Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Behind the Display

Well, long-time readers, it’s finally happened: I got a new computer! After years of agonizing over which would be best while waiting for it to finally become necessary, I settled on a solution: get a cheap Mac mini to use as a server, plus a MacBook Pro to use as my main machine. Along with the MacBook Pro, I plan to get two 27″ Thunderbolt Displays.

Those grandiose plans aside, though, we’ve only received a small portion of our tax refund due to some government red tape. My new client, however, has specific needs that require me to have something newer than my 8½-year-old Power Macintosh G5. As such, I took the plunge: I picked up a cheap Mac mini—as planned—and a single Thunderbolt Display. (It’s actually pretty neat, going from a 20″ and 17″ to a single 27″ display, but to be honest, the biggest difference is Mac OS X v.10.7 Lion and the things it does differently. Not badly, just differently. I’ll adjust.) :-)

Of course, amidst all this, I had to retire my old displays to make room for the new. (In fact, once I get the second display, I’ll also need a new desk to handle the increased weight.) So in the interests of levity, I will point out that I have rarely, if ever, had the need to clean behind my displays, since they both came so close to the desk as to render the behind section nigh invisible. As such, I was rather surprised by what I found behind them. Let’s see what you think:
  • unopened box of Cracker Barrel crayons
  • Mickey Mouse I made in Mr. Sayer’s eighth-grade metal shop
  • battery tester (been looking for that for months, already bought another)
  • seven standard AA batteries, three of them dead
  • eight rechargeable AA batteries, status unknown
  • Canon Li-ion Battery Pack
  • two dead light bulbs
  • one blue bottlecap
  • one strip of negatives from our wedding day
  • five-years–out-of-date business cards
  • random screw
  • tag from an Official Major League Baseball
  • unopened package of adoption Pass-along Cards
  • several twist-ties
  • one auger anchor, seemingly unused
  • health insurance card (expired 2005)
  • plastic wrap that seems to have once contained something chocolatey
  • orange highlighter
  • two tags from winter boots purchased at Walmart
  • SquareTrade Warranty magnet
  • 8GB PC2-5300 RAM
  • Ziploc bagful of bubble gum
  • three Toys “Я” Us Rewards cards
  • receipt from parking garage near Manhattan Temple
  • $100 gift card from Google AdWords
  • three tickets from Monkey Joe’s
  • 30% of three unseparated paper towels
  • piece of paper on which Leah practiced writing her name
  • tiny tiara, presumably from a Barbie or similar doll
  • external hard drive sled
  • two picture hangers
  • outlet cover
  • cork
  • ½-cup Gladware™ container
  • lid to a 46-oz. can of V8
  • How to Train Your Dragon plush toy
  • Goofy Pez dispenser
  • large, purple, magnetic bag clip
  • orange toothbrush (seemingly unused, but I’m not risking it)
  • Philips CD- & DVD-cleaning fluid
  • six-pack of cable holders
  • key to a padlock I haven’t seen in probably a decade
  • business checking deposit slip with a phone number scribbled on it, presumably belonging to either Lou Ann Wagner, Len Ann Magner, or some combination of the two
  • still-wrapped Butterfinger heart from Valentine’s Day, year unknown
Suffice to say: my desk is much cleaner now. The office as a whole, on the other hand….

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What do I do?

I’m in a world of hurt right now.

There’s a person in my life who I work with on a regular basis who obviously doesn’t even begin to appreciate what I do. It doesn’t matter how hard I try; it seems that nothing I do can ever live up to this person’s expectations. This person is constantly deriding me, telling me that I’m slow, that I’m lazy, etc.; my accuser, on the other hand, is hard-working and consequently spends most of the time cleaning up messes caused by other, ostensibly lesser people (myself apparently foremost among them).

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to cut this person off because I really do benefit from our relationship, and I even enjoy it, when I’m not being lambasted. Furthermore, doing so would be extremely detrimental to both my personal and professional life. And yet, whenever I confront this person with my feelings, I’m made to feel even worse. There’s never any acknowledgment of the very deep hurt I’m feeling, just reassurance—generally in the form of interrupting, before I can get out a single sentence—that it’s all my own fault. Everything would be just fine, my accuser maintains, if I would just work at a minimum acceptable level. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard I try, I’m never going to reach this person’s unattainable minimum.

