iTunes Shuffle Seasonal Disorder

I suffer from iTunes Shuffle Seasonal Disorder, iSSD. (Or should it be iTunes Seasonal Shuffle Disorder?) I should probably join a support group. But I doubt there are any. I’m probably the only person on the planet who can’t get this right.

My problem is that I can’t get my iTunes shuffle to stop playing Christmas music for the ten months of the year that I don’t want to listen to Christmas music.

I know I can make playlists and leave the holiday tunes out. But that’s not as easy as it sounds.

My phone often ignores my previous playlist and plays whatever the heck it feels like. Then I end up with holiday music in March … July … August … again and again. Until, by Christmas time I’m not sure if I even want to listen.

I’ve tried deleting the Christmas music from my phone, but it keeps coming back. How does it do that?

The family is not fond of the holiday music in July. In a fit of frustration, Dave once tried to permanently delete a particularly energetic and cheerful Barry Manilow Christmas number from my whole iTunes account (not just a phone or iPad).

I was a little upset at first because about once or twice a year (total times, not months) I liked listening to it. I think I got it for free back when iTunes had lots of free* stuff.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure one of my devices played the “permanently deleted” Barry Manilow song again this season. Or possibly I have a second Barry Manilow Christmas song that I didn’t know I had.

Barry Manilow sings Christmas

In January it’s a little better. Last year I discovered that I like Disco music in January. Don’t laugh. Okay, laugh. I probably deserve it. (I probably shouldn’t even admit to it. Send an S.O.S. Don’t leave me this way.)

But January is gray and cold. Disco music is relentlessly energetic, sunny, and cheerful even about broken hearts and breakups. (It is hot stuff.)

There’s nothing like a little ABBA to counter the grayness of midwinter. So I have a Disco Playlist (not its real name) that has zero holiday music. I play it a lot this time of year (thank you, also, The Martian soundtrack).

ABBA in January and maybe February and a little in March

But often I want to listen to random music too. A mix. A heavy does of alternative, some soundtrack, then a smidge of country,disco, and something metal in between (like a palate refresher). Birdy, Mumford & Sons, Howard Shore, George Ezra, Sia, John Williams, Disturbed, Johnny Cash, Thao, Abba, David Bowie, Donna Summers, Fall Out Boy …

But then here comes Barry Mannilow’s Bells again. I scramble to fast forward except sometimes it will be followed by Silent Night from one of four different artists (how do I even own four copies of Silent Night?).

The Christmas music keeps sneaking in.

It’s especially annoying when my phone reverts to playing songs from my entire collection thus ignoring my most recent playlist preferences. (Maybe it doesn’t like the Disco.)

The iPhone-with-a-mind-of-its-own will play songs from any that I own including but not limited to holiday songs. So if I’m not careful there will be Christmas music right around the corner. Any corner. Any time. (Plus I think it’s becoming contagious — my daughter sometimes sings Christmas carols in seasonally inappropriate months.)

And I can’t seem to make it stop. I can only skip to the next song and hope I can avoid another. Help?

I’d really like an iTunes setting to play-all except the holiday music. Or a setting that allows me to play Christmas music in only November and December. Until then, I’ll try to delete the holiday music from my phone again and be ready to skip a track once in a while too.

*Free songs: U2 maybe-kind-of ruined that for everyone with Songs of Innocence. I liked the free stuff, but I didn’t want to auto-download an entire album, thanks. I liked one of the songs a lot though. It would be nice to have a free song-of-the-week again, iTunes. Thank you.
Copyright 2017 Debora Kapke

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I [Emoji] Holiday Shopping

Along with total fail at trying to register myself for the Pinburgh pinball tournament yesterday, I braved a couple of stores for some holiday shopping. (Not the mall. I’m not that crazy right now.)

I went to a Michael’s Craft Store. It’s scary enough in its own right this time of year, but not as bad as the mall.

Michaels has decorations overflowing each of the front aisles. Plentiful ribbons, stockings, and table-top decorations are on sale at 30% to 70% off. This attracts almost as many shoppers as Michaels has ornaments (maybe more). Men, women, and children scoop up treasures as they browse the selections. (One child sobbed uncontrollably when his dad said, “no,” to a toy. It was part of the holiday soundtrack.)

