Ambient Internet Radio Roundup

For those aficionados of a particular vein of ambient music who are still lamenting the loss of transmissions from Blue Mars internet radio that went offline in June of 2013, there is this heartening news.  One of our fellow Blue Martians — can we call ourselves that who loved Ione’s late lamented internet radio station? — has recreated the playlists and has been broadcasting as “Echos of Blue Mars” since November of 2013, with all three feeds:  Music for the Traveler, Cryosleep and Voices from Within, nestled within a lovely blue homage website, and everything.  Truly a labor of love.  Do not let it be a thankless effort.  Check it out, express your gratitude for a job well done, and rejoice that the void has been filled again.

The original Blue Mars feed featured a special blend of a certain kind of ambient music that was without the distracting and brain entraining elements of words, melody, or beat, that created a soft cushion of sound that insulated the mind from the outside world.  It was blissfully without attention snagging station identifiers and especially without commercials.  It was the perfect music for such meticulous tasks as computer coding, writing, graphic art, reading, knitting or other attention demanding tasks.  It is hard to find internet radio stations that play this particular kind of ambient mix, especially commercial free ones, and Blue Mars was at the forefront of that select few.  Of the internet radio stations out there who say they play ambient, too often it is mixed in with other types of music like new age, meditation, club or some other kind of concentration shattering things.

My other go-to favorite, Major Ursa, still has a website up, but I haven’t been able to get their feed for months and months.  Very, very sad.

SomaFM has it’s Space Station Soma channel, and its Deep Space One and Drone Zone channels still up and they’re good, but they have station identifiers — infrequent and discrete ones, albeit — but they’re still there.

Dark Ambient Radio is still on line, and I listen to it some, but the music tends to be darker in mode/tone (oddly enough), with a harder edge and not exactly pleasant in sound.  It’s good for some things, but not for others.  However, its stream is commercial- and station-identifier-free.

Ambient Sleeping Pill has a good feed, which I listen to and need to program into the internet radio in my bedroom as it is good for sleeping.  It is a commercial and station identifier free feed.  A Winamp playable feed is here.

Another nice station is A.M. Ambient, with a nice, commercial free feed, although they still have some tracks with vocal and/or a beat.  I can get its feed through the internet radio in my bedroom and play it to sleep to frequently.  Another commercial and station identifier free feed.

Fluid Radio has a nice feed I listen to sometimes.  Can’t remember if they have station identifiers, but prospective feeds gets deleted from my Winamp at the first commercial, so I know they don’t have commercials.

Interstellar Radio Station apparently doesn’t have a website, but it is available through Streema and TuneIn. I was able to get a Winamp playable feed here.  It’s OK, but again, occasionally has songs with either vocals or beats or both.

Maschinengeist has a nice stream, with a Winamp playable feed here.  It has infrequent station identifications, but no commercials.

Mixing of Particulate Solids is still up and has three feeds that are all commercial and station identifier free feeds

Moon Phase Radio has some nice stuff. I was able to get their feed via Winamp here.

Replayscape apparently does playlists by people in chat rooms.  Not sure how that works, but some of their stuff is nice.

Sleepbot continues to broadcast, but has some tracks with vocal and/or beats.  No station identifiers or commercials, though.

Still Stream Radio is still on, too, with a station identifier free (I think) and commercial free (definitely) feed, but it has DJs.

the zzzone has a commercial free feed here but is also available through the Live365 streaming service.

That’s what I’ve got for now.  There’s good “Blue Martian ambient” out there, but you have to dig for it, and it’s very hard to find a pure vein.

