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snow-covered hill

January snow
Foreshadowing things to come, perhaps, yesterday's January blizzard had hurricane-force winds (on the Cape and Islands), thunder (over Sagamore), and a name, (Juno).  The snow covered up the soccer stadium steps where I usually do my running workout, so instead I ran up, and walked down, the steepest street (Caspian Way in Dorchester, MA) on my winter jogging route twelve times, which left me feeling wonderfully tired.  I stopped to take this snowbound picture of Savin Hill Park here.
posted January 28, 2015, 5:51 pm

Sonxtronic's new old-school headphones
Tantalizingly, these Sonxtronic XDR-8000 Vertical in Ear Ultralight Sport Running Headband Headphones, on Amazon, here, promised to be what the Sony MDR W08L headphones used to be, but they were disappointing.  First, they were slightly less than ultralight, weighing 0.6 ounce compared to Sony's 0.5 ounce.  Second, they were, inexplicably, longer, with a 44-inch length from apex to plug-in, compared to Sony's 5-inch-shorter 39-inch length.  5 inches may not sound like much, but it's the difference between being able to hold the player or put it in your pocket without a loop of cord swinging around pulling on the earpieces (which happened with the Sonxtronic) or not (the Sony).  I'm 6-foot-3-inches, and even on me the extra 5 inches of cord was a drawback, not an improvement.  Still, these were diminishments I could live with.  What sunk the Sonxtronics for me was a small but definite inferiority of sound.  The mid-tones are flatter, and the bass, thinner.  Looking at the headphones, I could see superficial differences between the two: Sony's earpiece is a little smaller and its 5 sound apertures more closely spaced, the Sonxtronics is bigger, clumsier looking with its 5 larger apertures spread wider across the earpiece curve.  I can't tell, of course, what's inside the headphones, Sony's website vaguely mentions, I seem to recall, neodymium magnets, but the Sonxtronics sound is definitely, if only subtly, inferior.  Even at $50 or $60 for a used Sony MDR W08L from a trusted vendor like The Professional Department on Amazon, I think the slightly better Sony sound would be worth it.  It sure would be nice if somebody could figure out how to manufacture a closer duplicate of the now-discontinued Sony MDR W08Ls.  
posted December 29, 2014, 7:25 pm

Those now-elusive headphones
I've been running around with Sony headphones, Sony MDR-W08L headphones, to be exact, since the eighties.  They're great, but ALWAYS fail after about three months of ordinary use (as I have said before, obliquely, on Amazon here).  While the housewives of Amazon were hotly debating over my comment, Sony quietly phased these headphones out as the defect, apparently relating to a strain point developing in the wires as they exit the body of the headphones, became more widely known.  In my so-far futile quest to find a better headphone, ear clip, or earbud, I made the following discoveries: #1: Nobody makes better portable audio right now than Sony, #2: Every earbud or earclip or headphone I tried had pathetically flat and tinny sound, except for the Sony MDR AS200 ear clips, and #3: if you want to remove earbuds or earclips, like when you want to stop and talk, you can't just whip them off and hang them around your neck, you have to disengage each piece and stash them in a pocket or somewhere, where they perpetually entangle themselves into Gordian knots.  Even with the failing-after-three-months problem, at $7 or $8 a pair, the Sony headphones was a workable solution.  Now, I don't know what to do.   I wrote to Sony to ask them why they phased out the MDR-W08L headphones, read more here.
posted September 3, 2014, 12:59 pm

Rainy run
I just got back from doing this crazy running but stopping every 500 yards or so to squat or jump workout thing from my now very soon to be finished book I've been working on.  The rain and cold were oddly invigorating.  I like how it's really hard to run well and jump well when you alternate them.  (Next week I get to start a different workout routine of running to the gym, but at least I don't have to stop until I get to the gym.)   
posted May 28, 2014, 7:32 pm

Slimy Syngenta sells poison.Syngenta
I just finished reading in the New Yorker (Rachel Aviv's "A Valuable Reputation," in their February 10, 2014 issue, page 53, here) on how Syngeta, "one of the largest agribusinesses in the world," plotted to trash the reputation of a researcher Tyrone Hayes who discovered that their herbicide atrazine, "which is applied to more than half the corn in the United States" caused mutations in frogs.  Frogs exposed to atrazine, Hayes found, "could not be clearly identified as male or female: they had both testes and ovaries.  Others had multiple testes that were deformed."  Atrazine, the article went on to note, "is one of the most common contaminants of drinking water; an estimated 30 million Americans are exposed to trace amounts of the chemical."  Instead of doing something helpful, like investigating further or finding out if there is a way to grow corn with less atrazine or without atrazine at all, Syngenta has gone to outrageous lengths to discredit Hayes.  According to documents, Syngenta lavishly paid other scientists in order to "make Tyrone look as foolish as possible," gave "tens of thousands of dollars" to Fox News (of course) freelance science columnist Steven Milloy to write an article disparaging Hayes as a "junk scientist" with "lame" conclusions, sent their vice president of "global risk assessment," Gary Dickson, to intimidate Duke University, where Syngenta "had a year earlier established a $50,000 endowment," into rescinding a job offer to Hayes, and petitioned the EPA to ignore Hayes' findings.  Elizabeth Whelen, the president of the American Council on Science and Health, "which asked Syngenta for $100,000 that year," went on MSNBC to declare as "bogus" and "not based on science" a New York Times article here about an investigation "suggesting that atrazine levels frequently surpass the maximum threshold allowed in drinking water" and that mothers living close to water sources containing atrazine "were more likely to have babies who were underweight or had a defect in which intestines and other organs protrude from the body."  Syngenta held weekly meetings discussing how "it could invalidate Hayes's research, including hiring "communications manager" Sherry Ford, who made lists with action items like "ask journals to retract, set trap to entice him to sue," and "investigate wife."  Syngenta sent hostile letters to the dean of the university where Hayes worked, and hired people to travel to his public speaking appearances and ask questions they designed to embarrass him.   How does a publicly traded company get away with behavior like this?  Meanwhile, even as the European Commission decided to remove atrazine from the market, the EPA approved its continued use.  Other articles on Syngenta and atrazine: Mieuxprevenir's "How Syngenta Poisons People and the Environment" here, Inspiration Green's article here, and Wikipedia's article on atrazine here.  Read more about Syngenta's apparently ongoing efforts to deceive the public about atrazine  here and here.
posted February 21, 2014, 7:43 pm

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