Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Destructoville!

Congratulations, baby Parker. You were just born on the most awesome, rantiliscious day ever - the Oneth Anniversary of Destructoville!!!

And to think it all started with a rant about Hurricane Ike...

Here. Have some cake... and GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!!!!!

Seen at the Texans Game...

I got the opportunity to go see the Texans lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend (thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Nabors for the tickets!)
On the ramp on the way in, I saw this:

That's a Carr jersey with the name covered with duct tape and Schaub written in. Awesome.

Road Food

I took a week-long business road trip last week, and I took photos of most of the meals I ate. It's amazing what we'll eat when we're on the road...

Jake & Dorothy's cafe in Stephenville

Fried green beans at the Pioneer Cafe in Wichita Falls

Chicken fried chicken and okra at the Pioneer Cafe in Wichita Falls

Chicken tacos at Tacos Garcia in Amarillo

Veggie omelet, sausage, hash browns and raisin toast at Waffle House in Amarillo

Baked chicken, squash, greens, carrot souffle, black bean salsa and sweet tea at Furr's in Lubbock

Veggie pizza at Mamma Mia Pizza Kitchen in Levelland

Veggie omelet and hash browns (pancake not shown) at Pancake House in Lubbock

Barbecue beef and ribs, green beans, carrots, pintos and apple cobbler at Underwood's in Brownwood

Friday, September 25, 2009

WTF of the Day

I have no words...

Iran: Lying Scumbags That Obama Wants to Trust

From the New York Times:

President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France will
accuse Iran on Friday morning of building a secret
underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, charging that
Iran has hidden the covert facility for years from
international weapons inspectors, according to senior
administration officials.

This is the same Iran that President Obama says he wants to sit down and talk to to try to work out our differences. NOt that we could before, but how can you trust anything Iran says after this?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Buddy Holly and the Walk of Fame

I walked out of my hotel room in Lubbock to see a statue of Buddy Holly, Lubbock's most famous son, staring at me. So I walked over to the Buddy Holly walk of fame.

There are plaques all the way around the statue with other famous Texans, including Mac Davis, Waylon Jennings and ... G. W. Bailey? I bet they wish they had that one back.

But somewhere around 1997 they apparently had an "oh shit!" moment. It seems that whoever mounted the plaques every year had been mounting them lower and lower. So instead of fixing them, they just started back the original height, I guess hoping no one would notice.

And then apparently they ran out of famous people in 2006 and started making up names.

Jennifer Smith???? Was John Doe not available?

And then the Walk of Fame ends abruptly after 2006. Apparently they ran out of famous Texans. It's just a shame that Willie Nelson never got famous enough to make it in...

Mamma Mia!

If you happen to find yourself in Levelland , Tx - about 30 minutes
west of Lubbock - be sure to stop in to the Mamma Mia pizza kitchen.
Excellent pizza, friendly service and awesome cinnamon sugar pizza!
Tell them the guy who wanted veggie pizza sent you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From the road: The Cadillac Ranch

That's right. I climbed up on top of one.

iTunes 9 updated

Apple updated iTunes today with several bug fixes, including this one:

  • Addresses an issue with the Zoom button not switching to Mini Player. 
This is the main issue I had with iTunes 9 last week. I even submitted a bug report in it. 

But I'm on the road, so I can't see if the fixed functionality is what I requsted or not until later in the week. 

Somebody test it and let me know. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

From the road: Macgregor, Tx

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Three years from the barrio

Kristi had to work this morning, so Noble and I were looking for something to do. Noble found something. He fell asleep, so I went for a drive around the neighborhood that we lived in before we moved to Brenham.

This was the neighborhood we lived in when Kayci was born. The last time I was here was one year ago, when I was in the area taking pictures following huurricane Ike. A year ago I attributed the state of the neighborhood to the pounding it took from the storm. But one year removed, it's apparent that the old hood has just declined significantly.

On my old street it's apparent that some if the older residents that used to live there have moved out and others have moved in. There are houses sitting vacant where families used to live, their yards overgrown. My next door neighbor's house looked completely different. It was a different color, and all the trees and bushes had been chopped down. The door was partly broken and the screen door was hanging off its hinges. Jy old house, however, looks great! It actually looks better than it did when we lived there. They've redone the landscaping, have repainted and have replaced the old door with nice new one. It's good to see that the new owners are taking good care of it. That made me happy.

But then driving around other parts of the old neighborhood, it was apparent that everything had just fallen into a general state of disrepair. There are now cars -and lot of them - on the street and parked in yards and driveways. Trash is piling up around people's houses, including tires and old furniture. It reminded me a lot of my trip out to West Texas last year to some of the little desert towns. People apparently just don't want to get rid of anything, so they keep them in their yards.

But what made me the most sad was the state of our old church. It sits on a full block and two thirds of the block used to be like a park with grass on the ground and tall trees - almost a hundred of them - with a tall canopy that shaded the area underneath. It was beautiful. I know that Hurricane Ike damaged some of the trees, but whoever took the trees down did a horrible job. There are stumps sticking up everywhere - some as tall as I am. My guess is that only about 30 or 40 of the trees are still standing. It was quite depressing.