So what do I do? I know I have to forgive my accuser, but it’s really hard to do so, especially when the continuous nature of the hurt keeps opening up the preexisting wounds. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Toupée or Not Toupée

So I’m going through some old photos that my dad scanned in and I come across some shots from my maternal grandparents’ Hawai’ian vacation, circa 1968. As I stepped through, I found a picture with a rather… um… interesting guy in the foreground:

And I’m like, seriously? Seriously? I guess it could be like Grecian Nº 40 or something, but either way, he’s like 150 years old! Who does he think he’s kidding?

Seeing this, I don’t know whether to be glad or disappointed that the ’60s are over. What do you think?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The World’s Worst Ethnic Joke

I just received an email from my mother with the subject line “Fwd: World’s worth ethnic joke pun.” Apparently they’re hoping to mock people with a lithp as well.

Anyway, it bears repeating:

An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman, a Frenchman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans (including a southerner, a New Englander, and a Californian), an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovakian, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, an Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Kyrgyzstani, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, a Taiwanese, an Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, an Iraqi, a Norwegian, and 47 Africans walk into a fine restaurant.

“I’m sorry,” said the maître d’, “you can’t come in here without a Thai.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Epsonian Institute

First of all, if you haven’t read the Introduction to this post, please do so. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it will help you better understand our search for the perfect printer. :-)

After years and years of purchasing printer after printer—some good, some bad, some so horrible you’d prefer a poke in the eye with a sharp stick—we were finally happy with our Brother HL-4070CDW for printing, Epson CX5200 for flatbed scanning, and HP OfficeJet 4315 for sheet-feed scanning. We also had our worse-than-a-sharp-stick Samsung SPP-2020 for photos, but since that only worked once before being in the shop for three years and then coming back still broken, we hardly even counted that. But the one thing we still required was a functional CD printer. I hopped online and, lo and behold, Staples just happened to be running an awesome sale on the Epson Artisan 835.

But did I want to risk another Epson all-in-one? Sure, my CX5200 was great, but it wasn’t a CD printer. The only CD-printing all-in-one I’d had, the Stylus R300, was a piece of junk. So, I made a trip to the brick-and-mortar. I talked to the employees. I confirmed that I could return it, if it didn’t work. And I took the plunge.

Omigosh I’m glad I did.

The results were nothing short of amazing. The CDs were gorgeous, but the other features are awesome, too. It includes a flatbed scanner; buh-bye, CX5200! It includes a sheet-feed scanner; buh-bye, OfficeJet 4315! And, most of all, it includes a 4″×6″ photo tray; die, SPP-2020! Die! (But I’m not bitter.) It also has an 100 BASE-TX full-duplex ethernet port, so I can just plug it into our network and be done with it. (It also has wireless capabilities, but since it’s already networked, we don’t need to use those.)

Suffice to say, I’ve really enjoyed having it on my desk, for these last four months—until today. I went to scan a document, and… nothing. The computer couldn’t see the scanner at all. On a whim, I tried to print something. Nada. I checked the network switch; it was working fine and recognized that there was a device attached to the appropriate port. I double-checked the cable, just to be sure; it was fine, too. I could use its built-in copy features, but nothing on the network could see it, at all. No matter what I did, the Artisan 835 was apparently dead.

I called tech support, but the automated message told me to try the web site. Of course, the troubleshooting steps on the web site are for people who don’t know what they’re doing to begin with, so they unfortunately didn’t help me at all. I headed to lunch, mowed the lawn, and went back to work, determined to talk to a tech before day’s end.

Thankfully, I was able to do so.

Lamentably… well, read on.

I’ve been in tech support, so I know how hard it is to troubleshoot some problems, especially when the user really does have a problem and isn’t just holding his mouse upside-down, or something. I also understand that when the tech obviously doesn’t speak English as his first language, it’s often difficult to get a straight answer. So, I tried to be patient with the guy. Honestly. I really did! But eventually, we got to the point where he asked me to shut off the router and printer, and I asked him if I should also shut off the switch. His response was that yes, I should shut off the switch on the router.

And that’s when I knew I was in trouble.

It took me a good five minutes to explain to him that a router and a switch are two different things. Once he apparently understood that, he asked me to hook the printer directly into the router, which would be fine, if they weren’t in different rooms. Thankfully, though, I do happen to have an ethernet cable that long, so I did so. When it still didn’t work, he asked me the question I’ve learned to dread:

Him: “Who is the distributor of your router?”

Me: “You mean, who is the manufacturer?”

Him: “Yes. Who distributes it?” (Oh boy. Do you not know the word “manufacturer”?)

Me: “It’s Apple.”

