first week back

Well, it’s the end of my first week back in the office on the new schedule. Short version: I survived working in the office for three days in a row. Longer version: I don’t like the “everyone is in the office at the same time” deal. It’s too crowded and too loud. If you go back to before the pandemic, the norm was to have meetings in person, in meeting rooms. Now, they’re all on Teams. So everyone is at their desk all day, and a lot of people are in a lot of meetings. So it makes it hard for a programmer to concentrate when I’m hearing bits and pieces of other people’s meetings all day. My AirPods Pro are a necessary tool at this point. I’ve been listening to The Pretenders a lot this week.

Going back to the football part of my previous post: Ugh. The Giants lost to the Cowboys, 40-0. That’s about the worst start they’ve ever had, at least in my memory. The Jets won, but Aaron Rodgers is done for the season. The Eagles won last night, and are now 2-0, so maybe I switch my allegiance to Philly!

And some notes on some tech stuff I’ve been working on: I started trying to learn Jenkins this week. I haven’t gotten too far yet. I keep getting interrupted. Reading up on installing Jenkins send me down a side trip to also consider installing WSL 2 and maybe Docker Desktop for Windows. I got as far as installing WSL 2 on my work desktop, and on my personal Windows 10 desktop and Windows 11 laptop. (I’d been meaning to do that anyway.) But no further. I got caught up in a support issue this afternoon, and never got back to any of my other work.

Next week could be interesting. In addition to having to go into the office Tuesday through Thursday, I might have jury duty starting Friday. I won’t know for sure on that until Thursday night. I could actually use a break from work, so I wouldn’t mind it if I get put on a jury and can miss a few days of work…

buggy iTunes on Windows, and alternatives

Part of my normal work-from-home routine is to fire up iTunes on my personal desktop PC and play music throughout the day. (On and off, depending on what I’m doing, of course.)

My desktop is a Windows 10 box, so I’m still stuck with iTunes. There’s a preview version of the new Apple Music client available in the Windows Store, but I’ve been leery about trying it. I’m afraid it might do something horrible to my local library, which is almost 18,000 songs, and around 125 GB, at this point. I’d prefer to wait until a 1.0 release.

But iTunes has been locking up on me a lot recently. So I got a bit fed up today and decided to give an alternative client a try. I’d previously tried Cider, but didn’t like it enough to keep it. That was a while ago, though, so I decided to give it another try. It used to be an open-source project, and you can still download that, but the new version is (I guess) closed source, and costs $4 in the Windows Store. I went ahead and bought it and tried it out today, so I thought I’d post some notes on it.

First, it’s mostly just a shell around the web interface for Apple Music. So if you go to music.apple.com and sign in to your account, that’s basically what you’re getting, with some added bells & whistles. It doesn’t deal with your local library at all. (I don’t mean to belittle it here; the bells & whistles might be really handy for some people.)

My major issue with it right now is that it’s got a “dark mode” interface, and no way to switch to a light mode. And I find that hard to deal with. So it’s definitely not something I’m really happy with. But it has done what I needed it to do today: let me stream music to my PC without locking up, like iTunes was doing.

It has occurred to me that another solution would be to stream Apple Music from my iPhone to my desktop via AirPlay. I have something called AirServer on my PC, and it works pretty well for streaming audio from my phone to my PC. Though that, also, is not a great solution.

Or I could go back to CDs! I do still have a CD player in my PC. I could just play CDs via VLC or Windows Media Player or something like that…

Oh well, I’m starting to overthink this stuff again. Time to get back to work…

more MusicBox

Since my previous post on MusicBox, I’ve been putting a lot more stuff into it. Today’s project was to go through my main Amazon wishlist, and move all of the albums I had in there over to MusicBox. That has resulted in about another 150 albums added, so I now have almost 400 albums in there, total. So I could probably stop looking for new music to listen to, and just work my way through the stuff in MusicBox, and I wouldn’t run out of new stuff for a few years, at least.

