Wednesday, January 16, 2008

So I'm feeling pretty good today...

I have made quite the exchange within the past four days that has netted me not only some fine audio equipment, but a 400% return on my investment. How's that for some easy math?

Last week I found someone selling a pair of ancient speakers that they had bought new, and had listened gently to for the past 25 years. They had since moved on, and were hoping to get rid of some excess things.

I drive over and was elated to see that these legendary Japanese babies not only had been kept in pristine condition, but the owners had kept the original packaging along with it.
It was the perfect scenario: Middle-aged couple seeking to begin their midlife crisis together determine to shed remnants of their early life together. Rather than concern themselves with what the market may be for these speakers today, they put them up for a quick sale, and the first voracious buyer who will come to their home is welcome to drag them away for a mere $50.

I bring my new 35 pound (a piece) treasures home (in their boxes, by the way) and get them set up at home. The speaker's massive 16" woofers are probably the biggest I've ever seen. These speakers consume a huge 160 watts a piece, and were pretty much designed to be aural jackhammers. Neighbors be warned.

Within a few hours of my purchase, I happened to notice yet another middle-aged couple selling some speakers for $25! I decided this was too good to be true, and drove out there and picked them up (even heavier - 45 lbs a piece with gorgeous solid wood cabinets) and plugged them in next to the monsters.

After a little bit of listening, I realized that I really didn't have much use for two sets of these massive speakers (duh.) and I should try and sell one of the sets. I already knew I much preferred the second set that I'd purchased. and so set about trying to set a price on the 16" woofer-monsters.

Initially I just considered re-couping my expense, but decided to make a little bit more back, knowing I'd easily find someone to buy them anyway. I posted their sale on my local classified web page and waited.

The next morning I got an email from a fellow audio geek who suggested that I had vastly under-priced these speakers, and could get a lot more for them. I asked him how much he thought I could get? He estimated between $200 - 250, since I had the original packaging, after all.

I decided to see if anyone would be interested in the speakers at a price of $200.

Within the day, I had an email from someone who was interested, and willing to trade some other equipment (something I'd thrown out as a possibility) plus cash.
After a few emails, we had settled on the exchange of a set of Dynaco cabinets (see photo) in 'excellent' condition and $100 cash.

I've been trying to figure out how far ahead this puts me. I wish I could do math like this all of the time - put in $5 and get out $20, but I don't imagine it'll happen often. Aside from the cash being more than I invested, I'll also be getting a set of legendary stereo speakers which I hope I will fall in love with like I did the second Japanese set that I found for $25.

Today I plan on selling my booger on ebay and making a million dollars. You all should bid, and drive up the market value.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Headline reads: World of Warcraft dweeb seeks over twelve hundred dollars for fictional computer game character. Parents embarassed, doubtful to have son married before 45th birthday.

All I can say is... "wow." Actual post from DC's craigslist

WoW 70 Human Lock - T6 Attuned - Well Geared! - $1250

Reply to: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: 2008-01-07, 5:27PM EST

I've decided to end my WoW career and move on to bigger and better things. I have put huge amounts of time into this character getting him the best available destruction gear in the game. Which is all except for about 5-6 items that are minute upgrades and off of illidan etc... Anyways, I have a TON of gear for all possible builds. My affliction gear includes some of the better rare pieces for the spec, which will be listed below. If by re socketing some gems and changing some enchants it is possible to have over 1340+ spell damage which is pretty top notch for a raider. I also have pretty decent pvp gear, 431 res, 1000 spell damage at the spec, the gear will also be listed below. EPIC FLYING MOUNT included, Onyx Netherdrake, Silver Nether Ray, and Swift Red Gryphon. Other characters on the account - 60 gnome rogue, ok gear, was working on leveling him (has alot of rested xp.) Comes also with a little over 1400 gold and all raiding potions/elixirs/flask that will also be listed below.

