Monday, September 9, 2013

Smart watches will be the end of mankind

The day that I dreaded lurks around the corner where I will have friends, colleagues, and absolute strangers that find out I work on watches involve me in discussion on a device which I have no interest in. It's bad enough in this day and age where it's acceptable to ignore your social surroundings by being absorbed in your mobile device and let life run by you, technology will soon allow minimal life participants to be even less engaging by strapping a relay system to your wrist.

The compelling reason that I hear most commonly is an urgent need to know why your phone just went off. As in you are driving and probably shouldn't check; let alone reply to that text, but you will risk life and limb to check that text. Seriously, you couldn't wait until you are at least stopped at a red light and get honked at as it turns green and you aren't moving because you are engrossed in an epic text conversation about the latest internet meme.

I came across an article on gizmodo that harks the need to know sentiment to which I commented on;

You need to know what just happened? So you're the idiot that causes unnecessary traffic jams and accidents because you just needed to know as you swerve to your and other driver's death? You must be the moron who is trying to reply to a text while riding his/her bicycle and gets creamed by a bus because you just had to know, and you must be the colossal buffoon who stepped off of the curb to cross the street when the cross walk is five feet away and you are hit by a cyclist replying to a text into traffic who is then struck by the motorist checking email just because you had to know.

As a watchmaker I already do not want to see the precious wrist real estate taken up by a gaudy gadget with a tiny screen that should tell you that you are a tasteless idiot, but instead pretends to be convenient by catering to your addiction of social media and messaging. If you ask me what I think about smart watches, now you know.

Quick little update: Seems the author of the gizmodo article Eric Limer has removed my comment. Apparently he is the sensitive sort who can't handle people that can see right through BS.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First time home buying experience in Massachusetts

I have been house hunting for the last few months and have learned a whole lot of what it means to buy a home along the way. There are misconceptions to real estate that will exist until you are faced with the task of buying a home, but you can get a head start by attending a first time home buyer's course. The courses are offered anywhere from free to a nominal fee and is a great resource for the target audience as well as a qualifying criteria for some incentive loan products that wouldn't otherwise be available to you. One of the things that the course will tell you is to assemble your home buying team. First and foremost you should have a buyer's agent who can help guide you through the weeds. I will leave links to the various people that I've worked with at the end of this post in case you live in the greater Boston area and are seeking reliable people to fill out your roster. You should also have your buying strategy figured out such as deciding ahead of time if you want the seller to cover closing costs. While having the seller pay the closing costs isn't atypical it may deter you away from certain sellers. Conversely keep in mind that closing costs on a single family home can range form $2,500 to $5,000 and condo's closing costing more.

Every market is unique and I have been looking for a place in eastern Massachusetts with the goal of remaining within a reasonable commute to Boston and Cambridge. For my target area the property I purchase will likely be an existing structure since developable lots (assuming that you can find one in the city to begin with) have other financial challenges. For the sake of explaining it let's say you find a lot for $120,000 and you want to finance it. Traditional mortgage for an existing home can accept a down payment as little as 3%, but for developable land You will need to plunk down 50% of the lot's sale price to have a bank finance it. The reason for the higher down payment is because banks are afraid of the lender walking away from the mortgage if the lender isn't deeply cash committed. To continue our example, the $120,000 lot would need $60,000 down for a bank to finance it and be confident that the lender will repay the loan versus 5% down which would be $6,000 and feasible that a lender may walk away from the mortgage without suffering a substantial loss.

If you are in the position of putting down half for a lot, you still need to consider the cost of building your dream home. Look around the street and locate the closest fire hydrant which will indicate where the water and sewer lines are. The further away you are from a hydrant, the more it will cost to plumb for water and sewer. You maybe in an area that sewer service isn't available and will have to bury a septic tank in the ground which limits your foundation size in relation to septic tank size and building code. The street may not have gas service and you will have to use propane, electric, or oil for your heating needs which are far more expensive options compared to gas. Maybe your street does not have gas run all the way down to your lot and will need to pay to have the gas run the rest of the street. While new constructions have ideal floor plans and have little to nothing wrong with them, your loan product becomes complex and may not qualify for a more favorable rate compared to a traditional mortgage. An alternative to consider is to put down 20% on an existing home to be free of PMI and either buy points or plan for renovations with the remaining cash to turn the existing structure into your ideal home.

It has been a buyer's market since the real estate bubble burst, but lately approaching an artificial position that is nearly a seller's market due to constrained inventory. Our economic climate has directly impacted the national inventory shortage by forcing home owners to hedge against uncertain times by staying in their homes longer. The shortage of new jobs which traditionally incited a homeowner to move has also contributed to the inventory shortage. People who bought a home at the height of the real estate inflation are just now coming out from being underwater and are either selling or refinancing their home. Those that are selling are in a position to receive a better offer on their home with the inventory constraint which lends to the artificial perception of it being a seller's market as a result. I think that the market will even out between buyers and sellers in New England throughout the remainder of 2013 as being in the northeast we experience an increase in inventory and sales activities during warmer months versus the colder months of the year.

One thing preventing another real estate inflation is the practice of an impartial third party to appraise a home. The home will appraise at fair market value with consideration for renovations and condition of the house which insures that the bank isn't approving a risky loan worth more than the property. The appraisal is submitted to the lending party and if it appraises lower than the agreed sale price, a rebuttal along with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) can be sent by your agent to provide additional data to recalculate the value with. Even with a rebuttal the home cannot be valued above reasonable market value and this adds a layer of protection to the buyer where it is no longer possible for the seller to demand whatever they feel is right and expect a bank to agree with them. Once the appraisal is finalized, that is as much as the house can be sold for at that time. This is why it is critical that the seller remains realistic about what their home is worth. The constrained inventory is forcing fast actions from interested buyers often resulting in multiple offers submitted to a property priced to current market value. I have also seen properties sit on the market for a long time because the seller is expecting an unrealistic return on their investment.

