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June 03, 2009

Theme for June Gloom?

Shannon's latest post (and BTW, still so totally weird to call her Shannon in "public") speaks of the music of our lives, songs and moments that go together, pieces of time and melody that weave together to calm, cajole, soothe, or enchant the soul.

There are many songs that speak to me, too.  Songs for particular occasions, for soothing, for sleeping, for screaming along in the car in rotten LA rush hour.

I started my own list, every one of these songs has a meaning for me; a time, a place, a person, a feeling. I was going to follow Shannon's example, but then I realized most of the explanations are "you had to be there" kinds of things, so I thought I'd just write them out, and let you have the fun of guessing.

Or just listening.  It's kind of the soundtrack of my life.

In no particular order, then:

1. Sarah McLachlan: Angel (and bonus: The GooGoo Dolls: Iris)
2. Barenaked Ladies: Lovers in a Dangerous Time
3. Chess: One Night in Bangkok
4. Bonnie Raitt: Something to Talk About (and bonus: The Alan Parsons Project: Eye in the Sky)
5. Ace of Base: The Sign (and bonus: Jann Arden: Insensitive)
6. Nina Gordon: Tonight and the Rest of My Life
7. Johnny Preston: Running Bear (Double Bonus!! The Beatles: Maxwell's Silver Hammer and The Rolling Stones: Mother's Little Helper, I could add about 8 more here, as well)
8. Jo Dee Messina: Heads Carolina, Tails California
9. The Wallflowers: The Difference
10. Train: Meet Virginia
11. Semisonic: All About Chemistry
12. Barenaked Ladies: It's All Been Done (this is a great cover)
13. Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black: Something that We Do
14. Spin Doctors: Little Miss Can't Be Wrong
15. Shawn Colvin: Sunny Came Home
16. The Indigo Girls: Galileo
17. James Taylor: Carolina on My Mind Sorry for the poor quality, I chose this clip for sentimental reasons.
18. Paul Simon: Graceland
19. Chris LeDoux and Garth Brooks: What'cha Gonna do with a Cowboy?
20. Mazzy Star: Fade Into You

Some of my favorites, some not so favorites, and several I didn't include.  I figured 20 was enough to keep you busy...

I apologize for the quality/ content of some of the videos, I was going for the music and some didn't have a lot of choices.

Extra Credit for anyone who can tell me why you'd never expect to see the songs from #7 double bonus on any of my song lists!

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 22, 2009

Reflections on the side of a van

So I was driving in to work this morning when I passed a van which looked, from a distance, like the windows had seen better days.  Driving closer, I realized the windows were covered in writing, white shoe polish spelling out "Congratulations, Edwin Class of 2009" on the back, and "Proud Parent of Edwin, Class of 2009" on each side.
My first thought was "wow, Edwin must be so embarrassed."  But then I realized how proud his parents must be, to be driving around with that message shining from their windows at least a week, maybe more, after graduation.  And I realized that I was proud of him too, whoever he is, and what an immense accomplishment it is to graduate from high school.  It's something took for granted.  Of course I would finish school.  And college.  And grad school.  Been there, done that.  And of course I can't leave.  Still at school, although they pay me here :-)
But making it through 12 years of school is actually a lot of work.  Especially here in LA where some kids routinely dodge bullets on the way to and from school, and fights on school grounds that are just as deadly.  And let's not forget peer pressure, to use drugs and alcohol, to have too much sex too soon, and all the rest.  Kinda makes it hard to stay on track.

So here's to Edwin, and all of the other Class of 2009 graduates.  Good Luck, and keep up the good work.

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 23, 2009

24 hours of Kindle

Well, folks, it's been 24 hours since the Kindle DX arrived, and I have to say, it is worth every stinkin' penny I paid for it.

I've seen a lot of crappy reviews.  Whiny ones, too, complaining that the PDF support is minimal and that it's a pain to hold the bigger frame of the DX, and blah blah blah.  None of that is true.

After a full day of use, I can report that the only things I dislike about the Kindle DX are kind of minor.  First, there are no folders.  Yes you can organize your files by date, type, and author, but there is no true file structure to help you keep things organized.  This would really be helpful for those of us who carrying around a lot of PDF files.  They get overwhelming fast.  The other thing I am not a fan of is the robot voice of the text to speech feature.  Either of them, for that matter.  You get your choice of male or female. I'm not sure how it is with standard English texts, using only simple words, but you start throwing in complex sentence structure and foreign words, and the robot gets lost.  All in all, though, it's still smarter than I thoguht it would be.

The Kindle has a number of uses.  First and foremost, it's a LOT lighter to carry than some of the books I have already downloaded.  Second, it's useful for a lot of tasks that would otherwise require a lot of paper: PDFs, Cookbooks (just take care to keep the Kindle clean and dry inthe kitchen!), and sheet music to name a few.  You can also annotate any text file, so taking notes during rehearsal ought to be a SNAP with the Kindle DX.  Text to Speech also makes a great alternative to books on tape (CD?) in the car.

The e-ink is another awesome thing.  It's like a real page, so reading outside is totally possible, unlike working on most laptops.  In fact, I spent much of yesterday evening sitting on the patio with the Kindle DX until it got too breezy to stay out.  Long before the sun went down. Unfortunately.

My favorite feature, though, I think, is the free wireless internet access (thanks, Amazon!).  It's Sprint 3G (where available) and not only can you download books from Amazon (many are free!), but you can also surf the web.  I think the web browser on the Kindle, while clearly limited, is still MILES beyond the one on my Instinct.  Not as good as my trusty ol' Firefox, though.  Maybe on the next one.  Several popular sites are pre-bookmarked, and you can add any number of your own, too.  You can also download files.  Kindle compatible files are automatically displayed on your home page by type, title, and author.  There are a number of sites out there that offer free e-Books that display on the Kindle and are available for Text- to- Speech as well.

The only feature I haven't played with is the mp3 player.  I'd rather listen to the books for the nonce.  The speakers are better than I expected, though nothing fancy, so I assume sound quality isn't terrible.

It has been quite an experience so far, from the moment I laid eyes on the box.  Even the packaging says "this is something special."

This is what arrived:

yeah, and the junk mail, too. 

But it was soon apparent that this is no ordinary box:

the inside was pretty too:

And it's so awesome.  Even the screensavers are cool:

There's a couple more pictures of the Kindle on Flickr!, including a very smart sticker and also some new jam and garden shots.

Posted by caltechgirl at 10:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 30, 2009

Walking uphill in the snow both ways

At the risk of sounding like the proverbial old grandpa, kids these days have it too easy.  Case in point: a 13-year-old's review of the now THIRTY YEAR OLD Sony Walkman.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.
Yeah, and the cell phones were the size of bricks and had batteries like the one in your mom's car.

Can you believe this kid?  Or his parents for that matter?  You mean to tell me that his mom and dad have never showed him a cassette tape?

Later, he whines about having to listen to the tape all the way through because there "is no shuffle,"and breaking the cassette"
Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day


The ignorance of this kid is breathtaking.  He's 13, meaning he was born in 1995 or 1996, depending on when his birthday is.  My 1995 car came with a tape deck in the top model stereo.  You could not GET a CD player in that car, and yet this kid acts as if the cassette is some kind of dinosaur.

And they gave HIM a platform?  If all 13-year-olds are like this, I am frankly scared.

Get a life, kid, and pull your selfish head out of your own ass and pay attention to the whole world around you.  Not just your easy little toys.

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:45 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack