Monday, August 19, 2019

My Alexa Moment

How I dodge Geo-Targeting 

If you have read any of my other blogs you will note that I am, to put it bluntly, not a fan of apps on my iPhone/iPad. The reason for this is because I know that they simply want to spy on how I use my phone in order to turn me the consumer into a customer. It’s called geo-targeting through push notification.
With that said, I would like to share how I handled some geo-targetings that were aimed at me. When I upgraded my Verizon Network, they offered me a free echo-gen as a courtesy for being a long-standing customer. Honestly, although I consider myself to be knowledgeable about the latest technology. I didn't know what an echo -gen was. The item in the picture actually looks like a speaker. I have a very tiny Hp speaker, which I bought when I first bought my Hp Laptop. I actually bought it to use with my mac mini . SO i was excited that i was going to get a 'bigger speaker.'  However, upon its arrival after opening the box,  I realized that it was the Alexa Voice Service. In addition, on the day of Alexa’s arrival  I received an email from Amazon here is how it read:
the Alexa App
Once you receive your new Echo, visit: to download the latest version of the Alexa App. This will direct you through the setup process. Once you've connected to Wi-Fi and associated Echo with your Amazon account, you're ready to start using Echo. Your Echo may receive a software update after you've completed setup.”

I have highlighted in red "and associate Echo with your Amazon Account," because  first of all I don't know what Amazon would have to do to get me to sign up for their Prime Account. So it was a LOL moment for me at the time. To begin with Alexa was a technology, which I found absolutely "revolting." My first knowledge of it was when I saw it being talked about on one of the TV's talk shows. At the time I was appalled that anyone would engage with such a technology. The reason is that  I would be  giving my personal information (to whom I don't know) and having a robot performing basic tasks that I should be performing to keep my mind and physique exercised and healthy.  As of now  ‘Ms’ Alexa resides among the books in my bookshelf.

Furthermore, at the completion of the upgrade, Verizon text me a link to complete, (I know exactly why they chose to text me and i was really trying to keep them from filling up my mailbox with a lot of future promotions) so  I told the representative absolutely do not text me, but to email me the link instead.  So he emailed it to me. At the time he asked me if that’s my preferred way of communicating with them, and I said yes.

About a month later I got a text from them asking me to confirm my zip code. Now I have been with Verizon for years so I am not a new customer. So why would they want me to confirm my zip code? I’ll tell you why, once i respond by text it would give them access to my phone so they could start texting me promotions and telling me to download the app and all that nonsense. In fact they did send me an email telling me to download the app, which I ignored. 

Apparently ignoring them wasn’t enough. So for about six months straight, when I attempt to pay my bill, I would see a big red sign asking me to confirm my phone number.  I ignored them for six months until they got tired and stop asking me. So the most advertisement I get from them is at the time of my bill pay, and when the annoying promotions show up, I simply look for the no thanks  field to whatever they put in front of my face, and continue to my bill pay.

My other wireless phone is with Verizon ( the one mentioned above was not) and they would love it if I would just pay them straight from my phone. However, again my preferred way of paying is on my computer. The reason is because on my computer I have a wide view. On my phone it’s an eyestrain. Secondly, on my computer I have more of a paper trail and thirdly I will not encourage them to fill up my phone with promotions by engaging too much with them by text. next thing hy will be telling me to download the app. lol!

I own two Sony smart TVs. The TVs come with several apps: Prime Video; Hulu; VUDU; Pandora; YouTube; Netflix, Kids; Berliner Philharmoniker; and two apps that can organize pictures. About once a year Sony notifies me on screen that they need to update my firmware. However, always after the update they would ask me to choose enable which would allow them to access details on how I use the TV., meaning the apps on it etcetera. As usual I would pick disable.
After my recent firmware update, I happen to go into an email, which I sort of abandoned simply because of the amount of spam I used to receive. I had forgotten that I use to have an unofficial account with them when I bought my Sony Video Camera. In that email I saw several emails  from Sony, all promotions,  except one.  In this one Sony was asking me to take a customer satisfaction survey. They said it would take 10-15 minutes, so I expected to be there for some time. I was happy to take the survey,  because I longed to let them know how i feel about people collecting data about anything I do with the technological equipments I own.