Then, they (we) all stand in long lines to use the day’s special-bonus coupon to bring the cost to a manageable price. I was one of these shoppers.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter found some cool holiday glasses in front of the tree display. These glasses look like the 3D-movie glasses we wore when I was a kid — paper frames with a thin piece of plastic for lenses. But instead of red and blue 3D-lenses, these glasses have tiny laser etchings on them that turn points of light into simple little pictures.

They work awesomely with Christmas lights (which is probably why they were next to the trees). Put the glasses on and suddenly your holiday tree is covered in glowing snowmen … or gingerbread men … or candy canes! It’s awesome.

These will probably make fun stocking stuffers or small gifts for those who might appreciate altering their reality with a simple pair of glasses. I’m hoping we can go to a festival-of-light display and mix it up a little with some Frosty glasses.

After thinking the store was out of these Laser Glasses, I found a new stash of them behind the Christmas tree display. Yay! My kiddo will be happy (and I like them too)!

I kept finding new and interesting things around the store.

I was standing in one aisle trying to move past another shopper when a young child behind me said, “look, a poo pillow!” He sounded so innocent and cheerful.

I was sure I couldn’t possibly have heard him right (sometimes I am a little hard of hearing). So I turned around to find that, indeed, there was a pillow that looked like poo.

The entire bin was filled with emoji-inspired pillows, and one of them looked like brown poop with a happy face. (Because that’s exactly what everybody wants for Christmas, right?  A good bowel movement? Did I just go there?) It can sit right next to the angry emoji pillow. I think they look nice together. Or maybe not.

You can also get purple poo (maybe in case you’ve been eating too many garden huckleberries).

Apparently, I am so not up on my emojis. I think I’d be happy with a smilie face or the pillow with glasses.  I’m probably not very cool that way.

Emoji pillows, including a poo pillow.

Later, I found marquee letters on sale.

Marquees seem to be a popular home decoration these days. The signs are words or symbols, like an arrow, as well as stand-alone letters. They’re made of metal (and sometimes plastic) and dotted with LED lights, so they look like old theater signs. (You can put the writing on the wall and then make it glow.)

The letters were on sale for a great price (maybe 70% off?), and I think they would look pretty cool on our bookshelf or mantle. I’d have to decide if I wanted to spell a word (short ones cost less and fit better), or go with a simple initial for the family name …

Marquee letters. I should have set them up to spell something fun before I snapped the photo. Oh wait! It does kind of spell something. It’s almost “grace.” But then the last letter is really an “i,” so it’s “graci.” which is kind of a word too. 

Then I noticed that each letter had a sticker on the side to indicate which one it was. Because apparently being letter-shaped might not do the trick for some people. Now I know with absolute certainty that the marquee letter that’s shaped like an “A” is, in fact, a letter A. (I did not check the poo pillow for a label, so maybe it’s really chocolate … happy, slightly melty chocolate.)

The one that looks like the letter C is a letter C. How handy! (I wonder how easily the stickers peel off?)

I guess the stickers would be helpful if the letters were stored on a shelf so that only the side shows.

And really, some days I do need this kind of visual aid, but not today. (And I still spent too much money.)


–Update 12/07/16–

I keep changing the title of this post because I wasn’t crazy about the first two titles. Plus I just wanted to experiment. So if you feel like you read this post before, then maybe you did.  I’ll probably stick with “I [Emoji] Holiday Shopping,” for now. (Because in my mind I can put any emoji there based on my particular mood regarding holiday shopping. It varies. Some days the pillow emojis shown (above) describe it perfectly.

Also, my daughter saw my photo of the emoji pillows and said, “wow, emoji pillows for only $5 !” I guess she thought it was a good price. She also confirmed that the brown pillow is supposed to be poo. I’m kind of wondering if I should be blogging about poo pillows. And, really, I kind of wonder why they make poo pillows. And why they have poo emojis in the first place.