I wasn't expecting everything to be the same. But what did strike me was how much everything had changed in just three years. It's not as if it was a great neighborhood then, either. It was a lower-middle class neighborhood that was about 40-50 years old. But it still felt like a nice place to be a family. I couldn't say that now based on what I saw.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fishing Should Never Make You Want To Crap Your Pants

Thanks to Mark B for sending this in. I've copied the entire story because its just.that.good.

From The Sea Breeze News:

Two weeks ago a group of four men, Steve Hoyland Jr. with friends Bruce, Ken and Erik, set off on an overnight offshore fishing trip. They left at noon on a Tuesday and went about 120 miles out into the Gulf.
They were having a great night of fishing, catching big snapper, grouper, ling and kings. About 3 am, two of them went down below to catch some sleep.

The two remaining on deck were catching fish and drinking beer, enjoying the warm tropical night air.

All at once, Bruce got a big run on his line. This thing went all around the boat and took more than twenty minutes to bring up to the surface. When they got it up to the surface, they could not tell what it was. It looked prehistoric.

Steve Jr. put a gaff in it and the two men dragged it aboard the 33 foot boat. As soon the big creature hit the deck, it went crazy, attacking them. It was an eel over 6 feet long, weighing close to 100 pounds. It had a mouth full of sharp teeth and was extremely pissed off.

The eel was later estimated to be sixty years old. Bruce said it came at him and Steve, Jr. like an anaconda, rearing it’s head up and striking at them like a rattlesnake. It was highly agitated and quite energetic.
In the midst of thrashing around, the creature fell down below onto the floor between the two sleeping men, Erik and Ken. When they heard the thud and turned on the light, the eel raised it’s head right above Ken’s face. Erik
rolled over and grabbed his 9 mm pistol. Steve Jr. started yelling. “Don’t shoot the gun in the boat! We’re 120 miles from land!” Next thing you know, all four fishermen were on the deck and the gigantic eel had sole possession
of the bottom of the boat.

The four needed to work up a plan of action, so they drank beer while considering a strategy. It was determined that Steve Jr. would distract the eel because he had drank the most alcohol and believed he was bulletproof. He
opened up the sliding door down below to see what the “monster” was doing. As the door opened, the eel came up the two steps biting at anything along the way. The four brave men then ran to the wheel house like women and
slammed the door shut. They never did identify which one of them screamed like a girl.

Inside the wheelhouse, they started calming down and decided they would drink a couple more beers. Then they hatched a new battle plan. Steve Jr. went out on the deck to get the beast’s attention. The eel attacked and Steve
Jr. climbed up on top of the captain’s chair. Ken threw a blanket on top of the giant eel while Erik and Bruce beat the hell out of it with a steel gaff and a large ice chest lid. After the creature was finally subdued, they put it into a
large ice chest, and closed the lid on it.

The four brave sailors all got themselves a beer and were laughing at the situation when the lid of the ice chest was suddenly knocked off and the eel sprang out onto the deck and resumed his attack.. Bruce stated that the eel was
clearly out for vengeance. The four men each picked up something and the fight was on. After beating the creature with gaffs, ice chest lids and fire extinguishers again, they once more subdued the massive carnivore and put it
back into the ice chest. This time, they tied the lid down and put another ice chest on top of that one.

Eighteen hours later they returned to the dock and started unloading the boat. None of them was anxious to open the lid to the ice chest, in fact, they did “rock, paper, scissors” to determine who would pop the lid!

Above is a picture of Bruce Gordy with the eel that he caught and bravely fought in that epic and desperate battle for control on the high seas. (Steve Hoyland, Sr.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Every McFly from all three Back to the Future movies.

Obama scrapping missile shield for Czech, Poland

From Yahoo News:
PRAGUE – The Czech prime minister says President Barack Obama has told him that the U.S. is abandoning plans to put a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Czech Premier Jan Fischer told reporters in Prague on Thursday that Obama phoned him to say that Washington has decided to scrap the plan that had deeply angered Russia.
Fischer says Obama confirmed that Washington no longer intends to put 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

The Bush administration had said the missile shield was a strategic way to counter a threat from Iran or another rogue state in the Middle East. But Russia was deeply angered by the prospect of having U.S. interceptor rockets in countries so close to its territory.
This had better mean that the new plan is to put a missile defense system on every inch of the U.S. border instead. Because with North Korea and now Iran having nuclear missiles, it's not as if the world is suddenly a safer place.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thanks, Safari. I Love You, Too...

I was clicking around the web this afternoon doing some research for work when suddenly, one of the websites I visited caused Safari to pop up the following message:

I'd read about the new anti-phishing protection in the newest safari, but this is the first time I've actually seen it. Pretty cool.

And this isn't on Snow Leopard, either. I'm running Leopard on my Mac at work.

They Just Don't Write Ads This Beautifully Anymore

The art of copywriting is almost a dying art. When was the last time you saw an ad this beautifully written?

