Can Pandora Regain the Top Spot?

I have a written a ton about streaming music over the years because it is so important to me.

In that time there have been quite a few changes in my favorite method of streaming music.  You can read all those articles for details, but let me summarize:

  1. Last.FM started out on top (my nerdy need to track what I listen to was what hooked me)
  2. Pandora took over as my favorite when they added the ability to sync with Last.FM stats
  3. iTunes looked like a world beater but quickly dropped the ball – catalog was good, streaming was spotty and tracking non-existent so Pandora stayed in the lead
  4. Spotify always had a big edge when it came to listening to a specific song or album but couldn’t compete with the ability to create radio stations and didn’t track listens
  5. Spotify added the ability to sync with Last.FM and the expanded catalog just became too powerful.  It began to outweigh Pandora’s ability to create a radio station based on a style or artist.  I jumped ship to Spotify
  6. Pandora is coming back!

Pandora Music Internet RadioHere is how I consume music streaming now.  If I am in the mood for a type of music, I select Pandora and play a station like Yacht Rock Radio, Arctic Monkeys Radio etc.  If I hear something that I know I want to hear again, I pull out SoundHound to detect the song and artist and then click the Spotify button – it is then added to my Spotify account.  Once on Spotify, I can listen to any track or album I want whenever I want,  Spotify is the only service I pay for.

Now  it appears that Pandora is going to add the ability to create on-demand playlists…  that is the only thing keeping me loyal to Spotify. If Pandora pulls it off it will once again be the clear best deal. I am not canceling my Spotify account anytime soon but you can bet I will be watching the changes over at Pandora very closely.

Talk to me.  What streaming music do you use?  How?  Why?  Do you pay?

by Chris Doelle

Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

When Science Turns to Selling

Sapiens book reviewSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Haran is to me, another horrible example of pop science books masquerading as fact. Haran jumps to wild conclusions that fit his agenda at the expense of real facts or evidence. On the surface, the book reads as an intelligent treatise on anthropology but the conclusions are just too much of a stretch.

The book is written very well and is a lot of fun to read but it is clearly agenda-driven. Haran is apologetic about everything that he personally finds distasteful – religion, meat-eating, monogamy and even heterosexual pairings. His self-hate is aimed at us as “Sapiens” but excludes him personally.  He tends to identify more with the foragers of his book – who he heap praise upon at every turn.

The one interesting takeaway is how homo-sapiens succeeded through their ability to create fictions. We convince ourselves that a slip of green paper (money) has great value just because it has $100 printed on it. We also convince ourselves that our laws are real rather than just a fiction we have agreed upon. By doing so, we can work together in much greater numbers than our competitors. Because of this use of language and ability to “see” and “believe” in something unseen we can do more collectively.

From there he slams religion as another collective “fiction”- something he does just about every tenth sentence throughout the book, regardless of the subject. He is quick to deride previous scientific research as “at best, guesses” but makes his assertions as fact throughout.

The book reminds me of an old saying “most dogs have fleas, but not all fleas have dogs.” Haran sees a lot of dogs underneath his relatively non-scientific search for fleas. This is just the latest example of agenda-driven “science.”

by Chris Doelle

Apr 19, 2016 - Entertainment, Music, Spotify    No Comments

What Music Do You Work To?

“All music is beautiful.” – Billy Strayhorn

good music doesn't have an expiration dateI literally cannot imagine life without music.  We all have music that moves us, soothes us, fires us up… and get’s us in the mood for “other” things.  I chose the quote above because my tastes are extremely eclectic – I am as likely to be found listening to classic rock, pop, oldies, country, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, dance, trance, classical, hillbilly, bluegrass, indie rock, singer-songwriter, acoustic, acapella, blues and even some rap as anything else.  There are very few heavy metal or screamo in my playlists, but I really dig a lot of different styles.

The subject of this post is work music.  I find that I listen to different music depending on the type of work I am doing:

  • Writing: anything instrumental (lyrics really distract me)✝
  • Artistic design: something upbeat with a relatively quick beat (stuff like funk or some of the faster 50’s-60’s rock)
  • Physical work: positive and upbeat (hard rock, love songs with a strong beat – funk works well with that too)Repetitive work that isn’t strenuous or doesn’t take concentration (something chill – melancholy, jazz, soul, harmony)

Again, there are a ton of other music for other things, but I am focusing on work only.

Your turn.

What is the music you listen to while working?  What type of work do you do?  If you’re in an office setting, I understand you can’t CRANK IT UP… do you use headphones, play is quietly at your desk?

