Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Our older son graduated from college two years ago.  He's living in Atlanta, working as a self-employed film maker.  What that means is he doesn't make a lot of money. I'm guessing he made about $15,000 last year.  Anyhow, he's been living without a credit card since he graduated college. When he came home for Christmas the wife and I decided we would co-sign for a credit card in his name.  We were concerned that living without a credit card had to be difficult since there are situations where you simply have to have a card to pay for something; plus he was not generating any kind of credit history which could be problematic later on his life. 

With that in mind, and knowing he would not be able to qualify for a card on his own, as a Christmas/Birthday gift we applied for a card in his name.  We went to the local credit union we belong to (I'll keep the entity's name private).  Literally fifteen minutes later we were standing with a friendly credit union employee answering a series of questions on income, debt, etc.  The nice credit union employee typed all of the answers into her computer and five minutes later told my son he qualified for a card with a credit limit of ... get ready for this ..........................  $25,000.   I was so dumbfounded I asked the lady to repeat the number.  What in the world !!!  Absolutely not.  First off, my credit limit is only $15,000.  I make 100 times more money than my 24 year old.  I've had a credit card for thirty years; never missed a payment, and have a credit rating that is stellar.  My limit is $10,000 less than what my marginally employed son was just offered?   

After I got over my initial shock I asked the credit union employee how do I decline the $25,000 limit and set it lower?   Much, much lower.  She seemed puzzled by the question.  Apparently that request doesn't come up very often.  In fact, many people ask how they can increase their credit limit.  After a series of phone calls and emails, she told us it could be done.  We settled on a $1,500 limit.  When I explained I had not interest in being personally liable for $25,000 of debit, she seemed to get it.  So there were were.  After 20 minutes my kid has a credit card and a responsible debit limit.

Anyhow, I think I'm starting to understand why so many folks get into financial trouble so early in life ...   $25,000 credit limit.   That's about double what my kid made last year.  What in the world ?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Santa was surprisingly nice to my family.  He was also unexpectedly nice to me given I ended up on so many naughty lists.

Among the things I got were:
- Our older son Matt came up from Atlanta to join us for a couple of days
- a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (don't get that treat very often)
- several nice books on neon signs and other collectables
- a couple of nice '60s and '70s soul record albums (showing that I'm either really old, or suddenly really cool)
- a nifty Larry Morris sculpture.  The Morris sculpture entitled "Flying Kites" is something I've always said I'd buy when I won the lottery, so I guess I won the lottery early.

Thanks Santa.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Both on the personal and professional levels 2014 was a busy year and I really didn't spend much time on the BadCatRecords hobby.  Still I managed to listen to dozens of albums over the last twelve months.  Here are the ten (and one bonus effort), that I found the most enjoyable. They're not in any particular order.

1973 John Entwistle "Whistle Rhymes"
1972 Joe Simon :Drowning In a Sea of Love"
1983 Mark Knopfler "Local Hero"
1969 The Fantastic Four "The Best of the Fantastic Four"
1972 The Patterson Singers "The Patterson Singers"
1972 Rufus Thomas "Did You Heard Me"
1977 Rory Gallagher "Against the Grain"
1969 The Mirettes "Whirlpool"
1968 The Easybeats "Falling Off the Edge of the World"
1973 Caston and Majors "Caston and Majors"
1987 The Bears "The Bears"

So what can I deduce from this list?  Well, I'm obsolete in terms of current music.  While I actually bought lots of current music, not one of those purchase made my top-ten list.  In fact, the most "recent" release on my top-10 list was a 1987 obscurity from Ohio "The Bears".  My comfort zone is clearly late '60s and '70s music.  Most of what I like appears to be moderately commercial in that most of these acts got at least some commercial recognition.  The other big surprise ... how much I love soul.  Six of the ten selections can be categorized as soul.

