Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Requiem for a Dream

Dear Reader,

After three years, the time has come to retire the Musings. In composing this final post, I was prepared to leave you lightly, with a poem a la Dr. Seuss. But digging through some old posts just now, I was struck by the contrast between the early days and some of the more recent stuff. There's actually some pretty heavy (beautiful) stuff back there. And so I had no choice but to switch it up.

I once observed that no matter where you find a Generalist in life, they seem to be Trying really hard. Trying in all sorts of ways but, I think, just generally trying to Be where they are. In the beginning, that was pretty apparent in the posts. Three years, three contributors, and perhaps three mid-life crises later, things, on the outside, have settled down. Less general musing, more general observation.

If yours truly and my now retired co-contributors were to sit down today and fill out the "About me" sections of our profile pages, I have no idea what they would say. I'd like to think we'd all be trying just as hard as we were three years ago, and openly so. Whether we are or not, we seem one by one to have found other places to record our progress. And so, the time has come to say Good-Bye. It's not quite quitting while we're ahead, just before we fall too far behind. And as with anything in life, the last to leave turns out the lights.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

iHeart iPhone

If I were going to marry an inanimate object, it would probably be iPhone.

For Better:
iPod. Music and video whenever wherever. The first time I watched episodes of Will & Grace to pass the time on a flight, I knew I was in love. Watching on a bus only made me love it that much more. As for the music, the best part is that I don't have to mess around with the little wheely thing from the regular iPods. I never cared for the wheely thing.

Google Maps. This is the 3rd most used feature (by me) after iPod and text messaging. Sometimes I look up directions to places just because I can. More often I look them up because I need them. The other day a woman stopped me on the street to ask me if I knew where a Currency Exchange was. I told her I did not, but that I could find out. Enter iPhone, followed closely by a list of Currency Exchanges in walking distance. Oh how I love to be helpful.

Even better, I was out of town last month killing time before a meeting when I decided to grab lunch. Out came iPhone. Search: Olive Garden. Result: Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, penne with meat sauce, salad and bread sticks. Delicious.

Internet. Having the internet ("just... the internet") on your phone is freakin cool. You know those moments when you're out and it's like "Oh, where's the meeting?" or "What was so-and-so's address?" and you know it's in your email if you could just get to it? Yeah... I don't have those anymore. If it's on the world wide web, it's in my pocket. Freakin hotness.

For Worse:
Stone-Age Text Technology You can only text one person at a time. This is either the greatest oversight in the history of cellular technology, or there's some Apple/AT&T conspiracy to control outgoing texts. Why that would be, I have no idea. Who else has a phone that doesn't let you send multiple recipient text messages? Everyone that I tell about this little oversight looks at me like with the same confused, bewildered look that I had when I finally realized that I wasn't just slow figuring it out, it can't be done. No freakin clue.

No Speed Dial. At least until the latest software update. In the original version of iPhone, you had to push at least 3 buttons to call one of your "favorite" contacts and at least 4 to call anyone else. With 1.1.2 your "favorite" contacts are essentially dropped into a speed-dial list and you can dial one of the homies in just 2 steps.

No GPS. Which essentially means you can't be lost. You have to know where you are to get to where you want to be, which hasn't been a problem for me so far. It'd be nice though if I could type "Borders" into a search box and just have it spit out the location closest to my present position. Of course, then Apple would always know where I am. For whatever reason that doesn't bother me as the prospect of being lost on a random road somewhere and having my magical little phone not be able to tell me where I am. I mean really, it tells me everything else.

Clutter. Now perhaps I'm not the prime audience for iPhone. But I could do without the YouTube and Stocks buttons on the homescreen. I'd like to be able to get to them, but I'm not so much of a compulsive YouTuber/stock checker that I need to be presented with the options every time I look at my phone. And with the new iTunes icon, the home screen is looking all too crowded.

No Batter Life Meter You have to estimate how much charge you have left based on the little icon in the corner. The phone alerts you when you fall to 20 and 10%. So if it's monitoring the percentage anyway, why can't it tell me when I have 50 or 60 or 75%? Just so I know what I'm working with. But this is a small thing. Definitely bottom of the list of things the Apple folks should be spending their time on.

Room for Improvement:
The Weather As it is, the weather icon is a sun with a random temperature reading (73 degrees) imposed on it. You tap it to get the actual weather. I figure if there's gonna be a graphic and temperature reading on the home screen anyway, why not have it display the actual weather, the way the calendar icon displays the actual date? Then you'd get the weather like you get the time or text alerts whenever you look at your phone. And you could just tap the icon for extended forecasts or highs and lows.

Reserving Judgment:
Ringtones iPhone comes pre-loaded with the most appalling selection of ringtones ever encountered on a phone. Of 25 ringtones, there are precisely 7 that don't completely suck, and only 1 that I actually like. The other 18 include things like "Bark," "Duck," "Motorcycle," "Robot," and my personal favorites, "Time Passing" and "Old Car Horn." Seriously???

Naturally, someone came up with a way to bootleg your own ringtones and sync them to the phone. Almost as naturally, Apple introduced an update that made the bootlegs obsolete, and introduced their own ringtone maker. Step one, buy a song from iTunes ($1). Step two, use the iTunes editor to cut a 30-second slice out of the song (another $1). So you're paying $2 to make a ringtone of a song you probably A) already own, and B) could cut up for free with software you already have. Unacceptable.

Fortunately (if accidentally) Apple's latest update actually restores users' ability to make their own ringtones. This was either an oversight that Apple will correct in the next update (Haters), or they realized how blatantly greedy and stupid their ringtone philosophy is (Thank you). I'm reserving judgment on this one til the next couple updates come out.

