My Favourite New iPhone Game

In picking up a new iPhone 13 mini with heaps of storage space, I have been gradually transferring over my music collection to my new device.

In doing so, I have been able to reconnect with so many musical artists I haven’t been able to listen to in the last few years, given the minuscule amount of storage on my previous phone… My mistake… Lessons learned.

Now, with approximately 13,000 songs on my new phone, there is a fair bit of scrolling going on to get from album to album. But interestingly enough, within my scrolling time, a new game caught my eye.

It’s not the kind of game you need to download from iTunes, it’s just a serendipitous discovery I made along the way.

I don’t know if you’ve had the same experience, but the premise of the game goes like this:

While scrolling through the alphabetically sorted list, I started noticing “neighbours” in the list, like Bon Jovi and Bonnie Raitt.

Note: Yes, I know that Raitt starts with an R, but iPhone/iTunes sorts the list on the first name or word.

From there, it is a game of first impressions. Would I like to see these two neighbouring artists or bands in creative collaboration? Would I buy their music? Would I pay money to see them in concert?

In some cases it is a clear yes, in others, not so much.

Back to our first example, I think Bon Jovi and Bonnie Raitt might indeed form an interesting collaboration. I would be interested in seeing them create music or perform together.

In scrolling through my playlists, I see some very natural pairings that would probably make good music together: Enigma and Enya would be delightful to me. The harmonies of ABBA and Ace of Base would probably sound pretty angelic. And who knows, the combined creativity of Niall Horan and Nick Jonas could lead to an interesting duet.

What about Bette Midler and Beyoncé?… is the world ready for this much power on one stage?

Would I pay to see Eurovision winners, Måneskin and Måns Zelmerlöw perform together? Definitely!

What about seeing Lady Gaga do an album of Led Zeppelin covers? Given how she has demonstrated that she can do pretty much anything, I could totally see it.

Another combination that I think would be impressive would be to see Panic! at the Disco sharing the stage with P!nk.

A collaboration between two of my long-time favourites, Kristin Chenoweth and Kylie Minogue, would definitely be worth spending time in a virtual waiting room for tickets.

But when musical tastes like mine cover a pretty wide spectrum, it should come as no surprise that some pairings might lend themselves to a clash in musical styles. For example, an unlikely pairing might be Depeche Mode and Diana Krall. Both excellent musical acts on their own, but I don’t think I would hold my breath that they would share a stage or a studio together. But as the old adage goes… never say never.

In a similar vein, Doja Cat and Doris Day might be a rather stark contrast in musical styles. And yes, for the record, I do have a Doris Day album in my collection. Who doesn’t love Doris Day?

Other pairings that are probably not likely to happen are Pink Floyd and Prince, Billy Idol and Billy Joel, Sugababes and Supertramp. But truly, in today’s musical universe and with technology, anything is possible.

I confess that there are some playlist neighbours that have me thinking “hmm, interesting”, but I can’t really picture the outcome either way, if such collaborations ever happened:

Hall and Oates and Harry Styles;

Kate Bush and Kelly Clarkson;

Jonas Brothers and Josh Groban;

Backstreet Boys and Bananarama;

Matchbox 20 and Matt Dusk;

Spice Girls and Split Enz;

Steps and Sting;

Just the same, given that they are all amazing artists on their own, who knows what kind of music magic such collaborations could produce.

But there is definitely a pair of favourites that make my heart go pitter-patter every time I see them scroll by together: Could you imagine the dance party that would be hosted by Dua Lipa and Duran Duran? I think that would sound pretty fabulous!

So as new music is released and gets introduced into my playlists, I look forward to the amusement of seeing more of the likely and unlikely pairings that can form in my iPhone’s alphabetized lists.

 

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Have a great day,
André

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The Jerk

On a recent trip to a grocery store, I had a most bizarre encounter with a fellow shopper.

I was pushing my cart down an aisle that was very narrow, given the shelves of potato chips on one side and an island of cases of soft drinks in the middle. Essentially, the aisle was divided into two one-way streets.

