Whatever happened to good old Blogging, hey?

Why don’t I blog anymore? Sometimes I go back looking for recipes or something and stumble across an older post and think “Damn, I can write pretty well. Why don’t I do that more?”

I guess the answer is “No time, no inclination.”

But we’re nearing the end of the calendar year, and I’m kind of… getting in the mood and the mindframe to write moar stuffs, and to catch up on things, and reflect. There’s a lot that I never blogged about at the time, that now I wish I’d noted down, if only to fix in my mind where and when and who and what and why.

Reading, Reading, Reading

I’ve been Twittering and even Google+ -ing more than actually blogging, but mostly what I do is read, read, read my newsfeed. Currently, that’s in Feedly, but Feedly doesn’t seem to want to provide a feed for free of the items I read, but I can send the best to Pocket (eyeroll), which can provide an RSS feed of my read and unread Pocket items. And now there’s something called “IFTTT.com” that can provide “recipes” that link different social accounts. I’ve just set it up to either create a new Facebook post with something favorited in Pocket, or to put anything saved for later in Feedly into Pocket. It’s to consolidate the stuff so that the best ends up on Pocket, I suppose. There are lots of other recipes and possible social sites to link there, too.

Currently Listening

I’ve been fooling with iTunes a lot more, since the recent death of my iPhone 4GS and the need to try to get all MY GODDAMN MUSIC on all my devices. Unfortunately, Apple makes life more difficult for users by not only changing the form factor of their products so that new cables, docks, and cases are required after almost every required upgrade, but forcing users to “authorize” their devices to use the music they purchased or ripped. This gets to be a problem if you forget to deauthorize a device when it’s replaced, or if it’s locked up, crashes irrevocably, and can’t be deauthorized without doing something like deauthorizing ALL devices, which can only be done once a year. I should think about doing that, since it’s nearly the end of one calendar year.

I’ve also got two Apple IDs, a lamentable state. The very old one is linked to my old, old, old AOL account, and a few of my songs, which somehow managed to survive on my old laptop through various changes of hardware, were purchased under that account. For some reason, Apple cannot make it possible to merge an old account into a new one. And it’s hard to fix problems with iCloud, too. Fortunately, there’s home sharing now, and iMatch (paid service, not going for it currently), but at least I was able to get all my iTunes libraries to be readable (all the music is now off of my desktop rather than part of iTunes’ folder tree, though).

I’ve been going through my iTunes and adding ratings, deleting songs that annoy me, and in some cases (I DON’T KNOW WHY) some songs go to iCloud and just won’t DIE, DIE, DIE. I think these are songs that I deleted long ago, but they got revived when I re-downloaded from the detachable hard drive. Which probably means that I’ll have to back up everything back to the hard drive in order to prevent the same thing from happening again. And it also may mean that my multiple locations will confuse the issue. I was using Clementine the other night to play music, and hit a snag with some kind of “encryption” error (probably one of the songs downloaded with the old Apple ID that needs to be reauthorized to this computer). Eh, feh, meh.

My rating system is basically like this:

* – Listened, don’t like it, can be deleted
** – Worth keeping, don’t dislike it
*** – Like it, not a favorite
**** – A current favorite, makes me turn up the volume on the headphones
***** – A lifetime favorite, makes me jump up and dance

I’m currently about a third of the way through rating my music, rediscovering stuff I haven’t heard in years. I’ll have to proceed carefully when I’m ready to back this all up so that I don’t lose all the ratings… again, eh meh feh. You can see my progress by checking the “currently listening” widget in the rightward column. I may go back and re-arrange that so the list is longer.

I have… even older choices that are on cassettes. Of those, the ones that mean the most have been purchased at the iTunes store, but I’m starting to get the idea the purchasing a CD is the smarter way to go, given the way I’ve been burned on some of my purchases.

Travel

The big, big trip in August with David’s dad Sheldon and his friend Linda was a lot of fun, as we went all over the Pacific Northwest. It had a fair amount of scope creep (we went too many places, mostly because Shel wanted to re-visit some things, and because David and I wanted to show Shel and Linda our favorites). There are plenty of photos, but I haven’t organized them. Afterwards, David remarked that it had been pretty expensive, so we probably would skip Hawaii in 2014 (we generally go every 2 years). Okay, so we would do something else, and I didn’t earmark 2 weeks away in February or March, when we like to go to the islands.