And if you want to see the reviews, you can go to the BadCatRecords site -

Mom needs a night out

Nobody wanted to cook on a Friday evening so I took the family out for dinner at a local restaurant.  It was fairly crowded, but I couldn;t help but notice when they sat a couple with two young children next to us.  One of the kids was about four and busy playing with mom or dad's cell phone.  The other little boy couldn't have been more than one and, much to the dismay of the waiter, was busy tearing apart animal crackers and scattering them across the table and the floor. The mom looked on with kind of a sad look of helplessness, while the dad went to the restroom.   I guess my attention was focused on the flying cloud of cracker dust, but I couldn;t help but notice mom didn;t even wait for dad to get back before ordering the mega sized beer.  When it showed up she managed to gulp about a quarter of the glass in less than a minute. 

Mom's have a tough life ... hope the rest of her evening got better

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I sell records as a hobby and to make a little extra money.  It isn't a career
for me and I don't need to squeeze ever last cent I can out of buyers.   I try
to treat customers with courtesy and respect.  Repeat customers frequently get a
healthy discount.  I've even occasionally been willing to break a cardinal rule
and accept trades.  The result is that I have stellar customer feedback on
various online selling cites.  

A normal transaction is someone finds something they want to buy.  They submit
and order.   If I still have it, I'll send them an invoice.  They pay.  I mail.  
Start-to-finish the process usually takes me 10 - 15 minutes of dedicated time.

And then occasionally it turns bizarre.

- A customer orders two dozen albums.
- I offer the person a 10% discount on the order since it is fairly large.
- The customer then spends two weeks literally making dozens of changes via
never-ending emails and phone calls.   It gets so convoluted I have to set up a
spreadsheet to try to keep track of the changes.
- The customer insists on getting trade-in value for albums I have no interest in.
- The customer decides to reduce the size and value of the order and I elect to
reduce the discount and reject the trade-in LP.
- The customer repeatedly insists they have finalized their list and wants to
know if the albums can be sent in advance of payment
- Even after I pack the order (being told the selections have been finalized),
changes come in.  Having packed the order, at this point I simply refuse to make
any more changes.
- I get a personal check for payment (which doesn't actually cover the full cost
of the order - they promise a post-dated check for the remainer), and whereas I
would normally wait for it to clear, agree to send the order out in advance of
it clearing.
- Customer gets the order and tells me one LP is in poor shape; one LP is
missing (amazing given changes continued  until the very end), and one of the
LPs is missing an insert.   Customer says they are 85% happy with the order.
- The LPs are guaranteed so there's no problem returning a $10 item.   I find the
missing LP and the missing insert; pack them, and am ready to ship them out the
next day.
- Customer starts berating me for mis-representing LPs; mis-grading LPs, and
various other sins.   
- Customer DEMANDS I send a series of high priced replacement albums to make up
for the LPs that are flawed ad the ones they don't like (including a couple
they'd previously told me were priority buys for them).  The fact those albums
cost more than the ones to be returned doesn't seem to be an issue.   It's a
life or death issue for them.
- When I respond "not happening" I am told they want to return the whole order.

At this point I've already invested countless hours answering emails,  pulling
LPs, re-shelving LPs when the list changes, packing the material, taking it to
the post office, deleting LPs from on-line listings,  etc.      I've reached a
point where I'm simply happy to take my losses and move on.   The outcome is I'm
a little smarter in terms of what I'm willing to do with respect to this hobby
and I now have my first "banned" customer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Had a customer who wanted to buy 30 high priced albums.   Seems like a no brainer right? Easy way to pick up a couple of thousand dollars before the holidays. Well I'd dealt with this individual several times in the past.  The first couple of times these sales were painless, but the last three transactions turned into massive hassles, full of nasty accusations, insults, and ill will that ultimately cost me a great deal of time, effort, and frustration.  

Having fallen into this trap the last three times I offered to sell the person a smaller number of albums. If the transaction went well, I'd be open to additional sales.

The result was a stream of emails with a list that eventually totaled 30 albums.  Not exactly a couple of albums.  I reiterated that I was only willing to sell a couple of albums,   Anyhow, judging by the following email, I guess that wasn't an acceptable alternative.


