Monthly Archives: January 2004

XM Bootcamp II Schedule and Scorecard

For each channel, I’ve included a link to its home page on XM’s site; I’ve also predicted the grade I’ll give to each channel; I updated each channel’s listing after I visited it with my actual grade and with a link to my discussion of the channel in my blog. I’ve also written a Bootcamp Retrospective, complete with awards.

Date Channel Channel
Name and Home Page
Category Expected
Actual Grade and Blog Link
1/6/2004 4 The 40s Decades C B
1/7/2004 5 The 50s Decades B- C
1/8/2004 6 The 60s Decades B- A
1/9/2004 151 Laugh USA Comedy B B
1/10/2004 121 Fox News News    
1/12/2004 28 On Broadway Hits B- B
1/13/2004 7 The 70s Decades B C
1/14/2004 22 The Mix Hits D- C
1/15/2004 9 The 90s Decades D- F
1/16/2004 21 KISS XM Hits F F
1/17/2004 122 CNN News    
1/18/2004   Aguila (90)/Vibra(92)/Tejano (93)** Latin    
1/19/2004 169 The Power Talk & Variety D D
1/20/2004 74 Bluesville Jazz & Blues C B+
1/21/2004 65 The Rhyme Urban F F
1/22/2004 48 SquiZZ Rock C C+
1/23/2004 10 America Country C B+
1/24/2004 123 CNN Headline News    
1/25/2004 30** Special X Hits   B
1/26/2004 161 Discovery Radio Talk & Variety C B
1/27/2004 70 Real Jazz Jazz & Blues B A-
1/28/2004 40 Deep Tracks Rock A A
1/29/2004 113 XM Pops Classical A A
1/30/2004 115 Radio Disney Kids C D
1/31/2004 124 ABC News & Talk News    
2/2/2004 16 Highway 16 Country C C
2/3/2004 25 The Blend Hits C B-
2/4/2004 53 Fungus Rock C+ C
2/5/2004 54 Lucy Rock C+ B-
2/6/2004 101 The Joint World C C+
2/7/2004 125 Weather Channel News    
2/9/2004 162 E! Talk & Variety D F
2/10/2004 13 Hank’s Place Country C B+
2/11/2004 73 Frank’s Place Jazz & Blues C+ B+
2/12/2004 91 Caricia Latin C C
2/13/2004 23 The Heart Hits C C
2/14/2004 127 CNBC News    
2/16/2004 52 Unsigned Rock C- C+
2/17/2004 61 The Flow Urban D C
2/18/2004 8 The 80s Decades C- B+
2/19/2004 82 The System Dance D B-
2/20/2004 20 Top 20 On 20 Hits F F
2/21/2004 129 Bloomberg News News    
2/23/2004 165 Ask! Talk & Variety D F
2/24/2004 50 The Loft Rock B B+
2/25/2004 31 The Torch Christian F F
2/26/2004 60 Soul Street Urban C B
2/27/2004 51 XM Music Lab Rock C B-
2/28/2004 130 MSNBC News    
3/1/2004 166 Buzz XM Talk & Variety D F
3/2/2004 14 Bluegrass Junction Country C A-
3/3/2004 67 The City Urban D D
3/4/2004 80 The Move Dance D D+
3/5/2004 156 VH-1 Radio Talk & Variety D C-
3/6/2004 131 BBC World Service News    
3/8/2004 163 Sonic Theater Talk & Variety C I
3/9/2004 44 Fred Rock C B-
3/10/2004 64 The Groove Urban D C-
3/11/2004 12 X Country Country C B-
3/12/2004 32 The Fish Christian F F
3/13/2004 132 C-Span News    
3/15/2004 27 Cinemagic Hits B B
3/16/2004 72 Beyond Jazz Jazz & Blues B B-
3/17/2004 15 The Village Country A A
3/18/2004 116 XM Kids Kids C C+
3/19/2004 24 Sunny Hits C D
3/20/2004 134 CNN en Espanol News    
3/22/2004 164 Radio Classics Talk & Variety C I
3/23/2004 110 XM Classics Classical A A
3/24/2004 49 Fine Tuning Rock A A
3/25/2004 83 Chrome Dance D C+
3/26/2004 45 XM Cafe Rock C+ B
3/27/2004 140 ESPN Radio Sports    
3/29/2004 152 Extreme XM Talk & Variety D F
3/30/2004 47 Ethel Rock C C-
3/31/2004 66 Raw Urban F F
4/1/2004 150 XM Comedy Comedy C D
4/2/2004 42 XM Liquid Metal Rock D F
4/3/2004 141 ESPNews Sports    
4/5/2004 171 Open Road Talk & Variety D D-
4/6/2004 41 Boneyard Rock C C-
4/7/2004 71 Watercolors Jazz & Blues B B
4/8/2004 94 Caliente Latin C C+
4/9/2004 170 Family Talk Talk & Variety D F
4/10/2004 142 Fox Sports Sports    
4/12/2004 33 Spirit Urban F C-
4/13/2004 102 Ngoma World D C
4/14/2004 76 On The Rocks Jazz & Blues C+ B+
4/15/2004 46 Top Tracks Rock B+ B+
4/16/2004 11 Nashville! Country C C
4/17/2004 143 Sporting News Sports    
4/19/2004 103 Audio Visions World B B-
4/20/2004 81 BPM Dance D B-
4/21/2004 29 U-Pop Hits C C-
4/22/2004 100 World Zone World C A-
4/23/2004 112 Vox! Classical B- C
4/24/2004 144 NASCAR Sports    
4/26/2004 155 MTV Radio Talk & Variety D D
4/27/2004 62 Suite 62 Urban D B-
4/28/2004 75 Luna Jazz & Blues C A
4/29/2004 43 XMU Rock C B-
4/30/2004 26 XM Live Hits C+ B-

