Why Isn’t Digital Audio Perfect?

Digital glare. A plague of digital audio playback systems. It seems the best comment a CD player or digital source can get is to sound “analog-like,” or “as good as vinyl.” I’ve gone to great lengths to battle this in my CD-based 2-channel system but it’s never ending. My father, upon hearing my system for the first time (and at loud volumes), said this: “The treble isn’t offensive to my ears.” What a great compliment! My hard work has paid off, but the “glare” isn’t completely gone… yet.

Digital glare can manifest in multiple ways, often in the form of piercing high frequencies or “shouty” midrange frequencies. A hallmark signature is that long listening sessions, especially at louder volumes, leads to listener fatigue: your ears may hurt or you may get a slight headache that makes you want to turn the music off. Analog sources, like vinyl records or reel-to-reel tapes, don’t seem to be as plagued by this as digital sources are.

So what does digital do wrong? Is it a problem with the format or the playback hardware? Why does it take so much work to make digital sound as good or better than analog recordings? The technical specs tell us digital is far superior to vinyl or reel to reel. Does it try too hard? Where digital is trying to capture the micro details of complex passages, analog just “rounds it off” and says “good enough,” and it sounds good enough? Or does digital have some other issue in the chain – noise in the DAC chip, high frequency harmonics, or issues with the anti-aliasing filter? Does it have to do with the power supply? If you ask any audiophile, they’ll tell you that clean power is very important.

There are studies that show people subjectively prefer the sound of vinyl, even if only by a small margin. That doesn’t quite add up when we consider digital’s dominant technical specifications. On paper, digital should win.

So what’s really going on here? Why doesn’t digital knock the socks off vinyl and why does there appear to be some issue with “digital glare” in these types of audio systems that takes some serious work to resolve?

A flow of audio from sound waves through a microphone to an analog voltage, A-D converter, computer, D-A converter, analog voltage, speaker and finally as sound waves again. Image Credit: Wikipedia User: Teeks99

Using Drones to Plant 500 Billion Trees

A UK company, Dendra Systems, is working towards planting 500 billion trees by 2060 by dropping seeds via airborne drones. Since the drones can selectively plant, the researchers can deliberately create ecosystems of trees that are right for the environment and local land features, and can also get to hard-to-reach places.

“The WWF estimates we’re losing 27 football fields of forest every minute due to deforestation.

A drone can plant two trees per second, according to UK tech company Dendra, which is aiming to “re-green” the planet.

Dendra estimates it would take just 400 teams of two drone operators, with 10 drones per team, to plant 10 billion trees each year – and at a much lower cost than the traditional method of planting by hand.

The target is to plant 500 billion trees by 2060, in often hard-to-reach places.

Susan Graham, CEO of Dendra Systems, says, “The challenge that we’re tackling is a complex one and working with a team of passionate engineers, plant scientists, drone operators, we came up with this idea to use automation and digital intelligence to plant billions of trees.””

To read more, click here: Link

To see a minute long video, click here: Link

Some Dietary Dangers

Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important factors in achieving and maintaining good health. In another article, I highlighted some good dietary principles. (To read that article, click here: Link). While it’s important to know what to eat to maintain good health, it’s also important to understand what not to eat. These are but some of the dietary dangers to look out for:

1) Do not eat commercially processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc. Read labels!

2) Avoid all refined sweeteners such as sugar, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup and fruit juices.

3) Avoid white flour, white flour products and white rice.

4) Avoid all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils.

5) Avoid all industrial polyunsaturated vegetable oils made from soybean, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed.

6) Avoid foods cooked or fried in polyunsaturated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

7) Avoid products containing protein powders as they usually contain carcinogens or damaged proteins formed during processing. Likewise, avoid lean meat, skinless poultry, reduced-fat milk and egg whites without the yolks. Consumption of protein without the cofactors occurring in animal fats can lead to deficiencies, especially of vitamin A.

8) Avoid factory-farmed eggs, meats and fish.

9) Avoid highly processed lunch meats and sausage.

10) Avoid rancid and improperly prepared seeds, nuts and grains found in granolas, quick rise breads and extruded breakfast cereals, as they block mineral absorption and cause intestinal distress.

11) Avoid artificial food additives, especially MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and aspartame, which are neurotoxins. Most soups, sauce and broth mixes and most commercial condiments contain MSG, even if not indicated on the label.

12) Minimize caffeine and related substances in coffee, tea and chocolate.

These selected bullet points are taken from an article written by Sally Fallon with the Weston A. Price Foundation titled “Dietary Dangers.”

How Much Should You Value Other People’s Opinions?

Has someone ever said something to you which made you upset and you wonder why it upset you so much? Sometimes other people’s opinions of you can be very important, like when a loved one says it and it holds truth. Other times, people are just being unreasonable and grumpy and you should pay no attention to their words of criticism.

In a recent Reddit post, user jimmy_2_times_ shared a very insightful thought that he had about valuing other people’s opinions of you while keeping things in a healthy perspective:

“I was meditating and coming up against some old issues that really seemed hard to let go of. I haven’t been able to realize this for years until just now, that how much importance we give to someone dictates how much their words and actions impact us. For example, if someone you consider to be really important says something good about you, it will make you feel alot better about yourself than say if someone who you’d consider to be not important said the same thing. It also works the same way if that person said something bad about you, you might end up feeling bad for weeks afterwards where as it might not affect you at all if the other person said it.