Not very nice.  I suspect mom would not approve of the language.

End result - I now have my first banned customer.   Geez, you have to shake your head and wonder



Sunday, October 26, 2014

PATRICK LUNDBORG (1964 - 2014)

My favorite picture of Patrick. I always wondered
how did an office clerk morph into The Lama?
Unless you were a hardcore fan of American psych music (notably The 13th Floor Elevators), or were deeply into the study of psychedelics, you've probably never heard of Patrick Lundborg (aka The Lama).  I have to admit that even though I'd known Lundborg for over a decade, I'd never met him face-to-face, rather had exchanged hundreds of emails with the man on the subject of obscure American rock bands.  Other than bits and pieces, he was a very private individual who shared virtually nothing about his personal life.  I don't know if he was married, or had kids.  I don't know what he did for a living.  I do know his passions centered on music and the whole concept of psychedelics.  That's not to imply he was this crazed drugster, rather Patrick was fascinated by the inner world.

Patrick probably knew more about those two subjects that anyone I've ever met.  He seemed to live for the subjects (particularly the 13th Floor Elevators), establishing a maintaining the on-line website, as well as published a number of books on music and psychedelia, including the The Acid Archives reference book.  Lundborg's love for American psych music was made ironic by the fact he was born, raised, and lived in Sweden.

I was trying to remember how I met Lundborg and I think he actually contacted me after seeing a brief article I'd written on the obscure psych band C.A. Quintet.  The story had appeared in Goldmine and Patrick somehow stumbled across it and was interested in talking to the band members, as well as re-publishing the story on his Lysergia website. I was happy to put him in touch with the band as well as give him access to the original story.  That led to years of email exchanges that centered on dozens of other obscure American bands.  As it turned out, Patrick was interested in publishing a hardcopy reference book on the subject and somewhere along the way he asked it I'd be interested in contributing to the project.   Needless to say, I wasted no time flooding his in-box with scores of suggestions and write-ups.   Patrick was kind enough to include a couple of them in the book.  His editing skills always made my pathetic write-ups appear more professional that they were. 

So what more can I say?  My interactions with Patrick were always a blast.  He was a talented writer and through his work I learned a great deal about music- admittedly most of it had little practical value,   He turned me on to some amazing music by groups I had never even known existed.  Actually, from that perspective he was a major pain in the butt, since most of those bands only issued a handful of obscure albums, meaning I was forced to spend way too much on tracking this LPs down. I don't think I'd want to tell my wife how much I spent on a copy of "Darius", or "Flat Earth Society's "Waleeco". 

Patrick was only 50 when he passed on 7 June, 2014. That seems hopelessly young, especially for such a friendly, and easy-going guy.   I'll certainly miss him and can only hope his legacy thrives in the coming years.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


It's Wednesday evening.  The eleven year old is done with his homework and gone to bed.  Wife has gone to bed as well and I'm finished with some officer work.   Anyhow, for some reason I found myself poking around the computer and decided to see if I could find a YouTube video for James Taylor's 'September Grass'.  Always loved the song and the video that goes  with the tune is equally wonderful. 

That somehow got me thinking about the late Eva Cassidy.  Cassidy passed in November 1996 and though she really wasn't well known outside of the Washington area, she was a truly special singer.   There's a wonderful YouTube clip capturing her performing at Washington's Blues Alley.   The whole 45 minutes is dazzling, but my personal favorite starts at the 9:30.   Seriously, I can't remember the last time a song gave me goose bumps:

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I'm grudgingly accepting the fact that I'm getting old and am increasingly clueless when it comes to popular trends including cutting edge music.  I'll readily admit that a lot rap leaves me cold, but then so does popular dance music, trance, and pretty much anyone using auto-tuning.  The funny thing is that every now and then I'll still stumble across a wonderful, lost-classic pop tune.  Yeah, I may be one of the few folks in the world that enjoy the genre, but what can I say.

