Friday, October 31, 2008

Brake at the 4 Way Street

I recently had the interesting experience of picking up the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSN&Y) live in concert double-CD, 4 Way Street. I wondered for a bit whether it would be worth buying and wished that I had access to some on-line record reviews. I decided not to purchase this set and realized when I was back home that I had reviewed this very album a long time ago in college. Why am I reprinting this now? For the next person who picks up the CD and wonders if it is worth some hard-earned funds. My own answer, below, is pretty clear.

This record review was originally published in The Pacifican, University of the Pacific, on April 30, 1971.

The long awaited CSN&Y "live" album has arrived. Four Way Street is a two-record set, one record acoustic, one electric.

Record one's half of the album cover sets the mood with a picture of the four troubadors on their stools, acoustics guitars in hand. Highlighting the "wooden music" - as Crosby calls it - are the songs of Neil Young (On the Way Home, Cowgirl in the Sand, Don't Let It Bring You Down). They are masterpieces: the humble, yet wise, songs of a genius.

Stephen Stills (interestingly introduced by Young) also does a fine job of carrying his share of the load. He does 49 Bye Byes and a rousing retitled version of Love the One You're With. The latter is refreshingly clean, with no organ or steel drums.

Graham Nash contributes Teach Your Children and a strong song "for Mayor Daley" entitled Chicago. Excuse the extensive mistakes on piano.

The David Crosby songs are David Crosby songs. We're more than a bit tired of his sickeningly sweet songs and his self-pitying moaning.

One senses the trouble in 4 Way Street in looking at the back half of the cover. Here we see a mean looking drummer, and all these guys with electric guitars who look as tough as you have to look to be an Electric Super-Group. But CSN&Y must take a back seat to The Who's Live at Leeds when it comes to posing as Led Zeppelin.

You might like Pre-Road Downs and even Long Time Gone on Side 3. However, when you've listened to thirteen minutes of Southern Man you'll wonder why it takes four super-stars and two back-up musicians to sound half as good as one NY with Crazy Horse.

Carry On on Side 4 is where we reach the negative climax. A botched-up job on the vocals rushing into a third-rate Apple Jam with three whining guitars type thing. Worse yet, it's finished off with a "heavy" riff so juvenile that Black Sabbath is sophisticated in comparison.

Nevertheless, credit must go to the new bass player Calvin Samuels who looks and sounds exactly like Greg Reeves. Credit also goes to Johnny Barbata, their new drummer, whose style is known under various guises like "delayed rhythm," "anti-time," etc. Barbata's backing on Ohio will bring to mind Russ Kunkel behind James Taylor, or Kenny Jones behind Rod Stewart and the Faces.

The highly criticized Grand Funk Railroad has released a live album that was recorded in its entirety at a one hour and twenty minute performance. Like it or not, it is honest. The small print on the lyric sheet of 4 Way St. will call to your attention the fact that this album was pieced together from nine separate performances at three different performance sites. The very best of CSN&Y live? Like it or not, it's somehow dishonest.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You talkin' to me?

The next time you find it hard to get your work done in a noisy office environment, you might reflect on the following. This is excerpted from an article ("Hear today gone tomorrow") by Stacy Finz in the November/December issue of California magazine, published by the California Alumni Association.

It's that all important third date, the one where she's ready to tell you everything. Just as she begins to talk, the group of ad executives at the table to your right gets animated, while the waiter on your left begins a lengthy recitation of the daily specials. You lean in and manage to hear every word. But you remember nothing.

That's not surprising. Researchers at Cal's Auditory Perception Laboratory have found that background noise - particularly speech babble - can wreck havoc on recall and the ability to multi-task. For the last three years, professor emeritus Ervin Hafter and post-doctoral research fellow Anastasios Sarampalis have been measuring listening effort. The duo teamed up with Berkeley's Starkey Hearing Research Center to study both normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. The objective of the study was to determine how noise affects people's ability to retain information and perform simple tasks. Ultimately, the researchers will use their findings to perfect hearing aids.