I listen through Winamp, which I downloaded before it was sold, but it is still available here.  It’s pretty simple to set up.  I keep all my internet radio stations under “playlists.”  If you want to use this software to store your cache of good feeds, from the player select “View” then “Media Library” and choose “playlists.”  Then do whatever you need to do to get the feed playing on Winamp.  (Many individual internet radio websites offer your choice of Winamp, Windows Media Player, Quicktime, and RealPlayer playable feeds, or pls, m3u, ram or fla file types. Internet Radio.Com is a search website that does.  SHOUTcast is another one).  You may have to go into Windows Control Panel to the Default Programs option and assign a file type to Winamp as the default player (i.e., take the file type away from Windows Media Player, or Quicktime or Realtime players and give it to Winamp) to get an internet radio station feed to play through Winamp.

Once you get the feed playing on Winamp, it is a simple matter to go to the bottom of your media library window, and select “Import” and “Import (active) current playlist.”  It always puts the imported playlist at the bottom of your list of playlists and calls them “Imported Playlist”  — simply highlight it, right click your mouse and choose “Rename” and give it the name of the internet radio station.  Also, if you highlight “Playlists” on the Media Library menu and right click, you have the option to “Sort” and can alphabetize your list. Of course, you can use the “Playlist” option to import tracks from music you have stored on computer and can build playlists that way.

Of course, you can always bookmarks your favorite internet radio station and play them through the in-browser player most of them provide, if that’s how you want to do it.  Or you can go through TuneIn or Streema, or RadioTuna or SHOUTcast or one of the other services, favorite your preferred stations and go that route.  You can haz options.

Ear People and Eye People

What got me to thinking about this — what always gets me to thinking about this — is my BFF.  She is an eye person.  No big surprise that she did graphic art for a living for most of her working life.  Eye people are visual.  It’s all about shapes and colors and patterns for them.  My BFF is an inveterate film and TV watcher.  She watches way more films and TV programs than I do.  Her downtime is spent watching films and TV; she goes nuts over the visual images in them.  I will grant you that she is as into “story” as I am, but she sees storytelling in terms of visual imagery.  I am much more ear oriented, (and, by extension, word oriented)  than she is.  I see a film, and if it is based on a book or short story, I immediately want to read the source material.  (I read way more books than she does.) She, on the other hand, will want the DVD and watch it eleventy twenty times, microfocusing on this and that, and could care less about the book.   I just don’t react to visuals the same way she does, especially if it’s based on something readable.

For example, she went nuts over Avatar. She’s got the video and has watched it twenty eleven times.  I have yet to watch it, partly because of the plot. She gets utterly lost in the visual imagery to the point that the plot doesn’t have the same impact on her that it would on me.  I’m more sensitive to certain plot lines and to certain kinds of imagery than she is. I deliberately won’t watch things because I don’t care to go to the places the plot goes, and/or I don’t want certain images in my head, thank you very much.  But then, I will occasionally go to a film with her because it’s something we both want to see (for different reasons, of course).

Recently, I turned her on to the sound track to the Journey video game. (I’m the one who will wait through the closing credits to find out the what/who of someone on the soundtrack.)  I showed her the YouTube video with the song lyrics and translations, and predictably she went nuts over the visuals.  I will grant you, the visuals are captivating, but the English major responds to them so differently than the applied arts major does.  (We could both so easily get sucked deep into the game, but for such totally different reasons.)  Although we come at things from different directions, we’ve been friends for over 50 years (since 7th grade) because our attention has pretty consistently been attracted by the same things.  Even though I’m an owl and she’s a scarlet macaw, we’re still birds of a feather.

So what brought this on?  I saw this video on Twisted Sifter, and it’s an OK video  — parts of it are even pretty cool, in fact, (the wall mural starting at 3:45, particularly), but the sound track — the soundtrack! 

Predictably, I watched the credits to see where the sound track came from, managed to find an album by him on Rhapsody and have ordered the CD based on listening to it.  The song on the video is not on the album, unfortunately, but that’s OK.  There are fifteen other songs on the album equally as nice.

As I was writing this post, I got to thinking, if my BFF and I were 14 today, what with digital everything and the world more open to women than it was when we met 50 years ago, where would we end up 50 years from now?