375 Herbalism
365 Engineering
375 First Aid

PVE / raid build destruction gear (0-21-40, succubus sac)

Destruction Holo-gogs (meta-12 Spell Critical and 3% Increased Critical dmg - 5 dmg 6 stam)
The Sun King's Talisman
Mantle of the Corruptor (2x10spell critical gems, 18 spell power, 10 spell crit)
Ruby Drape of the Mysticant (20 spell penetration)
Robe of Hateful Echoes (2x 10 spell hit, 1x 5spell hit / 6 dmg, +150 health)
Mindstorm Wristbands (+15 spell dmg)
Studious Wraps (4spell hit / 5dmg, 4spell crit / 5dmg - 15 spell hit enchant)
Belt of Blasting (10 spell hit, 5 dmg / 6 stam)
Leggings of the Corruptor (10 spell crit gem, 35 spell dmg 20 stam enchant)
Blue Suede Shoes (12 stamina)
Ring of Endless Coils
Band of Eternity (honored)
Xi'ri's Gift OR Shiffar's Nexus-Horn
Sextant of Unstable Currents OR Airman's Ribbon of Gallantry
Fang of the Leviathan (+40 spell damage)
Jewel of Infinite Possibilities
Tirisfal Wand of Ascendancy

Spell dmg: 1090
Spell Hit: 201 (15.93%)
Spell Crit: 27.12% (with talents, 32.12%)
Penetration: 20
Health: 9455
Mana: 8940

PVE / raid build affliction gear (42-0-19, UA - destro reach)
**abnote - i made 2 helms, one with each meta**

Destruction Holo-gogs (meta- 5% chance next spell half cast time, 12 spell dmg)
The Sun King's Talisman OR Ritssyn's Lost Pendant
Mantle of the Corruptor OR Illidary Shoulderpads (both with 18 spell dmg, 10 spell crit enchant)
Ruby Drape of the Mysticant / Brute Cloak of the Ogre-Magi (20 spell pentration on both)
Robe of the Shadow Council (+150 health)
Mindstorm Wristbands (+15 spell dmg)
Studious Wraps (4spell hit / 5dmg, 4spell crit / 5dmg - 15 spell hit enchant)
Belt of Blasting (10 spell hit, 5 dmg / 6 stam)
Leggings of the Corruptor (10 spell crit gem, 35 spell dmg 20 stam enchant)
Blue Suede Shoes (12 stamina)
Ring of Endless Coils
Band of Eternity (honored)
Icon of the Silver Crescent
Quagmirran's Eye OR Void Star Talisman
Fang of the Leviathan (+40 spell damage)
Jewel of Infinite Possibilities / Orb of the Soul-Eater
The Black Stalk

Spell dmg: 1342 shadow (i did the math of how i would re socket / enchant)
Spell Hit: 144 (11.41% + number of talent points in suppression)
Spell Crit: 19.34% (without any points in devastation)
Penetration: 20
Health: 9342
Mana: 8801

PVP / SL/SL build (26-35-0, siphon life, soul link)

Merciless Gladiator's Felweave Cowl (18 stam 5% stun resist, 15 stamina)
Veteran's Pendant of Dominance (4 res, 6 stam)
Gladiator's Felweave Amice (15 spell power, 8 res, 5 spell damage 6 stam +3 res bonus)
Cloak of Subjugated Power
Gladiator's Felweave Rainment (+150 Health, 12 Spell dmg, 12 stamx2)
Veteran's Dreadweave Cuffs (8 res, 2 spell dmg bonus)
Merciless Gladiator's Dreadweave Gloves (15 spell hit)
Veteran's Dreadweave Belt
Merciless Gladiator's Dreadweave Leggings (25 spell dmg 15 stamina)
Marshal's Silk Footguards (12 stamina)
The Seal of Danzalar
Seal of the Exorcist
Medallion of the Alliance
Void Star Talisman
Merciless Gladiator's Touch of Defeat
Merciless Gladiator's Endgame
Fang of the Leviathan (+40 spell damage)

Spell dmg: 1003
Spell hit: 41 (3.25%)
Spell crit: 11.47%
Health: 12360
Mana: 8245
Armor: 2350

Other Gear/Trinkets

Core Felcloth Bag (epic 28 slot shard bag)
Blade of Twisted Visions (no enchanted - got it to test spell haste)
Ring of Recurrence
Full T4- Fully enchanted and socketed for affliction
Exalted Violet Signet of the Archmage
Medallion of Karabor
Skywitch's Drape (slowfall cloak)
Riding Crop
Engineering Transporter Trinkets (toshley's station, gadgetzan)
Orb of Deception
Commander's Badge
Violet Badge
Haloween Helm

