Presence, and nothing else

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This post is in the same vein as my previous posts about my rebellious years and why I don’t travel (for now). This is another one of those posts- one with them feels.

My family has always been the quiet sort. Besides the bickering between me and my mother when I was young, we seldom made small talk to each other, my parents and I. Let me run you through a typical day in my home.

A school/work day. Me and my dad would wake up around the same time. He’d have breakfast earlier than me, then use the bathroom for his business(es). I’d then have my breakfast and use the computer until he’s done, then it’s my turn. If I were taking my dad’s car, he would watch the news while he waited for me, then we’d set off. If not, we would go our separate ways.

This “staggered” routine of essentially eating breakfast and using the bathroom meant that we wouldn’t speak to each other at all. Even if I took my dad’s car, we would often be fixated on the morning news and seldom make small talk to each other.

Silence.

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Sociology ruined my life

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Sociology makes you see things beyond the natural. It makes us look at underlying assumptions on what we’ve always been taught and learn is the “natural” order of things; the “natural” way of life. Like any other discipline, it forces us to question things- to question the status quo, to question why we act like this is all “natural”; what is “natural”?

And it has ruined my life.

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Why I don’t travel

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Hello.

This post is somewhat a continuation from my previous post about my rebellious years. The thoughts I’m about to share came to me after I wrote that post.

I love to travel. When I was young- three, maybe four- my dad would make it a point that we would have a family trip every year. I fondly remember going on cruises, aboard Star Cruises- the Aquarius, Virgo and Libra. I remember playing Hydro Thunder in the arcade at the 10th floor (deck?) of the Virgo. I remember the saline sea breeze brushing across my face and my clothes, blowing through my dad’s side parting and transforming it into a comb-over, and ruffling up my mum’s hat. Often, these cruises were to nowhere. Sometimes Malaysia, once Thailand.

I looked forward to these holidays. Maybe it’s because we were a small family- my dad, my mum, me- the house was often quiet and routine. But every time my dad announced ,”We’re going on a trip this holiday”, there would always be a bustling, almost festive mood in the house. My dad would be bringing the luggages down from a top cupboard, my mother would be fussing about the clothes to wear, and I would be ecstatically bundling my clothes to put into the luggages. I loved it.

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On the Rebellious Years

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The “rebellious” era. This is a well-documented rite of passage that every child will go through.

It is not so much a range of years, but this somewhat indescribable change in mindset, and the recognition of adulthood. Some say it is the external wave of responsibilities of being an adult- leaving secondary education and taking greater charge of your own education. Others see it as breaking out of the protection of the familial sphere and transition to the larger rules and contracts of social life and society. Even simpler and perhaps more straightforward is the acceptance of parental rules and not talking back to them like a spoilt cunt.

Some say that it is a gradual acknowledgement; a gentle transition, others see it as an abrupt spark- like a train in a dark tunnel suddenly thrust into the light at the end of it.

For me, it was the latter. Here’s my anecdote- on the transition from the rebellious age to an “adult”.

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Review: Xscape by Michael Jackson

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Hello. Today, a review of one of my favourite artists’ latest (posthumous) album.

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Tracklist:

  1. Love Never Felt So Good
  2. Chicago
  3. Loving You
  4. A Place With No Name
  5. Slave To The Rhythm
  6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are
  7. Blue Gangsta
  8. Xscape

 

The deluxe edition, which I’ve gotten, includes the original versions of these songs, with minimal post production work. Additionally, it includes the song “Love Never Felt So Good” as performed by both Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake as a duet. I will be comparing the album versions with the originals.

First, a bit of background. I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. The first song I ever heard from him is Beat it, on an old cassette of the Thriller album that my mum had bought. I remember watching the Thriller music video on MTV back then, and it really spooked me out. Growing up, I watched many of Michael Jackson’s live performances- Live in Japan, Bucharest and Munich were my favourites. I was especially intrigued by his dance moves- the crotch grabbing, the tiptoeing, and of course, the Moonwalk (which I have mastered, I’m proud to say).

I’ve listened to all of Michael Jackson’s albums and songs and live performances. Truth be told, the songs on Xscape did not surprise me, as I’m heard them before. What I’m interested in, however, is how Timbaland, L.A. Reid and their team of produces have updated the sound to something that can be called modern pop music, whilst still retaining the flavour that Michael Jackson intended to deliver while he recorded these songs, as he recorded them between 1983 to 1991- the period spanning Bad, HiStory, Dangerous and Invincible. This results in some of the songs (or their original versions, at least) have striking similarities to some of Michael Jackson’s other songs, and you can tell the era that he recorded it given these similarities.

One complaint that I’ve had with Michael Jackson’s previous posthumous album Michael was that it felt overproduced- like Michael Jackson’s original vocals have been veiled over by a thick layer of bass heavy beats, making the song sluggish and not the quick, light, airy tempo beats and synthesiser sounds the strike me as definitively the musical direction of Michael Jackson. It felt rushed and spun out without thought to, dare i say it- milk the publicity of his death.