In one experiment, subjects listened to sentences in quiet situations as well as noisy ones, then were asked to repeat the last word of the sentence. "We also asked them to try to remember their answers and at periodic intervals asked them to recall them," Sarampalis said. The researchers found that as background noise increased, making it harder to hear, "recall performance went down." As the background noise reduced, they found that "the task of listening to speech in noise became less effortful," so the subjects expended more energy remembering words they were meant to recall.

In another experiment, they played with listening and reaction time. Again, subjects were told sentences in both quiet and noisy situations and were asked to repeat them. They were also required to perform a demanding task on a computer keyboard. Once again the researchers found that as listening became more difficult, reaction time became slower.

The way Hafter decribes it, "The subject is working so hard to extract speech from noise that it's too exhausting to do anything else."

Service and more...

You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people. Cornel West, Princeton University

Don't build the airplane while you're flying. Unknown

The purpose of science is to develop useful models of reality. Unknown

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The High Cost of Cancer and Stress

By Susan Wampler, excerpted from USC News, October 24, 2008.

With the growing number of cancer survivors, the medical community and policymakers are paying increased attention to the psychosocial distress associated with the disease. Little research, however, has been conducted regarding the ramifications on the quality of life of cancer survivors, particularly low-income minority patients who are most affected by financial hardship.

A recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute and led by USC professor Kathleen Ell was the first cross-sectional, longitudinal study to specifically examine the issue. The clinical trial tracked 487 low-income predominantly Hispanic women with breast or gynecological cancer being treated at the LAC+USC Medical Center. The findings were reported in Cancer, the prestigious journal of the American Cancer Society.

"Among low-income minority populations, financial strain may also contribute to lack of access to supportive resources, such as hospital or community-based support groups and to problems remaining employed or returning to work," Ell wrote in the journal. "Economic stress is also associated with depression, with higher prevalence among low-income populations, with evidence that financial strain and employment are causally related to depression."

While the number of patients with depression decreased significantly over time, women who were unemployed or had medical-cost or wage concerns were more likely to exhibit symptoms of major depression. "This is another piece of important data showing that the U.S. health care system has some serious deficiencies when care is so difficult to access economically," said Ell, the Ernest P. Larson Professor of Poverty, Ethnicity and Health at the USC School of Social Work.

Ell noted that sick time is not usually offered by employers of low-income workers. Patients often are faced with the choice of whether to spend money on their cancer care or on food for their family. "Many of the patients in the study had child care responsibilities or were caring for an adult family member - a very culturally driven value model, particularly among Hispanics," she said.

The study included a supplemental qualitative component. Seventy-two percent of women interviewed in the study described negative economic changes precipitated by their cancer diagnosis, including income decline, having to stop working, and increasing economic stress on both themselves and their family members. "The combination of economic stress and family commitments are complicated by emotional factors such as anxiety, fear and depression," Ell noted.

The Cancer article quotes several patients, including one who said: "I got scared... going through a bad depression... I'm alone... It was very difficult for me." Others noted difficulty with transportation, including one patient who had to take three buses to get to her treatments, while others mentioned varied challenges. "When I was diagnosed with cancer, I stopped working, so I could go to all my appointments and the operation."

While Ell has focused much of her career on addressing disparities in health care for the underserved, she noted that this issue doesn't just apply to the underserved. "Middle class and underinsured patients with cancer are also likely to experience significant economic stress, such as employers asking 'Can they fulfill their role at work while undergoing treatment'? All the financial implications, on top of the fears that come with cancer, it's a double whammy. And the economic decline and lack of health insurance, which has gotten worse, is likely to stress patients with cancer across income levels."

"In this study, we identified a problem, but the question it raises is: What can we do to mitigate the negative effects on quality of life? It's clear that those who work with cancer patients need to look at socio-economic factors," Ell said. "For patients with both depression and cancer, we must look at these factors even harder."

