Quite a while ago, I was chatting with my physician. I don’t recall how to topic came up, but I mentioned that for some reason, the sound of lawnmowers sends me into a murderous rage.
“Oh, really?” He asked, raising his eyebrows. “Is there anything else that does this to you — any other sounds that bug you?”
I immediately told him that yes, I have the same reaction to leaf blowers (they are worse than lawnmowers!), weed-whackers, chain saws, and the loud, rhythmic backup beepers of industrial trucks. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why these sounds don’t seem to bother other people as they do me.
“Hmm…,” he said. “I can’t help but wonder if you have misophonia.”
“Misowhat?” I asked.
He then explained that Misophonia is a neurological disorder that is triggered by specific sounds (though some people can have visual misophonia). People who have it experience extreme adverse emotional reactions to these sounds. That is to say, people become enraged by them. Apparently, for some people, this includes sounds such as someone crunching or chewing food, whistling, sniffing, tapping a pencil on a desk, brushing their teeth, chewing gum, and more.
I then recalled an acquaintance of mine who cannot stand it when anyone eats crunchy food such as chips or nuts. It makes him crazy.
I asked my physician if there was any treatment, and he told me that options include behavioral therapy and antidepressants (I believe Prozac was mentioned). However, I wasn’t ready to pursue those avenues quite yet. He then suggested that I purchase some noise-canceling headphones as an alternative as these will block out most of those low-level sounds like leaf blowers and lawnmowers.
I took his advice and purchased a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort over-the-ear headphones. Boy, what a difference they make! Now, I always have a pair next to me at home while I’m working so that whenever anyone fires up one of those infernal devices, the headphones make the sound completely disappear — no more murderous rages for me.
I was not too fond of the idea of wearing the big cans outside while walking, though. So I purchased a pair of Apple Air Pods Pro, which are Bluetooth noise-canceling earbuds. They don’t work quite as well as the Bose headphones, but they do an okay job blocking out most of the annoying machine-generated outdoor sounds. At night, I have a white noise machine going to overpower the sound of those early-morning lawnmowers.
So if certain sounds make you crazy, know that you’re not alone. It may be a disorder that your doctor might be able to help with, especially if it’s affecting your social life. But to block out those low-level sounds, my headphones have become indispensable.
For the past several years, I’ve gone back and forth between three premium music streaming services: Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music (formerly Google Play Music). What’s funny is that I never tend to stick with one of them for longer than a few months. Of course, this is mostly just me being wish-washy (as I am with many things), but it also boils down to the fact that each of them has distinct features that I like — as well as those I don’t.
1. Apple Music
I’ve subbed and unsubbed many times to Apple Music. Given that I’m somewhat of an Apple fanboy, it makes sense for me to subscribe to their service since I’m well-entrenched into the Apple ecosystem. Apple Music works flawlessly with Siri and with their other devices.
But it usually doesn’t take me long to get sick of Apple Music constantly pushing Hip Hop and Rap music down my throat. Okay, well, maybe not down my throat. But whenever I listen to a recommended playlist, it’s rife with those two genres, neither of which I listen to nor enjoy. As for why Apple Music continues to recommend those to me, I have no idea. I have a music library with over 70,000 songs, and not one of them is Hip Hop or Rap. Now, I have nothing against these genres — hell, I have a friend who’s a Hip Hop musician. But those are just not music genres that I enjoy (I’m more of an easy listening and jazz guy). You’d think that after all these years, Apple would know my musical tastes. I kept hoping that eventually, Apple Music would learn my music tastes, but alas — I’m still waiting.
I’m also not a massive fan of their app, and I find that Apple Music on the Mac is still a nightmare. Their iOS app has gotten a bit better, but it’s still not a favorite of mine. It seems to be buggy, especially when adding music to the queue (which works only part of the time). And again, disliking songs seem to have no effect whatsoever on what’s the app recommends to me.
However, there are a lot of positives about the services. First, the sound quality is excellent. Apple Music streams content at 256kbps, using AAC, and they’ve recently introduced lossless audio compression that true audiophiles may appreciate.
Another plus is that you can easily access your own music via any device. They also offer a human-curated Radio station, which features top artists and shows, and is excellent for discovering new or unreleased music.