** Channels removed 1 February 2004

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Bootcamp Day 14 — The Rhyme

When Shibby set up the bootcamp, he gave us advice:

How can I listen to a channel I know already I won’t be able to stand?

Well, of course, you can simply avoid the channel. Short of that, here’s some tips that may help you survive a day you think is going to be hell:

  • Go in with a good attitude, or at least no attitude. If you are convinced that you absolutely cannot stand a certain type of music, there’s not going to be much room for discovery. Keep an open mind.
  • Turn the volume down. Sometimes, allowing the music to fade into the background brought me good results. If you focus on something other than the music that’s playing, you just might find yourself tapping your foot to the beat to a type of music you thought you couldn’t stand. For me, this was particularly useful during the Country and Urban categories.

When I read that advice, I knew that it would apply very directly to today’s channel, The Rhyme.

I tried. I listened in my hotel room, with the volume down and the air conditioning up. And, if I couldn’t hear any of the words, it wasn’t totally intolerable most of the time. But when I got close to the speakers, or when the air conditioning stopped, and the words became clear, I was not a happy camper.

I think I’ll listen to other channels when I get back to the hotel.

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Bootcamp Day 13 — Bluesville

Bluesville is one of the channels I thought I’d enjoy, but that I hadn’t gotten around to actually spending time with — a perfect candidate for Bootcamp.

I took advantage of timezone slippage again, and started listening soon after midnight Eastern (which was late last night, Arizona time). I’d had a good evening visiting with family, but nonetheless, I was sitting in a hotel room, 700 miles away from home, so it was a good environment for the blues. And I liked the music, even though it suffered from the laptop speaker blues.

I kept on listening this morning, but I didn’t find the music as compelling or suited to my mood (I like upbeat music in the morning, and “upbeat blues” is not a phrase which comes trippingly to the tongue). When I get back to the hotel, I’ll give it another shot, but it’s pretty clear to me that this is a channel that I’ll want to listen to more at some times than others. I might give this channel a preset at home or work, but probably not in the car.

And now I’m back in the hotel after dinner, listening to Bluesville again — the more I listen, the more I enjoy it. I don’t know if that’s because blues fit my evening mood better than my morning mood, if the selection’s different, or just because — but I’ll definitely come back for more.

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Hotel Recommendation – Hilton Tucson East

I’m in Tucson, Arizona, at the IBM Academy of Technology‘s Technology Council meeting. They selected the Hilton Tucson East as the hotel, even though it’s 20 minutes away from the meeting site.

