The Ultimate Christmas Music CD

December 22, 2010

Christmas is quickly approaching.  People are rushing from store to store (or website to website) to find the perfect gift for family and friends.  Travel plans are being made (with a careful eye on the weather forecast).  And radio stations are playing Christmas music 24 hours a day.   It is the last item that got me thinking, “What is the ultimate Christmas music CD?”

As I sit here, listening to songs from the past six decades, I begin to realize just how many different Christmas songs there really are.  Some songs go back well over a century, while others are written just a few years ago.  And let’s not even get into how many times a single song has been performed by various artists – all with their own special twist on the music (see Mannheim Steamroller for example).

In putting together the Ultimate Christmas Music CD, I thought about grabbing key songs from multiple generations and putting together a collection that is both classic as well as upbeat.  If I were in charge, the following is the CD that you would be able to purchase this season (with links to the actual songs):

Leroy Anderson – Sleigh Ride (1948) instrumental
Bing Crosby – Do You Hear What I Hear? (1963)
– (alternate) Linda Eder – Do You Hear What I Hear? (2000)
Ray Conniff – Ring Christmas Bells (1962)
Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad (1970)
Percy Faith & His Orchestra – We Need A Little Christmas (1966)
Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You (1994)
Perry Como – It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (1951)
– (alternate) Johnny Mathis – It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (1986)
Boney M – Mary’s Boy Child (1978)
Paul Mccartney & Wings – Wonderful Christmastime (1979)
David Foster – Carol Of The Bells (1993)
Percy Faith & His Orchestra – Joy To The World (1954)
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve, Sarajevo (1996)
Ray Conniff – Jolly Old St. Nicholas/Little Drummer Boy (1962)
Josh Groban – O Holy Night (2002)
The Carpenters – Sleigh Ride (1978)
Perry Como – Home for the Holidays (1954)

Like with any good CD, however, there needs to be a bonus disc.  In this case, I have five additional songs that captures the essence of youth for the Season:

Bonus CD
Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy’s Christmas (1967)
Lou Monte – Dominick the Donkey (1960)
Gene Autry – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1949)
Gayla Peevey – I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (1953)
John Mellencamp – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1987)

If there is a song you think that should be included, make a recommendation below.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Solar Panels in the Snow?

December 4, 2010

A friend of mine recently noted how he has installed solar panels on his new house, and how he hopes to really cut back on his energy bills due to his investment in this “green” technology.  I hope he does (and I hope he took advantage of the available solar panel rebate out there)!  But as I sit here, looking out my window at the first snowflakes of the season, I wonder how effective the panels will be in our area.

I remember back  when I was living in Hawaii (decades ago) when we first had solar panels (hot water panels) installed on the house.  It was a relatively new technology to me, and I wondered how they worked.  In our case, water cycled up to the roof where it was heated by the sun, and then sent into the house for internal use.  Since Hawaii is warm and sunny most of the year, it was a practical application.  I’m sure if we had electrical panels, it would have performed very well.

In electrical panels, the “power” of the sunlight is captured in a different way.  Solar electric panels are made up of photovoltaic cells which are grouped together to create a solar panel.  When the sunlight hits the solar panel, the light-energy is absorbed by the semiconductors within the photovoltaic cells.  This causes electrons to be freed, and in turn, converted into electrical current.  This process of solar power generation is considered a “green” energy source since there is no pollution associated with the creation of the energy (that is, if you don’t take into account the pollution associated with creating the solar panels initially).

But how well do they work up here where it can snow?  Obviously, electrical output is dependent upon the amount of sun it receives.  In the winter, the days are short (about 3.8 hours of “good sun”) and the weather can be brutal.  However, there are also plenty of days where the sky is crisp and clear – ideal for energy generation.  You won’t generate enough energy in the winter to be energy independent, especially if your home is heated by electrical heat pumps, but you will save more money in the other seasons.  So it will still be cost effective over the length of the year. If you are interested in this, I would recommend you take some time to research not only the tax incentives available, but also the performance levels of solar panels in your region.  You need to make sure that you don’t end up spending more money in the long run on a system that is suppose to save you money (and the environment).