The question that plagues every first time buyer is how does one know which house is the right one? This question is easily answered if you prepare a list of what you need at a minimum and what you want in an ideal home. To give you and idea I was looking for a single family home in select towns to meet my commute goal and I need 2 bedrooms, driveway, and a dry basement. Ideally I want a third bedroom or office, second full bath, and a garage. My list helped me narrow my choices and reveal listings relevant to me. Finance is an obvious constraint and is important to be pre-qualified by a reputable lender to know how much you can make an offer up to. Ask your agent for a lender recommendation if you haven't approached one yet. Once you've been pre-qualified use a mortgage calculator to figure out what monthly payments will look like to prevent biting off more than you can financially chew per month. The calculator in the link has you input taxes and insurance and computes your projected payments with PMI. It will also help you understand that when it comes to dealing in hundreds of thousands over a thirty year term that a difference of $10,000 makes for a negligible change in your monthly payment. Understanding this difference will better prepare you for negotiating an offer quickly. A bill that you will not have had as a renter is a water bill and the city you are looking to buy in will typically have a website that can tell you how you are billed and at what rate. Now that you know what features you are looking for in a home and how much you are willing to spend, it's time to start looking in person.

The first time you see a house it is both weird and exciting. In a short time you will master the process and will be able to figure out quickly if the home is right for you. Keep in mind that superficial things like paint color and wallpaper can be easily changed and shouldn't affect your decision. I remember the very first house that I saw which was a bank owned property in rather miserable shape. I walked through the front door and loudly declared, "nope" and that was my first taste of not liking a house and the end of my first viewing. I was told that you will know if a house is right and it's true, I knew the first house wasn't the place for me within seconds of walking in. A phenomenon that I have been experiencing is the ideal photo problem, or the inverse ebay law. eBay sellers are aware that buyers are favored in a dispute and would rather put up clear example of the sale item to mitigate negative feedback where else in real estate you see pictures of a home on MLS or Trulia and it looks amazing until you see the place in person and have to stand in exactly the right place at the right time of day to have it look as nice as it did in the pictures.

It's important to check if the listing is accurate against the house with simple mistakes like gas heat listed in place of oil heat or omit details that would otherwise make a likable feature a moot point such as having to walk through a bedroom to get to another bedroom. The weirdest example by far was a listing that supposedly had 1.5 baths. I walked in and saw immediately that the pictures grossly misrepresented the property and knew that the place wasn't for me, but since I was there I figured that I would get my house looking practice in. I located the first bathroom in the kitchen which is a little weird in it's self, but could not locate the half bath on the second floor or in the basement. I was just about to leave as I noticed a panel that leads to the attic. I pulled down the panel by the string and revealed the folded ladder to get up to the attic to discover there in the open is the half looked as if the previous occupant had someone chained in the attic. In short I found the sloth room with the open concept prison style bathroom. (Ew! Seriously, who puts a bathroom in the attic and why would you leave a toilet exposed?)

Then there is what I dubbed as murder house which is a large colonial duplex listed as a four bedroom condo with a driveway and garage. The pictures of the unit showed stunning high arched ceilings and a promise of a large living space with condo convenience. I drove up the driveway and felt like I was driving on set to shoot an episode of Hoarders when I saw various crap everywhere in the driveway, against the three car garage, and in all garage bays. The steps leading to the front door is clearly neglected and wondered how the condo association hasn't repaired it yet. Past the front door is a foyer and once I figured out which of the three doors was the right one it opened to stairs that lead to the second floor unit. Exploring the place I found additional signs of hording on the vacant side and began to suspect that it is a multi-family owned by a single person who is trying to pass it off as a condo. The extra hoarding room is an obvious addition to the house at first glance as evidenced by the original roof cutting into the room. Being within arm's reach of the shingles I was able to see that the roof has been improperly taken care of with countless layers of shingles atop another that made for an overall thickness of 7~8 inches in shingles alone. I found another stair case in the back of the place and went down the stairs to find a narrow short hallway with a door at the end. I approached the door when I heard what sounded like strange music played on a Victrola (I kept picturing in my mind the sewer scene in Hellboy where Karl Ruprecht Kroenen is seated listening to a Victrola) and that is when it struck me that I was now behind the 1st floor resident's condo (realize there is no door on the second floor, only the door for the first floor condo which is creepy to think that your neighbor has easy access to your place. Compound that with the super creepy paintings in that short hallway to just make it all worse). It was at that moment that I felt that I was no longer on an episode of Hoarders but in a horror/slasher film and decided against making previous level slasher victim maneuver by exploring any further and risk losing life and limb. You need to look at every place you think maybe the one and see for your self as realty tends to tell a separate story from what the pictures represent.

Once you decide on a place you will submit an offer to the seller or the seller's agent. Don't worry if you've looked at a few places and haven't found anything yet, I looked at at least a dozen places before my first offer materialized. I know one couple that looked at ninety places before circling back to the very first property that they looked at and another couple who are the outliers that found a place within the first three places they looked at. Your agent will provide a CMA which compares similar properties recently sold within a mile (unless you are in the boonies) to give you a view of what current values are for that particular neighborhood as well as if values are trending up or down. You should listen to your agent's invaluable advice who's experience and insight will aid you in making an offer. The overall shape of the home and nuisances that may detract from the enjoyment of your home should be taken into consideration as well as the age and condition of appliances, HVAC, and water systems. You should also understand the difference between an upgrade and maintenance. Adding a second bath is an upgrade and should positively impact the resale price while replacing a twenty year old water heater is maintenance and you shouldn't be expected to shoulder the previous occupant's maintenance cost. Additions and remodels increase value and maintenance maintains value. Conversely lack of maintenance decreases value and just because an addition or remodel is made it doesn't necessary add value if it didn't update or improve the home.

Some sellers have taken these factors into account and price accordingly while others are greedy or clueless. Unless you offer asking price expect it to be countered. Countered doesn't mean rejected and you have to negotiate a price that both parties feel fair with, but if it is rejected you either offered too low to consider or you have a seller that wants too much. If the seller's counter is reasonable than there is no reason to keep going back and forth, but if you still do not feel that the price is fair than counter back. Be careful of emotionally vested sellers who may not be motivated to sell their home as well as becoming emotionally involved yourself. Yes, the buying process can be stressful and emotional at times, but it is a business transaction after all.

You will often hear that no one can tell you what a fair price for a home is except for yourself. Well, that really isn't a relevant statement these days when the buyer has so many resources available to determine fair current value. Along with your agent's expertise there are various web resources for prospecting home buyers such as Trulia and Zillow. Between the two sites I prefer Trulia for one invaluable feature: Sold Homes near. With this feature you have a filtered list of homes sold near the property you are interested in and gives you an overall average price on square footage as well as historical pricing in the area. This feature has helped me figure out on so many occasions if a home is over or under priced for the market and helped me avoid the pitfall of emotionally answering the fair price question. Other useful features are what the home sold for previously and nearby school ratings.