Maureen Dowd, Henry Johnson: racist crotchmonkeys

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was among the first to assert that Congressman Joe Wilson's heckle revealed an underlying racism:

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys... Joe Wilson yelled 'You lie!' at a president who didn't. Fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!... But Wilson's shocking disrespect for the office of the president - no Democrat ever shouted 'liar' at W when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq - convinced me: Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

Her belief racism was at play was echoed by Democrat Representative for Georgia, Henry Johnson, who told media: "I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people. That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked."

Utter nonsense.

Jimmy Carter: Racist

Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act "based on racism" and rooted in fears of a black president.

"I think it's based on racism," Carter said in response to an audience question at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."

British columnist Janet Daley responds:

George Bush was reviled in the most blood-curdling terms by large sections of the American population: did anyone ever claim that this was because he was a Texan? The Ali G question, "Is it because I is black?" has a pretty straightforward answer in this case: no. Americans have profound fears about central government taking power away from individual citizens and those fears are legitimised by the Constitution. They have every right to express them without being smeared as "racists".

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: those who constantly see race in everything are the racists.

Congress: Sticks and Stones Are Okay, But Words Will Hurt Big Babies

From Poltico:

House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has released a helpful, updated primer for members regarding their conduct on the floor and in committees.

Under section 370 of the House Rules and Manual it has been held that a Member could:

• refer to the government as “something hated, something oppressive.”
• refer to the President as “using legislative or judicial pork.”
• refer to a Presidential message as a “disgrace to the country.”
• refer to unnamed officials as “our half-baked nitwits handling foreign affairs.”

Likewise, it has been held that a member could not:

• call the President a “liar.”
• call the President a “hypocrite.”
• describe the President’s veto of a bill as “cowardly.”
• charge that the President has been “intellectually dishonest.”
• refer to the President as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”
• refer to alleged “sexual misconduct on the President’s part.”

This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Sometimes people - and presidents - do act cowardly and are hypocrites, and sometimes they do lie. And yes - even Republican presidents.

I guess its important to be somewhat civil to the people as they flush our nation down the toilet. Wouldn't want to offend the sensibilities of any potential dictators, now would we?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama's African Kin Wonder: "Where's the Money?"


KOGELO, Kenya - After Barack Obama was elected to the US Senate in 2004, a delegation from the remote African village where his father was raised journeyed to Washington, seeking financial help. But Obama offered them advice, not money.

Now that Obama has moved to the White House, expectations of financial benefit have grown even greater in this tiny hamlet where water is still delivered to thatched huts on the backs of donkeys.

“There are still those who are waiting for him to send millions,’’ said Nicholas Rajula, a Kogelo businessman.

Dreams alone seem to be sustaining those counting on an economic boom in this rural corner of western Kenya, near Lake Victoria, where the American president’s father - also named Barack Obama - grew up and where many of his relatives remain.
Dreams are the currency here? You mean it isn't Hope?

In Kogelo, the village where Barack Sr. was raised, there is no restaurant or post office to speak of. Two hours from the nearest city, it is not on most maps.
What? No government services? No Barackracy? That just won't do!!!!

Some relatives have also set up foundations, trying to raise money for development projects using the Obama name. And strangers are suddenly a common sight in the market, attracted by safari companies...
This may be your chance to bag your very own Obama, folks.

A tourist hotel is planned.

But what is missing is a direct infusion of cash from Obama or the US government, say local residents and members of the extended Obama family, some of whom say they have relayed funding requests through e-mails and letters to Washington.
The only way these cats are going to get any money from old Unca Barack is if he taxes the American people for it. He' s not going to give a dime out of his own pocket, even though a dime would probably go quite a long way in this little village.

The story goes on, but I don't have the heart to relay it. It's about more Kenyans wondering why the cash from Barack hasn't come pouring in yet.

Quote of the Day...

From Mad Men co-star Alison Brie (Trudy Campbell) on going through a nudist phase in college and swinging from trees:

"I do really good naked animal impressions."

The Death Star Was the Stormtroopers' 9/11

Thanks to Matt for sending this!

What Makes a Texan?

I have a friend who lives in Georgia. She recently purchased a house there and, when sending out her new address, said that she was going to miss being a Texan, but they were Georgians now.

Kristi's aunt and uncle grew up and lived in Kansas all their lives. Last year, they purchased a house in Texas (just barely - it's on Lake Texoma, just about 200 yards from the Oklahoma state line). The house is a part-time residence. They come down on weekends and for a week or two here and there, but I would say that their main residence is still in Kansas.

And then I have a friend from college who was born in Texas and loved most of his life here, but hated it. In fact, within just a couple of years of graduating, he moved out of Texas.

So my question is - which of these is a Texan? The one who would love to be in Texas but has to live somewhere else because of her husband's job? Or the family who wasn't from Texas, but chose to set up a house here. They didn't get here as fast as they could, as the saying goes, but does it count that they came? Does it matter that part of their decision was for tax reasons? Or the guy who was actually born here - the natural born Texan - but wanted to be someplace - anyplace - else?