✝ Although I am writing this post listening to music, I am not listening to instrumental music.  The mention of funk has me listening to some of Stevie Wonder’s greatest funk tracks.

by Chris Doelle

PS. Let’s be friends on Spotify if we are not already. (click image below)

spotify logo

The Sugar-Free Me

Health is Determined by Thousands of Every-Day Choices

sugar addiction cycle

CLICK to enlarge

This time two years ago, I wrote a post on day 5 of a 10 day no-sugar challenge.  It turned out that going 10 days without sugar was pretty easy for me.  This time I am not planning to quit sugar for a specific number of days, but just quit sugar.

I am not naive.  I am not saying I will never eat sugar.  I think I just need to take a break, and in taking that break, reset my desire for sweets.

Also, I am not going to go crazy and remove anything and everything containing sugar… that is nearly impossible without drastically changing everything about what I eat.  I plan to stop consuming things that have little or no health value – cookies, soft drinks, ice cream, candy etc.   If I get a craving for sweet and the only thing available is an apple or banana, that is much better choice than 20 cookies.  Yes, fruit contains sugars but it is in a format that is much healthier and contains useful things like fiber as well.

The reason for the change is a plateau I have hit in weight loss.  I did some fasting in the Fall of 2014 and dropped about 25 pounds.  I managed to keep it off until around this time last year (when a pretty major life change happened.)  I gained weight through the end of 2015 – not up to my pre-fast weight, but ten pounds more than my recent low.

Since January of this year, I started dropping weight again but very slowly.  I have been doing it simply by eating better and making sure I do some activity every day.  I haven’t ever cut out the bad food, just made it a treat instead of a meal.

Long story short, I am cutting out the blatantly worthless sugary foods.

What is your experience with sugar? How much do you take in?  Is it easy for you to live without?

by Chris Doelle

PS.  There is some sugar I will still keep around…

Meet the another fake show

Don’t waste your time on this one

American Colony: Meet the HutteritesWell since I don’t watch a lot of television, apparently I missed the show American Colony: Meet the Hutterites when it first aired. When I saw it was on my Amazon Video listing as something I might be interested in, I clicked on it.  Wow – what garbage.  My opinion of my Amazon Video account has lowered because of this offering.

I thought it would be neat to take a look into the lives of these communal families and figured since it was by National Geographic it would be legit.  After about three minutes in, it was obvious that the show was scripted and the “drama” was all staged.  There were only one or two lines in the entire first episode that didn’t sound completely setup.  If you are going to do a fake show – call it a drama – not “reality tv” – and hire some actual actors.

I jumped on the internet once I started feeling scammed and first was surprised to find that the show actually aired back in 2012.  (Told you I don’t watch much TV)  I then went on Facebook to look up some of the people in the show and sure enough, just like the Duck Dynasty scammers (I have still never seen an episode of that one) I found the Hutterites not in their traditional garb working on the farm but playing golf, going to NASCAR races, attending college etc., all dressed in very mainstream attire.

In researching how this show was created, I came across a report that shows not only were the viewers deceived, but the Hutterite community too was scammed.  Told that National Geographic was doing a documentary about their lifestyle, they were roped into creating this travesty of journalism and threatened with lawsuits if they didn’t play their “fake” role.

I don’t now what is more disgusting…  that ‘producers’ continue to try to pawn these scams off as reality or that they are so devious in their methodology.  Yes, I know I am late to the game on this one but I just now saw it.  On the bright side, services like Amazon Video do allow us to find things we’ve missed – even if we have to weed through some chaff.

Chris Doelle

 

Is This a Lost Generation of Youth?

Will this Generation Ever Do Some Work?

hard work spotlights the character of people, some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, some don't turn up at allEveryone has heard that Millennials are a bunch of shiftless, lazy, self-absorbed know-it-alls that won’t unplug from their video games and won’t stop taking selfies long enough to learn a trade, get a job or do anything of real value.  We have heard that kids today don’t go outside and play.  We have heard that they don’t understand work.  We have heard them shouting “gimme gimme gimme” at Bernie Sanders rallies.  Is this reality?  Is this a fair description of the current generation of young people?  Sadly, it is.

But, rather than just piling on and joining the chorus of folks perplexed and/or pissed off about this generation’s lack of work ethic or selflessness… I have good news.

What is overlooked in the equation is that THESE will be the competition for those young people who do get off their duff and work hard.  That is huge!!

Motivated young people will have a tremendous advantage over the rest of the ME-llennials.  Rather than scraping and clawing their way through the throngs of people raised with a strong work ethic and solid morals, they will be going up against these lumps.  The opportunity for those who don’t shy away from challenges and don’t shrink at the thought of hard work will be limitless.

