Big news not just for geeks

Today was the announcement of the new Apple iPod lineup for the 2007-8 holiday season.  The Shuffle was refreshed with new, pastel-ish colors. The Nano has been entirely changed, now it’s the “Fatty“, short, squat and now with video, this one intrigues me, I probably won’t get one, but I think it’s cool. The iPod that we all know and love is now called the iPod Classic, nothing too crazy honestly, a huge hard drive of 160GB is now available, but honestly, 160Gb of media is a little much for nearly anyone to consume.

The real treats of the day were the new iPod Touch and the updates to the iTunes Music Store adding WiFi and the Starbucks partnerships. The iPod Touch is basically the iPhone without the phone and 3G connection. All the normal iPod functionality with WiFi and Safari browser added.

So you say, “cool I can surf while I listen in my bedroom, don’t I have a laptop for that already?” Sure you do, and you can also surf anywhere there is WiFi, like Panera, school, a friend’s house or even while cruising the neighborhood and stumbling on an open hot spot.

I think we are living in a time where everyone wants to be connected all the time to all of their information. Not long ago I carried a RAZR phone, an iPod video, and a paper calendar/Moleskine. 3 things have now been combined into 1, the iPhone. I’ve had the iPhone since day 1 and it has changed the way I think about things. I can make a call, surf the web, and listen to podcasts without giving a second thought to how to do it, it just works.  I’m grateful for something like that, simplicity is key to success in this case I think. We are all connected with Facebook, MySpace, IM, SMS, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Twitter, Pownce and Lord knows what else. We’re connected and demand to be connected all the time to everyone we know. We don’t write letters, we email; we don’t make a quick call for info, we text message. We’re connected and technology makes it possible to be even more so.

With the announcement of the Starbucks partnership and WiFi iTunes Music Store not only can I hear a song at the stor and then instantly purchase it, a true stroke of business genius if you ask me, the impulse buy possibilities are amazing. I can also be connected anytime I’m out.

Surely if you look in most of America today you can find a Starbucks close by.  It’s where we hang out, it’s the meeting place for executives and house wives, for students and senior citizens. It’s a nice place to have a cup of whatever-your-flavor-is-this-week and to chat with friends new and old.

Normally I would have to pay to connect to the WiFi at Starbucks, T-Mobile as far as I know, but now, I own and iPhone (or the new iPod Touch) and I can be connected for free. That’s amazing. The penetration of these things is huge, nearly a million iPhones have been sold and I’m sure the Touch won’t be far behind after the holiday season. Being connected at the neighborhood meeting spot is just another way that we can stay in touch with those around us who aren’t around us physically. I can Twitter while I talk to my best friend face to face and tell 100 people instead of 1.

I want to be connected. I want to have it all, but simply. I don’t want to carry 3 devices, subscribe to half a dozen WiFi carriers and worry about compatibility, an iPhone, an iced tea, and good friend, that’s all I need. I think today was about making connections, simple connections that make this complex world bearable.

I can’t imagine being an immigrant now

I have been working on this post for quite some time, I just can’t seem to get it finished. But on the week that we celebrate being Americans and all that it stands for, I am releasing it anyways. I hope that it makes you think about those around you who may not be natural born citizens or even those that are but are of a different race than you are.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be an immigrant now, whether from Mexico, South America or even Europe and the Far East. Lets ignore the huge problem that America seems to have with people of the Muslim faith and those from Arab countries for now.

I was at a store the other day where a Latino couple and their two children were purchasing some things, home products, toothpaste, toilet paper and the like, trivial things really. The couple were discussing their purchases, I can only assume that’s what they were talking about, they were speaking Spanish and my Spanish is not so good. They were still a few people back in line so their conversation wasn’t holding anyone up or slowing things down in the least. I noticed the people around me.

The stares that these people were receiving were cutting, like the wind on a January morning. The lack of respect that others had for them, they were lesser people, they weren’t good enough to be in that line. They didn’t deserve to buy the things we were all buying at that store. I was ashamed of my countrymen. I was ashamed to say that I was American in that small moment.

I love America, the things we take for granted in this country are amazing, the things we do cherish are even more breathtaking. I can sit here and write this without the fear of someone coming to attack me or my words. I can travel about the country without regard for where I’m from. The women of this country are (at least in principle) treated on the same level as men, I realize there are still disparities here, but for the sake of argument they are at least similar. We can freely choose our leaders and in fact, have the right and privilege to question them both in their personal character and in their ability to make smart decisions on behalf of and for the entire country. There has been a saying in my head the last few days, “You don’t even know what you don’t know.”