So who's the real Texan? Discuss.

In Version 9.0, iTunes Smart Playlists Just Got More Powerful

I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else.

This morning I was looking at the criteria I had previously used to create a smart playlist when I noticed an extra button that wasn't there in previous versions. So naturally, I clicked it - and was amazed.

What appeared was something I've been hoping and wishing for in iTunes for years - the ability to add sub-parameters to a smart playlist!

Too geeky for you? Let's try it this way:

Let's say I'm creating a smart playlist of all the songs I liked in college. I would set the search parameter to the years between 1993 and 1997. And I only want the decent and good stuff, so I add the parameter that the rating should be between 3 and 5 stars.

That returns a fairly good playlist, but unfortunately, those results would also include any movies or TV shows from those years, such as Friends. But it would also include some music that I don't really want in there, such as soundtracks. While I love the Braveheart soundtrack, it wasn't actually a part of my listening rotation in college. Nor were some of the classical music selection that I have that were recorded within those dates. And I didn't really get into Praise & Worship music until after college, even though I own some from within that period. And then there's Christmas music, the problem child of my smart playlist searches. I own a lot of Christmas music, but I don't want to listen to it all year long.

In previous versions of iTunes, there wasn't a great way to filter those out. You could do it by creating a series of smaller, more targeted smart playlists and joining them all together in a larger smart playlist. But then you get what I have - almost a hundred smart playlists in your sidebar.

But now you can add additional search parameters directly within the smart playlist search, such as specific artists and albums. So I add the artists I listened to a lot in college, and only the songs that meet all the requirements in the section above are added to the playlist.

And now you have a great smart playlist, perfectly filtered. Thanks, Apple.

[edit: I left out a crucial, final step in the filtering. Thanks, Peter, for the heads up.]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Best Fake Punt Ever

Not sure when this happened, but this fake punt is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

And in Oiler uniforms, too.

Weaseljockey of the Week: Kanye West

Classy, Kanye. Classy. You no-talent hack.

Unfortunately, since this was an MTV event, you can't help but wonder if it was staged.

Philadelphia Public Libraries to Close

The public libraries in Philadephia are closing down due to insufficient budget.

A sad, sad day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why Do Houston Football Teams Suck?

Why?  Why is it that we can't seem to get a decent football team in this city?  First the Oilers sucked, with a few fluke years when they accidentally didn't suck hard enough and made it to the playoffs.  And now the Texans who, eight years into the franchise, have never even gotten anywhere near a playoff game.

And to add insult to injury, the year after the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee, they go to the Superbowl.

Is there something in the water?  In the air?  In the food?

Watching the Texans play is like being stuck in Groundhog Day.  We keep watching the same mistakes being made over and over again.  We've got another grossly overpaid quarterback who hasn't lived up to his hype, another head coach who's too busy trying to be a nice guy to clean house and bring in the players that will truly make a difference (Mario Williams excepted), an offense that can't move the ball on the ground or in the air, or protect the quarterback, wide receivers who can't hang onto the ball, and a defense that can't seem to stop much of anything.

Watching today's game was just painful.  Why does every season have to feel exactly the same way?  Eight years in, you'd think that we would have something to be proud of or show for the time in the league.

I'm just glad I don't own the season tickets I considered a few years ago.  People who keep shelling out money to see the Texans get their ass handed to them year in and year out have a real problem.

Sheesh.  I don't want to have to have to become a Cowboys fan.  Please, Texans, don't make me do it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thousands Rally in Capital to Protest Big Government

From the New York Times:

"WASHINGTON — A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with opposition to a health care overhaul and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government.
The demonstrators numbered well into the tens of thousands, though the police declined to estimate the size of the crowd. Many came on their own and were not part of an organization or group. But the magnitude of the rally took the authorities by surprise, with throngs of people streaming from the White House to Capitol Hill for more than three hours."
Just like I said back in April at the time of the Tea Parties, conservatives just don't go around protesting like liberals do.  It's not in our blood unless there is something really, really wrong that needs to be corrected.   So when conservatives protest something - and keep protesting - and their numbers grow to the size that you saw today, you'd better take notice.  It means that something is seriously out of whack.

And if history is a guide, then in the next election the majority party gets whacked.

Seen at a birthday party at the park

This looks like a hate crime in the making.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Regarding Genius Mixes

It's interesting to me that my two iTunes libraries at work and at home, which are almost completely identical, would produce such different genius mixes.

Here's a look at my home genius mix selection:

And my genius selection at work:

As you can see, there are some similarities. There's a praise and worship mix, a couple of rock, a couple of alternative, a country and an easy listening mix in each. What I find interesting is the soundtrack mix at home. I wouldn't say I listen to many soundtracks at home, but I do have them in my rotation at work. Also interesting that there are no mixes based on Rush, as I have a HUGE Rush collection.

I would love to see what goes into creating one of these mixes and how it decides which mix to create.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rollover Comparison of iTunes 8 and iTunes 9

This site has a great way to check out the difference in the interface so you can decide for yourself and not have to take my word for it.

