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Sometimes I Make Them Cry

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of unsolicited phones sales calls. How they know to call when I have my hands full I’ll never know. I’ve gotten smart and used the little trick on my phone that announces out loud who the caller is. That way if the phone rings and I hear Siri say, “Unknown Caller” I know I can go about my work and enjoy the vibration in my pocket. Continue reading Sometimes I Make Them Cry

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It’s Not Always Bad News

When I was growing up it was just assumed that anytime the telephone rang after 10 o’clock it was bad news – or if you were lucky it was just a drunk dialing a wrong number. But nobody had anything positive and important to say that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Today however, its a 24-hour world and there a lot more methods of communication to worry about.

Continue reading It’s Not Always Bad News
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It Wasn’t Always Like This

Ok kids listen up. Before there were cell phones, before there was social media, before there were e-readers and roleplaying games, there was people. And people used to talk to each other face-to-face. It was damn inconvenient and at times unsanitary but there it is – the truth – folks used to talk and be together at the same time. Continue reading It Wasn’t Always Like This

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Do We Need a Techie 12-Step Program?

“Hello, my name is Curmudgeon, and I’m a nerd.”
The crowd murmurs “Hello Curmudgeon.”
“Well it’s been kinda a tough week. I mean, it’s been months since I even so much as downloaded a new app for my phone. But my wife, Snowball, she keeps bringing home these cool tech toys from work like some cruel, 21st-century, junkie dealer. I try not to touch them or even look too close. Then the other day she brought home this little pc board with LEDs that emulated a six-sided dice piece. I broke! I fell off of the no-tech wagon! I wrote two programs in a language called Python to measure the accuracy of the randomness. And then I made it even worse by looking up the website for the pc board and learning how that gets programmed. I’m sorry! I couldn’t help myself! I need to make amends!” Continue reading Do We Need a Techie 12-Step Program?

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Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be, Part Deux

"NadelAufPlatte" by Moehre1992 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NadelAufPlatte.JPG#mediaviewer/File:NadelAufPlatte.JPG

Last time, I discussed my nostalgia for wing windows on the the old cars from the sixties. But let’s face it, with fall weather moving in I wouldn’t be using them right now if I had them. So let’s move on to another thing that has gone the way of the Dodo, the art work that used to be found on 12 inch album covers.

Dark_Side_of_the_Moon
Album cover from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

One of the basic experiments in high school physics class is showing that white light breaks into a spectrum of colors when it shines through a prism. This was an easy one to remember not because we learned this from our teacher as much as we remembered the art work on the Pink Floyd album, Dark Side Of the Moon. This is one example of art work that was found on the covers of vinyl record album covers. Another one of my favorites was the Led Zeppelin III album. The album cover with the rotating volvelle was one of the original examples of user interaction. I’ve always really loved getting the Led out. I lost my virginity and a great deal of my hearing somewhere between the Immigrant Song and Gallows Pole.

Led Zeppelin III album cover.
Led Zeppelin III album cover.

In the late 1970’s, I dated a girl whose roommate was the manager of a record store. (Anyone been to Homer’s in the OM lately?) Her record collection was packed tight on a shelf measuring 10 and half feet. The girl had an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure music in addition to albums you could otherwise only hear on underground FM stations in the 70’s. I would spend hours listening to her collection, marveling at the art work on the covers of albums that I’d never heard of and wondering if I was dating the wrong roommate.

These days most music collections are just a bunch of computer files on a hard drive or smart phone. There is no physical art connected to the music other than the icon sized pictures on the playlist in the software. Sure you can still find a lot of the vinyl albums (For instance, used LPs at Homer’s)  but only OCD afflicted rich guys make the effort.

