Archive for the rambling Category

Aging Music Fan

Posted in music, rambling on 28 December 07 by mikevc

It occurred me over the holidays as I heard a reference to being “almost 24” by one of my favorite new artists that much of the music I am listening to is now being made by folks much younger than me.  This struck me as odd and a wee bit depressing for some reason.  I am not sure why.

So, in order to comfort myself, I have decided on looking at it a different way.  Instead of looking at one artist, I am going to consider the four or five artists I listen to in heavy rotation at any given moment to see if I am registering too young in my listening habits.

For example, here are the main folks I am listening too now:

  • Fionn Regan (Age: 26)
  • Neko Case (Age: 37 – really?)
  • Langhorne Slim (Age: 27)
  • Richard Thompson (Age: 58)
  • The Avett Brothers (Average age: 29)

So, if I figure an average I come up with 35.4 as the age of my heavily listened to current artists right now.  Whew, I barely got in under the wire on that one (I am 35.2). I owe a big thanks to Richard Thompson.  If he wasn’t in my rotation the average age would be 29.75 and I would be…What?  I am not quite sure.

Adios iPod!

Posted in gadgets, music, rambling on 19 December 07 by mikevc

itunes_tied_up.jpgI have had one too many problems with iPods. Plus, there is the severe limitations of iPods, including the ridiculous limitation of using an iPod on only one computer. (I love the graphic of the iPod and iTunes tying user’s hands: very true!) My latest iPod just suddenly stopped being recognized by iTunes. I took my iPod to the Apple Store and they offered me a new one or a return. (The one thing I will say for them is they are very good at customer service). I took the money. I went to Target and bought a Zune. I got it home and found it had some of the same limitations of the iPod. I want something that can work on any computer and will allow me to transfer tunes from one computer to another. So, I made a trip to Best Buy after returning the Zune to Target. I ended up going for the tiny but quite cool SanDisk Clip. I love this little guy. I paid a little over $40 for this as compared to the $150 price tag on my 4 gb iPod and Zune. So, I walked away with a new player and $90.

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With this player, I can just plug it in and start using it. They allow simple drag and drop functionality and do not require downloading a driver. But most of all, I can move this player and the songs on it between my laptop, work computer, and home computer. I am a satisfied customer and I will not be swayed by the glamour of iPods any longer. They quite simply are far too limiting–and they don’t work with any of the library vendors of audiobooks. And at this price, I can actually use it without worrying about damaging a major investment. And, the player and headphones fit beautifully in my custom protective case–a Curious George Altoids Tin.

There’s a Little Evel in all of Us

Posted in nostalgia, rambling on 2 December 07 by mikevc

When I was a kid, Evel Knievel was one of my early heroes.  At around ten, Evel inspired me to try to become the world’s youngest stunt man and eventually the greatest pre-teen daredevil.

evelk.jpgI can remember devising stunts for myself to impress the neighborhood, like rolling down the driveway in a cardboard box with nails driven in it on all sides, jumping from one level to another in a shopping mall, surfing pillows down staircases, and leaping from the balcony in our house to mattresses and sofa cushions piled up in the living room.   I even remember planning to mimic Evel’s failed Caesar’s Palace fountain jump here in H-town by jumping the fountains in front of Herman Park on my bicycle.  I spent hours sitting around with friends drawing plans for the ramps and writing down meaningless mathematical problems and formulas like I had seen on a special about Evel Knievel and his planning of his big jumps.  Later in life (14 or so), I tried to impress friends by doing stupid things like hanging off of my dad’s convertible while my brother drove, surfing on top of cars, and attempting to get the highest air on a skateboard off of a launch ramp (this latter lead to a severely broken arm).

I saw that Mr. Knievel passed away yesterday.  Though I have grown out of my childish ambitions and find myself critical of the kind of thirst for fame and celebrity that would drive a man to jump the Snake River (and am terrified to think that J and T (particularly Toby) would ever be as stupid as I was in attempting to style themselves stuntmen), I will admit that seeing a picture in the paper of Evel in his ridiculous red, white, and blue jumpsuit complete with cape quickly transported me back to those care-free (and recklessly stupid) days of youth.    For that, I thank and remember him.

Small Accomplishment but…

Posted in money, rambling on 26 November 07 by mikevc

In my attempt to spend money more wisely, I made a commitment to myself to not waste any money over the Thanksgiving weekend.  A seemingly easy task unless you look at my history on this weekend.  Well, I am proud to say that with the exception of a few runs to the grocery store for L. and one meal, I spent absolutely no money–and that includes iTunes.  I know it might seem like no big deal but it is the first step in the right direction.  Woo-hoo!

