Saturday, September 20, 2008

It fits me well

This is my PDA. Why, you may be wondering, am I bothering to write about a gadget? Well, because it's just about part of me.

It wasn't the most powerful Palm PDA on the market when it was brand new, not by a long shot. It was leaps and bounds beyond my previous PDAs. My first one was a Palm Vx, which had 8 megabytes of memory, a green and black display, no expansion slot, and no communications capability. It reached the point, rather quickly, that the the battery would not recharge. A PDA that won't hold a charge is pretty much useless.

This lead me to buy my second PDA, a Palm m130. It also had 8 megabytes of memory and no communications capability, but it did have a color display and an expansion slot. It had a nicely curved profile that fit my hand very comfortably. I bought an SD card with a whopping 32 megabytes of storage. It was completely and thoroughly adequate as a personal information manager, you know, calendar, contacts, tasks. It's real shortcoming was that it had no provision to act as an MP3 player.

Lisa answered this for me a couple of years ago, when she got me the Palm Tungsten E2 in the picture. It came with 32 megabytes of memory, Bluetooth for short range communications, RealPlayer MP3 player software, a 128 megabyte SD card (I soon replaced this with a 1 gigabyte card), and Palm's ebook software. Actually, I had installed different ebook software on my first Palm, from Mobipocket, and I have a nice library built it.

Take a good look at the PDA. There are places where the shiny finish has nearly worn off. It's been used, a lot. It's my alarm clock, my calculator, my calendar, my address book, my photo album, and my portable library. It has almost every novel from Peter F. Hamilton (grand scale space opera) and Kim Harrison (urban fantasy set in Cincinnati), plus a lot of Shakespeare and Mark Twain and Cory Doctorow and David Weber and Eric Flint, with room to spare.

It's my secondary portable music player since I got my 30 gigabyte Creative Zen W for both music and movies. Obviously I can't be as expansive with the PDA as I am with the Creative Zen player, so I've limited the music to my very favorites albums: Kind of Blue, Back in Black, Red Headed Stranger, Dark Side of the Moon, Hotel California, Nickel Creek, The Road and the Radio.

I also have a short playlist of favorite songs on the PDA:
  1. Bob Dylan is rightly regarded as one of our best songwriters, but in my opinion, he blows chunks as a singer. Jimi Hendrix of course pioneered a lot of rock guitar. The intersection of the two? Hendrix's rendition of All Along the Watchtower, which I think is the best performance of a Dylan song. Ever.
  2. The 1960s changed almost everything about America. For a decade that was so much about love and freedom, it ended with in a great deal of despair. That's why Bridge Over Troubled Water was, and is, such an important song. It's about hope, and about a promise to be there when a friend is bottoming out, even if the relationship isn't what it once was. Paul Simon's lyrics and melody are just about perfect, and Art Garfunkel's vocals are stunningly beautiful.
  3. I love the melody of Until the Night by Billy Joel, and I like the story that tells the woman you love that coming home to her is the reason you can make it through the day.
  4. The Change by Garth Brooks is, in a sense, the flip side to Bridge Over Troubled Water. The latter song is an act of compassion, of simply responding to a spirit in need. The former song is an act of defiance, of reaching out to another to dare the world to crush your integrity and sense of compassion. It's one of the few country power ballads I know of.
  5. When You Come Back Down by Nickel Creek is what I hope I have given my children.
  6. Anything But Mine has Kenny Chesney's sure sense of melody going for it, along with some nicely rockish guitar. It also has Kenny's patented nostalgia vibe, this time starring a horndog college boy trying to score with his summer romance before the beach vacation is over.
  7. Vince Gill and Diana Krall are two of my favorite singers. Their duet Faint of Heart from Gill's 4 CD set These Days sounds right up Krall's alley, like an old jazz standard. It definitely doesn't sound like a Vince Gill composition a la When I Call Your Name, but it is, and despite the low key, relaxed presentation, it smoulders.
  8. Martina McBride is one of the best female vocalists there is, easily on par with a Barbara Streisand or a Billie Holiday. She was for the longest time a song interpreter, but she became a first rate songwriter with Anyway.
  9. The Eagles released their first album of completely original material in 29 years last October, and Long Road Out of Eden was the title cut. It's a passionate condemnation of the current state of American politics, with an angry Don Henley vocal and a fiery Joe Walsh guitar solo. Rock music doesn't get much better than this.
  10. Sugarland, Little Big Town, and Jake Owen were on a CMT-sponsored tour together earlier this year, and they resurrected a 1980s pop gem, Life in a Northern Town. This is the kind of joyful melody that exuberant harmonies were meant for.
By the way, the picture on the mousepad is entitled Haulin' Ass.

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