My point is that all of this is simply illusion, the importance we give someone or something is created solely within the mind. It doesn’t really matter who says what, it’s only our minds that make out certain things to be bigger than others. The mind is always looking for validation from external sources mainly being other people, so if you’re trapped in your mind your sense of worth will always be at the mercy of external circumstances. Next time someone says something that hurts you, ask yourself why am I giving this person so much importance. What is it about them that makes me see them this way. As you do this the illusion may start to lose it’s grip on you, hope this helps someone out there.”

Click here to see the Reddit thread: Link.

There is a person I know that would leave me feeling upset far too often after interacting with them. It took me awhile to realize that I was giving them that power by valuing what they said and feeling like I owe them the time of day even when they were being grumpy and unreasonable. After hearing many other people mention how difficult this person was, things came into perspective and I asked myself why I was assigning this person the importance that is necessary to be able to upset me. Once I realized they weren’t deserving of that level of importance and respect, things snapped into place. Now instead of letting them get me down, I think to myself, “Oh that’s just “so-and-so” and they’re always in that bad vibration and I refuse to let myself be dragged down to their level.” I realized that I don’t owe them anything: I don’t owe them my time or even a conversation. I feel I need to treat them with kindness however, not because they deserve it, but because that’s the person I’ve chosen to be and also because they’re the ones who need it the most.

2019 Was Likely the Best Year Ever for Humanity

As we enter the 20s, it’s easy to look back at the last decade and think about all the things that went wrong, but it’s important we recognize all the things that went right. In the grand scheme of things, the world just keeps getting better and better. In fact, 2019 may very well have been the best year ever so far in all of human existence. For example: “Every single day in recent years, another 325,000 people got their first access to electricity. Each day, more than 200,000 got piped water for the first time. And some 650,000 went online for the first time, every single day.” Literacy rates continue to climb, and the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty just keeps dropping. I’m eager to see what 2020 brings.

Click here to read more: Link.

How the Saturn V Rocket Works

The Saturn V rocket is what took the Apollo program astronauts to the Moon. Have you ever wondering how the rocket works and what the various stages and parts and pieces are? Here is a short video that quickly explains it: Link.

In Part 2, they go on to discuss how the astronauts then landed on the Moon: Link

I’m Part 3, they discuss how the astronauts got back home from the Moon: Link.

Image credit: NASA

Helpful Perspectives When Overcoming a Loss

I recently broke my arm and have come to many helpful conclusions in my healing journey. It’s important to realize that when we suffer any type of loss in life, there are two hurdles that must be crossed in order to heal and move on. First, we must come to terms, mentally speaking, with what has happened and learn to accept it. The quicker you can do this, the sooner you’ll be on the path back to good health and good spirits. This isn’t always easy and it helps to consider that you cannot change the past, but you can definitely change the future and how you react to loss. The second part is getting over the physical aspect of the loss. Everything I do takes significantly longer. Learning how to dress myself, eat, write, and use a computer with only one arm and one hand (the non-dominant one at that) is no easy task. Thankfully I have an angel of a wife taking care of me, parents and parents-in-law who are loving enough to come visit and help with the chores, and good friends who are there with a hand and a wish that I make a quick and healthy recovery. Learning how to go about my day with one arm out of commission will take time and practice. With any loss, overcoming the mental AND physical aspects must be tackled in order to move on.

Another lesson to learn from this is the importance of patience. I know that my body is doing the best it possibly can. Healing bones takes time; there’s no way around it. Patience is a virtue. When driving through town with my arm still sore, we had to drive slowly or else the jarring from road bumps would cause extreme pain. Many a car would impatiently tail us, pass our car and on a number of occasions let out a honk of disapproval. Their honks didn’t bother me because I knew if I could only explain the situation to them they would feel ashamed to have honked at us, and had they known they wouldn’t have honked in the first place. Heck, I wish we could have driven faster so as not to be an inconvenience. No one on the road wanted the situation, yet here we were. For a moment, I tried to consider the situation from the other drivers’ perspective, but with the knowledge of what was going on. How would I react? I would give them the space and time they need. I know the other drivers would do the same, if they only knew. So why not just make it a habit to assume the driver you’re angry with isn’t actually being an asshole, but is simply doing what they can to make the best of a bad situation. If we only took the time to be patient, we might begin to see things from the other perspective, or at the very least, not make an already poor situation a worse one.

The last thing I realized was how important it is to acknowledge and be thankful for all the things that are going right. Sure, having a broken arm is no fun but in the grand scheme, my life is full of things to be happy about: I have a loving wife, family and friends, a roof over my head, the best dog ever, a job that was accommodating to my situation, and great coworkers who helped me get back on my feet. In the words of Charles Dickens, “Reflect upon your present blessings.” To do so helps you put your situation in perspective and hopefully what may seem like an impossible journey ends up feeling like a manageable bump in the road.