If traditional rules of the road prevailed, in theory, I was taking the correct approach. I was traveling on the right side of the aisle while oncoming traffic should have been on the other side of the Island of Coca Cola.

I was near the end of my one-way street when a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) turned the corner and chose to enter the same one-way street I was using… but in the opposite direction.

I watched him as he picked up different bags of chips and quickly put them down without tossing any into his cart. I sensed that something weird was brewing.

Then he paused, not making eye contact with me, still looking in the direction of the shelf. His body language showed that he not actively looking for anything anymore.
Something was up.

Was this a showdown of some sort? Continue reading

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10 Favourite Typos

A close up shot of a computer keyboardI never learned touch typing.

Believe it or not, I type with the thumbs, indexes and middle fingers of both hands, it’s a weird hybrid six finger technique that I developed myself that has stayed with me for more than 40 years.

In having written as much as I have, I know intuitively where all of the keys are. The six fingers in question know when to engage to hit the right keys. As a result, I rarely need to look down and can get words committed to paper pretty accurately.

But back at the office, I recall situations when accuracy suffered… often! It is amazing how last-minute urgent requests, conflicting priorities and needing to be in multiple places at once can conspire to help me conjure up a whole new language… or completely mess up the ones I supposedly know already.

Similarly, auto-correct has tripped me up a few times. I type a word correctly but auto-correct changes it to something obscure, rudely incorrect, or a word that I use so rarely that it makes me wonder if someone else has been using my computer. This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time trusting artificial intelligence (AI).

For all of these reasons, proofreading BEFORE hitting the “Send” button is incredibly important.

Yet some of the typos I have produced over the years have been known to make me stop and enjoy the absurdity, the humour, or both.

For your enjoyment, here are ten of my favourite typos: Continue reading

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Capturing Life’s Complexity through Writing

An overhead shot of a writing desk, containing a pen, a pad of paper and a cup of coffee.Throughout my public sector career, writing was a constant. In my recent transition to retirement, I was so grateful to discover the portability of the writing skills that I had acquired along the way in helping me pursue my dream of creative writing.

I always enjoyed the process: A manager would give me the broad parameters of what they wanted to say in a written product and then would send me on my way to write the first draft. The next meeting usually involved reviewing the draft together and exchanging ideas on possible improvements. As we approached the final version, we fine-tuned the product together, ensuring that it met its intended purpose.

One of the comments that often challenged me along the way was the question, “Can we go deeper with this point?”

From my earliest days, I knew that the question could mean many different things and could lead down many different paths.

I recall it was always a delicate balance, not just adding depth, but value-added depth, propelling an idea forward without getting into the weeds. It was about adding quality without adding bulk.

That challenge made writing for the business world interesting and fun for me. When a document reached final approval, I was always left with a huge sense of satisfaction that I got the balance right. That joy was one of the signs to me that writing was my calling and life’s purpose. Continue reading

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Watching for Predators When Walking the Cat

Regular readers will recall that in an effort to keep Ivy the Wonder Cat’s weight under control, I take her out for leash walks around our rural property.

Since the beginning of the daily walks, one big adjustment has been to get her on a routine of regular flea and tick medication to ensure she doesn’t pick up any bugs (literally) on her journeys outdoors.

The other big adjustment for me, was to learn about her natural predators and to keep an eye out for them.

Since our arrival in the country, we have spotted all kinds of wildlife. But the ones to watch out for where Ivy was concerned were the fox (that we have seen), the coyote (that we have heard) and the fisher (that has been the subject of town gossip). And then there is always the question of whether there is more than one of them.

Most of the time, Ivy can walk around the property pretty safely. However, I need to be wise to the signs to the contrary.

For example, on any given day, squirrels and chipmunks can be seen frolicking around the property, digging up a variety of treasures.

On the morning I wrote the first draft of this blog post, I couldn’t see any… anywhere. It was eerie. The absence of squirrels and chipmunks is definitely not normal for us. Continue reading

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Tales From an Aging Tummy

wheat fieldHow I miss the days when I had a stomach of steel (metaphorically speaking of course) and could eat pretty much anything, at any time, and in any quantities that I wished.