My most recent discovery - 'Blue' ...   a tune by the Peruvian band We All Together.  Imagine a cross between NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) and Paul McCartney and Wings and you'll get a feel for this glistening slice of pop.  I've owned a couple of the group's mid-'70s LPs which were full of Beatles-inspired pop and rock, however I never realized the group had reunited a couple of times over the years.   I've been looking for a copy of their 2006 reunion LP "Blue", but haven't scored a copy.   In the meantime, there's 'Blue' which, courtesy of YouTube, you can enjoy along with a nice, low tech performance video of the group:

Monday, March 3, 2014


If you've ever read my occasional blog entries, you'll know that the post office has been an ongoing source of disdain and frustration for me.  That said, I do strive to be fair.

So Northern Virginia got another snow storm today - 10 to 12 inches and the Washington DC area basically shut down - no school, bus didn't run, and the Federal government shut down for the day.   It was just a crappy kind of day ...   but there was an exception.  

I'd just shoveled my walkway thinking nobody would appreciate the effort, when all of a sudden I see the postman.  Yes, I was impressed by this guy.   Talk about a sense of professionalism. The rest of Northern Virginia had basically called it a day, but this guy was out doing his route in truly appalling conditions.   He even got out of the truck to bring my wife a package.    Kudos USPS !!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I recognize thousands of companies and people use this outfit with good results, but let me tell you a little bit about my 30 day experience.

For those of you who don;t know, allows the user to purchase and print postage from their homes, or offices without direct interaction with the Post Office.  They send you a CD with the applicable software; you load it up; and in theory you start printing your own stamps and postage (yes you have to pay for the value of the stamps and postage - though there is an on-line discount).

I mail a lot of records which means I spend a lot of time at the Post Office, so when I got the free started kit which included a free electronic scale and some free postage, I figured why not give it a try.

The software loads on a PC with no problems.   As an aside, adding it to a Mac can be done, but is far more frustrating.  Unfortunately, at that point the problems started to pile up.

Because the software prints out labels that include a bar code/scanning code, it turns out you can't use regular paper to print.  You need to buy paper that has a smoother surface - almost like the stuff you print photos on.  Again, not a show stopper, but an added cost.   It tok me two printing tries to figure this one out.  The potentially good news is that will refund your money for mis-prints.   Remember the word "potentially" (I'll get to that in a little bit.)

This is a gross oversimplification, but the way the system works is that once you've loaded the software and hooked up the electronic scale, you load postage (which you can buy in discrete dollar values); select the mode of delivery; weigh the item on you scale, and hit print.  Seems pretty simple and I'll admit that in about 75% of the cases it worked,   The other 25% of the time proved agonizing.

Once you loaded the right kind of paper, the system worked well for media mail, which was the bulk of my purchases.

At the other end of the spectrum, the system was a nightmare for international packages.  In addition to the above steps, the system requires you to fill out an online customs form which was amazingly hard to complete.  The other problem is that the system repeatedly calculated the wrong postage rates for international packages.  Even with the discounts, I'm pretty sure that what normally cost $18 to get to France, wasn't going to go for $6.75 via   After running into that experience a couple of times , I just stopped trying to do international packages.

After about two weeks printing became an issue.  The system started to kick out error message that the friendly 1-800 helpdesk didn't know how to fix.   The helpdesk made some recommendations which I followed, but the printer kept getting frozen forcing me to shut down the software and start over again.  The problem with that is the system deducted the postage costs but left me without the printed postage.  At $2.80 a pop that quickly became an expensive exercise.

When I hit the $50 in lost postage threshold I decided to simply give up.   I called and the friendly customer service rep eventually closed my account, bit not after ten minutes of badgering me to stay with at least a minimum program in place.  Interestingly, when I mentioned my frustration with the lost postage and the hassles of requesting refunds, not mention was made of the impact of closing your account if you're due a refund.