Him: “Okay. So it seems to me that you’ll need to call Apple about this problem.”

That’s when I got really perturbed.

Me: “Okay. So, I’m sitting here with a perfectly functional network. My router is providing connections to seven other routers, three hubs, eight computers, and another printer. All of these devices are working perfectly fine, but the Epson printer is not. And you’re telling me that it’s the router’s fault?”

Him: “Um, oh. You have computers on the network?”

Me: “Um, yes, that’s kind of the point.”

Him: “Could you please hold for a brief moment while I consult with someone?”

Me: “Sure. I can do that.”

Once he “consulted with someone,” it took us all of one minute to fix the printer.

Ah, techies… gotta love us.

The Epsonian Institute: a Background

When Anna and I first got married, we bought an HP printer. I don’t remember what model it was; I just remember that at the time, I wanted a nice printer that could handle 11″×17″. It cost us over $500, but we were happy—right up until we tried to print something. It was horrible. In the three months we owned it, we had no less than thirty different errors. It probably worked, about 2% of the time—no exaggeration. I remember one day, I needed to print a two-page, black-and-white text document, before I left for work. I was late, because I only gave myself 20 minutes and the printer took 32 minutes to complete it. We finally got HP to take it back, but they docked us $50 for the ink we used.  I decided it was time to find another manufacturer.

Shortly after the HP debacle, we got an Epson Stylus Photo EX. It was awesome, but when we got a new computer, a few years later, its standard 8-pin serial connection was no longer standard. We upgraded to another Epson, a Stylus CX5200 all-in-one. Again, it was awesome, but we eventually realized it didn’t meet all our needs.

Given our experience with Epson, I decided to get a Stylus R300 to handle CD printing. We didn’t need another standard printer, but it was the least expensive way to get the CD printer. It worked exactly once, and was very difficult at that. I was suddenly very jaded towards Epson.

A few months later, I needed a sheet-feed scanner, but quickly realized it was a lot less expensive to buy an HP printer with those capabilities. I held my breath and bought an OfficeJet 4315 and was surprised to discover it not half bad.

I then decided to get a photo printer, too, and bought a Samsung SPP-2020. Anyone who knows me particularly well knows how that turned out; suffice to say: if given a choice between a free Samsung product and a free kick in the groin, take the kick. Seriously.

By the time we moved to our current home, the CX5200—still our main printer—was showing its age. We decided that this time, we weren’t going to mess around. We were going to check reviews and get a nice, wireless-compatible, full-duplexing, double-tray, color laser printer. We wound up purchasing the Brother HL-4070CDW, which I would absolutely recommend to anyone. We bought the optional second tray, which holds an entire ream of standard paper; and use the built-in tray for card stock. It is niiiice. (To be fair , a couple of years ago, we did have a little trouble with the magenta ink cartridge leaking. A quick call to Brother, though, cleared that right up: they walked us through cleaning the drums, sent us a free replacement cartridge, and didn’t even ask for the old one back. Definitely customer service at its best.)

Finally, in December 2010, I needed a new CD printer. Rather than get another all-in-one, I decided to get a dedicated disc printer and purchased a used Dymo DiscPainter. Suffice to say: buying used was not a good choice, and my time constraints forced me to buy another new printer before I was able to get the broken one replaced (which, to Dymo’s credit, they did under warranty. Thank you!). (As an aside, if anyone needs a like-new, straight-from-the-factory CD printer, I now have one for sale—and for a lot less than the price at right. Contact me and let me know!) :-)

So after all that, in the time-honored tradition of the Empty Soda Can, I told you all that so I can tell you something completely different. ;-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our House Was (Is?) Our Console and Our Keep

I’m going to make a confession: there are a lot of things I don’t like about our house. I mean, don’t get me wrong; it’s nice enough. I’m guessing most of my friends wonder why on Earth I wouldn’t like it. The picture at right is from before we bought it, so the weeds and mess are long since gone. It’s also still only five years old, so it’s not falling apart and is fairly modern. It’s also big—3,500 ft² big. It’s got enough room for our family and then some, which is one of the main reasons we bought it: so we could grow into it. It’s got a nice office for me to work from home, and we’ve added all sorts of wiring so that the house can handle my *ahem* enhanced technology needs. We’ve also upgraded the HVAC (as many readers already know), which makes it very comfortable.