 However, I was surprised at the way the survey turned out. The first question they gave contained a long list of companies that sell electronics and or music subscription, and movie subscriptions. Then they asked me which one of them I use or own. At first I was going to choose the option none of these, because I currently don’t subscribe to music or video. But since all of my electronics are Apple, I checked the Apple box.  To my surprise the next page was a 'thank you'  page, meaning the survey simply abruptly ended.  This leads me to conclude that either they lied to me by telling me that the survey would last 10-15 minutes; or the information I gave them was enough. Indeed, they cannot include Apple TV in their app arsenal, so why waste time by having me complete the rest of the  survey. I was so surprised I laughed out loud, because it didn’t make any sense that all of a sudden they had no more questions for me. Still, I understood perfectly well why the survey ended with my first Q and A. As mentioned above it’s the Apple thing. If anybody has a different take on it, please let me know. All I have to say is that hopefully I got rid of them, because I was sick and tired of them telling me that they have updated my firmware, and then asking for my permission to enable them to spy on me.

In contrast, I was recently at the bus stop where I noticed that the timetable for the buses’ arrival was replaced by a notice that said to download the My MTA app. I had already downloaded the app about a month before. But I wasn’t getting much from it. However, the notice explained how to use it. i find the app pretty useful, and so far I have not seen one ad.  As I said earlier, I have had it on my phone for about a month. Now if they have the gall to start pushing ads I will delete the app. I think its a good app to have but ii can do without the agita.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Getting Rid of Tinnitus

How I Got Rid of My Tinnitus

What is Tinnitus? Tinnitus is a loud continuous buzzing in your ear, that one experiences when the or she has suffered  suffered some level of hearing loss. It is usually somewhat bearable during, but prevents you from sleeping at nights.

I woke up one morning and something felt strange on the right side of my face, and I thought hat I was coming down with a cold, so I protected my neck kept on warm clothes and drank a few cups of warm tea. It wasn't until 3 days later when I felt like there was wind in my ear that I realized that there was a problem with my ear. I immediately called a few ear nose and throat hospitals, but  to my chagrin they either kept me too long on hold or didn't pick up at all. I decided to try another day. On Friday March 1 2019,  I was outside waking when I heard this loud boom in my ear, and I was like: "Is that my ear? No it cant be must be from the revving of the cars." But I think I should have realized it wasn't the cars because I have been outside walking all the time and I have never had that problem.

 I thought I should go to the emergency room but I was hesitant because it would be in the night time and was doubtful that there would be an audiologist there to take care of me and i was worried that i might have to wait a long time to be seen. I decided to tough it out until Monday, because at this time there was no noise in my ears, and it was the weekend and I thought it might be better wait until Monday March 4, a weekday and  go to the ear nose and throat hospital. However, on Sunday March 3, 2019 around 8:00 PM in the night,  I experienced the first sustained onset of banging in my ear. The buzzing was sustained and very loud.  I couldn't sleep and so I was up for  hours pacing the floor in a panic. I did not want to call  911, but I was too panicked I decided I had to call them. My ear just would not stop banging or driving. It sounded like a car going 80 miles an hour just going, going
 non-stop, except for the occasional plops, which sounded like when your blue tooth equipment is looking to be connected to your computer.  It eventually went away around 2 am in the morning while  I was still  at the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital released me at 3:00 am in the morning. Of course they did nothing for me.  They claim they had no specialist there and didn't want to give me any medication for fear it might worsen the condition.

