Thursday, July 24, 2008

God's Radio

Ditto everything I said about the radio a few days ago for church.

341 hymns in the book ÷ 52 sundays a year = at least 6 original songs per week. (Can God get tired of "The Spirit of God"?)

Also: I dislike how we all seem to think "We Thank the O God For a Prophet" is a song to the prophet on account of that first line. I get the feeling people think that "his goodness and mercy" is the prophet's, not God's.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Revenge of the Night Person

So I've been making good progress on becoming a morning person. That is, until a few weeks ago.

Sometime after crashing Mary's bike, my old nightself made a comeback I couldn't believe. I went from getting up cheerily(ish) before 8 to stumbling from bed to couch for a nap at around 11. It was weird how quickly it happened.

Then I got sick. I NEVER get sick! Even when I do get sick, it's only barely sick (I barely had a cold), but since I never get sick, getting sick destroys me. I have ultimate respect for those who still manage to do something with themselves through sickness1, because it only takes a tiny amount to make me completely worthless. As evidence of my inability to do anything at all when incommoded, I offer Exhibit A:

Exhibit A: click to enlarge

Clearly I got sick sometime around weeks 4 and 5 of my 10,000 pages goal. Luckily I had been such an overachiever earlier on.

1 Before gloating, read The Journal of a Disappointed Man. And I'm not talking about pain; that's different.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cruel Summer

Being in Houston for the summer, I am with car. Being with car means I am with radio. And here's what I've noticed:

Houston went through a real bad spell a few years ago of having very few good stations. It seemed whenever we got one that was decent, it would soon turn into a tejano station. That's what happened to Rock 101, at least (the only station I've ever heard play Rush without a request). But in the past year or two, things have really turned around. There's an 80s station, a pop top 40, a classic rock, a modern rock, an easy listening, a few dance/hip-hop/rap, and at least two good country stations. To top it off, Houston recently got Jack FM (formatless, DJ-less, requestless radio), a station called Country Legends (which specializes in George and Dolly), and the oldies station has dropped the 50s doo-wop and moved up in time a decade to cover the classic rock station's butt (sorry if that makes you feel old).

This is good. It means that our Accord's 12 FM presets are locked and loaded and that the CDs can stay in the doohickey between the seats, not causing any accidents.1

However, I can't help but notice one odd thing: with all those stations, I still only hear the same twelve songs over and over. It turns out that "Pour Some Sugar On Me" counts as classic rock, 80s rock, modern rock, pop top 40, and even easy listening. So do all the Boston songs I don't like, and "Electric Avenue" (which I never recall hearing before 2004 but now can identify within 2 bars). Why? Why with all these options, all these stations, can I hear "Tainted Love" or "Land Down Under" at any time of any day?

I did some research, and it turns out that at least three of my most listened to stations are owned by the same company. Would it be so hard to coordinate efforts a little bit so as to prevent the overexposure of the public to REO Speedwagon and Peter Frampton?

I'm not really complaining—I'm sure there's a business model somewhere that explains all this. I'm just curious why, for as long as I can remember, I've never heard more than one Beatles or Michael Jackson song in a week no matter how much time I spend in the car, yet I can hear Lenny Kravitz's pretty-much-terrible cover of "American Woman" any time I like. Why, with 2 full greatest hits albums to choose from (one of which is tied with Thriller as the top selling album of all time), the radio has let me hear "One of These Nights" three times this week but hasn't given me "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "New Kid in Town," or "Tequila Sunrise" once the whole summer?

I don't know anyone with any kind of station loyalty. I don't know anyone who listens through the commercials instead of switching the station. I don't know anyone who listens to exactly one kind of music. I don't know anyone who approves of the way radio is done. (I don't know anyone who likes 3 Doors Down.2)

And I don't know anyone who wants to hear the same 20 songs over and over forever. Even if there was only one radio station, and even if that station played only hits, and even if it only played hits in, say, one genre from, say, one decade, it would have at least 1000 songs to choose from. Fifty minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 4 minutes a song—no song would need to be played more than twice, and the chances of me hearing it both times is slim slim slim.