Then about a month ago, David said wistfully, “do you think we could go to Maui? I miss it.”

Fortunately, I was able to get some air space (thanks to Travelocity, after checking in SABRE), get some ground space (thanks to Condo Connection), and get some vacation time moved around (thanks to… work?) and we’re going. There’s no big plan, it’s just a return to one of the places we love. I’m hoping the condo I ended up with will be okay, as none of the places we’ve stayed at before were available or on the list of properties that Condo Connection handles. I’ve used so many different booking companies over the years, but one I won’t use again is Expedia, because the checkin process with them is a mess if you arrive after hours.

Some of the booking services I’ve used in the past include:

Condominium Connection for Napili Point, Royal Kahana, Poipu Shores (Kauai), and probably Maui Kamaole
Condominium Rentals Hawaii for Maui Kamaole
Maui Condo for Maui Kamaole, others.

I went looking for even more places I’ve used, but can’t find the websites… yeah, we’ve been to Maui a lot over the years (and to a lesser extent, Kauai and the Big Island).

I’d still like to get back to the Royal Mauian, but they sell out for whale-watching season a lot farther in advance. The one time we got in there in a 6th floor center unit, it was through Expedia, and the checkin process was awful – had to call someone to let us in, and the unit wasn’t ready. It’s an ideally located property in Kihei, far enough back from the main street, but perched right between 2 good swimming and snorkeling beaches. They don’t sell through many condo services, though, and the best units are center section, upper floor. The rooftop deck can’t be beat.

We’ve been at the Maui Kamaole a lot, probably because as one of the bigger properties in Kihei, they often have space. Not close to the water, as it’s across the street, but the sloping grounds are pretty and the choice of several pools and jacuzzis, and ample outdoor barbecues make for a nice property to spend off-beach time at. I have fond memories of scrunching my feet down in the crushed stone at the bottom of the one jacuzzi there, feels great on tired feet as the hot water comes up from below the smoothly polished gravel.

We’ve been to Hale Pau Hana at least twice – but probably can’t afford to stay in the Penthouse again, as they’ve remodeled and the price is now around 1800.00 per night, though with 3 or 4 bedrooms, it’s an incredible spot for large groups. Downside: it’s on the third floor, with no elevator. Still, it looks incredible now. The other units in the high-rise part of the building are fine, but they don’t have in-room washer and dryer from what I recall. That penthouse was something extra special, even before the big remodel. At least they seem to have gotten rid of the waterbed in the master bedroom – the upgrades look really beautiful, but I don’t think I’d want to do the 3 or 4 couple thing again, particularly as the last “bedroom” is a TV room with sofa bed.

We’ve been to Napili Point several times. David doesn’t like the rocky entry to Honokeana Bay, but I don’t mind it, and there are ALWAYS turtles there. And the sandy beach is just a short walk around the point. Also, restaurants like the Gazebo and the resort of Napili Bay are walkable.

This time we’re trying a place in Kahana, which is south of Napili, north of Kaanapali. It’s called the Royal Kahana, a big high-rise condo. Doesn’t look like the grounds are much to write home about, but the price was good and the example photos look fine. With this kind of property, each unit is individually owned and decorated to the taste of the owner, so you never know. You can request a recently upgraded unit sometimes. I booked this one through Condo Connection – had to laugh, I’ve used them enough they recognized my email and have a sort of profile with them. They use Skype, in addition to the usual email and toll-free phone.

The way this winter has been, we’ll be glad to get out of town and away from the cold.

Family

That’s getting kind of fun and interesting, since Shel and Linda are still chugging along happily! Good developments for my brother-in-law Dan with his new job and girlfriend, Tammy. Got to see some of my side of the family in August, too. Lots more that’s not for bloggery, but it’s all pretty good.