If you are (or know) a young person who understands that lazy pays off now but hard work pays off in the future but much more, there are a couple of things you should do:

  1. – give them a big hug and say, “I really love that you have  character and work ethic.”
  2. – share this article with them
  3. – stand back and watch them succeed!

by Chris Doelle

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work – Thomas Edison

Are the little things taking up too much of our mind space?

Do you spend your time on big things?

Are the little things taking up too much of our mind space?

one of my favorite sayings

If we spend our lives focusing on the unimportant things, we won’t have time for the things that matter.  I have given a lot of thought to problems, frustrations and what constitutes a “big thing” or a “little thing” lately and come away with a few observations.

I am struck by just how many people get bent out of shape over truly insignificant things.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting I am the arbiter of what is important and what is useless.  There are a few things however, that I think most would agree on.

Traffic is probably the one that piques my curiosity the most when I see someone outraged while driving.  It is the one we all deal with and it is one that arises most days.  While I don’t find sitting in traffic enjoyable, I do not seem to get as bent about it as a lot of folks.  Why is that?

Is it because I have an easier life than those popping blood vessels on the side of their head when someone cuts them off??  Not at all.  Is it because my time is less valuable than the folks shouting obscenities at no one in particular when a slow down turns into a standstill?  Nope.

I grew up in a family of traffic screamers (except for my mom) and certainly have the training (and vocabulary) to have become a world-class irate driver… but I didn’t.  I often sit bemused or watch quizzically at the folderol* when someone starts getting vocal about drivers in other vehicles (that can neither hear nor see what frustration they seem to have caused.)

One of my favorite sayings that seems to apply is:

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Buddha

It doesn’t affect them at all and can go on to screw up your entire day.

I have paid a lot of attention to what gets people riled up… what things get them flustered… what tends to derail them from just enjoying life.  I have noticed that more often than not, it is something quite trivial.

I’m no great philosopher  (although I fancy myself a decent amateur) but I really do enjoy watching, analyzing and learning from and about my fellow man.  What surprising hot buttons do you have?  Not the standard things like someone lying to you, cheating you etc.  What are the ones that other people tell you to “take a chill pill” when you go off.  (For some of you, it will be when someone tell you to relax or take that chill pill.)

by Chris Doelle

* fol·de·rol

ˈfäldəˌräl,ˈfôldəˌrôl/
noun
  1. trivial or nonsensical fuss.
    “all the folderol of the athletic contests and the cheerleaders”
    • dated
      a showy but useless item.
      plural noun: folderols; plural noun: falderals

My mom taught me that word the other day when she was at the hospital experiencing pokes, prods, vitals recording, and all manner of questioning.  She thought it all unnecessary and said, “This is certainly a bunch of folderol just for me.”  I absolutely love it.

 

Let Thy Food be Thy Medicine

Apologies to Hippocrates for stealing the title of this post from his famous quote, but it perfectly reflects my focus recently.  I have been eating poorly (serious understatement) and want to reverse that.  I don’t come to this lacking information.  It has long been an area of interest for me.

I’ve watched a lot of documentaries on health, food, vitamins etc. and other health related films over the years.  Among them are:

Food Matters
Super Size Me
King Corn
That Sugar Film
Fed Up
Food, Inc.
Farmegeddon
Vegucated
Forks Over Knives
Hungry for Change
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead

These are just a few of the food-related documentaries that I have seen.  I am most certainly forgetting some that I saw years ago.  I am also sure that there are a ton of great docs out there I have never heard of – if you know of one not on my list, please let me know.

The latest thing I checked out on the subject however, was a book,  The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat by Tim Spector.  It is a fascinating look at how our health is affect – in fact, controlled by our gut biome.  The theory is that the bacteria that live in our gut could have more to do with our weight and health than the food we eat.  It also appears to play a factor in everything from our food cravings to how we metabolize what we eat.

The idea behind the book is that we can modify our micro-biome by what we eat and that in turn, will not only drastically modify our health but also make it easier to stick to eating the good stuff.

So what foods improve the makeup of your gut?  Well, as it turns out, it is as unique as you are.  Some people do great with added garlic, some need to eat more leeks and on and on.  There are a few things that seem to be beneficial to all.  Fiber is a big one.

I had thought that fiber going through the system sort of ‘scraped’ the plaque and bad stuff away, but the real benefit of fiber is that it stays together longer than other foods thus providing a source of energy for the bacteria throughout the trip through the colon, and intestines.  Staying together longer allows more varieties of your biome to feed throughout the trip.

