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A brief, torrid affair

Thursday, July 03, 2008
I had a brief, torrid love affair today... with XM Radio. I was doing a dealer trade* for my dad, driving one brand new car up to Seattle and driving another brand new one back. The vehicle on the way back had XM Radio, and I was instantly enamored. The drive up had been fine as long as I was in range of the Portland-based terrestrial radio, but in that no-man's land right around Centralia all I could pick up was, essentially, static.

This was really my first XM Radio experience. I mean, 250 static-free channels, with no hunting for stations between cities! I was excited! I was enthralled! Then I started hunting through the dial for the good stuff.

It wasn't long, however, before I was reminded of a line from the Pink Floyd song Nobody Home: "I've got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from." It really reminded me of the cable TV problem, inasmuch as finding anything worth listening to was abnormally difficult.

Oh, I found a few fun channels. The techno channel "The System" helped soothe me through the wretched Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia megalopolis traffic+. I found the "Seattle" channel on the dial, roughly adjacent to the Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Los Angles, and Canada channels. (Yes, Canada rates the same amount of dial space as Orlando, but I guess y'all have all the NHL channels, too.) But by and large, there just wasn't much in all that variety that I actually appealed to me. (And this is something you have to pay a subscription for!)

By the time I returned to Portland (5.5 hours after I left Seattle, to my infinite dismay), I had already switched back to terrestrial radio. The signal wasn't as clear and there were more commercials, but actually finding something I wanted to listen to was tons easier (or at least it felt that way.)

So I had my fling with XM radio. It was "nice", but would I pay for it? Not as it stands right now.

*The concept behind a "dealer trade" is that a car salesman might sell a car that he doesn't have in inventory, but that is somewhere in the region. By mutual agreement, the two car dealers will "trade" vehicles, essentially buying them from each other. Somehow, of course, the vehicles have to get actually moved, and that's where I came in today.

+The State of Washington is, I'm fairly convinced, a state full of the world's worst drivers. If you want to see a thousand people, smugly parked in the passing lane at the speed lane? Yes, sir, your taxes pay for the road... but the rest of us would like to use it, too. I used to be excited about the drive to Seattle because your speed limits are 5 mph higher than ours... and yet, we still drive faster here. Oregon drivers GET places. The journey's nice... but so is the destination.

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