People in this country have their problems, most of it is centered around money and other resources to make our lives a little better or easier. What I think most people don’t know is that in places all over the world, money or other material things aren’t even a thought. Getting through the next day with enough food, water and other basic necessities is more critical than having the latest X-Box game. “You don’t even know what you don’t know.” We have things that others cannot even fathom while they have problems that we cannot being to comprehend.

People who come to this country, either legally or illegally are trying to attain a life that we don’t realize we have. A man once shared a story with me about why he came here. He was well educated at a top Latin American University in computers. He was working for a large computer company and making decent money, not rich, but at least comfortable. He had a friend who was here, no education and no real training who made 5 times as much doing simple labor. This was an easy choice, coming here would allow him to support his family much better and give his children the opportunity for an education that he could only dream of growing up. Why wouldn’t you want to come here?

Sure the immigration system in this country is completely messed up. No matter what side of the aisle you come from, its clear that things need to change. Reforms must be made and the process must be streamlined, immigration costs money and we as taxpayers will ultimately pay for a sloppy system. I will keep my explicit opinions about immigration silent for now, but I think we should all take a stand and demand reforms.

Seeing a person of different race, particularly those who do not speak English well should not make you think that they are lesser than you. In the movie A Time to Kill, Matthew McConaughey tells the horrific story of a child being sexually assaulted and at the end he says, “Now imagine if she were white.” The jury is visibly moved by the story and when he speaks those words it’s clear that all of them were picturing an African-American girl being attacked. A clear insight to our prejudices I think.

I ask all of my readers to consider that anecdote when they consider people around them who may or may not speak English well. What if the person beside you who looks like they could be from Piedmont, North Dakota suddenly starts speaking in French, German, or Gaelic? Would you think less of them, would you think they were not good enough to purchase toilet paper and shampoo at Wal-Mart on a Saturday evening? Of course not, they why do many of us think that a Mexican-American speaking Spanish should not be allowed to do the same?

Many people believe that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans who want to work, I think otherwise. The welfare system is packed full of people who would rather collect checks and benefits each month than find a job that they consider beneath them. If I were unemployed and had a family to take care of, I would be out everyday working as hard as possible at any job that I could find, from cleaning toilets to flipping burgers. No job is beneath you when you have no job at all. Collecting benefits and complaining that you can’t find a job that is at your level is a cop out, sure some jobs may not pay glamorous wages, I’m sure some can’t even support a family, get two jobs. Make the sacrifice to make yourself better. Take the assistance if you need it, that’s why it’s there but don’t sit around all day doing nothing, collecting welfare and then complain that someone from another country took your job away. Most likely, you wouldn’t do that job anyway.

Farming is hard work. Lots of sweat and muscle power go into a good crop. You must prepare, plant and harvest a field efficiently in order to make a living at it. Harvesting is extremely critical to fetching top dollar for your crops, too early and it won’t ripen properly, too late and it’ll rot, either in the field or before it gets to market. Many Mexican workers work the fields of this country diligently providing the food we eat, they work long, incredibly strenuous hours for what we would consider not much pay. They do this not because they want to feed their WASP neighbors well, but because they want to provide a better life for their families. Isn’t that why we all work, to provide for our families and give them more than we had?

This is a very dear subject to me, I know people and have heard many of their stories. While they may seem tragic to some, I see them as heroic. These men and women are risking their lives and maybe even that of their families all for a small chance at living a better life than those who came before them.

I can’t imagine seeing someone like that and thinking they are less than me. I wish others around me would do the same. What do you think of immigration, not just the policies on immigration but how has it affected you?

I wrote this long ago…

…so long ago that I’m not entirely sure that it was about. I found it, thought I should share it with you all. A glimpse into me perhaps, or just some random writing I did in a fit of rage that I don’t understand anymore.

I’ve been here before in this deathly place
Never taken part, only as an innocent spectator.
I want nothing more than to be on the side lines again
maybe even outside the stadium.The world is falling apart around me.
The birds are gone.
Life was easy back then, times were tight then,
I loved it.

Maybe I should write more to express my anger, my words can be like daggers. I need to learn to say no more. that I’ve I’m so high strung. I walked in here and was immediately dealt a crushing blow to the heart. I remember those nights sitting here around 5. 6 was soon here and we couldn’t be late lest the wrath of her be felt all around us.