On March 4, 2019 When I woke up I was fine the buzzing had gone. I went to the ENT hospital, unaware that these hospitals have converted to clinics, close at 4:00 clock in the evening and that people with hearing issues can't just walk in on an emergency basis, because they do not consider hearing issues to be physically threatening, and therefore will not see you on an emergency basis. Instead they  tried to give me an appointment that was 3 months in the future.  Anyone who would wait that long with the issues that I was having would have to be an idiot.  i was very anxious to be seen by a doctor because i was afraid that my condition could become less sporadic.  ENT referred me to their affiliate hospital across the street

I did as I was told and went to the emergency room of their affiliate hospital. As it turned out, they had no Otolaryngology doctor there either. They did nothing for me but asked me a bunch of questions and  gave me a referral  back to ENT hospital. So I came home and the next day I called for an appointment mentioning to them that i got a referral from their affiliate to be seen on an emergency basis. However,  that wasn't good enough. No they could not squeeze me in for an appointment anywhere, I should have to schedule an appointment to be seen in May of 2019. As panicked as I was, I would never wait that long.

I began searching the web and calling around. Even to get an appointment  from a doctor than that I had seen one time back in 2016 was fruitless. His office also told me to wait forever.  Anyway managed get an appointment with a private Otolaryngology Doctor. The appoint was for March 7, 2019.

Let me deviate a little. When I was 19 years old I developed ringing in my ear because I was on a plane that was about to land and I didn't know that I should keep my head down to prevent air bubbles from building up in my ear. It took several years to disappear.  However, the ringing in my ear at that time was very minor, or  nothing that would cause me to panic. The most time I heard the small bell chimes was at bedtime in reclining and the sounds were barely audible. If you have ever seen the movie "Sound of Music" and saw the little boy bouncing up and down the bell tongue in ringing it,  you will understand the intervals between each ring that was sustained in my ear at that time. The decibels, however, were next to nothing in comparison...meaning they were much, much softer.

On Monday night March 4th after I came back from the second emergency room, after running the water while brushing my teeth my ear started to bang. I though it was because I had my mouth opened wide.  Again I panicked it just would not stop. I stayed up pacing the floor and finding all kinds of things to do to keep my mind off of it. Finally,   I laid down and began to speak gibberish to block out the sound. I also began humming Beethoven 9th Symphony, and I noticed it was subsiding and I continued for about ten minutes and I could not believe it finally subsided It was about 3 am in the morning.

So you think that talking gibberish, a lullaby  and Beethoven's 9th Symphony was the solution? The answer is no because when it came on the next day and continued into the night I tried the gibberish, lullaby thing and it didn't help. However, late in the night I was just talking to myself for a bout  20 minutes to block the sound and wallah! it stopped. I was flabbergasted, I was like what just happened?

Here is what I went through for the next couple of days: My own voice jars it a little, people talking next to me sound like they are screaming in my ear. The tap water running 'seem' to set it off or  make it worst.  Moreover, there are three different frequencies of sound that I am experiencing. There is boom, boom boom!, then there is the one that sounds like a race car driving, a plane or like the air conditioner just going and going and also the blue tooth connecting sound pop, pops! Still none of this problem as described was important enough for me to be seen on an emergency basis by Otolaryngology doctor  at the ENT hospitals. I eventually managed to get an appointment with an Otolaryngology doctor in another day or so. So I will see how that goes. But in the mean time just think of the ENT health care and how they operate. To them no matter what your symptoms are, the health of your hearing is not important to them.

I began writing this post on March 6, 2019,  because the buzzing had stopped and I was excited. I thought it was  gone for good. However, as I was writing here about 12 pm in the afternoon, I heard it slowly beginning to come back. I panicked and walked way.  It kept going until 5 am the in the morning at which time I excitedly got into bed.  As a result of this the morning of March 7, 2019  the day of my afternoon appointment with the Ortolaryngology doctor there was no buzzing.  It was about 2:30 in the afternoon when I entered the Otolaryngology office.As soon as i entered the waiting room, I though that my ear had started buzzing again. I looked back at the air heating vent situated on the upper part of a wall in the back. I desperately wanted to believe  that that was what was causing the noise, but I  soon  had to accept that it was coming from my ear. Indeed my ear had started buzzing again. After testing my ear, the doctor told me that I had some slight hearing loss and suggested a high potency supplement called  La flavanoids, which is supposedly good for the inner ear. I was excited, so came home and immediately picked it up from the pharmacy.