Once an offer has been accepted you should schedule an inspection. There will likely be very few surprises, but if there are tons of surprises than there maybe more problems than meets the eye. An inspection will always find something, but they aren't necessarily deal killers. After the inspection you should negotiate to either fix things that were discovered during the inspection or for compensation in the form of a lower sale price. I had one woman who was pretty unreasonable to work with during the offer phase and after the inspection revealed around twenty things on her home. I made a list in order of importance what I wanted repaired, replaced, or lower the sale price to reflect the defect and stated that the first two items were non-negotiable. The first was presence of WDOs (Wood Destroying Organisms, A.K.A termites and carpenter ants) that I wanted treated and any associated repairs performed. The second was to replace the basement windows. When I made the offer on the property I was informed that all windows were replaced but I discovered during the inspection that the basement windows were not replaced and were rotting out. She came back saying that she would only address the WDOs and nothing else which prompted me to walk away from the deal. Don't be afraid to walk away, the seller is not your friend and you have no obligation to stick around for a bad deal.

Once both parties agree on the inspection items you will contact your attorney and insurance agent. If you do not have an attorney than ask your agent for recommendations which may have hidden perks such as my attorney representing both myself and the lending institution without an additional cost. Once your attorney engages the seller's attorney you just have to wait. Title insurance is something that will appear as part of your closing costs but is seldom discussed at length. Despite the name it is not offered by your insurance agent, but by your attorney. Title insurance is mandated by your lender to avert any risks to the title that may exist when purchasing your home. What is seldom discussed is your option for Enhanced Title Insurance that protects the buyer after the home is purchased from unforeseen risks. Cost difference is negligible, but the coverage difference is huge and you should just tell your attorney that you want the enhanced option. The initial P&S will be drafted by the seller's attorney and attorneys will draft back and forth until all addendum and contingencies are satisfactory to both parties at which point you will be presented with the final draft to review. Once you sign the P&S it will be delivered to either the seller, seller's attorney, or sellers agent depending on the the P&S requirements along with your earnest money and will be countersigned by the seller and the P&S is fully executed at that point.

Copy of the fully executed P&S will be sent to your lender and your lender is free to apply for a mortgage on your behalf. It is at this point that your attorney will be contacted to get a list of fees for the closing which are both attorney's and regulatory fees;

Attorney Fees
Title Exam
Obtain Municipal Lien Certificate (MLC)
Rundown and Record
Lender’s Title Insurance
Owner’s Title Insurance
Survey/Plot Plan
Prepare Homestead
Record Mortgage with state
File MLC
Record Homestead

From this point forward unless you are contacted by your lender for any documentation required by a bank, you simply have to wait until the closing date. If the title and mortgage are available before the closing date, it is possible to have your agent contact the seller to see if they would like to move the closing date up in exchange for receiving the check sooner. Good luck and happy hunting for your first home.

As promised, here are the people to comprised my team;

Agent: Rick Nau, Ascend Realty Group

Lender: Dick Lee, Independent Mortgage, LLC.

Attorney: Ann Tran Mullin, Lee & Associates, P.C.

Inspector: John O'Riordan, Old School Home Inspections

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Anstead Oceanis

Kickstarter has become my other bad habit where I peruse for campaigns I may want to fund that range from 'yesses! I needz this' to 'dear god what have you done?'. Among the projects I came across is the Anstead Oceanis. The designer Tom Anstead explains on his campaign page that his designs were inspired by his experience while he served in the Navy aboard the USS Independence. My curiosity was peaked for a watch designed around function while keeping aesthetics in mind.

Where many entry dive watches start between 50m to 100m, the Oceanis is designed to withstand a max depth of 990ft/300m which at 33ft per scuba ATM is an impressive 28 atmospheres. Greater depth requirement means a bigger case or a stronger case material along with a screw down crown to withstand the pressure. The brushed surgical steel case measures 44.3mm wide by 6.9mm, but add the case back, bezel, and sapphire crystal and the overall thickness comes out to 14.36mm making for a sizable watch. Anstead watch mitigates the additional material and R&D cost to survive the intended 300m depth and keeps a low retail cost of $399 after the campaign ended. The price point is a huge win for Anstead watches as you will be hard pressed to find a mechanical watch that can withstand 300m in that price range.

The Oceanis continues with the large aesthetics with a 4mm thick brown leather strap attached to 24mm lugs. The strap has the Anstead name impressed on the inside of the strap as well as it etched on the buckle and is a good quality strap but could stand to be manufactured with wearability in mind. Conventional strap making techniques thin the leather as it extends down from the watch that creates a taper. Sometimes this taper is obvious and other times it is hardly noticed. There are straps that do not have this thinning done but those straps typically start with very thin stock and doesn't have much room to thin any further. The Oceanis' strap remains the same thickness across the entire length and as a result creates an uncomfortable 8mm lump of leather where the strap overlay in the stays. If the leather was softer I maybe able to tolerate the thickness but this isn't the case here. The lack of strap color choice is another issue for me as I am personally not a fan of the color and between the two I have ordered a replacement strap. You can see in the following photos the new strap as well a side by side of the old and new. Even with a deployment clasp on the new strap it feels thinner and far more comfortable to wear.

The non reflective flat black surface of the 32mm wide dial is easy to read in daylight and the luminescent hands and markers make it just as easy to read in low to no light. The dial is protected by a thick sapphire crystal seated against an O-ring and is surrounded by a 120 click bezel that only turns counter clock-wise as it should. The bezel requires firm tension to turn which is a relief to find with positive clicks that can be heard and felt. For those wondering why the bezel isn't easier to turn and isn't unidirectional need to consider the application. The bezel gives a diver the oxygen supplies's remaining time by turning the index of the bezel to where the minute hand is from the moment when the oxygen is used. From that point the minute hand travel will indicate elapsed time against the bezel and tells the diver how long they have been under for and how much time they have left. If the bezel were to accidentally move it should only move counterclockwise wise so that you lose dive time versus if it were unidirectional you risk adding time and possibly running out of air. For reasons above the bezel shouldn't move too easily to prevent accidental moves to begin with.

The watch is powered by the Seiko NH36a which improved on it's predecessor the 7S26 through the more jeweled pivots and a hacking lever. A hacking watch means that when the crown is pulled the second hand stops for the purpose of synchronizing watches for accuracy. I like Seiko movements as they are reliable and durable while remaining affordable. It is the use of this movement versus Swiss movements like the ETA 2836 with a stop lever that helps keeps the cost down on the Oceanis. Watches with hacking ETA calibres capable of a 300m depth start at $850 and only go up from there. The only question that remains of a new movement is longevity but considering Seiko's track record I feel confident in it's ability to last.

