to four hundred horsepower depending on the options.
Comfy? Well, Duh. With 64 way power seats that are both heated and cooled along with a heated steering wheel. (Damn, that felt sinfully erotic on a cold Colorado morning.) I don’t think you are going to want for much else in the way of comfort, except maybe a masseuse named Ingrid in the trunk.
Gizmos? Well, I am a big ergonomic fan and internal layout is a BIG deal to me. Switches that are hard to find or confusing are a big no-no in my book. Not a problem with the XRS. There are no switches or dials. Everything is touch screen or pressure sensitive. Does this layout work? Lets just say that Cadillac has their own style. It works well and is well thought out, but it is a matter of taste. It is like asking if you prefer Tiffany or Cartier?
Needless to say there are enough configurable screen on the dash to keep the driver (and passengers) up to date on just about everything inside and outside the car.
Conclusion: If I were going to be spending a lot of time on the freeway, I would buy one. The XRS got 30mpg at 85mph throughout the entire trip. Around town the car may be larger than most folks are used to. At $60,000 plus for a price tag it would be expensive but rewarding.
Or you can just rent one for a week. It will run you about $700 plus gas (with unlimited milage!). It is basically the cheapest way to fly a Learjet five feet off the ground.