Baseball playoff highlights came off the field...

This letter from William J. Hughes of Sacramento was printed in the sports section of today's (October 25, 2008) Sacramento Bee:

Two good things came out of the National League and American League championship series, and they weren't the Phillies and Rays. During the NLCS, I got to see Sandy Koufax, and in the ALCS, I got to listen to Chip Caray, Ron Darling and Buck Martinez. All three were insightful, respectful, comprehensive, serious, humorous and ego-less.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Got the milk?

This tabby is said to have spent five minutes in line before remembering that she forgot the milk!

Royal Joy

In the deep of the night, I ask myself what life is and I see that I do not know. I also see that it is a royal thing to be alive. C. F. Ramirez

It is a joy to be hidden and a disaster not to be found. D. W. Winnicott

Whenever we go back and play in Iowa they bring us baked goods. Maybe our pie in the sky is literal. Jay Martinovich, Music for Animals (band)

An older lady said to me the other day that she had set too much value in her life on positive obligations. I am, therefore, going to practice a little bit of negative obligation. I will boldly say there are things I cannot do. A. C. Benson

Thursday, October 23, 2008

USC Training Social Workers to Help Military Families

The following article, by Jia-Rui Chong, is from the Los Angeles Times of 10/23/08.

At the San Diego Armed Services YMCA, social workers who counsel military families can barely keep up with the requests that come pouring in. About two years ago, each social worker dealt with about 16 cases at any given time, said Amanda Cross, senior program director of family outreach. Now, each of the social workers carries a caseload of 23. "As of last year, we now have a wait list, and we've never had that before in over 20 years of operation," Cross said.

With agencies such as Cross' in mind, USC is launching a new program to train therapists who understand the difficulties of military families. Starting next fall, the School of Social Work will offer a military specialization within the two-year master's program in social work. "There's been a lot of problems with post-traumatic stress disorder and other kinds of problems returning service members have, and, at the same time, there is a very limited supply of people educated and prepared to deal with these problems," said Marilyn Flynn, the school's dean. "On average, mental health practitioners are 20 years behind clinical trials, so it is important to do this at a research institution."

The USC program is the first military track based at a university, USC officials said. Flynn came up with the idea about two years ago as she read about the growing mental health problems among returning veterans. Roughly 30% of service members coming back from Iraq are expected to seek mental health care, and the suicide rate in the Army has grown to its highest rate since record-keeping began. It is clear that the men and women returning from war - and their families - require care that reaches beyond what is normally taught in social work school, said Jose Coll, a social worker and former reconnaissance Marine who is chairing USC's program. "What we hear all the time is, 'They don't understand me,'" he said. If a therapist doesn't understand the jargon, "it becomes much harder to build a relationship between the client and the therapist," Coll said. "Many times the client never comes back."

The USC program will inject military-related material into traditional social work classes, such as talking about self-image and the loss of a limb in a class on loss, grief and bereavement. Students will also do 600-hour internships at places such as the drop-in veterans centers or the jail at Camp Pendleton.

Cross, the YMCA official, said she can't wait for USC to produce graduates who can jump right into the agency's heavy caseload. "We used to do a lot of on-the-spot crisis intervention, where they were out of food or they had parenting issues," Cross said. "Now we're seeing a lot of families dealing with anxiety, depression. We have to look for more skilled clinicians."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New college minor gains in popularity...

The following is excerpted from the UCLA Daily Bruin of Wednesday, October 22, 2008.
Article by Ben Thaler.

A year after its implementation, the disability studies minor has taught students and faculty an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the nature of what constitutes a disability. Kyle McJunkin, an academic counselor in the UCLA College, said that disability studies is an emerging subject in many major universities.

Helen Deutsch, a professor of English who teaches some of the disability studies courses, said her teaching approach looks at disabilities as a vital part of the culture rather than a problem that needs to be solved. "The humanities are leading the push to the forefront in changing the way we look at disabilties," Deutsch said.

