Process Blue

Invisible processes metamorphic,
Occurring deep inside the earth, formed it.
A deep blue stone of royalty,
That’s known as lapis lazuli.
Where first appeared civilization,
In the Mesopotamian location.
Where slaves were captured, bought and sold,
For some bushels of wheat, or for gold,
And the treasure blue under their feet.
Under the earth, the surface beneath.
Ground into a powder, rare and fine.
Adorned the eyes of pharaohs divine.
Baked in a kiln hotter than the sun.
The process forming a pigment begun.
A pigment of brightest blue ever seen.
That’s known as ultra marine.
It painted the robes of the Blessed Virgin.
And Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Earth’s processes make the prettiest blue.
Which we process further into something new.

Mean Technology

Though young,
I’ll give that to you,
I experienced World War Two,
Then the 50’s,
Rock n’roll broke through,
The 60’s,
Well, really, who knew?
The seventies,
When things got real,
The 80’s,
Money the big deal,
The 90’s,
Began to pick up speed,
After 2000,
Well all you really need,
Is to plug in some technology,
Everything’s easier,
You’ll see,
That is unless of course you’re me,
Or friends of mine,
For it seems that we,
Are now cast aside,
Just “used to be”,
No thought,
No care,
Not even a thanks,
And now it seems,
Even our own banks,
Despite the fact,
That they are founded,
On capital OUR  hard work grounded,
Will e’en give us the time of day,
For now, head down,
They seem to say,
That the bottom line is what they mind,
Efficiency’s left us behind,
So when we manage,
Despite our age,
To show up at the teller’s cage,
We meet an unexpected clash,
When we’re told that they don’t deal in cash,
Don’t be surprised when we are pissed,
At the fact society has missed,
The chance to do what we’d expect,
And temper progress with respect,
Instead of bowling forward,
On a selfish ride,
And casting those that lag a bit behind,

Ned Ludd’s Revenge

I often refer to myself as a Luddite, but I’m mostly kidding. Although I have an affinity for writing with pen and paper, old tube-powered guitar amps and recording on reel-to reel tape machines, I still maintain a friendly relationship with technology. I couldn’t live without my iPod, I was happy as a kid on Christmas morning to finally get a ridiculously powerful digital audio console at work, and I consider the internet to be pretty much the best invention in human history. I grok tech. Still, there are times when the old ways just work best.

I was driving to my office the other day, and heard a song on the local college station that blew me away. I glanced at the readout on my stereo and discovered it was “Saying Goodbye” by a band called The Greenhornes. A few minutes later at my desk, I looked them up and listened to some other tracks- great stuff. I decided to buy the album, so I opened iTunes and found it within seconds.

Those of you who grew up before the internet can appreciate how awesome this is- back in the Bad Old Days this process would have taken days or weeks. First you either get to a phone (no cell phones back then) and call the DJ, or wait for them to back announce (this isn’t foolproof either- the first time I heard the Pixies I thought they were called The Laughing Academy due to a back announcing miscount). Then you had to drive to a record store that stocked “new” music besides Ratt and Whitesnake and hope they had what you were looking for. There used to be records that took me months (in some cases years) to find. Oh, and forget previewing the other tracks on the record unless you knew someone who already had it. There are those who argue that the modern instant gratification model devalues music and our relationship to it, and they have a point. At that moment though, I was just psyched to hear the album mere minutes after discovering the band.

This is where things start to go awry. For some reason, my iTunes account was screwed up and I couldn’t access it. After about half an hour of screwing around I figured fuck it, I tried, and began searching torrent sites for free downloads. Within a minute or two I located a torrent titled “GREENHORNES DISCOGRAPHY” that contained an impressive collection of the band’s albums, EPs, singles and compilation tracks. However, it was a couple years old and didn’t have the album I was looking for in it. I considered simply recording the three songs (including “Saying Goodbye”) off the band’s music player on their website, but I really wanted the whole album.