Will the Kindle fulfill those decade-old eBook prophecies?

Posted in books, rambling, technology on 19 November 07 by mikevc

kindle.jpgWhen I first started in libraries about a decade ago, I remember hearing much about the death of the book. The book was supposedly going to go digital. While this has happened w/ research materials such as scholarly journals and some reference works, it has failed to occur with books, magazines, and other printed paper that we read daily. Part of the problem has been inferior and overpriced technology (remember the Rocket e-Book). And no matter how much I tried to pretend, reading on my PDA was never the same as reading from a book–although I did read my share of books on that sucker.

More recently, the folks over at Sony seemed to have a major breakthrough with their Reader and its paper-like eInk technology. The problem is that no matter how cool the devices become they will not be successful until someone realizes folks will never pay the same amount (or close to the same amount) for a digital book as they will for a physical one. We realize that it is much cheaper for a company to create a downloadable book that has no costs for materials, transportation, or stocking and until they pass that savings on to the consumer, I hope the consumer is not stupid enough to embrace eBooks. Witness the iPod and iTunes. It has been so successful not only because of the device but because Steve Jobs offered complete digital albums for $9.99, which was significantly cheaper than most CDs.

With Amazon’s heavy holiday press on the Kindle, which is undeniably cool with the wireless and all, they might be headed in the right direction. Though the thing is quite pricey ($399), I am sure it will come down in price. But, where I am convinced they are on the right track is what they are charging for books. As an example, say you wanted to read David Halberstam’s final book The Coldest Winter: American and the Cold War (and I do), you could but the print version from Amazon for $20.99 plus shipping; the Sony store eConnect sells their digital version for $20.76; the Amazon Kindle version is available for a mere $9.99 as is every other title I saw. Magazines and newspapers are equally cheap and it is all available to be downloaded wirelessly. I think Kindle (even with its’ Buck Rogers looks) is a step in the right (if still overly expensive) direction…finally.

As for me, this pricey technology does not factor into the budget of a librarian; I will observe this from the sidelines and continue checking out books until a wide array of eBooks for a reasonably-priced device are freely available from my local library–much as MP3 players have become the cost equivalent of a few CDs and free downloadable audiobooks services are currently proliferating at public libraries.

Pedal Steel Dreams

Posted in music, rambling on 17 November 07 by mikevc

I would love to be a pedal steel virtuoso and play in a raucous honky tonk band.  I firmly believe that–as with the banjo–any song can be improved by good steel guitar playing.   Oh well, for now I am content to be a slowly developing mandolin player with dreams of bluegrass glory.

Do you ever…

Posted in books, rambling on 14 November 07 by mikevc

…sit down at the computer to do one thing and get so side-tracked with e-mail, blogs, etc. that you completely forget what it was you meant to do in the first place?

Oh yeah, check to see if Matthew Brzezinski is the son of Zbigniew.

For those who care, he is his nephew and the author of a great new book on Sputnik.

Woo-Hoo!! Here Come the Best Lists

Posted in books, rambling on 13 November 07 by mikevc

One of my favorite things at this time of the year is the proliferation of year end best lists. I like to compare my opinions with others and find suggestions. I am particularly fond of book lists. One of my favorites is Amazon’s Best Books of 2007, which was just released. In general, I think it is a quite good list. A quick perusal indicates I have read ten books on the list and would have read five more if I were not still waiting for holds to be filled at the library. Of the top ten, I have read four. My favorite of those of which I have read is Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis.

If you want to make it fun, I challenge any readers to guess which four books in the top ten I have read.

Back Online!!

Posted in rambling on 10 November 07 by mikevc

It was terrible.  We spent the last week or so sans Internet access at home.  Our router died and we had to wait for a new one to come in the mail.  It arrived tonight and we are in business.  Thus, the lack of posts.

You know you’d think that after not being able to post for a week I would have something more to say.  Oh well, maybe inspiration will hit me later.

Moving Up a Level

Posted in rambling on 30 October 07 by mikevc

Not to belabor the aging thing but I had an interesting moment today.  Thanks to some Amazon gift cards from family and friends, I got myself a new iPod Nano – 3rd Generation.  It is–of course–fantastic, but that’s not the point of the post.  As I was installing everything, I was asked to register my new device.  One of the questions to be filled out in the registration was the age of the primary user of the iPod.  For the first time ever, I had to select 35 – 44.  This made the shift in my status as a member of the desirable demographic quite real.  No big deal really, but just a further realization that–middle-aged or not–I am getting older.  And, I really find it quite enjoyable.