I think they made a good choice; the hotel has been very accomodating and friendly, and there’s a reasonable choice of restaurants in the area. They add lots of nice amenities for Gold members (including cookies and water delivered to the room, as well as chocolate on arrival and bonus Hilton points), too. And they even gave me a room with a southern exposure, so I can listen to XM (though that was a random deal — I didn’t ask for it).

I would happily stay there again, though given my rate of visits to Tucson, that may not happen for a long time (my last visit was 20 years ago).

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The wrong kind of elite security line…

I have a 1:25pm flight today to Tucson. I’m paranoid, so I left the house at 10:25am. There wasn’t much traffic on the roads, so it didn’t take me very long to get to the airport; in fact, I had returned the car and was in the terminal at 11:25.

That gave me plenty of time for a leisurely lunch (I hit Burger Joint in the International Terminal — it’s good, but I could have found something healthier). Then I walked over to Terminal 1 and the line for security screening.

I usually fly American; I’m an AAdvantage Platinum customer, so I get to use the express entry to the security line. Every time I fly another airline, I remember how much time being an elite member saves me, so I wasn’t looking forward to the long line here. I was pleasantly surprised when they looked at my boarding pass and ushered me over to a shorter line — I thought that the Alaska/American frequent flyer deal was paying off for me.

The pleasantness of the surprise didn’t last long. The TSA agent asked me if I was familiar with the secondary screening process; I wasn’t. So he explained it; I had to take off my shoes, jacket, empty my pockets, and wait for an agent who could wand me down and do a hand-check of my baggage. Fortunately, I hadn’t over-packed, so I wasn’t worried about being unable to get my stuff back into the bag without extreme measures. And I still had plenty of time, so I wasn’t worrying about missing my flight.

The process didn’t take much longer than normal screening — I was finished in less than ten minutes, and I’m pretty sure I missed at least five minutes of standing in line. But on the whole, I’d be happy not to be given this kind of special treatment.

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Bootcamp Day 12 — The Power

The Power is a talk radio station, and talk radio is very low on my list of things to listen to, so it’s not too surprising that I haven’t found this channel very interesting and won’t be spending much time on it. I expect to have the same reaction to the other talk channels — there will probably be a few which I’ll like even less, in fact.

The ads for weight-reduction products and tax-reduction schemes don’t improve my reaction to this channel, either.

I’m going back to Special X, rejoining Magical Misery Tour, which is already in progress.

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A Surprise Geocaching Convention

Today was Book Group day at Shir Hadash (Diane’s the coordinator); we discussed Everything Is Illuminated, a very interesting and worthwhile book. After lunch, we wanted to get some exercise, and Diane was going to go to the Y while Jeff and I were ready to walk to Jamba Juice — and then I noticed that our friend Sam had called and wanted me to call his cellphone.

So I did; he and his family were in Belgatos Park, geocaching, and wanted to know if we were interested in joining them. We were, and caught up with them in the parking lot. They had done two caches and were ready to drive to the other side of the park for a few more, but were willing to wait so we could pick up the caches.

The first one, Tarmac Trail, was only a few hundred feet away and took only a couple of minutes to bag. For the second one, Forest Stump, we had to get across a little creek (we took a route which was muddier than required…I didn’t realize there were two bridges within a three minute walk!) and then climb up a trail and around a few switchbacks. As we neared what we thought was the site, we noticed a few other people with GPSes in hand — two other geocaching groups were out on this beautiful Sunday, too. So we all logged the cache and chatted for a while (and our friends joined us while we were talking). The other groups had been on the other side of Belgatos Park and warned us that there was no parking available, so we had to decide: walk about a mile (plus about 400 feet of vertical gain) and return before it got dark in an hour, or do something else.

We chose to do something else, and picked up the first part of a multi-step cache, The Harry Surprise. By that time, it was getting a little dark, so we decided to call it an afternoon and went home.

There will be a Geocaching Dinner next weekend, and we plan to be there. It should be easy to find.

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Day 10 — Kiss this one off, too…

Today’s Bootcamp stop was KISS XM, which is described as:

a maximum music, 100% Pop Hits channel focusing on today’s mega-songs, as well as the biggest songs from the past few years. With Rick Dees in the Morning, KISS XM is a powerhouse of blockbuster songs…one after another.