I had stuff in that wishlist going back to 2005. Lots of albums I’d run across at some point, and thought “I should buy that,” and then never did. (Which is fine. The purpose of my Amazon wishlist, over time, has largely been to keep me from making impulse purchases that I don’t really need…)

A pleasant surprise during this exercise was finding that ‎I Advance Masked by Andy Summers & Robert Fripp is now available on Apple Music. This is an album that I bought on vinyl when it first came out, in 1982. And it has, for some reason, gone out of print and hasn’t been available on CD or digitally. So I haven’t heard it in quite a while. I had the CD version on my wish list, but I didn’t want to pay the inflated prices it was fetching. Well, now it seems to have finally gotten released digitally. So I’m going to have to listen to that soon, and see if it’s as good as I remember.

I spent around two hours today working on this, with the Bills game on in the background. This was a pretty good activity for me right now, since my brain is acting a little funny. I’ve had a bad cold for several days. I’m mostly over it now, I think, but I was having a bunch of trouble with nasal congestion last night and this morning. So I took a pseudoephedrine, which tends to make me a bit jumpy. So I’d be too fidgety if I tried to sit still and just watch the game. But if I tried anything more mentally taxing than this exercise in copying & pasting, I’d probably screw it up. I’m hoping I’ll be back to “normal” tomorrow, so I can actually be somewhat productive at work.

MusicBox for Apple Music

It’s the day after New Year’s Day, and an official holiday, since yesterday was Sunday. This is the best kind of holiday, since there’s really no expectations that go along with that. (All that stuff happened yesterday.)

So I had some grand (but vague) plans around spending the day in front of the TV watching movies. But that didn’t happen. I spent some time this morning reviewing my finances from 2022 and making plans for 2023. I ran some reports out of Quicken, set up some reminders in Evernote. That kind of thing. So that was useful, and necessary.

But then I got the idea that I should look into organizing my Apple Music stuff. Now that’s a pointless rabbit hole, and I know that. But I found this article about the app MusicBox, on MacStories, and decided that I was going to buy it, and then use it to clean up all of my “listen later” notes. And, well, now it’s 4 PM, and I have 200 albums saved to MusicBox.

I started out by going through my Pinboard account, looking for Apple Music and Bandcamp links that were marked as unread. I found about 100 of them, and added them to MusicBox. For Apple Music links, it was easy. You can just copy the link into MusicBox, and it’ll add it. For Bandcamp links, it was a little harder. I think MusicBox is supposed to work with Bandcamp links, but I wanted to have them in there as Apple Music links, so I would search for the album in question in Apple Music, then share the URL into MusicBox. That all took about an hour.

Next, I went through my list of “interesting music” in Evernote. That was just basically a bulleted list. For some of the albums, I had the Apple Music URL there; for some, just the artist and album name. For the ones with URLs, I copied them all into a text editor, cleaned them up a bit, then imported them into MusicBox all at once. For the others, I searched for them in Apple Music, then used the share button to get them into MusicBox. That also resulted in about 100 albums added, and took about an hour.

I also have a habit of finding something interesting on my iPhone and just taking a screenshot of it. So, finally, I went through all of my screenshots and found another 15 or 20 albums to add to MusicBox. For those, of course, I had to search for the albums in Apple Music and then add them with the share button.

So I’ve got a total of 216 albums in there now. (Mostly albums; a few singles too.) I’m not sure what kind of workflow I’ll use to listen to them and determine what to do with them. MusicBox supports tags, so I should probably create an “added” tag for stuff I’ve added to my library. And maybe a “meh” tag for stuff I listened to, but didn’t like that much? (By the way, I was using the macOS client for all of this organizational work, not the iOS client.)

I feel pretty good about having cleaned up the mess I had in Pinboard, Evernote, and my photo library. But I’m not sure if MusicBox is really going to turn out to be much better. I think it will.

