It includes a little running, but most of the terrain is too rough for that. (When I tried, I turned an ankle and went sprawling.) So it’s a combination of hiking and climbing.
Whatever it is, it’s hard to beat the venue: Moss Rock Preserve. There’s also plenty of area for jogging, but I’m enjoying this — whatever it is — more. Best of all, it’s only a couple of minutes away.
It’s decidedly unscientific. I can’t really measure the distance or the pace. All I can do is clock the time and my heart rate. I figure if I’m in the target zone for a half hour, it’s getting the job done. The workout ends with me in a sweat, ready to plunge into my work with new creative energy.
To help inspire you, here are a couple of photos I took during my workout this morning.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I decided recently that it was time to take my old CDs and MP3s and make them useful again. After all, I’ve invested a considerable amount of time and money over the years collecting music that I love. But my music had become fragmented and disorganized. Some was on old machines that had died. (Much was on my dear departed old iPod Classic. Sure, it was backed up. A little here, a little there. It was a mess.) I called the project Operation Rip, mostly because it made for a good headline.
Ripping and Syncing
While some of my albums were still “whole” in places where I could get them, I pretty much decided to re-rip all my CDs. Windows Media Player did this nicely. Note that there were a lot of options for this, including iTunes and Winamp.
As I noted before, I’ve divorced iTunes competely because it doesn’t let you sync your handset (aka iPod, iPad, tablet, etc.) to more than one computer. The Windows player did everything I wanted pretty easily, once I figured it out. I had enough disk space, so I went ahead and ripped most of my CDs. Predictably, there were a few that I looked at and wondered what I was smoking when I got them. I didn’t bother with those.
Once the music was converted, I organized most of it into playlists, then dragged it into a “sync list.” I plugged in my phone and tablet and let it churn. There was a little trap here. On both machines, I wanted all the music to reside on my 32GB digital SD card, which really wasn’t being used for anything else. I preferred to leave room on the device itself for other applications. I inadvertently synced some to the phone rather than the SD card, but I have that mostly worked out.
At this point, I was right where I was a few years ago with my first iPod. Nothing wrong with that. I can take my earphones or plug my phone or tablet into the car speakers or any of several devices using the standard 3.5 mm jack.
But I decided to take it a step further and make the music available in other rooms in the house. Enter Roku and Plex Server. There are actually several options that will stream music, pictures, movies and other media through your wireless system. I settled on Plex mainly because it looked the easiest.
Getting the music downstairs
The main library is managed on a machine in an upstairs bedroom, but I spend very little of my time up there. I decided to stream it to my two TV sets that are equipped with Roku boxes, which stream Netflix, Amazon and a lot of other “channels” to my TVs that are equipped with receivers and external speakers. One is in the den, where we do most of our TV watching. I installed the free Plex Server on the upstairs machine where I keep the music, and that made the music available elsewhere in the house. On my TV sets, Roku allowed me to add a Plex channel that sniffed out the signal and gave me a nice menu of my entire music catalog. (Note that this will work on other streaming boxes, including GoogleTV and some Blu-Ray players.)
I’m especially happy to have this on the TV in the basement room where I exercise — a good 30 stairs below the upstairs room where I ripped the music. I had been using Spotify to get music to the den, but the TV in the exercise room was equipped with an older Roku box that didn’t support the Spotify channel. The Plex server and channel made all my music easily accessible, pretty much eliminating the need for it. (That’s a good thing, because when my Spotify Premium service ends in a couple of weeks, it wouldn’t work anyway.
Which raises the question of whether I need Spotify at all. That’s just a matter of personal preference. The service allows me to hear music people are talking about, but I found that 90% of the time, I was streaming music that I already owned, scattered among my various machines. The essence of Operation Rip was to reclaim those MP3s into a well-ordered library.
A few days earlier, I had already downgraded my Spotify subscription from the $10-a-month premium service to the $5-a-month unlimited version. (The big difference is that without the Premium package, I can’t use Spotify on my tablet, phone or TV sets.) I finally went ahead and dropped it completely. For now, you can still use Spotify (with commercials) on a desktop for free for 10 hours a month, and that’s enough to explore new music.