Technology had failed me, so I reverted to old school methodology. A quick check of the internets revealed that there was still a brick and mortar record store near the college, so I decided it was a good time to load up the office recycling and take it to the recycling center (which, conveniently, is near NCSU). Half an hour later after dumping a shitload of cardboard and soda cans I entered Schoolkids Records for the first time in about ten years. The current location had been a pawn shop back when I used to troll Hillsborough Street looking for obscure indie records and cheap vinyl, but the gig flyers and hipster movie posters looked the same as ever. Long rows of vinyl record bins were obviously a thing of the past, but I was dismayed to find that the CD racks were thinner than I remembered and a large chunk of the floorspace was taken up with DVDs, magazines and T-shirts. I made my way to the “G” section, quickly located my prize, then stood at the counter for a few minutes trying to flag down the pachouli-drenched clerk.

“Uh, can I help you?” he finally asked with the magical mixture of indifference and disdain that only a clerk at a college record store can muster.

“Well I was gonna buy this, but I can just shoplift it if it’s easier for you” I relied with the dripping sarcasm only a middle-aged asshole can truly master.

I paid $5 more than the download would have cost me, had to spend time and my boss’ gas money and now have another CD to add to my unmanageable mountain of media, but dammit, I spent the rest of the day rocking out to the fucking Greenhornes. Mission Accomplished.

I still love my Original Amazon Kindle

I’m what you call an “early adopter.”  This means that if a new gadget or technology comes to the market, I have to be one of the first ones to have it.  I know it sounds crazy, but that’s how I roll.  I was one of the first to own an Amazon Kindle, an iPad, a Macintosh clone even!  Being an early adopter is risky.  Not only will you pay a premium price for something new, but you run the possibility of getting a lemon technology.  What’s worse is when you paid all this money and a year later the company closes or decides to no longer support the device.  That really hurts…

Anyhow, sometimes you pick a winner, and the original Amazon Kindle, or Generation 1, is still a winner.  Not only does it still work, but it’s still compatible with Amazon’s Whispernet download service.  I even think it has a leg up on the next generation of Kindles because the user can change the battery.  In the grand scheme of things, that might not sound like much, but I always like electronic devices where you can replace a failing battery without having to ship the unit off to the manufacturer.  Cough, cough, Apple…

I also like the fact that on the original Amazon Kindle you can switch out SD memory cards.  This means that if you have enough SD cards, you can carry with you an unlimited supply of books.  The new Kindles do not have the SD card expansion capability, they are stuck with the internal memory.  That’s a real shame in my opinion.

That’s not to say that the new generation of Kindles are bad.  They are slimmer, faster, and have some new improvements like the ability to read Adobe Acrobat .PDF files, and a long battery life.  No, the new Kindles are wonderful, it’s just that the original Kindle is still so good, I feel no need to upgrade.  Sometimes an early adopter picks a winner.

Word of the Day: nostalgia

Interestingly, today’s word was once upon a time considered a medical condition.

Back in 1668, German Physician Johannes Hofer coined the word and defined it as “severe homesickness.” It is derived from the Greek words nostos (homecoming) and algos (pain). I never really thought about it before but the word nostalgia does look and sound like some kind of disease or disorder.  (See: myalgia)

The more modern definition of nostalgia as a sort of wistful longing for the past was first recorded in 1920. Nowadays however, the word can also be defined as not necessarily a desire to return to the past, but simply an appreciation for it.

Naturally, this means that the nostalgic tend to look at their particular favorite time in the past through rose-colored glasses, seeing only the good things and disregarding the bad. For example, many people these days long for the simpler times before cell phones and broadband internet connections, but of course they tend to forget how much harder life was back then.

Somehow I got through high school and most of college having used actual books, magazines, and microfiche/film as research material for reports and papers. I remember typing high school homework assignments on a Smith Corona typewriter. Sure, the internet was around in the mid-90s when I started college, but it was all as new and wild as an Old West frontier town. Many of my professors and teachers did not entirely trust the content on the internet (and rightly so) and therefore they simply would not accept internet-based sources.

The young people of today tend to not appreciate how easy they have it, but it’s not at all their fault. Just as Generation Xers like me cannot remember a time when there was no television, the Generation Y kids cannot remember a time when there was no internet.

They were born into the information age.

Stay tuned…