The Days Come One After The Other

We go forward one step at a time.  I hear people come and go upstairs at 3 o’clock in the morning,  because I’m having trouble shifting back to days.  I don’t seem to be ready to go to sleep until 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning.  Then I sleep all day, get up at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and sit and knit through the silent night.  I can’t seem to get shifted around to days, and I’m not really motivated to.  Left to my own devices, I would go to bed at 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning, sleep until 4 o’clock or so in the afternoon and be up all night.  It’s the schedule my body is inclined to keep.  I have to gradually work my way around to where my alarm going off at 9 o’clock in the morning is to wake me up, not tell me it’s time to go to bed.

The Cimarron people charged my credit card on Monday, but it’s Thursday now and since I’ve not heard from them,  I called them just now to see what the hangup is.  Apparently, “last week was a really busy week,” and it’s going to be next week sometime before I can get the white one’s cremains.  So now, I’m sitting here crying thinking of his poor little white kitty body stuck away in a cold locker since Friday.  I almost wish I hadn’t called.  Part of it is that the grey one has not been eating very well the past day or so and when I’ve picked her up it feels like she is losing weight again.  I tried feeding her some of the canned chicken, and made the mistake of pouring off most of the liquid.  After she licked off what juice there was, then she walked off.  I ran some hot water on the chicken and put it up on the washer.  She’s been eating at it off and on and she’s kept it down.  I may put some of the canned chicken in the blender with enough hot water to puree it, and see if she’ll eat it that way. I’m beginning to worry that at this rate, she may not make it until the end of May.  Of course, I don’t want to lose my sweet baby girl, but once she stops eating, that’s it.

2015_04_22-01I finished knitting a little baby dress last night.  I still need to weave in the ends and put the buttons on.  I have a pattern for a little cloche hat that goes with it, but I want to play with the pattern and see if I can’t make it into a bonnet with a chin strap instead.  I think I’ll have enough yarn left to knit a pair of booties to complete the ensemble.

Today’s earworm is brought to you through the courtesy of Joe Jackson.

  You, . . . dressed in pink and blue just like a child . . .

Early Tuesday Morning Thoughts

If the advice we were given made as big an impression on us as the things we learned the hard way, there would be a lot less grief in the world and a lot more people would be wiser than sadder.

I wish the word “humane” was applicable to humans a whole lot more often than it is.

I think I feel the same way about people who buy a specific breed of dog or cat, the same way I feel about people who buy designer clothing.

The Thumper Upstairs and The Silence Downstairs

Perhaps it’s just as well that the kid upstairs seems incapable of walking -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump- or of sitting quietly for any length of time. The annoyance of the periodic thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump- distracts me from the strange new silence.  I hadn’t realized how vocal the white kitty was, how constantly he filled the silence with his kvetching. -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump- How strange to go to the bathroom and not have him barging in, climbing onto the counter and demanding that I turn the sink tap on for him to drink from.  The echoing silence that once was filled with his caterwauling every last verse of “The Mighty Hunter Song” is now almost mitigated by the thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-

I’ve started another baby afghan from a pattern I got from one of the ladies at knitting group.  -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-  I’ve started the Lizzy Dress in a variegated yarn that has white and peach in it, and I’ve gotten it down to the stockinette part of the skirt. I think this garter diamond pattern baby bonnet, with a few modifications, will work for a bonnet for this dress. -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump- I’ve started another baby dress in a nubby variegated yarn that is soft lavender, pink and white. -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-   If I take the pattern stitch of this Vintage Baby Bonnet and use it instead of stockinette on the skirt, I can match the two.  I kind of need to start the bonnet –with a bunch of extra rows on the ribbed brim to give it more of a bonnet overhang over the face — so I can calculate how I’ll need to adjust the increases for the dress skirt; however, I think it will work nicely.  I need to write up my variations and put them on my knitting pattern blog. -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump- I think I will do this Helen Joyce dress in a yellow.