As for the location… wow. Just… wow. It’s two minutes from the kids’ elementary school, two minutes from the new Church building, three minutes from Walmart, four minutes from our bank and a gas station and restaurants and a whole bunch of other stuff! It’s also in a subdivision, so we’ve got neighbors for the kids to eventually play with (assuming they ever try to), including ridiculous numbers of kids their age. There are three parks, several ponds, and a walking trail, right here in the neighborhood! The sub is big enough for me to easily run a 5K without ever leaving, and yet our corner lot borders a cornfield, so it’s certainly private enough.

So what on Earth is the problem? Well, frankly, it’s the layout.

First of all, there’s virtually zero storage. I mean, zero. What monkey on crack builds a 3,500-ft² house and neglects to include a coat closet? How about a linen closet? A decent walk-in for the kids’ bedrooms? No? Seriously? None of these?

If you’re not going to give us any of that, you could at least put a floor in the attic, but no. How could you, since you didn’t bother to include an interior load-bearing wall—not one!—on the entire second floor? (The studs aren’t even 16″ on center!)

So where does all this space go? Well, a lot of it is in the ridiculous 17′×22′ master bedroom, which is a huge waste of space. (It’s not just the size, but the layout is really weird. Just trust me on this one.) Another waste of space is the game room, at the top of the stairs. It’s longer than the master bedroom, but only about 8′ wide, at its narrowest point. You stick a sofa or a pool table or whatever in there, you can’t get to the bedrooms. And don’t get me started on the ostensible “living room” and “dining room,” which are really just a 12′×23′ room off the entryway (and nowhere near the kitchen, I might add). My friend Jared says the problem with our builder, C. P. Morgan’s, floor plans is that they neglect to include any walls, and I’d call that an extremely accurate assessment.

So by now, you’re thinking, “Waaah, waaah, waaah,” and that, too, would be an accurate assessment. You’re probably also thinking, “So why the heck did you buy it?” The answer is fairly simple: we spent 18 months looking at homes, trying to find the perfect one; we decided it didn’t exist, in our price range; and we bought this one. It had enough of the features we were looking for that we were willing to go for it, so we did.

Of course, you’re probably also thinking, “So why are you complaining about it now?” For that, dear readers, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow. ;-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Many of you probably figured I was talking about our taxes, and that would be a logical assumption. However, the fact of the matter is that, being self-employed, our taxes are far from trivial and I haven’t completed them yet. Oh well. We’re getting a refund, anyway: $1,500 in overpaid gas bills.

When I posted this to Facebook, a friend responded by asking, “Wow, how does that happen?” It’s a great question, but the answer is sort of complex. As such, I’ve chosen to post it here.

We bought our current home in July, 2007. One of the smartest things I did was to offer the sellers $5,000 more than asking price, so we could get cash back at closing and do some upgrades to the house. The most significant of these happened, a few days before we moved in: I hired the company that did the original HVAC system to come in and zone that system. By the time we moved in, there was one zone for the entire downstairs, one that covers most of the upstairs, and a third for my home office (which stays warmer due to its many computers and peripherals). I figured the zoning would save us money, but I didn’t know how much; I just knew they’d start out charging us roughly what our predecessors paid—which probably wouldn’t be enough, since our predecessors probably didn’t have as many electronics as I—and adjust from there.

A few months after we moved in, Vectren (our gas company) contacted us, saying that our meter was broken and that we had ten days to schedule a repair, or they would shut off our service. I called up to schedule the service, but while we were talking, I mentioned the zoning. The service rep immediately canceled the service call, stating that the zoning could totally account for the difference. I marveled that the zoning had made such a difference that they thought the meter was broken.

Eventually the time came for them to adjust our budget payment, but since BillPay handles all our bills, I didn’t notice immediately and just kept paying as we always had. By the time I did notice, they owed us over $1,100. I called them up and requested a check. Our account was zeroed, the check was cut, and our budget was recalculated—a month after my call. Given the delay, I forgot to change the payment.

In Summer 2009, we further upgraded the system by installing a return in my office and each of the bedrooms. We also had them balance the ductwork, each bedroom getting a larger or smaller duct, as needed. This made a huge difference in the comfort level of our house—we completely retired our space heaters!—but also seems to have further reduced our gas bill, since the system isn’t working against the formerly pressurized bedrooms. Again, they presumably reduced our budget amount, but since they didn’t tell us, the payment was never changed.

Long story short: between our significant upgrades and continuing overpayments, it all adds up. They’re zeroing our balance again, taking this month’s usage out of our $1,500 credit, and issuing us a check for the rest. Once we see how they’ve recalculated our budget, I’ll finally drop our payment and probably reroute the difference to our savings account. No reason to give them our interest!

