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Wednesday, July 23, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

"It's time."


"Time to do Thing Number Five."

"Thing Number Five."

There would have been disbelief, or denial, in her voice two days ago. Now there was only weariness.

The root password to the Dynamo was not a string of letters, but a series of hand gestures, a tilt of the head, a mood, the memory of a scent. She walked to the keyboard, sat down, and closed her eyes.

I was reminded of a certain BBspot piece the other day. (This is more iPodiana, I'm afraid.) It occurred to me that it'd be nice to have another iPod dock, so I could keep one at home and one at work (I've been carrying it back and forth and hooking and unhooking it all the time, and it's suboptimal).

So I went and looked at the Apple store, and the dock is forty dollars, which is maybe a little steep but not too awful. Then I noticed that you have to buy the wire to connect to power separately. That's another nineteen dollars; tsk! Oh, and then you have to buy the thing that plugs into the power outlet and connects to the wire; that's another fifty dollars.


So I didn't do that.

Has anyone played around with getting old analog-media music into digital form? In particular, does anyone have a good procedure for getting the music on cassette tapes into an iPod? I can think of a couple of bad procedures.

We're ook vaak! An honor. We hope.

So one fun time last weekend (was that just last weekend?) was going for a walk with the kids along Route 100A up there in Plymouth Vermont, and turning off into Town Line Road, and walking up the hill enjoying the fresh air and singing random songs that came to mind in what were probably rather loud and not entirely tuneful voices, there in the woods with the sun shining through the leaves.

The little daughter sang "Wild Mountain Thyme" (in quite a tuneful voice), that she'd learned at camp, but she couldn't quite remember how the tune started. And we raced to the next telephone pole, and then we walked back to the hotel so M wouldn't worry about us (singing, as I recall, "Give God the Glory"; why do the Christians have so many of the singable songs?). At the hotel I checked the iPod, but it didn't have anything called "Wild Mountain Thyme" (or even "Go Lassie Go").

When we got back to civilization I went looking for versions of that song so I could show the little daughter how the tune started. And oooooooh, most of them are really really bad. I eventually settled on I think the ThistleWerk version, and put it on the iPod and played it for the little daugther and stuff.

And then today at work I was listening to the library in Shuffle mode like usual, and someone not ThistleWerk started singing "Wild Mountain Thyme". How odd, I thought.

Turns out Rod Stewart recorded a version of the song on "A Spanner in the Works", which I got who-knows-where and ripped to the iPod. For some reason he recorded it under the title "Purple Heather", and changed the words a bit. For instance instead of something like

If my true love will not go,
Then I'll surely find another
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the purple heather

he sings

If you will not go with me
I will never find another
To pick wild mountain thyme
All along the purple heather

which is rather different. And certainly more conventional.

Hah, isn't that fascinating? You should be grateful, though; earlier today on a certain newsgroup I follow, I posted my grocery list.

The eagles aren't particular.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So I'm sitting here on the floor in the little daughter's room (because that's where the iBook happened to be, and because the rocking chair is too piled with plush animals to sit on), watching the iBook ripping "Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Collector Edition", bringing the music collection somewhere higher up toward 1800 songs.

Is this fun new tech going to make me more interested in music? I mean, I've always liked music, liked having it going in the background, liked particular pieces of music that I know I like. But I haven't really been aware of the field, of the sweep of musical history, of the schools and styles and of what I really like and don't like about what.

In having thousands of songs (why isn't there a better word for a piece of music than "song"?) in my hip pocket, in listening to them and sorting through them and categorizing them and listening to them at random, will I learn more about music and my relationship to it? Or will I eventually just get into a state that I like, and drift off into something else?

Going by past history, the latter is probably far more likely.

Medley links to some fun material about INTJs, most of which would still work fine if you changed "INTJ" to "hacker". I'm generally an INTJ on these personality test things; I think the J is the least stable (that is, sometimes I'm an INTP). I think these categories are somewhat less bogus than astrological signs; the INTJ description describes me pretty well, and the (um) ESFP one really doesn't. For what it's worth...

Noun phrase o' the day: "A 17-year-old California boy accused of posing as America Online".

Looking for a friendly place to work?

It has come to my attention that several employees are talking at their desks during scheduled work hours. I must convey the importance of NOT talking at your desk, or to your desk partner. Talking greatly decreases work productivity, and company morale.

No word recently from CHIEF DR ABUBAKR CHUKWU (unless I accidentally deleted it as spam). Perhaps I should write and see if he's okay, oya.

Monday, July 21, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

I mentioned the other week the song "Quest for Spinach", and how its lyrics don't seem to be on the Web. A reader Googled to that page, and writes:

Subject: Quest for spinach song...

I saw on your webpage that you mentioned the song "Quest for spinach". Do you have the lyrics for that or know even who wrote that song? I heard it a while back and had it stuck in my head the other day, so I googled it and found it mentioned on your page and no where else.