September 10th

Here it is again, on the eve of September 11th, one of the most solemn and memorable days in our nation's history. Tomorrow I'll fly my flag and wear red, white and blue as HR requested. And many people will remember where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day eight years ago.

But do you remember September 10th? Do you remember what you were doing or what your life felt like the day before the world changed forever?

I have the good fortune of having a very clear recollection of that day. For me, it was a great day. I was working freelance, which meant that I had the liberty to work just about anyplace I wanted. On that particular day, I chose to work outside at the park at the San Jacinto battleground. I took my laptop outside to work on a project and to enjoy the incredible weather we were having in Houston. A cool front had rolled through and it was sunny, low humidity and highs in the upper 70s. It was perfect - the kind of day you'd remember forever if the following day the entire country wasn't plunged into panic-stricken terror.

I remember putting my laptop down and taking off my shoes and feeling the soft grass under my feet as I walked around, just appreciating the day. I was taking drum lessons back then, and I remember playing on my practice pad with my first pair of drum sticks while I waited in line at the Lynchburg ferry.

I went home and Kristi and I took a walk down Heights Blvd. on the jogging trail.

The day had such a perfect, wholesome feeling - as if nothing could go wrong. It was such an optimistic feeling. Looking back years later, it seems so primitive and wonderful and special. It was before you suddenly couldn't do so many things.

It's the kind of day I wish for my children. No cares. No worries. No fear. no restrictions. Just a day in the sun. A day to work and to play and to be happy and free. I think its the freedom I miss the most.

The Trouble with iTunes 9.0

I downloaded iTunes 9 today (a full day after it was available - I know, I'm so embarrassed) and have had a little difficulty initially.

First, I don't care for the new play and forward/rewind buttons. In fact, the entire top of the app looks more plastic-y than before. It also seems as though the interface has taken a step backward in terms of the contrast of such things as the volume slider and the track playing indicator window. There's too much contrast now, making it difficult to look at. I really, really liked the contrast of iTunes 8. See here:

Before (iTunes 8)

After (iTunes 9)

There are also new icons in the sidebar. The new huge, dark gear on the smart playlist icon is hard on my eyes, especially when presented with dozens of other smart playlists, as I have in my iTunes library. The colors are now also darker and harder to differentiate at a glance, such as when you're scrolling through a huge list of playlists (which I do regularly.)



And finally, but certainly not least - Apple has changed the functionality of the green button (Mac only) in the top left corner. Previously, clicking it would collapse the main window down to the mini player, which is how I keep it when I'm working. But in iTunes 9, to get the mini player, you now either have to option-click or shift-command-m.

This is cumbersome to me because there are a lot of times when I'll maximize my window with a click to check out a track or to see either what just played or what's next. Then I'd just click the green button again to send it back to the mini player. Now I have to involve my left hand to make the move. When I'm reading an article on the web or designing, most times I'm sitting back with only my right mouse hand engaged. I guess I could just click up to the menu bar and select the menu option, but I also hate using the menu bar if I don't have to.

And this new change in functionality isn't implemented very well. The first time I tried to collapse to the mini-player, clicking the green button just made the iTunes window jump around the screen. I actually had to go out to the web and search around for awhile before I found out that I now had to option-click.

Also, it took me way too long to figure out how to engage the wish list feature on the store. Previously, I used the shopping cart as a repository for songs that I plan to purchase someday. The new version does away with the shopping cart altogether and adds a wish list. I assumed that the wish list would be listed at the top of the store window under Quick Links, along with Redeem and Account. No such luck. There's also no way to access it under the Store menu in the menu bar. It turns out that the wish list is down at the very bottom of the store page under "manage." This seems like a very strange place to hide a repository list of items that you're planning on spending money on someday. It really should be at the top of the window, and it should probably even have a place in the sidebar with the store icon.

On a more positive note, the Home Sharing feature is going to be very welcome in my house. Our main iTunes library is on my computer in the office, and Kristi has some stuff on her laptop that she likes. but it's really a chore keeping it updated. We bought some music for her a couple of weeks ago, and it still hasn't made it onto her laptop because it required moving the actual files around in the finder and importing them into her iTunes library. I'm looking forward to her being able to pick exactly what she wants out of the main library and copy it to her Mac herself. She'll be happier with the results that way.

Genius mixes looks cool. It's the kind of thing I can see myself turning on on a Saturday and streaming through the house. I just wish it were a little more customizable, as in letting you pick which genres you wanted to create genius mixes from. The genius created five rock mixes, three alternative, one praise and worship, one easy listening and two country mixes. I know I have a wider selection of music than that. It would also be nice if you could see the songs that the playlist contained. But alas, I supposed that's what a regular genius list is for. It also seems weird that you can't rate - or change the rating - on a song when it's playing from a genius mix.

I supposed I'll get used to all these things, but my initial impression is that this release doesn't feel like an Apple product in its current state. Rather, it feels like an imitation based on iTunes.

The REAL Speech of the Day

Forget that other speech yesterday.