Those were the days… the joys of being a growing boy, with a healthy appetite and a metabolism to burn calories like an industrial grade furnace.

In looking back, I am grateful that I did take advantage of that period to enjoy a few all-you-can-eat buffets, which I cannot really do much anymore. Now, just a little too much food can have me immobilized on the couch like a tortoise flipped upside down on its shell, and then skipping the next meal or two.

Also, I am glad that when my stomach was pretty infallible, I was able to get a bit adventurous in going outside of the “meat and potatas” my Dad preferred as our nightly dishes, and to try out different cuisines when the opportunity presented itself.

But for some reason, as I got older, my stomach had its ups, downs and intolerances that have complicated things a bit. Continue reading

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Game Changers: Wireless Headphones

wireless headphones in their charging caseShortly after buying a new iPhone 13 to replace my ailing iPhone 7, I rediscovered my love of music in a big way.

In having chosen a model with 256 GB of storage space, I could store my entire music collection on my phone and was able to play any song I wanted, any time I wanted.

Given how the switch to a new phone was caused by a broken connector port, I started looking for ways to reduce wear and tear on the new phone’s port. Given the price of phones, any measure to potentially stretch its life span seemed like a worthwhile undertaking.

First, every time I plugged the power cord into the new phone, I slowed myself down to be as gentle and mindful as possible, trying not the jostle the phone unnecessarily. My moves were so calculated and slow, you’d think that I was handling a priceless artifact. Given the price of phones, that’s probably an accurate comparison.

Second, when I was moving music from iTunes onto the device, to ensure I wasn’t plugging and unplugging the phone repeatedly, I ensured I had my selections ready to transfer in large batches.

Third, I started wondering if wireless headphones would be a good investment. By using the phone’s Bluetooth technology to have the mobile device communicate with headphones maybe that could also help reduce wear and tear on the connector port.

You’d think that as a music lover, I would have already been plugged in to the wonder of wireless headphones. I’m afraid that I hadn’t jumped on that bandwagon yet. Continue reading

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Discovering the Joy of “Seniors Days”

an antique cash registerOn a recent shopping trip to my rural pharmacy, when I brought my bottle of vitamin supplements to the cash register, the cashier rang it up and said “With your discount, your total is…”

In true Canadian fashion, my immediate reflex was to reply, “Thank you” as I reached for my credit card. Then the unexpected word “discount” finally sunk in and processed through my subconscious.

“What discount was that?” I asked.

“The seniors’ discount” replied the cashier.

At that moment, I could see a momentary pause came over her face. I wondered if she thought she might have insulted me especially since I believed that my hydrating cream and anti-dark-circle eye stick seemed to be working in perfect unison on the day in question.

I jumped in and inquired “Oh, and at what age does that start?”

She said “55.”

I didn’t want to have her thinking she had made a social faux-pas. I let her off the hook by quickly exclaiming, “Oh that’s wonderful, I’m 56!” Continue reading

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A Return to My Gluttony for Music

Not too long ago, I ran into the “Oh no!” moment that many of us experience at one time or another: The moment when one’s mobile device is having a near-death experience.

It’s not like it was unexpected. Shopping for a new phone has been on my list for a little while. I just hoped that it could have waited a few more months.

The problem was my iPhone 7’s connector port, the one used for recharging and for using headphones. Any cord in that port wasn’t staying in properly anymore. What began as an occasional issue now required progressively more jiggling for it to:
(a) stay in, and
(b) to find the sweet spot for it to recharge or to send music to the headphones.

Needless to say, going for a walk or a run with the phone has been out of the question for several months.

Ironically, this phone was probably the one that has endured the least amount of wear and tear of all of the phones I have owned in the last twenty years. Let’s face it, like most of us, it spent the pandemic at home for two years. Continue reading

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How I Lost a Superpower during the Pandemic

clockI used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.

That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.

My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.

With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.

The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.

Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.

But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement. Continue reading

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