Three students have graduated with the minor successfully, while six are (pursuing) the minor this year, McJunkin said. He added that students from other majors often take classes in disability studies.

Third-year global studies student Draco Chu is one of the students minoring in disability studies this year. He said he enjoys the small class sizes and the interactive nature of disability studies. "I'm taking a choreography class teaching movement for people with disabilities, and I visit the University Elementary School and mentor students with learning disabilities," Chu said.

The minor came into existence through the efforts of UCLA faculty from 16 departments across the College, said the College's assistant vice provost, Lucy Blackmar. "For over two decades UCLA faculty and administrators have wanted to make the study of disabilities part of our academic mission," Blackmar said.

McJunkin said the core course for the minor, called Disability Studies 101, consists of a weekly guest speaker and a different way of looking at disability. "The speakers talk about how disabilities are viewed socially, culturally, legally and artistically," McJunkin said. The students also receive real world work experience through a two-quarter internship working with either a disabled population or through policy issues relating to disabilities.

Some of the disciplines that disability studies can complement include public health, psychiatry, pre-medicine and neuroscience. Draco Chu said he is enrolled in the minor because he wants to use his privilege as an able-bodied person to understand more about diversity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday's hopeful quotes

Leap with faith rather than huddle in fear. - Michael Gates Gill

The renewed man acts upon new principles. - Unknown

To travel hopefully is a better thing than arriving. - Robert Louis Stevenson

Age is a matter of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. - Satchel Paige

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not the same old song...

On September 23, 2008, Motown and Universal Music released a new group of compilations called The Definitive Collection, featuring artists like Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Temptations, etc. With the recent death of Levi Stubbs, lead singer extraordinaire for the Four Tops, it's nice that there's this new release of re-mastered tracks called The Definitive Collection: Four Tops. This compilation of 18 songs is neither too long nor short, and offers nice mid-range sound with sufficient bass. The sound is calmer, perhaps, than the original bold Motown mixes, but this may sit well with the group's boomer fans.

The one complaint is likely to be that the songs are not placed in chronological order, something that a lot of listeners seem to prefer with "Best of..." collections. This, however, is easily remedied with today's programmable CD players.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A perfectly timed marathon?

The new Rock 'n Roll marathon will be held in Seattle on Saturday, June 27, 2009. This may be a perfect date for hopeful first-time marathoners wanting to start a training program after the early part of next year.

For a great look at Seattle's past, go to . Who wouldn't have wanted to stay, circa 1958, at the Doric 6th Avenue Motor Hotel? (The Seattle Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair, so this photo of the Doric was taken during or after that year.)

After the Gold Rush

They used to say that a rising tide raises all boats. But when it comes to economic floodwaters, everyone may get wet as demonstrated by the following.

From the S.F. Chronicle ("Wilkes Bashford pleads for customers," 10/16/08):

Even in tough economic times, luxury retailers usually are the last to feel the pinch. So, a plaintive letter from tony clothier Wilkes Bashford to his California customers came as somewhat of a shock.

Bashford, high-end haberdasher to the likes of ex-Mayor Willie Brown and the late columnist Herb Caen, asked 18,000 of his customers "to continue to shop with confidence."

"In 42 years of business, the current situation is unique, hence the purpose of my corresponding with you. I am taking this unorthodox approach because we need your support," read his letter, sent Friday.

Retail consultant Ellen Magnin Newman, granddaughter of department store magnate Joseph Magnin and daughter of his heir, Cyril Magnin, received one of Bashford's letters. She was a little shocked by the direct appeal.

Newman said she still sees plenty of shopping bags in and around Union Square, which has become home to a number of ritzy retailers, including Prada, Barneys, Tory Burch and DeBeers. But she described sales at many retailers as "spotty" or inconsistent and said consumers clearly are being more careful with their dollars.

"They're thinking twice," she said. "I could even be guilty of that myself, but I won't stop buying what I need."