This is the real speech of the day. Steve Jobs back on stage giving a keynote. For a brief shining moment, all is right with the world.

Welcome back, Steve. We've missed you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pretty Impressive, Even For a Jackass

Thanks to Jeff S. for sending it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Obama endorses X-Box, Wants the iPhone Replaced

The text of President Obama's speech was released today due, in large part, to the heat he got from me on Friday and in it he made the following statements:

"I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox."
"Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine..."
I know he's a Blackberry man, but why - why would he tell the kids of the nation to go out and invent a new iPhone? What's poor Stve Jobs going to do??? And he obviously hasn't had the chance yet to read my post about X-Box Live.

He also said:
"And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it."
Not porn star.
You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free.
Wait. Did he just say he hates Capitalism? What exactly does he mean by MORE FREE? Free HEALTH CARE, perhaps??? Hmmmm.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems.
But what about depending on wishes and dreams? Won't that pay the bills???

If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Kudos to Barack for not adding to this, "you're quitting on me."

My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
Rumor has it this line was written directly by Oprah.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
Whoa. This speech just took a turn for the worse. Did he just say that even if you don't try your hardest that you can still grow up to be the President of the United States?

My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
But if you don't feel like working hard, kids, we've got some really crappy schools set aside for you. See? We're thinking of everybody.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need.
Maybe your mom is a hooker and your dad is a former Democratic president who served in the '90s and doesn't pay her enough hush money to make ends meet...

Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around.
George Bush is the devil.

Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
Hey! Destructoville is a nice place to live. Now get the hell off my lawn!!!

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying
. Just because you're a screw-up, don't expect to to be able to coast through life and get everything handed to you, buster. Especially if I'm not reelected to another term!

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
And the music swells. Cue flags waving in the breeze. Bald eagle flying overhead in three... two...

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
Yep. Brown University. People bet me that I couldn't make a subtle racial joke in my speech. You owe me $20, Hillary.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall. he does every few months. But then, thanks to the Amber Alert system, he'll be returned to his parents safe and sound.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois
. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I've gotta stop you here, Barry. You JUST SAID you lived in a mud hut in Indonesia or something when you were little. You're going to confuse the kids, man.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them.
Yeah. Screw the teachers' and the school district's goals for your education. Abe Lincoln was self-taught, and he had a pretty good life, right? (getting shot in the back of the head aside, of course)

Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn.
Maybe you'll decide to be the next Batman.

Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
We need the tax revenue, dontchaknow? And sick people don't make as much.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
You'll be what the government tells you to be, damn it (pending the 2012 election). And we're dreadfully high right now on reality TV stars and low on crystal meth dealers.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career.
Somewhere, Michael Jordan is saying "Hey!!!"

If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
Except for you, sitting in the third row - picking your nose. You are stupid.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Yeah. Much like this speech, which has been drastically revised since everyone in the nation went all Destructo on me last week.

So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
Except if your goal is to be a pole dancer. Then just go ask your coach. Or Miley Cyrus.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
And your Uncle Barack.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
Indians??? Orphans??? Geeks???

What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Let's hope we don't spiral down the rabbit hole of micromanagement to that level, though...

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn.
All hail and thanks to Uncle Barack.

Oh, and by the way, Barry, the computer in lab number two is acting a little funny. See if you can get that OS reinstalled, will you?

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America
. B-Love out!

Trouble Trying to Quit

A few years ago, I had an addiction that I'm a bit embarrassed to speak about. It was the first year we lived in Brenham, and Kristi was in Houston teaching summer school for much of the summer, so I had a lot of free time to myself. And that's when it happened.

I know it was an addiction because I spent every available moment doing it. I went so far as to try to hide it and, later, to try to justify it. It was horrible. I was a prisoner. But, God help me, I loved it.

At first I just tried it - just to see if it was for me. I had friends that had tried it before and told me that I'd like it. At first it was free, too. Then about a month in - once I was good and hooked - the money came due if I wanted more. So I paid.

Oh, sorry. What was my addiction? I joined X-Box Live.

After that glorious summer, when Kristi and Kayci came back home, our lives returned pretty much to normal. Oh, I still had my addiction. But I wasn't as blatant about it. I would stay up late after Kristi had gone to bed or get up really early in the morning to play.

But over time, my addiction began to fall away. It was probably a combination of the realization of exactly how much time I was wasting playing video games as well as a busier work load at work and with freelance work. And we also had more family time. And a new baby. But slowly I played less and less.

Okay. I admit. I got tired of getting my ass handed to me in Halo by twelve-year-olds. There's no description for the kind of rage you feel at a some pre-pubescent kid from Georgia or somewhere taunting you in your headset (yes- I wore the headset.)

These days, I hardly ever play games online anymore. I still play the occasional video game, but I don't spend hours and hours doing it as I used to. It's much more in moderation. And I like it that way.

In the past year I've probably played online at X-Box Live a total of five times, each time getting thoroughly bored or frustrated. So when I got an e-mail this morning telling me that my account is set to renew next month, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to cancel the service. It's $50 a year that I don't need to spend.

