Death and the internet

I had some sad and unexpected news yesterday. Someone I’ve never met and wouldn’t recognize if he walked into the room right now is terminally ill and may not be around this time next week.

Let me explain. This person was one of my freelance clients. Although we’d been working together off and on for the better part of a decade, and even lived in the same town at one point, we’d never actually met in person. In fact, we’d only talked on the phone probably fewer than a dozen times. Even so, I felt we sort of “knew” each other. He seemed like a really nice guy and we got a long pretty well in a virtual sense. He even wrote one of my recommendation letters for graduate school.

There was a time ten or twelve years ago when a fairly high proportion of my friendships was virtual as well. I often used to spend a couple of hours a day in correspondence with several people around the  world that I’d never met but still felt very close to. In those days, online worked really well for me, because then (as now) I’m often uncomfortable talking on the phone. But I don’t really socialize very much online anymore–nor in person, as it happens, but that’s a story for another day. I don’t really engage in deep correspondence and I’ve whittled my Facebook feed down to about five “real life” friends I’ve known for years. And even then, I check in only sporadically.

Maybe I was just ahead of the curve with respect to online friendships and work relationships. But when you lose a “virtual” friend or coworker, it’s still sad, which says a lot about how different human interaction is now than it was, say, twenty years ago.

No more “Big B”

Belk used to refer to its old logo as the “Big B” back when it was first unveiled in the late 1960s. The old logo was actually the first logo ever adopted by the company chain-wide, thanks to its loose corporate structure. And it was one of the first things I learned how to draw.

The new logo, alas, looks cheap and tacky. It is in no way big, attractive, nor anything that I would ever want to draw.

It will not, however, stop me from shopping at Belk. I stopped doing that years ago when I gave up malls in general.

Just thinking…

I’m a little baffled as to how (or why) you would use an RSS feed of your email inbox. It would seem that you would have to be logged into your email for the feed to display in the first place (or at least I hope you would), so what exactly is the point?

Or am I just missing something?

I’m a little pissed off about RSS feeds in general today, but that’s a subject for another rant I don’t have time to write at the moment.

Monday morning

To say that this weekend really, really, really sucked would be the understatement of the year; the fact that I was actually sort of looking forward to going back to work this morning (just as a signal that the aforementioned weekend was over) should give an indication of the level of suckage.

But I did find what looks to be a very intersting read at a used bookstore in Charlotte on Sunday, so at least there’s that.

My stomach hurts…

…metaphorically, of course.

If someone told me that they planned to start repeatedly punching me in the stomach in the not too distant future, and then asked if I’d rather they started now or waited a while, I’d probably request that they not start at all. If that weren’t an option, though, I guess I’d rather they started now. That way, maybe I’d get desensitized faster and the blows would might stop hurting sooner.

But maybe that’s just all that junk food from the fair talking.

Rules for college radio personalities

I’ve been listening to lots more college radio again these past few months and years, and it’s funny how little has changed since I worked in college radio myself. Following are several hints and rules we used to make back in the early 1980s interspersed with a few new ones of my own:

  1. Have some personality. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no FCC requirement that you go on the air sounding as if you’ve been mainlining heroin. Really, it’s OK to sound enthusiastic once in a while. Or at least conscious.
  2. Don’t back announce the last thirty-two songs you played. You should be announcing what you play; the point of college radio is to turn people on to music they probably wouldn’t hear anywhere else. But if you have to back announce more than a couple of songs (“before that we heard XXX, and before that, XXX, and before that…”), you’re not taking enough voice breaks. Plus, more frequent voice breaks means that you don’t have to babble on for half an hour every time you do take one.
  3. Don’t use jargon. No matter how it may seem, most of your audience has never worked for a college radio station and never will. Thus, they  do not know what a “rotation show” is. They have no idea what “adds” are. Most of them could not tell you what “PSA” stands for if their lives depended on it. You’re wasting your breath and you may as well be speaking Phonecian or Babylonian when you use these terms on the air.*
  4. In fact, why would you even need to say “PSA”. Instead of saying “I’m going to play a PSA now,” just play it.
  5. Don’t assume your listeners are all fellow students. They’re not, even if your station is located in a college town. When you make references to events on campus, make it clear what campus they’re on and where. To a high school student listening in his car, “the library” is the one downtown or in the shopping center near his house, not that big, ugly 1970s building across from the student union. Remember that your station serves a larger community.
  6. In an era where people can get the weather forecast on their phones, there is no excuse for giving an outdated weather report on the air. If you can’t be bothered to be current, just skip it.

Further suggestions welcome in the comments.

*A “rotation show” is one where there is no real theme, just a DJ playing material from the current playlist items or “the rotation”. “Adds” are new items in “the rotation”. “PSA” is the acronym for “public service announcement.”