The packaging leaves something to be desired, but considering the cost of the watch I shouldn't be complaining. If I were to pay $1k or higher I would expect a certain level of sophistication and experience in the packaging but I digress. The packaging is minimal and nothing special to note. It is a black box with a white top with the Anstead logo pressed into the lid which is printed in black. The watch is strapped on a miniature velveteen pillow and the color manual sits below the pillow. I suppose at the very least the minimalist design is tasteful.

I like the overall aesthetic of the watch but there are some flaws along with rooms for improvement, which I have emailed Tom and he was very receptive to. The day/date window of the dial is slightly misaligned to the left and crowds the day/date display. The case back threads aren't indexed so the etched case back will be randomly oriented (as you can see in the photo above, mine points to the right). The aforementioned strap thickness interfering with long term wearability. The bezel's quarter hours should have been lumed to aid in the use of the bezel in low to no light. I personally prefer screw in strap versus the ever so flimsy pins. When I changed out my strap I noticed that the pins were significantly bent and matched the contour of the case indicating that there is insufficient clearance between strap and case (to be fair this is the strap's thickness at fault). I do want to note that none of the above points detracts from the value and construction of the watch and hope to see the above list addressed in future releases from Anstead.

I have been wearing the watch daily since it's arrival and the watch has proven to be accurate and durable. I look forward to see what Anstead watches offer next, I personally would sacrifice submersible depth for a display back and a nice looking movement (maybe some Geneva stripes on the NH36a's rotar? perhaps some jeweling on the bridges? Could be sharp with some blued screws...). If you find your self looking for a well functioning dive watch under $400 or just a good looking reliable watch, you certainly found it in the Anstead Oceanis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gun Control, Tragedies, and Media's Dishonest Intensions

It's appalling to see CNN, MSNBC, and many other news outlets capitalize on the recent mass shooting tragedies by sensationalizing mass murderers. The news casters telling conveniently spun tales that are anywhere from twisting a small fact out of context to outright lies in the guise of journalism. A recent example that I watched was Anderson Cooper 360 (who's show's ironic catch line is, "keeping them honest") on CNN that 'reveals' that there are hidden provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; A.K.A. the Obamacare bill that supports gun rights. The section in question is H.R. 3590-766 Section 2717 subsection C; Protection for Second Amendment Gun Rights which isn't as well hidden as Anderson Cooper reports considering that it took me under a minute to find it after downloading the bill.

Transcript of the show is available on CNN's site for the entire story.

It's ludicrous to report that a legally passed bill signed by the President is a hidden, secret, or otherwise surprise section when it is every senator and President's job to read these bills before voting and signing off on them. If the case were true that the senators and the President did not know about it than that would be a confession of breaking their oaths they took when they took office; to faithfully discharge their duty. At forty seconds in on the video above, Anderson Cooper's field reporter asks healthcare advocate Joan Alker her opinion on how Section 2717 appeared in the bill and her reply is mind blowing, "I don't know, but I assume the NRA put it in at the last minute". It's laughable that CNN resorts to fabricating a conspiracy theory aided by a reputable professional woman like Ms. (I apologize if it is Mrs.) Alker. Despite Ms. Alker's education she manages to sound like she is wearing a tin foil hat when she suggests that the 'NRA' manages to walk into congress to pen in Section 2717 as well as altering the table of contents and simply walk out moments before voting on the bill.

To think that we poke fun at the Weekly World News (and it's parent the National Enquirer) for making up stories. At least there is honesty in dishonesty as we read those stories for the same reason they were written: for the thrill of it.

The news is a business and as a business it does have to make a profit. Profit margins are even more important if you are a publicly traded company that must answer to shareholders. It is sad to say that tragedy sells but it does. On the trail of those tragedies comes follow up stories that can will be milked for every red cent that can be squeezed out of the terrible situation. Time magazine once a reputable name in journalism has slumped further when reporting on 'facts' of how an AR-15 is capable of firing 45 rounds a minute in semiautomatic mode.

Photo Credit to ENDO

I would like to know where Time got the figure for 45 rounds since it's an odd number in the AR world. There are typically 10, 20, and 30 round magazines for the AR-15 pattern rifle and that would be a magazine change to reach the 45 round mark. Even by an untrained person a rate of a round every 1.33 seconds (60 seconds / 30 rounds, mag change, 15 more rounds = 1.33 seconds) is rather slow and is clear that Time never checked their facts by reaching out to a qualified person or company to make a judgement call on an AR-15's rate of fire. For those of you that have never pulled a trigger there is a simple simulation you can try. Stretch a bunch of doubled and tripled over rubber bands between thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand and rest the pad of your index finger of your dominant hand on the stretched portion of the rubber bands and pull as if pulling a trigger. If you can pull it more than once every 1.33 seconds, congratulations for not being the slow person that Time magazine thanks you are. Another odd statement that Time makes is specifying 'semiautomatic mode' that seem to insinuate that there are modes other than 'Safe' and 'Fire' where AR-15s are semiautomatic only.

Adding to Time's misreporting of facts is the picture they used which is a silhouette of an AK (presumably 47) and not an AR-15; they can't even get the picture of the gun right. Apparently the Times is not in the habit of checking their facts before publishing an article. If I were to speculate like Time magazine then I would say that they find the all mighty dollar more important than fact and truth and willfully misrepresent facts to get more money out of your pocket.

The Society of Professional Journalists outline a code of ethics that are seldom followed in the present day as evident by the blatant lies and half truth told as gospel news. In light of the recent mass murders the section to Minimize Harm are ignored wholesale in favor of their company's profit margins. These so called journalists justify harassment of grieving victims by broadcasting their misery to a nation of curious onlookers to satisfy a perceived public need. Journalists everywhere, pay close attention to the following words as they will morally elevate you among your peers: stop reporting the name and picture of a mass murderer. It is possible to report the crime without making a celebrity out of the killer. It's sad that journalism's peers can not create policy to stop using the mass murderer's name and likeness and worse yet that no method of enforcement or accountability exists.

