Oct 122017

We just got back from a few days at the beach. We were able to see a few effects of Hurricane Nate at Fort Morgan, but really, almost nothing happened that far east. There was still a little water over the road here and there from the storm surge, and a little debris on the beach, but that was it.

I’ll tell you this: the heat and the humidity made it like mid-July on Tuesday. Wow. Heat index is tough on a fat guy.

 Posted by at 10:24 pm
Oct 062017

Sometimes I like to pick out exactly what I want to listen to. And sometimes I like to be surprised.

You ever think about why it feels so good to have your back scratched or rubbed? A big part of it is that you don’t know what the person is going to do next. You can capture some of it yourself, but you know where you’re going. That robs it of its magic.

I’m looking for a good service to stream music to me in that backscratching sort of way—it knows what I like, but I don’t know what it’s going to do next. I need a “deep cut” knob.

I’ve tried most extensively with Pandora, which seems promising because you can specify a primary song or artist, and then “tune” it with secondary ones (called “adding variety”). But it’s just too ham-fisted and overbearing. It doesn’t do any “thinking” on its own. Examples:

  • If I give a thumbs-up to a Joan Jett song, the station suddenly becomes two-thirds Joan Jett or The Runaways.
  • It can’t fill in blanks with good guesses. If, for example, I have a Judas Priest station but one of its variety specifications is Nick Lowe, it won’t try to set an interesting range there. It’ll just play Judas Priest songs and Nick Lowe songs.
  • It just doesn’t “know” enough. I have a Simple Minds station that apparently only knows four Simple Minds songs. There are a dozen that are both worth hearing and should be common enough to make the grade.

I played with Spotify a bit last night, but it makes a very safe playlist that I could easily make myself. You say Black Sabbath, it says “Iron Man.” You say AC/DC, it says “You Shook Me All Night Long.” You say Boston, it says “More Than a Feeling.” Etc. It’s no better than turning on WTAK, and that’s a low bar indeed.

Amazon Prime stations are better than I thought they’d be, but mostly because I can skip as many as I want. For ’80s rock or the yacht rock station, for example, I’ll reliably find that every tenth or twelfth song is one I want to hear.

So whatcha got, readers? Do you have a way to listen to music that is good at “knowing” what you like and delights you with a surprise once in a while? I don’t mind paying a little, but I’d like to stay with Internet offerings (as opposed to satellite, for example) for the convenience.

 Posted by at 11:32 am
Oct 052017
  • God be with all who are hurting as a result of the massacre in Las Vegas earlier this week. I hope we have some more information soon, because it’s clear there are some big puzzle pieces missing right now.
  • I didn’t have it in my world view that Tom Petty would die. (At 66, I shouldn’t have, for a good while longer.) Like many, I’ve been considering his body of work over the past several days, and he wrote more of the soundtrack of late 20th-century America than you realize at a glance. Thanks for everything, sir. RIP.
  • Though I’d have rather not had to buy it, I’m having a good experience with my Honor 6X so far. This is good kit for the money, definitely.
  • On that note, Android and I are friends, but we’re never going to be besties. I suspect I’ll always be a little irritated that Microsoft couldn’t manage to deliver a solid Windows phone experience. The OS was a true pleasure to use.
  • Did you see my review of Big Spring Café at Rocket City Mom?
  • AJ Foyt Enterprises confirmed today that Tony Kanaan will drive the #14 in 2018. No word yet on the #4.
  • The lower humidity is nice, but I’m ready for it to cool on off for real—like upper 40s to low 50s at night.
 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Oct 042017

Dear Roger,

I hope you don’t mind if I call you Roger. You’ve been on my television for long enough that you feel like a friend, and plus I’ve never seen anyone call you anything else.

Photo of Helio Castroneves is from the linked Team Penske story.

I am writing concerning your 2018 plans for Helio Castroneves. As you know, Helio has driven CART/IndyCar for Team Penske for the past 18 years, to some considerable success. He has won 30 open-wheel races for you, including three Indianapolis 500s. You announced today that in 2018, he would drive sportscars for you, running only the Indianapolis 500 in an IndyCar.

Please reconsider this decision, for two reasons.

First—Roger, you have a racing career that is more than six decades long. You have been part of American open-wheel racing at its very zenith. You were also right there when the split nearly killed it—a catastrophe from which many thought the sport may never recover.

We’ve been limping along for a while, and while the quality of the racing has been outstanding, it’s only this year that we’ve seen a few sparks of growth in IndyCar. We have a little bit of momentum. We have exciting new bodywork next year. We have a charismatic, American, Team Penske champion. Against this promising backdrop, Helio is one of the biggest stars of the series—one of two real faces of IndyCar. To remove him from the series at this juncture is unnecessarily destructive.

Second—frankly, Helio deserves better. He has been ceaselessly loyal to you, and clearly regards you almost paternally. As much as he has achieved in Penske livery, he deserves an announced farewell tour—a chance for him, as well as his fans, to say goodbye—that could also be a publicity boon. Sitting on the wall after the Sonoma race, clearly sad but trying so hard not to sound dejected or unappreciative, is no way for this star to end his IndyCar career.

Helio Castroneves is an extremely talented race car driver, and will serve the Penske sportscar effort very well. Please, let’s make that first Penske sportscar season 2019. Let’s have Helio full-time in the Team Penske #3 in IndyCar for 2018—for the fans, for the health of the sport, and for Helio himself.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Bo Williams

 Posted by at 8:03 pm is using WP-Gravatar