Joining the (iPod) Army

Ani DiFranco - "Serpentine"

I finally caved in and did it. I put money in Steve Jobs' pocket.

For the past few years I've been using a 30gb Creative Nomad Zen Xtra for my portable mp3 player. It was a little less user-friendly than the iPod at the time, but it was more flexible with downloading music formats, had a replaceable battery with longer life, and boasted the sound technology that was a staple of the Creative brand. And for the 3 years or so that I owned it, 30gb seemed like more than enough space for what I needed.

Rolling Stones- "Dear Doctor"

But then something happened. The next couple of years companies focused on smaller, less expensive alternatives. And while everything was getting smaller, my music library was expanding exponentially. I bought another hard drive to store all my digital files, and a fourth CD tower to hold all the compact discs. It was then that my Nomad decided it's battery would completely die if the weather dropped below 50 degrees. Wanna rake the leaves? Uh-uh. Wanna drive to work in the morning? Better keep that thing snug between your thighs until the heat came up. And I was constantly swapping out songs now that 30gb was no longer sufficient for the music monkey clinging to my back.

I was striving to keep from joining the Apple Mob, but it was time to consign my trusty alternative to the farm.

So I started looking. And no one was making anything better, bigger and cooler. Except for Apple. Oh sure, I was taken in for a moment by the swanky, look-at-us-chillin'-in-the-park swagger of the Zune, but it's only 30gb, and that stupid beaming function? I don't know anyone else buying a Zune to beam with, and if I did, they'd be listening to Bob Seger, Beyonce, and The Fray.

The freakin' Fray.

Bootsy Collins - "Can't Stay Away"

So I went to the Apple store at the local mall and took a gander. There it was, propped up on a shiny silver stand. Bose headphones attached for the ultimate aural experience (which is a total crock because the one thing that still sucks about Apple and the iPod are the horrendous earphones they give you - in a word, my friends, they suck the mighty large one). 80gb, shiny and black, smaller and lighter than my 30gb silver gorilla. Watch movies, TV shows, listen to podcasts with a battery life of almost 20 hours when playing music.

What could I do? I checked around, vainly searching for alternatives. Something, anything, that would keep me from joining the army of mindless automatons who purchased iPods for the simple fact that they want to be "cool" and "hip."

Then I remembered that the majority of people doing that are generally 14 years old, and I was 33.

Even though I still felt vaguely shameful walking out of the store with my super-slick Apple bag, as soon as I got home and put 8,000 songs on, downloaded an episode of Heroes and a copy of a Grateful Dead bootleg from iTunes and still had over 30 gb left to play with, the shame left as quickly as it came.

Damn you, Steve Jobs. Damn you, sir.

When in Rome - "The Promise"