I always manage to find my way back to Spotify on a regular basis, probably because, in my opinion, this service is the best for music discoverability, and they excel at tailoring playlists. As for recommendations, they always nail it, and because of them, I’ve discovered many new musical artists over the years. Their daily recommended mixes are typically spot-on, and I love their Discover Weekly mix, which changes weekly. Their collaborative playlists are also a favorite feature of mine.
They’ve recently added podcasts to their offerings, which I don’t use as I typically listen to them using an iPhone app, but this might be a plus for other people. Their app is also beautifully designed, ascetically pleasing, and user-friendly, and they make it easy to find the content you’re looking for quickly. The Spotify platform is also supported by most voice assistants—including Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
Truth be told, there’s not really anything that I dislike about the service. Additionally, choosing the highest quality on Spotify will get you a stream of 320kb/s, while YouTube Music and Apple Music max out at 256 kb/s (though now Apple offers a lossless streaming format for specific devices).
3. YouTube Music
So if I don’t dislike anything about Spotify, you might be wondering why don’t I stick with it? That’s because the third service, YouTube Music, offers a couple of things the others don’t. For one thing, my spouse has a family membership to YouTube premium, which means that even if I switch to another service, we’re still paying for it.
What I really love about the service, however, are the music videos. Formerly, I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching them, but now, they’re rolled right into their music app. I enjoy watching my favorite artists perform their songs live. And in addition to official releases from record labels, YouTube Music has tons of remixes, fan-created covers, mashups, and more, resulting in quite a massive music selection.
But probably the main thing that keeps me with the service is that I love the fact that it also comes bundled with ad-free YouTube. That is to say, I never see ads when I’m watching videos on YouTube — it’s all part of the premium package. Though I don’t find their music discoverability quite as good as Spotify’s, they do have several recommended mixes from which I’ve found new favorite musicians.
Another huge plus for me is the ability to upload my own music. While I can access music I own on Apple Music, it’s not quite so easy with Spotify and requires a bit of hoop-jumping (in other words, it’s a huge pain).
The verdict is inconclusive. There are things I love about each of them, and there have even been times where I’ve subscribed to more than one of the services: YouTube Music & Spotify or YouTube Music & Apple Music (and one time, all three). But then I think about what a waste of money it is, given that their music libraries are mostly similar.
So, for now, I subscribe only to YouTube Music but will undoubtedly be revisiting the others in the future as they are all worthy competitors, and I’m often tempted by the greener grass on the other side.
How about you? What’s your favorite music streaming service?
Today I came across a quote by Nelson Mandela that reads, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” I’ve come across this particular one before, and each time, it resonated with me strongly.
I know quite a few people that are extremely angry and resentful toward others who have wronged them in some way. This could be an ex-lover/spouse or someone who got promoted when they didn’t. I know someone who broke up with their ex years ago, and they still talk about them with vitriol, like the event happened only yesterday.
I’ve seen this kind of internalized resentment tear people apart the longer they hold onto it. It pollutes our thoughts and blocks us from living contented lives. It’s as if by remaining angry that they can somehow hurt the person at whom that anger is directed. But what happens instead is that our bitterness only affects ourselves. Hell — the other person doesn’t even know we’re angry (and probably wouldn’t care if they did). It does not affect them in the least, no matter how much we consciously or subconsciously wish pain upon them.
This is why it’s often said that we don’t forgive people for their sake but for ours. Forgiving someone doesn’t say that what they did was okay. Rather, forgiveness is for our own benefit. It’s to grant us the ability to move on and put all of those resentments behind us so we can begin to heal. After all, the damage has been done. It’s over and finished. Holding onto it will never change what happened. The only thing left to do is to let it go.
People may tell us that we need to “forgive and forget,” and as we all know, that’s much easier said than done. It may take a while and may even require counseling — or at the very least, a non-judgmental friend with whom you can unburden yourself.
What worked for me in the past was to recognize those negative thoughts the moment they popped up and replace them with positive ones. Expressing gratitude for all of the existing gifts in my life also helped me.
But most importantly, I also reminded myself that by continuing down this rabbit hole of negativity, I’m hurting myself a hell of a lot more than I’m hurting them — and it was time to stop.
Welcome to my Weekly Roundup where each Saturday, I post links to things I shared on social media throughout the week that I thought were interesting. I’ll also include book news, cover reveals, and more goodies.
So on to the roundup.
Weekly Round-Up – 15 Things I Thought Were Worth Sharing
- “Why Managers Fear a Remote-Work Future — Like it or not, the way we work has already evolved.”