Thus, the bottom line: when we moved in, Vectren calculated our bill based on its experience with the previous owners, which makes sense: it’s the same house, so our usage—while not identical—would probably be fairly similar. After 3½ years in our home, though, they’ve had to issue us $2,600 in credits. You can’t tell me zoning doesn’t work! :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today’s Songs

Hayley Westenra • Never Saw Blue (Full Length Drums Mix) (✭✭✭✭✭)

Sigur Rós • Gobbledigook (✭✭✭✭)

The Locust • I Become Overwhelmed (✭✭✭)

ABBA • Voulez Vous (✭✭✭½)

Hayley Anderson • Every Corner of My Heart (✭✭✭✭)

Mephisto Odyssey • Bump (Hot Pink Delorean Remix) (✭✭✭✭)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Once There Was a Snowman

Heart • Who Will You Run To? (✭✭✭✭)

Heart • Magic Man (✭✭✭✭)

Heather Sullivan • Twisted (✭✭✭✭✭)

We the Kings • Check Yes Juliet (✭✭✭✭✭)

Holly Conlan • You Are Goodbye (✭✭✭½)

Freddie Jackson • You Are My Lady (✭✭✭)

Micky Dolenz • St. Judy’s Comet (✭✭✭✭)

Micky Dolenz • The Moonbeam Song (✭✭✭✭)

Les Rossignols de Poznan • Alleluia, Ave Maria

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club • Dirty Old Town (✭✭✭)

James Kibbie • BWV673 Christe, aller Welt Trost

James Vargas • Sitting Pretty (✭✭✭✭✭)

Tulsa • Rafter (✭✭✭✭)

Pink Skull • Oh, Monorail (✭✭✭✭)

Dr. Dog • The Old Days (✭✭✭½)

U-Nam • Street Life (✭✭✭✭✭)

Jazzmasters • Free as the Wind (✭✭✭✭)

Tim Bowman • High Def (✭✭✭✭)

Oli Silk • Easy Does It (✭✭✭✭)

Jaared • Jamaican Winds (✭✭✭✭)

Sekou Bunch • Smooth Sailing (✭✭✭✭)

Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents • Mama Told Me (✭✭✭✭✭)

Balkan Beat Box • Move It (Radioclit remix) (✭✭✭½)

Matmos • Polychords (✭✭✭)

The Cave Singers • Helen (✭✭✭)

Pavement • Gold Soundz (Remastered) (✭✭✭)

Jay Reatard • Always Wanting More (✭✭✭)

Dead Meadow • I'm Gone (✭✭✭½)

Jay Reatard • See/Saw (✭✭✭)

Cat Power • Metal Heart (✭✭✭)

The New Pornographers • All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth (Live) (✭✭✭½)

Shearwater • Leviathan, Bound (✭✭✭✭)

Cat Power • The Greatest (✭✭✭✭)

Mates of State • For the Actor (✭✭✭)

Mates of State • Nature & the Wreck (✭✭✭✭)

Mates of State • Running Out (✭✭✭✭)

Mates of State • Punchlines (✭✭✭✭)

Mates of State • So Many Ways

Peter Schmalfuss • Nocturnes, Op. 9: No. 3 in B Major

Carmen Piazzini • Fantasy for Piano No. 4 in C minor, K. 475: Adagio - Allegro - Andantino - Più allegro - Tempo primo

Magnus Ludwigsson • Rocking around the Christmas Tree (✭✭✭✭✭)

Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra • Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 61: III. Rondo: Allegro

Capella Istropolitana • Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K. 492: "Giunse alfin il momento, Deh vieni non tardar"

Kristin Chambers • You Set Me Free (✭✭✭)

The Rembrandts • New King (✭✭✭)

The London Festival Orchestra • Symphony No. 104 in D Major, Hob. I:104, "London": III. Menuetto - Trio: Allegretto

Juri Gagarin • Wet Dreams (✭✭✭)

DJ Bitman • My Computer Is Funk (✭✭✭✭)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • We Bow Our Heads

Amy Grant • Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) (✭✭✭✭✭)

Poco • Rough Edges (✭✭✭)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Hans Swarowsky • Symphony No. 5 in D Major, Op. 107, "Reformation": III. Andante

James Kibbie • BWV545 Praeludium et Fuga in C / Prelude and Fugue in C Major - 1. Praeludium

Gorillaz • Demon Days (Album Sampler) (✭✭✭)

