Tag Archives: baby boomers

Random thoughts on a cold spring morning

Welcome to anyone who happens by after clicking on my name over at Blogcritics.net.  I have been exceptionally wordy this month, and have made the list of top writers for the month of February, which earns me a direct link on the main Blogcritics page. 
So, I thought it might be appropriate at this juncture to offer something different and not on my Blogcritics writing space.First, as many of you know, I write mostly about House.  The TV show and the character.  And, by the by, the splendid actor who plays him—the magnificent Hugh Laurie.   
These days, I seem to write a lot of reviews, reflections and commentaries, leaving no time to write fanfiction, which I both write and write about (how “meta” of me!).  You can find all of my House fanfiction at fanfiction.net on my writer page.  I write angsty, and often long, stories that tend to fill in the blanks between scenes and episodes.I also have a LiveJournal where I write about House.  More reviews, fanfiction and discussion are to be had there.  
I also love politics and have a page at Daily Kos, the most famous progressive/liberal blog on the internet.  I haven’t written a lot there, because there are just many postings per day, that one’s posts tend to disappear within about five minutes, replaced by more recent ramblings, so… I spend a lot of time on the Internet, and some have pointed out that my laptop and I have become fused at the fingertips (which makes it awfully difficult to play guitar, which I have to do for a living, so I guess it’s a metaphor.)  I spend an inordinate amount of time surfing things Housian, but I suppose I could call that research.  Of course that doesn’t explain why I did that even before I started my blog.  YMMV (as they say). 
My favorite House places are:  The Official FOX House page (especially since they’ve linked directly to my Blogcritics House Trivia Quiz–have you taken it yet?) and House’s House of Whining (a fan forum).  My favorite forum is “Hugh Laurie: Too Handsome for Paperwork.”  I cruise to a couple of livejorunals for news, like House Daily (for the pretty pictures) and House-MD for news.  
For news, I like MSNBC.com, especially the Keith Olbermann page (he’s wonderful…not balanced…but wonderfully wry, dry, intelligent, and on our –my–side of the political spectrum)  I also read the New York Times, CNN.com, and of course Blogcritics. 
So, how did I get here?  My official bio says that I have had an eclectic and eccentric career, and that’s true.  I’ve been a microbiologist, a business magazine associate editor, a food industry newsletter editor, a regulatory affairs scientist/analyst in the chemical and medical device industries, an environmental public affairs consultant and policy analyst, an environmental writer and (for the last 12 years) a Jewish Educator/cantorial person (Hey, talk about your mid-life career change!).  I have two novels in progress (they’ll never be finished, this is much more fun), and two children, more or less still in progress (although the older one is graduating college next month, so I guess, she’s almost a finished product).  
This all makes me sound older than I intended, but I confess to being 53 (sigh) and married for 27 years.   So, welcome to the end of (my) thought process for today.
 Hope you come back again after you’ve browsed around a bit.  

LP to mp3: Zapping Your Record Collection into the 21st Century

Like most couples of a certain age, my husband and I grew up spending our allowance, and then paychecks buying records (and eventually, cassettes). By the time we got married in the early 1980s our combined record collection totaled approximately 1,000 albums, taking up several bookcase shelves in our living room. CDs soon took the place of the LPs and cassettes as more bookcases were cluttered with another thousand (smaller and shinier) disks. Jewel cases seemed to proliferate in all the nooks and crannies of our home.But our vinyl collection sat collecting dust as we, reluctant to fork out cash to replace our outdated and broken turntable, wondered how to once again enjoy our classic rock, folk, Broadway, classical and jazz recordings (many of which were long out of print)  that never made the leap into the digital age. Library of Congress recordings of Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy; Introducing the Beatles; The Compleat Tom Paxton. Even favorites that had been digitally re-released: A Night at the Opera (Queen); my husband’s Hendrix, Clapton, Johnny and Edgar Winter collection, my original Broadway cast recording of The Music Man (”borrowed” from my parents on a visit home years earlier) lay dormant as we refused to re-purchase CD versions of recordings already in our library on vinyl. We opted to spend our music dollars on new tracks, assuring ourselves that one day, our one-of-kind 1957 Tom Lehrer album—a priceless auction buy–would once again sing to us.And then the iPod thing happened, and mp3 players of every breed propagated on retail shelves, removing us by yet one more technological generation from our beloved record albums. “If only,” we cried, “if only there was a way to stuff those glorious tracks into our iPods;” if only.I searched the oracle of the Internet, invoking the appropriately syntaxed keywords into a Google search and I found there my answer. At least I thought I did.  As I dove into dozens of “how-to” articles written in cryptic techno-ese that I, a non-audiophile, could not decipher, I lost hope. Until I stumbled upon a device called a USB Turntable. Hmmm. Seems easy enough, I mused, glancing through the instructions and descriptions I found online. Plug the turntable’s USB cable into the computer’s USB port. Place album on turntable, start recording software, start turntable. Recording made. (Well, of course you have to flip the record when it reaches the end of side one, but you knew that, right?) Cool. Of course, nothing is ever quite as easy as it seems when you are reading a product review or looking at a user guide without the product actually in hand.However, I was convinced that this was, indeed, do-able. I went out and purchased a turntable. Several manufacturers make USB turntables, including ION and Numark, which can be had for about $150.00. We settled on the Numark TT-USB because it seemed very sturdy and easy to use. And the price was right.The turntable is plugged directly into computer’s USB port; using the computer’s speakers to hear and monitor the recording. And, after a few false starts (I have to learn to actually READ  “quick start guides” before I start playing with my toys), we got the turntable up and working. And thus began a multi-year project (still ongoing) to convert every one of our 1,000 LPs to digital, and upload them into our iPods. That’s approximately 20,000 tracks, making me awfully grateful for our 80 gigabyte iPods. The turntables come packaged with basic recording software, but its worthwhile to buy an upgraded LP to digital transfer software package. There are several out there, including CFB Software’s “LP Recorder” and “LP Ripper.” Nero also includes an LP converter in several of its recording packages. Acoustica is another good package, but is slightly more complicated to use (in my opinion), although it has a lot of cool features.  You can create .wav files or mp3 files.  I suggest first creating a .wav file, the highest quality recording you can create.  Unfortunately .wav files are huge and take up way too much hard drive space to keep forever; and they would obliterate your mp3 player’s storage very, very quickly.  Fortunately you will be able to delete the .wav file once you have completed the conversion process. Most of our vinyl recordings (even the most well-cared for) are scratched and full of “pops” and “clicks.” Therefore, you should run your newly digitized recording through something called a de-clicker. You should perform this task on the .wav file and before you convert it to an mp3.  The de-clicker we use finds typically finds upwards of 15,000 clicks, pops and other distortions in about 15 seconds, removing them instantaneously. Once processed through the  de-clicker, you can save your clean recording as an mp3 file. Then, to save space, you can delete the .wav file.  From that point on, you can do what you want with mp3: burn it onto CD, synch onto your mp3 player or iPod, or phone, keep it in a RealAudio or Window Media Player Library, etc.The only problem is that in our fast-forward, high-speed CD-ripping age, you can’t hurry an analog recording like an LP. Recording an album onto the computer still takes 20 minutes per side. But it’s so worth it. I knew it the moment I was able to hop on the treadmill and listen to Jethro Tull on my iPod. Too cool.