Yes, I’m definitely on the side that says nothing sounds better than analog albums played on a Garrard turntable with a Pickering cartridge and output to a Bogen Amplifier and Jensen speakers. But today unless you live in an anechoic chamber and have no neighbors within a football field’s distance, you have no hope of getting the “live performance sound” anyway so why bother? Earbuds just don’t make the quality of noise canceling headphones either. Since I’m usually singing along off key with the music anyway that makes it hard to fully appreciate the original artist’s talent.

And let’s not even mention the several friends I have that are using those turntables that have a USB output so they can put all their vinyl to digital. Let’s not mention that because I’m doing the same sort of thing with several thousand dollars worth of DVDs and VHS tapes that I want to see using iTunes. I’ve already finished ripping hundreds of CDs I bought in the 80’s and 90’s.  Yeah, I know it’s a huge copyright grey area. But what else is a person supposed to do?  Otherwise, every time the media technology changes I have to buy The White Album again.

And for the record (pun intended) pictures of album covers are used under the fair use clause of the United States Copyright laws and are copyright by their respective music groups and publishers.

Featured Image: “NadelAufPlatte” by Moehre1992 – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NadelAufPlatte.JPG#mediaviewer/File:NadelAufPlatte.JPG

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Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be. Part 1

I’m not a big one for nostalgia. I’m the kind that says “Hey, well that happened. Now what?” I mean I remember when TV dinners came wrapped in tin foil because they went into an actual oven, not a microwave. Telephones used to be big black boxes with a dial on the front that had to sit on their own table. And long distance calls were only used for business and birthdays because they cost extra. These things have all changed mostly for the better. But there are two things I do miss from my younger days.

594px-1965_AMC_Ambassador_detail_of_vent_window
Vent or wing window on a 1965 AMC Ambassador.

The first one is car wing windows. I realized this the day I was driving down the road on a beautiful summer afternoon with the windows down and I noticed that all the fresh air was going into the back seat. There wasn’t anyone sitting back there so what was that all about? Then I remembered wing windows. The little triangle window in the front corner next to the side rearview mirrors. In the old days you could open these and they would funnel the air right into your face as your were driving. It was great. You could enjoy a car ride just like a labrador retriever without having to stick your head out the window and getting bugs in your teeth. And if you drove fast enough the slip stream going through the car would clean out the ashtrays.

The most quoted reason for the end of vent windows was the widespread addition of air conditioning in cars. The vents were no longer needed if you were gonna keep them closed and the windows rolled up with the A/C on. There were also theories that the aerodynamics were better without them so you would get better gas mileage. But I was there. I remember that they stopped putting wing windows on cars when they realized they were the easiest way to break in to a locked car. A bad guy just had to put a little effort in to twisting the window from the outside and he could reach in and open the door. The car makers kept making the wing window smaller and smaller until they disappeared. Today, stealing stuff from a car takes some effort. It takes an experienced car thief or an asshole with a big rock to break the window when they look in a car and see a multi-thousand dollar laptop with an apple logo screaming “Take Me” like some drunken prom queen, albeit with a slightly different meaning.

So during that summer afternoon drive mentioned earlier, I put a cupped hand out next to the side mirror and the fresh air started coming in. All was right with the world or at least a little better for a few moments any way. That is until I had to use both hands to swerve around a guy who slammed on his breaks in front of me. Then I rolled over the ball in the street that was being chased by the boy that the other driver had slammed on his brakes for. The ball came out from underneath the back of my car with only a few fresh oil stains. But I digress.

Next time, in part two, I will give you my thoughts on the greatest lost art form of the 20th century.

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Who Is He Talking To?

Not too many years ago, when you saw someone walking down the street talking to himself, you figured he was crazy and a person to be avoided. But these days its not so easy to tell if the guy is crazy or just talking on his cell phone. Of course he may just be pretending to have a cell phone.

I have a cell phone but I text more than talk with it. Now, I’m not making any comment on mental illness. My wife is constantly asking me what I said to her and it was just me sorting things out aloud. Maybe this is why people cross the street away from me when I’m walking. Hmm.