Natalie Imbruglia • Torn (✭✭✭✭✭)

Ronald Brautigam • Piano Sonata No. 46 in A♭ Major, Hob. XVI:46: III. Finale. Presto

Toto • A Thousand Years (✭✭✭✭)

GuitarBeat 5

The Cranberries • Disappointment (✭✭✭½)

Aaron Rosand • Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35: II. Canzonetta: Andante

Lipps, Inc. • Funkytown (✭✭✭✭½)

The B-52s • Funplex (✭✭✭✭✭)

The B-52s • Funplex (CSS Extended Remix) (✭✭✭✭✭)

The B-52s • Funplex (Peaches Pleasure Seeker Remix) (✭✭✭½)


15,855 tracks to go!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Songs for the Day

Steve Miller Band • Abracadabra (✭✭✭✭½)

The Mills • Abran fuego (✭✭✭✭½)

Steamroller • Absence (✭✭✭✭½)

Jewel • Absence of Fear (✭✭✭✭½)

They Might Be Giants • Absolutely Bill’s Mood (✭✭✭✭)

Kelis • Acapella (✭✭✭)

Counting Crows • Accidentally in Love (✭✭✭✭✭)

Ex-Voto • Accidents Never Happen (✭✭✭½)

Power Music • According to You (✭✭✭✭)

Lita Ford • Aces & Eights (✭✭✭)

Crash Test Dummies • Aching to Sneeze (✭✭✭½)

Mark Morgan • Acolytes of the New God (✭✭✭✭)

Sigur Rós • Gobbledigook (✭✭✭✭)

The Locust • I Become Overwhelmed (✭✭✭)

Chicago • I Believe (✭✭✭✭)

Cloning Einstein • I Believe (✭✭✭✭✭)

Micah Stampley • I Believe (✭✭)

Tears For Fears • I Believe (✭✭✭)

The Studio Sound Ensemble • I Believe I Can Fly (✭✭)

The Darkness • I Believe in a Thing Called Love (✭✭✭✭½)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Believe in Being Honest

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Believe in Being Honest (Instrumental)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Believe in Christ

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Believe in Christ (Instrumental)

Orem Institute of Religion Choir • I Feel My Savior's Love

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Feel My Savior’s Love

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Feel My Savior’s Love (Instrumental)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have a Family Tree

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have a Family Tree (Instrumental)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have Two Ears

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have Two Ears (Instrumental)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have Two Little Hands

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have Two Little Hands (Instrumental)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have Work Enough to Do

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Have Work Enough to Do (Instrumental)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Instrumental)

Pasadena • I Held You Pretty Good (✭✭✭)

Bill & Gloria Gaither • I Hold a Clear Title to a Mansion (✭✭½)

Olivia Newton-John • I Honestly Love You (✭✭✭)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • I Hope They Call Me on a Mission

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • There Is a Green Hill Far Away (Instrumental)

The Housemartins • There Is Always Something There to Remind Me (✭✭✭½)

Head of Skulls! • There Is No Clean Fun (✭✭½)

Escolania de Montserrat • There Is No Rose (✭✭✭✭)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today

The “Mormon” Tabernacle Choir • There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today (✭✭✭✭✭)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today (Instrumental)

Sixpence None the Richer • There She Goes (✭✭✭✭✭)

Sixpence None the Richer • Silent Night (✭✭✭✭✭)

Wonder Kids • A-Goong Went the Little Green Frog

Mike Post • The A-Team (✭✭✭✭)

Ray Wylie Hubbard • A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) (✭✭✭)

Ladyfinger (ne) • A.D.D. (✭✭✭)

Laethora • A.S.K.E. (✭½)

Sonu Nigam • Aaja Soniye (from Mujhse Shaadi Karogi) (✭✭✭✭½)

Kronos Quartet • Aba Kee Tayk Hamaree (It Is My Turn, Oh Lord) (✭✭✭)

Sheryl Crow • I Shall Believe (✭✭✭✭)

Sheryl Crow & Sting • Always on Your Side (✭✭✭✭✭)

Crowded House • Archer’s Arrows (✭✭✭✭)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Songs for the Day

Paula Abdul • Coldhearted (Quivering 12″) (✭✭✭½)

Love Derwinger and Roland Pöntinen • Concerto in A♭ Major for Two Pianos and Orchestra: III. Allegro vivace

Lenny Kravitz • My Love (✭✭✭½)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • The Tenth Article of Faith