- Just for fun (and cuteness!): 115 Of The Most Wholesome Rescue Pet Photos This July
- This beloved horror series is FINALLY giving the gays their due: New Chucky series will center on Jake Weber, a 14-year-old gay boy struggling to come out in his rural town.
- I’ve been hearing more and more about this lately: Why Is CBD Good For Your Mental Health? Find Out Here
- How your phone will make you a better photographer with your camera
- Going utterly penniless: why a Victoria man has gone two decades without money – he won’t touch money except to destroy it
- There’s a new Dexter reboot coming out: “Slick ‘Dexter: New Blood’ trailer shows our killer in a fresh habitat”
- Sundown Towns Are Still A Problem For Black Drivers: “It’s when you veer off to the back roads that don’t connect to the highway, that’s when you find yourself in trouble.”
- I couldn’t help but giggle with delight at this one: Another Pie in the Face for Anita Bryant: Her Granddaughter Is Gay
- This looks soooo good! Ghostbusters: Afterlife – New Trailer Breakdown and Analysis
- You’ve decluttered…now what? How to responsibly get rid of the stuff you’ve decluttered
- Millennials Share 30 Things They Wish Older Generations Understood In This Heartbreaking Viral Thread
- Wise words from older gay people to their younger selves
- Do you record videos on your phone? Here are some simple, yet powerful iPhone filmmaking techniques
- Digital Eye Candy: 68 Beautiful Pictures This Photographer Captured While Traveling The World
Oh, and in case you missed it: Gay Diver Tom Daley Wins First Gold Medal, Vows to ‘Carry On’
From the Blog
I’ve always hated commercials. Even as a little kid, I use to leave the room whenever a commercial came on television. Eventually, I stopped watching television entirely. But, of course, this was before the days of ad-free cable television. I still never watch commercial television. Hell, I’m not even sure if my TV picks up those channels.
I’m not sure what’s at the bottom of the disdain for ads. I think it’s the fact that someone is deliberately trying to manipulate me into buying their shit. Advertisers try to make us feel guilty for not buying their gadgets, envious of others who have it, or make us feel somehow less than a person because we don’t bite. Advertisers are masters at making us feel like crap about ourselves: we’re too fat, too poor, our house isn’t clean enough, we own the wrong car, the wrong computer, the wrong phone, on and on. Advertising has always struck me as being sleazy and manipulative. It’s funny — whenever I’m exported to an advert of any kind, I instinctively put myself on the defensive, bringing down a mental wall. That is to say, I consciously fight back against their manipulations.
Every now and then, when I’m out of town, I’ll turn on the hotel room television and attempt to watch a show or a movie. Probably within 20 minutes (often less than that), I’m desperately scrambling for the remote to turn it off. Whenever I watch a program with commercials, it’s pure torture for me. It’s as if I’m deliberately torturing myself for no reason. I begin to get involved in a show, sucked into the story when wham! I’m asked if I’ve talked to my doctor about hemorrhoids. For the next couple of minutes, it’s ad after ad: life insurance, viagra, accident attorneys, funeral parlors, athletes foot spray, etc. With relief, we return to our programming, only for it to be interrupted again 6 minutes later. And on and on it goes. It doesn’t take me long to put the torture to an end and turn off the damn set.
I’m the same way with ads in other areas of my life as well. I don’t listen to ad-based radio, and when browsing the web, I use several ad-blockers on my browser (without it, it’s almost nearly impossible to navigate a website.) If a website slaps me with a pop-up, I immediately leave and never come back. No matter what the medium, whether it be television, radio, or websites, I find ads to be manipulative and insulting. Always have.
Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with ads. This is all me and most people aren’t bothered by them at all. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people and go out of my way to avoid them. The little television that I do watch is only through ad-free streaming networks like Netflix and HBO Max. I find my sanity is much better because of it.
Of course, being an author, this opinion puts me at odds with my business, given that I’m a business person who needs customers. Marketing has always been challenging for me. I never want to appear to be too “in-your-face,” too insulting to people, or too sleazy. I maintain this website and occasionally mention my books on Twitter and sometimes on Facebook, being careful not to turn my feed into an ad machine. It certainly is a difficult balance, trying to figure out how to advertise effectively yet non-sleazily while still getting the word out about my books.
I guess I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ll let you know what I come up with.