What's in the Bank
Tabards for every Exalted Faction
1x Primal Nether
Not many Enchanting mats (stack of arcane dust, some greater planars)
Extra Flying and Riding Mounts
41 Badge's of Justice
Ornate Khorium Rife Schematic
60-90 of each Battleground Token
20 Slot Herb Bag
24 Slot Felcloth Soul Shard Bag

Raiding Pots/Elixir's/Flask's included

50 Adept's Elixir's
50 Elixir of Draenic Wisdom
30 Charges of Superior Wizard Oil
3 Flasks of Pure Death
1 Shattrath Flask of Supreme Power
30 Blackened Basilisk (+23 spell dmg food)
60 Heavy Netherweave Bandages
1 Mana Potion Injector (20 pots)
10 Superior Healing Potion
10 Superior Mana Potion

Ok, now the rogue... i wont go into too much detail with this character as he is just an alt.
Started out as a lvl 29 twink which i enjoyed but wanted to try to get him to 70.
Comes with lvl 60 Epic Mount

Ebon Mask
Sentinel's Medallion
Shadowcraft Spaulders
Perfectly Balanced Cape
Jerkin fo the Untamed Spirit
Shadowcraft Bracers
Shadowskin Gloves (+15 agility)
Highlander's Leather Girdle
Petrolspill Leggings (30 stamina, 10 agility)
Sure-Step Boots
Aquamarine Signet of the Monkey
Blackstone Ring
Insignia of the Alliance
Rune of Duty
Krol Blade (15 agility)
Mirah's Song
Ironstar Repeater

Attack Power: 711
Crit: 19.99%
Hit: 6.00%
Dodge: 25.94%
Health: 4123
Armor: 2175

Willing to go over any questions about the account through aim / msn / ventrilo / email. thanks for your interest!

Copyright © 2008 craigslist, inc.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's fun falling in love again...

Isn't it great when you find a new hobby or interest that suddenly consumes entire days and a substantial portion of your expendable income?

I think so.
It's happened before, and I hope it'll happen again, but today, the obsession du jour is vintage high fidelity audio equipment. Or more precisely: high-end audio equipment from 1960's and 70's that used to cost a great deal of money.

Many enthusiastic geeks regard audio equipme
nt built during this time to be superior even to today's all-digital components. These individuals, while knowledgeable and convincing, typically live in their parents' basement and subsist on a diet of Tab and Hot Pockets. Their acceptance is generally not to be sought after.

But in the interest of my personal mantra "Take the Good, Leave the Rest" I am obliged to tell you that despite their refusal (or inability) to acclimate to civilized society, these so-called 'Audiophiles' have hit on something quite special: These stereo systems do sound amazing.

For me, this odyssey was born out of a desire to find a record player that I could use to play a growing number of obscure classical LPs that I was convinced I would never find on CD.
In the words of author Patrick McManus, I lept whole-heartedly into a sequentia
l vortex from which I yet to emerge. Here's how you can follow along at home:

Step 1: Buy insanely cheap vinyl records at your local thrift store. Have some reasonable doubt that you've ever seen Charles Munch's Schubert 9 on CD as reason to splurge that 50 cents. After all, where else will you find this one-of-a-kind performance? ("They don't re-release these things on CD! I can't get this anywhere else!")

(Note: The dangerous combination of words 'one-of-a-kind performanc
e' is the permission slip that a music collector will throw down at any opportunity. Not only does it convince the buyer him/herself that this is an absolute necessity, but it indirectly accuses any other party of trying to stand in the way of one's musical education and development.)

Step 2: Take vinyl home and place in chic-looking pile next to your book case, or on the floor, if you prefer, with the most notorious album on top, so anyone who walks by will think "ooh, that person's really into their music." (I suggest going with something a little of the beaten path - the Beatles are too over-done, even though I keep my Revolver handily nearby anytime a babe visits.)

Step 3: Realize that you actually don't have any way of playing these records. Sure, having them all standing in a row is cool, but your musical prowess is being doubted by those who came by to admire your Revolver and find out that you don't have a record player to play it on. Embarrassing. So, in order to keep your dignity (and that prestige that began when your friends began looking to you as the barometer for 'cool') you must seek out a record player!

Step 4: First things first. Your first Google search tells you that the Hip Kids don't call 'em record players anymore. For the aficionado, these machines are referred to as turntables. You file this information away for future nonchalant conversations with girls. (Guys will just think you're an idiot.)