So I followed the instruction in the e-mail about where to go to cancel your membership. And now I'm just pissed off. I've been clicking in circles for twenty minutes trying to find where to cancel. Even the page entitled "Cancel Your Xbox LIVE Membership" only leads you back to the beginning to the page you see when you first log into your account! ARGH!!!

It shouldn't surprise you that X-Box is owned by Microsoft. It's typical of their "support" style.

So here I sit with a subscription to X-Box Live that I neither use nor want and that I can't quit.

But I'll have the last laugh. A few months ago, Kristi and I cut up our credit cards and cancelled our accounts. So when old Microsoft tries to bill that Discover card $50 for X-Box Live, they'll get NOTHING! And I'll be vindicated because that's about what their support site is worth.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Now That's How You Protest!

This image made me laugh. Clever.

The Bright Side of President Obama's Speech

There is one ray of sunlight in President Obama's speech. Since the kids are going to watch the speech, which will be streamed live over the internet, it obviously means that all schools are now connected to the internet with broadband.

Which means maybe now I can stop paying that "wiring the schools to the internet fee" I've been paying on my phone bill every month since the mid-'90s.

Open Letter to the Moron Who Feels the Need to Use Our Street as His Personal Drag Strip with His Big, Loud Diesel Engine in the Middle of the Night

Dear Sir,

Stop it. You're an a-hole.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Look Deeply Into Mr. Obama's Eyes, Kids. Drink in the Mellow Tone of His Voice. You Are Getting Verrrry Sleeeeppy...

On Tuesday, President Obama is set to address our nation's school kids - a feat not attempted by any other president in history. Other presidents have made speeches with subject matter directed toward kids, such as saying no to drugs. But this is the first time a president has ever tried to speak directly to all the nation's school children all at once

I have a couple of problems with it:

1. They are a captive audience. When the president gives a press conference or the State of the Union address, we have the right to turn it off and not to listen. If he comes to our town to give a speech, we don't have to go. But millions of kids will be watching this in their classrooms, whether they want to or not. Now granted, kids don't get a say in the curriculum, but we parents know what the teacher's curriculum will be. With the president's speech, we have no idea what he's planning on saying. We're just supposed to trust that he's going to keep politics and ideology out of his address to our nation's youth and not engage in any questionable tactics. But judging by his track record so far, one could understand our distrust.

2. We're constantly told that our kids have so much to do that they can't have any extra days of summer or Christmas vacation. And they're so busy with their academics that we no longer have time for recess or art or music in many places. So here comes the president asking teachers and schools to basically stop everything for an hour so he can make a live speech. It costs X dollars in taxes to teach each child per hour each day. According to wikipedia, there are roughly 56 million children enrolled in public schools in the United States. In Wisconsin, it costs $14,000 per year to educate the average child. Let's assume that this is an average figure. It sounds low to me, but let's adopt it for the sake of discussion.

There are approximately 175 days in a school year, depending on the district. At $14,000 a year, that comes out to $80 a day per child. There are about seven hours in the average school day, which comes out to $11.43. That's what we spend each hour on each child to send them to school. Obama is speaking directly to all 56 million school age kids for about 20 minutes and has released a set of activities and discussion items (more on that in a minute), which should take an hour out of the day. That $11.43 per child times 56 million kids comes to $640 million dollars spent in lost productivity.

That's one expensive speech. And once again, President Obama is willing to spend our tax dollars recklessly on something frivolous. And once again, its at the expense of our kids.

3. He's making one speech. To an audience that has nothing in common other than that they are minors. What on earth is Obama going to say that is going to captivate both 4-year-old Pre-K kids and at the same time have any meaning to a high school senior? Pure nonsense.

But perhaps the most maddening of everything is the pure feeling of propaganda that this speech has about it. Take, for instance, the elementary school discussion guide, which encourages before the speech:
"Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama."

Presidents and Barack Obama? Not United States Presidents? Not President Obama? Why the separation between Obama and presidents? Why not use his title? Why use his whole name? Can you imagine this reading "...books about presidents and George Bush?" The hubris is unbelievable.
Teachers are encouraged to ask:
"Who is the President of the United States?
What do you think it takes to be president?
To whom do you think the president is going to be speaking?
Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
What do you think he will say to you?"

All these seem just designed to get kids thinking about President Obama. It's all about him! There's no "what do you think about seeing the President speak? or "have you ever listened to a speech before?" or "what is a speech to you?" or "why do people give speeches?" It seems that talking about what exactly they're about to see and why they're about to sit through it would be important.
"Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?"

This should read "why is it important that you do exactly as the government tell you, without thinking about it or asking questions?" Be good little robots, now children.

But what about doing what your parents and teachers and principal ask you to do? That seems to be a glaring omission. Those people are more important than any stupid elected officials because they have direct relevance in a child's daily life.

But get this, from the grades 7-12 discussion points:
"Teachers may engage students in short readings. Teachers may post in large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President Obama’s speeches on education."