Yeah, I’m going overboard, but there’s nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to try out a pattern, and there are just so many cute patterns for a baby girl.  -thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-  Anyway, it keeps my mind off the thumpy silence.

A Sad, Sad Day

2014_10_24-06This past week has been so hard.  Last week, I made the decision that today would be the day that obnoxious little white boy (kitty) who had lived with me almost 16 years would cross over the Rainbow Bridge.  This week he got extra kitty treats.  I gave him chunks of chicken — an unexpected but welcome bounty.  He got extra snuggles and scritches, and he got to drink from the bathroom sink several times a day.  He killed a cat toy Tuesday, paraded through the apartment carrying it, singing “The Mighty Hunter Song” through clinched teeth.  It was almost unbearable to listen to.  Then he brought it to me and laid it down by my chair.

Wednesday evening, I asked the dear friend who has “sat” my cats so many times over for dinner so that he could say goodbye, and we had a kind of “ante-wake.”

I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.  We had a thunderstorm at about 11 p.m. and actually got some rain out of all the thundering and carrying on. (We were under a severe thunderstorm alert until 1:15 a.m.)  It was just after 5 a.m. when I finally made myself go to bed and tried to get some sleep.  I have my alarm set for 9 a.m.  The alarm rang all too soon this morning.

c2a05-2-2008puposingdemurelyonthebedI suckered him into getting put in the carrier by letting him drink from the sink one last time.  While he was in there and distracted, I got the carrier out, stood it on end and leaned it up against the wall in the living room, with the door open and ready.  Then I threw a towel over him, wrapped him up in it and shoved him into the crate.  Needless to say he was not happy about it.  Neither was I.

As I was driving to the vet’s, I noticed my “something is wrong with a tire” light was on.  When I parked at the vet’s, and went around to get him from the shotgun seat, I checked my tires.  My right rear tire was flat.  Completely.

So I’m standing in the waiting room with a cat who hates going to the vet, trying not to stress him any longer than I have to, calling the roadside assistance number to get somebody to come change my tire, and I’m actually grateful that it is going to take 45 minutes for them to get there.

Poor old man.   The vet took him into an exam room and tranquilized him, because he is not an easy cat to handle.  I had already had all week to say goodbye, but I stood there with him.  He went quickly, painlessly, at 10:05 a.m.  He is in good company.  It was not an easy decision, but I think it is the right one, all things considered.  He will be cremated the same as the other two were and his cremains will be put on my dresser beside those of the other two.  The vet handles all that.  I couldn’t bear to bring the empty carrier home, and I don’t need it any more anyway; I donated it to the vet.

Now, instead of going home, I get to sit in my car out in the parking lot  pulling myself together, drying my eyes, blowing my nose, and wait for the guy to come change my flat.  I’m only out there about 5 minutes when here the guy comes, puts the spare tire on, puts the flat in the trunk and I’m off to the dealership to see if I can get the tire fixed.  They say, it’ll be about two hours.  I spend 30 minutes at the car dealership sitting in the waiting room with the 15-pound bag of cat food I had in my trunk, waiting for the courtesy van to take me home.  I don’t any more get in the door, when I see I’ve got a message on my phone.  It’s the Toyota dealership.  I call them.  They say the tire cannot be fixed.  I need a new one.  That’ll be $90, please.  My car will be ready at 2 p.m.  Great.

I had planned to spend the whole day on a massive house-cleaning bender, but now that can’t start until after I’ve picked up my car.  House cleaning includes doing laundry, though, so I go to strip the sheets and spread off my bed.  There is a tuft of white fur on the spread.  That sets me off and I’m sobbing as I’m putting the sheets and spread in the washer, as I pick up the half chewed pieces of paper off the floor in the office and throw them away.  (Did I mention he ate paper?)