I want to raise some points for the sake of creating dialogue in the hopes of a positive impact in the wake of the mass murders and the resulting discussion of what can be done about it. Some of the points that I will be making are extreme, but don't think in narrow terms or as a suggestion of an attack on freedom of expression (the fact that I am writing this blog demonstrates my favor for the first amendment). What I hope to accomplish is perspective of our world and how we as people have a certain control and influence over how our media behaves and vice versa. With those disclaimers in place, let me begin.

It is generally agreed that creating celebrities out of mass and serial murderers is a bad idea, but despite this consensus our morbid curiosity creates the loophole for public need in the eyes of journalists. As long as we have a need to know, journalists will continue to tell you in spectacular fashion the latest serial or mass murder committed by X. I would love to be able to say that next time such a story comes on your TV with the inevitable murderer name dropping that you should change the channel, but that would be asking you to ostracize yourself from the world by choosing ignorance. We are faced with the unfortunate situation of let it be for free press or fix it for public safety.

Imagine if the SPJ's code of ethics were not just a suggestion but a set of federal guidelines and laws with an additional clause to omit the likeness and name of serial and mass murderers. With the weight of the government comes accountability for those that break their laws through fines and imprisonment. Federal enforcement would solve one paradox of the viewer's dilemma but it simultaneously creates a second paradox that infringe on the journalist's first amendment in the name of public safety. This hypothetical idea to marginalize the first amendment through specific limitations shouldn't be new to those of you that want to alter the second amendment in the name of public safety, yet somehow the idea of altering the first amendment specific to the press to make the world a safer place doesn't align to your moral compass. You want your government to protect you and are willing to give up your right to arms to do so, but not your right to run your mouth and complain how the world would be a better place without guns all the while expecting someone else to take the responsibility of holding a gun to take on the risk for your protection.

Mr. Colion Noir made some great points on his recent video regarding the mass shootings:

I live in Massachusetts where it is required to obtain a license if you are interested in firearm ownership. Interested individuals must take a basic firearm safety course approved by the state before you can apply for the desired classification license. The class typically costs around $100 and the application is another $100. Assuming you are not a felon, convicted of a DUI, domestic violence, or any one of the disqualifying items on the form than you will have a license mailed to you once you satisfy all the requirements. What I find bananas are the states that only license for CCW or for specific kinds of firearms. This means that residents of those states can purchase firearms without a permit or license as long as the buyer is 21 or older without a criminal record.

After the Colorado tragedy I looked up the gun laws in that state and come to find that Colorado requires you to obtain a Concealed Weapon Permit if you intend to conceal carry but not for purchase and ownership otherwise. The police investigation has discovered that the guns used were legally obtained but considering how lenient Colorado's gun laws are that statement is the same as saying all the clothing he owns were legally purchased. Connecticut does have a licensing system in place, but what the Sandy Hook perpetrator did was steal guns from his own mother. She clearly did not secure them as outlined in Connecticut's law where her unlicensed son shouldn't have had access. When motive is unclear and mental health issues are suspected as leading the would be killers to their brink, where was healthcare advocate Joan Alker on helping the mentally ill and the families to cope with mental illness? She was too busy making outrageous claims of conspiracy to CNN. This country always blames guns along with the perpetrator but what about those who are supposed to be in position to help but didn't because they were too high on their moral high horse about gun control?

It is natural to discuss gun control after a tragedy that was perpetrated by a fire arm, but every public and political discussion seem to blindly revolve around the concept of an 'Assault Weapon'. Under the tense political climate the government desperately wanted to save face by taking some sort of action. When push came to shove the politicians couldn't admit that they lacked the resources to keep everyone safe at all times and the next best thing was a whipping boy called the assault rifle. Politicians uneducated on firearms incorrectly classified semiautomatic sporting rifles as assault rifles because of resemblance in appearance alone. The news media relays this information in their sensational fashion warns an already panicked public to the dangers of these awful instruments of death. Fear begat fear and out of it comes a public outcry for some form of justice, reform, or anything that would make the pubic feel 'safe' again. Spurned by a misinformed and scared public to make an example, the second amendment comes under attack again with the same old assault rifle song and dance. Mr. Colion Noir again has a great video (yet again) that educates you on the difference between and assault rifle and one that looks like one;

To anyone reading this who are on the anti-gun side of the debate, please read on and contemplate the feasibility of getting your hands on an actual assault weapon tomorrow. I want to educate those of you that may not have a clear understanding of just how hard it is to acquire an actual assault (full auto) weapon and hope to once and for all remove the assault weapon debate off of the table so that we can finally begin to have a civil conversation regarding gun control. A full auto firearm falls under a Title II classification and my SBR article shows the difficulties and long wait time to obtain a Title II tax stamp. There are additional restrictions for getting a full auto firearm starting with availability and cost as well as state laws that may prevent ownership altogether. The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) made sales of full auto firearms illegal to civilians with the caveat that anything manufactured before the act was considered grandfathered and thus the limited supply. The short supply drove prices up reaching tens of thousands of dollars and a full auto 'AR-15' would cost $15,000 or more and it typically would be an M-16, not those 'evil' AR-15s as the media will have you believe.

The next inevitable point that is brought up by people who are 'knowledgeable' about guns are full auto conversions. If you are reading this and feel that you are about to be triumphant, prepare to be disappointed. You will need to replace the current fire control group to a full auto (FA) fire control group with a FA sear. You will also need the proper BCG and a barrel that can handle a high rate of fire. Sounds simple until you realize that the FA sear is a Title II item and requires a tax stamp, the same process as acquiring a tax stamp for any other Title II item such as SBR, SBS, and suppressors. The FA drop-in sears are regulated by FOPA and as a result cost as much as a FA rifle and just as limited in availability. This means that there are no new FA sears that you as a civilian can purchase. Assuming you live in an eligible state for FA ownership and have received your tax stamp and purchased a grandfathered drop-in FA sear for an obscene amount of money, your AR lower may not fit it. Most modern AR-15 lowers are machined with insufficient space to drop in FA fire control group as well as lacking the pin hole on purpose. For those 'knowledgeable' haters who are backpedaling by saying 'yeah I knew that'. I believe you, like I believe Time's report on AR's rate of fire.