I’m a little worried about the fact that MusicBox doesn’t seem to have an export function. If I decide I want to ditch it and try something else, it’ll be a pain to move it all.

And it’s a bit inconvenient that it doesn’t have either a web interface or a Windows client. It only works on iOS and macOS. So it’s not going to be terribly useful when I’m sitting at my PC. I guess I can continue to use Pinboard as an intermediate place to store links, if I come across them on my PC.

Overall, I think MusicBox is going to be a good organizational tool for me. Maybe I need to loosen up a bit on looking at music as a to-do list, but I think I’m just wired that way. I’ve got my “want to read” shelf in Goodreads, and my Kindle wishlist in my Amazon account, and my Netflix queue, and so on and so forth. I don’t think I’m going to change into a happy-go-lucky guy who just picks stuff at random to watch/read/listen to.

New Year’s Day 2023

It’s 8 AM on New Year’s Day, and here I am again writing my traditional New Year’s Day post. I have a bit of a headache today, not because I was up late partying, but because I had trouble sleeping. I went to bed at 9:30 last night, and slept reasonably well until around 11, when nasal congestion and random noise from outside woke me up and pretty much ruined my sleep until around 4 AM, when everything quieted down and my nose cleared up, and I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep. I got out of bed at 7. I guess I have enough coffee in me now that I can get through the day, but I think I’ll need at least one nap today, and I’ll probably need to go to bed early again.

I’ll start this post out with links to some previous posts:

  • Last year, I blogged on Jan 2.
  • And here’s 2021, 2020, and 2019.
  • And probably my earliest New Year’s Day overview post, from 2008.

And I’ll break this post down into sections, since it might get a bit lengthy.

Health, Weight, and Sleep

I started seeing a new doctor this year, and she wasn’t interested in seeing me more than once this year, so I only had a single doctor’s visit in 2022, in May. My blood work was fine, and I guess my general health is fine.

I got two COVID booster shots this year, in April and September. The second one was the bivalent booster. As far as I know, I still haven’t gotten COVID. I might have gotten a mild case once or twice; I’ve certainly been sick a few times. But never bad enough to see a doctor. (And I usually test myself for COVID if I’m sick, and I’ve never had a positive test.)

I do feel like I got sick more often than I’d like last year. I’ve noticed that doing pretty much anything that involves being out in a crowd for a nontrivial amount of time results in me getting sick the next day. I’ve always been like that, to some extent, but I think it’s getting worse.

My sleep has been good and bad this past year. In the last couple of weeks, it’s been more bad than good. but for a few weeks prior to that, I’d been sleeping quite well. So I’m not sure what’s going on there. I think that a lot of it is sinus problems.

My weight has gone up a bit this year. I started 2022 at 140 pounds, and I’m now at 150. I’d intended on drawing the line at 140, but I’ve just crept up to 150, and I haven’t really cared enough to commit to getting it back down. I’m not sure if I need to, really, if I can actually draw the line at 150. I think that’s a reasonably healthy weight for me. My problem over the last year is that I’ve been eating a lot of cookies, to be honest.

I’ve done well with exercise this year, I think. I’ve been pretty consistent about getting a lot of walking done. In fact, it’s nice enough out that I should probably take a break from this blog post and go out for a walk right now.

Work

…and now I’m back from my walk and it’s a little after 9 AM. So my next section is going to be about work. I’m still working for SHI, and I’ll hit my ten-year mark this month. My longest time at one job was NMS, where I worked for around 13 years. So SHI is in second place, and may surpass NMS, if I manage to stick around for a few more years.

After being in pretty much the same position, with the same manager, for most of my time at SHI, there were a lot of changes in 2022. In April, there was a bit of a shake-up, and my group got moved under a different manager, in a different group. Then, in July, we had the data breach. And in August, there was another management shake-up, and I got moved back under my old manager. And in November, I was promoted to “IT Solutions Manager” and am now responsible for managing three programmers. Additionally, these programmers work on our CRM system, so I’m (gradually) moving from working primarily on AX to working on CRM.

