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Sunday, May 16, 2010

5/15/2010 - He ain't heavy, he's my music collection

(note from the author: if it seems like I'm really digging deep to come up with subjects in order to do an entry every day, well that's because I am. However, the discipline's good for me and you don't really have to read every word I write if you don't want to. I'll understand. Especially if you don't tell me. -SRY)

Lulu and I have always been big music listeners. There was always music going whenever the TV wasn't on. And even sometimes when it was because we would occasionally turn the sound down and the music up. Watch the pretty pictures without the need of listening to the inane prattle. Our very first purchase after we got married was a stereo. Bought it on time. We figured this would be a good way to get our credit history started. Lucas is still using our original speakers and receiver (a sweet old Marantz). Of course, after we bought the stereo we didn't really have enough dough left for records (remember those?). However, Columbia House made us a deal we couldn't refuse. For only a penny we could get something like 13 albums. Okay, there was a small requirement that we had to buy a certain number of albums at the regular price in order to get that deal. But that wasn't really all that bad for us as we generally lived in places where good record stores were hard to come by.

Our first "entertainment center" consisted of a sort of glorified bookcase that I built out of particle board. Come to think of it, "glorified" is definitely not the right adjective. It was just wide enough to support a turntable on top, the receiver below that, and our 13" Sony Trinitron TV below that. On the bottom was a space for records. It was awhile before I was able to fill that 16" wide space.

By the time we moved to Silverton, I was deep into MAS or Music Acquisition Syndrome. I built an entertainment center there that had a 5' long shelf for records. My goal was to fill it. And, by golly, I did it and then some.

About that time, they started phasing records out and trying to phase CDs in. Not about to jump on some new untested bandwagon, I stubbornly turned to cassette tapes and collected an impressive number of those in addition to all the records. By now we (or at least I) knew we wanted to move onto a boat someday. In light of this, the phasing out of records was really a blessing. Can you imagine how much weight and space a decent record collection would take up on a small sailboat? Not to mention the difficulty in keeping the needle from skipping. You'd have to tape a quarter (instead of the usual penny) on top of the tone arm to keep the needle in the groove.

So, on our first boat we had an AM/FM/Cassette player and it worked out just fine. Cassette storage was a lot easier than record storage.

It was quite awhile before I allowed myself to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of CDs. The kids used to give me a lot of grief for being such an old fart. But, hey! I wasn't about to let them force ME to buy into their oh-so-obvious plot to make us all recreate our music collections in a new format. But eventually I threw in the towel. And, of course, once I folded I started collecting CDs in a big way.

But the real breakthrough for me came when they started making blank CDs that we could record on. I pretty much forgave the money-grubbing music industry at that point. With a little bit of equipment and some software I was even able to convert all of my records and tapes to CD format. By the time I was done I had well over 1500 albums, er, CDs. Now CDs are a LOT easier to stow on a boat than records would have been but that's still an awful lot of potential storage space and additional weight.

And then along came the iPod. Sweet, sweet iPod. It's almost as if Steve Jobs had boaters in mind. Right now we're listening to a random mix of music on our 160 GB iPod Classic plugged in to our iPod-ready Sony AM/FM/CD/mp3 player. This little beauty has somewhere around 15000 songs on it! I have music on my iPod that I have never listened to. Every so often a song will come up and we'll wonder where the heck that one came from.

But what if the iPod dies you ask. First off, bite your tongue! But in the unlikely (I hope) event that she does die, all is not lost. All of the music on my iPod is backed up on a my computer's removable hard drive. But hard drives are notorious for crashing you say. Geez! What a pessimist. But, okay Mr. Buzzkill, if the hard drive dies, I happen to have my entire collection recorded in mp3 format on DVDs and safely stowed at Cody's house. Since they're mp3s, each DVD holds about 100 albums so, if she had to mail copies of them to us it wouldn't be too bad. And, before you ask, she also is safeguarding the original CDs as well. This includes the analog-to-digital CDs of my record and tape collection which were recorded in AIFF or whatever the native CD format is.

So, all this to say that I'm a huge fan of the technology that allows me to keep a collection of over 15000 songs on a box the size of deck of cards that's only 2 suits thick. Similar technology has allowed me to keep a large collection of movies on another removable hard drive.

So, since I embrace all this tailor-made-for-boats technology, why am I having such a hard time buying in to the whole digital books/e-reader deal? Part of it is the price. I'd be a lot less resistant if the readers were closer to $100 or, better yet $50, and I'm sure they'll get there. But it's not just that. Cheap and/or free books are really easy to come by. I guess some of the e-readers can use some of the free books out there as well as the digital books offered by some libraries. But I just can't picture curling up with an e-reader. What if it craps out and I have nothing to read? The horror! I realize that this is stupid. Just because I have an e-reader on board doesn't mean I can't have any books. What if my stereo craps out? All I'd have left is my ukulele. Imagine the storage space we'd regain if we got rid of all but one shelf of books. I'd have more room for my photo albums. Oh wait, I don't have any of those anymore since the advent of digital cameras.

Boy, if one of those EMF bomb things ever go off, we are so screwed!


Shelly and Randy said...

Reading this entry brought back so many fun memories of the little mailings we would get where all of the album covers would be displayed in this multi-fold little mailer. Remember that? I loved getting the opportunity to select from so many albums, and it always seemed like such a great deal. Well you could get albums for just pennies, sort of. S.

LittleCunningPlan.com said...

Is there anyone who didn't get sucked into the Columbia records deal? Well, it probably was a good deal. Trouble was, I got used to buying the cheap albums, and then I resented having to buy the full price (jacked up price) ones. Also, since my dad was in the Army, I was used to shopping at the PX, and that was before the advent of 'prices so low we're INSANE' on the economy. So the PX prices were substantially lower than the other stores around, making the full price albums from Columbia seem even more of a gouge. I still remember how excited I was buying Elton John's Yellow Brick Road. A DOUBLE album!! I can still remember how it smelled when the cellophane came off. I think I may have done that in the car, not being able to wait until I got home.