I for one do agree with reasonable gun control and I am certain to draw criticism from the pro-gun readers, but think for a moment who you don't want to have a gun and why. I don't mean people you dislike but people who may not be a responsible gun owner. As much as gun control laws maybe a pain to you law abiding citizens they are there specifically to stop people that are considered dangerous or irresponsible from owning one. If those people deemed unfit get their hands on one than those same laws make for felonious penalties. To be clear when I say gun control that I mean a base set of laws that govern a license that will allow an individual to acquire firearms just like a driver's license allows you to operate a vehicle in your license class. No more and no less. A license system for every state will mean that there will be many citizens that will have the right to arms revoked but if the reasons are one of the following, would you say it's a bad reason?

-Convicted of a felony
-Convicted of domestic violence
-DUI (should mirror most state's driving law that scale the license suspension with number of offenses to eventual permanent suspension)
-Violent crime conviction
-Class A Drug conviction (sale, use, distribution, possession)
-Involuntarily committed to a mental institution currently or in the past
-Not a legal US resident or citizen
-Ever been incarcerated for 1 year or longer
-Have outstanding criminal warrants (excluding driving and parking citations)
-Currently being indicted for a felony or violent crime (pending outcome)
-Had a restraining order against you more than once to suggest repeat behavior
-Reported by a mental health professional to be considered as a danger to one self or others (Should have a review period every three months and not a permanent mark)

If you can look at the list above and still say to me what I propose is a bad idea than this stops being a civil discussion about gun control and becomes a stand off of opinions. My list isn't perfect and I can see how it can be exploited to reject a license but that's why it's a discussion. It's time for gun owners to take the rights fight to the government's door instead of waiting to hear what crazy ban idea is conceived next only to bitch about it after the fact. We are badly in need of people that are knowledgeable about guns to be in an effective position to positively lead gun control talks. There are discussions for a new ban right now, but a ban on firearms only affect the law abiding citizens and not the intended criminals. Laws are just like locks that they stop honest people and a criminal by definition isn't.

I want to welcome your opinion and want to encourage positive discussion on gun control and the recent tragedies in the comments. I also want to say that if all you can or want to do is complain, slander, flame, or otherwise just want to troll over mass homicide tragedies and the resulting discussion: you are a soulless dick who I hope will soon fulfill their life long search to be a prison bitch to a pro-gun dude with herpes who's junk looks.....uncomfortable.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My experience with the Eotech EXPS2-0 and the slight learning curve

When I tried a range member's Eotech 512 I found that target acquisition felt faster with Eotech's Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS) than my red dot (Vortex Strikefire) and made a mental note to research the optic. After reading up on the subject I decided on the OPMOD EXPS2-0 which was initially developed in conjunction with Optics Planet who wanted to bring a cheaper option of the EXPS3 without the NV (Night Vision) capability to market. The EXPS series comes with a quick detach base that raises the height by 7 mm to allow 1/3 co-witness with your AR-15 patterned rifle's iron sights and provide enough clearance for the battery compartment to fit over the delta ring. I have tried the Magpul MBUS as well as the ARMS #71 BUIS mounted on the same plane and have been able to co-witness with both of them.

Mounted on the SBR

Opposite side with Elevation and Windage adjustments and bottom of the unit.

The EXPS series fixes two long standing design issues. The first is the change from multiple batteries in prior models to a single battery which reduces size and weight as well as the obvious benefit of needing only a single battery to power the optic. The second change is the transverse battery case that better mitigates recoil and reduces the risk of battery disconnection and subsequent power loss. The optic runs for 600 hours on a single battery or to put it another way - 25 days. Couple that withe an auto shut-off feature of either 4 or 8 hours and my concern for battery life seems silly to have even considered it to begin with. The dash zero in the model name signifies the reticle pattern which in this case is the standard Eotech pattern famously replicated on many FPS video games with the large 65 Minute of Angle (MOA) red outer ring with four hash marks at 3/6/9/12'o clock positions that surrounds a 1 MOA dot in the center.

As the post title suggests the optic has a learning curve. Comparatively a red dot is straight forward to use and if you have ever used any kind of scope or played any kind of FPS you will get the hang of it in no time flat. The HWS requires the shooter to look at the target and to view the reticle indirectly. This is because the technology projects the reticle onto the same plane as your target and looking directly at the reticle causes blurring and streaking of the reticle. Even on a red dot I don't keep the brightness cranked up as I find it distracting but with a HWS you MUST turn it down so that you are able to look through it to the target or else suffer blurry and streaky consequences. If you do not already shoot with two eyes open, the HWS will be a literal eye opener as it will aid in focusing on the target instead of the reticle and is especially useful during target transitions.

The EXPS2 performed well for the first few hours until I started to see blurring and streaking in the reticle. The causes for blurring and streaking are one of three things, battery, the unit, or fatigue. Being that it is a brand new unit it is unlikely to have failed already and none of the low battery indicators occurred so I suspected fatigue and decided to pack it in for the night. I had ordered extra batteries anticipating the optic's arrival and decided to wait on the batteries to be able to eliminate the possibility before returning to the range. The extra batteries arrived a couple of days later and a return trip to the range verified that the optic works as designed with both new and old batteries which supports my hunch for fatigue being the culprit; the fatigue was causing my eyes to snap to the reticle instead of the target. Since this discovery I have focused on my varying fatigue levels and practiced until it's second nature for my eyes to snap to target when sighting with the HWS.

Another feature that leaned my decision towards the HWS versus the competition is the ability to range with the reticle. The 65 MOA ring means it is 65" inside of the ring at 100 yards, or approximately 5'5" high object at 100 yards. Considering the height as well as what the reticle was originally developed for I will be discussing the ranging in terms of 'man-size targets' as it will aid in conveying the concept but please remember that you should never be pointing the reticle at a person especially if the optic is mounted unless you are in combat, law enforcement, or a life and death defense situation.

The outer part of the ring adds a few MOA for a total of 68 MOA which coincides with the average male height of 5'8" at 100 yards. This means that if you see a man size silhouette occupy the reticle ring from top to bottom than you are likely looking at a 100 yard shot and can adjust your hold over accordingly for those of you that utilize the improved battle sight zero or if you zero at 100 yards than that is your ideal range and no hold over is necessary. With the knowledge of what a 100 yard object looks like you can extrapolate ranges from 50 to 400 yards.

At 50 yards the 5'8" man size target's torso to head will take up the reticle ring and at 200 yards the target stands between the bottom of the ring to the dot.

At 300 yards the target will stand 1/3 of the ring from base and at 400 yards 1/4 of the ring.