And that’s a simplified timeline. There’s a lot more going on than what I described there. I guess it’s mostly good, and we’re on a good path for growth in 2023? I’m not really high-level enough to have a good picture of the company’s overall health, and whether or not we’re on the right path. I guess I’ll stick with “cautious optimism.” I’ve updated my resume, but I’m hopeful that I won’t need it in 2023.

In terms of professional development, it’s good that I’ve been promoted into management, I guess. I’m still basically a hands-on programmer, and my three reports are doing their own thing, for the most part. I may take more of an active hand in 2023, but that’ll depend on how things shake out.

Looking at the books I’ve read and courses I’ve taken in 2022, I put a fair bit of effort into learning scrum earlier in 2022. There was a big push for scrum that went along with the April management changes. That kind of fizzled out after the data breach and the August management changes, but we’re still (kinda) doing scrum. I also put some effort into working on programming fundamentals, reading a few books related to “Clean Code” and refactoring. And, for specific technologies, I’ve been trying to learn a bunch of random stuff that’s all directly related to projects I’m working on. I could get into all that, but then this post would get way too long.

The New Normal

…for lack of a better title. COVID is still a thing, regardless of whether or not people want it to be. SHI has us working in the office two days a week now. For me, that’s Tuesday and Thursday. It’s not too bad, I guess. I wear a mask when I’m not at my desk. There aren’t too many other people who still do, but there are a few.

They might let us keep to the two day schedule through 2023, but they also might try to get us to come back full-time, or maybe four days a week. I’m not sure. I’m really hoping they stick with the two day per week plan. I’m not ready to go back to the office full-time.

I don’t go out nearly as often as I used to. My only trip to NYC this year was in March, when I took the train to Albany for a funeral. (I switched from NJ Transit to Amtrak in NYC, so it was just a brief visit.) And that trip was really my only trip out of NJ. I almost had my E-ZPass canceled this year, because I haven’t used it since 2019. I got them to keep it active for another year, but I should probably give it up. Similarly, I should probably give up on my memberships to the Met and MoMA. I haven’t used either this year.

I had bought a badge for NYCC in October, but I decided to skip it and got a refund. I’m pretty sure that was a good idea, and that I would have gotten horribly sick if I’d gone. I may be done with comic conventions entirely now. I’m really not sure.

Books, Movies, TV, Music, Etc.

So this is the fun part of the post. (Maybe.) I’ll start with a link to my Goodreads Year In Books for 2022. I read 76 books this year. A lot of them weren’t really books, per se. I started the year with a bunch of Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas, for instance. Looking at the list, I think I read around 20 actual novels in 2022.

I gave up on trying to read any classics in 2022. Instead, I put some effort into putting a dent in my backlog of random Kindle books, reading stuff that I got from old Humble bundles and stuff like that. There was some good stuff in there, but also some stuff that was OK but forgettable. I also got back into a couple of my favorite book series, The Dresden Files and The Laundry Files. I’d last read a Dresden book in 2015, and a Laundry book in 2017. I didn’t read a lot of comics in 2022. Probably my favorites were the two Hilda books I read.

For movies: I still haven’t been back to a theater, since 2019. So I only watched movies at home. From my Letterboxd stats page, I can see that I watched 84 films in 2022. That’s less than 2021, when I watched more than 100 films. My highest-rated films from 2022 were My Father’s Dragon, Turning Red, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. My highest-rated re-watches were Howl’s Moving Castle and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, both of which I bought on Blu-ray in 2022.

For music: I mostly listened to music via Apple Music this year, so (in theory) my Apple Music Replay ’22 page should be pretty accurate. In practice, it’s a little weird. My top track for the year is the first track on Max Richter’s Sleep, which is probably because I put it on sometimes when I’m taking a nap on my sofa. My second most-listened track is Heavy Heart, by Bartees Strange, which makes sense, I guess. I do like that song.

