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Month: August 2009

My Not-Very-Guilty Not-Very-Secret

My Not-Very-Guilty Not-Very-Secret

I have a guilty secret that isn’t much of either. It’s a small thing, a kind of not-quite voyeurism that doesn’t involve seeing anyone doing anything, and It’s definitely okay, because Apple made it possible for me to do it, right?

Before I creep out anyone I actually like I should come clean. What I’m talking about here is looking at other people’s iTunes Libraries on campus.

It’s easy to set up. All you do is tell iTunes that you want other people to be able to see your library, and you’re on the air for any other iTunes user on your network. On the University of Utah’s secure “please use this network” wireless network this can be hundreds of people. Sometimes their iTunes libraries are called something like “Bob’s Music”, sometimes they put some work into it, like “Sounds like BURNING!” or the always popular “zzzze bottom of ze list”. The technology makes it “impossible”1 to keep the songs in other people’s libraries, but you can listen to them so long as the other person’s computer is on and they have iTunes open. Log in at the right time and there is a world of music out there for you to listen to.

Now the interesting part of this is that I’m not your typical college student. To be totally honest, I’m not a student of the University of Utah at all: I’m an employee.2 So you wouldn’t think that musically, I’d have all that much in common with the other libraries floating around out there. I certainly wouldn’t think so. I imagine them all full of Dave Matthews or the reprehensible John Meyer, with Fergie or whatever female soloist Clear Channel thinks we should all love these days. And sure, there’s some of that. But what I find most times is that people in general have much better taste in music than Clear Channel gives them credit for. I often find alternative artists that get zero radio time3, and just about every single library has “Abba Gold”. I can’t decide if that last point is a good thing or a bad thing, but hey, I’ve got it too, so it’s common ground.

What’s more, on libraries that are definitely the property of someone who is much younger than me I will find music from the 60’s, and not just the Beach Boys. Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Yardbirds, The Birds, and other good bands will be there, often right next to the Franz Ferdinand stuff. It’s kinda making me think I should be less judgmental. Just because someone listens to the terrible radio playlist bands of the present day doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate good music as well. Just because someone likes country doesn’t mean they don’t also like Miles Davis.

So anyway, my library is called “Where the Sunbeams End and the Starlights Begin”. Have a look around. And thanks for bolstering my faith in humanity.

  1. yeah right []
  2. although for some reason I’m also listed as an alumnus of the U, even though I’ve never been enrolled there []
  3. on a college campus! Imagine! []
The Valley Part II

The Valley Part II

My Aunt Shelly is probably going to die in the next few days. Her heart stopped yesterday, and although the doctors were able to get it started again she hasn’t shown any sign of waking up or indeed any brainwave activity at all.

Shelly is 13 years older than my dad, so I never knew her well. We always knew her as the fireball aunt who was now in China, now in California, now in Egypt, always moving, always roaming. She passed through our lives on occasion, and was (also) always loving.

It’s hard to think about losing an aunt. Even (especially?) one to whom you aren’t close. We lost Libbie’s sister to Lupus in February, and the shock waves from that one haven’t entirely died down (nor will they ever, I suspect). I don’t know what to think about this one; I don’t know where to put my thoughts. I should be more upset, but maybe not? Maybe the end of life is okay, if you’ve lived your life to the fullest? Maybe maybe maybe.

These problems aren’t new, nor are they particular to me. People have been losing distant relatives and have been unsure what to do about it for millennia. Hopefully one of them was able to say something intelligent about it. If you have a quote, I’d love to see it in the comments.

NOTE: for obvious reasons, the comments on this post will be heavily moderated.