I loved my iPod Classic. To this day, I think it was the best gadget ever for storing and taking music with you. I haven’t seen one in ages, though you can apparently still get the 160GB model from Apple for $249, even though Apple quit updating the software a while back.
Sadly, my iPod Classic died a few years ago, and I replaced it with a 16GB iPod Nano. Not a bad little box if your fingers are small enough to navigate it, and 16 gigs is OK if you don’t hoard.
Then I lost the Nano (it was about the size of a postage stamp), and I pondered my options. About that time, Spotify appeared, and for $10 bucks or so per month, without popping for a new iPod, I could have access to unlimited music of every conceivable sort, streamed to my desktop, tablet, Android phone and — now — even my TV, through my Roku box. I went with it, and I’ve loved it ever since.
But over the last couple of months, I grew uneasy about depending so heavily on streaming from a single service. They could go belly up (a very real possibility). The licenses that allow them to stream my favorites could expire. They could triple the rate. Then what? After all, I’m only renting the music. A second factor has been my frustration with being stuck in a no-coverage area, or on an airplane. Spotify Premium allows you to download some playlists for such times, but it is inconvenient. And what I have for offline listening is a tiny fraction of what I had on my old iPod Classic.
Finally, I’m realizing that the music I actually own is stuff I care about enough to have acquired.
But my collection was in terrible shape. The music was scattered around on different machines. In some cases I’d have two or three songs instead of the whole album. It didn’t matter much, though, because there was always Spotify.
Then a couple of things happened. The iPod Nano turned up, and I began to explore the music on it. I rummaged around and found my original CDs, and recovered MP3s that were scattered around among various devices. I spent some time listening to old friends I’d ignored — either because they aren’t on Spotify for licensing reasons (Beatles and Led Zeppelin come to mind), or because I’d just forgotten about them. I began to feel that I’d lost something by letting my music collection deteriorate.
So about a week ago I started Operation Rip. I began re-ripping, organizing and bringing together my fragmented music collection. One of the first tasks was to decide what software to use. iTunes went out quickly because it’s hopelessly bloated and Apple’s draconian policies make it almost impossible to have my music where I am. (Yes, I know about Apple’s cloud. No thanks. My Androids have slots for 32GB micro SD cards that work just fine, and if that ever feels cramped, I can go to 64GB for about $50. You guys in Apple’s closed system that doesn’t take SD cards are on your own.)
I finally settled on Windows Media Player for my Windows machines. It works, and it doesn’t get in the way. That seemed like enough. On my Androids (Galaxy S3 phone and 10″ Tab 2), I’m using Winamp. I may switch to DoubleTwist, but Winamp is OK for now.
Operation Rip continues. Some CDs have been collecting dust in odd places like my woodshop and under the seat of the car. And I’ve picked up some more at the local second hand store, where I’ve resumed my old habit of spending an occasional lunch hour scouting for a bargain. In terms of buying new stuff, I’m liking the looks of Amazon’s service that lets you buy the physical CD while downloading the MP3s for immediate use. It worked fine for some Leonard Cohen music this week.
For now, I’ve cut the cord to streaming music for my phone and tablet. We’ll see where this goes.
I know, because the folks at Petco, where they’ve clipped his toenails for years, tell me that they can’t clip his toenails without the copy of his rabies certificate. He is wearing a tag proving he got the shot, but apparently that doesn’t count.
Just how dangerous is this beast? Apparently, there are one to two cases of rabies per year in the U.S. in domestic dogs.
There are 78 million pet dogs in the United States. Most of them are vicious critters like Jack. If my math is correct, that means there’s a 0.00000256 percent chance of Jack having rabies.
Being terrible at math, I wondered how many years we’d have to go between cases where one of those cases actually finds its way into a groomer’s sling and bites the groomer. So I checked my favorite veterinarian, Todd Carter. He didn’t do the math, but his assessment was, “The risk of a groomer getting rabies from an infected dog is less than that of getting randomly shot by a psycho in the mall. But it’s still legal to carry a gun to the mall.”
Yeah, that sounds about right. But here’s one more statistical question: How many lawyers does Petco have, anyway? My answer: One too many.