Post in large print quotes from Obama around the classroom???? I have a wall of post-its in my cube at work of quotes that inspire me and have meaning. The very act of placing them on the wall gives them a feeling of importance, especially to people who stop by every now to see what new quotes or ideas I've posted. Here, the very act of posting Obama's quotes gives them significance, as if we should hold on to every word for posterity. If he says something profound that deserves to be hoisted up on the wall, then let it be so. But don't force importance into his words to our kids by making the teacher appear to treat his words with reverence.

And the word "speeches..." Now we're asking either the teachers or the kids to go pick through and read Obama's previous speeches for quotes to put up on the board? That sounds a lot like they're asking kids to study Obama's speeches, doesn't it? Surely, that's not what they're asking our kids to do, right? Frankly, I'm surprised they're not asking the kids to draw a picture of Obama's face on Mount Rushmore as an exercise in envisioning the possibility that a modern president could stand with the great presidents of the past.
"Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?
How will he challenge us?
What might he say?
Do you remember any other historic moments when the president spoke to the nation?
What was the impact?"

How will he inspire us??? Holy crap. My head is about to explode.
"Teachers might ask pairs of students to create a word bank at the top of a notes page that has been divided into two columns. On the right‐hand side, students could take notes (trying to capture direct quotations or main ideas) while President Obama talks about personal responsibility, goals, or persistence. At the end of the speech, students could write the corresponding terms from the word bank in the left‐hand column, to increase retention and deepen their understanding of an important aspect of the speech."

Again, this sounds a lot like they're asking the kids to learn, word for word, the president's speech, doesn't it? This is a basic study skill, and they're asking the kids to study the president's speech, not just come away with a general understanding of it's subject.
"Teachers might conduct a “listening with purpose” exercise based on the themes of inspiration and challenges. Using a similar double‐column notes page as the one described above, teachers could focus students on quotations that either propose a specific challenge to them or that inspire them in some meaningful way. Students could do this activity individually, in pairs, or in groups."

So now we're assuming that Obama is naturally going to inspire our kids? And we're making them choose a quote in particular - and discuss it amongst their peers - professing that inspiration? Wow, this is slick. This is really subtle. And it's borderline brainwashing.
"• Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being educationally successful. To whom would he speak? Why? What would the president say?
• What are the three most important words in the speech? Rank them.

He'd speak to students again, obviously. What would he say? Hmmm. Probably a lot of what he probably just got through saying. How insulting is this?

And its bad enough that they're asking kids to study the speech word for word - now they're asking them to assign weight to the words and pick the top three? You've got to be kidding me. Right?
Teachers could introduce goal‐setting activities in the following way to make the most of extension activities:
“When you set a goal, you envision a target that you are going to reach over time. Goals are best when they are “Challenging,” “Attainable,” and “Needed” (CAN). ... But, every good goal also needs steps that guide the way. These steps keep you on track toward achieving your goal ... Your steps should add up to your goal. If they don’t, that’s okay; we fix them until they do!"

Hmm. Kinda like the Communist Goals for America?
"Create decorated goals and steps on material that is the size of an index card. The index cards could be formatted as an inviting graphic organizer with a space for the goal at the top and several steps in the remaining space. Cards could be hung in the classroom to create a culture of goal setting, persistence, and success, and for the purpose of periodic review."

...and as a reminder of the glorious day that President Obama came down through the clouds riding his white unicorn and gave his super awesome speech!
"Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants, puzzle pieces, or trails marked as steps. These also could be hung around the room, to be reviewed periodically and to create a classroom culture of goal setting and for the purpose of periodic review."

On second thought, index cards aren't big enough reminders. We need POSTERS!!!
"Interview and share their goals with one another and the class, establishing community support for their goals."

Community support for your goals? This touchy-feely socialist crap is giving me a headache. How about the challenge of achieving your goal and the satisfaction of achieving it? How about personal responsibility? How about being accountable to yourself?
"Create incentives or contests for achieving their personal goals."

Great. Now we're going to have "Goodies for Goals" like we had "Cash for Clunkers."
"Write about goals and the steps to achieve them in a variety of genres such as poems, songs, or personal essays."

Bonus points if you set it to the tune of Kum-bay-ya.
"Create artistic representations of goals and the steps to achieve them."

Somewhere in the White House there's a drawing of Obama's face on Mount Rushmore.

If these questions are any indication of the substance of the president's speech, isn't a lot of this stuff basic study skills? Do we really need the President of the United States teaching our kids how to study? Doesn't he a have more important things to do???

My daughter's school is recording the speech to be shown at a later time to the kids so parents will have the option of opting out. I'm thankful for that kind of level-headedness and prudence at her school. But make no mistake: she won't be seeing the speech, no matter what he says.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Arctic now warmest in 2000 years, researchers say


Another recent headline:

"New Reports Show Global Cooling Trend"

Which is it? I'm so weary of the global warming hysteria. It's a scare tactic to control behavior and push an agenda. Plain and simple.

Remember twenty years ago when people were freaking out and claiming that all the rain forests would be gone within five or ten years? Yeah. According to Google Earth, they're still there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Candy Man

Thanks to Matt for sending this.