After my first dose my ear never stopped ringing and continued nonstop stop for a bout three weeks.  Remember now that as I was saying before my ear would stop ringing for several hours at a time.  Of course I never took another one of those pills after that. They cost $26.00. I was at my wits end. Then one night I started blocking the noise by placing my hand on my temple and repeating 1000-1, 1000-2 etc. for 3-10 minutes at time and I noticed that it was practically gone.  The next morning I did this for one hour straight while pacing the floor and watching the CBS Morning News of course I couldn't hear anything because my fingers were glued to my temples. After doing this  I notice that it began to lower the sound. Honestly, even as the noise level had lessened a lot I was skeptical. I said to myself: "There is no way this is working, and I am not going to get my hopes up." However, the change was so dramatic that I was cautiously optimistic. I will also mention that I was also drinking a lot of green tea, which is know to contain bioflavenoids a nutrient that is good for the inner ear.

I kept up my routine of pressing both my temples with my index fingers, and on  March 31, 2019 in the late evening, I noticed that it seemed like it wasn't there at all anymore. So  I leaned in to my bedroom to see if I could hear it because this was the most quiet part of my house, and so I always hear it louder there. But when I leaned in this time, I was like "Oh my God its gone, I think that if this is the evening and its gone then it might be gone forever." However, I  still went to bed cautiously that it might come back. The next morning when I awoke it was the same as when I went to bed the night before... I had to listen hard to hear it.  I could not believe that it was really gone. I was really happy. Honestly, during my ordeal the way I tolerated it, was to believe that there is no way it would be permanent. I also never told anyone i was going through this, because i thought somehow i had brought it on myself. However, I knew in my heart that I could not live with it if it was permanent, since it was literally sending my anxiety through the roof.

 I don't know if the green tea helped but if it did help then it simply mean that one size does not fit all and that is why the hi-potency kind (the La flavenoids that I mentioned earlier made it worst instead of better.  I am pretty sure that mind control helped, this is where I blocked out the sound by placing my index fingers on my temples and counted out of sync to the buzzing in my ear (1000-1; 1000-2 etc.)

As I mentioned earlier, I began writing this post on March 6, 2019 during a period when the buzzing had subsided, but that later during writing I heard it coming back and I got frightened and walked away. I never thought I would finish this post. Today, April 16, 2016 its almost as if its not there anymore. I really have to lean in or listen hard to hear it, and  I decided to finish this post, because I thought it was more important than ever  for me to share my story.  When I first started writing the story the title was: The Day My Ear Began to Behave like the Westminster Chime Clock. I now changed the title to To Getting Rid of Tinnitus.

 It turned out that Otolaryngology practitioner was wrong about my condition being permanent. The lesson here is to believe and be optimistic and never be afraid to try anything. I know it sound weird that the gibberish, the lullaby and the 1000-1; 1000-2  counts and the green tea could have solve the problem but it did for me. Thank God.  I am still keeping my fingers crossed though, and trying to keep my ear away from loud noises or any further damage by wearing ear plugs as needed.

Update:  Its May 14, 2019 I am still without recurrence as I said I have to listen really hard to hear it, so that means it is not enough to cause me any anxiety. Full disclosure,  I am a musician and I spend a lot of time with software for writing music on my computer. This involves a lot of repetition and I am told that that can cause your hearing to deteriorate.

During my ordeal,  I searched the web to find out if anyone could give me advice, and I found many people who played upon others vulnerability in an effort to profit. I remembered thinking that it was shameful that someone  should try to profit from their story which of course were dead ends. I believe it should have been imparted as Goodwill.  I hope that in sharing my story I might have helped a few people. As I said before, I was able to tackle my buzzing  at the early onset. I have heard people say they have had it for years, so I don't know if what worked for me would work for them at this time. I had my buzzing for under a month when I began  to tackle it on my own, and I managed to get some success. However, don't be discouraged, just try, because hope springs eternal, and all things are possible if you believe. 

God Bless!

PS: So far I have been billed over $3, 800.00 from the hospitals even as they sent me home and told me there was nothing they could do for me. LOL!

