Sunday, March 15, 2015

Celebrities Who Follow Me On Twitter

At last count, I had almost 800 Twitter followers, and not all of them are friends, family or trolls. Some of them are actually famous.

This has always been something that thrills me. I've always suspected that celebrities are too busy to spend much time looking for people to follow on Twitter. Sometimes when I check out a celebrity on Twitter my hypothesis is supported: they'll have 2.3 billion followers, but they themselves will be following 13 people.

So I consider it a badge of honor for one to follow me, because I feel like I must've tweeted something that resonated with them. Or they were wicked drunk one night and did something they now regret. I prefer to go with Option A.

There are other times when I wonder if this is the real person, but they have the blue checkmark badge next to their account that verifies its authenticity so I know it's actually them.

I could actually compile a list of quite a few icons who follow me. But for the purpose of this blog I'm leaving out authors, who I'm more likely to know because of my grad school experience and because I feel like authors who follow me is a standalone blog in and of itself.

Anyway, here are a few well-known folks who follow me.

Jerry Remy (@Jerry_Remy) -- I was honored when the Rem Dawg started following me but not shocked, as I tweet a lot about Boston sports and he's the Red Sox color guy. He's kept a much lower profile the past couple of years, understandably so, and now most of his tweeting is linking to The Remy Report. But he makes it easier for me to keep up with the Red Sox.

Ervin Santana (@ErvinSantana_54) -- MLB pitcher, just signed with the Minnesota Twins after spending last season with the Atlanta Braves. I'm a little surprised Santana follows me because, while Santana played for several teams in a 10-year MLB career, none of those teams has been the Red Sox. And I live tweet football more than anything else, not baseball. But hey, happy to have him on board.

Arika Kane (@arikakane) -- R&B recording artist. Also a New England homie, born in Killingly, Connecticut. If you need some smooth ballads to get your significant other in the mood, play some Arika Kane.

Len Saunders (@lensaunders)  -- I actually had no idea who Len Saunders was when he started following me. But he's Twitter-verified and also has a Wikipedia page devoted to him (albeit a short one), so I'm including him here. He's a children's health expert and author.

Taye Diggs (@TayeDiggs) -- One morning not too long ago I woke up to an email notification that the Rent, Private Practice and The Best Man actor was following me on Twitter. I was pretty fired up. He follows a lot of people (like hundreds of thousands) so he's more of an everyman Twitter guy. I am honored.

Ali Spagnola (@alispagnola) -- My newest brush with greatness. Pop/rock electronica artist who compiled The Power Hour Album, an album of 60 one-minute songs you can drink a shot to (because apparently you can buy it in a USB/shot glass) and get hammered by the end of the album. She followed me on National Pi Day (March 14), and that geekiness alone has me excited to have her as a follower. 

There you have it. Now hopefully I haven't pissed them off and made them unfollow me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Music: What I Listen To...An Unscientific Sampling

The question was recently posed to me: "So, Phil, what kind of music do you listen to?"

After a brief pause I said, "A little bit of everything." This comment received a weird look, followed by a "That's so cliché."

And I'm like, Wow, that's a little harsh. Anybody who knows me reasonably well has heard me quote lyrics from pretty much every genre of music. I have no radio stations programmed in my car, opting instead to change the radio knob until I find a song I like (perhaps bad news for other motorists, but it's always been how I roll).

But this did get me thinking. Shortly after this conversation took place, I had a day where I had to do a lot of driving (more on that in a future blog). And I decided that one way I could occupy my mind during the long drive was by keeping tally of what songs I listened to by format.

This, of course, is an inexact science. Some artists have crossed over from one genre to another. A few years ago you could only hear Imagine Dragons on modern rock stations but nowadays they're a pretty common staple on adult contemporary/pop stations. By definition anything that's an "oldie," at some point, fell into another genre. Taylor Swift used to be country and now she's pop; Darius Rucker used to be pop and now he's country. Some artists don't like to be categorized, period.

But, for better or worse, here are the results (drumroll, please):

Modern rock: 15 songs
Pop/adult contemporary: 12
Classic rock: 10
Hip-hop/R&B: 10
Country: 9
Oldies: 4
Classical: 1 (I lucked out on this day and heard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".)

Also, I listened to four segments of Sports Talk Radio (this car trip took place during all the craziness involving Super Bowl XLIX, which was pretty tough to ignore).

I'd say that's more or less a pretty balanced sampling. For whatever reason, radio stations seem to cluster all of songs I like (particularly in hip-hop and country) at once, so if I did this on any other day you could probably flip-flop any of the top 5 genres above in any order. And, bearing that out, on this day I heard two of my favorite modern rock songs,  "SAIL" and "Do I Wanna Know" multiple times, which ma\y have edged modern rock into the top spot.

So, Person Who Wanted To Know What I Listen To, here is your definitive answer...sort of.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The VDP3K (aka My Laptop) Rising From the Ashes

About three weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night because all the water I drank that evening caught up to me and necessitated a bathroom trip.

It was 3am. It was dark. I was groggy. As I rolled out of bed I stumbled and, to avoid kissing the floor, grabbed onto something to balance myself.

That something turned out to be my laptop. And I turned out to not know my own strength.

I grabbed the laptop with such force that I cracked the screen.

I've been pretty fond of my laptop (aka the Vibra Dream Plus 3000, I named it after a device in a novel that a friend of mine and I once read). One time it got a virus, but this was quickly rectified by Geek Squad. Other than that, in the four years I've had it the VDP3K has run like a charm. Also, I have a lot of files saved on it that are of value to me. Not being able to see the screen would render my laptop pretty useless. Would I somehow be able to recover those files?

I went back to Best Buy, and Geek Squad confirmed the worst. It'd probably cost about as much to fix the screen as it would to buy a whole new laptop -- if they even can even get their hands on such a screen; there's a running joke amongst my friends about how unnecessarily big the VDP3K is and screens of that size are hard to find.

I can't believe I did that, I said to myself. I'm such an idiot.

I'm functional with technology but certainly wouldn't call myself a techie. But this is the part of the story where the wheels in my head started turning. I could probably just hook it up to my TV and build my own makeshift screen. There were two problems with this scenario though: 1) my TV is equally old and I wasn't sure it had the necessary HDMI port, and 2) even if it did, most of the time when I'm watching TV I'm also on my computer, live tweeting something or just surfing the 'Net, and this would inhibit multitasking.

I could, however, probably get my hands on a pretty cheap monitor.

I trudged back to Best Buy and looked for the most inexpensive monitor with an HDMI port. Of course it was out of stock. But the sales guy told me they were getting their delivery the next day.

Now to give it a shot.

I've never hooked up a monitor before. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, wanting to shout "IT'S ALIVE!" But I successfully hooked up the monitor to the VDP3K. And I did it all by myself.

I've spent the past few days emailing important files to myself, in case something crazy like this ever happens again. This new setup (laptop with a monitor next to it) is a little white-trashy. But I'm not always big on style points. To save a big chunk of money AND the VDP3K, it was totally worth it.