It’s time to go get my car now, so I’ve got to go call the courtesy van to come pick me up and take me back to the dealership.

Not to put too fine a point on the day so far, I’m getting new neighbors upstairs.  They’re moving in today.  They’ve parked their car in the space where I always park.  They have a 4-year-old boy.

Gobi Gobatiputtitatti, 11 July, 1999 to 17 April, 2015

48690-9-2006themightypuGobi Gobatiputtitatti

11 July, 1999 to  17 April, 2015

Alias Emperor Pu An Yu, alias Pu, alias Ol’ Pu, he was half Siamese and half Godknows.   His mother belonged to my then landlord’s daughter-in-law.  I chose him, the only white one in the litter (the other four were black).  I had him since he was 6 weeks old.  He was the grand old man of the troupe.  Vocal, opinionated and obstreperous, but with a softer, snuggly side (it was in there somewhere. . . ). He was my wingman.  He slept at my side.  He decided if he would be friends, and it was  on his terms, or not at all. He knew all the verses of “The Mighty Hunter Song,” and favored us with a rendition when the spirit moved him.

He was the only one left who remembered Shadow, the first one I lost, who remembered living in the apartment on 21st street, which is gone now, replaced by a Market Street supermarket. But Time does not stand still.  My world is inevitably changing.  I lost my dad in September of 2014.  I need to spend time with my 90-year-old mom, and take her to places she wants to go, to revisit the people and places she loves.   The old man was 15, going on 16. He’d had a good long life, but his hearing was going, and this past week, I saw the beginning of the inexorable slide.  It was kinder to let him go, to join Jett and Shadow, the two that have already gone on ahead.  He crossed the Rainbow Bridge at 10:05 a.m.


And lightning and THUNDER!!  We’ve had a right old gully washer a while ago.  There for a while, it was pouring down rain hard and fast, with little snibbits of hail.  (Thankfully we had no bigger hail than that — my beautiful new car is in uncovered parking!) It’s tapered off now, but it’s still rumbling thunder off in the distance.

Tonight is my last shift at work.   There wasn’t much work last night, but there is work tonight.  I’m really not very motivated to do it, however.

Tomorrow I have to get up early and go down to the VA clinic to turn in my mileage for my trip to Amarillo and get the results of my CT scan.  (One assumes that it turned up nothing seriously wrong.) Then I’ve got to be at mom’s at noon to take her to the airport.  One of the ladies she used to work with at the law firm and her husband have invited mom out to stay with them for a couple of days at the house they have out on some lake or other near Dallas.   Next month, mom goes on a chartered bus trip to Chicago with some church friends.  Did I mention my mom loves to travel?

In other news, my closet doors FINALLY got fixed.  The maintenance guy with the ponytail came and put new rollers and new tracks on them Friday afternoon and they work!  This next weekend, I am cleaning, sorting and rearranging the closet contents and will get my dining room table cleared off, as well as the top of the dresser in the office, which are piled with yarn and knitting projects. I’ll be giving the whole house a good clean as well, because reasons.

I’ve decided I’m going to be getting a new mobile phone either this month or next month.  Consumer Cellular has a very affordable talk-only plan. (I won’t text. . .)  The phone is inexpensive, comes with a wall charger, and you can get a car charger for not much extra.  I can’t get a car charger for the phone I have because they don’t sell chargers any more that have the gazinta that will fit it — so if my wall charger goes out, I can’t get another one of those either.

Earlier this evening, I called JT, the dear friend who has taken care of my cats for me all these years when I’ve needed to go out of town and told him the sad news.   He’s going to stop by this week to say goodbye to the white one, who will be crossing the Rainbow Bridge at the end of this coming week, and the grey one who will be crossing next month.  He is ongoing in the process of getting his house ready to sell, and has found a little rent house west and north of his current house that he loves, where he will be moving at some point in the near future.  I’ve got a bottle of blush and two Dos Equis Lager Especial beers in the refrigerator.  He can name his poison.