Beyond that, I’ve listened to a lot of Bombay Bicycle Club, Bibio, and a few others. If I was going to pick my favorite album from 2022, it would probably be Bibio’s BIB10. Replay doesn’t tell you how many albums you’ve added to your library during the year, but I keep a list of those in Evernote, and I see I added over 50 albums in 2022. So I’m definitely listening to a lot of new stuff. (And old stuff too.) I guess I’m getting my money’s worth out of Apple Music.

For TV: I don’t keep track of the stuff I watch on TV the way I do with books and movies. I’ve definitely watched a lot of TV in 2022, but I can’t think of anything in particular that stands out. I’m still subscribing to Netflix, Disney+, and Paramount+. I switched to the Disney Bundle in 2022, so I get Hulu and ESPN+ too now. I’m not particularly proud of the amount of TV I watch these days, but there are times when I’m just too tired to do much else.

Summary

I feel like there’s more I wanted to write about here, but it’s almost 11 AM now, and I’m running out of steam. I should wrap this up, and maybe go out for another walk. I’m not making any resolutions for 2023. I’m planning on just playing it by ear. If I can manage to lose a few pounds, that’d be nice. If I can move forward on some professional stuff, that’d be good too.

Phish in Atlantic City

I found myself on a bit of a Phish kick last week. It started out as a Grateful Dead kick, listening to Crimson White & Indigo, the live album from their July 1989 concert at JFK Stadium in Philly. That led to me spelunking through my (relatively) small collection of live Phish stuff. Which led to me noticing that Phish were playing this weekend in Atlantic City, for three nights.

I had a brief mental flirtation with the idea of actually driving down to AC for one of the shows. Then I remembered that I’m 55 years old, we’re in the middle of a heat wave, and hanging out on the beach for three hours with 30,000 other people probably isn’t a good idea for me. I also looked at the FAQ for the event and noticed all the rules & regulations, including a notice that attendees would be subject to a “thorough TSA-style pat-down search,” which made the whole thing sound a lot less fun and more like a trip to Newark Airport.

I’ve also considered buying one or more of the shows from LivePhish.com. The set of three is $35 in FLAC or ALAC, so that’s not bad. Certainly cheaper and more convenient that driving to AC, enduring a TSA-style pat-down, then trying to get through a three-hour show with no actual seats, surrounded by 30,000 other Phish fans. (On the other hand, there’s plenty of live Phish stuff already available on Apple Music, and I’m not enough of a fan to really need more than that.)

This recap of the first show actually makes it sound like it was quite a good show. Phish.net is a fun site to browse. There’s so much meticulously cross-referenced detail, and so much nuance that just goes over the head of a more “casual” fan like me. It’s fun when a band (or a writer, or artist, or whatever) inspires the kind of devotion that results in this kind of work. Sometimes, that kind of thing gets toxic and insular, but other times, it’s a lot of fun.

passport photos and the passage of time

I’m thinking a lot about the passage of time today. I got a new passport photo taken this week, and compared it to my last couple of passport photos. I took the current one and the last two, put them next to each other, and scanned them in together. Since you need to renew your passport every ten years, looking at the photos gives me a look at how I’ve changed over the last few decades. I thought about posting that scan here, but it might not be a good idea to make my passport photos publicly accessible.

Looking at them together, I see, first, a guy in his mid-thirties, with a fair amount of hair and a mustache that he apparently thought looked good on him. He looks pretty happy. Maybe a little overweight, but not enough to bother him. He hasn’t really lost anyone close to him yet.

Next, I see a guy in his mid-forties. He’s recently lost both of his parents. He looks a little more subdued than the mid-thirties guy. The mustache is gone, and there’s less hair on his head. He’s still smiling, but it’s a less confident smile, maybe. He’s definitely overweight and needs to lose a lot of weight, but it’s not bothering him that much yet.

