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So in December I flew over to the East coast for two weeks to tell some people how to do their jobs.  I spent most of that time using chat (often with people back home), so really, I’m a little fuzzy on whether it was really worth flying all the way out there and staying in a hotel, but mine is not to reason why.

My hotel was about 10 to 12 minutes from work, so unlike everyone else in the entire time zone, I didn’t have strong feelings about my commute.  It literally took me longer to walk to the office from my parking space than it did to drive to the parking space from my hotel.  This is important for later.

My initial rental car was a Toyota, but a week and a Check Engine light later, I swapped for a recent model Ford Fusion.  I like the Ford Fusion in many respects, except for the entirety of the in-car interface, powered by Microsoft SYNC.  It looked just like this:

Seriously, WTF?  It's a rental car, not a space shuttle.

Seriously, what the hell? It’s a rental car, not a space shuttle.

If you count those odd four-way directional pads on either side each as a single control, there are still fourteen (14) separate controls on the face of the steering wheel, excluding things like wipers and lights and signals and actually turning the automobile.  The face of the center dashboard is no better, employing dozens of strangely shaped and oddly placed buttons, including a ten key which no one on the planet could possibly use for anything.  All of this was to interact with a truly labyrinthine menu system which I was never able to bend to my will.

I’m a reasonably intelligent person.  I used to fix computers for a living, back when DOS commands were still helpful and you might occasionally need to deconflict IRQs.  I still consider myself reasonably technically inclined, and am busy learning amateur radio and learning Python (albeit both with indifferent success).  I’m not an idiot.

I’m also not capable of making my Nexus tablet talk to this damned car.  I spent twenty minutes (on two separate occasions) trying to find the menu options to pair it up over Bluetooth, all without anything resembling success.  I had similar problems with a rental Focus this June, though I eventually muddled my way through.

Interesting factoid: on Twitter, just to speak the cursed name is to summon them.  Once in June:

I was a little irritated.

And again in December:


Note that in the first case, I didn’t even use #hashtags, and yet like Bruce Perens, they sense their name being used in vain anywhere in the online universe.  They will doubtless respond to this post.  (As might he.  Hi!)

Anyway, as a result, I became peevishly vexed with this automobile and refused to even try to find a decent radio station for the remainder of my stay.  Instead, I just spent my (brief, remember) drive each way mindlessly cycling through the ten presets.  Of those, three were on static and one was constant Christmas music.  This means I had six stations to cycle through.  Without fail, at least once per day on this short commute, either to or from or both, cycling through those six stations, I would hear Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off.  At least once.

I don’t generally listen to commercial radio.  I had, prior to this, no mental picture or concept of Taylor Swift that did not come from @SwiftOnSecurity:

So this pop star Taylor Swift was different.  Not my normal taste in music at all.  The song was annoyingly catchy, but I was disturbed at how regularly I could find it. Also in heavy rotation was Blank Space.  I held the same general opinion about that song until I saw that music video (in the link):


I genuinely like the video.  It’s entertaining and very well directed, but seriously: SHE’S WARNING YOU, GUYS.  STAY AWAY.  RUN.  RUN NOW.

Anyway.  I shared this weird Shake-it-off thing–which is probably not that weird to people who listen to the radio regularly–with my coworkers, and have since made references to it from time to time in e-mail or chat.

Time passes.

So last night I was dreamed that I was trying to buy a Taylor Swift song on iTunes or some such service.  I don’t think it was a named song in my dream and it wasn’t necessarily iTunes, but it was a specific Taylor Swift song and I wanted to buy it; really, it was probably Shake it Off, so let’s use that.  For some reason, every time I bought it, I ended up somehow buying a different song by a different musician but by the same title.  So after a while, I had seven or eight different Shake it Offs, but none of them the Taylor Swift one that I wanted.

This is the point at which we went straight into full nightmare mode, because I was going to have to call customer service to get this fixed.  In real life, I would sooner eat the cost of a dozen or a hundred wrong Shake it offs than call technical support, but I find that I frequently don’t have free agency in my dreams, and I could tell that I was going to do it and it was going to be horrible.

I don’t remember how it ended.

But I woke up early and shaved and made breakfast and drank coffee and thought about it.

What would happen if I actually tried to buy a Taylor Swift song?

Would it work?

Or would I get something different?

(For damn sure, I wasn’t calling tech support.)

But I couldn’t help but wonder.

I could not Shake it Off.

So anyway, now I own the most recent Taylor Swift album via Google Play.  The process went about as you expect.  $13 is a small price to pay to assert dominance over my subconscious.  I even found the little radio adapter thing so I could listen to my tablet over the stereo in the pickup on the way to work.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the target demographic for her music, but she has a pretty voice.

[Postscript: It should be noted that on the previous night, I dreamed three different times my four-year-old son dying in front of me, without any ability to influence events.  In the first, he wandered into a highway in front of a truck; you get the idea.  So even Taylor Swift songs that I cannot now get out of my head are a vast improvement over that.]

[Also, I never expected to use any of the tags I used for this post.  Never.]