Apple Music

Apple Music came with so much potential. The wealth of the Apple music store integrated with your personal music library? Sounds fantastic! I couldn’t wait to begin using it.

I have to admit, it is pretty cool to be able to find any music I want and listen to it instantly. I can even make playlists and save the songs for offline playback.

Here’s why I won’t pay $10 a month for it when the free trial ends.

  1. The suggestions are lousy. Apple knows so much about my music tastes – every song I’ve rated, every song I’ve listened to on repeat for days on end, every song I’ve hearted on Radio. Why is it, then, that Apple Music seems to have only just met me? It recommends songs based solely on things I have listened to/favorited in Apple Music. Moreover, it presents “Introduction to…” Playlists for artists of whom I have multiple albums in my library. I hardly need an introduction to them, do it? Shouldn’t it introduce me to artists I don’t own?
  2. I have to choose which music source to search. Shouldn’t it search my library and Apple Musoc simultaneously, and play my music if I own it? No, I have to indicate beforehand whether I would like to to search my library or Apple Music. There seems to be this Great Wall separating the services, where neither one can talk to the other one. (except for in the case of point number 3… Sort of.)
  3. Apple Music songs added to a playlist often aren’t available for playback. I use iTunes Match across two Mac computers, an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and a Windows PC. Yet more often than not, when I try to listen to Apple Music songs I’ve saved to a playlist (because, you know, I like that song), they are grayed out and completely unavailable. Why am I paying Apple all this money to sync my music if it’s not going to sync all of my music.
  4. The price isn’t worth it for me. I have to listen to at least 7 new songs each month in order for Apple Music to be cheaper than just buying a song when I want to hear it. This would be easier to do if the suggestions actually suggested songs/playlists I want to hear (see point 1).

Come on, Apple. You can do better than this! I’ve proven I don’t mind paying for your high quality devices and services. Make Apple Music high quality and I’ll pay for it, too. 

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Hope Does Not Let Us Down

My dear friends, it has been five long months since my last post, and I was not in a good place then. To be honest, I still have days when I’m not in a good place. The difference now, though, is that instead of just flat out not being in a good place, now I only have days where I’m not.

I talked to my counselor about what was going on, and she strongly recommended I speak to a psychiatrist to consider going on medication. As I mentioned before, that did not initially sit well with me. There’s all the stigma about being on meds, and I was afraid of being zombified. But I trust my counselor – I’ve been seeing her for five years, after all. If she truly thought I needed medication, maybe she was right. So I went to see the psychiatrist and told her about my issues and about my medication fears as well. Ultimately, she ended up putting me on a low dosage of an antidepressant.

Within days I felt better.

Life seemed more manageable; I no longer felt I was drowning in the ocean of life.

I’ve been on this medication for five months now, and I’m so glad I did. I still go to counseling and I’m still trying to work through my issues, but the medication makes it so I can continue to function like a human being while I do so. The meds didn’t flatten me – I can still write, I can still draw, I still have my creative spark.

I had to make some adjustments in other areas of my life, too. I dropped out of one of my three courses (of course, it had to be the one class I actually enjoyed… but it was my only elective). I stopped trying to push myself as hard, became more aware of my limits. I gave myself permission to not have to care about every single thing in the world (I mean, there are only so many things one person is capable of caring about, and that’s okay).

And I spent more time with my family. I went to my brother’s house almost every weekend for several months. I chilled with them. I went to garage sales with them. I held the baby. I played games with them. And somewhere in there God restored my soul.

I have had to remind myself daily that I am more than a conqueror, that hope does not let us down, and that He Himself is my peace. I have cried through hours of “It Is Well” and “Dead Come to Life” and “My Lighthouse.” And I have survived.

And I’m stronger now than I was before.

Friends, no matter the valley you’re walking through, no matter how hard life tries to defeat you, know that you. will. make. it. through. Hold onto the flicker of hope, chase after the light. And if you need to get help, get help. There is no shame in getting help. Did you hear me? There is no shame in getting help.

What does your music say about you?

What does your most frequently-played music say about you? I’m not really sure, but I find it fascinating to look at my own and others’ top-played charts – especially now that I have my last.fm account (mostly) accurate from all my music sources. It’s still not perfect because there are several artists I listen to a lot on cd (I know, how very un-2014 of me), but it’s the clearest picture of the last 4 years of my musical life I am likely to ever get. Do you have a last.fm account? Find me here!