Pepe Ahlqvist & The Rolling Tumbleweed • Big Pig Beta (✭✭✭✭)

Narvalo • Aven Aven (✭✭✭✭)

Blind Pilot • Go On, Say It (✭✭✭½)

Blind Pilot • Go On, Say It (✭✭✭½)

Blink 182 • All the Small Things (✭✭✭✭)

Cathy Dennis • Falling

Aretha Franklin • Angels We Have Heard on High (✭✭✭✭)

Fresh Body Shop • Can't Get Enough (✭✭✭✭)

Bryan Adams • Cuts Like a Knife

Mainz Chamber Orchestra • Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201: II. Andante

Boom Crash Opera • Forever

Ron Davis Trio • Popeye (✭✭✭✭✭)

The B-52’s • Roam (Extended Remix) (✭✭✭✭)

Winger • Baptized by Fire (✭✭✭)

Frida Hyvonen • Enemy Within (✭✭✭✭✭)

Throw Me the Statue • Lolita (✭✭✭½)

The War on Drugs • Taking the Farm (✭✭✭)

Sen Dog • Fumble (✭✭)

Near the Parenthesis • Not Here, Not Tonight (✭✭✭✭)

Countdown Kids • Lullaby and Goodnight (✭✭✭½)

Magnifier • Down the Hall (✭✭✭½)

Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra • Symphony No. 59 in A Major, Hob. I:59, "Fire": IV. Allegro assai

Sheena Easton • Strut (✭✭✭½)

Alerth Bedasse & Chin’s Calypso Sextet • Guzoo Doctor (✭✭✭)

The Cranberries • What’s on My Mind (✭✭✭½)

Jewel • What’s Simple Is True (✭✭✭½)

They Might Be Giants • What’s That Blue Thing Doing Here? (✭✭✭✭)

The Wilsons • Good About You (✭✭✭✭✭)

Sixpence None the Richer • The Lines of My Earth (✭✭✭✭)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • O Home Beloved

Mannheim Steamroller • Above the Northern Lights (✭✭✭✭)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Interesting Resolution

It’s been noted by many authors that a surprising number of Latter-day Saints don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that we think ourselves above improvement; in fact, quite the opposite: we’re so constantly trying to improve ourselves, attempting to become more like our Savior, that making a New Year’s resolution is actually kind of redundant. So with that in mind, yesterday I came up with a New Year’s resolution that is completely unrelated to bettering myself per se, yet something that I can actually work towards with some semblance of completion.

So, on to the task: in my iTunes library, I have a smart playlist with every track that iTunes has no record of me listening to. Obviously, I’ve actually listened to a lot of them: many are ripped from CDs that had been played at least once, often more than once, before I added them to iTunes. However, having never listened to them in iTunes, they have no play count, no volume adjustment, no equalizer preset, no ✭ rating, or any combination of the above. Thus, my goal: by the end of 2012, I will have listened to and appropriately tagged every track in my library.

So, in case anyone cares, I’ll be sharing what tracks iTunes has served up, each day. Sometimes it’ll be random, sometimes not, but it should be an interesting look into what I have on my iServer. :-)

