Me And My Harebrained Ideas
I’ve been working on my newest project for about ten days now and I have no one to blame but myself. I always think, “If I can just finish this job or that project, I’ll have more time and less stress in my life.” But the moment I scratch a few things off the list and have some free time, I scramble to take on another project. What’s up with that? It’s almost as if I WANT stress in my life – or maybe I just don’t know how to relax.
Ten days ago (no doubt on a day when I had cleared the decks, so to speak, of all immediate projects and was wondering what to do with myself) I got the harebrained idea to buy my 81 year-old father an iPod for Christmas. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Like me, my father loves music. During the summer his stereo is on all day long – sometimes he even goes to bed and forgets to turn it off. I use the term “stereo” loosely. My two sisters and I try to keep Dad updated and “with it” but his stereo consists of an old 5-disk CD changer that doesn’t support mp3s and an even older turntable. So I figured that I could convert all his CDs to mp3s, load them on an iPod, buy a set of speakers with a dock and – Voila! – Dad would have access to a couple of thousand songs that he could listen to endlessly without having to change CDs.
My only problem was how to get my hands on his CD’s. I knew if I just leveled with him I would have a huge fight on my hands. Some years ago my sisters bought Mom and Dad a computer for their 50th Anniversary. Dad came unglued – ranted and raved for weeks that it was a waste of money, that it would never be used, etc. When he finally ran out of steam and accepted the fact that there was a computer in the house and it wasn’t going anywhere, he slowly (and on the sly) began learning how to use it. Now, some years and three computers later, I have to call him for help when I am trying to figure out a tough Excel formula. Many nights he’s up ’til 2 AM working on the computer. Yet, when pressed, he still says the computer is useless. God forbid he should have to admit that he was WRONG. Well – you get the point. Getting my father to accept new technology is always a process. If I told him up front about the iPod he would absolutely refuse to let me buy it for him.
Instead, I told him that I wanted all his CDs so I could turn them into mp3’s, explaining that this would allow me to put 100 or so songs on each disc rather than the 10 or so that a CD would normally contain. That way, his 5-CD changer would contain 500 songs. Since he doesn’t really understand what an mp3 is anyway, he has no idea that his CD player won’t play mp3s, so my clever plan was working just fine – until he said: “Hey that’ll be great. You know I have the stereo hooked up to two sets of speakers – one in the living room and that big set in the garage (big is an understatement – they take up as much space as a couch). So now I can listen to all that music when I’m working on stuff in the garage, too!”
Umm – a little problem here. The iPod will only broadcast to the speakers connected to the dock – not through the ones in the garage. That sent me scurrying back to the computer to see if I could find a dock with an auxiliary input for a second set of speakers and an adapter that would let me connect the dock to old copper speaker wire. Four hours later, frustrated and still without a solution, I finally called Apple. Thank God for tech support. We finally discovered that Kensington makes an adapter that plays the tunes in an iPod through an existing stereo system. I order the iPod and adapter and get to work on his music.
The iPod arrives in days – engraved with Dad’s name, so it’s not returnable. This shipment is followed by a timely email from Apple telling me that they no longer carry the Kensington adapter, thus it has been removed from my order. Back to the computer – a bit frantic now. All work stops on the music while I try to avert this latest crisis. Fortunately, I found the exact same model at Amazon – they had one remaining in stock and of course it was $10 more. Whew – big sigh of relief. Back to work on the music.
It’s now ten days later and I just finished the last of Dad’s CDs. My hard drive is so overloaded that my computer is slowing down but I’m afraid to reboot until I back up the entire library and load his iPod. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that nothing else goes wrong. If I can just get through this project I will have lots of free time and I can relax. Yeah, right.