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Shufflin’

Paul E. Anna

There’s an old joke that goes like this:A man takes his young son out for a day hike. In the morning he opens his thermos and pours both of them some piping hot chocolate to ward off the morning chill. When they finish, he sends his son to the stream to fill the thermos with some cold water.After walking into the heat of the day the father pauses and says, “It’s time for a cool drink of water, son,” and opens the thermos once again. The boy takes a refreshing sip, looks at his father while gesturing toward the thermos, and says, “That’s the most amazing invention ever dad.” Quizzically, the father asks, “What do you mean, son?””Well,” the boy replies, “it keeps the hot things hot and the cold things cold. How do it know?”How do it know indeed. Some things are just intuitive in the way they work, and whenever I use my iPod I am reminded of the story. That’s because the “shuffle” feature on the iPod seems to have a sense, it seems to know to play just the right song at the right time.For the uninitiated, one stores a multitude of songs and albums on their iPod. There is a feature whereby one can select “shuffle” from the main menu. The iPod will then select, in what is assumed to be a random pattern, song after song to play until the battery runs dry.But the thing of it is, my iPod simply knows which song is best for any occasion. This is especially true during a ski day. Fire it up in the morning and something acoustic with a little pace will kick in to start the day. By the time I get to the lift, an old favorite will fall into rotation. For a warm up run I may get a grinding guitar in my head that lets me set a pace and gets me going. It’s uncanny.As the day progresses, the iPod works like my own personal DJ. Granted, I like virtually all of the hundreds of tunes I have installed on the little white box, but nevertheless, it seems to put just the right tune in my head, both stylistically and lyrically, without ever being called upon to do so. Sure, skiing with folks who stop all the time to adjust the volume or change the song can be burdensome. There is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who is plugged into “Sympathy for the Devil” and screams their part of the discussion back at you.But if you’re on your own, spending a day skiing in your own private Idaho, the iPod can provide the soundtrack to your life. Just put it on shuffle and be patient. Once it gets to know you, it’ll play just what the moment calls for.And then you’ll ask, “How do it know?”


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