Before I get to that, let me mention the refund process.   If you have a misprint, you can get a refund for  the funds.  You have to sign a form that says you're not cheating the Post Office.   In some instances you can submit electronically.  In other cases you have to submit a hardcopy form.   As mentioned, I ended up with over a dozen refund requests.  Two were electronic submissions; the rest required manual paperwork.   And yes, you have to pay for the postage to submit the hardcopy refund forms.  The other thing they want is copies of the misprinted postage.  No explanation of what you do if there was no mis-print; e.g. software glitches "swallowed" your postage.

And the final kicker - once you've closed your account will not refund your money.  Apparently such refunds are banned by some obscure Post Office regulation.   According to the helpful customer service rep, I can't reopen my original account, but they can open a new account and credit back the refunds (once I submit them and assuming they'll process them since I don't have physical misprints for most of the refund requests).  Since they won't refund cash, rather will only credit the money back to my account, I'd essentially be right back where I started - using a system that doesn't work.

I politely declined the offer and about all I can say is I'd suggest anyone else thinking about think long and hard about it as well.

My local post office employees were thrilled to see me coming back with arms full of packages.   The two I related my tales of woe to were totally unsurprised by the experiences I had.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Yes, it took me a while to load this one up and I'll admit that it is long and makes me look like a grumpy old guy (which I guess I am).
As a 50-something year old male I realize I'm in the demographic and marketing wasteland.  No advertiser outside of AARP, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, or assisted care vendors would try to reach me with a ten foot pole.  I'm not young.  I'm not cool.  I'm not trendy.  And while I have disposable income, it's more likely to go to pay off my mortgage early rather than buying the latest fashion accessory or music by a band I've never heard of before ...  Seriously, who names their band Pissed Jeans ?   I don't stack up much better when it comes to  popular music.  I only have one top-40 station on my car presets and seldom listen to it.  My ten year old regularly complains about the old people music I
play (what is now termed classic rock).  I don't subscribe to Pandora, Spotify, or any of the other music delivery services that are out there.  I can't tell you when I last bought something off of iTunes (even though I own Apple stock).  When I looked at Pitchfork's list  of the best 2013 albums, I was the proud owner of one of the releases on that list, though I will take credit for a second one that I bought and gave to someone as a Christmas gift.  When I looked at Rolling Stones top 50 list for the year I did a little bit better owning two LPs on the list, though I'd argue one of them really didn't belong on the list.   I am a musical wasteland.

So against that backdrop I let my wife and kid convince me to watch last night's Grammies.  To be honest, while I love music, the last clear vision of a Grammy program I have is probably 1980 when The Doobie Brothers won for "What A Fool Believes" - not a song I particularly liked.

Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but wow, was I ever disappointed by the state of
current music.   In fact, I was so disappointed,  a couple of times I was tempted to switch over to the meaningless Pro Bowl on NBC.

Since my parents taught me to always try to highlight the positive, let me start out with that.

Pink was astounding.  I can't say I liked the song ('Try'), but the fact she was able to sing at all while doing those gymnastic moves was stunning.   Her performance was probably the show's highlight for me.

So Chicago's Robert Lamm must be in his 70s now, but the guy looked great and he
simply trashed Robin Thicke when the two were paired together.

While wasn't sure if the intent of the opening 'Drunk On Love' was to promote the song, or simply show off Beyonce's post-baby body, I'll readily agree she looked great.   I guess I can understand why Jamie Fox appeared tongue-tied when he trotted out to present some award.

Before presenting the award for Song of the Year Carole King did a nice duet with Sara Bareilles on 'Beautiful'.  Again, I', not a big fan of that song, but the two were energetic and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play together.

Oh, Kacey Musgraves looked cute in her light-up boots.

It was nice to see Paul and RIngo enjoying one another's company and Barbara Bach looked pretty good given her age.

And from there on it was far less impressive.  In fact I kept wondering how many of these superstars would have made it through the American Idol audition process - I'm guessing not all of them.   Here are some of what I thought were the lowlights. 

Lorde - seriously she won lots of awards, but judging by the live performance of 'Royals' I was left wondering what the excitement was about.   Her live performance was atonal and dull.   The grandfather clock in our basement is easily just as entertaining.  Her acceptance speeches were ... well they were short.

