Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lights Out.

The linked page above has a good explanation of Earth Hour. For Earth Hour, people around the globe will turn their lights off tonight from 8pm to 9pm.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A definition of Irony

As described in earlier posts, I spent almost all waking minutes of last weekend organizing my music CD collection. The collection is approximately 600 CDs. For the last 5-6 years, I tended to not listen to my CDs as much as I'd have liked to, because it could take me 20-30 minutes to find a specific CD. If I was walking around and thought to myself, "Gee, I feel like listening to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road right now", I'd probably not bother, simply because it would take too long to find the CD among the unorganized stacks.

Now that nearly the entire collection is organized alphabetically, I can find almost any disc within a minute or two. This is GREAT.

So this evening Maren and I listened to the I Am Sam soundtrack. I haven't seen the movie, but the soundtrack is a collection of Beatles songs, performed by contemporary musicians. We had so much fun listening to it, we decided we wanted to hear a genuine Beatles album when it was finished. I was drilling through the A-B binder, making a beeline for Abbey Road, when Maren spotted the bright, vibrant colors of the Magical Mystery Tour booklet, and declared she wanted to listen to that one.

Accomodatingly, I pulled out Magical Mystery Tour and inserted it into the CD player. The player made a noise somewhere between a whirr and a squeal, and then decided to try the next disc in the cartridge. (It's a 6-disc changer.) Well, this wasn't the result I'd hoped for. I tried placing the disc in a different cartridge, and also in a different slot. I tried other discs. I tried putting I Am Sam back in.

No Joy. Literally one week after I organized all of my CDs, after letting them sit in a chaotic mess for over 5 years, my CD player bit the dust.

As the kid in the Schoolhouse Rock song says, "DRAT!".

(EDIT: I neglected to mention, I bought this CD Player, I think, in 1988. It's been wonderful, and heavily used during many periods of my life, for 20 years! It's a Pioneer PD-M435, and I'm inclined to get the current Pioneer replacement for it, but am hesitant, only because I don't think the current Pioneer can play MP3s. Of course, I never could play MP3s on the old model, so I might not worry about that.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

So Neat! Now what do I do with it?

Friday afternoon a coworker asked me to setup a server with Joomla!, a Content Management System. I'd never heard of Joomla!, and initially didn't even really know what a Content Management System (CMS) was.

I think a CMS is a system that manages all of the files that comprise a website, so no human needs to keep track of all of that stuff. For example, I may decide I want a specific color for the background, or a certain graphic at the top of every page on the site. Then, instead of having to go add code to every single page, I can just tell the CMS to do it, and it will make it happen. *I Think.* Really, I don't know what a CMS is. But whoever wrote this page seems to understand the concept.

Last night and today I took an old WinXP desktop PC that had 'gone flaky' a while ago, and had spent the last couple of years sitting against a wall in my office, unused. I installed OpenSUSE 10.3 on the machine, including PHP 5.x, Apache 2.2, and MySQL 5.x in the install. At about 10:55pm this evening I finally had Joomla! installed and seeming to be working fine. Of course, I've got no idea what to do with it or how to use it, so I can't really test it too thoroughly. It does seem very neat, though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Shiny Plastic Platters - an update

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits .....  Found
Elton John - Songs From The West Coast.....  Found
Paul Simon - Negotiations & Love Songs liner notes.....  Still missing

Spreadsheet listing of collection.....  Updated, and uploaded to Google!

Still to do:
Obtain another large binder for the remaining discs. Alphabetize, store, and document V-Z, and all soundtracks/compilations.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Overrun by shiny plastic platters

Growing up, I loved the ability to buy music, and replay songs I liked anytime I chose. I collected loads of records, and occasionally cassettes though I'd avoid them and buy LPs most of the time. (And then tape my LPs to listen to on my bike or, a few years later, in my car.)

As I was finishing high school CD players arrived. I wanted one as much as I'd ever wanted anything. One December weekend a 'big-box' discount electronics store in my area was having one of their frequent open-box sales, and I spent the night outside of the store, lined up on cold concrete with about a dozen other people, to purchase a display model Shar CD player for $29. At the time - 1986 - basic CD players were usually around $150-200, if I remember accurately.

I remember this occasion well. After buying the CD player, I drove to Mushroom Records and bought a used copy of Joe Jackson's Night & Day album (for $9.99, I think).