Adjust hold over as necessary and if you aren't sure how much hold over to apply keep in mind the following;

-Look up your ballistic data based on barrel length, rifling, caliber, and load data to figure out your bullet's travel path.
-MOA is 1" at 100 yards which means at distance of 50 yards = 1/2", 200 yards = 2", 300 yards = 3", and 400 yards = 4".
-The center dot is 1 MOA in size and can be used as a reference of measurement, but keep in mind that the dot size scales with distance.
-When engaging targets 7 yards and under, line up the bottom hash mark to your target.

I wanted to mention an accessory I purchased for the Eotech and how it doesn't work at all. I ordered the GG&G Hood and Lens Cover Combo for my EXPS2 and it does not fit at all. I contacted GG&G and have received absolutely no response from them I will never buy anything from them again as their customer service is non-existent and their products are clearly below par. When I was trying to fit the replacement hood it was obvious that the dimensions were wrong when the factory hood came off with relative ease while the GG&G hood felt like I had to force it on.

It would have been one thing if it fit tightly and worked but it did not fit at all. The screw holes do not line up and a crack started to appear next to one of the lens cover hinges during installation. To be clear I was not rough on it while installing it despite having to apply a fair amount of elbow grease to get the hood to go on the optic at all. I gently and slowly installed the hood multiple times only to be disappointed that it does not fit at all and that it was not me installing it incorrectly. Moral of the story is: Don't trust GG&G as they sell garbage that they do not back up.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Cyclic Existence of Heavy Music - Part III, Full Circle

The nineties was the last decade that regular music video rotation would make or break a band. That same power directly influenced consumer decisions and he who controlled the spice video, controlled purchase decisions. Music video purveyors Music Television, better known as MTV, controlled the majority share during that era. Just below the attention of mainstream the underground scene changed by coming to terms with the fact that nobody in mainstream media likes them. It's not that the scene ever cared if mainstream showed love, but it helped to stop pretending that one day the rest of the world will realize what kind of awesome-sauce heavy music is and the nay-sayers are just super poopy pants for not listening to it to begin with. With the apex of the eighties long gone and remembrance of when the majors cavorted with metal a distant memory; the pretense of metal being a superior form of music shed it's skin to reveal a humble scene ready to write new music freed of mainstream expectations.

Metal's awkward teen years were dragged out into the public eye in music videos. We had eighties survivors Guns N' Roses putting out "User Your Illusion I & II" along with a prominent soundtrack slot on 1991's summer action blockbuster "Terminator 2: Judgement Day". The featured song You Could Be Mine carried over into 1992 and was performed live at the MTV Video Music Awards where Metallica won the Best Metal/Hard Rock category with Enter Sandman off of their heralded/hated self titled fifth studio record which came to be known as the black album. The growing pains in visual media continued with Mike Judge's Beavis and Butthead as the archetypal shit sippers of metal fans wrapping metal videos around subtle social commentary. Headbanger's ball once a flagship show for MTV that demanded a three hour time slot felt the squeeze of alternative forcing its abrupt cancellation in the mid nineties. The combination of video and media dissemination along with quick fanfare exploit were the genesis of viral music marketing.

Metal wasn't completely out of national distribution during the waves of alternative and other mainstream heavy(er) music. Once upon a short time ago where heavy music carved out it's niche existence through indie labels, those operations have since grown into respectable smaller national labels and some becoming or newly launching as major label subsidiaries. I am about to start listing bands and I know that some of you will have your feelings hurt for not having your favorite band listed but keep in mind that this is about the cyclic existence of heavy music, not a chronological evolution of your favoritest band everz.

Pantera's 1990 release "Cowboys From Hell" showed the nineties that metal was't completely dead with Dimebag Darrell's badass solos while Rex Brown lays down some mean bass lines. Other brother Vinnie Paul with solid yet imaginitive drums and Phil Anselmo being Phil: mean sounding mother fu#&er. Machine Head started the Power Metal genre with 91's "Burn My Eyes" on Roadrunner records while Ministry released "Psalm69" that will go unnoticed until Beavis and Butthead airs the video for NWO two years later. Fear Factory's '92 debut "Soul of a New Machine" hits the scene, forever changing the standard for double bass and '93 had Sepultura release their third studio record "Chaos A.D." which was the first departure from their typical thrash sound. Mid nineties were busy years for Cannibal Corpse starting with a cameo on the '94 Jim Carey vehicle "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" than in '95 Bob Dole naming them among a few other artists for, "undermining the national character of the United States". In '96 a quorum made up of Senators Joe Lieberman and Sam Nunn along with activists William Bennet and C. Delores Tucker urged record labels to drop twenty artists that included Cannibal Corpse, citing them as having the most offensive lyrics. A testament to the DIY ethic of the hay day, Deftones managed to sell 220,000 copies of their '95 debut "Aderenaline" with absolutely no radio or video support through tireless touring and internet promotion along with good old fashioned scene word-of-mouth. Heavy music continued releasing records by bands that will retrospectively change the way heavy music will be played and viewed, but in the mean time we have to accept that during this era that metal is a joke thanks to embarrassments like Metallica suing Napster. Mind you, it's not that musicians standing up for revenue rights that's the issue, it's the way it was done (and Lars' whiny bitching did not help the cause).

Between alternative's dominance of music dissemination and consumer pockets, the major labels began to sign heavier acts after Metallica's commercialization demonstrated heavy music's sustainability in the market. Alternative's fringe existence had Faith No More's '89 release "The Real Thing" that went unnoticed until extensive video rotation for the single Epic in 1990 while Nine Inch Nails received a similar boost for video rotation off of "Pretty Hate Machine". 1992 brought Rage Against The Machine's politically infused rap/metal self titled debut which went triple platinum and Helmet releases "Meantime" to a very accepting audience considering the genre. Tool's acclaimed '93 release "Undertow" spawned controversy with their single's subject matter that broadened their audience, earning them a bump from second to main stage during the third Lollapalooza tour. This is the 'metal' that MTV fed the populous and were told as gospel to the masses that this is what we should buy and listen to. It's so obvious now how we all drank the kool-aid back then but seeing those videos among all the mainstream music, it felt like it was fighting back against popular culture.

It was those fringe major label bands in the early nineties that are commonly noted and blamed for setting the path to 94's Immortal/Epic signing of Korn and the self titled release that has been attributed with the birth of nu-metal. After their initial lukewarm reception Korn toured tirelessly and garnered radio spins and video rotation. Korn was the inertia to the nu-metal domino giving labels a push to sign competing bands such as Limp Bizkit (god damn you Fred Durst) who begat Staind (Be sad about everything) and so on. I confess that I still have a soft spot for Korn's first record but I guess it's like all of those stories that end with , "you had to of been there". When their first record came out there was nothing like it and it was refreshing to have something so heavy but capable of surviving in the mainstream, it was hope to a dying genre of music back then (keep in mind it wasn't called or considered nu-metal yet).