Friends

I lost my friend Tim Black last summer – how strange that was. He sang in the choir at church and seemed to be getting his life on a better track (lot of struggle, there). But suddenly, we got word that he’d had a terrible stroke, and he was gone in a week. His family decided to have a memorial in the late fall, just before Advent. So I made sure to have the afternoon off to attend, and also the choir prepared one of his favorite pieces to sing. Almost all of the core members were able to be there, plus a couple of extra people, so we were able to sing him off home.

Everyone else I know seems to be doing all right, though I need to check in with a few people – even in this hyper-connected age, it’s all too easy to lose touch.

Work

Work is weird – how bad can it be, working from home? It’s pretty isolating, for one thing. But I love the commute and I love the convenience. I’m just not sure how long it’ll be like this, because some things are changing behind the scenes in the next few months. I think it won’t really affect those of us at peon level, but stuff way over my pay grade is changing. I think for now I’m set as far as being on my same team, doing what I currently do – but there’s always the chance that someone far overhead will rearrange things like teams, accounts, and workflow. Of interest: I’m on a pilot project for a “new-new” booking tool that as far as I can tell is a re-skinned version of the “old-new” booking tool. It’s not officially in use yet, hence the pilot. I’d feel better about using it if it didn’t look like the same old thing as before, which is much slower than it’s supposed to be and inclined to lock up if you fight the process by doing too much the “old-old” way, which is faster and more reliable, but not as lockstep consistent as the new-old and new-new tools. Le sigh.

Epilogue

And look at that, it’s a blog post! And all of my iTunes songs have been rated and I’m all synced. There were some songs that I downloaded from the Internet about 4 computers ago that were stubborn about copying back and forth; I decided they were worth buying from iTunes, what the hell, hey? There were only 4 of them ::eyeroll:: out of about 870 that successfully updated.

So. Christmas time is come and gone, and it’s almost New Year’s Day. I’ve been fighting a cold that seems to just be minor sniffles with an annoying dry cough that comes and goes – I was slugging ginger tea and honey before Christmas Eve, so that I could sing, but have slacked off since then. At some point this week, the tree comes down, and the lights, and they get packed away. But for now we’re in that slightly seedy, post-Christmas festive mood. My week off is over, and it’s back to my normal workday routine tomorrow. Maybe I’ll actually blog again more frequently, now that I’ve got the music sorted (I like to blog while listening to something).

Until then, adieu (adieu, adieu).

Retail Induced Shutdown Syndrome, I’m Having It

Errands have been run, money has been spent, stuff has been bought. Never having been a person energized by shopping, I’m taking a break at Panera.

But I’ve got the solution to the Christmas tree problem in the car – this year, it’ll be out of Riley’s nomming range, on a riser that doubles as an ornament storage box.

I’ve made a start on the stocking stuffers everyone gets on Christmas morning, and I’ve got David sorted. He’ll get stonkin stuffers, too, so that’s on track.

I’ve got a solution for the kitty box problem; the problem is that the box is currently in the hall bathtub because I use flushable litter and there’s no room outside the tub. It’ll have to move to my office closet, so I got a big mat. But then I’ll need to transfer stuff for disposal, nuts. So I’ll have to figure how that’ll work.

I’ve also got lots of cables and adapters, because thanks to Apple, I now require a Lightning charging solution. Went to 2 tech stores and an organizer/gadget store to get that done.

I’m pooped, I had to break for lunch and to rehydrate. I don’t feel like stopping at the grocery store but I have to.

I have stupidly mundane problems.

It’s cold, snowy, and it’s getting dark soon. Gotta go.

Those Crazy People At Intersections Wearing “Impeach Obama” Signboards Probably LaRouchies

I saw those weirdo “Impeach Obama” guys at the corner of Golf and Roselle again on my way home. Took a picture of the guy (sorry for bad quality, blown up from mirror shot) talking and laughing with the guy behind me.  The driver actually gave money to this… Bozo. They must travel around the area with their little signs and clipboards – here’s a story from a while back:

Impeach Obama petitioner, probably a LaRouchie

The middle-aged man hoisting an “Impeach Obama” poster appeared to be intelligent, level-headed, and sincere. But the fliers he handed out at the intersection of US 30 and Mississippi Street in Merrillville sort of defeated his efforts.

They showed a large image of President Obama – sporting a Hitler mustache – under the headline, “WHY OBAMA MUST BE IMPEACHED.”