So let’s jump into it.

Overall, my top artists section shows I have a fairly eclectic taste, covering musical scores, worship, alternative rock, hip-hop, pop, indie, and broadway.

Of the top six artists, four are instrumental artists (Danny Elfman, Yiruma, Lindsey Stirling, and Hans Zimmer). This is due primarily to having been both an undergraduate and being a graduate student. While I write papers, I listen to music to help me focus better, but I (normally) can’t have words in the music or else I start singing along. David Garret also makes the honorable mention list, coming in at number 13.

Of the top 18, six are Christian artists of various genres. Surprisingly, Phil Joel makes the list even though I basically only listen to one of his songs – “I Will Not Be Afraid,” which I listen to at night if I’m having trouble going to sleep.

Four of the top 18 artists are prominent YouTubers. Once again, another I-only-listen-to-one-of-your-songs artists makes this list, Sam Tsui. He does a mashup of “Let It Go” and “Let Her Go” that is my all-time most played song.

Looking at my 18 most played songs, only 8 of them are from artists that also make the top-artists list. Apparently I like to listen to certain songs on repeat a lot.

I’m not sure what all this says about me, but if I did, I’m sure I’d find it fascinating.

Five Minute Friday: Hero

There seems to be a sentiment among women today that a man must be a hero in order to be good enough to date, let alone spend a lifetime with.  A popular song called “Holding Out for a Hero” expresses this perfectly (if you haven’t heard it, check it out here).  A man is only worth a woman’s time if he is

  • godlike
  • street smart
  • makes unwise bets
  • has a taste for danger
  • strong
  • fast
  • hotheaded
  • confident
  • gives instant gratification
  • the stuff of fantasy
  • Superman

No wonder women are marrying later and later in life, if this is the standard to which they hold men! Come on, ladies, get real. No man is ever, ever going to meet those criteria. Why? Because men are human beings, not Greek gods.  If you’re holding out for Hercules, you’re going to die alone.

Am I advocating having no standards at all and marrying the first guy who shows interest in you? Absolutely not! In fact, I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t think of your spouse as a hero. What I am suggesting, however, is that our perception of a hero needs adjusting.

What makes a man a hero?

  • Loving God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27)
  • Providing for his family (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • Laying down his life for his wife, as Christ laid down his life for the church (Ephesians 5:25-27)

This may be a short list, but these three things encompass all the things that cause women to respect men, and what is the title “hero” but the ultimate term of respect? If a man loves God with everything he has, takes care of his family, that man is more of a hero to me than some guy with godlike features.

“But two of those three descriptors only apply to married men. How does this help me find a single man??” If a man truly loves God with his entire being, then the others will follow naturally. You can count on it.

By all means, hold out for a hero. But make sure he’s the right kind of hero.

Confessions of a Closet Twilight Fan

I’ve heard all the arguments about why Twilight is horrible: sub-par writing, doesn’t stick to the “rules” about vampires, confusing love with obsession and lust — the list goes on.

I’ve heard them all, and I agree with them. When I step back and take a good, long look at the story and the characters, I can find nothing redeeming about the series. My friends know me as the person who loves to expound on why and how much I dislike the series.

What they don’t know is that Twilight is also something I can’t stay away from. “my own personal brand of heroin,” if you will. I watch the first movie on a fairly regular basis, I have the books on my Kindle (so my friends won’t see them on my bookshelf), I listen to both the score and the soundtrack from the first movie regularly, and I can play “Bella’s Lullaby” on the piano (both Carter Burwell’s version and Yiruma’s “River Flows in You”). There is something about Twilight that completely sucks me in and refuses to release me until I have completed the story.

 

This week Twilight captured me again, but this time it took me to a new place. I read Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer’s (sadly) unfinished version of Twilight told from Edward’s point of view.

I hated it.

I loved it.

I hated how little Edward’s side felt like love and how much it felt like psychopathic, lustful obsession.

I loved how Midnight Sun reflected the truth that love makes ordinary seem extraordinary, such as with Edward’s perception of Bella’s beauty (or at the beginning of the story, her lack thereof).

Twilight is undeniably bad for me. It makes me think of too many things I would rather forget about. Yet I keep going back to it, over and over, and I will very probably go back again and again.

Why can’t I keep from liking something I know I dislike?