Let's jump to the late-1990's. My CD collection had grown to a difficult-to-manage size. I had a large wooden CD shelf, with a capacity of almost 600 discs. My not-yet-wife and roommate together badgered me to let them alphabetize the discs, so that they could find albums they were looking for. As things were, only I knew where the CDs belonged on the shelf, because I'd put them on the shelf as I purchased them, so they were arranged in approximately the order I'd purchased them. And I had the general location of every disc memorized. The system worked fine for me, but obviosuly it was inscrutable for anybody else. I finally relented and let the two of them arrange the discs alphabetically.

Now let's jump again, this time to the early-to-mid 2000's. My son Nathan was toddling around, and my daughter Maren hadn't been born yet. The just-under 600 CD capacity shelf was just about full, additional CDs were stacked around it, and the shelf wasn't entirely stable. My brother clued me in about a CD binder product that looked pretty neat. (http://www.the, if you're interested.) I bought 3 of the 204-CD capacity binders, and proceeded to remove every one of my CDs from it's jewel case, save the liner-notes and case inserts, and discard the jewel cases. I then began the task of organizing the discs and inserting them into the binders. After filling two of the binders, I got sidetracked, and never finished the job.

This weekend, over 5 years later, I returned to the task. I've now got three 204-disc binders, and two 232-disc binders (different brand). Half of the disc slots are consumed by the liner notes, so the binders really hold half as many CDs as they could contain. Nevertheless, all 5 binders are full, and I still have V-Z, and all of my compilations and soundtracks still un-stored. I'm estimating I've alphabetized close to 700 discs this weekend, and stored about 500 so far in the binders, along with finding and pairing the liner notes to each and every one.

I wish I'd taken a picture of my living room while I had every single CD lined up on the floor in alphabetized rows, completely covering the carpet, but at the time my back and knees ached and I didn't have the energy or motivation to try and get up and do the acrobatics necessary to tiptoe through the stacks of discs to try and get the camera.

Impressively to me, I've only discovered one missing CD so far -Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits, & one missing liner notes booklet - Paul Simon's Negotiations and Love Songs. I'm hoping I'll find the liner notes booklet in Jessica's van. If the missing CD doesn't show up, I might just have to replace it; it's too good to lose.

Monday, March 03, 2008

So good it should be displayed twice!

For the last few weeks I've been repeatedly badgered by a family member, explaining that an Obama presidency is not in Israel's best interests, and as an Amercian Jew I should be aware of that.

Aside from vague accusations by Far-right-wingers, all of which essentailly boil down to guilt by association, I've found no factual basis for this concern. In fact, when I looked into the matter, I found an official statement by several Jewish leaders, under the banner of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, that denounces the accusatory emails that attempt to slander Senator Obama.

I'm fed up with the BS. According to this article, John McCain was "proud" to receive the endorsement of a man on record as stating that God so loved the Jews he gave us Nazis.

Guilt by association can easily be used to slam anybody, and is a lousy way to decide who to support for the presidency.

Now, in reference to this post's title - my brother did far more and better research on this than I've got the patience for. He's written a post on this with more factual backing, but instead of copying it and re-posting it here, I'll just send you over to the original.

One last thought - not to get too dramatic, but I sincerely worry about the fate of our country. I don't find it inconceivable that the US, as we know it, could disappear by the end of the next presidential term. I find the possibility of destruction from an outside force, civil war, or a complete takeover of government by dictators or tyrants not completely unlikely. Should anything like that happen, I don't think that would be good for Israel, even if we did elect a strong 'PRO-Israel' President.

About a year ago I mentioned to somebody that I liked Bill Richardson as a presidential candidate. The person I was speaking with responded: "Richardson?? Do you know what his stance on gun control is?" I replied that things right now are pretty dire, and we can't afford the luxury of single-issue litmus tests that are used to flat-out disqualify otherwise good candidates. Honestly, I couldn't care less about his gun control position.

Maybe, in a time of a better foreign policy environment, a better economy, a more capable domestic disaster response team, a more stable geophysical environment, and generally happier times, we could focus on abstract policy positions that will affect a relatively few people. But this year is not one of those times. I don't mean to mischaracterize American Jews as a relatively few people - please don't read this that way. What I mean is that there are larger issues at stake. If America falls, how does that benefit Israel? And if America survives, but with a less Israel-friendly President, there might still be checks on the President that would help to insulate Israel from any anti-Israel tendencies. Of course, this gets us to the erosion of those very necessary checks that's been going on for the last 7 disastrous years, but if I keep going with this post much longer the Internet might run out of pages, so I'll leave that for another time.

And, in case I didn't make it clear up above - READ my brother's post!