Finally, I see current-day Andy. He’s got bags under his eyes and looks like he hasn’t slept in a week. He’s lost a lot of weight, and a lot of hair. He kind of looks like he just got punched in the face.

Now, comparing the current photo to the previous ones is a little unfair, since the rules for passport photos have changed since the last one. You’re not allowed to wear glasses, and you’re supposed to have a neutral expression on your face. And of course the photo was taken by a random Walgreens clerk under bright fluorescent lights. So, yeah, maybe I don’t look quite that bad in “real life.” Still, the guy in that photo, staring back at me, looks like he needs a hug. And a good night’s sleep. And maybe a sandwich.

On a semi-related topic, today is the twenty-first anniversary of this blog. I wrote posts on the tenth and fifteenth anniversaries, but seem to have missed the twentieth last year. So I guess it was the mid-thirties passport photo guy who wrote the first entries on the blog, and the mid-forties one who wrote that tenth anniversary post.

And on yet another almost-related topic, I missed seeing Paul McCartney at MetLife Stadium last week. It was apparently a great show. I regret not going a little, but I’ve seen him five times already, including once before at MetLife, in 2016. I think that, if there was some way I could have teleported myself to the show and back home, I’d have done it. But the grief of dealing with NJ Transit and staying out late and all that would have been too much for me. With respect to COVID, I would have felt relatively safe at the stadium, since it’s basically open-air. I would have felt less safe on NJ Transit though, since those trains to MetLife can get packed, and there’s no mask mandate on trains anymore. And if I’d gone to the concert, I might have decided to stay overnight in NYC afterward, and then I’d have gotten caught up in the NJ Transit job action on Friday, which could have been a nightmare.

So, yeah, mid-thirties Andy would have definitely gone to MetLife for McCartney and enjoyed it. Mid-forties Andy might have gone, but would have been tired and maybe sick for a day or two afterwards. Mid-fifties Andy is staying home watching old Star Wars cartoons on Disney+ and going to bed at 9:30 PM.

Some Guys

I saw a reference to Jonathan Coulton’s Some Guys album somewhere today, and realized I’d never gotten around to buying it. It came out in 2019, and is apparently his most recent full album. Now that I have Apple Music, I can just pull it up there and listen to it.

It’s pretty good, and kind of what I was in the mood for this afternoon. It’s all straightforward covers of old 70’s soft rock songs. I grew up listening to this stuff, but stopped listening to most of it in the 80’s, when I started listening to hard rock, metal, new wave, and punk. As an angry teenager, I guess I just wasn’t much interested in the Eagles or Dan Fogelberg anymore.

Well, now that I’m in my 50’s, I guess I’m ready for Fogelberg and Gordon Lightfoot and all those old 70’s guys again. I never really had any of this stuff in my record collection; I’m just familiar with it all from good old-fashioned AM radio. So I decided to make an Apple Music playlist of the original versions of all the songs on Some Guys. Here’s a link to it. It should be public.

Of course as soon as I created the playlist, I realized that I probably wasn’t the first person to have this idea. And, indeed, there are three or four other shared playlists out there exactly like mine. Oh well. It wasn’t much work to create, so it’s not like it was a ton of wasted effort.

And here it is embedded, for whatever that’s worth:

Klaus Schulze & Dune

I’ve been thinking about (and listening to) Klaus Schulze a lot lately. He passed away in April. I’ve been listening to his music since I was a kid, when I first started getting interested in electronic music. I remember buying this 1983 live album on CD, at some point in the 80s (though probably not in 83, since I don’t think I had a CD player yet). I need to dig that out and rip it at some point, since it’s not on Apple Music.

And he showed up in a few Matt Howarth comic books. I think I’ve read both of the comics mentioned on this page. I know he’s been in at least one or two others.