I’m sick. Sick. May I’m just sick, not sick of ____. But honest, in real need of help sick. The very thought of any of it makes me wretch. I can’t be, I won’t be, laying down is not in my vocabulary. I rage and hate. I plot and plunder. I read and manipulate, if I can’t achieve it I’ll take it. No one has more right than me.

I really can’t remember why I wrote all this, where I wrote it or particularly what I was so upset about. That last line just got me though. It’s powerful, its full of the passion for life I wish others had. It’s full of hate, but at the same time, I feel hate can be used to accomplish many great things. Like the power of the atom whether it be in a bomb or in a power plant, it is an awesome power that must be respected more so than feared, and in the same right, used to accomplish much around us that cannot be otherwise done. Tears for Fears said in Mad World:

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad World

I assure
all is
fine now
I feel that my words can parallel these to some degree. The connotation is so dark, eerie in a way. I assure you all is fine now, I just thought to share this with you because words are powerful, even from the past.

Pipes, not tubes, in my ears!

It’s been beautiful here the past few days. 70s with tons of sunshine, more of it to come in the next few days. Here’s the thing, I love having my windows down in the car, 4-55 is what we called it back in the day (4 windows down at 55MPH). Now instead of being a necessity for comfort, windows are a luxury, a nice way to enjoy the weather, a way to get some fresh air. Cranking up the radio, hitting the gas and just cruising the highway for 30 minutes or so is great, sure the occasional semi will pass and drown out the tunes. But my beef is with everyone who puts “pipes” on their truck/SUV/motorcycle. Do you *really* need an engine that idles at 80dB+ and revs well over 120dB? In most towns around here teenagers are harassed by police constantly because of their booming stereos, however a man in his early 50s with huge pipes on his Harley will go by without notice. Why?

These people are causing more harm to those around them than a fat man sitting in a movie theater after a burrito-eating contest. Why a fat man, because I said so, that’s why!

Putting pipes on your vehicles makes it sound “cool” right,  wrong. You may be looking for that low rumble at an intersection, I’m cool with that, you may want a fuller deeper sound, I’m cool with that, adding pipes so that you are obnoxiously loud at intersections and even at highway speeds is stupid. You are not only possibly damaging your engine with sub-par exhaust flow; you are damaging my hearing and all that you pass or are passed by (yes, people do pass you from time to time, admit it Bubba).

I think that noise ordinances should be enforced not only on bass-thumping rice burners but also on Harleys Dodge Rams, and any other vehicle that causing such a racket racing down the street as to cause potential hearing loss for all those around. Get off my lawn!

Adventures with Avocados

Before: I don’t like avocados. I hate them. They are slimy, gooey and I just think they are probably the most repulsive fruit on the planet. Guacamole is a just a waste of salsa fixin’s mixed into the gelatinous green goo, called the avocado. People in my family eat them. People all over the world eat them. There are entire cooking shows about avocados. I hate avocados!

The dawn of a new era: Alton Brown is probably my favorite TV chef. He not only makes food that tastes good (at least the things I’ve made) but he also explains why things taste the way they taste and why things do what they do when you cook them. On the episode Curious Yet Tasty Avocado Experiment, Alton tells us about all that the avocado has to offer. Wikipedia says:

The fruit has a markedly higher fat content than most other fruits, mostly monounsaturated fat. A whole medium avocado contains approximately 15% of the United States FDA’s recommended daily amount of saturated fat. Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are also rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E, vitamin K, and folate.

The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, strongly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture.

Avocado is also thought to promote physical beauty and is used in cosmetics to this day. The Aztecs ate the fruit as an aphrodisiac.

Interesting stuff really. I mean this thing sounds kind of amazing really. Lots of vitamins and healthy things. But it tastes bad. The show got me thinking though, I wondered if I should try this thing that a loathe so much.

I’ve been into eating a little better lately, not whole-heartedly dieting or even giving up fast food. Just eating a little better, more veggies, less fattening stuff, smaller portions. I decided to try the fruit. I told myself that I would force myself to eat some avocado at every chance that I had. That was a few weeks ago.

Avi the AvocadoAfter and beyond: I ate a little on some tacos the other day, it was OK, nothing to write home about but I didn’t mind it so much. On Tuesday I had guacamole on a burrito, this was some good guac! I think I’m starting to like avocados. The flavor is pretty good, the health benefits seem to be measurable, overall they seem like a good thing to eat. Now I just have to find a way to eat them without eating guacamole all the time.