I gave it a shot for an hour this afternoon; maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have a subwoofer for my speakers. But I do, so there was a constant thump-thump-thump coming from the mega-songs, and that’s not what I want to hear — one hour was plenty.

I may not be able to keep up with Bootcamp next week, since I’ll be travelling and don’t know if I’ll have XM; if not, I’ll catch up later on.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Day 9 — Not the way I remember the 90s!

Bootcamp moved along again today — we spent the day in the 90’s. I have to confess that music wasn’t my highest priority during the 90’s; Jeff was born on February 1, 1990, and, as everyone says, having a child will change your life.

We never stopped listening to classical music, but we did play a lot of other music, espcially during the first half of the decade. Raffi was popular for a short time, but Jeff outgrew him quickly (whew). We watched a lot of Sesame Street, which brought along some fun music (I still like “Put Down The Ducky”, in fact). But the favorite in our household was Sharon, Lois, and Bram. We discovered them one day on Nickelodeon — eventually, we had many tapes of the Elephant Show. Like Sesame Street, the show had enough subtle humor for adults to enjoy (though it was aimed squarely at pre-schooler), and the music was enjoyable even if your age was in double digits. We even went to Great America to see them live.

But once Jeff started school, he outgrew Sharon, Lois, and Bram. And there wasn’t a replacement; instead, we went back to listening to classical music.

But while we weren’t looking, the Bay Area had lost one of its two classical stations. KKHI/95.7 was sold to Westinghouse Broadcasting in 1994; Westinghouse immediately changed its format to all-news. But it wasn’t a respectable all-news station like KCBS/740 — instead, it focussed its attention on the hot story of the day, the OJ Trial. All OJ, all the time — just what I didn’t need.

So I started listening to KDFC/102.1. When we first moved to the Bay Area, KDFC was a very sedate station; it played all classical music (as it still does today), but there were no live announcers. Instead, it was all automated; each piece was introduced by a very quiet announcement giving the composer, title, year, and performer. And the commercials were few, far between, and equally quiet — in particular, there was no music on the commercials. So it was a great place for music, but in a boring way.

That changed over the years, especially after KDFC was sold to Bonneville International. Announcers (many of them refugees from KKHI) came on board, the commercial load increased, and the days of screening the commercials so they were in keeping with the music ended.

But it was the only game in town for classical music, so we kept listening.

In the meantime, the popular music of the 90’s kept going without us. Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Vanilla Ice, Ricky Martin, Bon Jovi…I heard of them all without hearing them.

And now that I’ve spent a while listening to 90’s on 9, I can say that I don’t think I missed a lot. I heard a couple of pleasant tunes during the short time I was able to listen this afternoon (about 1pm Pacific), but there was a lot of other music I didn’t like. It also didn’t seem to be a great choice to use as background, especially during a conference call, so I turned it off and resolved to tune in again at home.

Which I did; the mix of music seems to be a little different than it was this afternoon — significantly harder-edged, and I can’t say I’ve heard any songs that I’d want to hear again.

So it’s back to XM Pops for the rest of the evening — Diane and Jeff will be relieved, too.

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Day 8 — a pleasant surprise at the Mix

I don’t listen to very much of today’s popular music, at least not intentionally — I do find it being inflicted on me in various shops and from cars waiting at stoplights, and I generally don’t like it. So I didn’t have high hopes for today’s Bootcamp stop, the Mix, XM Channel 22. In fact, I chose to wait until I got to the office to start listening, rather than turning it on while we got ready for work and school, as I’ve done for most Bootcamp days.

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve heard so far. Many of the tunes were familiar, and I’ve enjoyed the music much more than I expected. The music has been mostly upbeat and energizing, but not so much so that I can’t use it as background while I work. And there hasn’t been anything which has really turned me off, unlike yesterday’s visit to the 70’s.

As I type this, I’m listening to OutKast’s “Hey Ya”, which Brad Kava described in his Murky Nooz column today as “sort of the Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’ of its day”. I’d never heard it before (though I gather it’s very popular :-)), and I wouldn’t compare it to “Good Vibrations”, but I enjoyed discovering it.

Will I come back to the Mix on a regular basis? Probably not often, but it’ll be worth an occasional visit.

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