I’m supposed to get together with my BFF on Thursday.  I haven’t decided whether I will tell her about the white one before the fact or after.  Ditto the grey one.   She’s in a ticklish emotional state at the moment.  She cannot live on what she gets from Social Security either, and the part-time job she has does not allow her to be her usual ebullient self.  She works for an overtly “Christian” business.  They have a dress code which is very conservative and straight-laced, and as a “greeter” she’s only allowed to say certain things to customers.  She is not allowed to schmooze them, which is what she does best.   She has put an application in for the new J Jill store which is abuilding.  Such an establishment would be a much better fit for her than where she is now.   She has a talent for helping people find clothes in styles and colors that they look good in and in putting together outfits.  She really needs to be in a retail clothing situation. If wishes were horses . . .

I Don’t Know Much About Art, But I Know What I Like

That work of art that artists create is filtered through who he or she is, what they have experienced, and their own unique perspective of the world from where they stand within it. They imbue their works of art with their own meanings based on their own uniquely personal gestalt.  So, too, does the viewer of that art see it through the filter of his or her own self, life experiences, and unique perspective on the world.

It is the miracle of art that the work of art itself is the same thing everybody sees, yet no two people see the same thing, experience it in the same way, or take away the same meaning from it.

In this context, art criticism, art critics, and the reams and reams of writings about art are ludicrous.  Knowing about an artist may put what they might have to say in some kind of context, but when it comes right down to it, a piece of art either speaks to you or it doesn’t.  You are either interested in listening to what it has to say or you aren’t.  What makes a work of art great is how much you want to take it home with you and keep it forever.

The Knitting News

2015_04_10-012015_04_10-03In less angst-ridden developments, I finished knitting the little hot pink baby all-in-one top (above), and have started another one in white and hot pink.  I have patterns for it in premie/small newborn, 0-3 month, and 6 month sizes, and I’ve decided I will do one of each size.  The hot pink one is 0-3 months, the two tone one I just started (above) is the 6 month size.  There is a hat pattern to go with it.  I may make a hat for one of them.  I’ll have to see how the yarn holds up.   I still have to weave in the ends and put on the buttons, but the knitting part is done.

2015_04_10-02I also have the three-size pattern for a baby dress with two skirt versions.  I’ve started the little Meadow Sweet Baby Dress (above) in a variegated white/yellow/blue yarn, and want about 4 inches more on the skirt to finish knitting it.  There is a little matching hat.   The lady that has done these patterns apparently doesn’t do circular knitting.  The hat patterns she has has are all knitted flat and sewn up.   I may play around with the patterns and see if I can turn them into bonnets that have a buttoned chin strap instead of ties.  I have already modified the baby dress pattern to knit in the round, which I may publish on my blog.  She may not do circular knitting, but I don’t do sewing up of knitted things.

I will also need to do some matching baby booties.  I think a pair of booties with a cuff ruffle done in a repeat or two repeat of the skirt pattern of the dress would just be too special.  I think I’ll have enough for a bonnet, but I won’t have enough for a pair of booties. It’ll be back to Michael’s at some point.

Yeah, I know.  I’m going a little overboard, but there’s nothing a knitter likes better than a good excuse to knit up something cute for a baby.  Besides, the fact that  the baby will outgrow everything inside of a year is immaterial.  While they fit, the baby can be oooh’ed and aaaah’ed over while she’s wearing them, photographs can be taken with her wearing them, and when the baby has outgrown them, the parents will have them as keepsakes.  And, you can frame baby clothes.  A portrait of the child wearing the clothes and the actual clothes in the frame beside them?  That would be entirely too special a gift for a doting grandma.  All the garments are being made with acrylic yarn which is hypoallergenic, stain resistant, machine washable, colorfast, and, so long as they are completely dry from laundering, they will frame without worry of mold or mildew.