Now I have Aví the Avocado designed entirely from scratch by Erin! (pictured)

It’s amazing how sometimes you start off with a simple thought, something that just passes through your mind on a late night TV binge. The next thing you know you are changing your diet and eating something entirely new. I cannot say that I’ll be a lifetime avocado eater, I can say that for the time being, I’m going to continue to experience what it has to offer. I invite you all to check out the avocado too. An interesting fruit and possibly one of my new favorites.
Avocado Hints & Tips
And thus, the avocado adventure has begun!

My decision to leave Facebook

I have decided to leave Facebook. I have been a member since October 10, 2005, about a year and a half really. In that time I’ve amassed a mere 97 friends, all of which I know in real life. I’ve coordinated events and gatherings, joked with my friends about life. Posted blog entires, seen pictures from all over the world of just about everyone doing just about everything. I keep up on my friends’ comings and goings, joys and tears, and I’m leaving. Soon.

I’m leaving because I can’t see a need for it anymore. The friends that I want to talk to have my cell number, my email address or know how to contact me through my website. The other people that I know, those that I rarely talk to or haven’t talked to in years really aren’t going to contact me anyway, I have no real desire to contact them either. I would have already if I needed to.

I stayed this long honestly because of the NCAA pool, I thought I was doing well, and honestly I didn’t do too bad, just not enough to win anything really. I have become annoyed by Facebook’s constant need for my attention, events, pictures, pokes, requests… Random phone calls at 2am about Dave Matthews. All of it. I don’t need it anymore.

I’m tired of the invites to things I have no interest in. I’m tired of checking the site to check on pokes or friend requests. It’s a big rumor mill. Who’s doing what with whom and when. It’s more drama than I need in my life. I’m happy using phones, email, and even face to face conversations to stay up to date on people that I care about.

To those of you who are my friend on Facebook, check my profile fast, get my website, AIM, and cell info, if you need to contact me do so. I have no problem talking to any of my friends, I just won’t be participating on Facebook anymore. To those of you who don’t know me on Facebook. Thank you for your continued reading on my site and I hope you’ll continue to do so.

To Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, I wish you well my friend. I wish you would have seen the light and sold out when you could have, I predict a mass exodus of Facebook soon. Not solely because of me or even partly because of me, because people are looking for better ways to do things, they want to be connected to those around them both literally (school friends) and figuratively (some guy in Vancouver with a D&D guild similar to yours, or something like that). I cannot say that I won’t be back on Facebook (no one really knows, but most likely I won’t), I may show up on some other social networking site, Virb has been sounding like the next big thing lately. I’m there but just as a placeholder for now. Friendster should be your case study of what not to do. If you can innovate and keep people happy with your features and not turn out to be the next MySpace, you might do OK, otherwise I fear others will write the same post I have.

So long my friends, buddies, and network companions.

In my pocket

I used to often write about what’s in my pocket, usually because I had lost what was there. I have carried many things in my pockets, some highly valuable, some not. Some extremely sentimental, others were junk. The most important things go in my right front pocket, if I need it, other than in my wallet, it’s in that pocket.
I once carried an aluminum cross for over 4 years, it was lost last summer while mowing. I also carried a rock, a small purplish rock, that I got at a leadership conference for over 2 years, again lost while mowing. Thousands of dollars in change and small bills have passed through my pockets. Innumerable pens have been in my pockets, with only a few actually breaking and ruining a pair of pants, never the old pair though, usually a new pair or my favorite pair. Stupid pens.
Today I was emptying my pockets while changing, inside was a pen, a cheap blue pen that I’ve been using for the past week or so. Nothing special, just a blue pen. Blue has been working well for me lately, it shows up when I’m marking up documents or just coloring in a circle on a piece of paper. Also in my pocket today was a gold dollar, the new Presidential series ones. George has been in my pocket for about a month now, all the other change has been in an out of that pocket, but George has been there for a while now. I had about $1.92 in other change along with it.
The last thing I found in my pocket was my trusty Leatherman Micra. Basically its a pocketknife with scissors, a screwdriver, and some tweezers. A handy little bugger to say the least.
So there you have it, what’s in my pocket. I realize it’s probably not the most exciting post ever. It may be the most boring ever. I’ve got to work on writing more, not all of you are finding my links as interesting as I do.  Content, that’s my goal here.

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