Bonus: Peep Apple's newest innovation, courtesy of MadTV: The iRack


At the start of my sophomore year of college, I was going along, minding my own business when I looked up and realized I had become a quadruplet. At least in name. Meaning I was suddenly sharing my first name with three other people. Luckily, the homies quickly developed nicknames for everyone to tell us apart, but I always thought it was weird that there was in influx of namesakes in one class.

Fast-forward six years. I'm in my third year of graduate school, minding my own business, when on the first day of class, as we're going around the table introducing ourselves, I realize that this time I'm one of three. So me and the other triplets get to talking and someone thinks to ask, "Were you born in such-and-such year?" We all were. As were the three young women with whom I shared a name in undergrad. Clearly the name was very popular in that year.

So the other day I decided to find out exactly how popular it had been. According to the Social Security Administration, the popularity of my first name peaked in the year I was born, coming in at #9 among names for female newborns (... last year it was #201). On the one hand, I feel like maybe I should begrudge my mother's lack of creativity. On the other hand, I suppose she could've been really creative, and named me some sh*t that would never ever appear on an SSA list of the most popular names. So all in all, I suppose I'm not mad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Just when I thought it was going to be slow blogging week, the Washington Post comes through with a doozy. This joint is reminiscent of another classic piece in its hilariousness, and well worth the read.

Neely Tucker and Rob Harvilla. Journalistic geniuses.

Shouts out to "The Hammer."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

All Things Political, vol. 7.2

Add this to the list of things working against Barack Obama: He greatly overestimates the intelligence of the American people.

It seems the Distinguished Gentleman from Illinois has decided not to sport the requisite American Flag lapel pin because he believes that "true patriotism... is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security." Fair enough. But I wonder how many voters in Tennessee feel that way.

Wouldn't it be easy enough to wear the pin and speak out on national security? Then you win over the folks who want a little more substance without offending the reactionaries. Not that I'm a big fan of catering to reactionaries... but they vote, ya know? Your boy has basically taken the position that he only wants the votes of the people who actually think about the words that are coming out of his mouth. Honestly, what percentage of the electorate is gonna do that?

The leading Republican candidate has banked his whole campaign on the idea that you can make as many false, exaggerated, illogical and contradictory claims as you want, as long as you follow them up with "because of 9/11." The war is good "because of 9/11." I should be President "because of 9/11." We need the Second Amendment "because of 9/11." And it's working. Not a strategy I'd endorse. But I wouldn't spit in its face either.

As much as I (and my boyfriend) agree with Barack, I'm starting to think he may be the Lupe of presidential candidates.

(Seriously though, click on that Second Amendment link.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tit for Tat

1. R. Kelly is a hot, ghetto mess.

2. What determines the order in which Contributors names appear on the blog? At this point, I figure it's the order in which we last logged in, or it's completely random.

3. Matt Leinart is like Trent Green 2.0

4. Why doesn't Subway deliver? Do they not know how much I want them to? (And WHO gave the Subway in my neighborhood permission to close "temporarily"? Whatthehell???)

5. Having Kurt Warner for a backup is almost as bad as being on the cover of Madden.

6. What is the Olive Garden putting in their salad dressing that it can make iceberg lettuce taste that good?

7. I have no co-contributors.

8. How did the Bears end up with such a good team and no quarterback? Don't you kinda feel bad for everybody except Rex Grossman?

9. Fall sure did come in with a bang. Not like, "Really, it's October? I'm on way." More like "Oh shit! It's October. I'll be there in ten minutes."

10. Who's going to beat New England? It has to happen, cuz I say so. (Semi-related: Wasn't Cowboys-Bills one of the best games you've seen in a long time? If only Monday nights were always so blessed. And Poor Buffalo. Talk about a heart-breaker.)

Bonus Question:
Why do people stand by the doors of half-empty buses and trains? Do they not know they are in everyone's way?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Truthiness is Out There

As I recently told one of my former co-contributors, I'm not really big on reading. But I have to say I am more than a little excited to get my hands on Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Can You!)" Colbert is such an icon of foolishness that even his fans have become hilarious. A sampling of the customer reviews:

"Before I bought this book I was really not much of an American. But then I bought this book and now I am. Who would have known it was that easy. Thank You, Stephen Colbert, you are a truly great American, and now, so am I."

"This book doesn't waste time with useless left-leaning "facts" nor does it attempt to stimulate deep thought. No this book comes straight from Stephen's gut and tells you, the average American, exactly what you need to think about everything in order to keep this country great, the way God created it."

"I don't need to read the book to know it's brilliant -- Stephen Colbert has already told me it is and I believe him because it came from his gut. Lots of things come from his gut but now is not the time to delve into scatological musings. So yes, this book is the greatest book yet written this month..."

Happy Reading folks.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You think???

So by now we've all heard that the Chicago Marathon was called off at about 4 hours due to folks falling out in the middle of the race. Naturally, the runners who didn't finish are pretty pissed off. They're all over the news blaming the organizers for not having enough water and not making appropriate arrangements for a 26.2 race in 90-degree heat.

Word? Out of curiosity, what exactly are appropriate arrangements for such a race? Because me personally, I'm thinking when you decide to go for a 5-hour run and it's 90 degrees outside, you ought to be prepared for a pretty harrowing experience. Nevermind that a marathon is hard as hell under ideal conditions. Nevermind that doing anything in 90-degree heat is a bad idea. Let's put the two together and just hope for the best.

Seriously... whatever the mistakes were... is there any amount of water, cold sponges, and air misters that could make a 5-hour, 90-degree run not life-threatening? I'm just saying...
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