Bose Hearphones Review

I’m generally a fan of Bose equipment; I’m very satisfied with Bose QC headphones and a wireless speaker, and recommend them highly.  But I’m writing this somewhat negative review of the Hearphones because as I write this, it’s hard to find reviews.

If you are looking for ‘phones that amplify all the sounds around you, these are great.  But my application is different.

It’s hard for me to pick out a companion’s conversation in a crowded venue, like a restaurant or trade show.  The Hearphones have a feature that’s supposed to only amplify a focused area in front of you, using directional microphones.  It did not work for me.  This setting did indeed knock down a lot of the background sound, but replaced it with an irritating low-medium frequency hiss and did nothing to amplify the sound in front of me.  In fact, it was startling just how bad this worked.  There was SOME amplification of sounds 15 feet in front of me, but not of someone 2 feet in front of me.  I really wanted these to work and I tried all adjustments.

Lest you think this is purely a negative review, it is not.  There are two great things about the Hearphones.  First, if you want all sounds to be amplified in a 360 degree arc, they work great.  Second, Bose offers a 30-day hassle free money back guarantee.  I returned mine and it indeed was no hassle.  Your results might be different than mine. There’s a video review on YouTube from a lady who likes these ‘phones.

Truly Great Book about drugs

“Licit and Illicit Drugs”.  I read this book while in college and when thinking back about the best books I’ve read, this is in the top 3.   It is an outstanding source for historical information about the development of our attitudes towards drugs, the role they play in our society, a straightforward, non-technical presentation of the psychological and biological actions of various drugs, and the effects of our current drug policies.  You will be stunned at the destructive role of our government and certain individuals have played on society through misinformation and just plain bad laws.

Sadly, it is out of print, but you can read it on-line at:

Good reading.

Great app for testing USB charging

Ever wonder why it’s taking so long for your phone/tablet to charge?  I highly recommend “Ampere”.  I used it to test the quality of various chargers and USB cables.  The best cables enabled 1060mA, the worst, 460mA.  I wound up tossing the cables that did less than 860mA.  Ampere is a free download, or pay $1.13 for the Pro version.

Rating charities

You get reviews on cars before you buy one, why not do the same thing before giving to charities?  There are agencies which rate charities.  I was solicited by a veteran’s charity and it seemed worthwhile and it is, but I checked and there are veteran’s charities with better ratings.  Ratings are based on several criteria and the one I care a lot about is the percent spent on the charitable purpose.  Check out: and .  An article in the 12/14 issue of Money Magazine mentions,, and BTW, I found that there are nearly 100 veterans charities in the U.S.  And depending on how you define “charity”, there are well over a million in the U.S. alone.  Happy giving!



First football game – Levi’s stadium

Thanks to friend Matt Thurmaier and wife Kristi, I was invited to attend the opening of Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara on Aug 17th.  The 49ers were playing the Broncos and got whomped 34-0.  But that’s not what was important.  It was the football unveiling of the new $1.3B stadium.  So here are some first impressions.  First, it only has to be better than Candlestick, which it is.  No contest.  Second … getting in and parking, and leaving, was easy.  Though we did have a 3/4 mile walk to the parking lot and by the time we left, the stadium was only  10% full.  I expect that regular season games will be tougher.  But so far so good.  Third … concessions were very nice with lots of choices.  Vegan hot dogs.  More craft beers than I could count.  But beware … I ordered a Lagunitas IPA for only $11 and I don’t know what I got in the cup, but it sure wasn’t Lagunitas.  It was cold so no big deal.  Fourth … seating was good and sight lines were excellent.  Fifth … got out of our seats at halftime to go to the concessions … and ran into the biggest people traffic jam I’ve ever experienced, ever.  At one point, I thought I would never move from where I was standing.  Sixth … there’s a cool app where you can order stuff and it gets delivered to your seat, except that they don’t actually deliver anything.  I ordered a few things in the 3rd quarter and the stuff never showed up.  I think they’ve got to work the kinks out of that app.  Seventh and last … I’ll bet than when they work the kinks out, Levi’s stadium will be a world-class venue.  Photo:


Santa Cruz Nutcracker

For you Santa Cruzans and even those over in Silicon Valley … look for the 10th production in 2012 of The Nutcracker ballet in Santa Cruz. We attended this year’s production and it was wonderful. Though I’m no ballet critic, the performances seemed to sparkle, and the 55 member orchestra was truly delightful. If you haven’t seen The Nutcracker with a live orchestra, you’ve missed half the show, at least.

Book review: In Defense of the American Teen

Verbatim review I left for this book on

Most important thing I’ve read in years. This is a wonderful, thought-provoking book. But be warned, if you care about your kid’s education, it may make you angry. While I’m sure the title is designed to sell books, the subtitle is really what it’s about … a review of the deficiencies of the secondary schools in the US and recommendations on how to fix them. I might divide the messages of the book into two parts (1) for parents, giving guidance on how to deal with the inadequacies of the (mostly) public schools, and (2) for voters, who should demand a much better bang for our buck.

First and most importantly for parents … you think your kid could do better in school? Well, stop blaming him/her and READ THE FIRST 15 PAGES OF THIS BOOK. The author describes the basic problem: that curriculum is not individualized. His basic point is that if teenagers are allowed to follow their passions, within reason, they will gravitate to those things they will excel in. The author writes that we “are paying countless teachers between forty and a hundred thousand dollars a year to teach a subject that has almost no value to kids who have nothing but resentment at the prospect of being given that information”. He suggests that classes be mandatory if they are “deemed to be essential to adult life in America”. I don’t know about you, but reading “The Iliad” did nothing for me but make me hate reading.

Second, for the sake of the future of this country’s ability to compete globally, we need to improve our educational system. This is the first time I’ve seen someone in the education establishment really look at MANY of the fundamental problems with our system. Here, he covers teacher development, lack of accountability, grading, homework, testing, cheating, funding and more. I related to nearly everything he said, and laughed a little, besides.

Finally, a plea to the author … find a way to make the first 15 pages of this book widely available … via a blog, user forums, magazine article, whatever. Parents NEED to read these pages. If they do, I believe they’ll want to read more. They’ll stop putting all the blame on their kids for their academic problems, and push the schools to serve the students, not the inertia-laden academic establishment, which seems to think that better funding of the same old techniques is the answer.