I still don't know who wrote it, but as the little daughter is now back from camp (did I mention that the little daughter is now back from camp?) I was able to ask her for the lyrics, so here they are. Note that these are taken not directly from the official canonical pieces of posterboard in a lodge somewhere in Vermont, but from the memory of a person who's sung the song a few times (and who has a memory rather like a steel trap, so these are probably pretty accurate in fact):

Quest for Spinach
(to a tune that reminds me of the "Tobor the Eighth Man" theme, but I'm sure M and the little daughter would make derisive sounds at the idea)

Its the early 1990s,
  space travel is frequent;
Everybody's wearing
  silver hair with sequins
They're going to the moon
  to party their butts off,
But I'm down here,
  looking for the green stuff.


Quest for spinach!
  I need my greens.
Quest for spinach!
  I need my greens.
Quest for spinach!
  I need my greeeeeeens...

Its the early 1990s,
  the experts were wrong:
Petroleum didn't run out,
  you can get it for a song.
But the green stuff is gone
  and it's getting very dear.
If you give me some,
  I'll cut off both my ears!

Repeat Chorus (probably)


O Popeye, won't you save me,
  I don't think that I can make it.
If I don't get some spinach,
  I'll have to... eat manicotti again!
(audience: Oh no! Not manicotti!)

Repeat Chorus

And now it's the 2000s,
  it hasn't rained all summer,
The severe lack of spinach
  is really quite a bummer.
The stuff at the market
  is all GMO.
Where's the organic?
  I just don't know!

Repeat Chorus

Readers who have heard this song, or other variants of it, are encouraged to write. Tell me where you heard it, too; I'm curious about its ethnography.

(Note that no conclusions about the political opinions of this page should be drawn from the disparaging reference to GMOs in the above. I have no objection to genetically modified food, at least once they get the whole "glowing red eyes", "slimy tentacles" and "insatiable lust for human flesh" problems worked out.)

Liquorice skittles.

Operation Hidden Agenda playing cards.

So I guess I didn't mention the little daughter being home, did I? Well, she is; we went and picked her up over the weekend. She had a great time at camp, but is also happy to be back, and spent hours and hours the last couple of days playing video games and reading the Web. Her father has no comment on how nice it is to have her back, because it would sound silly.

Today's pathway: From this Amptoons entry to this LiveJournal entry to an interesting article about people who want various bits of themselves cut off (with sidelights about how the Net has touched said people), to this page of that article, to this tantalizing sentence:

Why did young men in late nineteenth-century France begin lapsing into a fugue state, wandering the continent with no memory of their past, coming to themselves months later in Moscow or Algiers with no idea how they got there?

(Readers who know anything more about this are urged to write in), and then further through a misspelled Google search to whatever the heck this is:

In the high Baroque, under Pfitzner's successor, Karl vas Wieck, Die Pfügemeisters franchised itself all over Europe, to England, France and Italy, making fugue writing everywhere a pastime, as popular as cross-word puzzles. But fugues were never easy, and everyone got stuck. Even Bach visited the local Saltzburg outlet when he was stumped. He'd leave a set of preludes overnight, and in the morning, voila, fugues to match. Art of the Fugue? Straight out of Die Pfügemeisters' factory manual!

Lesee. I finished "Out on Blue Six", which someone described as McDonald's weakest novel. It was in some sense very silly; one of those books that doesn't stand up well under going back and verifying that everything made sense given the circumstances as finally revealed ("wait a second, if the computers are really so smart surely they would have...", "hold on, why would we expect this particular people to be able to..."). On the other hand it was fun to read, and had more than its share of strange and interesting characters and events. Now I'm reading Simmons' "Hyperion", and it's quite good (tighter and so far less silly than Blue Six; in some small danger of taking itself too seriously, but hasn't actually done that so far).

The iPod continues to please (and to have the "too many gosh-darned wires all over the place" problem). At one point over the weekend I mentioned the Indigo Girls, and the little daughter said "oh yeah there's a song by them that we sing at camp" and she named it and I said "I think I've got that in my pocket here", and I did. It's got around 1600 songs on it now.

I also used it with Audible for the first time, and it was totally seamless. The RIO 600's are probably pretty much obsolete now, the iPod having (um) 120 times as much storage (whee!).

We will close with a long quote from that Morford dude again, just because it tickles my funnybone. (Would I be as amused by someone using the same wit and style to express views that I didn't agree with? Dunno.) (The context is of course Pat Robertson's "Prayer Offensive", designed to (however unlikely this sounds) persuade the Ultimate Ground of Being to remove three selected Justices from the U.S. Supreme Court.)

In related news, the entire goddamn universe just launched a "Oh just shut the hell up you bickering sexless little gin-soaked faux-religious simp offensive" aimed straight at Robertson and bathtub buddy Jerry Falwell. "We know this campaign isn't really necessary given how Robertson and Falwell are essentially nothing more than temporary pimples on the great perfectly smooth round delicious ass of life, and that they have zero bearing or true lasting effect on anything you care about in any time zone or plane of existence in the known and unknown galaxy," said the Gods of Fate and Time. "We just liked the title. P.S.; Yay sodomy!"

Yay sodomy!


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