(I looked it up. Apparently in Japan the word for lucky is very similar to the shortened form of the Japanese word for poo. So it is sort of a pun, but basically poo=lucky. I mean I feel pretty lucky when I poo. It sure does beat the alternative. Emojis started as a Japanese thing in the first place, so I guess the poo stuck around. And everybody poos, right? Added 12/15/16.)

I also wonder if I should be proud of our geriatric cat when he leaves a little present outside the litter box. “Oh look, Fletcher, you made an lucky emoji. Good kitty!”

(Um, no.)
Copyright 2016 Deb L Kapke


Well, that happened.

I wasn’t crazy about either major-part candidate, and it has been one really weird election year.

More than ever, I feel like I’m in bizzaro world. The Spock with a goatee will walk in at any moment.

I claimed I wouldn’t be surprised either way, but I think I am actually surprised.

I hope every registered voter who reads this, voted.

I’m going to pray and hope that we can all find good in this going forward. I think there can be good.

(I like and love all kinds of people. It is harder to like the ones with unkind words coming out of their mouths. I hope that can improve.)


This was my post for NaBloPoMo Crazy Day 9.


Cubs Win! NaBloPoMo Day 3

Well, well, well. It actually happened! The “curse” is broken.

It’s exciting to see the Cubs break their 107-year losing streak even though I am not much of a sports fan. That’s the longest drought in history.* Gobs of folks lived their entire lives and never saw the Cubs win a World Series. Birth to grave and so many games in between. That’s even multiple lifetimes for some. (And just image how many in hamster lives.)

All good and bad things come to an end. It is reassuring in its own way. Like maybe I’ll conquer Mt. Laundry someday for real. Or write a novel for NaNoWriMo.

I like sports from time to time. And since I’m originally from Chicago, there’s Cubs fan fiber deeply embedded in my being.

It’s great to see my Chicago family and other Cubs fans so elated (while also seeing them stress a lot leading up to the win). Thank you Facebook for letting me share in some of their joy. (Did I just THANK Facebook? Gah.) Thank you, family, for sharing your crazy-happy moment.

Go Cubs!!!

(Sorry, Cleveland.)

NaBloPoMo November 2016

And, hey, this was a blog post for NaBloPoMo Day 3.

*Non-winning streaks for major American sports teams anyway. I’m sure there’s some official designation, but I probably don’t know sports well enough to word this right. I heard the word drought used for this on the radio, and I thought it sounded good.

Following up to add that Neil deGrasse Tyson, posted several facts to give a better idea of how long it’s been. It’s a fun way to put it into perspective. Halley’s Comet has appeared twice since the last time the Cubs won a Workd Series. Mark Twain was still alive. The cosmic object Pluto, formerly known as a planet, hadn’t even been discovered yet. Ford’s Model-T cars had only just started rolling off the assembly lines. So just imagine what the streets looked like in 1908. Wow!

Vote Kodos or Kang*! (Actually, no. But please vote!)

This year I feel like I (along with the entire country) have been transported to an alternate universe. Somewhere around here Spock must have a goatee. And Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are our major-party candidates for President of the United State. Many of you who are registered to vote have decided on a candidate and will vote for that candidate. Yay, you! (I’m not going to try to change your mind.) 

But if you’re even remotely thinking of not voting, I’m writing this for you. If you don’t like either choice … can’t find the time … don’t think your vote matters …

Please vote any way.

Today is the last day to register to vote online in my state. The same may be true for your state, so check it out and register if you haven’t already. 

Some people say that both candidates are bad. So they say they won’t vote. As if that will show them. As if not voting somehow sends a message to Washington.

“Bob Smith didn’t vote; we must be doin’ somethin’ wrong,” said no politician ever.

The only message sent by not voting is one that says that you don’t care enough to vote. Status quo is okay with you. Let other people pick your leaders.

There are men and women in other countries who fought and died to be able to vote in their elections. Ladies, remember when it wasn’t legal for us to vote in the United States? Neither do I. Yay! Now, use your right to vote. 

You may think that you don’t have a choice. That you must pick either Donald or Hillary. But you can vote and still not vote for Hillary or Donald if you want to. Just be sure to vote.

There are some who may tell you that you’re throwing away your vote if you don’t vote for a Democrat or Republican (depending on whom you ask). When folks feel that way, some of them end up not voting. But the only way to throw away your vote is by not voting at all.