Thrift shop prowling comes up earl
y in any quest for vintage equipment. Aside from online auctions/sales, it is the best (and often the cheapest) place to find all of the stereo equipment that your neighbor's grandparents left behind in their attic after they moved to Phoenix.
I would recommend thrift shops for your search - not only are you familiar with electronic equipment's location in your local thrift shop, (due to your scavenging for obscure LPs,) but you will quickly learn that the greatest thrill associated with audiophile geeks is the hunt.

There is probably no sadder, more pathetic display than the nerd having triumphantly returned from the Hunt, a dusty amplifier trussed and carried over the shoulder and placed gently on the nerd's bed, awaiting for its meticulous cleaning which will restore the amplifier to it's original specification. The nerd will take great care in seeking out an original operations manual on the internet (supplied by other nerds) and will then spend the rest of the evening gloating to yet more nerds across the globe about his magnificent find. For indeed, the hunt is not only the acquisition of the prey, but also beating everyone else t
o it.

So, once you have found a record player, you must perform an improvised dance of thanksgiving in the aisle of the thrift store and then greedily snatch it off the shelves and sprint to the check-out, lest another nerd by hiding amongst the shoes (a popular breeding ground) waiting in ambush.
You gleefully drive home, thinking about how fantastic your records are going to sound and how cool you will be and how much your friends will love you. You find some Clapton on the radio, and make a mental note to find some Hendrix on vinyl.

Step 5: comes in two parts. The first part occurs when you get the turntable home, gently clean it and go to plug it in, only to realize that you have nothing on the back of your current stereo that says "plug record player in here." After a moment of agonizing frustration, trusty Google tells you that you must have something called "phono plugs" in order to connect your record player - I mean turntable- to your dinky Aiwa. Your stereo must also be capable of providing the amplification power the turntable requires in order to get the music from the needle, all of the way to the speakers.

After your tantrum subsides, part two of step 5 can begin: the first real step into a calculated obsession with vintage audio equipment.

What begins as the desire to play a recording of William Primrose begins to blossom into a gleam in the eye while you look at photos of Pioneer receivers and Kenwood amplifiers. It is a gradual process, but one moment you are concerned with your reputation with your friends, and the next you have been sucked into a world dominated by the dateless masses who yearn only for the singular experience of hearing Jimmy Page's guitar solo in Black Dog in perfect reproduction. It is normal at this time to lose a bit of hair, gain 30 - 35 pounds and begin eating Chef Boyardee 17 meals out of the week.

Step 6: Begins when
you finally decide upon which piece of audio equipment you require in order to continue living. Without it, you are a vacuous tomb of a human being, incapable of thinking about anything else for more than 27.6 seconds. If you can only hear the records, you know everything will be okay.

Because of their ready availability, most blossoming nerds will decide upon a receiver, which not only includes an amplifier, but also a radio tuner, capable of dialing in not only the standby AM stations, but also the new-fangled luxury known as FM.
There is much to consider: Date of manufacture, reputation of the brand, wattage rating, reliability of hardware, ease of repair/replacement, etc. Finally after all of this, you will settle on an object of your desire. For me, it was a Pioneer SX-424 being sold with original manual and packaging by the original owner. (Packaging and manuals will earn serious nerdpoints.)

A handsome unit with simulated woodgrain finish and a sleek array of knobs across its face, the Pioneer SX-424 made its debut in the mid-70's. Right in the golden age for audiophile consideration. A hefty 20-something pounds, the face lit up whenever the power was on, and when the receiver was searching for signal, little needles would licker back and forth inside different meters, letting you know that it was deliriously happy to be doing its job. A modest 15w per channel, but capable of driving speakers much larger than that. Sold as a 'bedroom' or 'secondary' receiver, it was intended for smaller rooms.

I had come into posse
ssion of a pair of large stereo speakers from the 80's that had been used and abused by fellow college students. As such, I wasn't expecting too much from their performance, but when I hooked it all together, I was not prepared for how much volume 15 watts apparently produces.

Gleefully, and with a minimal loss of hearing in my upper dynamic range, I plugged the turntable into the phono plugs on my new beauty and turned everything on. At last! To hear the first strains of Thickfreakness pouring out, or the bombastic first chords of Toscaninni's Eroica!