With the economy in a tailspin, even members of the well-heeled crowd have taken a look at their stock portfolios and decided to forego the latest Prada or Louis Vuitton handbag. Cutbacks in discretionary spending are an early barometer of recessionary times.

"From a consumer demand standpoint, everyone at every level has pulled back and stopped discretionary spending," said Helen Bulwik of New Market Solutions, an Oakland retail consultancy. "That has a great deal to do with the gloom and doom that's out there."

Indeed, it was partly Wednesday's release of the U.S. Commerce Department's dismal September retail sales report that drove the Dow down more than 700 points, underscoring how jittery Americans are about the current economic crisis.

The report showed a 1.5 percent sales drop in department store sales during the back-to-school season, which is the second busiest time for retailers after the December holidays. Sales at electronics and appliance stores were down 1.5 percent, but car dealers were hit the hardest with a 4.2 percent sales drop. Overall, retail sales have fallen for three consecutive months, the steepest being last month's 1.2 percent drop.

It's a troubling trend that predicts a decidedly un-jolly holiday for the nation's shopping malls and stores. "This is a crystal clear signal that the holiday season ahead is shaping up as the worst since the early 1980s," wrote Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at Merk Investments, in response to Wednesday's weak report.

Many retailers, including luxury department stores, posted lack-luster September same store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year. At Neiman-Marcus Inc., same-store sales for the five weeks that ended on Oct. 4 plummeted 12.9 percent compared with the same period last year, a drop the company's chief executive attributed primarily to the economy.

But shopping is more than a national pastime; it's essential to the economy. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product, and Bashford want his customers to do their part. In his letter, the storied clothier's version of an economic stimulus package offered a $300 discount on purchases of at least $800 - an amount, he said, that's not difficult to ring up at his store.

"The best bailout plan is to go shopping," Bashford said in an interview in his office above his Sutter Street store.

[All for ADC.]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday's Run

Fred Lebow found the answer to life's problems, and it was running. - Judd Ehrlich
(Lebow was the founder of the New York City marathon.)

You have to dream a little in the sport of running. If you stay in your comfort zone, you're not going to accomplish anything special. - Deena Kastor

Know yourself, so you may live that life peculiar to you, the one and only life you were born to live. Know yourself, that you may perfect your body and find your play. - George Sheehan

Running should be a relief from the stress, a way to help cope with it, not another added stress. - Bob Glover

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Time (Thursday's quotes)

As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft. - H. L. Mencken

Lately I've got this feeling that it's later than it seems. - Jackson Browne

Time, time, time... See what's become of me as I looked around to see my possibilities. I was so hard to please. - Paul Simon

That last debate was longer than the others. I thought it would be 90 minutes, but it lasted an hour and a half. - Woman in San Mateo, CA overheard by Elizabeth Roepke (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/04/08)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For runners...

A nice blog is . He's an elite, world-class, marathon runner who discusses his training, his results, and he includes running shoe reviews, etc. What's especially positive is that he invites feedback to help improve the content of the site. Go, Adrian!

No fear on Wednesday (quotes)

The only easy day was yesterday. - BUD/s USN

Pain is weakness leaving your body. - USMC

Man imposes his own limitations, so don't set any. - Anthony Bailey

The best pace is a suicide pace, and today is a very good day to perish. - Steve Prefontaine

Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage. - Geo. Patton

If I'm still standing at the end of this race, hit me and knock me down because that means I didn't run hard enough. - Steve Jones

The real power is collective. I can't afford to be afraid of you. If it takes head-on collisions, let's do it; polite timidity is killing us. - Cherrie Morgan

When I was young I was misled by flash cards into believing that xylophones and zebras were much more common. - Amy-Else Neer

First entry...

The title of this blog refers to the fact that I'm a USC graduate whose better half matriculated at U.C., Berkeley. I expect, in the future, to include inspiring - or not - quotations on this site, and to discuss music, books, running, other sports and/or cats. No politics. Stay tuned.