You can vote 3rd party.

You can vote via write-in.

You can vote in the congressional, senatorial, and local elections, but then not vote for a President if you wish. 

Just please vote! (And really you should still vote for a President. Even voting for Kodos* or Kang* is better than not voting at all.)

Make your voice heard. It may be a small voice, but it is an important voice. It is your voice.

If we see a record number of voters voting it says that people care enough to spare a bit of time to have a say. It tells Washington that you’re paying a little bit of attention. (Well, a record high number of voters is good. Record lows. Not so good.) 

And if this election sees a record-high number of write-ins and 3rd-party votes, that says something too. It sends a message (even if the person you voted for doesn’t become President). 

I know I won’t change anybody’s mind about whom to vote for. I probably don’t want to change your mind about some things, and I would love to change your mind about others. But I’m happy to agree to disagree as long as the voting happens.

Mind made up? Mind not made up? All fine. Vote!

*Kang and Kodos are aliens as depicted on the TV show The Simpsons usually showing up on the Halloween episodes in some form or another. I don’t really want to elect either one of them President. (I could say the same about some real, live humans.) But I do think voting, even for creepy, green aliens is better than not voting. 

Where did it go?

My long weekend! My month of May! Where did they go? I have less than a day of May left, and the weekend is completely gone. But at least it was a nice weekend, and I can’t say that May was bad either. It’s just that I would like more of both.

Yesterday’s Memorial Day Parade and Festival was a burst of enjoyment even in the heat. A few of the fire trucks sprayed their hoses for the hot hot hot parade participants and we just happened to be walking by at the right time for a refreshing mist. We caught a bit of parade, slid slides, got a really cute handmade braided bumblebee rug and a few wee bits of pottery. Yummy grilled dinner at my mom’s…

My laundry status is at the ever-so-nice place where closets and drawers are chock full ‘o the clean stuff. And the hampers have mostly empty bellies just waiting for us to feed them all week long. I even managed to swap out some summer clothing and put away winter clothing. Yay.

My daughter had a ball drawing all kinds of things with sidewalk chalk–bees, giant ants, snakes, rivers, pants, cars and even bottomless pits. But at one point she got a little too enthusiastic and geeky. I love her pastel rendition of “stick people family.” But, later, she moved her work vertically, writing, “The cake is a lie,” on the outside wall of our home! D’oh! She even included tally marks which makes her quite thorough and it was fun and funny of her, but still D’OH. Luckily it was wash off chalk, so away it went. The stick family stayed though.

Well, here we are again

I finally finished Portal. Portal 2 that is. Found a few bugs along the way. But I managed to finish it just a few short minutes after my awesome daughter finished. Daddy helped her a bit, but really, she did an amazing job on her own! Speedy thing! Well, speedy at games. She takes longer on other things. Like the bathroom. She takes a reeeally long time in the bathroom. So I kind of win on that! Woo.

But I’m happy to have finished Portal2 because I like playing Portal and the fact that I finished means I was able to be playing and so was my daughter. On the flip side, however, now that I finished playing it, I no longer have finishing it to look forward to. Kind of a catch 22. But I still have some achievements to earn, so there’s that AND Portal 2 has co-op and I only finished single player, so there’s lots more to look forward to!

I’ll feel much less guilty about playing, however, when I get more laundry done as well as general clean up and organizing. I did manage to get some laundry done, go through some papers, file them in the garbage can, and affix about 15 patches to my daughter’s Brownie vest today. So at least I did something besides playing Portal 2. But here it is Sunday night. Tomorrow is Monday. (Always happens in that order, doesn’t it?) And, once again, I didn’t get as much done this weekend as I’d planned. Here we are again. I wish the dirty laundry would be GONE.

And ’cause it is STILL awesome:

I Should Just Get Out And Walk!

Some days, “I could get out and walk faster than this,” is just an expression–exaggeration uttered for dramatic effect to convey frustration over the lack of forward motion in a bad traffic situation. Often, people even add the word, “literally,” to bolster the dramatic effect. Most oft it feels like you could walk faster, but, in fact, at some point your car-driving self would pull ahead of your pedestrian self and might even smirk a little. Today is not one of those days.