Another thing that has been removed from most of our diets is food in its natural state.  As we process foods more and more, we kill the useful bacteria. In our all out water against bacteria, we not only kill the dangerous ones, but the ones we rely upon for our health.  This scorched-earth strategy has the effect of being more harmful than good.

The Diet Myth is a great read and worth you time. Check it out…  its really good stuff.

This book and others like it continue to show us how very little we know about our bodies.  Thousands of years of medicine have certainly not gone to waste but to think we understand it all is arrogant and dangerous.

Time and again, I have found that my cravings usually point me in the right direction.  Yes, I crave a Coke now and again and know that is not a good choice, but when I really pay attention to cravings it is exactly what my body needs.  I rarely crave really bad stuff and most of my poor eating is a result of eating out of boredom.

What are you experiences?

Chris Doelle

Steve Jobs is Not What You Think

When I saw the latest Steve Jobs movie advertised I thought, “Oh that will be interesting.”  Yes, it will be the same fanboy – rah rah stuff we always get, but because I am a fanboy of the computer revolution, I would like it.  When I saw Michael Fassbender as the lead, I thought, “geez, he doesn’t even look like Jobs.”  When I saw Kate Winslet was in the cast, I figured it was worth a shot just because I think she is great.  And I have to say that Seth Rogen did a wonderful job as Steve Wozniak as well as Jeff Daniels as John Scully.

michael fassbender - steve jobsThis is NOT Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) (TV) Played by Noah Wyle and this is NOT Jobs (2013) Played by Ashton Kutcher.  This is more of the nitty-gritty, down and dirty Steve Jobs.  It is more like the book by Walter Isaacson (my review) because it is based largely on the book and co-written by Isaacson.

Fassbender once again surprised me with his performance. (He absolutely rocked 12 Years a Slave .) I completely forgot about my reservations about his lack of physical similarity and by the end, he WAS Steve Jobs.  His performance made this a film worth seeing – period.

This was a compelling story about Jobs as a person, not the glitz and showmanship, but the mind behind the man.

If you skipped watching this film because it seemed like “another Steve Jobs” movie, you missed the best one.  Grab this one and you will not regret it.

RATING 8 out of 10

Chris Doelle

Dec 29, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Chris Doelle’s Top Artists for 2015

Okay, so yesterday I posted the Chris Doelle’s Top Songs for 2015 and will follow-up now with the artists themselves.  These are the Top Artists for 2015 according to me:

Top Artists of 20151.  Billy Joel – 117 plays (+8)
2.  P!nk – 102 plays (+4)
3.  Zac Brown Band – 91 plays (+2)
4.  Tom Petty – 83 plays (+8)
5.  Billy Currington – 82 plays (-2)
6.  Train – 64 plays (+1)
7.  Kenny Chesney – 51 plays (+10)
8.  Jim Croce – 43 plays (NR)
9.  Johnny Cash – 41 plays (-8)
10. The Beatles – 36 plays (NR)
10.  Roger Miller – 36 plays (-6)
10.  Keith Urban – 36 plays (NR)
13.  Neil Diamond – 35 plays (NR)
13. Toby Keith – 35 plays (NR)
15. Harry Nilsson – 30 plays (NR)
16. Rod Stewart – 28 plays (-1)
16. Maroon 5 – 28 plays (NR)
18. Jack Johnson – 27 plays (NR)
19. Dierks Bentley – 26 plays (NR)
20. Darius Rucker – 25 plays (NR)
20. Luke Bryan – 25 plays (NR)

Interesting facts from 2015:

  • Train is in for the fourth straight year (#1 for 2012 & 2013)
  • Johnny Cash holds strong at #9 after coming in #1 last year.
  • Last year’s #1 (Imagine Dragons) had 88 plays – that would have only been fourth place this year
  • This year’s #20 tracks had 25 plays.  They would not have qualified for the list last year as it took 31 plays to reach the list.
  • 11 of the Top 20 were not in last year’s Top 20 and NONE of them are new artist.  It appears it was a throwback year.
  • The Beatles make the list for the first time because streaming music services finally have their music available.  I’ve never been a crazy Beatles fan, but the fact that it was music previously unavailable through places like Spotify and Pandora made me listen to them on a recent long drive.  It was enough to place them at #10 for the year.
  • Half (10) of the chart is made up of Country artists – up from 9 last year.
  • 2014 Top Artists
  • 2013 Top Artists
  • 2012 Top Artists
  • 2011 Top Artists
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