He released an album called Dune in 1979, which is on Apple Music (or at least part of it is). And there’s also Deus Arrakis, which came out earlier this year. The Bandcamp page for that one has this quote from Schulze:

On the one hand this album was created as spontaneously as all my albums before, on the other hand it has a special history: when I produced my eleventh album ‘Dune’ in 1979 I already knew the ‘Dune’ trilogy by Frank Herbert inside out like other people knew their ‘Lord of the Rings’. I was totally fascinated by this monumental story of the desert planet and I read the books over and over again.

He continues on about Dune and his thoughts about the books and movies. It’s interesting.

The 1984 Dune movie had a soundtrack mostly by Toto, which is a thing I probably knew at some point, but had completely forgotten about until I just now looked it up on Wikipedia. There’s one lone track on there by Brian Eno, Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois, though. I just brought that album up on Apple Music, and it’s quite something. The Eno track sounds pretty much like you’d expect an Eno Dune-related track to sound. (Good!) The rest of the album is… mixed. The tracks have names like “Robot Fight” and “The Floating Fat Man.” A few of them have dialog from the movie mixed in with the music. Some of them are quite nice, actually, but a few are pretty bad.

The 2021 film has a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. There are actually three albums out related to it. The main soundtrack itself, something called The Dune Sketchbook, and another called The Art and Soul of Dune, which is apparently a companion to a book about the film. (The Sketchbook album also has a contribution from Schulze.) I’m not a huge fan of Zimmer, but I generally like his stuff, and his Dune music is very good. Here’s an interesting article from the Times about it.

And one more Dune-related bit of music: April Larson’s You Stand in a Valley Between Dunes, a 2017 album inspired by Dune.

Memorial Day and the return of the Tour of Somerville

Well, the Tour of Somerville is back this year, after taking two years off. I imagine that a lot of people are happy about that, but so far, I’d say I could do with another year off. I woke up at 6:30 AM this morning, and things were pretty quiet. Then, just a few minutes after I’d gotten up, a blast of music came in through the window. Luckily, it was only a test of the system, and they shut it back off after a few minutes. So I got a couple of hours of peace and quiet. But that blast kind of set me on edge, and I’ve been a little jumpy all morning. It doesn’t help that I haven’t been sleeping well lately.

It’s 9 AM now, though, and the “Family Fun Ride” has started, so the music is back. I’ve been drowning it out with music of my own, played through my AirPods. (I’m charging up my Beats now too, as I may want to switch to the over-the-ear headphones at some point for the better noise cancellation.) I’m hoping they’ll turn down the music when the “real” races start, but right now, I’d call it “aggressively loud.”

I went out for my usual walk this morning, around 8 AM, and walked the race course. They’ve got a lot more metal fencing up on Main Street than I remember them doing in past years. So it looks like I’m pretty much fenced in. Just getting across the street between races seems like it’ll be more trouble than it was in past years.

So I guess I’m just going to hole up in my apartment and wait this thing out. I wish I could get into the spirit of the thing, but I really just want a quiet day off. I’m still paranoid enough about COVID that I don’t want to go out in a big crowd, and it looks like it might indeed be a big crowd this year.

I finished watching the first part of Stranger Things season four yesterday. I really enjoyed it. I especially loved the use of Kate Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill,” which has apparently kindled a lot of new interest in Kate Bush. I was a big fan of Kate Bush in high school and college. Her album The Dreaming came out in 1982, so I listened to that a lot in high school. And Hounds of Love, the album with “Running Up That Hill,” came out in 1985, so I would have been listening to that one in college. I guess I’m a little older than the Stranger Things kids are supposed to be, since they’re just starting high school in 85.

I may decide to kill some time today by going back and rewatching season one of Stranger Things, either through my headphones, or possibly just blasted through my speakers.

The real races are supposed to start any minute now, since it’s just coming up on 9:30. And they’ll be going until maybe 6 PM. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to any of it, but I guess I’ll make the best of it and try to have a good day cocooned in my apartment watching TV.