Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Simple Things

It's my mother-in-law's birthday today, and she asked for music.

Easy enough. I've got plenty of that!

I enjoy making up mix CD's for people - well, for certain people. If I know them well enough, I can generally find songs that they'd like.

Thus started my "simple project". I started last night, picking out potential songs, writing them down. I had quite a list. I knew I probably wouldn't use all of them, but I wrote them down as "potentials". I ended up with enough songs for two CD's. Which was fine with me. Why not?

Then I started sequencing them. Sequencing alone is an art form. The flow has to be right. And that's difficult to determine, until after it's done and you listen back to it. Then you realize - oops - that's not quite right. Damn. Then (if you're me) you start over. Cuz I'm sort of obsessive about things like that.

Unfortunately, I didn't even get that far. My wonderful Windows Media Player, for some reason, has suddenly decided that it only wants to put 11 songs (at the most) on one CD. I had determined that 17 songs should fit on one CD, but my WMP thought differently. And to top it off, it'll record as much of that last song as it decides will fit, and then it'll just cut it off. So, I'm left with half a song at the end of my CD.

So, I fiddled around with any settings I could find that I thought might do something. That went on for a couple of hours, with three CD's dumped into the garbage. Then it was late and I decided, the hell with it, and I went to bed.

This morning, stubborn person that I am, I thought, hey, why not search the net to find a free CD burner? So, the first site I found recommended a wonderful option. Glowing reviews. So, I downloaded it.

And I burned a CD! Cool! Then I tried to play it. It showed that it was playing, but there was no sound! So, back to the net. I searched for reported problems with this particular software and found that, yes, this problem had been discovered by others as well. Alas, there was no known fix. The responder recommended downloading an earlier version. So I did that.

So, I went through the laborious process of adding files to be burned to the new program. And I tried to burn a CD. This time it told me that my CD was corrupted. So I tried another blank CD. Same message. Okay, time to remove this program from my hard drive.

Back to the net. The same website (I should have learned!) also recommended another program. So, I downloaded that. This one also told me that there was something wrong with my blank CD. (I think I must have bought a batch of defective CD's last time I was at Target). I tried a couple of other blank CD's; same message. Time to delete this program from my hard drive.

You'd think I would have given up by now. No! Now I was on a quest.

So, back to the net. Found another site that recommended various software programs. I chose one of them based on the description (that basically it could burn mp3 files onto a blank disc).

Eureka! Finally! Something worked! I admit, I was holding my breath.

I like to give credit where it's due, so if you're looking for a free CD burner (if you've had it up to here with WMP), try Express Burn

Here are two to avoid (and I'm sorry, guys, but you took away a couple of hours from my life that I'm never going to get back): burnsetup and EXP Studio CD Ripper.

Express Burn works swell. AND it actually will burn as many minutes as the blank CD tells you it will hold. What a concept, Microsoft, eh?

So, I figure, I started around 7:00 last night, and worked until 10:00. That's three hours. Then I started again around 9:00 this morning and worked until about 1:00. Four more hours. Then (after a nap), I burned my second CD and typed up the nice labels for both. So, all in all, this little "fun" project took me about 9 hours. That's more than one work day! AND I didn't even get paid for it!

Technology is great, isn't it?

The sad part is, this experience is not out of the norm for me. I wonder what I got frustrated about before computers came into existence.

On the plus side, I'm listening to the first CD for my mom-in-law right now, and so far, it sounds REALLY GOOD.

All of this leads me to "the simple things".

We had a bird feeder on our deck over the winter. It created a huge mess, but it was still worthwhile. We had a big clay pot that we'd left out on the deck over the winter, and it seems that some of those bird seeds found their way into the pot.

So, this spring, after we'd planted petunias in that pot, lo and behold, we found strange unknown things sprouting up.

And today, there was a bright yellow flower. And here it is:

I wish I could always keep that wildflower in mind. Because I tend to get frustrated a lot by things nowadays, and I lose track of the important stuff.

Like wildflowers.

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