Classic rock stations boast that they play 3 decades worth of hits, and "rock" is a broad term.

There's one group that I haven't minded (mound?) hearing a little too often, though: Ace of Base.

Good times, E. (I hope I never hear Lifehouse again, no matter how much money a station may be giving away.)

1 I can't figure out why, but no matter how many other stations crowd the buttons, the one farthest left is always, always the classical station. I keep thinking it's my dad, that he prefers to have that station at his fingertips, if only to feel more classy because of it—but it's my mom's car, not his. I'm changing it tomorrow.
2 Don't tell me. It would only harm our relationship.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Alexander Dumas isn't really seen as a great writer in a literary sense so much as in an action sense. But I found some gems in The Count of Monte Cristo. It was the longest book I've ever read, including the Old Testament (have I read all the pages in the Old Testament? Has anyone?1)

There are some situations which men instinctively comprehend but are unable to comment on intellectually. In such cases, the greatest poet is the one who emits the most powerful and the most natural cry. The crowd takes this cry for a complete story, and it is right to be satisfied with that, and still more so to find it sublime when it is truthful. (1174)

This next one struck because I often think about this Greek maxim in conjunction with John 17:3 and the MySpace blogospherical age we live in.

...It was, in reality, deliberate arrogance, an extreme example of aristocratic contempt, in short, the application of the maxim: "Admire yourself and others will admire you," a hundred times more useful in our days than the Greek one: "Know thyself," which has now been replaced by the less demanding and more profitable art of knowing others. (548–9)

And this last one is great because it groups Montaigne in with the greatest literature of all time. What, you don't know who Montaigne is? That's okay, I don't know who half the others are. This was said by the old priest in prison, by the way.

In Rome, I had nearly five thousand volumes in my library. By reading and re-reading them, I discovered that one hundred and fifty books, carefully chosen, give you, if not a complete summary of human knowledge, at least everything that it is useful for a man to know. I devoted three years of my life to reading and re-reading these hundred and fifty volumes, so that when I was arrested I knew them more or less by heart. In prison, with a slight effort of memory, I recalled them entirely. So I can recite to you Thucydides, Xenophon, Plutarch, Livy, Tacitus, Strada, Jornadès, Dante, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Spinoza, Machiavelli, and Bossuet; I mention only the most important. (156)

I read the Penguin edition, by the way. I love Penguin editions (I don't love penguin movies, though).

1 I'm looking at you, Deuteronomy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Why do we say "drive a car" and "ride a bike"? Shouldn't it be the other way around? I mean, it takes a lot more effort to keep a bike moving on down the road; one's legs are actually driving the cranks round and round. In a car we more or less just sit there and stretch our ankles back and forth. There's no leaning into turns, no ducking into the wind. Cars pretty much drive themselves, and if there is more than just the driver inside, the others are certainly riders.

Anyway, I've been riding around Sugar Land for the past few weeks, and I think it's interesting that I've gone down street after street that I'd never been down before. We moved here when I was six, yet I'd never been in Venetian Estates before this week. I'd never really ridden around the mansion on Lakeview. I don't think I'd even ever been on some of the streets in my own neighborhood that I've found. It's like I'm on a voyage of discovery.

The other day I waited only ten feet away as a train barreled past. I've done that in a car hundreds of times, but standing in the open air on a bike—it was brand new.

I don't know if I mentioned this, but back in Athens I saw a real live fox one day while riding. I also saw a couple dozen chipmunks, a large bird of prey, and a five-foot-long snake that was stretch out width-wise in the middle of the trail. I swerved to avoid running over it, luckily making for the tail side rather than the head side. I also saw a bunch of Indian kids out in a field playing cricket.