The flier, dated Feb. 7, 2010, was created by the (Lyndon H.) LaRouche Political Action Committee, a well-known organization for such materials.

The man handing them out seemed eager to give me the flier and even more eager to take my name and phone number before I had to speed away to make the green light.

I’ll let you know what his staffers tell me when they call. Stay tuned. In the meantime, does anybody take these people seriously?

These same affable, slightly kooky middle-aged guys were at the intersection of Golf and Roselle again today, complete with the Hitlerized Obama picture on the front of the sandwich boards they wore. On the front, it read “IMPEACH OBAMA he is a socialist!” (in what appears to be Comic Sans) and on the back it read “Obama is a cracker.”

I locked my door and shook my head as he went by, but he hit pay dirt with the car behind me – the driver was very jolly as he handed over some cash! I kept hollering “Are you kidding me? are you KIDDING me with this?” but fortunately for my blood pressure the light turned green. They were still talking and laughing behind me, as horns started to honk.

They’ve been out there before, but hadn’t seen them in months. I suppose today’s passage of START and the signing ceremony of DADT was enough to put them over the edge again.

I promise to get a better picture next time. That picture of Obama makes me feel sick to my stomach.

AA Website Wonders Why It Sits Home On A Friday Night

Because the Christian Science Monitor is not that into it, frankly.

I’ve visited AA.com a number of times recently, and here we are at the gate waiting to board the London flight. In coach, because I didnt have elite mileage status (and being a travel agent is actually negative status mojo these days).

I agree that AA.com is ugly, hard to navigate, and nearly impossible to use. And I also agree that RyanAir has them beat for ugly, diffuculty of use, and likelihood that it’ll time out while you’re reading terms and accepting policies. Ugh.

On the other hand, WE’RE HEADED TO LONDON but will keep in touch with family.

Posted with the iPhone, barely

1. American Airlines

The website design expert’s opinion on the major airline’s homepage is blunt:

“It looks like a government form. Believe it or not, American Airlines’ site stresses me out just by looking at it,” says Gabriel Shaoolian, CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a website design company with clients such as Nike, United Nations, and Harper Collins Publishers. “It looks like it was created 15 years ago.”

The airline’s static homepage comes off even worse once compared to those of its competitors, JetBlue.com or United.com for example. Both have more relaxed designs – less clutter and easier on the eyes color schemes.

Planning a flight can already be a harrowing experience. Add to that an unappealing interface and users may subconsciously avoid purchasing from American Airlines.

via 4 ugly websites from companies that should know better – American Airlines – CSMonitor.com.

Hope This Isn’t A Flash In The Pan

Adobe Flash is officially banned from Apple iOS software. So does that mean you can’t view Flash content on your iPhone or iPad? Well, not exactly. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning – mark your calendars – the Apple Store will reportedly begin selling a $2.99 app called Skyfire, which effectively lets iPhone and iPad users perform an end-run around the Flash ban.

via How to get Adobe Flash on your iPhone and iPad – CSMonitor.com.

Geeky Plugin Goodness

Not that much to see yet, I’ve just installed a new video plugin called “Smart You Tube,” by Vladimir Prelovac, the designer of the WordPress theme I use, Amazing Grace. I need to make a note so that I remember to add the “v” to the URL so that it works correctly. If it DOES work, this will make it a lot easier and more fun to share videos here (especially via the iPhone, as this plugin is supposed to work with them).

To use the video in your posts, paste YouTube video URL with httpv:// (notice the ‘v’).

Important: The URL should just be copied into your post normally and the letter ‘v’ added, do not create a clickable link!

Example: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJjeG4ZFn6E

(Added: Substituted this vid of baby otter Sydney just stone cold being all cute. Because of the otter cutness.)

If you want to embed High/HD Quality video use httpvh:// instead (Video High Defintion).

(Added: Holy Moly! The farce is strong in this one.)
To embed playlists use httpvp:// (eg. httpvp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=528026B4F7B34094)

Smart Youtube also supports migrated blogs from WordPress.com using

* httpv:// – regular video
* httpvh:// – high/HD quality
* httpvp:// – playlist
* – supported for blogs migrated from wordpress.com