Monday, May 30, 2011

Bon Voyage, Liane Hansen

Yesterday was the last broadcast of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen.  Liane has been with NPR for 35 years and host of WESUN for over 20, so no one will begrudge her retiring.  Yet it's a little sad to see her go.

I've been listening to WESUN regularly since 1999, and since I installed a client in my computer to record off the radio, I haven't missed a single program in ages (circa 2003).  Liane has introduced me to hundreds of newsmakers, entertainers, analysts and other notables.  Organizing my Sunday morning around the 7:00-9:00 AM block has kept me informed, entertained and well rounded for over a decade.

My first real memory of Weekend Edition Sunday, of course, had to do with listening to the Sunday puzzle and enjoying it so much I sought out the program the next week.  And the next.  And the next.  The Sunday puzzle is run by Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword editor.  I, and several million regular WESUN listeners got to know Will before he got all famous starting it 2005 or so.  The genuine friendship between Liane and Will comes across on the radio.  Will's puzzle segment will be continuing post Liane.

It was a Sunday puzzle where I first heard the name Britney Spears (What entertainer's name can be anagrammed "Presbyterian?").  Being well rounded doesn't necessarily mean having one's finger on the pulse of pop culture, don't ya know, as Britney had been around for several years prior to that puzzle.  Ironically, it was fill-in host Lynn Neary who had the biggest influence on my musical world when she interviewed singer Sarah Shannon in April, 2002.  I immediately fell in love with her voice and still listen to Sarah as often as I can.  Hey, a song of hers just popped up on my random playlist as I wrote this.

Liane Hansen has been that friendly voice on the other side of the radio for over a decade but a lifetime ago, I used to be a person inside the radio.  I know my impression of her is not reflective of reality - people are never exactly who they appear to be in the media - but it's hard not to get attached to someone whom you bring into your home week after week, is very professional and just so nice.  So off to retirement Liane, whoever you really are.  I have enjoyed having you in my life for the past twelve years.

Liane will be replaced on a permanent basis by Audie Cornish, an NPR reporter and fill-in host.  I've heard Audie file lots of stories and appear on WESUN several times.  About the time I first became aware of Audie, I also saw a movie with actress Abbie Cornish, so my brain cross-wired them.  This is  my mental image of Audie Cornish:

I don't ever need to know what Audie really looks like.  I'm quite content thinking she looks like Abbie.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

10 Random Songs on Friday

Walter Egan - The Blonde in the Blue T-Bird
Van Morrison - The Lion This Time
Pretenders - Jealous Dogs
Susan Tedeschi - Gonna Move (live)
    From her 2004 album Live in Austin. I like the studio version better but this one's OK.
Kylie Minogue - Stars
    It's been a while since I've loved a Kylie song but I just can't stop listening.
Chicago - Hot Streets
Karen Mok - Candy Kisses
    Karen is a movie star and singer based in Hong Kong. Candy Kisses is in both English and Chinese.
The Mamas and the Papas - Creeque Alley
    If you listen to the second verse closely, you'll hear that Cass Elliot attended Swarthmore College.
The Police - Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Carla Thomas - Something Good (is Going to Happen to You)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Take a Look at This

I upgraded a monitor a little while ago. The price of large monitors came down to a reasonable point, so I decided to replace a fully functional 19" LCD with someting larger. I went with a 28" I-Inc. Yes, I said 28" diagonal measurement. No, I had never heard of I-Inc, either, but it's working just fine.

Here is a before and after comparison. Yes, my computer desk exists in a constant state of clutter.

To give you an idea of of the scale, that poster of Ramona and Beezus is 27" wide. Oh, and the scrumptious young lady in the background picture on the new monitor is Eve Myles, in a promo picture from the BBC series Torchwood.

So you're wondering why the monitor on the right is sideways. It's because web sites are taller than they are wide, like a sheet of paper. When you view web sites on a conventionally-oriented widescreen monitor, you have a bunch of unused space on the right side and you have to scroll down numerous times to get to the bottom of the page. By flipping the monitor, most web pages fit perfectally side-by-side, and I don't have to scroll as often as you do to get to the bottom of the page. It's not just web pages, some spreadsheets, word docs, programs and pictures like to be vertical, so I like to have one horizontal and one vertical monitor.

With the new and exciting, however, comes some downsides. The new monitor's native resolution is 1920x1080 with 32-bit color. However, my computer wll only support 1920x1080 at 16-bits. That may not sound like much of a difference, but it's huge. Colors turn grainy and are generally unviewable, so I've opted to run the monitor at a resolution of 1680x1050. That doesn't give me the real estate I'd hoped for but at least the colors aren't headache-inducing. I could get a new video card that would support a higher resolution but that increases the overall cost of the project and, most importantly, it's one more decision to make so I haven't done anything about it yet.

Another downside is realizing that the vertical monitor is a piece of garbage. When I got it in 2007, it was fairly expensive, and as a Samsung 23", it was considered top of the line. Right from out of the box, I thought it looked no better than the generic 19" next to it. The Samsung also wasn't very bright, but I just went with it. Then the power switch broke. You can't turn it on or off with the power switch anymore, but by using the menu or auto buttons on the bottom. The problem with the menu button reassigning itself as a power button is that I can no longer adjust the brightness. Now sitting side-by-side with a very bright 28" monitor, the Samsung looks remarkably dim. To sum up this downside, the new monitor has shown me that I really need to upgrade the tall monitor as well, which would, by definition, double the cost of the upgrade project. Another decision I don't want to make.

I'll leave you with the full image of the Ramona and Beezus poster, in case you aren't familiar with it and, really, just because it's cute.

10 Random Songs on Friday

Friday the 13th? Not so scary.

Nu Shooz - Point of No Return
Steely Dan - Got the News
The Clovers - Love Potion Number Nine
Joey Scarbury - Theme from 'Greatest American Hero'
INXS - What You Need
Deadstar - Don't Leave
Bruce Springsteen - Terry's Song
Martha Davis - Don't Tell Me the Time
David Gates - Love is Always Seventeen

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flying or Falling wth Style?

This guy appeared above my neighborhood last Saturday evening. At first I thought it was a loud motorcycle driving on a nearby street, but it neither shifted nor crashed, leading me to look to the sky.

I'm not sure what you call this contraption but it looks both interesting and frightening at the same time. Sure, he's suspended in the air by a parachute, which is generally desirable, but dang, the parachute is the only thing that's holding him up. What if it rips?

The guy did a couple of lazy turns over my neighborhood then headed back to whence he came. While I'm intrigued by the idea of personal flying machines as anyone - hey, who doesn't want a jet pack? - I'm not even going to bother seeing what that machine is really called or how it works.

Monday, May 9, 2011

10 Random Songs on Friday

A forty-year span in this week's selection.  In fact, five songs released from 1962-1965, which is fairly meaningless because these came from a random playlist.

Berlin - Will I Ever Understand You?
Def Leppard - Photograph
Supertramp - Goodbye Stranger
Bobby Vee - Take Good Care of My Baby
Eddy Raven - Solo Sometimes
Dean Martin - Everybody Loves Somebody
The Beatles - Eight Days a Week
Sarah Shannon - Dark End of the Street          (2002)
Martha and the Vandellas - Nowhere to Run
Roy Orbison - The Crowd                     (1962)