Here is the song that I had just published before I got sick.
Its Called Castle In the Sky. You can listen to it in its entirety in the blog below called: "The Hearts Unrest"

Thanks for listening! đŸ‘‚
Thanks for Reading!đŸ‘€


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Motifs, Idioms and Pop Music

Song Writing Tips

WpressHow to use motifs, symmetry, melisma and other song writing elements to bring out the prosody of your song.
The song  attached: Castle In The Sky has many of the elements important to song writing, such as motif, melisma, idiom, symmetry, asymmetry, repetition and metaphor... many of which are personifications or giving human qualities to things

An example of a metaphor in Castle in the Sky is: "lounge in my private space." whereas the term private space is a metaphor for mind.  Personification "my courage is hooked on moving slow."
The song begins with a melisma on the word feelings.
The song usually have a variety of motifs which  are often repeated as themselves or sometimes tweaked, thus adding symmetry and contrast to the piece.

Songs also have rhymes schemes. The rhyme schemes depends on the writer and how he chooses to contrast the lines that comprise the verses.

The style of Castle In The Sky is pop. The song form is verse, verse, chorus bridge, chorus. This song form is one of the more common song forms. In addition, the song  has sixteen bars. Songs usually have the same number of bars in each verse chorus and bridge. So if this was an eight bar song it would have an eight bar verse, eight bar chorus, and an eight bar bridge. The tessitura or range of Castle In The Sky is an octave and a fifth.

The bridge of a song in general has to be different in style and melody from the verse and the chorus. The bridge often brings the theme of the song to its resolution.

See if you can spot more of these elements in this song, and if so you are welcome to note them as comments here.

The Heart's Unrest

The Heart's Unrest

I am a classically trained musician. I write and sing in genres such as Jazz/ Blues, Pop, Slow Rock and Reggae. I have a Bachelors Degree in Music and Education, and a Masters Degree in Urban Studies. My instruments are voice, piano and guitar.

My latest release “Castle In The Sky” was released in January of 2019 and is now available in iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and many other online stores where digital music is sold.

Castle In The Sky tells a story about love and uncertainty in love or loving with unwillingness to act on ones feeling. Ultimately, it speaks to why it might not be prudent to act on ones feelings in certain circumstances. The song has sixteen bar verses and as a result, it is typical that both the chorus and the bridge would also have sixteen bars respectively. The melody underscores the prosody of the lyrics. Both are engaging as they keep you focused on the protagonist’s conflict. From the outset the lyrics get your attention and maintains it throughout as it cycles through the verses, and chorus. Each sub-title uses literal terms as well as metaphors in order to bring the listener to the climax of story. The bridge which begins with: “I feel my heart’s unrest…” brings the song to its resolution which is, that the love story being told is simply in thoughts rather than deeds and therefore just a fantasy in the mind of the protagonists.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Cotton Moiré

No Room For Comfort

A silver coat across your back
A tiny chest: a treasure
Some violets in ceramic ware
And fixtures to your floor
Your Cotton Moiré I stitched long
And lovelier the window pane
The blues on greens are beautiful
To eyes that chose to see
A Chrysanthemum, a patch of leaves
Scenic is the view
I too an icon on your chest
A fixture in the scene

Sometimes your ceiling head
Vibrating cause my ear to quiver
As neighbor’s feet syncopate
Like wooden sticks on steel
Drums beating time above my head
Nighttime, noontime, early dawn
Holds me in a wakened nightmare
With their demonic hammering,
In you I speak in tongues that call
These foreigners’ restless beasts
I adorned you for my pleasure room
Comfort my endeavor and there is
Never a dull moment within your walls

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Promoting Your Music, Digital Websites

Can digital music promotion websites really give your music exposure?

I have simply been disappointed that they aren't what they purport to be. For instance, the one i am registered actually has a platform where as you can pay to have your song rated. This to me it is the same as buying stars, and I find that element of being asked to purchase stars abhorrent. I simply prefer to earn them genuinely.  They also tell you post your music on the overrated Facebook. Ultimately, the question becomes what am I paying them for if i have to still do personal promotions. One of the worst money grabbing pitch for me was the fact hat they wanted a specified additional amount which would be applied when a new digital music store becomes available.  So if a new music distributor never becomes available I would be out that money and they would line their pockets.