I'm not a big country fan so Kacey Musgraves was at a disadvantage from the start, but her performance was flat and nobody should ever try to do a song that has a whistling solo.  

I'll give Ringo Starr the benefit of the doubt.  He's like that loveable, but slight goofy uncle in your family tree.  I hadn't see him perform live in a couple of years and in spite of having a massive backing band, he came off as very uncomfortable, exhibiting about as much stage presence as melting butter.   And what was with the song choice ?   How many folks in the room were old enough to remember 'Telephone" ?   I barely remember it.   I'll also admit it was nice to see Ozzy, Tommi, and Geezer I dressed up to introduce Ringo, though the three of them seemed totally out of it (I know that will be hard for people to believe).  

Give credit to McCartney for at least presenting a new song - 'Queenie Eye'.  It was also nice to have Ringo bashing away at the drums during the performance.  Unfortunately the song wasn't very good and running the crappy promotional video in the background (yes, he has a lot of high powered friends), didn't really improve the song's enjoyment factor.

Another country act I know nothing about, but wow, Hunter Hayes was simply painful to watch.   If he'd turned in that out of tune and painful rendition of 'I Want Crazy' on American Idol, he would have been cut.  Horrible.

So I know Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons are hot, but teaming them together was like watching someone having a feverish dream.   Yeah, their mash-up of 'Radioactive' and whatever Lamar was rapping was energetic, but other than the pyrotechnics and paint explosions it wasn't particularly enjoyable.  

John Legend - classy, but sleep inducing.  I almost flipped to football at this point.

I like Katy Perry - in fact the last download I paid for was probably 'California Girls'.  Unfortunately 'Dark Horse' was a disappointment.  Her performance was fine and I laughed at the lighted costume top, but the song itself was dark, dreary, and forgettable.   No, it won't make it onto my iPod playlist.

Earlier I said Pink's solo performance was one of the highlights for me.   Not so much her duet with Fun's Nate Ruess on the hyper-sensitive and annoying 'Just Give Me a Reason'.   As I mentioned to my wife, Pink all but beat Ruess senseless in the vocal department (and that was after her gymnastics).  it would have been more entertaining to watch Reuss try to mimic some of Pink's gymnastic moves.

Wonder what Robin Thicke thought about when 70 year old Robert Lamm and the rest
of Chicago kicked his ass ?    By the way, he should have brought Pharrell Williams onstage to salvage the 'Blurred Lines' performance.

So what to make of Daft Punk ?   Well they're French and seem to value their privacy so I'm okay with the robot helmets.  Also, 'Get Lucky' is just insanely catchy.   Yes it was one of the few CDs I bought this year.  The live rendition was certainly a mixed blessing.   Trying to mash-up 'Get Lucky' with a Chic tune and a Stevie Wonder number probably looked better on paper than the actual performance.   Still Williams and Rogers both sounded good.  Wonder who is usually fantastic in a live setting; not so much this time around.

Even my ten year old and wife were appalled by the "country" segment that showcased Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Blake Shelton.  I guess you have to admire the three veterans for still being willing to give it a try, but the fact of the matter is time hasn't been kind to their musical abilities.  I know all of them have had some medical issues, but that medley was simply painful to endure.   There comes a time when you need to say enough and I'm going to take up golf.

And I'll admit it, there were segments I skipped - Taylor Swift, Metallica and Lang Lang.  I'll also admit I  quit watching before it was over.  I'll somehow survive not seeing Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Billy Joe Armstrong, Miranda Lambert, Madonna, etc.    Between the disappointing performances and the uniformly horrendous presenters (many of them apparently appearing for no other reason that they were  on the CBS television payroll), the overall feel was of a bunch of under-talented folks who simply think way too
much of themselves.   Are the Grammys going to save music ?   I don't think so.   You certainly won't find me rushing out to buy anything I heard or saw last night.   If anything, it underscored my disdain for much of what I hear on popular music stations.