...yet after a few seconds you start to hear something uncomforting: distortion. A lot of it.

This can't be right. The nerds never mentioned in the midst of their adulation of vinyl recordings that the recording quality actually sucked! No, this can't be right. So a frantic inspection of cable connections ensues, and eventually you resign yourself to the fact that something is simply wrong with your equipment. And even more depressing: you are incapable of fixing it.

Step 7: is a mild depression, usually lasting a few days, but it can endure if the nerdling has very little else to do in life. It's best to just take a few deep breaths and barrel through.

Step 8: You do research. A lot of it. You discover that the average level of education amongst audiophile nerds is
post-doctorate studies, with at least 4 years being devoted to electrical engineering or astrophysics.
You discover why your LPs sound bad, (an infinte list) and what remedies you can try (an even longer list.) Audiophile-nerds show no lack of ingenuity when confronted with a problem with their stereo equipment. Everything from a $2,300 LP washing machine (for reals) to a stylus repair kit using nothing more than a tampon, four rubber bands and a philips screwdriver.
But after all of this research you only learn one thing: your old stereo and your hastily acquired turntable suck.

Step 9: Involves a lot of waiting. Whether its waiting for money to spend on solid wood speaker cabinets or waiting for the exact model of pre-amp to come up for sale, once you know what you want, there isn't much you can do except wait for one to arrive. Of course if you know of an elderly couple who happens to own one of these particularly rare stereo systems, they should know that brake lines have been known to sever randomly if not checked regularly.

Step 10: is something they should develop a support group for. If one can be addicted to shopping, it can be no less true for audiophiles. A full-blown case of Audiophilia (a soon-to-be diagnosable disorder) will consume thousands of dollars annually, not to mention the late nights spent up online sniping last-minute auctions on a set of foam rings for the 15" woofers on a set of Cerwin Vegas you found at the Salvation Army last week. It is a traumatic existence which can be controlled by one with exceptional self-discipline or a small pocketbook.
It would not be unusual to find an audiophiliac acquiring a pair of KEF Celestes in the morning and by the evening have traded them away for a Sansui G9000 and a NM copy of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. Obsessive, yes, but arguably a fantastic trade.

It is an entire un
derworld built and controlled by those living in it. Scavenging over the left behind electronic remains of yesteryear, searching for the elusive component which will complete their collection and bring fulfillment to their soul. When this most impossible of goals is achieved, those select few are taken to the high chamber to assume a place amongst the uber-nerds, where they govern in benevolence over the rest of nerd-dom.

It is a slippery slope that quickly spirals out of control into a dusty, forsaken wasteland of musical and technological history, explored only by those with the fortitude (and enough time on their hands) to learn and exploit what these magnificent machines were capable of.

A testament to how the audiophiles got it right: Some of the most expensive audio equipment you can buy today has nothing to do with high-definition digital surround 7.1 puffery. They are turntables that will cost you thousands of dollars - just for the table. A quality stylus will cost you thousands more. Despite decades of unuse, vinyl recordings are seeing a resurrgance, not only from current musicians, but new pressings of old recordings so that your old worn-out copy of Live from Folsom Prison can be enjoyed brand-new again.

There is a very legitimate reasoning behind this style of music-listening. But we'll save that for another time. There's a set of Dahlquists that someone just posted on craigslist and I want to see if they'll take my SX-850 in trade... and my Hot Pockets are done in the microwave.


This is a great photo. I don't know which member of my family took this, but kudos. It turned out great...

Commercials are causing me to really crack up.

This can not be good.

Whether its a sign that I will feel the desire to go out and buy Old Spice or just that I'm spending too much time alone, I feel a certain apprehension about feeling a little excited when that cable company commercial comes on with the "highspeed rats" running loose in the laboratory. And the then the technician quietly admits only a vague confidence in his safety around these beasts. Ha ha! It gets me every time.

...uh oh.

So it either becomes an issue that my particular demographic has divulged too much information about our psyche to the advertising companies and we are now walking around with bulls eyes on our wallets, or I'm slipping into a dimension of madness inhabited by talking cars, sticks of deodorant and mutated lab rats.

Either way, this isn't a real great scenario.
Playing with my new camera.
Vinyl records and a Technics turntable provided courtesy of me.