Contempt for nu-metal built up throughout the nineties when it was cast out like a heretic. Branded inauthentic less than a decade after it's inception by the very scene that bred it despite giving way to heavy music's acceptance that we see today. Those that are turning their nose up may not want to hold themselves accountable for it but it's true, Korn's first tour was with Biohazard and their follow up tour with Sick of It All. Next time you want to point fingers on who's fault nu-metal is, start with a mirror.

Mainstream sales and marketing of nu-metal continued into early 2000's culminating with Evanescence receiving two Grammys and Linkin Park's debut record "Hybrid Theory" certified Diamond by RIAA for sales over ten million copies. Those of you that say you NEVER liked them even a little bit is the same liar-liar-pants-on-fire who also said that you didn't like NKOTB, but secretly had a poster on your closet door. It's OK, I won't judge you.....much. Considering the current trend for eighties metal nostalgia one can extrapolate the trend to a resurgence of 90's top 40 rock, but than again the songs haven't left radio thanks to the alternative radio format as well as satellite radio already having dedicated stations to the nineties. My youth's worst nightmare is coming true where I find myself yelling, "what the f is this sh!t" at the radio and the songs I grew up with are being aired as classics on some stations. Mark my prediction: nostalgia format for rock and metal that span eighties to nineties.

While mass media pushed nu-metal and alternative the underground scene did what it once thought was impossible, the wall between hardcore and metal came down. Where the two genres were sworn enemies vowing never to mix, we began to see mixed genres on the same show and even going as far as combining aesthetics of each genre into a single song (gasp you say, I know!) to what will eventually be known as metalcore. It's like Martin Luther King Jr. and Adolf Hitler sitting down for dinner with Jesus and Buddha, or interspecies porn with uncomfortable looking creatures (think porcupines, jellyfish and you). Where California was home to the frontier of punk last time, the evolution of the genres happened on the east coast in the rather out-there Western Massachusetts scene.

Western Mass has it's charms despite it's already weird existence far removed from any major civilization with Boston a two hour drive and NYC a further four to six hour drive. Northampton had the Pearl St. night club that booked locals as well as nationals in a larger club venue. Hadley had Katrina's on Rt. 9, but when that closed the scene moved to Infinity's (The Fin!) in Springfield. When the Fin closed it's doors it was another move over to Fat Cat's Bar and Grill on Worthington street in downtown Springfield. Fat Cat's decided that the heavy shows were an insurance and safety liability (because house music, hip hop, and wanna be gangstas from Springfield aren't) and it was yet another move over to The Waterfront Tavern in Holyoke.

Shows cropped up at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls with Greedy Edna and Greenfield's old theaters with Under Falling Skies while Northampton's own industrial/metal Collapse Into Reason booked non-traditional venues such as goth clubs. Springfield became the home to all of the scene's bands but many started out of there such as Shoot the Dancing Bear, edgar, and Aftershock to name a few. 6thirty7 and All That Remains called the basement and hall shows of Holyoke home. The scene extended into the border towns in Connecticut where we had Simple, Grey Cell Green, and Still Life showing how it's done in CT at Webster Theater as well as many bars and clubs that promoted local artists. Mike Haze at 97.9 FM out of Northampton and the WCCC crew at 106.9 out of CT were the first radio stations that would play local music that went onto change heavy music.

Band members from various projects hanging out with one another sharing ideas and forming side or new projects promoted growth. Phil's exit from Shadows Fall resulted in the formation of All That Remains and Adam and splitting away from him and his brother's band Aftershock eventually formed Killswitch Engage. Slo from 6thirty7 will go on to play guitar for Unearth and Scott Lee who never played but was a huge proponent for supporting and booking in the scene went onto start Metalfest and to book for Mass Concerts. After the main stream silence of heavy music, all of the pieces within the Western Mass scene were in place and it would begin with Shadows Fall's signing to Century Media.

As it is said so often in recounting history that something was the start, Shadows Fall was only the tip of the iceberg that is the Western MA scene. They spent years playing locally as well as branching out regionally through tireless self promotion and self release of their records on guitarist Matt's indie label Lifeless Records. It was hard work and good music that got the attention of indie metal labels. Once Shadows Fall was signed, the metalcore cat was out of the bag and soon after Killswitch Engage followed. Those two bands spread metalcore nationally though constant touring and set the stage for the next round of bands to be signed. Soon after we saw Lamb of God out of Virginia and That Remains out of Springfield MA signed to Prosthetic records.

Metalcore began to see commercial success with the same help it once received, video rotation and movie sound tracks. The only difference is that it wasn't MTV that dictated your purchase but YouTube and free will (albeit great marketing). With mainstream insertion of an underground sound the once indie bands were soon being tracked on Billboard charts. The mainstream attention would have those same bands nominated for Grammys and all of this begins the cycle of commercial acceptance and success of heavy music. That's right, metal is back bitches.

It was refreshing to have new material to listen to after the metal drought but the competitive nature of the record industry will force labels be the death of metal again. It's a catch 22 that without competition there is no way to gauge the value of a product, but an over saturated market dilutes the product's brand and value. Labels will sign band after band putting out records by varying artists with mixed results. It became a land grab of the genre and you start to see labels formed tailored to the genre or a label converting to the genre. Soon the identity of metalcore will be lost and become as generic as calling all heavy music metalcore instead of metal. Where once we had the pretty definitive Big 4 in the 80's, it may simply be too soon to say who the progenitors are but those bands that began the wave of metalcore will continue on while the gazillion metalcore bands we now have will only serve to destroy the scene again never to see the success promised by the mainstream pipe dream.

So now we come full circle where we have too many of the same thing and not enough change. While metalcore rang in the era of being able to play your instruments again where nu-metal just had caveman riffs, the evolution of heavy music continues with bands like Animals as Leaders who forsake vocals to deliver music virtuosity on eight string guitars. We are hearing less and less screams in music as it is becoming a tired out sound already and giving creed to people who can actually sing again. It's time for music apoptosis again and I for one look forward to the death of metalcore and will not mourn a second of it as I will be too busy looking forward to what music tomorrow will bring.