Anyway, on to Xscape. I listened to the album for about a week now, using my new Westone 3s which I’ve previous blogged about.

And these are my track-by-track impressions.

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(mini) Project Update- Daft Punk Helmet (part trio.half)

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Hello. Mini update on my Daft Punk Helmet.

One panel of LEDs came in the mail today. I ordered two but I have no idea why the seller packaged them separately. Nonetheless, mounted it up to see how it would look. Let the video do the talking.

dpWaiting for the other LED panel to come. Also planning on how I am going to see through this thing. Till then!

Review: Westone 3

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Hello. Something new today.

Today I will be reviewing the Westone 3.

First, a disclaimer: I am by no means a true blue audiophile. I can discern between a good and bad pair of earphones, I can tell the difference in sound between a 128 kbps MP3 and 320 kbps MP3, but I cannot tell the difference between a copper and silver wire (in terms of sounds), or an Mp3 file from an uncompressed FLAC file.

20140525_105822000_iOSPreviously, I have owned mostly Ultimate Ears earphones (before they merged with Logitech). I am familiar with the Triple Fi 10, the Super Fi 5, the Super Fi 5 Extended Bass, and the Super Fi 3.

I am currently using a pair of Ultimate Ears Super Fi 5 Extended Bass, which has been reshelled by Unique Melody. That is to say the original casing has been changed into a mould that has been custom fit to my ears.

 

 

 

This pair of earphones were the most bassy pair of earphones in the world. Dual driver hybrid- a mix of a balanced armature and a dynamic driver.

Huh?

Oh right, technical jargon. You can google it, but basically these are two types of “mini-speakers”, if you will, that drive sound through your earphones. A balanced armature driver allows for greater sensitivity, but lacks in low frequency sound, meaning that it lacks in bass. A dynamic driver works the opposite, allowing less sensitivity which it makes up for in “boomier” bass.

Therefore, if you compare two single-driver earphones, a one with the balanced armature will deliver sound with punchier bass, meaning that for soundtracks with constant deep bass, you would hear bass that is constantly thumping, as compared to the dynamic driver earphone, where the bass would be “stretched”, meaning that the bass would have that reverberating quality to it.

Like a grossly overweight person having their love handles flapping in the wind.

Sorry for the imagery.

Oh right, introducing the Westone 3!

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The Westone 3s are a triple balanced armature driver universal in ear headphones. Three balanced armature diver- one for the highs, one for the mids, and one for the lows (bass).

Or in simple English, damn good earphones.

I’ve been using my custom earphones for a while now, and one thing that nagged me was that the dynamic drivers, while great for booming bass, was fatiguing. I could not keep the earphones on for too long, as my ears would grow tired from the excessive booming of the low frequencies.

My custom earphones always seem to shake my eardrums so hard I can sometimes feel my earwax being shaken out.

Yum.

I’ve been eyeing a pair of Westone 3s for a while. Heard and read great reviews about them, but the price was the only thing keeping me away from it. So, I jumped at the opportunity to own a pair which I saw for cheap.

Putting them on, the first thing that struck me was the bass. It was not as heavy and fatiguing, but it was adequate. The bass response was extremely good- the thumps were fast, responsive, and I wasn’t reminded of a overweight exhibitionist brandishing his lard chops in the wind.

It was like a seasoned boxer, giving quick one-two jabs of bass into my eargina. Fisting. It was an orgasm of sound.

Furthermore, the highs and mids, which were usually obscured by the biblical amount of bass in my custom earphones, showed itself in the Westones. It gave greater clarity to my music, and there were details that I have never heard in my music that I heard using these earphones.

The high frequencies were not shrill, not too overpowering. So were the mids. The Westones, which had a dedicated driver for each of the range of frequencies, mean that none of the sounds were needlessly overpowering. It was a refreshing, clear, and somewhat spunky sound compared to the almost dull, muddy thumps of my custom earphones.

Caveats? Well, I’ve been with this pair of earphones for about a month now, and one of the things that are bothering me is the lack of detachable cables. My customs came with detachable cables. I am not a careful person. As much as I try, I sometimes am a colossal oaf. My earphone cables often catch onto doors, or seats or whatever I happen to be in the general vicinity of. To spend so much on a pair of earphones, I would have hoped that Westone would at least make detachable cables for them.

Side note- I think the Westone 3s have been discontinued. Their successor, the Westone W30, comes with detachable cables. It is also maternally fornicatingly expensive.

Which brings me tot he other caveat- the Westone 3s, if can still get them, are also goddamn expensive. I only bought them because I found a pair at a bargain, at second hand prices.

So, if you are someone who cannot tell the difference between a 30 bucks earphone from a 300 bucks earphone, this is definitely not for you. Borrow them from me if you want, and discern for yourself if you want to get a pair. Even then, I do not recommend getting them at their full retail price.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I bought this glob of jizz with my own shekels.