Does anyone else remember the days when you’d carry around a walkman or discman and it was totally revolutionary? You’d have this device that let you play what ever tracks you wanted to everywhere. It was before iPods, before mp3 players and it was liberating. I was at work one day and my buddy Bosco asked if I’d tried Spotify yet. I hadn’t even heard of this spot-fy thing. But I gave it a whirl. If you aren’t aware, this program allows you to listen to a music catalog rivaled only by the smithsonian institute and for 6 months its free. for 5 bucks a month its usable on anything save for phones, and for 10 bucks a month its on your phone with “offline” playlists downloaded so you don’t even have to be connected to still listen to the music.

Unlike iTunes, I don’t have to buy this music. At first I thought, well why would I pay 10 bucks a month when i don’t buy that much music to begin with? Well when it came down to it, I was listening to so many different artists and so many different albums it would take 12 years of paying 10 bucks a month to catch up to what I’d have to spend at iTunes.

Unlike Pandora, I can listen to tracks over and over and over again. Go backwards and forwards. Essentially, I get to treat these songs like I own them.

Unlike Turntable, I can maintain collaborative playlists with friends that have multiple tracks of the same artist without the thing breaking.

Currently, I have three playlists that are on constant rotation with new tracks being added everyday.

Slow and Sturdy Wins the Race; This list is a compilation of some of my favorite singer songwriter songs. Many of them make me think of the boi. Originally it started out as a test to see how many songs I could add to it that had irregular tempo clapping hence the first two songs. But once my bud Pagel got involved it turned into this playlist of some of our deepest (and at times darkest) thoughts. Be prepared when you listen to it. You’ll learn as much about yourself as you will me.

The Best of Pop Crap; I don’t know if there’s much to this playlist. One day I heard this Katy Perry song on Glee. Then I wanted to hear the original. Then I made this playlist. Its the cheesiest, poppiest, stuff you’ll hear on the radio. But on a day when it feels like it will never end, this list gets me up and moving. Plus now I look cool to my younger cuz’s as I know all the songs they know :D

DC’s 75 QA’s 40; This playlist is dedicated to anyone who has had to work retail over the holidays. At my current job, mismanagement made for some extremely long 12-14 hour days. This list was to help channel that frustration to just simply get me through the day and start my second job. Bosco and I seem to be adding to this list still, even though the holiday rush is over. Check it out and see if it helps you in the same way it has me.

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In Memory of Someone Who Truly Inspired the World

This was written by a friend from U of I who recently passed. Maren, you are missed, the world over.

How to Change the World

So as I read over the posts I notice a trend. We Somers’ love to travel and see the world. This post is no different, but I believe that we can start a family dialogue on how to envision the world and empower ourselves with the knowledge to make an impact. Thus, we shall travel the world in our minds as much as in our physical lives. The reason I have for pondering this topic, as opposed to discussing my travels of the American West, would be our conversation yesterday between Peter, Maren, and Erin Robinson at Dressel’s in St. Louis yesterday.

As in any conversation between like-minded liberals discussing the politics of the day, we found ourselves asking the perennial question: How do we get people to change? The obvious prompt of this question being the terrible position America has put itself in on the world stage, and the power the right-wingers have snatched from the jaws of common sense.

My answer is education.

I don’t mean sending your kids to college or spending more money on public schools, although these are both important components. Neither of these provide a sufficient answer to keeping Americans from adopting radical right-wing points of veiw. In fact, I have happened upon many well educated right-wingers. They are college educated, intelligent, and well versed in many fields. These qualities, to my dismay, do not naturally lead to liberal thought processes. They only serve to reinforce previously held beliefs. This to me provides evidence that better schools and college educations will not be the answers to our problem.

The answer to our problem is the formation of beliefs and how people come to form these opinions. People’s education consists of the mental environment in which they are surrounded. This is a very simplistic definition of culture, and I believe therein lies the answer. Our culture is, and has been for many decades now, programming itself to churn out conservatives. We are insulating ourselves from any understanding of our place in a larger world community. Isolation and misunderstanding of our place in the world, and even more importantly in the environment, have led to a worldview of ourselves as removed from these key elements of belief.

Well I believe for right now I’m out of time. I can elaborate on this later. Peace.

–Maren Somers

again the shoes and lights left on

My hubbie is more hippie than I am. I like paying attention to what I’m eating, and what I’m using, but it won’t prevent me from going to Mickie D’s once in awhile or to use non-recycled TP. One thing that I always did pay attention to was energy usage. I never liked having lights on when I’m not in the room, or using energy-efficient lighting. I think a lot of this comes from saving money as a kid. My mom used to tell at my brother all the time about leaving the lights on.

Dom, the lights are left on AGAIN

So here’s my list of 10 things that I do everyday to help reduce my eco-footprint.

1.) Low flow faucets/shower head

2.) 1 liter bottle full of water in the toilet tank

3.) Keeping the thermostat no hotter than 68 in the winter, and no cooler than 75 in the summer.

4.) Energy saving lights

5.) Non-petroleum/phosphates detergents

6.) More organic shampoos (sls free [thanks K])

7.) Wash clothes in cold water only

8.) Recycled paper products only

9.) Unplugging appliances not used on a daily basis

10.) Re-usable grocery bags

Of all these, the plastic bottle in the toilet tank, the re-usable bags and washing your clothes in cold water will cost you a total of $0.99 for the bag, and $0.89 for the bottle. But it will save you a lot of water and energy usage right away. For example, 90% of a washer’s energy use is in heating up the water for warm or hot washes. For an apartment like mine, where everything is electric, you’ll notice a dramatic change in your electric bill the immediate month after you start.

What do you think? Any more suggestions?