I left my office at about 3:10 pm and it is now 5:57. My normal commute lasts about 20 minutes. There was no snow on my car when I left–just rain and pellets of frozen rain that had begun to enchrust my vehicle. The light shell was easy to brush away. Now I estimate there are a good three+ inches of heavy snow on top of my car. Traffic is at such a stand-still I was able to stop my engine and hop out to clear snow off the windows and lights without ever leaving the main thoroughfare. I’ve cleared my side-view mirror five times. The woman in the car in front of me has cleared her entire car twice. The road itself has somewhat less snow–certainly, less than it would have had, had there not been miles of nearly-stopped vehicles shielding it from the full on blizzard-like conditions. Hot engines melting copious little snowflakes before they could flutter to the ground. I have seen lightning twice (at least, I think it was lightning–either that or blown transformers) and the woman in front of me just got out and cleared her car for a third time. I fear I may run out of gas. I am STILL not home, but I am close now. Close enough to know with absolute certainty that I could, indeed, walk home faster than this. 6:09.

6:20 I pull into my garage. Home!

[Adding a footnote to this. While I was relatively stressed and actually shaking by the time I got home, sitting in traffic for so long gave me some time to do a little reading, blogging, and briefly chatting with my fellow traffic sufferers. It could have been worse. My short (in miles), but time consuming drive yielded a solid 4-5 inches of heavy snow on top of my car. But I would later discover that some folks in our area would take over 13 hours to get home. There were kids stuck in daycares most of the night as their parents trudged through the slow moving traffic to reach them. I have to say, I had it pretty darn good in comparison.]

Managed to get done since Saturday AM Friday Night

Sometimes daily life comes at us fast and furiously and I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the torrent of tasks which I need to complete. The past week has been one of those times.

Friday night I managed to successfully take my daughter to her school’s Sock Hop. (I didn’t know anybody still had those.) Kids dressed 50s style and danced to modern tunes while the cafeteria served ice cream floats in plastic cups and the school’s library held the last day of the book fair. My daughter picked up, among other things, a copy of Mad Libs: Pirates which she played in the hall with some of her fellow, slightly dance shy classmates. So book fair, check. Mad Libs, check. Sock Hop, check. Ice Cream Float, check.

Saturday saw ballet lessons and karate lessons which were immediately followed by a trip to the vet with our slightly odd, old cat (he’s been sneezing). There we got him medicine and have, hopefully, put him on the road to recovery after a diagnosis of sinus congestion and infection likely brought on by seasonal allergies. Then we managed to head out to Ida Lee park where we were finally able to launch my daughter’s rocket, The Puffle Express! It was a crisp autumn day and the rockets’ red flare stood out nicely against the gray sky. We also got to see several other cool rocket launches! Great that we got to do it since I totally messed up managing to find the folks doing rocket launches the last time around. It was a cool day in more ways than one.

Sunday we got a little cleaning done (need to do more of that, but…) and then headed out to Cox Farms for the last day of their Fall Festival and Pumpkin Madness. Fun time! Multiple hayrides, apple cider, The Corn-undrum, farm animals and giant slides filled our time.

Both the Sock Hop and the the very last Hayride at Cox Farms finished up with the song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which made a pretty rockin’ set of auditory bookends for the weekend in general.

Tons more to do this week, though. Monday we managed to get our daughter to karate while also starting preliminary shopping on a new TV and Tuesday made it to a book release party at Borders for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, but we didn’t get to the cable company to exchange the cable box that spontaneously stopped working after a short power outage this weekend. Still need to do that and I need to get tons more work done of both the official and the unofficial kinds. Sigh. Back to work for me.

Overheard today: brows and twins, Adams and that guys…

Overheard today at home:

“Celine Dion gave birth to twins at age 42. There’s hope for me yet!”
“Better start singing.”

“You still love me even though I have a 4-inch eyebrow hair, right?” “Right?!”

“What she needs is more…”
“Adam Sessler?”

“Is he somebody famous?”
“Well, he looks like that guy in that movie.”
“Shia LaBeouf.”
“Yeah. … Good job.”