Friday, 7 January 2011

David Sylvian featuring Stina Nordenstam & Nine Horses • Wonderful World (✭✭✭✭)
Tame Impala • Desire Be Desire Go
Tristeza • Newbury (✭✭✭✭)
Nightmares on Wax • Passion (✭✭✭½)
The Tallest Man on Earth • Like the Wheel (✭✭✭)
Paul Simon • Getting Ready for Christmas Day (✭✭✭½)
Paula Abdul • Rush, Rush (✭✭✭✭)
John Wesley Harding • Where the Bodies Are (✭✭✭½)
John Wesley Harding • Millionaire’s Dream (✭✭✭✭)
John Wesley Harding • Come Gather ’Round
Talbot Tagora • Ichthus Hop (✭✭✭)
Pretty & Nice • Hideaway Tokyo (✭✭✭)
Jackpot • Far Far Away (✭✭✭✭)
Mar√≠a Estela Monti • Se fue (✭✭✭✭)
Raw Youth • Tame Yourself (✭✭✭✭)
Exene Cervenka • Do What I Have to Do (✭✭✭½)
Belinda Carlisle • Bless the Beasts and the Children (✭✭✭✭✭)
Fetchin’ Bones • Slaves (✭✭✭)
Goose Bumps • Asleep Too Long (✭✭✭✭½)
Indigo Girls & Michael Stipe • I’ll Give You My Skin (✭✭✭)
Howard Jones • Don’t Be Part of It (✭✭✭½)
k.d. lang • Damned Old Dog (✭✭✭)
Nina Hagen & Lene Lovich • Don’t Kill the Animals (✭✭)
Jane Wiedlin • Fur (✭✭✭)
Puffin’ Billy (Theme from “Captain Kangaroo”)
Good Old Days (Theme from “The Little Rascals”)
Meet the Flintstones (✭✭✭)
Gracie Lantz & Kay Kyser’s Swing Band • The Woody Woodpecker Show
Bugs Bunny Overture (This Is It) (✭✭✭)
Slow Dazzle • Now or Never or Later
The Sly Caps • The Boring Life (✭✭✭✭)
The Sly Caps • Don & Sue (✭✭✭✭½)
Apollo Smile • Thunderbox [1991] (✭✭✭✭½)
Apollo Smile • Thunderbox [1990] (✭✭✭✭✭)
Name Taken • The Safety of Routine (✭✭✭✭)
Mark Morgan • Follower's Credo
Belinda Carlisle • Fool for Love (✭✭✭✭✭)
Belinda Carlisle • Nobody Owns Me (✭✭✭✭✭)
Belinda Carlisle • California (✭✭✭½)
Belinda Carlisle • We Can Change (✭✭✭½)
Belinda Carlisle • Live Your Life Be Free (✭✭✭✭½)
Belinda Carlisle • Where Love Hides (✭✭✭✭)
Belinda Carlisle • I Feel Free (✭✭✭✭)
Belinda Carlisle • Gotta Get to You (✭✭✭½)
Belinda Carlisle • I Plead Insanity (✭✭✭✭)

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Squeaky Wheel

A few weeks ago, my parents came for a visit. As it happened, just before leaving, my father accidentally deleted five songs he had recently downloaded from iTunes, and contacted technical support to see if he could download them again.

Now, in my experience, this is a fairly simple endeavor. Long-time readers may even remember that I blogged about it, a while back, when a few of my own tracks went missing. Unfortunately, my father, who has probably the worst luck on the planet, was not so lucky. By the time my parents arrived at their hotel, en route to our house, a support tech had contacted him and re-enabled every track he’d ever purchased from iTunes.

Let me re-emphasize this: he needed five tracks replaced, and they supplied his account with something to the effect of 981 tracks, 976 of which were already on his hard drive. What’s more, they were queued up in chronological order, so he had to download all 981, to get to the last five. In a hotel room. Over hotel WiFi. He left his MacBook on all night, downloading like crazy, and still didn’t get through half of them. (He downloaded the rest, once he got to our house.)

Now, I don’t understand exactly what happened from there, because my father’s infamous bad luck obviously struck again. One of the beautiful things about iTunes is that it’s extremely easy to display duplicates in any given list; you just go the File menu and select Display Duplicates. Since he and my mother were leaving to visit my aunt and uncle in South Carolina, only days after visiting us, Dad displayed duplicates, sorted by date (descending), and deleted the dupes that had been downloaded during their Indiana trip. Unfortunately, by the time they were on the road, he realized that he had done something wrong: every track in his library displayed a broken link.

He contacted iTunes customer support again, presumably by replying to the last email. Rather than attempt to troubleshoot with him, the same woman responded rather tersely that it was not Apple’s responsibility to provide him with a backup solution. Nevertheless, she re-enabled every track again!!! Suffice to say: Dad was not happy.

Well, to make a long story even longer, he eventually contacted me for help and together, we figured out that the reason all this happened was because his iTunes Media Folder location was mis-set. Furthermore, since he had re-downloaded everything twice, he had three copies of just about everything, on his hard drive. After hours of merging folders and Consolidating Files in iTunes, he had everything back, just the way it was.

Well, after all this, Dad was understandably unhappy with the tech in question. As such, he replied to the support tech and let her know what had happened, basically telling her what he thought of her service (or lack thereof). Not surprisingly, she responded with an olive branch: a one-song credit at the iTunes Store. Suffice to say: Dad remained unpleased.

So finally, at my suggestion, he called up Apple and asked to speak to Customer Relations. After explaining his problem to a representative there, the rep gave him a choice of several items in the $100-$150 range, for his trouble. Long story short: my father is now the proud new owner of an iomega external 1TB hard drive. (Yeah, that’s a lot for that, but whatever.) ;-)

So, quite roundabout, but when it came right down to it, Apple customer service comes through again—which is why I continue to love them.